If you have not ascertained the fact by now, I do not believe that the USDA food pyramid is a healthy diet. In fact, I lay a major portion of the blame of health problems today to these unhealthy diet recommendations. It has been politically motivated and also lacks any medical scientific backing. Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, is quoted in his book Eat, Drink, and be Healthy (Simon and Schuster 2001) as stating, "The USDA Pyramid is wrong. It was built on shaky scientific ground……it has been steadily eroded by new research from all parts of the globe." The base of the Food Guide Pyramid is 6 to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta—90% of which you have learned is now highly processed. All of these foods are very high glycemic and it is recommended to be the major aspect of your diet. These foods are worse than table sugar when it comes to spiking your blood sugar. The first concept you need to learn about is the consumption of what are known as "good" carbohydrates.
I discuss the concept of the glycemic index versus the old theory of sugar length as the determining factor of the rate of absorption of sugar or glucose on my web page under glycemic index. Since our primary concern is the rate our blood sugar rises following a meal, you can now appreciate the fact that a major aspect in determining the quality of carbohydrate you may choose to eat is largely determined by which theory you accept. This is where many physicians and patients alike become confused because the medical establishment (nutritionists, dietitians, physicians, weight loss experts) still base all of their decisions based on the concept of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates. However, the medical literature and the rest of the world (hopefully the US by the time this book is released) are realizing that the concept of glycemic index and glycemic load is the true way to evaluate the effect a certain carbohydrate will have on our blood sugar. It only makes common sense that if you measure the blood sugar rise following the ingestion of a certain carbohydrate you can clearly determine the effect that carbohydrate will have on your blood sugar.
Again, I want to review the practical aspects of the glycemic index and the glycemic load again. The glycemic index is defined as the rate blood sugar would actually rise following the ingestion of a particular test food relative to the ingestion of a standard food (either white bread or glucose). Therefore, the glycemic index of a specific food or meal is determined primarily by the nature of the carbohydrate or carbohydrates consumed and by other factors that affect the digestion of that particular meal (primarily the fat and protein content of that meal). Glycemic load is defined as the weighted average glycemic index of individual foods multiplied by the percentage of dietary energy as carbohydrates (grams of carbohydrates or calories) that particular food contains. A simple calculation allows you to arrive at the glycemic load of any food. You can usually locate the grams of carbohydrate a particular food contains by looking at the food label or using a food composition table and then multiplying it by the glycemic index found at the back of this book. Then you divide this number by 100.
Glycemic load= (Glycemic Index x Grams of Carbohydrate) divided by 100
Spaghetti: 1 cup of cooked spaghetti has a GI value of 41 (average) and contains 52 grams of carbohydrate.
Glycemic Load: (41x52) divided by 100 = 21
Carrots: Glycemic index is 49 and the average serving contains an average of 5 carbohydrates per serving.
Glycemic Load: (49 x 5) divided by 100 = 2.4
This is an important example because it begins to illustrate the fact that the glycemic index is only one aspect in choosing quality carbohydrates. If you were to just look at the glycemic index, spaghetti beats out carrots fairly easy. However, when you look at the amount of carbohydrate you are consuming with one serving of spaghetti (52 grams of carbohydrate) compared with the amount of carbohydrate you are consuming with an averaging serving of carrots (5 grams of carbohydrate), it becomes apparent that the spaghetti is going to create a greater rise in our blood sugar and our insulin response. Especially, when you consider most of us do not eat just one cup of spaghetti for our average serving. Therefore, when you look at the quality of a particular carbohydrate on of the main factors to consider is the glycemic index and the glycemic load.
The next important consideration is the quality of nutrients a particular carbohydrate contains. In this present world of highly processed foods, the quality of nutrients a carbohydrate contains varies tremendously. For example, all of our fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables are classified as carbohydrates. These whole foods contain the vital vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals our bodies need to survive. However, processed white sugar, which is consumed in alarming amounts in the modern world only contains one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Glucose has a glycemic index of 100 and a glycemic load of 10 while fructose has a glycemic index of 19 and a glycemic load of 2. Combined together in your normal white table sugar it has a glycemic index of 61 and a glycemic load of 6. Now, I believe that you would agree with me that the nutritional value of sugar is not the greatest. However, when you just look at the glycemic index and the glycemic load of table sugar, it really is not that horrible. Therefore, any foods that are high in sugar can give this highly processed carbohydrate a fairly good glycemic index and glycemic load. The point that I am trying to make is the fact that more and more people are becoming knowledgeable about the glycemic index of foods and basing which carbohydrates they are going to eat solely just on this index. You have to understand that the glycemic index is important but was never intended to be the only consideration when choosing which carbohydrates you were going to eat.
