In the long run, a diet is the surest way to become fat. So is there a way to enjoy eating and remain thin? Yes! With a method that the Frenchman Michel Montignac has discovered.
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 reduced.
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 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 it.
So if we starve our bodies by giving them less energy (= calories), they will immediately use every opportunity to establish new (fat) reserves.
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."
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 stabilises again.
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 do battle."
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).