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Calorie counting is a waste of time.

By Paddy Sullivan on September 21, 2016

Calorie counting is a waste of time.

How often do you hear people say that? Come and visit us at All About Health and Wellness and you will be on the receiving end of that message – accompanied by sound reasoning and advice.

We challenge the “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” mantra chanted by dieticians, doctors and most people involved in weight management. Their message, very simply, has been that too many calories in and not enough burning out, increases your weight.

But, Paddy and I are supportive of the argument that this is fundamentally flawed because of the varying ways different foods are processed in the liver. We are strong proponents of endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig and his beliefs around the controversies in nutrition. His task, he says, is to debunk 30 years of nutritional information, including the “If you eat it you (you’d) better burn it” message.

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His scientifically validated presentation The Skinny on Obesity focuses on the fact we eat more than we did 20 years ago; namely that we are eating more sugar, and herein lies the problem.

Sugar is the culprit in both the “why are we eating more and why have we got so obese in such a short time” questions.

Thirty years ago, fat was identified as the bad guy in the dietary family. Food producers removed the fat and replaced it with sugar, which was required for palatability.

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(With 15 teaspoons of sugar, one bottle of Coke will put you over the suggested daily limit and, worse still, any sugar that isn’t used by the body will be stored as fat.)

Sugar is made up of two molecules – glucose and fructose. Glucose is the energy of life; fructose is something altogether different. In Dr Lustig’s words, “fructose is a poison. It’s nothing to do with calories, it’s a poison in itself”. How the liver processes fructose is different from how it processes glucose. With glucose, 20 per cent is processed in the liver and 80 per cent is used in other parts of the body, for example the muscles, brain and other organs. However, with fructose, 100 per cent is metabolised in the liver. When that happens, the liver (which is dealing with a toxin) reacts by increasing insulin resistance. This is bad as the pancreas then has to work over-time and the end point is that the by-product is converted to fat that is stored around the organs. This never used to be the case. It is only because we now have so many more foods with a high level of sugar – therefore fructose – that insulin resistance then occurs.

Yes, fructose is the culprit, but it’s not that simple. There are hormones at play. Ghrelin is the hormone that sends the message we are hungry (grumbling ghrelin!). Leptin is the hormone, stored in fat cells, that sends a signal to the brain to say you have eaten a sufficient amount. But, the big problem is that when insulin levels are out of whack or insulin resistant (thanks to fructose) that alters the leptin’s response. So the brain still thinks you are hungry… and you eat more.

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As Dr Lustig says….”We are eating more than we did 20 years ago because our leptin is not working as effectively. There is something wrong with our biochemical negative feedback system that normally controls our energy balance.” The reason our leptin isn’t working and the reason we can’t stay energy stable is because of the increased introduction of the fructose poison in our diets.

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Here’s what we know about fructose in relation to dietary hormones:

* Fructose does not suppress ghrelin – the hunger hormone

* Acute fructose ingestion does not stimulate insulin. Insulin does not go up and if insulin doesn’t go up then leptin doesn’t go up and if leptin doesn’t go up then your brain doesn’t see that you ate something. Therefore you eat more.

 

So, back to that calorie counting mind set. You may reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories a day and think you will be OK. But, ask yourself, what type of 500 calories are you eating? You may have cut down on your calories – you may even be exercising more – but remember, your liver deals with various calories in different ways.

De-bunking 30 years of dietary belief is a big deal and may take a bit of getting your head around. Come and see Paddy who will help you test some of your dietary calculations, and assist you in creating a diet with a fructose diminished focus.

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Come to the clinic for advice around how to eat, what to eat, why we may overeat, and for hormone supplement advice. How to eat covers, for example, chewing your food and not drinking water with your meal (so you don’t dilute stomach acid so it can breakdown your food). What to eat will cover both portion size and content. We can also assist with identifying the emotional issues behind overeating and ensuring you are truly congruent with losing weight at a sub conscious level. Further to that, we can advise in regards to the hormone supplements that can be taken to assist the weight loss process.

Also of note: while we say exercise is not the answer to calorie counting, it is still important. Exercise reduces stress, it helps bring insulin levels down, and it detoxifies fructose.

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