We are faced with a global epidemic of weight gain and the UK government is committed to reducing this trend. But are their guidelines correct? Many weight loss experts around the world believe they are not. The following article written by Patrick Holford, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists, explains some of the myths and suggests that sugar, caffeine and carbohydrates are the main culprits for the increase in both obesity and diabetes. The solution, according to Patrick, is a low glycemic load (GL) diet.
All over the world we are facing a global epidemic of weight gain. In Britain 67% of men and 57% of women are overweight. Once obese your risk of diabetes goes up 77 times. Up goes your cholesterol. Up goes your risk of heart disease and many other health problems to boot - from breast and prostate cancer to arthritis and polycystic ovaries. But it’s not fat that’s the culprit – it’s sugar, caffeine and a high glycemic load diet.
“I'm reading my daughter's high school health textbook and it's like a religion: 'Everyone should follow a low-fat diet' and 'Saturated fats kill you,' and that's just wrong, plain wrong. I think that what we're soon going to find is that no-one’s going to be defending the low-fat diet anymore." These are the words of Dr Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University in Israel, an expert in weight management, and director of a recent research trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of many that clearly show that a low GL diet is more effective than a low calorie, low fat diet.
Leading weight loss researchers around the world are waking up to the GL revolution. In Norway, diabetes expert Dr Fedon Lindberg, author of the Greek Doctors Diet, also recommends a low GL diet along very similar lines. Not only do his patients also lose significant amounts of weight, they also lose their diabetes. He recently published a case of an insulin injecting type 2 diabetic woman who lost 88lbs, now has a stable blood sugar and no longer needs any medication, including insulin.
The plain truth is that most of us are digging our own graves with a knife and fork by eating too many carbohydrates. And if you follow government guidelines, that’s not about to change. Despite all this evidence in favour of low GL eating, the UK’s Food Standards Agency are running a campaign to get people eating more starchy foods – bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Standard dietetic advice, quoting from the Manual of Dietetic Practice , is to encourage ‘a 50% increase in the consumption of potatoes and bread’, – and the UK Government’s £372 million strategy for tackling obesity emphasises cutting calories and fat, and doesn’t even mention the word ‘glycemic load’ once! There’s a fat chance that this out-dated way of thinking is going to do anything to reverse the obesity epidemic.
The combination of caffeine plus carbs is really bad news. Britain’s most popular pick-me-up, a coffee and a croissant, may be fuelling an epidemic of weight gain and diabetes, according to new research at Canada’s University of Guelph. Participants were given a carbohydrate snack, such as a croissant, muffin or toast, together with either a decaf or coffee. Those having the coffee/carb combo had triple the increase in blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, was almost halved. High blood glucose levels and poor insulin function are a recipe for weight gain and increased diabetes risk because the excess blood glucose is dumped into storage as fat. This confirms our own research at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, when we surveyed 34,000 people and found that the two foods that most predict fatigue and stress are caffeinated drinks and sugary foods. Every day Britons drink 70 million cups of coffee – roughly two each per adult. Many get caught in the sugar, nicotine, caffeine trap, thinking this combination is good for energy. But our research suggests that this combination feeds increasing fatigue, anxiety and weight gain.
The solution to losing weight is to eat a low GL diet, for example oatflakes rather than cornflakes; or berries , plums and cherries (high in slow-releasing xylose) rather than bananas dates and raisins and always combine carbohydrates with protein as this evens out your blood sugar level even more. That means less hunger and craving and, ultimately, more weight loss. So eat fruit with some seeds; or fish with brown rice, and loads of vegetables since these are low GL. Here are five examples of low GL foods.
2. Nairns Rough Oat Cakes
The products, services and information advertised and publicised are not specifically endorsed by Design 2 Manage Ltd (D2M), publishers of the Healthy Life – Mind, Body & Soul website, unless stated to the contrary. All content within Healthy Life – Mind, Body & Soul is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. D2M is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the Healthy Life – Mind, Body & Soul website. D2M is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed.