The drawbacks of consuming junk calories are well-understood, and it’s assumed that sweet foods and drinks should be virtually absent from your diet if you want to be healthy. The ingestion of sugary foods and beverages is the ultimate affront to your genes – it promotes systemic inflammation, causes an instant suppression of immune function, and instigates the sugar high-insulin crash-stress hormone spike-burnout cycle. And grains and legumes are not much different than straight sugar to your body. In fact, nearly every form of carbohydrate that you consume eventually winds up in your bloodstream as glucose. Your brain and your muscles cells can’t tell whether the latest dose of glucose is from a bowl of steel cut oats or a bowl of sugar! It’s all just glucose to your body.
You may be familiar with the concepts of glycemic index and glycemic load, balancing macronutrients at meals into target “zones”, pairing quick burning foods with slower-burning foods, snacking frequently with small portion sizes, and other such nonsense. All of this sugar burner folly still compromises optimal gene expression, which is only possible when you become fat and keto-adapted.
Whether you start your day with a 380-calorie breakfast of Cheerios, skim milk, banana and orange juice, lunch on a 380-calorie serving of brown rice and split pea soup, or stop at roadside to wolf down 380 calories of root beer float and a half-bag of Skittles, your body will ultimately have to produce a requisite amount of insulin to deal with every gram of glucose generated by the ingested carbohydrate. A steady insulin drip to deal with the more complex “slow-burning” carbohydrate grain foods is widely viewed as preferable to the quick spike junk food option, but we must rethink even this seemingly obvious conclusion. With the steady insulin drip, you apply chronic stress to your metabolic and endocrine systems, and inhibit fat metabolism over a longer period than what might have transpired with the Skittles and root beer float. And while the SAD breakfast and lunch meals delivers more vitamins and other micro-nutrients than the soda counter offering, the scale of this advantage is inconsequential – dwarfed by the advantages of eating nutrient-dense plant and animal foods. Essentially, we’re debating the lesser of three evils – with our sincere apologies to the cereal, dairy, rice, and root beer float lobbies!
Your genes are adept at handling brief, intermittent stressors – a plunge in cold water, running a few all-out sprints, and occasional late night of revelry, an airplane trip across time zones, or even an occasional slamming down of a root beer float. A junk food binge elicits a quick spike of insulin, followed by an energy lull, and then – if you are fat-adapted from a general pattern of healthy eating – your blood soon regulates to an optimal balance and insulin in the bloodstream from SAD eating leads to adrenal burnout and systemic inflammation.