Friday, May 16, 2014

Supersizing Part 3

One doesn’t have to look much further than our food sources today to see why we are gaining weight as a nation. Fast food chains crowd our cities, convenience stores are on every corner and supermarkets full of processed food.  In our efforts to embrace convenience we have become unhealthy and overweight.
For years it has been preached that eating fat, makes us fat and that is not necessarily the case.  While fat in the diet is important, the type of fat and what is consumed with that fat is extremely important. So if fat doesn’t make us fat, the question as to what does still looms large.
Two factors determine how much fat we accumulate and both have to do with the hormone insulin. When insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue and when insulin levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel.  Second, our insulin levels are largely determined by the carbohydrates we consume. Carbohydrates that are sweet, easy to digest and highly refined are troublesome.
The more of these high processed carbs we eat, the more insulin we secrete into our blood stream that our bodies turn this “sugar” into fat. In addition to the conversion of carbs to fat, highly refined carbs made from sugar and wheat in particular have a stimulating and addictive effect on the brain that makes us crave and ultimately eat more of these foods beyond our satiation.
Foods such as white rice, white potatoes, sugar, candy, cookies, pastries, cereal, high fructose corn syrup (found in many foods) pasta, breads, etc. have a high glycemic index which measures its effect on insulin production in relation to that of table sugar.  The higher the glycemic index, the more insulin that is produced and the more fat we gain. (Although diet sodas contain no sugar, the artificial sweeteners can have the same fat driving qualities as sugar or high fructose corn syrup besides tasting nasty).
Interestingly, many people will gain weight on a low fat diet because in many products the fat is replaced with sugar or high fructose corn syrup that we know spikes insulin and builds fat. Here is an easy rule of thumb, if it comes in a sack, box or wrapper, don’t eat it!
Additionally eating a diet rich in refined carbohydrates in unison with a diet in saturated fat and processed oils such as canola and vegetable oils can have an oxidizing effect on the cholesterol in our blood that causes it to stick to artery walls which can led to numerous health issues.  These processed and highly glycemic carbs make us eat more, make us fat and ultimately make us hungrier and more sedentary.
Carbohydrates still have a place in our diets such as the green leafy vegetables.  A diet balanced with lean proteins (preferably organic and pasture raised), moderate lower glycemic fruit and fresh green leafy vegetables coupled with exercise will to a long way to helping you shrink your waist and improve your health.

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.