Over the past few days there has been a lot of debate over a new piece of research. The research advised that the current method of counting calories was not enough in order to improve the health of patients. The reason? The trouble with calorie counting is that foods low in fat are preferred as they contain less calories giving the impression that they are healthier.
The media uproar from this piece, published in the British Medical Journal Open Heart (click here) can be said to have divided individuals as well as health professionals. However, what is this article actually saying? Is it telling us to eat as much as we like?
On the contrary. What the authors are saying is that the focus on food and nutrition needs to be holistic rather than simply focusing on short term weight loss goals as it can lead to patients taking drastic measures in order to meet the goals set to them by their doctor. The paper does not say that calories are not important, but rather stresses the importance of sending the message that food quality is much more important if health is going to be improved.
Studies continue to show that the quality of food has a far greater impact on health. The reason being that the human body is a complex mixture of chemical reactions and the “Calorie is a Calorie“ mantra is ignoring how different foods interact with the body.
This same week new research has showed that over the past 30 years, the food trends of the British public have improved and become healthier i.e. more in line with the current government dietary guidelines - yet how can this improvement still be costing £10 billion to the NHS in diabetes care - a condition known to be closely tied to food choices?
Knowing that protein is good for you is now widely understood by men and women in gyms, who have long been guzzling protein shakes at every opportunity. Weight Watchers also introduced the ‘pro-points’ system to reflect the importance of protein.
This is all good news generally, but what is less well known are the key variations between different protein sources, and the frequency of intake of protein.
There is a remarkable difference between protein which is found in meat and fish foods rather than that found in vegetable foods - such as pulses and fungi. Meat and fish are a source of complete protein as well as essential fats that our brain and body needs.
Whilst food items such as beans, legumes, lentils, etc contain a higher amount of protein when compared to other vegetables, they however also contain a very high amount of carbohydrate in the form of starch. Starch is broken down in our body into sugar and therefore triggers the hormone insulin - the main hormone that drives fat production.
So, if you are looking at actively losing a few pounds, then swapping your pulses for meat and fish options as well as heart healthy nuts and seeds, will certainly help you see those results that you are working towards.
The amount of sugars and hidden sugars in our diet is currently a hot topic in the media. With the detrimental effects of excess sugar consumption on our health becoming ever more apparent, those of us with a sweet tooth have had to make tough decisions on what to put in our shopping basket and faced having making the decision of what sugar-substitute to use.
A quick search of stevia-based sweeteners available at various supermarkets, the total carbohydrate content, per 100g of product, is always in excess of 90g. In all these cases, stevia accounted for around 2% of the total product. The rest is made up of Dextrose (modified corn starch) or Maltodextrin (modified rice starch), items which DO have an impact on blood sugar levels: Dextrose has a GI (low glycaemic index score) of 100 whilst Maltodextrin has a GI of 105!
So whilst stevia itself may offer a good sugar-alternative, the commercial form it is found in is certainly not good for decreasing your sugar intake.
Ok, but what about honey, agave syrup, maple syrup and coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar, agave syrup and honey are sometimes seen as ‘healthy’ alternatives to granulated white sugar as they come from natural sources and due to this contain nutrients beneficial to health. Whilst honey and coconut sugar do contain traces of antioxidants, B vitamins, etc, these account for only 5% of total content. The other 95% is made up of a variety of carbohydrates, the main one being fructose.
Hence the idea of substituting granulated sugar for coconut sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup, etc may not be the healthiest thing that you can do as in actual fact you have not removed any sugar from your diet.
Fructose may well be low GI, but it suppresses the body’s ability to produce insulin and leptin – hormones required for controlling appetite, essentially the chemicals your body produces to tell you that you’re full. Fructose intake has been shown to contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain and hypertension.
