The Sugar Busters! Diet
How Sugar Busters! Works
The authors of Sugar Busters! use basic science to explain their theory -- up to a point. A snack or meal that is high in carbohydrates (of which sugar is the basic building block) raises the level of glucose in the blood stream quickly. This stimulates the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. This release produces too much insulin, say the authors, so that the body is not able to convert that glucose into glycogen (which is used for immediate energy needs).
The result of that increased insulin production is stored fat. And the body has the uncanny ability to hang unto it, like it or not, in the form of that spare tire around one's middle, those thunder thighs, and that belly. And, wouldn't you know it, the body can store thousands of grams of fat. All of this was incredibly useful for our forebears before the invention of fast-food joints, when the next meal might be long off, and fat could be converted into energy as needed. But while we no longer need this efficient system of packaging, we're stuck with it.
However, even though a high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal causes only an imperceptible rise in blood glucose and consequently a very small rise in insulin, it causes a significant increase in the glucagon level, claim the authors. What is glucagon? The other hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar and "promotes the mobilization of previously stored fat," according to the authors. "[As] you burn food reserves for your energy requirements between meals, high levels of glucagons will allow that energy to be derived" from your stored fat reserves. Furthermore, the elevated glucagon level stays high for quite some time "so you can keep on burning that mobilized fat."
Insulin, on the other hand, "inhibits the mobilization of previously stored fat," they warn, "even if one is on a rather skimpy, but glucose-generating, diet." All this explains why people eating a diet high in white-flour pasta cannot burn fat even when food intake goes down.
The most controversial claim of the Sugar Busters! diet is that by keeping the need for insulin low by eliminating or severely restricting certain foods, we can reduce insulin resistance, a condition wherein our bodies have become insensitive to normal levels of circulating insulin in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance results in obesity and frequently is the culprit behind type 2 diabetes, or the non-insulin-dependent form of the disease. "Fifty percent or more of insulin resistance can be reduced or even reversed as insulin resistance does not totally depend on our inherited genes," say the authors.
What the Experts Say About the Sugar Busters! Diet
Diet experts don't seem to like Sugar Busters! much. "The authors contend that you can avert diabetes on the Sugar Busters! diet. That is a myth," says Maureen L. Storey, PhD, former associate director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In addition, Storey doubts the authors' fundamental weight-loss claims. "When we gain weight, it doesn't matter where the calories come from -- calories in and not enough out will cause you to gain weight.