Processed Carbohydrates—the Enemy
When you are trying to determine what a good carbohydrates and which are the bad carbohydrates in this world, you need to look at the glycemic index, the glycemic load, and the quality of nutrients contained within a particular carbohydrate. The main consideration for a healthy diet is for you to understand that the major reason we are in this health care crisis today of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus is because of the processed food industry and our fear of fat. That is correct; you must understand that highly processed carbohydrates are literally destroying your health. Everything that I have related and documented so far was so that you would hopefully be able to realize and understand why processed carbohydrates are so dangerous. They are all high glycemic and almost all have a high glycemic load. They are absorbed very quickly into the blood stream and therefore spike your blood sugar, which stimulates the release of insulin (your storage hormone) and suppress glucagon (your fat releasing hormone). Most of that sugar is driven into our fat cells where it is quickly changed to fat. The blood sugar is quickly driven down by the excessive release of insulin into the hypoglycemic range where counterregulatory hormones are then released to drive the blood sugar back up. You develop this overwhelming hunger (hyperphagia) and then you have to eat again—usually craving these high glycemic foods that started the process in the first place. I have discussed this problem previously in week one of your training and want to review this again because I feel this is the primary underlying reason people have failed to lose weight permanently. They just don’t appreciate how dangerous processed foods are to their overall health and weight control. How could they be so bad—after all they are low in fat? This fear of getting too much cholesterol and fat in our diet is the greatest fallacy that has ever been perpetuated on any society. The damage that this has caused to our health and our society is incalculable. You will learn more about this during the next week training when I discuss good fats and bad fats.
As I have shared with you earlier, the concepts that I share in the Healthy and Lean for Life Program are quite simple to understand. You will not have to have a scale, weigh your food, or starve yourself to death in order to lose weight. You simply need to understand the fact that there are good carbohydrates, good protein, and good fat that needs to be combined together into every meal and snack that you consume. When you look at whole foods, which are defined as any food man has not messed with, you will find that with only a few exceptions they make up what I define as "Good Carbohydrates". These are foods like apples, oranges, pears, grapes, beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, corn, nuts, carrots, and whole grains. These foods not only contain the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, good fats, good proteins, and good carbohydrates our bodies require and need but they also have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load. Of course, there are exceptions to this basic rule like white potatoes (glycemic index of 88 and a glycemic load of 16) but in general if it has not been processed by man—it is a good carbohydrate.
In direct contrast, is the fact that if it has been processed in any way, it is generally not a good carbohydrate. For example if you take slow cooked oatmeal (glycemic index of 42 and a glycemic load of 9) and compare this to instant oatmeal (glycemic index of 66 and a glycemic load of 17). This is a major difference in this same food’s ability to spike your blood sugar and your insulin response. I find it interesting that in one of the studies that looked at how much children would eat following a high glycemic versus a low glycemic breakfast that the high glycemic meal they used was instant oatmeal. It is critical that you understand that when man processes foods that not only are many of the important nutrients necessary for life removed but that they change the structure of the carbohydrate in such a way as that the body is able to absorb it very easily. Also you must remember the fact that because the food loses much of its good taste during the processing procedure, food additives (sugar and high fructose corn syrup are some of the most widely used) must be added back to the food so that it is palatable. Are you starting to get the picture?
I have learned to use a simple guide for my patients which makes it easy for anyone to see very quickly which foods they can safely consume and the ones they absolutely need to avoid. I divide the main carbohydrates people consume into three categories:
- Desirable Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins—should make up 70 to 80% of all the carbohydrates you consume.
- Moderately Desirable Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins—should make up 20 to 25% of the carbohydrates you consume.
- Least Desirable Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins—should make up only 5 to 10% of the carbohydrates you consume.
Please see the Recommended Food List for a detailed listing of the most common carbohydrates, fats, and proteins consumed in the United States and Canada. Now it is important to discuss the various categories of carbohydrates to give you even a better detailed understanding of the factors you must consider when you begin choosing to make changes to your eating habits.
