Cut Down On Carbs to Reduce Body Fat
Excess visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat) raises the risk of these diseases.
According to Eurekalert:
“… [S]ubjects who consumed [a] moderately carb-restricted diet had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those who ate the standard diet … [S]ubjects on both diets lost weight. However, the moderately carb-restricted diet promoted a 4 percent greater loss of total body fat”.
Many people are still seriously confused about what types of food to eat to lose weight, and it’s not really their fault. The conventional nutritional dogma of the last decade has been pushing a low-fat or fat-free diet on Americans, misleading them into thinking they’ve got to cut out fat to lose weight.
As Americans cut fats from their diet (and also the protein that’s often abundant in full-fat foods), they replaced them with carbohydrates — and not the good kind in vegetables. Partly as a result of Americans’ reliance on unhealthy carbs — bagels, pasta, pretzels, rice, potatoes, etc. — a full two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and nearly one in four is considered obese, not just overweight.
The idea that cutting carbs from your diet can lead to weight loss is beginning to catch on though, and as the new study above points out, even moderate reductions in your carb consumption can help you shed extra pounds.
Cutting Carbs, Not Fat, Helps Reduce Body Fat
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham revealed that when 69 overweight people were given a diet with a modest reduction in carbohydrates for eight weeks, they had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those given a lower-fat diet. Further, during a second eight-week period in which calories were reduced by 1,000 each day, those on the lower-carb diet lost 4 percent more total body fat.
An important point is that the reduced-carb diet promoted the loss of deep belly fat, also known as “visceral fat,” even when no change in weight was apparent.
Visceral fat is strongly linked with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. It is thought that visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter your liver, affecting how your body breaks down sugars and fats.
While it’s often referred to as “belly fat” because it can cause a “beer belly” or an apple-shaped body, you can have visceral fat even if you’re thin. So even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, cutting unhealthy carbs in your diet could have a positive impact on your levels of visceral fat, and thereby potentially reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Fructose: The Biggest Carb Culprit
People on low-carb diets lose weight in part because they get less fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly. Although fructose is naturally found in high levels in fruit, it is also added to many processed foods, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. If your only source of fructose came from eating an apple or orange a day, keeping your total grams of fructose to below 25 per day, then it would not be an issue.
But what many completely fail to appreciate is that fructose is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the United States and the typical person is consuming 75 grams of fructose each and every day. Because fructose is so cheap it is used in virtually all processed foods. The average person is consuming one-third of a pound of sugar every day, which is five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose. This is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc, and this is the average — many consume more than twice that amount.
Evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary factor in the obesity epidemic, so it’s definitely a food you want to avoid if you want to lose weight. Does this mean you need to avoid fruit too? As you can see in this table, some fruits are very high in fructose, so munching indiscriminately on the wrong ones could set you back.
If you struggle with insulin resistance, which you would know by measuring your fasting insulin level and seeing if it is over 5 OR if you have any of the following conditions, you’ll need to be particularly careful about limiting your fructose intake to 15 grams per day or less.
High blood pressure
These “Healthful” Carbs Should be Avoided Too
Many dieters snack on pretzels in lieu of potato chips and other salty snacks, believing them to be healthier alternatives. But eating pretzels is akin to dipping a spoon straight into a bowl of sugar, as that’s precisely the way your body responds to this refined carbohydrate snack.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re “fat-free” – remember it’s the carbs that are the culprit.
Your body prefers the carbohydrates in vegetables rather than grains because it slows the conversion to simple sugars like glucose, and decreases your insulin level. Grain carbohydrates, like those in pretzels, will increase your insulin resistance and interfere with your ability to burn fat — which is the last thing you want if you’re trying to lose weight.
Even cereals, whether high-fiber, whole-grain or not, are not a food you want to eat if you’re concerned about your weight. If they contain sugar, that will tend to increase your insulin levels even more … but even “healthy” sugarless cereals are an oxymoron, since grains rapidly break down to sugar in your body, stimulating insulin production and encouraging weight gain.
