Sugar is the Enemy

butter your steak AND EAT IT TOO

I didn’t misspeak. Adding fat to your meal is not only acceptable but also healthy, provided carbohydrate load is low and inclusive only of the low glycemic index variety. The burger patty is fine but not the fries. Why? I’ll explain.

Firstly, think not of calories and only about macronutrients. If you are consuming adequate fat during the day (as part of a macronutrient-based, modified ketogenic plan), it is unlikely that you will exceed your BMR, so calories become less of an issue. Quite frankly, they are a non-issue if your plan is configured properly (reverse-engineered from your BMR).

Of the macronutrients, carbohydrates are the critical players. They tell your body whether food is aplenty or scarce through the pancreatic hormone insulin. In essence, feast or famine. High glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates when eaten spike insulin levels and encourage the body to store fat (in anticipation of a potential upcoming famine, evolutionarily speaking), while low GI carbohydrates do just the opposite: promote fat loss by maintaining low levels of circulating insulin. Low GI carbohydrates are “less visible” to the body than high GI carbohydrates, the overconsumption of which is extremely damaging. Welcome to America!

High GI carbohydrates or sugars, at least those not oxidized (burnt) immediately wreak havoc on the body. They promote inflammation, and they incite riotous release of free radicals, often oversaturating our endogenous antioxidant systems. But there's more. When you eat a Snicker’s bar, blood sugar rises rapidly and biochemically assaults the inner lining of the blood vessels. The culprits are so-called called “Advanced Glycation End-products” or AGE’s. Yes, the name is fitting.

BUT DON'T AGE

AGE’s are like the brownish crust on a crème Brulee. The chemical reaction occurring at your dinner table as the waiter is scorching your dessert is very similar to that taking place in the lining of your blood vessels: proteins reacting with sugar in a hot environment. When you eat simple carbohydrates, and in particular fructose, there is a high likelihood of AGE formation. Fructose molecules react with or attack proteins in the arterial wall, directly damaging the endothelial cells, a primer for the development of atherosclerosis. Also, AGE’s impair the cells’ ability to release nitric oxide, a potent blood vessel relaxant. Absent this, your blood pressure will rise and cause more vascular damage. Worsening matters is that AGE’s are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia and erectile dysfunction.

The body’s response to high blood sugar (that does not occur in the context of a low GI meal) is the secretion of insulin. This pancreatic hormone signals the body to dispose of glucose by either burning it or storing the surplus as fat. At low levels, insulin is protective of the blood vessels, clearing potentially damaging sugar from within them. But, high circulating levels exert just the opposite effect within the blood vessel and elsewhere in the body.

Chronic exposure to simple carbohydrates will elevate insulin levels chronically. Make sense? Of course it does. Here’s the problem: Over time, the body becomes less sensitive (or more resistant) to insulin.  Translation? More insulin is required to dispose of a given amount of sugar in the blood. And this perpetuates the problem. Vicious cycle. Diabetes: a gateway disease to other age-related or non-communicable diseases (NCD’s).

Type II diabetes, unlike juvenile or type I diabetes is characterized by high blood sugars in the context of high (not low) levels of circulating insulin due to the “insulin resistant” state. Now, remember, insulin is a storage or anabolic hormone, one of the most powerful in the body, in fact. Bodybuilders take advantage of this and inject insulin in the same manner as a diabetic (a very dangerous practice, by the way).  Here’s the problem, in the context of a poor, sugar-laden diet, high insulin levels drive not only fat storage but also the storage of cholesterol in your arterial walls, the proverbial one-two punch, a true recipe for disaster. Does it surprise you that the majority of type II diabetics are obese and that most die of vascular disease? It shouldn’t.

Similarly, it should be no surprise to you that type II diabetes is a preventable disease (unless you are a Pima Indian), just like obesity. It’s simply a matter of making the right choices or more specifically, showing your body the right signals. High levels of circulating insulin equate to accelerated aging and an early death. Low levels? Just the opposite.

So how does one maintain low levels of insulin lifelong? It’s easy. Lots of healthy fats, low glycemic index carbohydrates only and moderate protein intake. Strength train regularly as per the protocol in Get Serious, and keep stress in check. Now sit back and watch the magic happen. But not really...