PCRM’s Kickstart Intensive is set to start Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C. I hope you’re planning to join us. To give you a taste of what you’ll learn, I devoted my last blog to details about how diet changes can ramp up your metabolism—your after-meal calorie burn. This week, I’d like to jump into a related topic: weight loss without calorie-counting.
Everyone knows that to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. That’s true. But what many people may not know is that you do not need to cut calories intentionally. Nor do you necessarily need to increase your exercise regimen. At the Kickstart Intensive, I’ll show you how.
If you have not yet signed up for the Kickstart Intensive, please join us, and bring along your friends and family members who could use a bit of help and motivation. I promise you an engaging and informative program. Personally, I’m especially looking forward to presentations by Michael Greger, M.D., who has his finger on the pulse of medical research like no one else, and Christine Waltermyer, who has helped countless people gain new skills and confidence in vegan cooking. Here are videos from Dr. Greger and Christine Waltermyer:
Dr. Greger talks about the No. 1 anti-cancer vegetable:
Christine Waltermyer makes fruit pizza, a great snack or dessert:
For the full line-up of speakers and presentations, please see the program schedule.
Key 1. Take Advantage of Fiber. Fiber means plant roughage. It is in beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Of course, advertisers brag about the fiber in their breakfast cereals, breads, snack bars, and supplements, and how it keeps people regular and even trims cholesterol. But one of fiber’s greatest attributes is its ability to tackle your appetite. Fiber signals your brain that you’re full.
Here’s how it works: In your stomach, fiber holds water, so it’s heavy enough to trick your stomach into thinking you have eaten quite a lot. But fiber has virtually no calories. In other words, it alerts your brain that you’re full long before you’ve eaten too many calories.
You’ll find it in foods from plants. There is plenty of fiber in whole-grain bread, split-pea and lentil soups, vegetable stir-fries, and any fruit you can name. The same is true of thousands of other foods from plant sources. But you won’t find any fiber at all in meats, dairy products, or eggs. They are not plants, so they don’t have plant roughage.
Key 2. Skip Fatty Foods. It pays huge dividends to avoid fatty foods. Let me explain: When a chicken eats a bit too much, those extra calories are stored as chicken fat. When a cow eats too much, those calories are stored as fat, too. It’s the same for pigs, goats, lambs, fish, and, of course, people. That’s the whole point of body fat. Nature designed it to store calories. If you eat animal fat, you’re eating an animal’s calorie-storage organ.
Just 1 gram of fat—from a chicken, a cow, a fish, or any other source—holds 9 calories. Now, a gram of fat isn’t much—it doesn’t even fill a thimble. But every last fat gram packs 9 calories.
For contrast, look at potatoes, bread, beans, and pasta. These foods have a lot of carbohydrate. But any kind of carbohydrate has only four calories per gram—less than half the calories lurking in fat.
Key 3. Use the Glycemic Index. Your brain runs on sugar—that is, glucose. And when your blood sugar starts to run low, your brain reacts immediately. Like a highway motorist whose gas gauge is well into the “E” zone and is frantically looking for a gas station—any gas station—your brain goes bananas when your blood sugar runs low. A plunging blood sugar sparks overeating.
It turns out that this whole scenario starts with food. White bread, for example, causes your blood sugar to rise quickly. And what goes up must come down. As your blood sugar descends, it can sometimes fall too low, triggering your appetite.
The glycemic index, or GI, invented by David Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., is an ingenious system for rating the effect foods have on blood sugar. Some foods, like white bread, make your blood sugar climb rapidly. So it is referred to as a high-GI food. In contrast, beans have much less effect on blood sugar. They are a low-GI food.
Especially good low-GI choices include beans, peas, lentils, most fruits, pasta, and all green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The main high-GI foods, and healthier replacements, are shown in the chart below.