Of course, increasing numbers of people are now aware that refined carbs like white sugar and white bread may make you pack on the pounds. But many are still being misled that “good” carbs like whole grains and fruit won’t. Remember, whether it’s a whole grain, a sprouted grain or a refined grain, ALL grains rapidly break down to sugar, which causes your insulin resistance to increase and will make your weight problems worse.
This is NOT the case with vegetables, however. Vegetables will NOT convert into sugar the way grains do, and most Americans need to eat far more vegetables. Eating carbs in the form of vegetables may make your carb intake higher, but will not be a hindrance to your health goals. One caveat, corn and potatoes do not count as vegetables; they act much more like grains as far as your body is concerned.
So What Should You Eat to Lose Weight?
Many people resist the idea of cutting grain and sugar from their diets, wondering what else there is to eat if they avoid bread, potatoes, pizza, baked goods and other unhealthy carbs.
The truth is, there is a wonderful variety of delicious foods available that are not processed, full of fructose or based on refined white sugar and flour. I’ve outlined many of them in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and this is the place I recommend you start if you want to tweak your diet to lose weight or just become healthier. This program will take you from the beginner stage through intermediate and advanced, allowing you to make healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle one step at a time, at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
My program comes from decades of experience in which I have researched extensively, conferred with my professional colleagues, and most importantly, successfully treated tens of thousands of patients. Many are struggling with weight issues, but I am certain that if you adhere to the recommendations in my program, you will reach your weight loss goals.
Again, the details are outlined in my nutrition plan, but generally speaking a “healthy diet” is qualified by the following key factors:
Unprocessed whole foods
Often raw or only lightly cooked
Organic or grass-fed, and free from additives and genetically modified ingredients
Come from high-quality, local sources
Carbohydrates primarily come from vegetables (except for corn or potatoes)
To round out your weight loss program, you’ll also need to have an effective exercise regimen, and for this intensity is key. High-intensity, burst-type exercises such as Sprint 8 can significantly cut down on the amount of time you have to spend exercising, while optimizing your ability to burn body fat.
Despite the lack of scientific research to substantiate many of the claims made about it, apple cider vinegar is a popular fermented food highly regarded for its many health-boosting properties
Similar to other vinegars, apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which not only gives it its distinctive sour taste, but also provides powerful antimicrobial benefits
Among its many benefits, apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss, banishes bad breath, calms acid reflux, helps lower blood sugar, relaxes restless legs and soothes a sore throat.
First things first: while straight shots are a popular way to drink ACV — don’t. Because it’s highly acidic, over time ACV has the potential to do real damage to both the esophagus and tooth enamel. Instead, dilute ACV with water. In general, one to two tablespoons mixed into eight ounces of water is the sweet spot (like you’ll find in this delicious ACV honey drink).
You can quickly recognize organic, raw, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar by the distinctive presence of the “mother” — dark, strand-like chains of cloudy, enzyme-rich, probiotic bacteria found floating in the bottom of the bottle
If you have a bottle of apple cider vinegar in your pantry, you very likely know how valuable this particular staple is to your health. If you are not yet familiar with the many beneficial uses of this versatile and economical home remedy, you may be interested to know it has been used successfully to treat conditions ranging from blood sugar and weight loss to acid reflux and upset stomach. Check out these nine reasons why you should keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar on hand.
How Is Apple Cider Vinegar Made?
Apple cider vinegar is an enzyme- and probiotic-rich fermented food. As the name suggests, it is made from apples, which are allowed to ferment. Making unpasteurized apple cider vinegar follows a process similar to the one used for making other homemade fermented brews, such as kombucha. Below is a high-level overview of a more detailed “how to” process for making homemade apple cider vinegar.1
In the first step of the process, sugar is dissolved in filtered water that is then poured over a variety of coarsely chopped apples. This mixture is allowed to set at room temperature for one to two weeks until bubbles begin to appear as the sugar ferments into alcohol. (Because the sugars are digested through the fermentation process, apple cider vinegar contains very little sugar and carbohydrates, making it a very attractive food from a dietary standpoint.)
