Why a low-fat twinkie is not a health food

speeding towards the liverThe health gurus have got us programmed to think the low fat version of our favourite munchies, are “healthier” options.

But the thinking is based on an idea

FAT makes you FAT

At first glance the idea makes a lot of sense, but biological systems don’t always follow human “logic”.

 

Fat’s job

Biologically speaking FAT is neither good nor bad, yes, it does taste pretty good, but when all is said and done, fat is the most efficient way to store excess calories. And it is prudent to store excess calories, because rainy days HAPPEN.

Well, they did in the past when there weren’t fridges, processed foods and 24/7 supermarkets.

So…. ANY EXCESS CALORIES, end up being stored as fat.

Fast calorigetting to the liveres make the liver fat

A team of researchers from Boston’s Children’s Hospital have demonstrated the difference between fast and slow calories, in a group of mice.

The mice were fed exactly the same amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates for six months.

  • One group of mice got their carb calories quickly, as their meals were comprised of a type of cornstarch that is digested quickly.
  •  The other group got their carb calories a lot slower, as their food bowls were topped up with a type of cornstarch which is digested slowly.

After six months the mice weighed exactly the same – on the outside at least, the mice looked pretty normal. But things looked a little different on the inside, the mice eating the fast carbs had twice as much fat tucked inside their little bodies, especially in their livers.

 The guy in charge of the fat processing department in the body is insulin, so what happened ?

Insulin on call

The arrival of food, any food, protein or carb, gets insulin out of bed.

In a healthy person – he arrives on the scene almost immediately. How much arrives is proportional to how much food has landed, in particular, insulin is sensitive to the presence of sugary foods i.e. carbohydrates. The reason, sugary foods cause more metabolic trouble because high sugar levels slice and dice cells lining blood vessels and create a little more fire in the mitochondria.

The scene is initially the liver, the body’s chief food processing and distribution system, from there the insulin circulates in the blood. In the circulation, insulin assists cells with the right security clearances i.e. insulin receptors to access the energy supply.

Glycemic index matters

Insulin’s response to the foods arrival is primarily driven by the amount of sugar it contains and how quickly the sugar reaches the liver – so glycemic index matters. 

Foods categorized as high glycemic foods, like white bread, white rice, most prepared breakfast cereals and sugar laden beverages require insulin, to get moving quickly. They’re high in sugar and the sugar is readily available.

Foods considered low glycemic foods, like most vegetables and unprocessed grains, allow insulin to dawdle, because the sugar content is lower and it is intertwined with other things, so it takes significantly longer for the sugar to arrive in the liver.

Insulin drops

The bigger the sugar load, the more insulin drops into the liver.

The insulin which arrives in the liver, quickly gets to work doing what insulin does, which is mop up excess energy.

Insulin arranges for the carb calories to be squirreled away inside of the cells, firstly as glycogen and then once glycogen stores have been depleted, as….. FAT.

Although insulin ultimately works throughout the body, it begins the process where it is initially dispatched i.e. liver.

If insulin is storing fat in the liver, ALL THE TIME, the fat supply of the liver gradually accumulates. When liver stores of fat reach high enough levels, the fat becomes “visible”, leading to a diagnosis of fatty liver.

Fatty liver doesn’t make you feel sick, most people really don’t know they have it, but it is a common problem, which is becoming more and more common, especially in people who are overweight.

The stats suggest, 1 in 2 overweight kids, has a fatty liver.

Rolls of fat interfere with the liver

 Rolls of fat on the outside don’t look too good and end up cramping your style.

Rolls of fat in the liver, puts a little extra stress and strain on the liver. And the liver has a pretty tough job – it is ultimately in charge of providing every cell in your body, with the resources it needs, to do its job.

Stressed livers are more likely to break down – leading not to just fatty liver, BUT fatty liver disease, which in due course, could end with liver failure.

Low fat foods scare the liver

Low-fat food items, which are billed as “health foods”, contains the same amount of sugar as their full fat counterparts, actually they often contain a little more. When you remove the fat, you have to put something else in its place !

Low fat foods are NOT the secret to stopping fat accumulation, rather obey the rule of thirds and cut those carbs.

PS. Getting enough choline in your diet and watching the amount of fructose you consume, may help de-stress your liver.

Hepatic Steatosis and Increased Adiposity in Mice Consuming Rapidly vs. Slowly Absorbed Carbohydrate. Obesity (2007) 15, 2190–2199. Kelly B. Scribner, Dorota B. Pawlak and David S. Ludwig
 

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those extra fat layers ?

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Further reading

Gorilla on a diet amylase cutting up starch a glass of wine slowing down the gut
Gorilla dieting techniques You need high glycemic spit to really be low GI A glass of wine winds down more than just your head

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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