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EFFECTS OF SUGARS AND INSULIN ON FAT STORAGE



By Ann de Wees Allen, D.N.

Sweeteners fall into two basic categories-caloric and non-caloric. But the calorigenicity of a given sweetener does not solely define its ability to accumulate body fat. Since all sugars are not created equal, the categorizing of sweeteners as to their fat-storing properties is essential in the control of adipose tissue (excess body fat). The gauge of a sugar or sweetener to stimulate fat-storage is its insulinogenic (insulin elevating) rating.

This mechanism can be explained by following the path of the sweetener from the point of ingestion to its final destination. The accompanying figures compare two sugars containing the same amount of calories. Logically, if the sugars contain the same calories, they should stimulate fat storage equally. But that is not the case. Common table sugar (sucrose) encourages fat-storage much more efficiently than maltitol, a sugar with the same caloric profile as sucrose. The amount of dietary fat ingested is identical in both scenarios.

The combination of eating insulinogenic/high glycemic sweeteners with fatty foods over an extended period of time leads to excess accumulation of adipose tissue and eventual obesity. When fats are present in a meal, it is particularly important to reduce the total glycemic index of the foods eaten. The surest way to increase body fat stores is by ingesting high glycemic/insulinogenic sugars with a high fat meal.

Replacing high glycemic foods and sugars with low glycemic/low insulinogenic sugars in a high fat meal prevents excessive accumulation of body fat. For those whose ultimate goal is weight gain, as in the bodybuilder, a diet of low gIycemic/low insulinogenic sweeteners, sugars, and foods with moderate fat intake, will allow for increased caloric intake and weight gain without fat gains. With a properly designed diet, a body-builder can eat 5,000 calories a day, weigh 220 lbs. and hold body fat levels below 5%. The dietary practice of ingesting potatoes while attempting to add muscle mass and re duce body fat is an example of incorrect body programming. The body-builder would be able to effectively reduce more body fat by eliminating insulinogenic potatoes from the diet.

Stimulation of lipoprotein lipase is not limited to adipose tissue. Sugars which stimulate insulin (insulinogenic sugars) also stimulate lipoprotein lipase activity in the muscle and heart tissues. The insulinogenic effect of each sweetener/sugar is parallel to its glycemic index. Continuous stimulation of blood sugar results in fat gains and exacerbation of medical/health problems. Maintaining low plasma insulin levels also helps protect against atherosclerosis.

Carbohydrates, such as sugars, elicit quite different responses from the body. The following table shows the difference in three meals comprised of different carbohydrates:

Meal I
Sucrose + Dietary Fat + Calories = Higher body fat accumulation
Meal II
Maltitol + Dietary Fat + Calories = Lower body fat accumulation
Meal III
Broccoli + No Fat + Calories = No appreciable body fat accumulation
Meals I, II, and III contain the same amount of calories. Meals I and II contain the same amount of calories and fat. Meal III is comprised of the same calories as meals I and II with a low gIycemic/low insulingenic carbohydrate instead of a sugar and without the addition of dietary fat.

The comparison of the three meals containing identical calories, but different carbohydrates, shows the difference in fat stores in response to the meal ingested. Avoiding combinations of high glycemic/insulinogenic foods in the same meal with fatty foods and/or dietary fat results in a decrease in adipose tissue accumulation.

Certain sugars are largely, but not solely, responsible for elevating blood-glucose levels. Carbohydrates other than sugars have the ability to stimulate blood sugar. Other blood sugar offenders include nicotine, estrogens, certain medications, glucacon and unbuffered high doses of caffeine. Caffeine will not disturb blood sugar levels when the dose is moderate and is buffered in the gut with carbohydrates and/or proteins.

The reason people typically choose a doughnut to accompany their coffee is simply that their body has already figured out that when straight black coffee is consumed without carbohydrates, the brain and body react to the high blood sugar which turns into low blood sugar which wreaks havoc with energy levels and mental acuity. Eating the doughnut with the coffee buffers the blood sugar bang, but unfortunately also encourages fat-storage. The blood sugar see-saw caused by coffee drinking can be negated by the addition of the correct protein and carbohydrates. The goal for those concerned with fat-gains and blood sugar balance is to choose the correct coffee-buffers.

The following combinations of coffee, protein, and carbohydrates shows the blood sugar problems (BSP) encountered. The BSP is defined as insulin stimulation which results in high and then low blood sugar swings and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) stimulation. The coffees tested were both instant and brewed. Brewed coffee rated higher in terms of BSP.

NO BLOOD SUGAR PROBLEMS

  1. Black Coffee
  2. Black Coffee + Sugar
  3. Black Coffee + Doughnut
  4. Coffee + Cremora*
  5. Coffee + Skim Milk + Oatmeal
  6. Coffee + Skim Milk + Fresh Strawberries
  7. Coffee + Skim Milk + Low Glycemic Juice
REDUCED BLOOD SUGAR PROBLEMS
  1. Coffee + Milk
  2. Black Coffee + Eggs
BLOOD SUGAR PROBLEMS
  1. Black Coffee + Non-Caloric Sweetener
  2. Black Coffee + Toast
  3. Black Coffee + Honey
* Cremora and other commercial creamers available in the grocery store were tested. They all rated very high in the glycemic index and most were high in fat. We were not able to find one that did not cause BSP.
** Response dependent upon the type of juice used.