Almost all whole vegetables are classified as highly recommended carbohydrates. They contain vital nutrients and are low glycemic and have a low glycemic load. They should make up a major aspect of your diet. Even those fruits and vegetables that have a higher glycemic index generally have a lower glycemic load and will not spike your blood sugar. Vegetables like carrots and beets that have a higher glycemic index (47 and 64) have a low glycemic load (3 and 5). Therefore, simply stated, eating any whole vegetables is recommended; however, I do not place potatoes in this category. I feel you need to look at potatoes as a separate category when you start to make changes to your own personal eating habits.
When you look at potatoes as a category, they are definitely a whole food but they are both very high glycemic and have a high glycemic load. It is the vegetable of choice of most Americans. They will eat them baked, boiled, fried, instant, mashed, and in any form they can get their hands on them. Other than breads, this may be the biggest adjustment you need to make in your thinking about your diet. The average baked potato has a glycemic index (GI) of 85 and a glycemic load of 26. French fried potatoes have a GI of 75 and a glycemic load of 22. They are also cooked in lard, beef tallow, or high temperature vegetable oil, which not only creates a high glycemic food that is loaded with either saturated fat or rancid fat (this will be discussed in detail during next week’s training). New potatoes actually have the lowest GI (57) and lowest GL (12) and are the potatoes I recommend my patients consume. I also like the yams with a GI of 37 and a GL of 13 or sweet potatoes with an average GI of 61 and GL of 17. Now I recommend that even the new potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes be eaten only occasionally.
Again, almost all whole fruits are excellent carbohydrates to consume. They contain important antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for our existence. Even though they are sweet, they contain fructose sugar which is both low glycemic (19) and has a low glycemic load (2). Now there is some negative concerns about high fructose corn syrup additives but I want to make it very clear that the amount of fructose that occurs naturally in our whole fruits is healthy and will not spike your blood sugar. When we consume too much fructose in foods, soda pops, sports drinks, and candy, it can overload our liver and cause definite concerns. Fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe which have a higher GI (72 and 65) have a low GL of 4. Even bananas that have a modest GI of 51 and a modest GL of 13 are still considered an excellent carbohydrate as well as are papaya, mango, and Kiwi fruit. There needs to be some caution using these higher glycemic fruits as stand alone snacks but they make great deserts following a wonderful, low glycemic meal.
Processed fruits can be dangerous just as can any processed carbohydrates. Fruit juice and canned fruit are the main culprits. It all is a matter of exactly how they have been processed. For example, an orange has a GI of 48 and a GL of 5 but orange juice reconstituted from frozen concentrate has a GI of 57 and a GL of 15. An apple has a GI of 40 and a GL of 6, while unsweetened apple juice has a GI of 40 but a GL of 12. However, most of the juices that are available are not 100% fresh squeezed or fresh frozen, but instead, are diluted and sweetened. This significantly increases both the GI and GL. A raw peach has a GI of 28 and a GL of 4. However, when it is canned in heavy syrup it has a GI of 58 and a GL 9. The basic principle you will hear me preaching is the more natural the food the lower the GI and GL and consequently the better it is for you.
It becomes apparent very quickly that most breakfast cereals are highly processed carbohydrates. Almost all of these boxed cereals are high glycemic and have a high glycemic load. This is not the way you need to start out your day. Especially, when you consider most people add two pieces of white or whole wheat toast and a glass of orange juice to their breakfast. Kellogg’s All-Bran takes the prize when it comes to a highly processed cereal that is both low glycemic and has a low glycemic load. If you have ever eaten an All-Bran breakfast you can understand why, it tastes like your eating the box. In order for companies to make a cereal taste good, they usually need to add a ton of sugar. This may make the cereal have a moderate glycemic index and glycemic load but where is the nutritional value? The highly processed grains that have been used as the basis of the cereal have had most of the quality nutrients removed. This is the main reason that they must fortify most cereals.
The best cereals are the "old-fashioned" slow-cooked cereals like oatmeal and steel cut oats. Yes, they take a little longer to prepare but they are lower glycemic and have a lower glycemic load. The grain is intact and has had minimal processing. I am sure that if you love cereal for breakfast and go back to these fine foods that you will be simply amazed out how well they taste and how satisfying they are. You can also add some soy or whey protein to your cereal just as you are finishing cooking it. This will add some needed protein to your meal and add to the flavor and satisfaction of your breakfast.
