By Ursula Seiler
The French are a phenomenon. This was demonstrated on the 17th
of November 1991 during the American television programme Sixty
Minutes: they are far and away healthier than Americans,
although they spend a lot of their time eating, eat 30% more
fat, do not exercise, and drink ten times more wine!
And that is not all: the average body weight of French people
is the lowest in the entire Western world, and their mortality
rate from cardiac and circulatory disease is the lowest after
Japan. The CBS broadcast was based on statistics obtained by
the World Health Organisation.
So let's take a look at Americans: "For 45 years (!) 89 million
(!) Americans have constantly adhered to a low-calorie nutritional
system. Calories have always been in the picture. Through advertising
and commercials it has become securely anchored in the consciousness
of Americans", writes Michel Montignac in his book Essen,
abnehmen und schlank bleiben (Eat, lose weight, stay thin).
"In addition to counting all those calories, they also pay painstaking
attention to getting plenty of exercise so as to be absolutely
certain they do not store one calorie more than necessary. And
have they been successful?
"Statistics show rather devastating results.
"Although more than one third of the population consistently
applies the calorie-reduced diet method and takes intensive
physical exercise every day, a weight gain can be observed.
Or in figures: every third member of the current population
is overweight, and every fifth American is obese."
Calorie-counting, says Montignac, is the wrong approach. A dead
end. It ignores too many details. The fatty part of a piece
of meat can, for example, vary considerably - and therefore
also the number of calories it contains. In addition people
forget to consider the time at which they eat. It has been established
that the absorption of carbohydrates, fats and protein varies
considerably depending on the time of day, indeed even the time
of year (chronobiology). And these are only the more simple
arguments. Scientists have also established that the theoretical
calculation of calories never considers the conditions under
which fats and carbohydrates are absorbed into the intestines.
These conditions change depending on how much roughage is in
food. So if that food contains much - and above all soluble
- roughage, the absorption of so-called calories can be significantly
So we see that counting calories is a highly dubious matter.
And calorie-reduced foods - let's say, a classical diet - is
usually the beginning of lifelong overweight. Particularly if
the first diet is followed by a second, third, fourth, etc.
Our bodies tend to stockpile
Our bodies are old beings. They have served us again and again
through many incarnations. So a body has not sat at a heavily
laden table in every life, but rather became familiar with scarcity,
indeed all the way to near starvation. It has stored all of
this in its cells. Even a mother who goes on a diet during her
pregnancy can instil fear into the developing baby body and
programme it, wherever possible, to store food - for the guaranteed
next upcoming period of famine.
Whether one believes in reincarnation (which is a fact) or not,
or prefers to maintain the belief that he has only this one
life - it is an absolute fact that even the bodies in our society
of abundance anticipate periods of starvation.
Montignac studies this subject in his book: "Let's take for
example someone who consumes about 2500 calories a day and weighs
a few pounds too much. If he then, according to the calorie-reducing
method, decreases that intake to 2000 calories, a deficit of
500 calories occurs, so he should lose weight. An organism that,
however, had become accustomed to the intake of 2500 calories,
balances out the missing 500 calories from its fat reserves,
leading to proportionate weight loss. So far, so good.
"After a short time, the length of which can of course vary
from one person to another, the person notes that he is no longer
losing weight, although he has not interrupted his diet but
rather strictly adhered to it.
"So what happened? Very simple: The organism became accustomed
to the supply of 2000 calories and reacted with a savings programme
for its metabolism."
So at 2000 calories daily it is no longer possible to lose weight.
Usually those people, after having eaten such a low calorie
diet for a few weeks and having lost weight, are anxious to
stop their diet and eat normally again - in the belief that
they can maintain their new lower weight. Way off base! They
barely start eating normally again and oops! the weight comes
right back. Even if they return to their diet as before, even
at 2000 calories a day they continue to gain weight. Montignac
knows why: "The human organism is driven by a survival instinct
that is awakened if a deficit in food c.q. energy occurs.
Since a reduction of calories had taken place before to which
the organism adjusted itself by using a smaller amount of energy,
on the basis of the human survival instinct it is made to reduce
its energy consumption even further. And so the daily requirement
of calories is, for example, brought down to 1700 calories,
in order for new reserves to be built up again."
Even Montignac remarks: "In all of this we must not forget that
the human body has not converted its behaviour in terms of living
habits as quickly as the human brain has done. The body continues
to live in the past, in which it was probably familiar with
hunger and deprivation. These memories exist in the subconscious
and are brought back to life during such a situation."
So the human body does not react any differently than a dog
who only buries a bone at the moment at which he is hungry for
So if we starve our bodies by giving them less energy (= calories),
they will immediately use every opportunity to establish new
Today, we call this the ‚yoyo' effect. Anyone who has already
been on several diets can tell you how frustrating it is when
the smallest error on the weekend immediately leads to the gain
of two to three kilos of weight that he had spent the previous
weeks starving himself to lose. Now we know why this happens.
So it is extraordinarily important to eat three regular meals
a day and not skip any meals! Otherwise the next time the body
receives food it will immediately build up reserves. This is
also the reason for overweight among dogs that are only fed
once a day. Such a food intake schedule is unnatural, so their
bodies store everything they can.
Montignac: "Incidentally, laboratory tests on animals have shown
that if animals receive an equal daily amount of food daily,
if they receive only one meal a day they become overweight,
while animals who receive their daily ration divided over five
or six meals do not gain weight."
Watch out for the blood sugar
The knowledge that white flour and white sugar are not beneficial
to health is certainly nothing new. But apart from the fact
that they contain hardly anything of use to the body, they also
put stress on our pancreas - with quite disastrous consequences.
When carbohydrates are ingested they make the blood sugar level
rise. Depending on the type of carbohydrate the blood sugar
level rises slowly but surely until the maximum, so-called glycaemia
- or the blood sugar peak - is reached. The pancreas then secretes
the hormone insulin so that the excess glucose from the blood
goes into the cells (liver, muscles), where it can be used as
needed. So insulin makes the blood sugar level drop until it
In the USA in 1976 Professor Crapo developed a key with which
one could calculate the so-called glycaemia potential of every
carbohydrate (Montignac describes precisely how this works in
his book). The greater the hyperglycaemia (= excessive sugar
in the blood) caused by the carbohydrate being studied, the
higher the glycaemic index. Says Montignac: "Today most scientists
agree that carbohydrates should be classified according to their
capacity to raise blood sugar - which is determined by the glycaemic
index. The glycaemic index gives us an explanation of the
phenomenon of overweight and of innumerable problems such as
fatigue and a lack of vitality with which many people have to
Thus carbohydrates can be divided into two categories: ‚good
ones' with a low glycaemic index (the glucose is released into
the blood over an extended period of time, and the peak is not
particularly high) and ‚bad ones' with a high glycaemic index
(where an extraordinary amount of glucose is released, which
immediately calls the pancreas into action).
What, then, and how do you need to eat properly? Find out in
our printed issue!
For more details