Since Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat was first published in 1995, confirmations of the suc- cess and wisdom of this way of eating have continued to be documented in clinical studies, testimonials, and the nutritional literature. Large numbers of doctors all over the country are not only following the Sugar Busters! lifestyle, but recommending it to their patients. Medical studies are proving that high-fiber, low-glycemic diets, like the Sugar Busters! lifestyle recommends, are good for weight control and control of many medical maladies. The low-sugar, low-glycemic, high-fiber diet helps, or in some cases even prevents, problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and many others that will be discussed later in this book.
You may have heard the statistic that obesity has risen as much in the last ten years as in the previous four decades combined. While we can-not prove or disprove these statistics, we do know that obesity is rising so rapidly that it is about to replace smoking as the number-one killer in the United States. Ten years ago, smoking killed 430,000 people a year and obesity killed 325,000 a year. Smoking-related death rates are going down, but obesity-related rates are still climbing.
Fortunately, both smoking and becoming obese are lifestyle choices. All smokers can quit, and over 90 percent of obese or overweight individuals can better control their weight with just two steps: finding a safe and easy way to accomplish that goal, and giving it a shot. Pounds cannot be “thought” off. We will tell you how to lose weight and, just as important, how to keep it off. Unlike so many diets that put you through a crash phase or deprivation phase and then an adjusted phase, the Sugar Busters! lifestyle gets you to “start out like you can hold out,” yes, that you can maintain for the rest of your life. Since you will not be deprived of normal amounts of foods, this will be much easier than you might imagine.
What is the secret that makes the Sugar Busters! lifestyle so simple, easy, effective, and inexpen- sive? Let us boil all this down to its essence in one sentence: We are recommending that you eat like your ancestors ate (until very recently), because they ate zero refined sugar and only whole-grain and unrefined foods. That is what God and Mother Nature provided. That is the eating plan that got us here. It was a high-fiber, low-glycemic-load diet that contained no refined sugar (see Chapter 10). A little honey was available for the chiefs or royalty, or for those who braved the bees, but not for the general population of the time. Sugar and the sweet tastes of the day came from natural fruits and vegetables.
What do anthropologists tell us about these ancestors of ours? They tell us that obesity, diabetes, and heart disease appear to have been quite rare.
Remember that the number-two killer (soon to be number one) at the dawn of the twenty-first century is obesity. What two diseases are strongly associated with obesity? You are right: diabetes and heart disease. To further get you in the mood to absorb the way of eating recommended in this book, think about the following. Dr. Thomas Farley, chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, recently wrote that in the forty years between 1958 and 1998, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes rose 600 percent! Of course, more people are being screened for diabetes today, but the increase in diabetes is still tremendous. According to the government, diabetes alone is costing the United States over $44 billion a year. That is hundreds of dollars apiece for the average taxpayer to treat something that, as you will see, is largely preventable.
In addition to diabetes, obesity can cause you who are obese and your children the following problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney failure, cancer (colon, breast, and prostate), gallstones, poor circulation (amputations), arthritis, pregnancy complications, men-strual irregularities, stress, incontinence, and depression. Diabetes can also lead to blindness.
Thirty years ago, following the 1972 Olympics, the country went on a fitness kick, and a larger percent of the population started exercising. This lasted about a decade. In that same decade, we were advised to shift to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. We did, and the rate of obesity increased even more! As we will discuss later, when it comes to refined and processed foods, low fat is usually synonymous with high sugar. During the succeeding decades, according to government statistics, the consumption of fat has dropped about 16 percent, while the consumption of calories has remained about the same. Meanwhile, obesity has continued to climb. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Sixty-five percent of Americans are overweight, and 30.5 percent of us are obese.1 Obesity, not just overweight, is now claiming 15 percent of our children.2
What have been the most dramatic diet and lifestyle changes in the last thirty to fifty years?
• Tremendous rise in refined sugar consumption
• Tremendous rise in low-fat foods (with, in most cases, fats being replaced with added sugars)
• Tremendous rise in carbohydrate intake as dietary fat and protein were cut
• Significant decrease in physical activity
• Tremendous rise in obesity and related illnesses
• Tremendous rise in diabetes and related illnesses
• Tremendous rise in individual dollars spent on pills, potions, and treatments
• An insignificant amount of dollars being spent on prevention
Hello! Anybody out there? We are astonished that the government and many nutrition professionals continue to recommend high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets. As you read this book, see if you don’t believe the Sugar Busters! lifestyle will cure many of these problems without pills or potions and their associated expenses.