Looking at combinations of coffee, protein and carbohydrates, and the resultant blood sugar responses, initially, the coffee, skim milk, and oatmeal rated poorly until we switched to old fashioned oatmeal which requires cooking. Instant oatmeal fared poorly due to the addition of instant oatmeal "glue-ons" which reduces cooking time. Coffee with skim milk and juice only worked when a low glycemic juice was used, like unsweetened grape-fruit juice, pure pear juice, and pure peach juice (diluted with water). Pure juice is usually too strong and needs to be diluted with water. This is especially true regarding children. A recent study of grade school children showed ingesting too much fruit juice caused reduced body weight and appetite. The fructose in juice suppresses appetite without reducing energy levels. That is a benefit in adults with excess body fat, but not in growing children.

For our research we chose varieties of frozen and bottled juices from the grocery store. Juice names were misleading and required careful examination of the ingredient panels. Front panels said "peach juice-100% pure juice", which would appear to be a good choice, since peach and pear juice are low glycemic. But the back panel lists the first ingredient as "white grape juice" which is high glycemic. Peach juice was in there, but not alone. Other juices had high fructose corn syrup listed before the fruit juice itself, making it a high glycemic product. Unsweetened grapefruit juice was the only juice tested which could be consumed freely without dilution of water.

Protein in the food, in this case, skim milk with coffee, and eggs with coffee, mitigates BSP and provides sustained elevation (but not excess elevation) in blood glucose concentrations which prevents recurrent hypoglycemia. Protein provides long-term energy.

These guidelines fit the average person, but since diabetics and hypoglycemics have varying degrees of blood sugar imbalances, their needs differ and should be discussed with their health care professional. Recent research from the Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, shows that "The addition of fat to a meal does not increase the glucose response or insulin requirements in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, although it does delay the absorption of carbohydrate." Unlike the person with normal insulin responses, insulin-requiring diabetics may need to adjust insulin doses according to the protein and carbohydrate in a meal, and not the fat content.

It is commonly thought that alcohol consumption raises blood sugar, but alcohol lowers blood sugar. This drop in blood sugar is undesirable but can be offset by eating or nibbling (cheese and Ry Krisp crackers are an excellent choice) during the time you are drinking. Diabetics should avoid alcohol unless otherwise directed by their physician as alcohol can alter the effect of prescription insulin. For those who do drink, a glass of wine or champagne is preferable to a mixed drink. Mixed drinks often contain high glycemic juices and sugar.

In terms of calories, the higher the "proof" listing on hard liquor, the more calories it contains. In terms of fat gains, alcohol should be placed in the same category as fat, but an occasional glass of wine does not lead to obesity, as the French will attest A concoction of one-half glass wine to one-half glass diet coke or cherry coke makes a great wine cooler. A lighter version is wine mixed with diet Sprite. Unfavorable blood sugar responses are not limited to sugars and alcohol.

Ingesting pure protein without carbohydrates also raises blood sugar. Drinking a pure-protein milkshake in the hopes of losing extra body fat is contraindicated if fat-loss is the desired goal. Pure protein stimulates Lipoprotein Lipase, the gatekeeper for fat storage in the fat cell. If you are using milkshakes as part of your weight management program, check the Nutrition Facts panel to make sure that acceptable carbohydrates are included.

The object in regulating blood-glucose levels is to control over-production of insulin. Excess insulin stimulates fat production and converts excess glucose into fat. It also greatly stimulates the appetite, particularly for sweets and salty carbohydrates, like potato chips. Continuous insulin stimulation can trigger uncontrollable eating binges. This is not gluttonism, but a chemical reaction

Neither high nor low blood sugar is desirable. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) commonly carries tremendous cravings for sweets. The body is attempting to elevate low blood sugar by the fastest means possible. To that end, gorging on sweets is effective. But the end-result is lower blood sugar, stimulated by initial high blood sugar. The high/low blood sugar swings cause weight gains as well as chemical mood swings. The emotional mood swings seen in women who suffer from PMS or prior to the menstrual period is an example of insulin elevated by estrogen. Episodes can be so severe that the woman thinks she has temporarily lost her mind, as her reactions to ordinary situations are extremely exaggerated. This is usually accompanied by an absolutely uncontrollable urge to eat.

The normal range of blood sugar is from 60 to 140 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood. Following ingestion of food or liquid, blood sugar rises. Blood-sugar-peak occurs one-half to one hour after food enters the stomach. In normal individuals, blood-sugar-peak stays under 150 and returns to normal within three hours. In diabetics, blood sugar rises above l6O. Diabetic coma (diabetic ketoacidosis) occurs when blood sugar reaches 1000 plus. The term diabetic coma is rather misleading, in that most diabetics do not become unconscious during an episode. Correct administration of insulin medication, oral or injected, prevents diabetic ketoacidosis.

The term "borderline" diabetic does not apply to any form of diabetes, and is a misused and outdated classification. "Impaired glucose tolerance" is the accurate term used to describe those whose blood sugar is not normal, but who are not diabetic. The two forms of diabetes are Type I, insulin-dependent and Type II, non-insulin dependent. Ingestion of sugars/sweeteners affects hypoglycemics, diabetics and persons desiring to control body fat stores, insulin-induced mood swings, lethargy and food cravings. Understanding the insulin-impact of various sugars is vital to controlling blood sugar levels.

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