Want to Lose Weight? Don't Drink Your Calories

February 10, 2020

ReferencesNBC NewsSCPINetEur Jr Clin NutritionResearchgate,

This is a familiar theme, from a new angle. The calories you drink are known to cause weight gain. Why? (And the "new angle" is: white refined carbs are just as evil at raising your blood glucose, your insulin and your wasteline.) 
It all comes down to the speed with which glucose gets into your blood, which is the determining factor for how much insulin you secrete. Insulin is your storage hormone, not your glucose control hormone. Emphatically, NOT your glucose control hormone. Glucose control is too simplistic and superficial. The faster blood glucose rises, the more insulin you make and the more calories you store. That is called weight gain. Never in human history did we have liquid calories like fruit juice and juicers. (Until just 3-4,000 years ago, at least). We humans are designed to eat the whole food, not the extract. Fruit ripens once a year, usually just before the starvation season (winter) so it was to our decided advantage to gain weight to give us a margin of calories to make it through the lean times.

When I was a child, we got apples for about 2-3 months a year. Now I can buy apples any time I want. When I was a child, Coca Cola was a rare treat in glass bottles. Now I can buy 12 packs when I shop for groceries, which the man ahead of me in the grocery story did. (Full sugar, no less! Guess what his waist size looked like? You bet: size 52) 
And you can see what happens when you compare apple juice to whole apple. First of all, calorie for calorie the juice has more pure sugar. But the process of eating the whole fruit, chewing it, taking more time to eat it, and less sugar to boot results in less insulin, results in fewer LDLs being made in the liver.

As a brief segue, our apples today are decidedly different than what nature provided for us. Malus sylvestris, the world's original apple from Central Asia, had much less sugar and many more polyphenols than today's apples: like 7,000 to 10. Today's apples are basically skins full of sugar, which we prefer. 
But the calories you drink aren't the only foods that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose. Refined grains have the same impact. A whole grain still has fiber in place protecting the carbohydrate (glucose). When it is ground up and pounded into flour, the fiber is dislocated from its protective effect and the carbohydrate is exposed to stomach enzymes. The glycemic index of a whole grain can be as low as 25. Ground up flour will have a glycemic index of 90. (Pure glucose is 100). You put out insulin in relation to the glycemic index. This puts a whole now meaning for the value of fiber. It's not just your gut bacteria that benefit from the fiber on whole grains. It's the delay in glucose rise caused by the inability of your digestive enzymes to penetrate the fiber's protective coat on the grain kernel. That means bread, made from "whole grains", is still ground up into talcum powder and has the fiber removed from its protective, delaying position. (See this image and note how the fiber around the whole grain covers the carbohydrate of the grain, allowing the seed to survive passage through an animal's gut and come out the other end with some fertilizer._. To get the "protective effect" of whole grains, you need to eat food made OF, not FROM whole grains. You need the bran in place to prevent rapid digestion. 

That's the purpose of this column. Refined flours are just as bad for you as the calories you drink. They both raise your blood sugar rapidly, as they both have high glycemic indexes. And that makes you put out insulin. White flour, in any form, is just like apple juice, just like Coca-Cola, just like Gatorade. Start thinking of white flour, in any form, like sugared sodas, or juices. Stop drinking/eating any high glycemic calories, if you want to lose weight. 

Strategy #1 for weight loss. Stop drinking any calories. Any. There is no such think as healthy sports drinks, healthy apple or orange juice, healthy sodas. None of them are good for you. All of them will make you store calories. Bye, bye orange juice! 
Stategy #2 for weight loss. Consider flour of any kind just like liquid calories. Stop eating any form of refined, high glycemic calories. Bye bye all flours. All flours.

WWW: What will work for me. Wow, this is strict. The realization that the glycemic index of white bread, brown bread and all grain based products is what drives up insulin, which makes you start to manufacture and store fats leads you to the awful truth of why these foods are so bad for us. Bummer. I had an avocado for breakfast, feeling sorry for myself as across the table was a piece of toast.

Pop Quiz

  1. The glycemic index is the measure of what? Answer: how fast your blood glucose rises relative to pure glucose (as determined by 25 people after an all night fast eating 50 grams of carbohydrates from various sources and measuring the rise of their blood glucose.
  2. Sugared drinks like orange juice are part of a healthy breakfast? T or F. Answer: wow, if you answered true you are a marketer's dream, or a child of American advertising. Didn't we all grow up believing that? Actually table sugar is half fructose, which doesn't raise your blood glucose that fast but has much bigger problems in creating fatty liver and driving metabolic syndrome.
  3. The role of bran in whole grains is what? Answer: Yes, partially to feed your gut bacteria and partially to give you vitamins and minerals but emphatically, most importantly, to slow down the rise of blood glucose and lower the glycemic index, lower the insulin response. It's fascinating to me how the Kellogg Institute, on its page on whole grains, doesn't mention this role one teeny little bit.
  4. Should I consider white bread just as bad as orange juice? Answer: Yup
  5. So what I'm saying is that the archetypical American breakfast of orange juice, egg and toast, is toast? Answer: Yup. (That's a joke, remember: "rye" humor, if I may - whole grain only.)