Topics in this article:
History of the Sugarbusters
One of the Authors, H.Leighton Steward, began eating "bad" foods
such as steak, lamb, and cheese after fifteen years of obstaining and found
that his cholesterol dropped by fifteen percent and triglycerides by fifty
percent. Baffled by this, steward talked to his doctor about the possibility
that insulin must have been provoking the liver to produce cholesterol.
His doctor, Bethea, another author of the book enthusiastically
agreed. He sighted proof by explaining that insulin injections in diabetics
tend to elevate cholesterol levels (Steward,Andrews, Bethea & Balart,
Pledge of the Sugarbusters
The diet will allow for most foods to be eaten in normal quantities or
possibly larger ones. One will be able to eat many foods which have been
considered "non-diet", such as meat, cheeses, and eggs. The foods to be
avoided will be any foods which stimulate large amounts of insulin to regulate
blood sugar. Sugar is targeted, not fat, as the culprit for extra pounds
(Dawson, 1997). "By simply doing this, one can get slimmer and healthier
simultaneously" (Steward, 1995). One author, Dr. Balart, even states that
the diet is easy. He believes that after two to four days on the diet the
desire for sweets will disappear and after ten to fourteen days they will
Following the Diet
The basis of the sugarbusters diet is to trim fat by eliminating extra
sugar. Sugarbusters states that lowering extra sugar is achieved by avoiding
white rice, white bread and refined pastas. Other foods to be avoided are
carrots, beets, and bananas. Dieters should instead eat foods which are
high in protein such as nuts, steaks, eggs and also some fruits, vegetables
and whole grain cereals and breads (Steward, 1995). The discerning factor
between which foods can be eaten and which can not depends on the particular
glycemic index of the food.
The glycemic index is the classification of food based on their blood glucose
response relative to a starchy food, usually white bread. "A glycemic index
is calculated as the weighted mean of the glycemic index value of the individual
carbohydrate food, with the weighting based on the the proportion of the
total carbohydrate contributed by each food"(Wolever, Nguyen, Chiassen,&
Hunt, 1994). In total there are nearly six hundred separate entries including
values for most common Western foods, yet these are not available on the
Sugarbusters web site. Sugarbusters does establish guidelines by stating
that a GI lower than forty is low, between forty and sixty is moderate
and greater than sixty is high and should be avoided (http://www.sugarbusters.com:80/foods.html).
It is this GI which allows for foods such as beef and cheese to be eaten
while bananas and watermelon are to be avoided. A list of foods with glycemic
indexes can be found at (http://www.sugarbusters.com:80/foods.html).
How Sugarbusters Works
Carbohydrates are the key to the entire diet because sugar is the building
block of all carbohydrates. Sugar absorbed from the digestive system motivates
the secretion of insulin to transport sugars into the cells as an energy
source. The certain carbohydrate eaten affects the rate that of sugar absorbed
and the amount of insulin secreted. A diet of refined sugar and processed
grain products produces a noticeable elevation in insulin levels over a
twenty four hour period. The extra insulin is then able to promote fat
deposition. Not all carbohydrates are absorbed in this fashion, though.
Carbohydrates in unrefined forms, such as whole grains, need digestive
alteration before being absorbed by the body. This results in a reduction
in the amount of insulin secreted and therefore less fat storage or weight
gain (Steward, 1995).
Claims Made About Effectiveness
The Sugarbusters web site (http://www.sugarbusters.com:80/test.html)
offers a wide array of successful testimonials. One woman states that it
is the only diet of many she has tried that has resulted in weight loss.
Two Diabetics also expressed great excitement at their success with
Sugarbusters. Both had dropped their bloodsugar levels to between "80-112
fasting and 93-134 not fasting" which they had never been able to do before.
Other than these most talked of feeling energetic and happy.