I believe the most difficult change you will have to make is avoiding white bread, white flour, wheat flour, and almost every processed bread made in the US and Canada. White bread has a GI of 70 and a GL of 10 and has been used a standard in many of the studies involving the glycemic index. Whole wheat bread (made from wheat flour) has a GI of 77 and a GL of 9. Now this makes your choice of whole wheat bread over white bread a mistake when you consider the glycemic index. Now brown bread may look healthier but it is a complete fake out. Now coarse wheat kernel bread (75% intact kernels—Canada) has a GI of 48 and a GL of 10. While white Wonder Bread (enriched) has a GI of 73 and a GL of 10. Bagels have a GI of 72 and a GL of 25. Highly processed whole wheat bread and white bread actually spikes our blood sugar and insulin faster than table sugar. Bread along with potatoes in all its processed forms is the major culprit and challenge when it comes to the Healthy and Lean for Life Program. Try to go out and avoid white bread, white flour, pasta, rice, and potatoes in the Western diet. It is nearly impossible unless you are willing to take back control of your health and not let your health and weight be at the mercy of the food industry. The choice is yours. However, this is why I want you to totally avoid all sugar, bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta during the first four weeks of the Healthy and Lean for Life Program. Now that you are nearing the end of Phase One, it is important to be looking for a very good whole-grain bread and learning which rice and pasta to re-introduce into your diet.
Obviously, you want to begin eating breads that are made the old-fashioned way. The way the peasants had to eat their breads over the past centuries. You want bread that is made with whole, intact grains. Not wheat or white flour. These grains should be stone-ground and not the result of high speed grinders. They are simply difficult to find. My research around the country as taught me that they are hard to find no matter where you live. Most brands that use whole wheat flour will also combine this with wheat or white flour. They just want to maintain the fluffy, light bread that tastes so good. Whole grains make the bread drier and coarser and frankly just don’t sell as well.
Eating coarse rye kernel (pumpernickel) bread is a step in the right direction because it has a GI of 41 and a GL of 5. Whole oat bran bread has a GI of 44 and a GL of 8. Another trick is to eat sour dough bread because the lactic acid it contains causes a decrease in the rate of absorption and lowers the GI of wheat bread to 53 and GL of 10. If sprouted breads (contains no flour) like Silver Hills bread or Ezekiel Bread are available in your area, you may consider switching to these types of breads because they are lower glycemic. However, the greatest change we all need to be making is simply just eating less bread. Breads and grains have been the base of our USDA Food Pyramid for years and making this change is going to take time. I feel that even the lower GI and GL breads need to be eaten much less and the average white and wheat bread needs to be treated like candy and sugar. It should be avoided as much as possible and if eaten at all should be nibbled at like it was a piece of candy. After all, it is worse than candy when it comes top the way it spikes your blood sugar and insulin.
Cookies, Cakes, Donuts, Crackers, Snack Foods, Candy
I can hear you now—you are not going to make me give up my favorite foods. My patients have told me over the years that it is simple to follow the eating habits I recommend—if it tastes good, then I can’t have it. Well, they were not really too far off. We have a society that is simply hooked on sugar and sweets. I feel that it is as strong of addiction as drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Well, you can just guess where I place of these carbohydrates and it is not on my highly recommended foods to eat. However, I know that you are going to not totally give up deserts and sweets. You need to have a great respect for these foods because it is so easy to get back into the carbohydrate addiction. By now, fruits should taste very sweet to you. Whole fruits offer you a tremendous way to satisfy that sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar.
Good Fats and Good Proteins
It is important to realize that the best fats and proteins generally come from our vegetables. These contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as the monounsaturated fats. They are very low in saturated fats. The next best fats and therefore protein comes from cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines, etc., since they contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids. The next best fat and protein comes from foul because the fat of the bird is found just under the skin in the subcutaneous fat and not marbled into the meat. It is easy to skin your chicken or turkey and end up with a relatively lean serving of protein even though it is primarily saturated fat. The worst fat and protein comes from red meat and dairy products. You need to eat the leanest meat you can get your hands on and go for skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt. Fatty red meat, cheese, milk, butter, and foods produced from these sources are your main enemy when it comes to getting too much saturated fat into your diet.
