Sunday, August 13, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #393, My 2nd 30-lb Challenge (Amended): Final Report

Followers may recall that a few months back, in my 1st 30-lb Challenge, I lost 31 pounds in 10 weeks. They may also remember that I then embarked on a 2nd 30-pound challenge, this one of 16-weeks duration. After 12 weeks, I reported a less than stellar performance and amended the 16-week goal from 30 to 15 pounds. This is the 4thQ/Final report on the amended goal. I started the 4th quarter at 215 lbs. The goal is to return to 202 in 4 weeks, then 197 two weeks later. That’ll be over 50 pounds lost with full-day “fasting.”
Week 13: Attended Keto Fest, a festival in New London, CT, organized by 2 Keto Dudes. It was educational and fun, and I ate too much: Eggs/bacon breakfasts (in a hotel), ketogenic lunches (at the festival) and half-priced cherrystones and white wine (dinner on my own), but too much food/wine. I gained 5 pounds. FBG aver: 103!
Week 14: Fasting Mon-Wed-Fri. I dropped 10 pounds from 220 to 210. Amazing! Including an amazing buffet lunch at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown before seeing “Porgy and Bess.” And I cheated a little each fasting day, but only with a protein/fat snack (bought at Keto Fest) with my happy hour spritzer. FBG aver: 99mg/dl.
Week 15: Fasting Mon-Wed-Thurs this week. Tuesday we’ll again have lunch at the Otesaga Hotel before seeing “Oklahoma” at Glimmerglass, and then a light “all protein” supper at home. All went well ‘till Saturday, the annual neighborhood association picnic. I had just one plate of protein and fat, plus 3 cups of my keto clam chowder, and 3 cups of white wine. Virtually no carbs (except in the wine) and no dessert! Alas, I gained 2 pounds for a net 4 pound loss for the week. Next morning: FBS up 29 points. FBG weekly average: 86mg/dl.
Week 16: Need to lose 4-6 pounds this week to reach my target. Glimmerglass (“Xerxes”) on Tuesday, so I will try “IF” Mon+Wed-Thu and maybe Fri. I have a gallon of leftover keto clam chowder: ergo, I will do a modified OMAD (one ‘mug’ a day) fast this week: for ‘supper’ I’ll substitute 12oz of chowder, plus iced tea, for my usual spritzer (6oz red wine + 8oz seltzer): fewer carbs, more fat, no wine. By week’s end I had lost 3 pounds, down to 203 (1 shy of my target). 26 week total: 45 pounds. FBG average this week: 90mg/dl.
Conclusion
Multiple, consecutive day “fasting” is easy, if you’re “fat adapted.” No hunger. Never was any at “breakfast.” Just coffee with cream. No hunger at “lunchtime.” I usually forget about it if I’m busy in the yard, etc. Supper has proved to be a little harder. In recent years I “snacked” before supper. (I say “supper” to suggest a smaller meal than “dinner.”) It’s usually been solid food, recently plain celery; before that radishes with salt and sometimes butter). Since beginning full-day “fasting,” I have substituted a red wine spritzer (6oz wine + 8oz seltzer) for solid food, to wash down my evening pills. In week 16, for 3 days I replaced the spritzer with iced tea, to save 150 calories while I used up leftover, calorie-rich keto chowder. It worked out okay. No cooking.
Other Related Thoughts
The brain is so facile at rationalizing. I have quickly come to accept that losing less than half the weight I wanted to lose in my 2nd 30-lb Challenge was still a good outcome. After all, a pound-a-week-loss really is respectable. Many healthcare professionals would even describe it as commendable. But I consider it a big disappointment. Not exactly a failure, but then I have high expectations for myself (and others, my wife says).