During the second step of the process, the apples are strained out and the liquid is maintained, again at room temperature, for an additional three to four weeks. At this time, the alcohol is transforming into vinegar through the action of the acetic acid bacteria — this particular acid gives vinegar its distinctive sour tang. As the bacteria do their job, a small amount of sediment will appear on the bottom of the container and the “mother” culture will form on top, which is a colony of beneficial bacteria.
In fact, you can quickly recognize organic, raw, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar by the distinctive presence of the mother. It appears as dark, strand-like chains of cloudy bacterial foam that are actually protein enzyme molecules and probiotic bacteria. Mother can only exist in vinegar that is not pasteurized or filtered, which means you will not find it in most types of vinegar sold at the grocery store.
Nutritional Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
While at least one source2 suggests apple cider vinegar may contain the same nutrient levels as apples, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, there is little evidence to support this assertion, particularly for pasteurized varieties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database3 entry for apple cider vinegar is virtually blank and features data for calories per serving and sodium only.
Some assert unpasteurized, unfiltered varieties of apple cider vinegar, such as you’d make at home, do retain some of the beneficial nutrients present in apples. Even so, it’s the acetic acid4 — a powerful antimicrobial — and to a lesser extent, the malic acid in apple cider vinegar that act on your body in powerful, health-benefiting ways.
Apple cider vinegar also contains citric, formic, lactic and succinic acids, as well as antioxidants such as caffeic acid, catechin, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin and gallic acid, which fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress and promote inflammation. Following are nine suggested benefits of apple cider vinegar.5,6
Aids in Weight Loss
Research published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry in 2009 indicates apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight and shed body fat.7 In this study, 144 obese Japanese adults consumed either 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar or a placebo drink every day for 12 weeks. Other than restricted alcohol consumption, the participants were free to maintain their usual diet and activity levels.
As shown in the table below, consumption of 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar added to a beverage yielded a positive effect on weight loss and the three other measures of health that were tracked. Consuming 2 tablespoons of vinegar produced the most benefits.
The study authors concluded, “[D]aily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.”8 The weight loss is thought to be influenced by the acetic acid in vinegar, which is believed to suppress your appetite and increase your metabolism, as well as reduce water retention.9 Scientists also theorize apple cider vinegar interferes with your body’s digestion of starch, resulting in fewer calories entering your bloodstream.
Banishes Bad Breath
If you are looking to boost your oral hygiene but proper brushing is not doing enough to help you control bad breath, my first recommendation would be to take a closer look at your diet and digestion. If you are eating particularly fragrant (or downright smelly) foods, coupled with infrequent bowel movements, you will most likely suffer from bad breath. One option is to remove foods such as garlic and onions from your diet to see if that makes a difference, but this means missing out on their many health benefits.
You can increase the frequency of your bowel movements by increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods. In addition, you may want to reduce your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates, which slow down your system. As a secondary measure, you may be able to fight bad breath by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to an 8-ounce glass of water and using it as a gargle after brushing.
Be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water after gargling to remove any remaining acid from your teeth, mainly because acid that sits on your teeth will damage your tooth enamel. When done properly, a daily gargle with apple cider vinegar may help kill odor-causing bacteria, reduce unpleasant tastes, prevent dry mouth and eliminate nasty tongue coatings.10
Calms Acid Reflux
Contrary to what you may believe, heartburn is often caused by too little, not too much, stomach acid. A lack of stomach acid has the effect of slowing digestion. In the presence of too little acid, food and gasses put pressure on your stomach, sometimes causing your stomach contents and some stomach acid to creep back up your esophagus.
