Why do we get FAT? – Part 3
If you have not read Part 1, please go there first
So what should I do to keep my Fat levels low?
Reduce the intake of foods (and drinks) that raise the blood glucose levels quickly and to a high level.
How do I do that?
Thankfully, research has been done around this and people have a way of measuring the ability of a given food item to raise the blood sugar levels quickly. This is called “Glycemic Index”.
Glycemic Index – Definition
“The Glycemic Index is a numerical Index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body). Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index (GI) of 100.”
The picture below shows the response to High GI and Low GI foods
The following picture shows a sample of foods and their GI value.
So eat foods that have a low GI (less than 30-40) whenever possible.
Health warning: Though GI is a step in the right direction, unfortunately it does not consider the effect of Fructose. It only considers Glucose. So GI will understate its value for foods that contain Sugar or artificial sweeteners like High Fructose Corn Syrup. So use GI only for things that do not taste SWEET. (In any case, apart from a small amount of fresh fruit, I don’t advice you to eat anything that tastes SWEET!).
FYI – Table sugar contains one-half Glucose and one-half Fructose. Most of the sweetness in fruits is due to Fructose.
Also GI does not consider normal portion sizes fully into account. So another measure called “Glycemic Load” is available. This takes both the GI and the portion size.
You can read more about this at the links below:
Ideally the Glycemic Load (GL) should be less than 10.
What specific Dietary advice should I follow?
I was originally meaning to provide the dietary advice and goals towards the end of the Blog. But quite a few folks have already asked me to tell them “what to do”. My belief was that Diets tend to fail in the medium to long term if you do not understand the context and the reasons why various things happen.
Anyway, here you go. I provide a high-level Dietary advice (will follow-up with a detailed post later) below.
Health-warning: If you are already on diabetic (or other) medication, severe changes to your dietary regime may have considerable impact on the dosage of medication you take. Please consult your medical adviser before implementing any drastic changes to your diet.
There is always a tendency to see results quickly and hence try to overdo the Diet or the Exercise regime.
My advice would be to slot the changes slowly (as the body needs to adjust to your new regime).
- Cut down most or all sugars (excepting some fresh fruit) – no juices, cokes (diets or otherwise), cakes, sweets, chocolates etc. – essentially anything that tastes SWEET should be OUT.
Over a period of time, eliminate SWEET foods and Sugar in your drinks. There is really no need to SUGAR to live a healthy life. In fact, if you have too much of it in your blood you have a serious problem.
Also, if you are already Insulin Resistant or Diabetic – cut down on Dried fruits, Bananas, Melons etc.
Short term: Cut down your sugar from all your food items to less than 1 kilo / month
Medium term: Cut down your sugar from all your food items to less than 0.5 kilo / month
Long term: Eliminate all forms of sugar but enjoy the occasional dessert.
2. Cut down consumption of rice, pasta, pizza and any WHITE flour based stuff by 60-80%.
Perhaps a small helping of brown or wild rice if you feel like eating rice and 1 or 2 chappatis. Unless you already do so – eat much more sides and curries (essentially eat low Glycemic Load (GL) / Glycemic Index (GI) foods – but beware that GI does not account for Fructose).
Most cereals or useless (very few cereals are decent – perhaps “All Bran” flakes).
Short term: Cut down your non-sugar Carb intake to less than 300 gms a day
Medium term: Cut down your non-sugar Carb intake to less than 200 gms a day
Long term: Maintain your non-sugar Carb intake at 100-200 gms a day
Where possible, eat Whole-meal, Wild rice, brown bread etc. (by the way, a lot of whole meal and whole grain stuff is not really great – perhaps slightly better than White).
3. Eat as much of fish, eggs, meat, milk products as you like
Increase the quantity if you don’t eat enough. Some people have a slight issue with milk products in which case eat them in moderate amounts. Try eating Oily Fish every week if you can.
4. Eat a good amount of Nuts and Seeds (assuming you have no NUT allergy)
There is a world of Nuts out there ! – Pecan, Hazel, Walnut, Brazil, Peanut even Pista and Cashews.
Some people have problem digesting Nuts in which case you can do two things – reduce the quantity or slightly roast them in an oven or a pan.
5. Eat as much Vegetables and greens (and sprouted seeds) as possible
Either as salads or in the soups or steamed or sauteed etc. Again there is plenty of choice out there. But try to limit consumption of starchy vegetables like potatoes, parsnips etc. Sprouted seeds is a fantastic choice of food. You can actually sprout peanuts, almonds apart from beans and lentils.
6. Plenty of water
7. Moderate amount of Alcohol (red wine?) but if you do not drink at all that is even better
8. Try to undertake some Stress reduction activities
– Play a game you enjoy, walk, perhaps pick-up a hobby
– Do meditation or practice slow and deep breathing techniques
9. Exercise specifically designed to reduce Insulin Resistance (like HIIT etc.)
Before I finish, there is one more aspect of Diet I would like to Opine on. I am thin ground here and what I state here is my personal preference.
10. There is a theory in some circles that Inflammation (which causes heart disease, many of the arthritic conditions etc.) is caused by high levels of Omega-6 Fatty acids (w-6). Omega-6 is beneficial in low quantities but is harmful in high quantities. It is thought that the ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is between 1:1 to 3:1. Most modern diets contain Omega-6 and Omega-3 in the ratio of between 10:1 and 15:1. There is a lot of Omega-6 in refined vegetable oils (cooking oils) like Sunflower oil, Corn oil, Soya oil.
There is also another suggestion that things become worse if you raise the temperature of the oils to a very high level (to or beyond the so called smoking point).
Like white flour and sugar, processed vegetable oils have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. Natural oils contain vitamins, minerals and other nutritional factors that help the body process the fat. The process of extracting the oils destroys this nutritive value. Processed oils are usually extracted using heat, then degummed (a process which removes phospholipids like lecithin and minerals like iron, copper, calcium and magnesium). They are usually partially hydrogenated, a process which involves adding hydrogen to the oil in the presence of nickel. They are deodorised etc. In essence, so many things are done to the REFINED oils that hardly any of the good stuff is left.
So my preference is to reduce the consumption of refined cooking oils (and certainly deep frying) as much as possible. This means that a lot of snacks (crisps, batter fried snacks, flour based Indian snacks) are out.
You can steam the vegetables, use water as the base or Grill or Sautee the meat or vegetables or even better – use ghee or butter as the base. Trust me on this one. A small amount of ghee or butter is better than refined cooking oils. Where you need to use oils, use only a small amount and where possible buy UNREFINED, COLD PRESSED oils and cook on low temperatures. They may look and dark murky but they are better (not everything that looks nice is necessarily always good in life !).
You should target reducing the consumption of oil to less than 0.5 kg per person per month or even lower.
If I have to replace Carbs, should I eat more Fat or Protein?
In general, the Protein and Fat intake should be higher for most of us given the current levels and Carb levels much lower. But if the choice comes down either eating a much higher amount of Protein or Fat, my personal preference is to lean towards more Fat than more Protein. As we have seen earlier, Protein also produces Insulin and some researchers believe that consistently high amount of protein over a long period has some unwanted side effects. If you are not doing a lot of muscle building exercise (or running marathons etc.) and eat a lot of protein there is perhaps a case to say that in the long run it may have unwanted side effects. (I have to point out that this has not been proven in short term studies).
Remember, Dietary Fat does NOT make you Fat if you can keep Insulin levels low. It’s the Carbs and Sugar that make you Fat by keeping your blood Glucose levels high which will keep your Insulin levels high thereby depositing more Fat (made out of Glucose mostly).
The next post is “Cholesterol is Bad. Isn’t it?“.