" For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. " Song of Solomon

October 30, 2007

Why I Avoid 100 Calorie Packs

Whether sweet or savory, 100 calorie packs are mostly carbs; they generally contain minimal amounts of the macro nutrients protein or fat.

As so many of us today have been taught to avoid fat, I began ingesting a lot of sugar via mixed foods in an effort to do so. Fat has approximately 100 calories per tablespoon whereas sugar has just 50; hence the reduction in calories is huge and seemed to be a great trade off.

However, sugar is almost pure carbohydrate. One teaspoon of it weighs 4 grams and is 4 grams of carbohydrate. Three to 4 teaspoons of the stuff and you have almost the equivalent amount of carbs found in a slice of bread. That seemingly innocent 1 tsp stirred into my cup of tea for 16 measly calories wasn't so innocent. Three cups of tea later I could have had a slice of bread for about the same number of carbs.

The bigger issue though is how ingesting carbohydrates affects one's blood sugar. All foods have an effect, but simple carbs cause your blood sugar to spike, and even complex carbs elevate your sugar significantly. But what does this have to do with anything?

Well, when sugar (also called glucose) in the blood is elevated, insulin is released in response. The higher the sugar, the higher the insulin levels. And glucose is burned instead of fat, with excess glucose from excess calories finally being converted and stored as fat. And when too much blood sugar/glucose is stored away, the result is low blood sugar which triggers mood swings, hunger and carb cravings.

So, ingesting disproportionate amounts of carbs leads to mood swings, hunger and carb cravings, and instead of burning fat for energy, which is the goal of weight loss, we burn sugar/glucose which is like tinder in a pile of wood...it burns up fast and is gone and we straightway must add more wood to the fire. Or in the case of eating, we must eat more food, and continually.

Fat on the other hand, which most all of us are avoiding these days slows down digestion and absorption of calories. The result is blood sugar/glucose trickles gradually into the blood stream providing a steady ongoing supply of glucose, hence no mood swings, hunger or carb cravings. It is like those big split logs in the pile of wood... once they are lit, they burn slow, steady and long. And that is what we want when we eat...we want our ingested food to "burn slowly, steady and long" and keep us satisfied until the next meal.

The bottom line is this. Eat balanced foods. You need to eat fat with your sugar/carbs. Throw some protein into the mix and derive even more benefit from the metabolic process .

The temptation is still there for me, left over from my Weight Watcher days (I'm a lifetime member), to eat fat free or very low fat foods. The lowest point foods in the WW plan are also fat free. But when I do, I sabotage my efforts. I'm learning, slowly but surely.

Tip: A good balance of macro nutrients is a maximum of 50% of your calories coming from carbs, aim to achieve 30% from fat, and the balance from protein.
"....there have been many times when I have shed bitter tears, when if I had understood the situation better, I would have celebrated my good luck instead."


I am not a doctor and all information, suggestions, etc are my personal opinion only.