Presenters of the Evidence
These testimonials are supplied on the web site by the four authors of
this book. The authors are Dr. Luis A. Balart, who practices gastroenterology
and hepatology in New Orleans, H. Leighton Steward a CEO at a fortune 500
energy company, Dr. Morrison Bethea, who practices thoracic cardiac and
vascular surgery in New Orleans and Dr. Samuel Andrews who practices endocrinology
and internal medicine (http://www.sugarbusters.com:80/androfe.html).
These doctors are presenting this evidence in hopes of targeting a wide
range of the public to buy their book.
How Correct Are
Glycemic Index Values?
Glycemic Index values are usually listed with their value, type of subjects
tested to gain values, and original source of data. This information is
valuable when determining whether one personally finds the values relevant.
Also, if two values have been published for a given food both will be provided,
or shown how the mean was found. Usually these values are reassuring because
they are generally consistent. An example is that apples may only vary
between thirty-two and forty in four separate studies. Although these values
are quite close, GI values should not be expected to be exact(Miller,1995).
There are some instances of great variation. Porridge may be scored
as low as forty two and as high as seventy five due to methods of cooking
and processing. Particle size is also important. As the particle size decreases
the glycemic index increases. Also to be considered is gelatinization.
The greater the degree in starches the higher the glycemic index. Particle
size and gelatinization help to explain why the GI's of bread and pasta
differ so much.
With an accurate Glycemic Index, one should be able to determine which
foods will illicit high or low insulin responses. "In general insulin responses
follow the rank order of glycemic responses" (Milller,1995). This would
be supportive of the Sugarbusters diet in which lower GI foods are encouraged
because of low insulin levels.
Consumption of Sugar Cause Obesity?
There is concrete evidence which suggests that the fat to carbohydrate
ratio in a diet affects weight regulation and in instances of high fat/low
carbohydrate diets obesity is promoted. In this situation the high fat
portion of the diet is probably the problem, and therefore a lower fat
diet would reduce obesity. In the instance of a high carbohydrate diet
"there is little evidence that sugars have direct affects on either total
energy intake or total energy expenditure in human subjects; such affect
would promote body fat accumulation" (Hill & Prentice,1995). In essence
their is little evidence to suggest that high consumption of dietary sugars
poses a threat to national health. There are some special instances where
a high carbohydrate diet could lead to insulin resistance. In this case
overeating and consuming large amounts of dietary fats may lead to obesity
where it would not have in a non-insulin resistant person. In general Hill
and Prentice state that there is no need to make recommendations about
dietary sugar intake with regard to weight regulation (Hill&Prentice
1995). This study is not in agreement with the Sugarbusters program which
suggests a low GI diet with few carbohydrates for weight reduction.
the Glycemic Level Affect Insulin Responses?
Incorporating foods with low glycemic levels without changing dietary
fiber "reduces postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses and improves
overall blood glucose and lipid concentration in normal subjects and patients
with diabetes"(Wolever 1994). Three clinical experiments have proved that
low Glycemic Indexes improved blood glucose levels when the GI level was
reduced by twelve to forty percent of the regular level. Also, two of the
three experiments proved that a low GI diet reduces serum cholesterol and
triglycerides (Wolever 1994).
An interesting factor in this study was that simple sugars were considered
to have low GI's, and to be reducers of blood glucose and insulin. For
this reason, fruits such as apples and bananas were sited as important
in one's diet. This disagrees with the Sugarbusters diet which discourages
bananas based on their high glycemic index.
Dawson, F. (1997,February). Fat Chance. New Orleans Magazine,p.30.
Hill,J.& Prentice,A. (1995). Sugar and Body Weight Regulation.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ,62,2645- .
Miller,J. (1995). International Tables of Glycemic Index. The
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,62,8695- .
Steward,H. ,Andrews,S. Morrison,C.& Balart,L. (1995). SugarBusters.USA:SugarBusters.
Wolever,T. ,Nguyen,P. ,Chiasson,J.& Hunt,J. (1994). Determinants
of diet glycemic index calculated retrospectively from diet records of
342 individuals with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,59, 1265- .