Better Nutrition|July 2020
Sugar addiction is the same as alcohol, cigarettes … any addiction,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, author of the South Beach Diet and his latest, The New Keto-Friendly South Beach Diet. But you can beat it, he adds—for good.
As someone who has struggled with his own sugar addiction, Agatston knows the pitfalls of diets only too well. “When I put weight on my belly after I cheated, my wife would say, ‘Arthur, you can only do radio,’” he recalls. But rather than giving up, he found the lasting cure.
“I feel so much better. I really call it the fountain of youth,” he says after staying slim and full of energy for the past year and a half. And the same holds true for his patients who’ve adopted these new eating habits.
Agatston’s new diet lowers carbs enough to turn on enzymes that burn excess body fat, but not so low that it’s difficult to maintain. And it ends the pattern of eating throughout the day—the popular pastime of “grazing.” In terms of the underlying science, it combines two effective principles: the keto diet and intermittent fasting.
Agatston has found that for most people, eating a bit more unprocessed carbs and protein than you would in the very-low-carb keto diet can produce comparable benefits. But it’s easier than a “diet” that inevitably ends one day.
Timing of food is equally important. For years, many nutritionists have believed that small, frequent meals— every three hours or so—were essential to keep levels of blood sugar stable and prevent cravings. Not so, says Agatston; “We now know they do the opposite.”
Why Eating Often Is Deadly
You probably know that eating carbs raises blood sugar, and then insulin levels rise in response and blood sugar drops. It’s a normal reaction, but eating too often can make it go haywire.
With frequent meals or snacks, insulin rises significantly more than it would with fewer meals. Even if you ate the same amount of food in one large meal, your insulin would rise significantly less.
“When your insulin levels are high, they’re blocking access to fat,” says Agatston, “So, you’re walking around hungry all the time, even though you have a lot of excess fat.”
High insulin is what enables bears to gorge and continually gain weight through the summer and early fall. “Bears are ravenously hungry even though they have 400 pounds of stored fat,” he says; “They can eat 30,000 berries per day.”
Consequences of High Insulin
Over time, insulin levels become chronically elevated. In addition to fostering obesity and making lasting weight loss impossible, elevated insulin leads to many of today’s chronic health problems, including:
High blood pressure
Reduced immune function
Inflammatory belly fat
Fatty liver disease
Memory lapses and mental decline
Increased risk for breast, gastric, colon, pancreatic, and liver cancers
Hidden Insulin Danger
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