Hopefully, this Recommended Food List will help guide you into better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle.
|Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Peach (canned in natural juice)||38||4|
|Pear (canned in natural juice)||43||5|
|Leafy Vegetables (spinach, lettuce)||||0|
|Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, Bengal gram)||28||8|
|Lentils, green, dried||30||5|
|Coarse Barley Kernel Bread:
|80% Kernels (20% white flour)||34||8|
|Oat Bran Bread||47||9|
|Rye Kernel Bread (pumpernickel)||41||5|
|Healthy Choice Wheat Bread (Con Agra Inc., USA)||55||8|
|Soy and Linseed Bread (packet mix in bread oven) (Con Agra Inc., USA)||50||5|
|Silver Hills Sprouted Bread||Has not been tested|
|Ezekiel Sprouted Bread||Has not been tested|
|All-Bran (Kellogg’s, USA)||38||9|
|Bran Buds (Kellogg’s, Canada)||58||7|
|Bran Buds with Psyllium (Kellogg’s, Canada)||47||6|
|Hot Cereal, Apple and Cinn. (Con Agra Inc., USA)||37||8|
|Hot Cereal, unflavored (Con Agra Inc., USA)||25||13|
|Oat Bran, raw||55||3|
|Rice, parboiled (Uncle Ben’s)||38||14|
|Rice, parboiled, long grain (Canada)||38||14|
|Wheat, whole kernels||41||14|
|Wheat, cracked (bulgur)||48||12|
|Yogurt, low fat||31||9|
|Sugars and Sweeteners|
|Stevia||Has not been tested|
MODERATELY DESIRABLE CARBOHYDRATES
|Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Apple Juice, unsweetened||40||10|
|Apricots, canned in light syrup||64||12|
|Peach, canned in heavy syrup||58||9|
|Barley Flour Breads||67||9|
|Whole-Wheat Barley Flour Bread with Sourdough (lactic acid)||53||10|
|Whole-Wheat Rye Bread||58||8|
|Coarse Wheat Kernel Bread, (80% intact kernels)||52||12|
|All-Bran (Kellogg’s, Canada)||50||9|
|Cream of Wheat||66||17|
|Oatmeal, rolled oats||58||13|
|Cornmeal, boiled in salt water (Canada)||68||9|
|Sweet Corn (USA)||60||20|
|Taco Shells, cornmeal-based||68||8|
|Rice, long grain, wild (Uncle Ben’s)||54||20|
|Rice, basmati, boiled||58||22|
|Rice, par boiled (USA)||72||18|
|Banana Cake, made without sugar||55||16|
|Chocolate Cake (Betty Crocker)||38||20|
|Muffin, apple without sugar||48||9|
|Pasta and Noodles|
|Spaghetti, whole wheat||37||16|
|Sugars and Sweeteners|
LEAST DESIRABLE CARBOHYDRATES
|Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Angel Food Cake||67||19|
|Muffin, oat, raisin||54||14|
|Pound Cake (Sara Lee)||54||15|
|Graham Wafers (Christie Brown, Canada)||74||14|
|Vanilla Wafers (Canada)||77||14|
|Ice Cream, low fat||47||5|
|Ice Cream, premium||37||4|
|Cranberry Juice Cocktail||68||24|
|Coarse Oat Kernel Bread, 80%intact oat kernels||65||12|
|White Flour bread||70||10|
|Whole-Wheat Flour Bread||71||8|
|Corn Flakes (Kellogg’s, USA)||92||24|
|Cream of Wheat, instant||74||22|
|Grapenuts (Kraft, USA)||75||13|
|Grapenuts Flakes (Post, Canada)||80||17|
|Life (Quaker Oats Co., Canada)||66||16|
|Raisin Bran (Kellogg’s, USA)||61||12|
|Rice Chex (Nabisco, Canada)||89||21|
|Rice Krispies (Kellogg’s, Canada)||82||21|
|Shredded Wheat (Nabisco, Canada)||83||17|
|Special K (Kellogg’s, USA)||69||14|
|Total (General Mills, Canada)||76||17|
|Millet, boiled (Canada)||71||25|
|Noodles, rice (Australia)||76||37|
|Rice, long grain||56||23|
|Rice, long grain, quick- cooking variety||68||25|
|Rice, Jasmine (Thailand)||109||46|
|Rice, instant white||87||36|
|Snacks and Candy|
|Fruit Roll Ups||99||24|
|Sugars and Sweeteners|
|Sucrose (table sugar)||61||6|
|Splenda||Has not been tested|
MODERATELY DESIRABLE PROTEIN/FAT
LEAST DESIRABLE PROTEIN/FAT