Monday, June 25, 2007

Time magazine's article on appetite

Time's cover article (June 11) on "The Science of Appetite" included a series of articles on appetite, diet, weight-loss, how people eat around the world, and more.

For me, the most interesting article was, "A New Diet Equation." This article talked about how different diets work differently for different people, specifically people who are high-insulin secreters and those that aren't. It fits in well with my idea that a solution to being overweight needs to be customized.

Here are some main points:
  • People who quickly spike insulin after eating a little bit of sugar tend to be apple-shaped, that is, they put their fat around their middle
  • People who don't tend to be pear-shaped; they put their fat around their hips.

In other words, some people (apples) have problems digesting sugar. Although this wasn't completely clear from the research, the suggestion was that pears probably have more difficulty with fats.

Apples lost 13 pounds over 6 months on a low-glycemic diet (low on sugar and processed carbohydrates that convert quickly to sugar in the body), but just 5 pounds on a low-fat diet.

Pears lost about 10 pounds either way.

But here's the interesting part. After 18 months, pears gained back half of the weight they lost on either diet. But while apples gained back 3 of the 5 (measly) pounds they lost of the low-fat diet, they kept off all the weight they lost on the low-glycemic diet!

Wow! Who has heard such a success story? This appears to be a real solution for apples. If you're an apple, cut down on the sugar and white flour. It's also good for your health, since if you have problems processing sugar, you're at risk for diabetes. And cutting fats won't do very much for you. That's not the reason that you're overweight. You can check with your doctor to get a blood test to evaluate insulin levels. This can help you decide.

Unfortunately, no one really knows the mechanism that relates insulin levels and body shape. In fact, scientists don't know very much about why certain digestion problems occur and how they manifest in the body. How do the fat cells know where to appear on your body?

But now we have some simple guidelines. If you're an apple, check with your doctor. If you're a high-insulin secretor, try a low-sugar diet. Good luck!

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