Monthly Archives: July 2014

“Good” Bodies Put On Fat

A few years ago, during an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, she had her own personal fitness trainer on stage answering questions from the audience. A woman in her mid twenties asked what she was doing wrong or what she could do different, because in spite of working out vigorously every day and watching her food intake, she could not lose those last five pounds.

obesity

Oprah’s fitness trainer cocked his head and looked at her like he was trying to divine something, and then said something like, “Something doesn’t fit in what you are saying… it is just physics.” By this he meant, he explained, that calories burned compared to calories consumed is a simple math calculation: if you burn more than you eat, the result is that you lose body fat. He had a look as if there was something this woman wasn’t sharing, like maybe how once or twice a week she hid in the restroom to eat chocolate.

Many people agree with this “simple math” of calories in versus calories out. “It is just physics.” Only the human body is not a warehouse that simply keeps inventory between merchandise in and merchandise out. Oprah’s trainer would have been much more on spot if he had said, “It is chemistry,” than stating that is was just physics.

The human body is complex, and in need of many different types of nutrients. Our bodies react differently to calories coming from different sources, but also react differently to high calorie foods depending on whether they are eaten on an empty stomach or after a full meal.

For example, 700 calories eaten out of a plate of fish, rice, beans and salad are seen by the body very differently from 700 calories that come from a chocolate bar. Why? Because the 700 calories from the chocolate bar come mainly from sugar, sugar gets assimilated by the organism very quickly, creating an excess in the blood. In order to control the excess sugar, the body produces insulin, and insulin is the substance that sends the message to the body to take the sugars out of the blood and store them as fat. Insulin peaks seem to be at least as important in the process of gaining fat as the amount of calories ingested.

A bar of chocolate eating after you just had a balanced meal will not produce as much of an insulin reaction as it would if you ate it on an empty stomach, because the other foods you ate would act as a buffer.

Sorry, Oprah’s trainer, it is not “just physics.”

A New Slant on Weight Gain

fatboy

Even more interesting than the insulin response process is a new outlook on weight gain and fat reduction, that is slowly growing among nutritionists and weight loss experts: the idea that when the body puts on fat this is actually a positive response of the organism to protect the organs, systems, and other tissues from excess toxins.

Indeed, modern nutritionists and weight loss experts are finding that when people embark in detoxing processes, even when weight loss is not a goal, it becomes easier for them to lose weight. They also have been baffled by people who are “doing everything right” in terms of activity and counting calories or points, who don’t seem to lose weight.

The theory is that in addition to sustaining basic bodily needs such as hormone balance and brain function, another function of fat is to address excessive toxins. When toxins are ingested in an amount that is too much for the body’s natural detoxing mechanisms to handle, a healthy body reacts by storing those toxins in fat cells.

That nauseous feeling that many people get when they are losing fat, they say, is related to toxins being temporarily released into the bloodstream as your body lets go of the fat.

Just Google “weight loss toxins” and you will get over 8 million hits.

According to these experts, for many people, even if they are exercising and burning more calories than what they are ingesting, their bodies will simply not let go of the fat for as long as they keep eating things like:

  • Aspartame, a neurotoxin, the main sweetener in diet sodas (by the way, did you know that two studies have linked drinking diet sodas to increased obesity?)
  • MSG, monosodium glutamate, a “flavor enhancer” also a neurotoxin.
  • High fructose corn syrup, a laboratory-made sweetener that concentrates the sugars in corn, and which is the main sweetener used for conventional sodas
  • Margarine, the “butter substitute”  that according to chemists is only a few percentage points away from being a plastic.

Basically, even if you work out and count calories, as long as you keep putting junk in your body, the body will hold on to the fat, and you should thank your body for doing this!

How to Eat Book

Just Because It’s Good for You, It Doesn’t Mean You Can Stuff Yourself with It!

My husband Marco arrived at our house one day and found me rolling on the floor with intestinal cramps.

