The Secret to Diet Success
by: Gary Taubs, January, 2008,
It’s all about the carbs. Low-carb eating has a long scientific pedigree and is based on understanding how our bodies metabolize and store fat. This history dates back to the 1860s, when a 66-year-old 5-foot-5 200-pound Englishman named William Banting was unable to lose weight despite taking up vigorous exercise, eating less and using purgatives and diuretics. Then, working with his physician, he lost 50 pounds on a starch-free diet of mostly meat, fish and game. Banting wrote a 16 page pamphlet that was so popular that, within a year, “banting” entered the English language as a verb meaning “to diet”. Over the next century, researchers established why such diets might work. The conclusion? All calories aren’t equal. Refined and easily digestible carbohydrates such as white bread, crackers, pasta and potatoes (our mother was right), soft drinks and candy have a uniquely fat-promoting effect on the body. Protein and, most surprisingly, actual fats, in foods such as butter and well-marbled steak, won’t make you fatter – only carbs (sugars and starches) will. In fact, when highly refined carbohydrate foods, such as sugar, molasses, white flour and white rice, were introduced to societies that didn’t have them-as happened to Inuit, African and South Pacific cultures 100 years or so ago-widespread obesity first appeared.
Eating carbohydrates triggers your body to release the hormone insulin. Once it’s in the bloodstream, insulin helps glucose (from the carbs you eat) get into your cells for quick energy. But fat cells respond to insulin by absorbing some of these carbs and all the fat from your meal, turning them into stored fat. As long as insulin is elevated, your fat cells accumulate fat but won’t release that stored fat. Your body gets fatter and you can’t use any of your fat energy. After your meal is absorbed, your insulin level is supposed to taper off. Then your body chemistry changes and you can use the fat you’ve stored, giving you energy and preventing hunger. You need these carb-free, low-insulin periods to be able to burn stored fat so you don’t gain weight.
What happens if your meal doesn’t have carbs? You release very little insulin; you store few, if any, calories as fat, and you use your stored fat.
Source: Excerpt from “The No-Exercise Diet: Good Fat, Bad Fat (Foods for More Energy) – by Gary Taub, Ladies Home Journal – January 2008