Going Forward
I have, however, gained another insight from this less-than-desired outcome. I have reasoned that to maintain each weight loss, the challenge must continue. And the best way to do that is to continue to set goals – albeit incrementally smaller goals – in successive weight loss campaigns. There are just two variables: elapsed time and weight. Time was the variable in the two original plans: 30 pounds in 10 weeks and then 30 pounds in 16 weeks. When I faltered in the 2nd plan, I cut the goal to 15 pounds in 16 weeks. Going forward, beyond this 16-week challenge, with 15 more pounds to lose, I will propose to lose 5 pounds in the 1st 2 weeks. And then, the “final” 10 in the last 6. Or something like that. We’ll see how it goes. And then? Another challenge?  Of course.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #392: “Broccoli May Help Fight Diabetes”

When I read this headline in Medscape Medical News, in a write-up by an MD, of a real research project, my hopes soared. I thought, doctors were adopting the precept that Hippocrates, “Father of Western Medicine,” had made famous: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Finally, we had come full circle!
The full title of the Medscape précis of the study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, was “Antioxidant in Broccoli May Help Fight Diabetes.” Nevertheless, I still believed that these medical doctors – the study authors and the Medscape writer – were advocating that we eat a diet of healthy, whole foods. And that there was a dietary fix for those among us who had already developed a lesser or greater degree of Carbohydrate Intolerance, i.e., were overweight, obese, or had been diagnosed pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic.
And the first sentence of the Medscape piece did not disabuse me of this vision on the horizon – a mirage or hallucination it turns out. It described the antioxidant as “a new option for treating type 2 diabetes.” The second sentence went on to describe the mechanism that the antioxident used, that it “reduces exaggerated glucose production by the liver in type 2 diabetes,” in much the same way that Metformin does.
Unfortunately, in the sixth paragraph, the full story – and the sad truth – emerged: “The study used highly concentrated broccoli extract, which would be equivalent to eating about 5kg [11 pounds!] of broccoli per day.” “Because it’s almost impossible to eat such large amounts of broccoli [diya think?], [the antioxidant] needs to be taken as an extract or concentrate.” Okay. Now, where does this revelation take us?
“We think broccoli extract could be a very exciting addition to treatments that we already have,” the lead researcher said. “When we gave it to patients and measured their glucose control before and 12 weeks after treatment, we saw significant improvement in fasting blood glucose and HbA1c in obese patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes,” he averred. The results were ‘very encouraging,’ he added.
So, where does this well designed research in basic science lead? Medscape explained: “Currently, they [the researchers] are working with a farmer-owned organization in Sweden…to make the extract available as a functional food preparation.” Aha! A collaboration: Basic Science → Applied Science + Farmer → $$$$ for all.
Diya think I am being cynical? Just read the accompanying Conflict of Interest Disclosure:
“The study was sponsored by Lund University. Lantmännen [the local farmer-owned organization] provided the broccoli extract and placebo for the study, and Lantmännen Research Fund financed part of the study. Lantmännen reports no influence on the study procedures, data analysis, or data interpretation. Rosengren [the lead researcher] had no relevant financial relationships. Two coauthors are inventors on patent applications submitted by Lund University that cover the use of sulforaphane [the antioxidant] to treat exaggerated hepatic glucose production. The rights to use this patent have been licensed to Lantmännen.”
Okay. I wasted my time reading this piece of garbage from the usually reliable Medscape Medical News. But it is medical business news in the sense that universities, even the best of them like Lund, are not above pecuniary interests. They need “research funds” to survive and prosper, just as “local farmer-owned organizations” need money. But this story is not about eating in a healthy way to avoid developing Insulin Resistance (Carbohydrate Intolerance) or even to treat “obese patients with dysregulated type 2 diabetes.”
But, I got to write another curmudgeonly piece to offset my usual lecture about eating Very Low Carb (VLC), losing weight without hunger, and lowering your blood glucose AND blood insulin levels. That’s a saving grace.
So, have doctors come full circle with respect to eating real food? Not in my lifetime, a friend quipped.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #391: The U. S. Dietary Guidelines: “11 Points for Change”

A couple of weeks ago, while cross-fertilizing with attendees at the 2 Keto Dudes’ 1st Annual Keto Fest in New London, CT, I learned about the Nutrition Coalition. Their principal objective is to affect these “11 Points for Change” in the Dietary Guidelines (DGAs). They urge people to sign an on-line petition they’ve created. I took a look at it and did so immediately. They are so right-on, on every point, that they deserve all our support.
