Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

Is eating 100 calories of brocolli and beans the same as eating 100 calories of soda and French fries? No, says Mark Bittman in his recent oped piece for the NYT's Opinionator. Interesting, he cites a study that concluded maintaining weight is much harder than losing weight. Then another study that concludes the best way to maintain weight is by following a low glycemic index diet. The study tested low glycemic index diets against the Atkins diet (low carb) and the traditional low fat diet, which has been pushed by the FDA for the last 30 years--you know the food pyramid.

What is a low glycemic diet anyway?

Bittman:  To differentiate “bad” carbs from “good,” scientists use the term “glycemic index” (or “load”) to express the effect of the carbs on blood sugar. High glycemic diets cause problems by dramatically increasing blood sugar and insulin after meals; low glycemic diets don’t. Highly processed carbohydrates (even highly processed whole grains, like instant oatmeal and fluffy whole-grain breads) tend to make for higher glycemic diets; less processed grains, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes and nuts — along with fat and protein — make for a lower glycemic diet.

What are low and high glycemic foods?

There are indexes all over the internet. In general, <55 is considered "low." 56-69 "medium." 70-100 "high." Here are some common foods. (The glycemic index is the GI column.)


Who is this Mark Bittman? 

He is kind of a celebrity chef I suppose. And he is also a runnerHe appears on the food segments of the Today show and writes for the Food section of the NYT. He is also a prolific cookbook author (my favorites Fish and Kitchen Express) and blogger. Simple recipes with seasonal ingredients are his fortay. And I also like him because he very regularly beats up on and debunks the bad advice given by Big Food, Fast Food, and the FDA.


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