The Useless Concept of Calories
I follow Dr Jason Fung and his articles on Medium and his piece on calories is well worth reading.
Really good information …. until the oversimplification of the problem of obesity in the last few paragraphs.
Insulin is a part of the problem but probably equal to that of leptin, another hormone which regulates satiety. Both are important but neither is the key to reducing obesity, they are just the messengers (not the message).
I remember the 1960s when TV cooking shows were all about baking and lots of desserts and snack foods. I remember soft drinks back then with ads of teenagers and flashy cars and the promised lifestyle. I remember sugary treats like all-day suckers, lolly-gobbles, jaw-stickers, sherbet and more. Ice cream, cake and biscuit were more like staples for kids than steak, chicken and fish.
But we didn’t get fat back then or at least not in the numbers that now make obesity a global epidemic. And our pancreases all secreted lots of insulin to mitigate the effects of all that sugar.
It is true that we also walked or cycled to school and were not chauffeured in urban off-roaders and we dodged cars going more than the ridiculous 40kph school zone road limits around Australia. There’s good exercise in that.
The problem today is more from a lack of phytonutrients that are absent in factory food and a narrowing range of species of fruits and vegetables that have been bred for mass distribution, nationally and for export and NOT for our ideal nutrition.
Even nutritionists recognize just how bad our produce has become and they only recommend 2 fruits and 5 vegetables. This is because many modern fruits, mangoes for example, can deliver 3% MORE bad sugars than Coke or Pepsi on a weight by weight basis. Dried fruits such as dates have 5 times MORE sugar than the same cola drinks with their only saving grace being that we might only eat 5 or six dates which would give us around 10 teaspoonfuls of sugar. This is a little less than a full can of cola (but not by much).
However, it is our instinctive taste drive for phytonutrients (our other taste drives are for sweetness, fat and Maillard products) is what appears to be inducing us to ‘forage’ more food and to over-eat while ‘hunting’ for the phytonutrients that are missing from today’s junk foods and falling to insignificant in our fresh produce.
The evidence for this is that by simply adding wild and near wild foods to our diet we effectively reduce hunger and two daily meals becomes our new norm instead of breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner and a snack before bedtime.
Our microflora also have much to say and actually determine most of what we eat. Supply a rubbish diet to the microflora and they demand more of the same as they do not need the high quality phytonutrients we require for our better health. Feed them bad sugars (also not addressed in the article) and lots of high fat, low fibre foods and they will induce us to eat more.
Here are a few articles that expand on the topics above:
We all know that the next diet is probably in preparation as you read this blog and will add to the plethora of diets …
What’s the perfect diet and why are we getting fat?
It’s pretty clear that as a population, we in the developed world are losing the Battle of the Bulge …
And now for some good news:
If we get phytonutrients in our diet we no longer need to think about insulin from carbs or wherever. Dr Fung might enjoy fasting or ‘counting’ and limiting the sources of insulin but I know that I don’t have the will power (or the interest) to force a fast or work out which carbs are fast release (high insulin) or slow release (low insulin) sugar foods or how to reduce insulin resistance.
Will power is limited and starving myself is not giving me any phytonutrients at all. The best thing going for intermittent fasting is that it forces us to drink more water which we need to breathe-off fat. Yes. We don’t ‘burn’ fat we need to elevate our metabolic rate and breathe more. But that’s another story.
The good news from phytonutrients is that they satisfy us through fulfilling our total body hunger. They satisfy what is called hidden hunger and once we get adequate levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-allergens, anti-rogue cell (anti-proliferatives, pro-apopotics, anti-carcinogens, anti-mutagens), immune boosters, adaptogens, organic acids, organ protectants (brain, heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, blood vessels, etc), live enzymes and enzyme regulators, good sugars and bioavailable minerals — then we simply do not have to eat more. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Diet is controlled by our taste drive for phytonutrients, not will power. Not fasting for days at a time. Not hours of cardio. Not our gut microbiome nor the company we keep.
That’s the good news.