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Glycemic Load Diet -- Book Report
Old 08-30-2009, 10:10 AM   #1
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Glycemic Load Diet -- Book Report

In this thread, and Rustic23 mentioned the book:

Amazon.com: The Glycemic-Load Diet: A powerful new program for losing weight and reversing insulin resistance (9780071462693): Rob Thompson: Books

I read it not to find out how to lose weight, but to find out more about this low-carb business, and understand the country's obesity problem.

I just finished it (you can probably read it online via your library and NetLibrary.com), and it's worth summarizing here. Here are the main points:

Prehistoric man had very little starchy carbohydrates in his diet, and most of it was "entangled in fiber or locked in impervious husks." It's only in the last 10,000 years that changes in agriculture and food processing has made this starch more prevalent and more accessible to rapid digestion. The human digestive system has not had a chance to adapt to this change.

In the 1970s, the government and medical organizations recommended that people cut down on fat and cholesterol, and as a result, consumption of carbohydrates increased significantly.

The idea that ingesting less cholesterol will significantly influence your cholesterol levels is not a good assumption.

When you eat something like a potato or piece of bread, the carbohydrates are broken down very quickly. "Within minutes, your blood glucose shoots up to levels never experienced by your prehistoric ancestors. These 'glucose shocks' are foreign to the way human digestive systems worked for millions of years..."

This results in excessive insulin production, which in turn encourages your body to store calories as fat.

Also, "...starch short-circuits into your bloodstream in the first foot or two of your intestine and never reaches the last part of your digestive tract, where important appetitesuppressing hormones come from."

The author recommends that you avoid this by cutting down on potatoes, bread, rice, and sugar-flavored drinks. He says that if you want to keep it simple, just do this: "Don’t eat more than a quarter serving of flour products, potatoes, or rice at a time, and
abstain from sugar-containing soft drinks and fruit juices."

Brown rice and whole wheat bread are just about as bad as refined white rice and white bread.

Moderate exercise, such as walking, increases insulin sensitivity in slow-twitch muscles as long as it's done regularly (for example, not just on weekends).

Atkins had the right idea, but his diet was too restrictive, eliminating some foods, like fruit and milk, that need not have been restricted. The result was that people were unable to stick to the diet.

The current obesity epidemic is a direct result of the prevalence of starchy carbohydrates in our diet, and an indirect result of advice to reduce fat and cholesterol intake.



--------------------------

The book is an easy read, and he presents good evidence for all of the above points. There's a lot more information in the book, of course, than I discussed here.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:20 AM   #2
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Thanks Al. This information is right in line with some other fine books on the subject like:

Protein Power by Drs.Michael & Mary Eades

and

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:53 AM   #3
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T-Al, can I also recommend Dr. David Kessler's book The End Of Overeating as a fascinating study of obesity in America and what some of the causes are (warning it is pretty technical and has a lot of brain chemistry info)?

And of course Michael Pollan is a perennial favorite, as well as the new movie Food, Inc.


I will have to check this one out, too, thanks for the report.
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post

The current obesity epidemic is a direct result of the prevalence of starchy carbohydrates in our diet, and an indirect result of advice to reduce fat and cholesterol intake.
What about other countries, especially Asian countries? Don't they eat a higher percentage of starchy carbohydrates but are a lot less obese than Americans?

I haven't read the book but I think there are a number of factors that have lead to the obesity epidemic, including a higher consumption in:

- refined foods
- high fructose corn syrup
- saturated fats
- soda (accounts for an extremely large % of calories in the avg American diet)
- cost of junk food vs healthy food
- less active life styles
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:29 PM   #5
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Personally I'd put "less active lifestyles" way above the other items when it comes to obesity. It's easier to demonize food than get out and exercise. Not that some foods may not be more conducive than others to gaining weight, but still the bottom line is taking in more calories than you burn.
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:54 PM   #6
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The author makes an interesting point about sweetened drinks that I'd never considered.

"Sugar in liquids behaves much differently in your body
than sugar in solids. In solids such as candy, sugar interacts
with your taste buds as you chew, which has an
appetite-suppressing effect. In liquids, most of the sugar flows
past your taste buds without stimulating them, which has much
less of an appetite-suppressing effect."
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
What about other countries, especially Asian countries? Don't they eat a higher percentage of starchy carbohydrates but are a lot less obese than Americans?
I worked in Beijing for a few weeks. I was surprised by the small amount of rice that was served with meals. Most food was vegetables, fish, vegetables, some meat, vegetables, some poultry, vegetables. There was some carbohydrates, but not like I thought there would be. Maybe others had a similar experience?
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:09 PM   #8
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What about other countries, especially Asian countries? Don't they eat a higher percentage of starchy carbohydrates but are a lot less obese than Americans?
I suspect on average they are not nearly as sedentary as Americans.
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:23 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info Al.

