Many people are frustrated by the fact that they cannot lose weight. They are cutting down on calories and exercising but the weight still will not come off. A big reason for the difficulty in losing weight tends to be too much sugar and simple carbohydrates in the diet. Eating sugar and simple carbohydrates leads to elevated insulin levels. Insulin is the “get fat” hormone. Increased levels of insulin lead to fat accumulation in fat cells. When insulin levels are chronically elevated, fat is also locked in the fat cells. High insulin levels prevent fat from being released into the blood stream to be used as energy. This is what makes weight loss so difficult. The only way to reverse this is to lower your insulin levels. Significantly decreasing your intake of sugar and simple carbs will lead to lower insulin levels and eventual weight loss. Many people take in much more sugar than they realize. Many foods considered “healthy” contain large amounts of sugar. Yogurt is a good example. Most yogurts are no better than sugary desserts. Most yogurts with fruit are loaded with added sugar. They may be “low fat”, but are not really healthy. Granola is another good example. Many granolas and granola bars are loaded with added sugar. Just like yogurt, many granolas are no better nutritionally than eating sugary desserts such as cake or cookies. Do not be fooled by packaging. Many processed foods are unhealthy and loaded with sugar. Food companies will try to trick you and add multiple different sugars to their products so sugar is lower on the ingredient list. Careful reading of labels is necessary to know how much added sugar you are getting. Sometimes there will be small amounts of many types of sugars, so none of them end up being in the first few ingredients of the label. Other times, sugar masquerades as apparently more “healthy” ingredients, such as honey, rice syrup, or even “organic dehydrated cane juice”. These are sugar. Sometimes fruit juice concentrates will be used, which sound wholesome, but usually the juices chosen, such as white grape, apple, and pear juices, are among the least nutritious of the juices. By the time they are “concentrated”, very little remains but the sugar.Look for sugar in any form including: brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, molasses, and rice syrup. Remember, your body doesn’t care what the label says; it’s all just sugar. Simple carbohydrates are quickly turned to sugar by the body. Avoid simple carbs such as bread, bagels, white rice, pasta, pastries and cookies. So lower your sugar and simple carbohydrate intake and weight loss will start to occur.
It is important to understand that oils are not whole foods. Nutrients and fiber are removed when pressing plant foods into oil. Eating olives is healthier than consuming olive oil. Eating nuts is healthier than consuming nut oil. Therefore, it is healthier to swap whole plant based fats such as seeds, nuts, and avocados for oil. Eating the whole plant based fats allows you to get a lot more fiber, phytonutrients and plant sterols. These are all removed during processing. Oils should be thought of as condiments, flavoring, and a way to cook food. Also remember that oils are 100% fat. All oils contain about 120 calories per tablespoon. The more oil you eat, the more weight you are likely to gain. The goal is choose your oils carefully and to use sparingly. The best oils are the monounsaturated oils and omega 3 oils. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat (Omega 9 fat). Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. It contains antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent LDL from oxidizing. (Oxidized LDL is the dangerous type that damages the blood vessel wall.) It cannot be heated to high temperatures, so be careful to cook on low heat. The best olive oil is cold pressed and unrefined. Avoid oils that have been processed with chemicals, exposed to high heat, or deodorized (such as canola oil). The best oils are expeller pressed. Buy the best quality oils possible. Macadamia nut oil is also a monounsaturated oil and can also be used for low heat cooking. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and can be used up to temperatures around 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Flax oil is an omega 3 oil. It is a good choice for adding flavoring to food. Walnut oil and hemp oil both have favorable omega 3 to omega 6 ratios and can be used for flavoring foods. Coconut oil is a plant-based saturated fat. Plant based saturated fats can be used in moderation. (It is not the same as animal based saturated fat. Unprocessed and unrefined coconut foods have not been found to be harmful.) It can be used for high temperature cooking without the risk of oxidizing. The oils to avoid are the omega 6 oils. These oils lead to elevated inflammation levels in your body. These oils include soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. Avoid all processed foods with these oils. (See previous articles.) Furthermore, avoid cooking with these oils, which also leads to increased inflammation. Most fried foods are fried in omega 6 oils! So remember, healthy oils can be used in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. More importantly, remember that eating the whole plant based fat is a much healthier alternative.