Chubby Calories - Fat Fructose
All calories are not the same
I was taught in school that weight control was simply a matter of balancing calories. If you want to lose weight you just need to eat less. Now from a purely scientific point of view, the laws of physics do say that you are going to lose weight if you consume less calories than you burn. The trouble is that we are not robots or machines. The fact is that not only does what we eat affect how soon we feel hungry again, but our metabolism is also affected by the type of food we eat. The result is that calories differ, resulting in the need for us to form an overall food strategy. Luckily for us, a lot of recent research is making that a lot easier.
The first thing to do is to consume a lot of protein. A high protein meal takes a lot of time to digest and increases the amount of time till we feel hungry again. A lot of people avoid high protein foods when trying to control their weight due to the fact that high protein foods tend to also have a lot of fat. But it is actually easy to avoid a lot of the fat. For instance, when I buy hamburger, I always find the leanest meat possible. I also try to eat a lot of fish. Besides some fat is good. It helps you to feel full longer. Nuts are also a good source of protein. Just make sure they are raw or dry roasted.
The second thing is to pick foods with a low glycemic index. What does that mean? Well, foods with a low glycemic index are absorbed slowly into the bloodstream. This means that a low glycemic meal will provide energy much longer than a high glycemic index meal. A high glycemic index meal is quickly absorbed supplying more energy than you need. This extra energy from the high glycemic meal is then turned into fat. It turns out that the foods that have the high glycemic index are mostly junk foods. The real reason junk food is bad for you is not because it is empty calories, but because these calories are absorbed so quickly and turned to fat. I made a big mistake in the past concerning this. I figured I could eat a fair amount of junk food as long as I took vitamins and subtracted the junk food calories from my healthy calories. I can now say that this does not work. Junk food just results in feeling hungry all the time.
Dangers of HFCS Sodas
There is one last thing that may seem minor, but has made a huge difference for me. As I started eating healthier, I decided to leave myself one vice, and that was my soda pop. I increased my protein intake, ate healthy fats, and got most of my carbohydrates from low glycemic foods. Yet, I never made much headway until the day I read about fructose. For a long time I thought of fructose as just another sugar. I was taught in school that all sugars are eventually turned into glycogen. Guess what? That information is very wrong when it comes to fructose.
Fructose is an unusual sugar. It is found in fruit and so we think of it as being safe and natural. The small amount we get in a piece of fruit is perfectly safe. The fiber in the fruit fills our belly and also allows it to be slowly absorbed. The problem is when we consume fructose in large or even medium quantities. Fructose is not turned into glycogen like the starches found in grains and a lot of other foods. Fructose is absorbed by the liver and then turned into triglycerides. These triglycerides tend to be deposited in the mid-section around the liver. Fructose also doesn't help you feel full at all. The glucose molecule increases hormones like ghrelin, leptin and insulin resulting in that full feeling known as satiety. Excessive fructose may also lead to ATP depletion. ATP is the main molecule used in energy transport from the mitochondria to the rest of your cell body. If your cells don't have enough energy, you are going to feel tired all the time. All in all, fructose may be the absolute worst source of calories possible.
If you decide to start avoiding fructose, you need to watch out for high fructose corn syrup, often abreviated with HFCS with a number after it which refers to the amount of fructose in the syrup. For example HFCS-55 is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The worst culprits for using HFCS seem to be soda and syrup. But I have also noticed it in a lot of packaged fast food items like fruit pies. Also you should know that sucrose is a molecule of glucose linked to a molecule of fructose. For some reason that I don't quite understand it doesn't seem to be nearly as bad as HFCS at least when tested on rats, but you should still avoid it as much as possible.
I quit drinking soda and fruit juices about two months ago. I am working on getting nearly all of my carbohydrates from glucose. Normally, I tend to gain about 10-15 pounds in the winter when I stop jogging, then lose it in the summer. Not only have I failed to gain weight this winter, but I have actually lost a few pounds. I actually feel less hungry too. The biggest surprise though was my blood pressure. I have been mildly hypertensive for several years with an upper range around 150/90. Two weeks ago my blood pressure was 120/80 and I thought it was just a random low day. But last week it was checked again and it was 108/80. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I have a feeling that there may be a bonus effect in all this. I guess time will tell.