diet

Sugar Isn't The Villain Here

So recently ive been on a bit of a roll blogging about carbohydrates, and this post is no different. Today we are dicsussing wether sugar deserves the bad reputation it has received in recent years through the media, and since sugar is a form of carbohydrate it is certainly worth discussing.

So is sugar really the villian that the media has portrayed to us in recent years? Is really that extra doughnut? Or slice of cake that is making you fat? Does all that sugar in a can of coke really make a difference?


Well here is the seriously interesting thing, and it’s that when you look at the data on sugar consumption and not the sensationalist media headlines, it has actually dropped since the 2000's, yet obesity has continued to rise unabated.

source: USDA Economic Research Service, image courtesy of Layne Norton Phd

source: USDA Economic Research Service, image courtesy of Layne Norton Phd

So why is this? Well, each year the US economic research centre releases a summary of food consumption patterns and it summarised:

"According to the loss-adjusted food availability data, Americans are consuming more calories per day than they did 40 years ago. In 1970, Americans consumed an estimated 2,039 calories per person per day; whereas in 2010, they consumed an estimated 2,536 calories (after adjusting for plate waste, spoilage, and other food losses).

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Of this 497-calorie increase, grains (mainly refined grains) accounted for 171 calories; added fats & oils, 225 calories; added sugar & sweeteners, 34 calories; fruit and vegetables, 10 calories; dairy, 27 calories; and meats, eggs, and nuts, 19 calories".

So we're eating about 500 more calories per day than the 1970's - that's equivalent to about a pound of fat per week, given that 1lb of fat is = to 3500 kcal, and 500 kcal x 7 days = 3500 kcal.

We're eating more refined grains (like cakes, buns and things containing flour etc) - easy to overeat as they have a very low satiety.

We're eating more fats and oils - the biggest increase in calorie intake, which are very calorie dense (fats containing 9 kcal per gram) and not very satiating (sorry keto fans).

So what about added sugar intake? A tiny 34 calorie increase in the last 40 years. THIRTY FOUR CALORIES!

Basically the issue here, is simply the calories, obesity is primarily linked to calorie excess, Fat containing 9 kcal per gram and Carbs (including sugar) 4 kcal per gram & Protein 4 kcal per gram. ANY of these eaten in excess, will lead to weight gain and all the associated health problems with it. The graphs above highlight this that its the increase in calories that have continued the trend of increased obesity, and that is what we need to focus on.

But, "Added sugar consumption is unhealthy" i hear you say, “that’s what the media tells me! That’s what Jamie Oliver and Davina Mccall tell me”.

Well, science also disagrees with that claim. A summary of the the clinical research to date on added sugar consumption and health found:

"We conclude that added sugars consumed in the normal forms in which humans consume them, at amounts typical of the human diet and for the time period studied in randomized controlled trials, do not result in adverse health consequences".

Which is basically a fancy way of saying: unless your  diet consists solely of coke, and haribo you should be ok.

Well… fair enough your dentist won’t love you, but you should be ok otherwise.




THE LIE ABOUT CARBS

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If you were unlucky enough to watch the abomination ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT CARBS’ on the BBC or on it's Iplayer, then it's time to set the record straight.

Dr Maassarani is a GP who thinks "Beige carbs" are somehow uniquely fattening. As has been covered elsewhere recently, GP's get next to no nutritional training, unfortunately. Not to be discouraged by a lack of training in the field of nutrition our Doc goes on to claim that: Most of the starch and sugar in these beige and white carbs are broken down into glucose for energy, and if you eat too much, the glucose is stored as fat.

Firstly, glucose is rarely, if ever, stored directly as body fat. Sorry Doc, that's just basic physiology. Suffice to say if you eat too much of anything- a calorie surplus -then you gain fat. Be that carbs, fat or protein. Carbs are not unique in this effect; yes Mr. Wicks, even those "healthy fats" can make you fat. But what's worse for our intrepid Doc is that he even lumps potatoes and rice into the beige claim!

Secondly, whilst there are studies that show that one person may have a differing sensitivity to carbs compared to the next person, which may alter the effectiveness and efficiency of their desired results, the overlying rule remains, calories in vs calories out; weight loss and weight gain goals are dictated by this principle. Further understanding how your body reacts to certain macro nutrients will certainly enhance the speed and effectiveness of your diet to you're desired results, but potatoes aren't why you put on weight, eating too much and not moving enough was.

So here are a few things to consider about carbohydrates, that refute a lot of what was said in the documentary:

1. White potatoes have one of the highest satiety scores of all foods -this means they keep you feeling full- good if your goal is weight loss, as this means less snacking, less likely to go over you're calories limits.

