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Horizon programme: sugar v fat

(26 Posts)
fascicle Wed 29-Jan-14 15:48:24

Interesting looking Horizon tonight. Identical male (doctor) twins diet for a month - one low carb, the other low fat:

JimmyCorkhill Wed 29-Jan-14 16:06:12

Thanks for that. I'll set it to record. I'm on day 7 of cutting out sugar and wheat but eating fat. Feel good and have not been eating anywhere near the amounts I usually do.

BerylsDailyKumquat Wed 29-Jan-14 18:21:45

I'll deffo be tuning in, hopefully it will spur me on with giving up sugar next month...

teaandthorazine Wed 29-Jan-14 18:24:54

According to the write-up, 'without sugar your brain struggles under pressure' - er, mine doesn't! And believe me, there's nothing revolting about the way my low-carb food looks - quite the opposite in fact.

I'll be watching but I'm pretty sure it's going to be fairly dire. The twins are quite fit though grin

Joules68 Wed 29-Jan-14 19:01:39

sugar is a fairly 'new' addition to our food.....except natural sugar did we evolve so far from being cavemen if our brain struggled so much? I'm sceptical already!

BumPop Wed 29-Jan-14 22:11:08

Did anyone watch this? So basically no processed foods or stuff with fat and sugar mixed (like cakes, biscuits, choc, etc). Oh and build muscle.

sixlive Wed 29-Jan-14 22:33:28

At least you can eat meringues and sweets... Thought it was very interesting and quite refreshing programme.

Fishandjam Wed 29-Jan-14 22:42:17

I watched it - thought it was very interesting. It confirmed some of my beliefs (eg that fat and sugar combined is about the worst thing we can put in our cakeholes) but busted others (eg a low carb diet is better for you than a high carb one).

I think the takeaway message - that no single foodstuff is "evil" or "good" - is a powerful, but unpalatable, one.

figgypuddings Wed 29-Jan-14 22:44:39

I was shocked at how quickly one of the doctors was dangerously close to becoming diabetic. The trial only lasted four weeks?

sixlive Wed 29-Jan-14 22:50:40

I think people should be very worried about how much of their weight loss is muscle. The mantra that exercise doesn't make you lose weight is quite dangerous.

maillotjaune Wed 29-Jan-14 22:53:07

Thought that was very interesting. I don't like cutting out any one food group and have always felt that ice cream and cheesecake (and maltesers) were really hard to stop eating once you started. The pink rat was a bit grim to look at though grin grin

capsium Wed 29-Jan-14 22:55:20

I watched the last half and I was intrigued by the results.

The twin who ate the high sugar diet produced more insulin. This could suggest insulin resistance where the body has to produce more insulin for energy uptake because the insulin receptors are not working as efficiently.

The twin who ate the low carb diet had less of an insulin response and a higher blood sugar than his previous reading. Would that be due to producing insulin at a slower steady rate because the insulin receptors were more efficient?

The twin who ate low carb lost more weight but also more muscle, but then less muscle is needed if you weigh less.

So I am left with questions. I did not see the beginning but both diets seemed like extremes from their sum up. I have low carbed but not no carbed. Also white flour is a very simple carb which is almost as readily broken down as sugar. Added to this my science is probably a bit rough but I would like to find out more.

fancyanotherfez Wed 29-Jan-14 22:57:24

I thought it was interesting, and probably more sustainble than a coplete fat or sugar ban- and obvious really. Cut down or out the fat/ sugar combos. t's really hard to overeat pure fat or pure sugar, but incredibly easy to overeat biscuits, cake etc ( well for me anyway...)

I could barely look at that horrible hairless rat ! Yuk!

Fishandjam Thu 30-Jan-14 11:41:02

capsium my recollection of the twin who ate the zero carb diet was that his insulin levels were in his boots but his blood sugar had gone up to levels which were concerning to the medics (from memory, he'd gone up to 5.9 from 5.1, though I don't know whether this really is problematic - I just remember the doctor saying that it made him "pre-diabetic"). So my understanding is that he wasn't producing enough insulin. Whereas the twin who ate the high carb diet produced more insulin to cope with the increased sugar load - which is what your body is supposed to do (though whether it's a good thing long term is of course another debate). I do recall that the high-carb twin's blood glucose was in the normal range. Both had lost weight, including muscle mass, which is not a good thing as far as I know.

The human body's need for glucose as a source of energy really is a No Shit Sherlock fact - there's a reason why athletes get a glucose gel rather than a slug of olive oil to help them achieve extreme goals. (Look at Chris Froome almost bonking out on Alpe D'Huez in the 2013 Tour de France, for example.) But those of us who aren't athletes don't need that kind of refined glucose hit - our bodies are perfectly capable of making glucose from complex carbs in bread, pasta, vegetables etc. I do feel a bit ?? when I see people wandering round town swigging Lucozade - unless you've just run a quick 10k, you'd be better off eating a slice of wholemeal bread.

