Yesterday, you read how the glycemic index can surprise you. Some foods that are touted as “healthy” – like some cereals – can be worse for you than candy bars. That’s because the glycemic index measures the blood sugar produced by different foods, and some cereals produce much more blood sugar than some candy bars.

Today, I have an even bigger surprise. Nearly everyone reporting on this important measurement has misinterpreted it, introduced bias, come to a wrong conclusion, and ignored the real lesson.

How can that happen? “Glycemic” means “sweet” – and the glycemic index can’t seem to shake this association with sweetness. Yet real data show very little connection between the sweetness of a food and its glycemic index. Some of the sweetest foods have a very low glycemic index – cherries, for instance, measure 22. Potatoes and cornbread are not sweet but top the index at 100, because starchy foods release much more sugar into your blood.

So the glycemic index is not about sweetness but starchiness. Still, you can hardly read about the glycemic index without running up against the advice to “eat low-glycemic carbohydrates like whole grains.” Even the USDA’s new Food Pyramid makes this nonsensical recommendation. (Have you ever seen a non-starchy grain?)

So forget the misinterpretation and bad advice. If you choose naturally occurring foods, you can indulge your sweet tooth. The most reliable way to lose fat is to eat foods with a glycemic index below 40 until you achieve your desired leanness. To avoid the common bias, my Wellness Research Foundation and I developed our own glycemic index for our patients. You can get your free copy here.

Tomorrow, I’ll explain how you can use fat to get lean.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure, is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, and heart health.]

Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.