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.]