I definitely took away the message that eating minimally processed food is the way to go, along with avoiding fat/sugar combination foods (which don't occur naturally). However, everyone's interpretation of that is going to be different (e.g. what exactly is "minimally processed"?) and much will depend on each individual's own preconceptions and food preferences/ prejudices.

capsium Thu 30-Jan-14 12:18:12

Fishandjam I take what you say on board about fasting blood glucose levels but his reading was still within an acceptable range according to the American Diabetes Association:

" For people with diabetes maintaining 'tight diabetes control', the American Diabetes Association recommends a post-meal glucose level of less than 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) and a fasting plasma glucose of 3.9 to 7.2 mmol/L (70–130 mg/dL).[10]"
( Wikipedia:

Also if he was breaking down any muscle over night, his 'fasting' blood glucose level would be higher, as the protein is metabolized.

However I do agree with you that an extreme no carb diet is not the answer. Nobody wants to be breaking down too much muscle.

About 14 years ago I ate a low carb diet for weight loss and did no additional exercise (although I was quite active at the time. Walked to work and worked in retail, on feet constantly and also carrying delivery boxes up and down stairs).

During the diet I lost a total of 45lbs, 13.27lbs of this loss was muscle and 31.73lbs of this loss was fat. I felt fitter and healthier after the loss and my skiing noticeable improved.

So still left with questions. It is a fascinating subject and very complicated!

Nancy66 Thu 30-Jan-14 12:37:27

I'll be honest I was a little bit sus about the programme. It was clear that they started their experiment at Christmas time because of all the Christmas lights and shoppers.

So let's say it was mid Dec through to mid Jan. That is a very very tight turn around on at TV docu....hmmm

Fishandjam Thu 30-Jan-14 12:43:20

Agree totally that it's a complicated subject capsium. Unfortunately I think, as people, we tend to want simple solutions to our weight problems when it's all a very complex interplay of food, genetic predisposition, activity levels, emotional responses and thought patterns etc.

capsium Thu 30-Jan-14 13:42:12

Interesting too, is that the nutrient Chromium encourages correct insulin utilization and it is found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

These are the foods that the twin with the no carb diet cut out.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 30-Jan-14 13:52:04

Its a pity they weren't quads - they could have put one on glazed doughnuts and icecream, and the other on protein, veg and wholegrains. grin Though I very much doubt that would have resulted in any surprises.

Sleepwhenidie Thu 30-Jan-14 14:00:51

Capsium and fishandjam - re your point about white carbs/processed food - I think, yes, the answer is to cut out these and minimise sugar as much as possible - I wouldn't worry about a couple of portions of fruit a day but definitely skip the fat/sugar combos. Eat low GI, whole, unprocessed (as in beans, sweet potato, lentils, chickpeas) carbs in reasonable portions - so lower carb, but not so low that you are in ketosis. Much healthier and more sustainable. The occasional bowl of pasta won't hurt...although you'll probably find if you eat like this 90% of the time you don't really fancy it smile

capsium Thu 30-Jan-14 14:17:53

I agree with the advise to cut down on the sugars and processed carbs but think it is the breaking down of bodily muscle to raise blood sugar that is dangerous rather than ketosis (mild ketosis anyway) as the brain can utilize the ketone.

capsium Thu 30-Jan-14 14:29:50

^Although if our bodies did not have the mechanism, to break down bodily muscle into glucose, that also would be dangerous as you would risk being hypoglycemic.

capsium Thu 30-Jan-14 14:30:56

Still confused as to how it all works together....can't you guess? grin

fascicle Fri 31-Jan-14 10:07:26

I enjoyed the programme, and found it thought provoking (and thankfuly not as irritating as previous Horizon programmes on diet and fitness).

It would be interesting to better understand the insulin and blood sugar responses in each case, since they appeared to confound the more obvious expectations of the respective diets. Perhaps there would be greater adjustment in the body's responses with more time spent on each diet. That said, clearly extreme diets are not good long term propositions. The obesity expert, Dr Susan Jebb, made a lot of sense. And like Errol, I thought some additional identical siblings would be useful to accommodate other dietary combinations grin.

killedanotherthread Fri 31-Jan-14 13:19:40

I thought the foods chosen by the dietician for the low carb regime were slightly strange, as if she was loading the dice in favour of the higher carb diet. I couldn't see why almost all vegetables were off limits for the high-fat diet; a lot of plants are low carb or fairly indigestible by the human system, which is why they're low calorie. For me, the program mainly confirmed that vegetables are good for you and that everything else should be in moderation, I thought grin.

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