As a Type 2 diabetic I have been watching my carbs and exercising regularly for about 5 years and feel that I require more information on the whole process. This book looks to be what I need.
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
I worked in Beijing for a few weeks. I was surprised by the small amount of rice that was served with meals. Most food was vegetables, fish, vegetables, some meat, vegetables, some poultry, vegetables. There was some carbohydrates, but not like I thought there would be. Maybe others had a similar experience?
It would be interesting to find a study comparing the obesity levels in countries with a break down of the food they eat. Of course there are other variables that would have to be factored out of it but I think that would be a good way to pinpoint some of the more fattening foods.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Personally I'd put "less active lifestyles" way above the other items when it comes to obesity. It's easier to demonize food than get out and exercise. Not that some foods may not be more conducive than others to gaining weight, but still the bottom line is taking in more calories than you burn.
I don't really agree. I know a ton of thin couch potatoes, and a fair number of heavy active folks. I think food has much more to do with weight than does exercise. Not that I don't think exercise is important, I just think eating habits and food types have more of an impact. I could exercise and burn a thousand calories/day, but if I continue eating too much bad stuff I'll stay heavy. Not to mention the impact on the organs of processing too much sugar and bad fats. At a certain point they don't perform properly, no matter how much exercise you are getting.

I tend to agree with the Glycemic load theory. Whenever I have had my diabetes under control best it coincides with eating low glycemic load foods.

To add to the conversation, I read an interesting story recently in the Economist where a Harvard professor thinks that "soft" food has the most impact on obesity. By that he means processed or cooked food. Cooking changes foods into more easily digestable forms, etc. Here's the link - The American Association for the Advancement of Science: What's cooking? | The Economist. It all goes hand in hand with the raw veggies, whole grains concepts of dieting, and seems to make a lot of sense to me. I guess my next pizza should be raw oat kernals covered with raw tomato slices, organic goat cheese, and fresh oregano and garlic. I'm not sure how I'm going to work the pepperoni, though.
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:47 PM   #12
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Al I have to admit that the chart you posted is a jaw dropper.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Personally I'd put "less active lifestyles" way above the other items when it comes to obesity. It's easier to demonize food than get out and exercise. Not that some foods may not be more conducive than others to gaining weight, but still the bottom line is taking in more calories than you burn.
I disagree not based on anything I've read, but based on my personal experience. I recently tried a new workout program along with a nutrition plan. I have worked out my whole life but this was the first time I followed a nutrition plan. I was astonished by the results...body composition wise, I was in the best shape of my life so it was obvious the nutrition was playing the key role.

Nutrition is often misunderstood and underrated. Most Americans probably couldn't name the main macronutrients and what they do for your body. Food is fuel for your body. Feed it well and you'll get better results.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:30 PM   #14
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Most of these things that we are speculating about in this thread are treated in exhaustive detail in Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. It is not what anyone would consider a "good read", as it is a detailed compendium of relevant evidence, as well as some history of science. Taubes has an opinion, but he is not trying to sell an attitude, or a diet plan, or anything else. I read it 6 months ago, and am working my way through it again right now.

Not for everyone, but for some well worth the time and effort.

Ha
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:03 PM   #15
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As is usual with me, I have taken an unstudied approach to my diet. I feel better eating small meals throughout the day. I try to eat whole grains, a handful of nuts, low-fat dairy, very little red meat, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. I avoid things like white bread, white rice, regular potatoes, candy(other than dark chocolate), soda pop, potato chips and pretzels, etc. I don't count calories or really "watch" how much I eat if I am hungry. I get some exercise every day even if it is just 20 minutes of stretching and lifting light weights. I should say that I don't have any specific health problems(like diabetes) where I would have to be more vigilant. I eat anything in restaurants or at other people's houses.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:02 AM   #16
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Gary Taubes 2007 NYT article.
What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?


What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? - The New York Times
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:26 AM   #17
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I read Taubes book and liked it.

But I don't think that he has unearthed some new deep conspiracy here. Large pharma and food interests certainly are predatory and will do whatever they can to further their financial interests. Whatsmore, at least some of them will do so even in the face of contradictory evidence, possible long term harm to people, etc. It's what happens in a free market and hypercapitalism without adult supervision.

But in this case I think that the problem is also human nature and bad science. Close-minded people in positions of influence and power will resist new information that might threaten their roles. These are hard topics to research well, and expensive to study.

My preference would be to focus the resources on better and more extensive non-industry-supported research (NIH support, or untainted academic research). We should be cautious not only about believing the old "gospel" but also about adopting new theories without the same level of critical appraisal.

Taubes book is very important and thorough, he does delve a little too quickly in the direction of blame or conspiracy theory, and he draws conclusions a bit too readily from descriptive studies which are not true research, IMHO. On the other hand, he is shining a bright light on some longstanding pseudo-theories which deserve a fresh look.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cattusbabe View Post
Gary Taubes 2007 NYT article.
What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?


What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? - The New York Times
This is my favorite part:

Quote:
But it gets even weirder than that. Foods considered more or less deadly under the low-fat dogma turn out to be comparatively benign if you actually look at their fat content. More than two-thirds of the fat in a porterhouse steak, for instance, will definitively improve your cholesterol profile (at least in comparison with the baked potato next to it); it's true that the remainder will raise your L.D.L., the bad stuff, but it will also boost your H.D.L. The same is true for lard. If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease.
Did someone say "bacon"?
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:00 PM   #19
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I know when I do the atkins diet I lose weight, and feel better. My cholesteral improved too. Could have been the weight loss, I guess. Not sure.
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Old 09-07-2009, 01:49 PM   #20
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Interesting article, indeed. Thanks for the book report, Al. My DH has a weight problem and his LDL and Triglicerides levels are very high. His HDL is low. We do eat a lot of carbs in our household. I try very hard to limit the red meat. Wow, maybe I am responsible to some degree for his problems. I think that I will look into the Atkins Diet or the Zone diet.
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