By the way, we do not consider Sugar Busters! a low-carbohydrate lifestyle. It is simply a correct carbohydrate lifestyle. In our earlier fourteen-day meal plan, 40 percent of calories came from carbohydrate, and we have told people that they can probably maintain or even lose weight if they get up to 50 percent of calories from the low-glycemic-index carbohydrates. According to the chairman of the Department of Epidemiology at M. D. Ander- son Hospital, the number one rated cancer research hospital in the United States,3 the high-fiber, low-glycemic-index carbohydrates (like we recommend in our Sugar Busters! books) are those that are high in antioxidants and are exactly what M. D. Anderson recommends that their patients should eat.4
Since the Sugar Busters! way of eating is roughly 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat, it is a balanced diet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a moderate-fat diet is most likely to be nutritionally adequate because it allows a healthy mix of foods from all food groups.5 This provides a balance that does not require supplements. Sound familiar?
Besides knowing that our digestive systems developed on a high-fiber, low-glycemic diet over the millennia, what makes the Sugar Busters! lifestyle tick? Controlling, which in this case means lowering, our body’s insulin requirement is the key to having our body lean and healthy.
Today’s sugary, highly processed foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which immediately create a big demand for the hormone insulin. Insulin is required to regulate the blood sugar level in your body. It does this by signaling the cells to be receptive to the storage of fats circulating in the blood. Almost any doctor in America will tell you that insulin is known as the “fat storage hormone.” Accordingly, if you consume foods that do not create this big need for insulin, you don’t put the body in a fat storage mode. Neither do you subject the body to other problems caused by too much circulating insulin, as will be described further in Chapter 8.
If you enjoy eating, this is a good-news book. If you choose to eat out frequently or if your employment requires it, this is a good-news book. If you want your blood chemistry to improve while you continue to eat savory foods, this is a good-news book. If you are diabetic, this is a good-news book. If you want your children to grow up slim and healthy, this is a good-news book. In addition to all these benefits, you will feel and function better in the process. We propose a way of eat-ing that will allow you to eat most foods in normal quantities—possibly even in larger quantities than you presently consume.
You can have three full meals a day and even appropriate snacks. If you want to eat six small meals or snacks, that’s fine too. There will be only a few fruits and vegetables, plus products containing added sugars and highly processed grains (flours), that you cannot eat. These are the foods that require the secretion of large amounts of insulin to regulate your blood sugar. By simply avoiding these foods, you can get slimmer and healthier simultaneously.
There are other books that recommend a much lower percentage of carbohydrate in one’s diet. Many miss one of the most important factors in successful, long-term weight loss, which is that only certain carbohydrates cause a dramatic increase in your body’s need for insulin. Eliminating most carbohydrates in the diet means missing out on many of the very important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that our bodies need to function properly.
Is sugar toxic? Not inherently, but we say that refined sugar in large quanities is certainly toxic to many human bodies, particularly diabetics. An it helps make many people obese. Significant quantites of sugar are also derived in our digestive systems from carbohydrates in general (fruits, vegetables, and grains) but only certain of these sugars cause a strain on the health of our body, probably the mind, and certainly the waistline. Fructose, the sugar in fruit, normally will not hurt you, but eaten at the wrong time or in the wrong combinations, it can create digestive and sometimes metabolic problems. Therefore, what we are recommending is a low-sugar, low-glycemic diet. That cannot be achieved by simply putting away your sugar canister.
The essence of the Sugar Busters! lifestyle, which will be covered much more thoroughly in succeeding chapters, is that the only things you cannot eat on this diet are the carbohydrates that cause an intense insulin secretion. You must virtually eliminate white potatoes, white rice, bread from highly refined flour, corn products, beets, and of course all refined sugars, such as sucrose (table sugar), corn syrup, molasses, and honey. Also, sugared soft drinks and beer are not allowed. Beyond that, the list of foods allowed on the Sugar Busters! lifestyle is extensive and will delight you by its length and variety.
Remember that all carbohydrates are broken down to glucose (sugar) in our body, and this raises our blood sugar level. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas to lower our blood sugar, but too much insulin promotes the storage of fat, elevation of cholesterol levels, and possibly the deposition of plaque in our coronary arteries. Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of previously stored fat. Not fancy, but fact. The charts in Figure 1, page zzz from Williams Textbook of Endocrinology speak to this in a beautifully simple fashion.
