The concept of the no-amylose diet is to eliminate foods that contain a high concentration of amylose, one of the building blocks of starch. Basically, going amylose-free means shunning wheat and other cereal grains because they contain high amounts of this molecule. However, lean meats, many vegetables and most fruits are allowed, making it easy to choose a wide variety of foods and still lose weight.
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Ritchie Shoemaker, M.D., a chemist as well as a medical doctor, developed the no-amylose diet as the result of spending more than two decades researching obesity and the acquisition of certain diseases due to chronic exposure to environmental neurotoxins. Dr. Shoemaker’s approach differs from conventional view in that he regards obesity, insulin resistance and inflammatory disorders, for example, as symptoms rather than diagnoses. In short, he believes that immune responses to toxins produced by the body in the presence of Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and other conditions, impair the function of leptin, a key enzyme involved in the perception of hunger and the storage and burning of fat.
In his book, “Lose the Weight You Hate,” Shoemaker explains that the no-amylose diet differs from the popular low-carbohydrate diet since the latter utilizes fats to increase leptin production, which would naturally suppress appetite and reduce impulse cravings. However, Shoemaker contends that this method is ineffective because the consumption of foods that are high in amylose triggers sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and promotes resistance to both insulin and leptin.
The ideal candidate for the no-amylose diet is anyone suffering from or at risk for obesity and insulin-resistant diabetes, although Shoemaker also notes that reducing the risk of either will also decrease the risk of developing other diseases. In addition, in a presentation given at the 7th Annual AACFS Conference held in Madison, Wisconsin on October 7, 2004, Karen Vrchota, M.D., reported that some of her chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia patients that experienced bloating and weight gain as side effects from their medications achieved significant relief after following the no-amylose diet for 10 days.
With the exception of bananas, Shoemaker says that all fruits are low in amylose. Lean meats are permitted, as are many vegetables. In terms of the latter, the general rule of thumb is to adhere to varieties that grow above ground, especially green vegetables. In addition, foods low in amylose typically rank higher in the glycemic index, or GI, a measurement of how fast carbohydrates are broken down into glucose by the body.
Foods to Avoid
The no-amylose diet advocates the avoidance of all sugars and grains with the exception of certain varieties of “waxy” corn. Other specific foods to avoid include potatoes, yams, carrots and other root vegetables; cereals that contain rye, wheat, rice, oats or barley; and foods enhanced with corn syrup or maltodextrins.