Thursday– Glycemic Load, Starches, and why you bogart the cheese doodles

As you read t’other day, I am making a move back to Dr. Thompson’s Low Glycemic Load Plan after almost 5 months following Atkins 2002.

I think you’re going to see that this is much like Atkins (Thompson pays multiple homages to the good doctor throughout his tome), but minus a few simple tenets:

1. No Phases;
2. No Forbidden Foods;
3. Only slow-twitch muscle exercise (walking) is necessary

In fact, his plan is so simple, he maintains that even though you should shoot no higher than 500 Glycemic Load points per day (that’s the equivalent of 5 slices of white bread), you won’t even technically need to count your foods, or find you won’t have to keep track of the number of points at all.

Why? Because those points are color-coded.

Look to the foods which tend to be white in color. Bread, potatoes, rice– all of these are not only high-glycemic foods, but these are what tend to cause resultant hunger, blood sugar spikes, and insulin problems. It only takes one look to determine which foods are going to be a miserable bane to your existence and which are going to be helpful and delicious.

In short: Stay away from the white starches.

If you can take this one easy step, you’re already making great strides.

Now, why is it important to just say no to starches, in particular?

According to Thompson, starches are nothing but sticky, white goo. Think about it. Are starches particularly appetizing? If you order a meal at McDonalds, and you place all white items to the side in a starch pile, what do you end up making goo eyes at? Two buns (not your own. Keep those in your seat), and a big pile of white french fries.

Aside from the lack of appeal starches lend visually, starches break down almost immediately into sugars in your bloodstream. When they hit your small intestines, they short-circuit back out after only the first couple of feet right into your blood stream! That’s not much nutritional bang for your buck.

Adding to this, the human animal was never wired for starches. Look at your tongue (if you’re not Gene Simmons, you’ll probably need a mirror). On your tongue are a vast array of buds, none of which suss out “starch”. They will detect sweet, sour and salty… not starchy.

Short and simple, starches are additives, easy to spot, and rely on sugars, fats or other foods to bring out what they are: fillers.

So if starches are so craptacular, why do I crave them so much?

It’s the sugar, my dearios. The sugar.

That’s right! Remember, I had you pull your tongue out of your face and peruse your beautifeous buds?

Starches are flavorless. What is left when you chew a french fry? Starch? The stuff you jokingly put into your dad’s boxers last April as a great joke (only you forgot it was a Leap Year and it was still March? Good one, Dad). Starch is broken down into sugar, and THIS satisfies the tongue (your so-called sweet tooth). You crave starches, because your tongue (sweet tooth) really wants sweet, not starchy!

For those folks out there lucky enough to have a sweet tooth only, you bypass the need for ooey gooey starches, and go right to the crux of the matter: what your tongue wants: sweet.

So, those of us who think we don’t crave sweet, and instead run for the pizza crusts, bagels and potato chips? We’re are craving the same thing that those who have to have a chocolate after dinner are craving– sweet. We just take the circuitous route to get there.

If you do crave something starchy, instead try the crepes from yesterday’s blog entry. I found that when I want something starchy, and had a crepe, the need for starch disappeared. I’m not a fan of sweet, so I used fresh whipping cream and berries to add some tart to the flavor. Long story short, my tongue was satisfied, and all resulting cravings subsided.

This is why, as odd as it seems, Dr Thompson advocates that if you must have something sweet, have only enough to wrap your fingers around, and ensure that it doesn’t accompany starch. Jelly beans or those sweet crepes, or even 85% chocolate are fine. Pies and cakes? Those contain starches and will cause that same short-circuit through the small intestines. You’re going to need more of those items to be satisfied than what a few jellybeans will afford you.

Finally, if you do opt for dessert, make certain that you eat it as a taste bud satisfier more than as part of the meal. The food should be sufficient to fuel your body. The chocolate square is to provide a final accoutrement in a flavor-filled palate of healthful eating.

A few tenets according to Thompson:

1. Starches rely on other foods for their flavor and are nutritionally worthless. Get rid of them! That sauce will taste just as delicious with spaghetti squash.

2. If you must have starches, push them to the side of your place and eat 1/4 with your meal.

3. If you crave starches, try sweet instead.

4. Sweet foods should not contain starches and should be used sparingly for flavor and not sustenance (and only in conjunction with protein and/or fat), but with a meal.

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  1. Anonymous says

    “Starches are flavorless.”

    Carbed up people don’t believe me when I tell them this, but the fact that starches have no flavor of their own is something I realized after being off the starches for a couple years, then accidentally getting a dab of some – I don’t remember what it was, maybe a bit of mashed potato I licked off my finger as I was making them for the rest of the family. It was a shock to my system. I don’t mean that I ate enough to send myself into sugar shock, only that the mashed potatoes that I’d been sighing and thinking well, I’ll never get to eat those again – I’d suddenly realized that as far as taste goes, why would I ever want to eat them again?! I think I tasted some white bread, and maybe a bit of pasta at some point too, and ick, no flavor, no flavor at all.

    So why do people like those things at all? I think it’s mainly that we never eat just plain potato, or just plain pasta – the potatoes are deep fried in yummy fats and sprinkled with taste bud tantalizing salt, and the pasta is smothered in lovely tomato or cream and cheese Alfredo sauce. So why not just cut to the chase and have the sauce on something with a flavor to it? In addition to the spaghetti squash being a nice carrier for sauces, I’ve found that zucchini or yellow squash peelings also make a lovely base for such sauces. (Or even the flesh of summer squashes too – just keep using the potato peeler to make strips of “noodles” until you reach the seeds – hey look! A use for that potato peeler on LC!) The squashes don’t taste like pasta – and I for one am thankful, because pasta has about the same flavor as well… library paste. (Is the resemblance between the root of paste and pasta a mere coincidence? I think not!)

  2. Former Donut Junkie says

    Well, I’ve not done any research on this particular nutritional plan but your brief intro makes it sound like a great plan. I look forward to reading about your experiences following the Glycemic Load Diet by Dr. Thompson.

    Ron, aka The Former Donut Junkie

  3. Anonymous says

    Why did you go off Dr. Thompson.

  4. cleochatra says

    I ultimately decided that Thompson’s plan ended up being my own modified OWL (Atkins), but without the parameters. I ended up using the plan as OWL some days and Maintenance other days, and ended up losing no weight this go-round.

    I am a fan of Thompson, and know that Dr Atkins would have found a friend and important ally in Dr. T, but I need to be bossed around more right now.

  5. Ahhh, yes… lowcarbing. I did it so well back in the day that I created a whole line of food products around it. Then came the crash of 2004. 🙂 I like the glycemic load WOE better, for exactly the same reasons you outlined.
    You’ve done such an amazing job, keep up the good work.

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