By the way, some people are insulin resistant and require large quantities of insulin to regulate their blood sugar level. We have found nothing good about high average levels of insulin in the body. Insulin not only causes the body to store excess sugar as fat, but inhibits the mobilization of previously stored fat, even if one is on a rather skimpy but high-glucose-generating diet. Insulin also can stimu- late the liver to make more cholesterol.
Now, you might accept the connection between insulin and overweight, but wonder about the link between insulin and cholesterol. Consider the experience of one of this book’s authors.
After beginning to eat steak, lamb chops, cheese, eggs, and so on for the first time in fifteen years and seeing his cholesterol drop 21 percent and triglycerides drop by 50 percent, he told his doctor (and coauthor) that the only thing that seemed to make sense was that insulin must be causing the liver to make additional cholesterol, because the main difference his low-sugar, low-glycemic diet was causing was a lower daily average level of insulin circulating in his body. Our doctor paused about three seconds and said, “You know, you are right! When borderline diabetics get to where they cannot control their diabetes with pills, diet, and exercise, and we have to give them insulin injections, we know the first major side effect will be that their cholesterol will become elevated and as the insulin shots continue, the Type 2 diabetics also will start adding more fatty tissue.”
Our doctor immediately recognized a frequently overlooked connection between insulin and cholesterol. In addition, our endocrinologist and coauthor verified that his Type 2 diabetic patients that require insulin have significantly higher total cholesterol and triglycerides than the average population.
Although we are in the twenty-first century, few appreciate the insulin-cholesterol connection. Fortunately, more and more are recognizing the link every day. Many of our friends or patients who have gone on our low-glycemic, low-sugar lifestyle have written to us that they had lowered their cholesterol by an average of 15 percent without either exercise or pills. How could they have increased their fat intake and seen their cholesterol, triglyceride, and weight levels fall? It is the effect of lower average levels of insulin in their blood.
Sound too simple? Well, it really is simple. But it’s important to understand why the Sugar Busters! lifestyle works. Once you do, you will be confident it is not another gimmicky diet, which means you will be more likely to follow its guidelines and enjoy the maximum benefits. So please don’t just jump to Chapter 9, start the diet, and then not be able to tell anybody why you lost the weight and how you got that spring back in your step. Learn how it works, and you’ll better understand the benefits and enjoyment it can bring you for life—most probably a longer and healthier life.
Calories are not the only answer to weight gain or loss. Lavoisier first used the term calorie in the 1840s. Subsequently, in the 20th century, a caloric theory developed that explained weight gain or loss. Although this theory was later declared flawed by the authors, nutritionist ignored this correction.
We have been misled for decades by peddlers of the calorie-in-calorie-out theory, who either did not know better or had other obvious motives. The scientific data have been available in America for years, waiting for a logical researcher to come to this same conclusion. Americans alone spend $32 billion a year trying to lose weight, an additional $46 billion on medical costs directly related to problems caused by obesity, and $23 billion on time lost while away from the workplace because of the same problems (Scientific Ameri- can, Aug. 1996). Unfortunately, for some this is an incentive to ignore a way of eating that creates no profits. So get ready—you have a lot of mis- information, misconceptions, and propaganda to overcome.
What motivates three doctors to tell you about something that will cost you only a few additional dollars each year on your grocery bill and save you the expense and time of going so often to the doctor’s office? The effects of a low-glycemic diet will actually take patients away from many doctors, but doctors are in the business of saving lives. The message in this book can prolong lives and significantly improve the quality of life.
What’s wrong with losing weight in other ways? Some diets are in essence partial starvation, depleting the body of essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals and making you miserable by depriving you of normal quantities of food. Of course, a whole industry is built on providing, at a price, vitamins and supplements in any quantity you might conceivably want. But did you ever taste a pill you really liked? Instead of having to swallow a pill, why not eat a plateful of savory fruits, vegetables, and meats and lose weight in the process?
What a waste of money to spend billions of dollars a year trying to lose weight. We’ll show you how to replace the most notorious insulin-stimulating carbohydrates with wholesome foods that you can buy at nearly any grocery store. Watch out at the grocery store, however—manufacturers have added some form of refined sugar to most packaged products, even foods like chili because they know that if it does not have a sweet flavor, it may not compete well with other brands.
