Why are there so many fat people around? I keep on noticing it. And it's not an illusion; the rate of obesity has gone way up in the last 12 years.
Some people think they have the answer: Fructose.
There's an video on Youtube: Sugar: The bitter truth. It's an excellent primer on the indictment of fructose in obesity. The speaker, Dr. Lustig, is a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. He works with overweight children, and his weightloss program for children mostly consists of no sweetened drinks (no soda). Just water and milk. And getting them to be more active.
The processed food industry started adding high-fructose corn syrup to everything, at the same time as the rates of obesity in the USA soared. Also sucrose, which is half fructose. You can hardly buy bread that doesn't have fructose, as HFCS or sucrose. Or spaghetti sauce, etc. etc.
Processed food is much cheaper than fresh produce in the grocery store. And you can get greasy, sweet and cheap food at fast food joints everywhere.
Partly, the public health message that a lowfat diet should keep you slimmer and prevent heart disease, had sunk in. The food companies had to make food that was lowfat, so people would think it was healthy, but also tasty. So they made it sweet. The problem is, lowfat and full of fructose is also very unhealthy and fattening. It's a common pitfall of lowfat diets, and probably why a lot of people don't lose weight on a lowfat diet. They make up for being deprived of fat, by eating sweeteners.
It may be why low-carb diets often work for people. They cut out the fructose.
There is a lot of research on the dangers of fructose.
So, how can you lose weight? Make like the Japanese, who had only a 3% rate of obesity eating their traditional diet.
- Cut out the high-fat foods. That still matters.
Oil, butter, nuts,
fried food, etc. If you eat meat and seafood, concentrate on
Omega-3 supplements are probably a good idea. There's even an EPA/DHA supplement made from algae.
Don't cook protein at high heat, because it generates heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic.
- Low sucrose and fructose. Dr Johnson in The Sugar Fix recommends 25-35 gm/day of fructose. Sucrose is half fructose, so a gram of sucrose gives you half a gram of fructose. That also means limiting fruit consumption. Even if you aren't eating anything sweet, you'd get 5-10 gm/day of fructose from vegetables and starches. A banana has about 7 gm fructose; an apple has about 13 gm. Commercial fruit has been bred to be sweeter than wild fruit, and it's probably especially high in fructose, since fructose is sweeter than glucose. The USDA database has fructose and sucrose content of foods. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules bonded together, just as starches are chains of glucose. But the human digestive tract doesn't have enzymes capable of splitting fructans into fructose, so fructans are fiber and don't count in one's total fructose consumption.
You can save a lot of money eating less fruit, it's expensive.
Dr. Johnson recommend a 2-week "fructose fast" in The Sugar Fix, where you consume as little fructose as possible - less than 5 gm/day. He says this adapts the body away from fructose, and after that you can eat 25-35 gm/day without bad effects. That's about how much fructose people ate in the 19th century, when many fewer of us were fat. A small amount of fructose might be good for you.
I don't think enough research has been done yet on fructose, to be sure of the optimal amount.
- Get most of your calories from non-sweet starchy whole foods like potatoes, rice, cassava, etc. It's a myth that starches are fattening. It's the sour cream and butter on a potato that's fattening, not the potato.
If you use flours, grind them at home with a grain mill. Whole grain flours generally taste bitter. But that's because they're slightly rancid, I think. The polyunsaturated fats in the grains go bad very quickly once the grain is broken. They will taste great without any added sugar or fat, if you grind the whole grains fresh and use the flour right away.
- Lots of non-sweet vegetables.
- If you use a sweetener, using something non-caloric, or glucose syrup, made by hydrolyzing starch. The brown rice syrup sold in health food stores is probably glucose syrup, although I'd check with the manufacturer. If they use invertase enzymes in making the syrup, it has fructose. You can buy tapioca syrup online. If you can eat corn, which I can't, you can just use dextrose (= glucose). There are many good foods that aren't palatable without sweetening, like rhubarb, cranberries, cocoa, so sweetening them with glucose makes sense. In reasonable amounts! I've wondered if people might manage to stay fat by eating a lot of glucose.
- And get plenty of exercise.
This sort of diet doesn't promote compulsive eating. If you eat baked potatoes when you're hungry after a workout, with maybe some salt and paprika, you're less likely to overeat than if you eat something sweet like grapes or a smoothie. Eating this way, you still enjoy your food, but it's not high-voltage pleasure. You can find other ways to get that :)
It helps to avoid the media, TV and magazines; because advertising is constantly trying to sell you high fat, sugary food. People like to think they make choices independent of advertising, but they're influenced anyway! Why do food companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, after all? Because it works.
Everybody who was more than a little overweight who I've known, has obviously had a high-fat and high-fructose diet. Usually both. The high-fructose part usually comes from soda, although sugar is also half fructose.
It helps to avoid eating out. Restaurant food is generally very unhealthy, because fat and sugar are cheap ways to make food appealing. I don't eat at restaurants, but when I did I was astonished at how fatty the food was. I got an enormous plate of goopy stuff that would have been about right for a very hungry football player.