If this happens to you on a regular basis, you may want to sip a glass of warm water containing 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar about 30 minutes prior to eating. (Some folks add a dab of raw honey to make the vinegary taste more tolerable.) By introducing apple cider vinegar, which has a pH similar to stomach acid, you ensure your stomach will have sufficient amounts of acid to promote proper digestion, thereby preventing heartburn.
Clears a Stuffy Nose
At the first sign of a cold, seasonal allergy or sinus infection, reach for apple cider vinegar because it is well-known for its ability to reduce congestion and thin mucus. The thinning of mucus promotes drainage and enables your body to expel bacteria and other infection-causing germs. The presence of acetic acid, which contains antimicrobial properties, has been shown to have the potential to prevent bacteria growth.11 Two options for using apple cider vinegar to clear a stuffy nose are:12
Tonic for internal use: Add one-eighth to one-fourth cup of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of filtered water. Stir, and sip the tonic throughout the day. Alternately, you can quickly drink down up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water daily until your symptoms improve.
Nasal rinse solution: Add one-half to 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 6 to 8 ounces of warm filtered water. Stir well. Introduce the liquid into your sinuses once or twice daily using a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle until your condition improves.
For some people, hiccups seem to respond to the sour taste of apple cider vinegar. You can either take 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar alone or mix it with 6 to 8 ounces of filtered water and drink it down quickly. Some suggest drinking from the opposite side of the glass boosts the hiccup-stopping power of apple cider vinegar.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar
According to CNN Health,13 there is substantial evidence suggesting the consumption of vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, can help keep your blood sugar under control. As you probably know, blood sugar regulation is an important factor in reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease, among other conditions. Professor Carol Johnston, Ph.D., associate director of Arizona State University’s nutrition program, has been studying the effects of vinegar for more than 10 years and suggests it can be useful to control blood sugar spikes for prediabetics and Type 2 diabetics.
Johnston asserts even healthy control subjects have benefited from consuming vinegar. “Vinegar had an impact in all groups, but the most significant impact was in the prediabetic group,” she said. “In prediabetics, it was too good to be true; [blood sugar] fell a good bit and stayed that way. It may be this is the group that could benefit the most.”14 According to Johnston, the acetic acid in vinegar “appears to interfere with enzymes that break down starch molecules.”15
The good news is this antiglycemic response can be induced by all types of vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, because it is the acetic acid not the vinegar type that produces the results. Johnston added, “Basically, what acetic acid is doing is blocking the absorption of starch. If my study subjects eat a starch and add vinegar, glucose will go down. But if they drink sugar water and add vinegar, nothing happens. [Vinegar] only helps if you are consuming a starch.”16
Pacifies an Upset Stomach
Similar to its soothing effects on heartburn, apple cider vinegar is said to be useful to pacify an upset stomach. The best remedy for an upset stomach is to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to an 8-ounce glass of filtered water and sip it. Apple cider vinegar is said to help relieve an upset stomach because:17,18
The enzymes produced during the fermentation process for apple cider vinegar support proper digestion by contributing to the breakdown and assimilation of foods
Its acidic nature helps to replenish low stomach acid levels so your body maintains a proper pH, which is important for mineral processing and the effectiveness of enzymes, among other benefits
The acetic acid it contains provides relief from bloating and gas because it helps your body absorb minerals, digest protein without waste and mobilize calcium, among other activities
The malic acid found in it is said to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, which help your body address bowel irregularities
Pectin residues in raw, unprocessed apple cider vinegar are believed to soothe intestinal spasms
Relaxes Restless Legs
If you regularly experience leg cramps, which can be so painful, especially at night, it may be a sign your body is either not metabolizing minerals such as calcium, magnesium or potassium well or is losing certain minerals due to a pH imbalance. Contrary to popular opinion, muscle cramps are not an automatic sign you are deficient in a particular mineral. Often, you can relieve cramping simply by drinking apple cider vinegar because it will help regulate your body’s pH. When your body’s pH is properly balanced, it will be able to effectively metabolize and distribute vital minerals.
