Now, on with the science lesson...
Before WW, I tried NutraSystems and lost 10 pounds. I quit the program because the food was so boring. But a couple of weeks ago I was talking to my mom about the science behind their system because I had just read something similar in the Eat Clean Diet book. So I thought it might be worth iterating here as sort of a science lesson.
I'm sure most of you already know all of this stuff, but here goes anyways...
First of all, my disclaimer, I am not an expert on this subject, I am only piecing together bits of information I've researched.
The one thing that both diets have in common is they both believe that having a low Glycemic Index (GI) is a good thing. They also say that complex carbohydrates and low insulin levels help promote weight loss, too. But what the heck does all that mean??
Here's what NutraSystems has to say about that: "Carbohydrates that break down slowly in your body encourage stable blood sugar levels, which is good, so they rate well or "low" on the Glycemic Index. On the other hand, carbs that break down too quickly cause your insulin levels to spike, and high insulin levels can cause your body to store fat. These "bad carbs" are given higher glycemic values and most often leave you hungry soon after a meal. So if you’re looking to lose weight, you should stay away from "bad carbs" and instead, seek to incorporate more "good carbs" with low glycemic values into your diet to help keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite in check."
And here's what the Eat Clean Diet has to say: "Foods comprised of simple sugars have a high glycemic index. This causes a spike in insulin levels, which negatively affects the metabolism. Too muchy insulin tells the body to store fat quickly and prevent your body from drawing on fat for energy needs... Complex carbohydrates are processed slowsly, staying in the gut for far longer."
Very interesting... too many carbs too fast and your body can't process them so it sends an emergency signal out telling your body to store all the fats it can find.
Weight Watchers, on the other hand, presents both sides of the "glycemic index" debate as there are studies out there that say the GI both helps and doesn't help weight loss: "Theoretically, using GI as a weight-loss method makes a lot of sense. Several short-term studies indicate that a low GI diet creates a feeling of fullness, delaying the return of hunger following a meal. The effect of a low GI diet in reducing the body's production of insulin is also widely recognized. And a low GI diet may favorably affect the resting metabolic rate, represented by the calories used to keep the body's systems going, when compared to a low-fat diet. ... In another study designed to evaluate the impact of encouraging low GI foods as part of the Weight Watchers food plan, no significant difference in weight loss was found, although there were significant differences in the reported feelings of hunger and satiety."
I thought what Wikipedia had to say was so interesting: "Carbohydrates require less water to digest than proteins or fats and are the most common source of energy in living things. Proteins and fat are necessary building components for body tissue and cells and are also a source of energy for most organisms. Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in humans: the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats. However, the brain and neurons generally cannot burn fat and need glucose for energy; the body can make some glucose from a few of the amino acids in protein and also from the glycerol backbone in triglycerides."
So basically, carbohydrates aren't a necessary fuel to keep you alive but you do need them to burn fat because your body can't burn enough of it by itself. Neat, huh?
Are your eyes glazing over yet? :)
So what is a carbohydrate anyway? I know that sounds like a silly question, but I'm someone who has never tried a "low carb" diet and never read anything about it so I really didn't know.
Carbohydrates are basically sugars with fiber and starches attached to them. That's why there are good carbs and bad carbs. Our body needs sugar, but too much sugar and we'll get fat. Our basic metabolism needs sugar to run our basic brain functions as well as just about every important organ in our body. But when we have too much sugar, from bad carbs, our body simply stores the extra in fat cells.
Here's a basic list of good carbs (complex carbs):
- whole grains
- fresh fruit
- fresh vegetables
- fish & chicken
- white breads
- red fatty meats
Okay, so that's my science lesson for the day. Hope I didn't bore you guys too much. I was doing this as much for me as anyone else. Because it really helps me to write things down to remember them.