30 September 2013

Burger King Fries With Less Calories?... Misleading!

From this article:
"Fast-food giant Burger King has introduced lower-fat, fewer-calories french fries to united States patrons, allowing customers to order a side of 'Satisfries' with their meal."
" A small-sized order contains 270 calories, compared to 340 calories in the original."
"According to the company, the secret behind Satisfries is a reduction in the potato's oil absorption while the product remains 'crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside'."
Burger King wants to attract its customers by selling "healthier" fries. These new fries have less oil (vegetable oil from deep-frying), but exactly the same amount of carbohydrates (potatoes) as the old ones. So the reduction of calories comes only from the reduction of vegetable oil. (Vegetable oils are harmful anyway, especially when used to deep fry. For more on this topic: Vegetable Oils - Health Hazards.)

Convinced that a fewer-calories-fries is a healthier choice, people might order a bigger size, eat more or maybe indulge in desserts afterwards.

The problem is that this concept is based on conventional wisdom for weight-loss: eating less calories, exercising more will lead to weight loss. However, our bodies does not function this way. Hormones are partitioning the calories we eat, they are the regulators of our energy. 
"The crucial factor is not how much is eaten - how many calories are consumed - or how much is expended, but how those nutrients or the energy they contain is ultimately distributed, how those calories are utilized and made available when needed."
                                                      - Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories
It turns out that insulin is the regulator of our fat tissues. Insulin prevents the release of "calories" from our fat tissues. Sure, exercising will lead to short-term weight loss, but if our insulin levels are constantly high, we will gain back the lost pounds, once we stop physical exercise. It is not a long term solution to weight loss. Neither is eating less calories. Over the long term it will lead to constant hunger, which is unsustainable.

If insulin is a hormone preventing the mobilization of fat from our fat tissues, then our main goal is to reduce insulin levels. When our insulin levels are lower, we release calories from our fat tissues. 

Refined carbohydrates and sugar have the highest impact on increasing insulin levels. If our diet is rich in these foods, over many years, it will lead to weight gain and the development of related chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, etc). Protein and dietary fat (meat, fish, eggs, butter), green vegetables do not considerably elevate insulin levels in our bloodstream. So, a diet based on these items - regardless of the calories consumed - does not contribute to the "growth" of our fat tissues.

Coming back to our Burger king french fries. If these new fries contain exactly the same amount of carbohydrates (potatoes) than the old ones, plus people might eat even more, my assumption is that it will exacerbate the obesity situation, rather that improve it.

The quality of the food we eat is much more important than the quantity.

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