We’ve been calling for this and are thrilled the time is now! This week new dietary guidelines from the US Dept of Agriculture called for limiting “added sugar” to about 50 grams a day (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Keep in mind 50 grams of sugar is about one Mocha Frappuccino, or 2 large apples! Don’t forget ketchup, salad dressing, oatmeal, Cheerios, even some deli meats are loaded with sugar. We’re thrilled that there’s some recognition of this toxin in the guidelines.
Sugar is EVERYTHING. Last summer, when we went to our house in Maine, with no Whole Foods in sight, I explained to the deli man at the local mega-supermarket that I wanted cold cuts with no added sugar. He said no problem and started looking at the labels. After a minute or so he popped his head back up and said, “Ma’am why don’t you do the rest of your shopping and check back with me, I didn’t realize so many of these had sugar added.” I shopped. As I turned past the cheese section headed back to the deli, I noticed a crowd behind the meat counter. Half the store was examining the labels.
“Ma’am I’m sorry to say, we don’t seem to have any meat without added sugar.”
That’s right, you have to ask or look to see if sugar has been added, even to your meat! Sugar has pervaded the majority of our food supply.
We’re also popping the champers this week reading about David Ludwig’s profile in Boston Magazine. He agrees: We don’t get fat because we eat more, we eat more because of a physiological response taking place in our bodies, aka getting fat. This means counting calories doesn’t count. It’s the quality that matters. Fat doesn’t make you fat it makes you full. Does that sound familiar?
Remember the “A Big Fat Mistake” post HBLB in July??? Well Boston Magazine is picking up our leftovers with this profile on Ludwig. Check out out interview with Bob Kaplan where he explains all these complicated ideas in a clear way!
From B. Mag:
“At the time [1990s], it was generally believed that a high-fat diet led to a high-fat body: You were what you ate. Americans had spent decades cutting down on the fat in their foods, in an effort to be leaner and more healthy. And yet studies consistently showed that this didn’t work—people on low-fat diets experienced high rates of hunger, and any weight they lost was soon regained. Ludwig wanted to know what was going wrong. Maybe it had to do with the kinds of calories we ate, not just how many.”
We hoping Gary Taubes is taking a well deserved nap after everyone finally acknowledges all his hard work was right on track! We love it when people listen to really smart, well researched, novel ideas, and it seems Gary’s time has arrived.
Again from B. Mag::
“In the end, the low-fat diet had a strongly negative effect: When subjects were on it, they burned 325 fewer calories per day. That is, their metabolism slowed dramatically compared with when they were on the low-carb diet, which did a much better job of burning calories rather than storing them. In effect, it was as if those on the low-carb, low-GI diet put in an extra hour of exercise every day without lifting a finger.
If what Ludwig was seeing was correct, it meant that everything we thought we knew about food was wrong. The body is not just a gas tank. A calorie is not just a calorie. As Ludwig’s colleague Mark Hyman, an author and physician at the Cleveland Clinic, says, “Fo od is not just food—it is information used by the body.
For decades, the advice about food and obesity from nutritionists and the government had a strong, simple message: Eat less fat. The food industry responded with a massive campaign of substitution to get the fat out of foods. “Fat free” and “lower fat” became almost mandatory marketing points. Hostess offered low-fat Twinkies, and Nabisco offered fat-free SnackWell’s devil’s food cookies. It worked: At the start of the 1960s, our diets were about 42 percent fat; now they are 33 percent fat.
But we didn’t get any healthier. In the early 1960s, 13 percent of adults were obese and only about one percent had type 2 diabetes. Now, 35 percent of adults are obese and 13 percent have type 2 diabetes.
“Despite eating less fat, we are fatter than ever before,” Ludwig says. What was going wrong? And how could it be fixed?
Throughout the history of the species, humans have been used to natural, largely unprocessed foods that take time to digest and deliver energy to the bloodstream. This is the natural pace of eating and energy: digestion over hours, not minutes.
But when we cut the fat out of our diet, a problem emerged: Without the fat, foods didn’t taste as good, so the industry replaced fat with refined carbohydrates. The result: highly processed, refined foods. For the past 20 years, Ludwig has been studying the effects of these new edibles, which he refers to as essentially “pre digested food.”
When these carbohydrate-rich foods rush-deliver sugars to the blood, the body reacts by producing large amounts of insulin.
And insulin is the signal that sends incoming energy off to be stored, rather than burned. “So much insulin is secreted when we eat these rapidly digested carbohydrates that it drives all our nutrients into storage in the few hours after a meal,” Ludwig says. But that leaves the body without anything to burn. It’s like depositing money in a bank but not leaving yourself any cash on hand.
“When calories are cut like that, the brain perceives starvation. It doesn’t register that there are plenty of calories still stored in fat cells. It just sees that there aren’t enough calories in the blood. It thinks that it’s a famine; there’s not enough food. It doesn’t matter how many calories are stored in your fat cells. If your blood sugar is crashing, your brain is at immediate risk.”
A few hours after eating a high-GI meal, the rush of sugar passes, and then the levels of sugar and other fuels, especially fatty acids, in the blood crash. The low level of calories in the blood now causes hunger and sends out stress hormones.
“The body [perceives] this as a crisis…a metabolic crisis,” Ludwig says. “So it’s not what happens at the meal or an hour or two later. It’s what happens four hours later. That’s the time when you either snack or not, or if you’re sitting down to your next meal [you choose] normal-sized or supersized [portions] based on your hunger.”
This is a problem for dieters: When people cut back calories and start to lose weight, “The body begins to fight back,” Ludwig says. And the first defense is to raise the level of hunger. “We can ignore it for a few hours, or a few days. But imagine feeling desperately hungry day after day without relief. And the longer you continue on the diet, the more severe the hunger becomes.”
Ludwig’s research also undermines a lot of our prejudices against those who struggle with their weight. “We as a culture seem to believe that people with this particular medical problem have a more fundamental character defect than people with almost any other medical problem,” he says. “We assume they just lack the willpower to do what they know is right for them. We blame them. It is patently false.”
Instead, Ludwig says, the American diet “puts our hormones and blood sugar through a roller-coaster ride—meal after meal, day after day.… If these theories are right, this explains a substantial amount of weight gain observed over the last 40 years.”
Here’s more from Bob Kaplan, our health guru, telling everyone more about this in our interview last summer.