Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hollaback Girl

"This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s."

206.6lbs. Hey you, Mr. 205lbs, I OWN you man I OWN you.

I have been doing more and more reading from various sources and the one food that seems to be exploding into the public zeitgeist lately? Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. I have seen it in articles on everything from the Japanese Banana Diet to resistant starches. Resistant starches are a relatively new concept in dietary circles. Foods high in resistant starches are different than those starches found in cereals, potatoes or baked goods; those starches are processed rapidly in the body and turned into sugar; spiking blood glucose is bad for weight loss. Resistant starches are a different breed of animal. The body processes them differently using them more like fiber or a pro biotic than a normal starch. Below are some of the benefits of resistant starches:

  • Resistant starch make you feel fuller
  • Resistant starch consumption is associated with lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Promotes "good" bacteria, and suppresses "bad" bacteria in the human biome.
  • Resistant starch in a meal is associated with less fat storage after that meal.
You might be thinking, "Hells yeah! I am going to eat nothing but bananas now!" Uh no. There is always a caveat and the caveat is this: yellow bananas have much lower resistant starches and much higher sugars. Now green bananas are just the opposite. But a banana is a banana right? Well no, starches break down in the food we cook and eat and when they do they create sugars which, in the case of most fruits, darken or change the color of the fruit. Bright yellow on a banana means it is ripened and now breaking down the starch into a simpler sugar. Brown splotches on a banana peel mean that the sugars are well on their way to overtaking the starches, it's also why a yellow banana tastes sweeter. We see this happen in tree leaves in the Fall. Leaves produce brighter colors as sugars start overtaking plant starches until we are finally left with nothing but brown.

Here is another odd thing about foods with resistant starch, the cooler it is the higher the resistant starch will be. I am not talking frozen but foods like cooked potatoes that have been cooled actually have a higher resistant starch content than the warm variety. The cooler a starch gets the more it crystallizes back into a resistant starch, up to 5%. Potatoes and rice are probably not the best dietary additions if you want to get more resistant starch in your diet unless you like them cold and in small amounts. Bananas and legumes are your best bet. Cold bean salad anyone?

Now for the Japanese Banana Diet. The Japanese approach everything with such wonderful intensity. As soon as this diet took off in Japan, there was a shortage of bananas. The whole country went bananas over bananas. So what is this mysterious diet? Eat as many bananas as you like for breakfast with room temperature water, no desserts after meals, eat anything you want for lunch or dinner but nothing after 8pm and go to bed before midnight. I can see why this would work and actually facilitate weight loss on a slower scale. No eating between 8pm and midnight makes sense because it gives your body time to digest. Eating a good breakfast without simple starches as soon as you wake up is probably the best thing you can do for metabolism. And obviously, ditching dessert is probably the best advice anyway.

One also needs to look at a normal Japanese diet overall. These simple rules will definitely work on an American diet but we would need to make more adjustments to our base diet like ejecting the simple carbs that we eat with our meals that the Japanese do not. I have eaten a banana, sometimes with breakfast, off and on for almost a week and it has shown no effect on my weight loss either way. I have done this for practical reasons, I get hellish leg cramps toward the end of the week due to potassium loss and bananas have lots of potassium. They also have a ton of fiber thanks to resistant starch which helps when you are eating as much protein as I am. Now if I can remember to try only eating the green ones, I will be much better off. I also think it might help me later on when I need to kick everything into high gear to reach my end goal.

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