I find it fascinating that plant-based doctors don’t address this issue in their articles.
Or at least, I have not seen any of our favourite plant-based gurus write about this.
Are they keeping this a secret? 🤔
No, I don’t think so.
It’s just that so many of their followers do well on their recommended 80% of calories coming from carbs. Therefore they don’t even notice those of us who don’t.
Fact: by eating unlimited amounts of starchy foods we can easily consume several times more calories than eating salads and low-carb vegetables.
So already that doesn’t sit too well with those who wish to create a daily calorie deficit.
But here’s the thing: when we gain weight, there are actually several factors that can influence that unwanted outcome.
Not just excess calories.
One of them is not only WHAT we eat, but also how our body responds to our choices.
For instance, there’s a special group of enzymes called Amylase that determines how well your body deals with starchy carbs.
Low levels of those enzymes are linked to:
- High blood sugar levels
- High body mass index (BMI)
- Insulin resistance
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- T2 Diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- And obesity.
Some researchers don’t fully agree with the above statement.
But Mario Falchi at Imperial College London and his colleagues studied the genetic make-up of 5000 people from France and the UK and they noticed this:
Those with levels of these enzymes were about 8x as likely to be obese than those with high levels.
Since then many more studies were conducted with similar outcomes.
After one of the weight loss studies, researchers concluded: “Individuals carrying high levels of the A allele (indicating high amylase amount and activity) showed a greater reduction in body weight and waist circumference at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months than those with low levels. The association was stronger for long-term changes compared with short-term changes of these outcomes.”
So why does this happen?
We have 2 types of this fancy Amylase enzyme. One’s produced by the salivary glands [AMY1…what a cute name ❤] and another type is secreted by the pancreas.
These guys help to break down complex starchy carbs and convert them into glucose, which is our body’s preferred energy source.
If it wasn’t for amylase, your body wouldn’t be able to use starchy carb foods to fuel you efficiently.
When you start eating starchy foods Amy1 gets to work straight away in your mouth and kick-starts digestion. [Not talking about sugar…but starch. Think bread, potato, corn, rice, oats, pasta, etc.]
And as the food moves through your system, the pancreatic amylase continues this job by digesting and converting starches further as it reaches your gut.
Those of us who have missed out on the genetic benefit of a high number of AMY1 enzymes will experience some problems with this type of diet.
We might notice higher blood sugar levels, more hunger, and sadly some weight gain.
Low amylase producers will notice pretty quickly that a high starch diet simply doesn’t work very well for them.
They’ll help you make the shift from starchy foods to more modest levels of starchy foods combined with a regular intake of protein-rich plant foods. We even include the optional use of some protein shakes.
If you are low on Amylase, then this type of eating can keep you fuller for longer. Plus it can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain.
We use the following foods in modest amounts:
- Grains (including whole grains)
- Bread, pasta, and pastry [pastry is for special occasions only 😉]
- Beans [these we eat in modest servings: 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day]
You can use these methods to increase Amylase levels:
Eat starchy carbs mainly early on in the day when amylase levels are slightly higher than at night
Avoid late-night starchy carb snacks when levels are lower
Although more research needs to be done on this subject we can already say that those who have a higher copy number of the Amy1 enzyme can tolerate more dietary carbs than other people.
And sadly, I definitely do NOT belong in that group. 😫