Nutrition Textbooks Got it Wrong…

Health Alert 224

Dear Subscriber:

Most diets want you to cut down on fat-filled ice cream, meat, nuts and eggs, but they’re not really the problem. The important quality is not the amount of fat in a food but rather the tendency of a food to cause your body to produce fat. You produce fat in response to insulin secretion.

Which has a greater insulin releasing effect, ice cream or corn bread? In my nutrition class, most students answer ice cream. This shouldn’t be surprising since most of the nutrition textbooks I reviewed made the same mistake! The truth is ice cream releases much less insulin into your blood than corn bread or even a low-fat bagel.

Today I’m going to show what most Americans miss when they try to cut either fat or carbs. And if you’re doing what they’re doing, instead of losing weight and improving health, you’re at risk for packing on more fat.

* Counting Grams of Fat or Carbs Misses the More Important Point *

Instead of counting carbs, what you really should be looking at is how high each carb spikes your blood sugar and insulin. Here’s why: high insulin causes your body to convert any food you eat into fat. If you ignore this, you’ll put on fat instead of losing it!

So what’s the biggest blood sugar offender? Most patients I treat think sweets are the trouble, but they’re wrong. Sweets aren’t the problem if you eat them in moderation. The real problem is starches. They cause a much more prolonged elevation of sugar and insulin than simple sugars do.

* An Easy Way To Eliminate Bad Carbs *

The best way to monitor for insulin releasing foods is the Glycemic Index. It ranks foods on how much they boost blood sugar and subsequently, insulin. For instance, a food with a Glycemic Index of 50% will cause half of the rise in blood sugar that glucose (pure natural sugar) would. What does all of this mean? The higher a food’s glycemic index, the more fat you’ll make from it – even if it has an equal number of calories as a lower glycemic index food.

The idea is to reduce the amount of foods that score high and substitute lower-scoring foods. Below is a table with common foods and their glycemic index. In the table, you’ll see some surprises:

  • Whole wheat bread raises blood sugar just as much as white bread…

  • Corn flakes raise blood sugar twice as much as orange juice…

  • Spaghetti boosts blood sugar higher than ice cream…
Common Food Glycemic Index
100% Glucose
80-90% Corn flakes, carrots, maltose, honey, white potatoes
70-79% Whole-grain bread, millet, white rice, new potatoes
60-69% White bread, shredded wheat, bananas, raisins, Mars Bars
50-59% Spaghetti, corn, whole cereals, peas, yams, potato chips
40-49% Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, navy beans, oranges, orange juice
30-39% Peaches, cherries, blueberries, apples, ice cream, milk
20-29% Kidney beans, lentils, fructose
10-19% Soybeans, peanuts
0-10% Most green vegetables

Based on this chart I recommend following two simple dietary rules to lose body fat.

  • Don’t eat anything made from grain regardless of whether it’s “whole grains.”

  • Don’t eat anything made from potatoes.

I know it can be tough at first to get used to the change. But trust me on this one; I’ve succeeded in making the change and I’ve seen hundreds of patients succeed in putting their body fat problem behind them following these two simple changes. If you can do it, you’ll not only lose weight while eating foods you enjoy, you’ll feel better and age better too.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears MD


1 West/Wadsworth Publishing Company, ‘Carbohydrate Consumption Scorecard’

2 Adapted From Dynamic Nutrition for Maximum Performance (1997) by D. Gastelu, F. Hatfield