Sugar-Free Yet Still Sweet
Polyols are becoming a popular ingredient in foods labelled as ‘sugar-free’. Polyols are a group of low digestible carbohydrates. They are easily recognisable in ingredients list due to the suffix ‘-ol’ eg: lactitol, mannitol, etc, Research has shown that consuming more than 10g of polyols a day can have a laxative effect as well as aggravate irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Here at Natural Ketosis we do not use any of these artificial sweeteners in our products. It is for this reason that here at Natural Ketosis we use only natural ingredients, thereby ensuring that the quality of our food is second to none.
With the media’s attention on the amount of ‘added sugar’ in our food, the amount of starch consumed daily by the average Briton is not commonly discussed. If you are looking to cut sugar out of your diet, it is also worth taking a look at the types of vegetables and fruits you eat, as these may also be contributing to a high sugar intake.
A common mistake that people make when trying to decrease the amount of sugar in their diet, they overlook items such as starchy vegetables, legumes and grains. While these items look very different to simple sugars such as granulated sugar, honey, etc, they are themselves another form of sugar.
Items such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and other cereals such as couscous, bulgur wheat, etc are sometimes deemed to be a good source of sugars as well as vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately this is not the case. Starchy foods will still be turned into simple sugars in the human gut and their vitamin and mineral content is quite small that to provide any benefit, large portions will need to be consumed.
Ever wondered why you might be struggling to lose those extra few pounds even though you are eating “healthy”? It’s because you are still supplying your body with sugar and not allowing your body to burn fat for energy to supply your day to day needs.
What about Dietary Fibre?
The difference in digestion for dietary fibre is that due to its chemical structure it acts as a bulking agent in the gut helping to promote bowel health as well as promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Sugar is part of the carbohydrate family of foods. This food group is quite large as it includes everything from regular table sugar through to green beans and cereals. Due to its vast membership, it can become quite difficult to navigate and also to know what to choose.
To make matters worse there are effectively two groups of carbohydrates, Complex and Simple and often we are told by health professionals that complex carbohydrates are good and significantly different from simple which are bad. In part 1 of this series we shall be focusing on the simple sugars.
->Sugars: these are 99.9% carbohydrates. They have no protein, fats, minerals or vitamins to them. Examples:
Fruit juice concentrates
High-fructose corn syrup
These sugars can also be found in other food items that can be seen as a healthy swap for confectionary such as dried and pressed fruits.
For example, swapping a galaxy chocolate bar (weight of 168g) contains 23.5g of sugar. Swap this for a handful of dried prunes (around 60-70g) which contains around 23g of sugar: not much of a healthy swap. Instead, why not opt for 50g of almonds, which only contain 2g of sugars.
Here at Natural Ketosis we believe that by reducing your sugar intake and by swapping these for items such as heart healthy nuts, seeds and also good quality protein, will help you to see those positive results that you are working towards.
Following a low sugar, low starch approach to health, weight loss and for an improvement in your body tone will help your metabolism to use body fat exclusively for fuelling your body.
By following a dietary lifestyle that is low in sugar and starch will allow the body to naturally start burning unwanted body fat for energy - the fat that has been deposited in the abdomen area as well as in other area of the body.
The end result will be a positive improvement to your body tone as any fat stored under the skin “melts” away as it has been used up for energy.
This will in turn not only result in changes on the scale (thereby affecting your BMI number) but also translate into changes in body shape as the body is essentially fuelling itself from your unwanted body fat deposits.
The Natural Ketosis way not only helps you to lose weight, but most importantly helps you to feel and look slimmer. It is about being healthy and making the right choices. Feel free to get in touch with us, we’ll answer any questions you have and help you make an informed decision.
Welcome to The Natural Ketosis Company’s blog. We are fed up with the abundance of weight loss myths and miracle solutions that constantly appear in the press. Therefore, we have decided to expose the ridiculous claims that are prevalent in the diet industry and, hopefully in a humorous way, give you our honest opinion about them. We love to hear your opinions so please do not be afraid to comment!