Weighing too much is a matter of energy balance, a matter of calories going in verses calories going out, right? Maybe not. New research and new thinking in nutrition has started shifting this idea of energy balance to a view centered on food as a whole. It may be that getting rid of those pounds does not require hours of pounding on a treadmill as much as it requires rethinking what you eat.
The fundamental error in the calorie myth is that any calories you consume is exactly the same as any other calorie. The complicated reality is that energy in the diet come from different sources which route through different bodily processes. To understand it, put on your lab coat for a couple of minutes.
A Very Quick Summary of Sugar Metabolism
Glucose and fructose have the exact same chemical formula and if burned in a flame, would release exactly the same amount of heat. However, the atoms are arranged a little differently.
Two molecules that have this type of relationship are called isomers. In the case of these two sugars, it means that the molecules do not behave the same way in the body.
Glucose can be used by any cell in the body. It easily moves into the cell where it is directly burned for energy. No such luck with fructose. It must first travel to the liver, where a wide variety of things (none of them good) happen.
The metabolism of fructose in the liver is complex, but there are two important results.
. Fructose is more readily turned into fat.
. Fructose metabolism signals the liver to increase fat storage.
A calorie is not a calorie. Table sugar (sucrose) is a two unit sugar, one glucose and one fructose melded together. Therefore a high level of added sugar in the diet is also a high level of fructose.
The Worst Thing Richard Nixon Ever Did
Seriously, it’s not Watergate. On August 10, 1973, he signed that year’s farm bill, and that legislation fundamentally changed the US agricultural system by wildly subsidizing corn and soybeans. Another way to say it is, “by wildly subsidizing omega-6 fats and fructose.”
After a few years of experimentation with the flood of dirt cheap feedstocks from the new agricultural, the modern food industry was born. Hot Pockets hit the supermarkets in 1983, and our waists have never looked back.
Examples of Fructose in Food
Consider fructose in soda. The total sugar content for a typical 12 ounce soda is about 27 grams, split between 16 grams of fructose and 11 grams of glucose. Another way to get 16 grams of fructose would be to eat two cups of kiwi fruit.
The two cups of kiwi have loads of vitamins and minerals and 10 grams of fiber while the soda has nothing. When fiber is part of digestion, the uptake of sugars from the gut slows, and the response of the pancreas is less dramatic. Taking 16 grams of fructose in an empty solution is much more damaging that taking it as part of food.
Should I control fructose?
Fructose is having a negative impact on the modern diet, but a broader lesson than “fructose is the problem” will lead to better results. Looking back to America before Nixon signed the farm bill provides guidance.
Americans of that era, ate plenty of meat, but also ate vegetables and starch. The most important difference in the diet of that era versus the modern American diet was the lack of prepared food. While there were certainly some overweight people, obesity simply did not exist as it does today.
The absolute best diet is a long discussion and a lifelong pursuit. The important goal is to simply improve. This means eliminating prepared foods and replacing them with cooked meals.
When you start down this path, don’t worry very much about what you are cooking, just know every ingredient that ends up on your plate. As you gain experience, you will learn and progress towards more healthful choices in your menu.
If you haven’t grown up cooking, starting may take some work and education. Spend the time to learn how to cook. This can start by simply watching YouTube videos and go from there. If you are going to succeed, you will also need a learning outlook. Learn dish by dish.
Controlling fructose is important, but it is best accomplished by becoming a cook. This will result in better food and will give the enjoyment that comes with providing your friends and family real food that nourishes.