We have harped on insulin’s bad effects, but we will now describe the benefits of another of the body’s secretions. Glucagon, also shown on Figure 1, page zzz, is released from the pancreas into the bloodstream in significant quantities following the consumption of a protein-rich meal. Glucagon helps promote the mobilization of previously stored fat; so, as you burn food reserves for your energy requirements between meals, high level of glucagons will help allow that energy to be derived from that spare tire around your waist. The glucagon chart also shows that, once the glucagon levels is raised, it will remain elevated for quite some time so you can keep on burning that mobilized fat.
Remember, insulin inhibits the mobilization of previously stored fat. Because a high-protein meal does not stimulate significant amounts of insu- lin secretion, the fat mobilization inhibitor is not present, but a high level of glucagon, the fat mobilizer, is present.
The chart also shows that carbohydrate-rich meals actually suppress glucagon secretion. So the stored-fat mobilizer is absent, but the hormone to promote storage, insulin, is present in significant amounts. When fat gets stored, we all know where it goes!
Ready for more good news? Following the pattern of eating we recommend can greatly relieve many common stomach maladies. One of this book’s authors went from Rolaids or Alka-Seltzer twice a week to none after beginning to eat steak, lamb chops, cheese, and eggs for the first time in fifteen years. The only other alteration beyond a low-sugar, low-glycemic-load diet that he made was the substitution of red wine for other alcoholic beverages he used to consume.
To drink or not to drink? You can find arguments both ways. But we believe, as do most American doctors, that, if you consume modest amounts of alcoholic beverages, it will help raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol, and that the alcoholic beverage that benefits you most is red wine. Populations in countries with a higher relative consumption of red wine to other spirits definitely experience a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe it is primarily the polyphenols, including flavonoids, in red wine that provide the cardiovascular benefits. (See Chapter 25.)
One thing is for certain: alcohol itself has calories, so consuming it does not help you lose weight. However, with reasonably comfortable adjustments in eating habits, significant quantities of weight can be lost even if you continue to drink modest amounts of alcohol, such as red wine.
How about exercise? Exercise is a definite plus in overall body fitness and health, especially if done regularly and in moderate amounts (see Chapter 17). Nevertheless, a moderate amount of exercise will not significantly affect weight loss if you continue to eat foods that create a constant need for high levels of insulin in your bloodstream.
One of this book’s authors lost twenty pounds and has kept it off for almost ten years. He’s not proud that he does not take the time to exercise, but the fact is that he doesn’t. So the twenty-pound weight loss did not come from exercise or a low-calorie diet. It came from a low-glycemic, low-sugar, high-fiber diet. He is not necessarily an example we want you to imitate—we definitely believe exercise is good for you. In combination with the lifestyle we recommend, it should help achieve a general improvement in body weight control and overall health.
One word of caution: If you are a marathon runner or an exercise fanatic, this diet may not be exactly right for you. High levels of exercise require foods that generate large quantities of glucose to fuel your engine. But research is showing that it is the low-glycemic-index carbs that provide the best endurance capacity.6
Does every person’s body react to and process (metabolize) foods in exactly the same way? No, but understanding the messages in this book will help you understand not only why these differences exist, but also what you can do to positively influence your own body’s reaction to various foods and combinations of foods.
Some women have found it more difficult than men to lose weight on any diet. This can be explained in part by the fact that a female’s metabolic rate, on an age-adjusted basis, is usually 5 to 10 percent lower than that of a male. This makes it easier to put on weight and more difficult to lose weight. Hormonal influences present in both premeno- pausal and postmenopausal women also may be responsible for difficulties in losing weight. Hormone therapy, in the form of either birth control pills or estrogen and synthetic progesterone supplements, may further aggravate this problem. Chapter 16 addresses in more detail the problems some women have experienced with weight loss because of hormonal intake.
Also, please be aware that even some of the most common over-the-counter preparations can cause fluid retention, increased appetite, and other changes that can lead to weight gain. However, all individuals, especially women, should be cautions about taking or discontinuing any type of medication without prior consultation with their physicians.
How about “fat burner” supplements that are supposed to boost your metabolism even in the absence of exercise? According to the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter of May 2002, almost all contain ephedra, which can increase your metabolism, but can also cause irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, and even stroke, heart attack, seizures, and death. Ephedra is marketed as a dietary supplement rather than a drug, and supplements are not regulated, unlike prescription drugs, so buyer beware.
From the Hardcover edition.