Once your body’s pH is balanced, your body will have what it needs to properly metabolize important minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium and the cramps will disappear. Similarly, you can use apple cider vinegar to help resolve eye twitches and other types of nerve pain. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to an 8-ounce glass of filtered water and drink at the first sign of cramping, twitching or nerve pain.
Soothes a Sore Throat
Most sore throats are caused by allergies and viruses, and sometimes by bacteria. Although apple cider vinegar won’t cure a sore throat, it can be used to shorten its duration and relieve related tenderness and irritation. At the first sign of a sore throat, you can gargle with warm water mixed with apple cider vinegar. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of warm water and consider adding 1 teaspoon of raw honey and/or a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper to the drink.19
Another wonderful option for staving off sore throats is to treat each of your ears with a small amount of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide while lying on your side. Upon pouring the solution into your ear canal, you will hear and feel the bubbling and sense a slight stinging in your ear canal. Wait 5 to 10 minutes until most of the bubbling subsides, then drain the fluid onto a tissue. Turn over and repeat the process with the other ear. Do not use this technique if you believe you have an ear infection and the ear drum may have ruptured or opened.
Even More Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has also been said to:
Whiten teeth (but be aware that straight apple cider vinegar could damage your tooth enamel due to its acidity)
Beyond that, you may find it useful as a household cleaner or a fruit and veggie wash. Some use it as a weed killer. It is also known to neutralize household odors. For even more uses and tips, check out my infographic on The Many Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar.
By Dr. Mercola
Consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.
And fructose in any form — including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose — is the worst of the worst! Fructose, a cheap sweetener usually derived from corn, is used in thousands of food products and soft drinks. Excessive fructose consumption can cause metabolic damage and triggers the early stages of diabetes and heart disease, which is what the Davis study showed.
A Calorie Is Not a Calorie
Glucose is the form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body, every bacterium — and in fact, every living thing on Earth — uses glucose for energy.
If you received your fructose only from vegetables and fruits (where it originates) as most people did a century ago, you’d consume about 15 grams per day — a far cry from the 73 grams per day the typical adolescent gets from sweetened drinks. In vegetables and fruits, it’s mixed in with fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial phytonutrients, all which moderate any negative metabolic effects.
It isn’t that fructose itself is bad — it is the MASSIVE DOSES you’re exposed to that make it dangerous. There are two reasons fructose is so damaging:
Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way from glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver.
People are consuming fructose in enormous quantities, which has made the negative effects much more profound.
Today, 55 percent of sweeteners used in food and beverage manufacturing are made from corn, and the number one source of calories in America is soda, in the form of HFCS.
Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup in the 1970s when they discovered that HFCS was not only far cheaper to make, but is also about 20% sweeter than table sugar. HFCS is either 42% or 55% fructose, and sucrose is 50% fructose, so it’s really a wash in terms of sweetness.
Still, this switch drastically altered the average American diet.
By USDA estimates, about one-quarter of the calories consumed by the average American is in the form of added sugars, and most of that is HFCS. The average Westerner consumes a staggering 142 pounds a year1 of sugar! And the very products most people rely on to lose weight — the low-fat diet foods — are often the ones highest in fructose. Making matters worse, all of the fiber has been removed from these processed foods, so there is essentially no nutritive value at all.
Fructose Metabolism Basics
Without getting into the very complex biochemistry of carbohydrate metabolism, it is important to understand some differences about how your body handles glucose versus fructose. I will be publishing a major article about this in the next couple of months, which will get much more into the details. But for our purpose here, I will just summarize the main points.
Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used:
After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is “burned up” immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat!
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
If anyone tries to tell you “sugar is sugar,” they are way behind the times. As you can see, there are major differences in how your body processes fructose and glucose. The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased belly fat, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome — not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that directly result. And eating sugar may accelerate the aging process itself.