By: Dr. Al Sears, MD
Here’s something to remember before the holiday “eating season” begins. This is very important, but nobody seems to know it…
You can cut calories and still gain weight. You can work out until you pass out and still have that spare tire.
The truth is, we don’t get fat because we eat too much. And it’s not because we’re lazy.
Staying slim boils down to this: Hormones make you fat.
But today I’m going to show you how to beat them with a few eating tricks, and some powerful nutrients I use at my Wellness Center to help control hormonal fat storage.
Case in point: the hormone insulin is your number one fat builder. It tells your body to pack on the pounds.
You produce a storm of insulin when you eat foods that are high on the Glycemic Index. As a general rule of thumb, carbs are the foods highest on the GI.
It surprises my patients when I tell them what the highest GI food is that the clinic has ever tested.
Care to guess?
It’s corn bread, a holiday favorite. Every time you take a bite of corn bread, insulin pours into your blood. And it tells your body to store the calories as fat.
All that blood sugar means you have to produce insulin to process it. Eventually, your body gets tired and stops responding, which is called insulin resistance.
Blood sugar that your body can’t or won’t process gets stored as fat. So it’s foods with excess carbohydrates that can make you fat.
I take this a step further with my patients. The idea is to eat foods that don’t spike your blood sugar, and to also let your blood sugar come back down after eating. You don’t want your insulin to stay elevated for too long.
This means eating foods with a low Glycemic Load (GL).
The GL is simply a number you get when you multiply a food’s Glycemic Index (GI) rating by the total amount of carbohydrate in each serving you eat.
That makes it much more practical for your everyday life because the GL tells you how fattening a food is. It’s a fresh way to look at everyday foods. Some GL ratings may surprise you – especially foods like watermelon … high GI, but low GL.
I consider foods with a Glycemic Load under 10 as good choices. They are a green light. Foods that fall between 10 and 20 on the GL scale are more like a yellow light: not bad, but proceed with caution.
Foods above 20 are a red light. They will not only make you gain weight but keep you from dropping weight, just like Howard Stern is experiencing. Eat those foods sparingly and try to eat protein instead. Protein has a GL of zero. For my complete Glycemic Load chart, click here.
There are also a few nutrients that can help you improve your body’s use of insulin and make you more sensitive to it so it works better:
1) Banaba leaf tea is something they traditionally brew in Bali to help regulate blood sugar.
Medical scientists believe that banaba leaf’s beneficial effects on blood sugar are due to its high concentration of corosolic acid. It mimics insulin by moving sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells.
And numerous scientific studies have proven banaba leaf’s effectiveness. It lowers blood sugar and there are no side effects.1 50 mg of banaba leaf extract with 1-2 percent corosolic acid will help you control your blood sugar.
2) L-carnitine can improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
The problem is your body can’t make enough l-carnitine on its own from eating meat. So I recommend supplementing with a gram a day in the liquid form. It’s more absorbable compared to the powders and capsules. Make sure you choose a supplement that uses naturally occurring l-carnitine.
3) Chromium is another important mineral to help control and rebuild your sensitivity to insulin.
Without enough chromium in your body, insulin just doesn’t work properly.
Chromium is in many foods including brewer’s yeast, meats, potato skins, cheeses, molasses, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Despite the wide availability of chromium from food sources, research shows that 90 percent of American adults have a chromium-deficient diet.
But you can’t take just any chromium as a supplement. Some types may actually do more harm than good. And research shows that it needs niacin to be effective.
Look for chromium polynicotinate, or niacin-bound chromium, which is safe and effective as a dietary supplement. Take 400 mcg a day.
Editors Note: Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.
1. Ikeda, Y. “The clinical study on water extract of leaves of Langerstroemia Specious L. for mild cases of diabetes mellitus,” 1998 (unpublished)