2. 127m Japanese and 1.3 BILLION Indian citizens may dispute his claim that "beige" rice (a staple of their national diets) is somehow the cause of all our weight gain woes, those nations having some of the lowest obesity rates on the planet! So why were his patients successful by eating more "green carbs" and omitting their usual beige fare? They ate fewer calories, plain and simple. Green vegetables are considered “free food” as they have very few calories and are often a negative calorie food when we consider the energy needed to digest them is more than they often provide us with.

Research also shows that low carb diets result in a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake, even if you're not monitoring your diet intake, this basically means that:


1. You're limiting one whole food group, so you have less choice. Less food variety a lower
calorie intake.
2. You eat more protein, upping protein intake reduces hunger = lower calorie intake.
3. By opting for "green carbs" over those supposedly nasty "beige carbs" you eat more vegetables, which are fibre rich and also contribute to feelings of fullness a lower calorie intake.
Clue: It's not carbs it's too much food (calories), period.

BUSTING BOOTEAS AND KILLING KETO COFFEE

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Ok so if your reasing this post then, either you are someone who is considering purchasing a specialist fat burning coffee/tea, in the hope that this will aid you in your quest to shed a few extra pounds, or you’re like me and have a borderline chronic addicition to that miraculous dark nectar of the gods, and want to see if there is any benefit to these “fat loss” coffee/teas

Perhaps you have seen an insta model promoting it as a secret to their slim and toned figure, or a friend on your facebook feed has been promoting the fantastic results that someone they know has had from using the particular brand they represent, and they have peaked your interest, and are now asking are these products worth it?

My answer… is a resounding NO!

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Before we even get into the tenuous links to science these products claim to have, by using “specialist” ingredients, lets factor in something that will probably speak to you more. The price, after a quick google search for various brands i have found some of these products costing over £27 for just 50g of coffee… lets put this into perspective for a second, i personally drink lavazza coffee (shameful plug), which is a known brand and considered a quality coffee by most, and i pay £3.50 for 250g. Think about that for a second for JUST £3.50 i can buy 5 times more coffee than what you get for the price of a “skinny coffee”, so the next question to ask… is it worth it?

So why are you paying upto and around 45x the price of a regular coffee? is it for the specialist ingredients that they add? If so lets look at the common ones.

Caffeine - this is the most obvious one, as caffeine has always been an active part of both coffee and tea, and yes it is known to help increase metabolic rates by upto 4% in the short term. This is one of the reasons that many Pre-workouts include it, as well as stimulating you in the gym it enhances you metabolism allowing you to burn more calories. The problem here, is that REGULAR coffee will do the exact same job as a skinny coffee/tea.

Caffeine also has a diuretic effect, what this means is that it aids in shedding water weight, it is important here note that water weight is NOT fat loss, and learning this distinction is crucial to your goals. You may feel less bloated due to the shedding of water weight, and loss “weight” in the short term, but again this is only temporary. Also its important to note that both coffee and tea both have mild laxative effects, now its unclear as to if this is linked to the caffeine, but regardless, some immediate weightloss maybe due to the fact you are going to the toilet more regular and therefore removing the weight from digested food in your gut, which is again only a short term loss.

So based on this ingredient, you would be better off sticking with regular coffee instead.

Tumeric - This on its own is a fantastic ingredient, and i have seen this banded around with many of these teas/coffees. Tumeric is extremely high in anti-oxidants which are known to prevent free radical damage. Which in turn helps reduce inflamation and swelling that is common in those who are overweight, the caveat here is that coffee and green tea are all ready extremely high in anti oxidants, so you are merely topping up what is already being provided by the coffee/tea on its own.

cinnamon - ok this is an ingredient that has SOME credibile benefit, cinnamon like most spices has a naturally thermogenic component to it, meaning that this will raise raise your bodies heat through an increased metabolism.

Green tea/coffee extracts - often seen as another ingredient in these specialist coffees, primary function here is again, to increase anti oxidants and boost caffeine levels.

Ginseng - another anti oxidant booster.

I can keep adding to this list, but we can already see that the added benefits of these common ingredients, serve only to top up, what the original coffee/tea provides us with, which brings us back to the first point? are they worth the 45x inflated price? Well given that a quick google/amazon search for each of these ingredients provided me with vast options of these ingredients with significantly more than 50g for LESS than £5, the answer is a firm NO.

What it tells me, is that if you REALLY want to go down this route and try these specialist coffee/teas, your best and cheapest option, would be to buy yourself a good reasonably priced coffee, and purchase these ingredients seperately and make them yourself. At the VERY least you will save yourself a significant amount of money, whilst still reaping the benefits (if any) from them.