“What did you eat?” he asked.

“Nothing that could cause this,” I replied, “I just ate watermelon.”

“How much watermelon did you eat?”

“Only one.”

“Only one piece?”

“No, only one watermelon.”

watermelon

Come to find out, watermelons are high on magnesium, hence the cramps and the constant running to the bathroom.

I am telling you this true story of something that happened to me, because I had never heard anyone warn of the dangers of eating too much watermelon. Have you?  Then again, I had also never heard of anyone eating a whole watermelon by themselves.

Hey, we lived in Mississippi back then, and it was about a hundred degrees hot, with a hundred percent humidity, and there was no breeze at all. I felt like I had accidentally stepped into a steam room and could not find the door out. The window air conditioning of our apartment did little to cool anywhere beyond its three feet range! The watermelon was so cold and delicious…

I am not telling this to warn you about eating too much watermelon. I am sure most of you would know to stop long before I did!

I am sharing it with you because there is a lot of nonsense circulating on the internet about foods they are labeling as “superfoods,” so good, they say, you should have them every day, “have as much as you want.”

For example, I recently heard a famous person say that avocados are “so good for you” that he adds them to every single meal!

When I was a little girl, growing up in South America, we were always warned not to eat too much avocado. My great grandfather introduced the small, dark, avocados to our region, and my family was partial to avocados, yet we would never have eaten them every day.

Other people praise the benefits of coconut and share articles on the dozens of different ways you could eat coconuts, to make sure you do not deprive yourself of any of its invaluable nutrients. One such recipe arrived in one of my friends’ inbox and she gave it a try. The coconut flour cookie she handed me had so much fat I felt I could not eat anything else for hours after that. Palm trees did not yield coconuts in the region where I grew up (too cold), but when we went to the Coastal area, where they were abundant, we knew not to abuse coconuts, because you could end with quite the stomach ache.

Take another example: mangoes. Mangoes are so high in vitamins A and C that some have also labeled them as superfoods. “Eat as much as you want!” Only mangoes are also very high in fructose, and fructose is processed by the liver, so if you eat too many mangoes, something I would find easy to do, you could be giving your liver a hard time. As a side note, I come from Ecuador, a country where the endemic mangoes are only in season for two months a year and are “to die for” – people tend to overeat. We were warned to have a glass of water in between mangoes to prevent them from “kicking the liver.”

I see families who buy into “superfoods” eat large amounts of the same foods over and over again, instead of focusing on eating a varied diet. They believe that as long as they include the foods labeled in this category, their nutritional needs are going to be filled.

A Varied Diet

In general terms the more variety of real foods you add to your meals, the more beneficial your nutritional plan.

These are some benefits of the varied diet:

  • It maximizes exposure to a wide variety of nutrients.
  • It minimizes the exposure to concentrations of the same toxins.
  • It adds more flavors to your menu.
  • It enriches your experience and your life, as you learn about other cultures.
  • It is fun!

However, beware of adding too many foods to a single meal. Preparing meals with lots of ingredients may sound like a quick way to take in lots of different nutrients, but it is harder for your digestive system to handle.

The idea here is to eat different foods on different days. One easy way to do this, is to not always shop in the same place. Choose one healthy grocery store to be your main store, but when available, also visit farmers’ markets and specialty stores, so that even if you are still getting staple foods such as organic broccoli, you get different varieties of broccoli, grown in soils with different nutritional compositions.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The story that started this article happened years ago, and since I have never heard or read anywhere anything about watermelons, other than that they are good for you. Yet watermelon when eaten in excess can be harmful. If you eat too much of it one day you give your intestines a hard time, but by the next day you should be fine. If you repeated this every day, you could harm your intestines and compromise your intestinal flora.

Some elements that are in fact nutrients for the body, when consumed excessively can create toxicity, examples are sodium, potassium and iron.

Remember, just because a food is good for you, it doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want or as often as you want to.