My first reaction to the idea was to be cynical. I was skeptical that such an effort would be effective. On reading the manifesto, however, I realized that it was so cogent and so comprehensive that it perfectly embodies and presents the reforms that are needed. It represents the “yang” to the “ying” – in the opposing rather than the complementary sense – of the present Guidelines. Hacked from their site, I list below their “11 Points for Change”: If you agree, PLEASE consider adding your name to their petition. At least you’ll feel good.
1.      Undertake a communications campaign to let Americans know that the low-fat diet is no longer recommended
2.      Ease or lift caps on saturated fats
3.      Offer low-carbohydrate diets as a viable option for fighting chronic disease
4.      Offer a meaningful diversity of diets
5.      Make the DGA diets nutritionally sufficient, with nutrients coming from whole foods
6.      Stop recommending aerobic exercise for weight loss
7.      Stop recommending “lower is better” on salt
8.      Stop telling the public that reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be accomplished by choosing “an appropriate calorie level”
9.      Stop recommending vegetable oils for health
10.  Recommend regular meat and milk rather than the low-fat/lean alternatives
11.  Don’t issue population-wide guidelines based on weak data
Each of the Coalition’s “Points” is supported by explanatory sentences and is linked to a reference.
How about that! Isn’t that exciting? This plain language “manifesto” encapsulates a fix for everything that is wrong with the dietary advice that we as a nation have been given since the “experts” 40 years ago provided supporting testimony to the politicians at the 1977 Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. That lay committee then produced the “Dietary Goals for the United States,” aka the McGovern Report. The USDA institutionalized these “goals” in the Dietary Guidelines that they have promulgated every 5 years since.
As the Nutrition Coalition points out, these U. S. Guidelines “are the single-most important determinant for how people eat.” They say, “Our Guidelines determine” 1) Federal food programs, 2) Nutritional advice, 3) Military rations (MREs), 4) Packaged foods, 5) K-12 nutrition education, and 6) non-packaged foods.” Their hyperlinked text supports with more detail each of these aspects of Federal food policy. It is far reaching.
The cross fertilization occurred when I was talking to the father of an adult type 2 diabetic, who was just then talking to Richard Feinman, PhD, a conference speaker and nutrition icon. They were discussing a scientific paper from January 2015, popularly titled “12 Points of Evidence,” that Dr. Feinman had published in Nutrition. Directed at medical doctors, the full title is, “Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base.” As Gary Taubes implied in the Afterward to his paperback edition of Good Calories - Bad Calories, he was disappointed by the medical community’s response to his “Carbohydrate Hypothesis.” As a cynic, I am more inclined to accept Max Planck’s dictum, “Truth never triumphs. Its opponents just die out.” But I did sign the petition, and I encourage you to take action. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #390: My 2nd and Last 30-pound Challenge: 3rd Qtr. Report

The half time report (#385) on my 2nd and last 30-pound weight-loss challenge was a roller coaster of misadventures, but the trend line continued in the right direction, i.e. down, albeit slightly. So, “the challenge continues.” In the beginning I didn’t know how my body would react to full-day fasting. I feared that 1) I would be hungry and 2) my energy level would plummet. I learned that full-day fasting (300kcal/d) is easy because I am keto-adapted and never hungry. And as my energy level has not wavered, my comfort level has increased.
I began with an alternate day routine (Tuesdays and Thursdays, every week) and had good results: weight loss with no hunger and high energy levels. The reason, and I must emphasize this, is that on non-fasting days I adhered (for the most part) to a Very Low Carb (VLC) Way of Eating. I have been doing this since 2002, so I was already adapted to the VLC concept and my food choices. As a result of this increased comfort level, the frequency with which I did full-day, 300kcal fasting also increased.
Although I lost weight easily, when once I fell behind my weekly weight-loss goal, in order to catch up I decided to kick it up a notch. I went to 3-consecutive-day fasting (Tue-Wed-Thu) and it worked! Still no hunger and high energy levels! At the end of the 10-week challenge, I had lost 31 pounds. To stave off regain, I decided to extend my 3 consecutive-full-day, 300kcal/d fasting routine for another 16 weeks, this time to lose another (final) 30 pounds and reach my mid-teen weight. Why mess with success?
Week 9: As reported in #385, the first half of this 2nd and last 30-pound challenge was far from a resounding success. I lost only 2 pounds of the planned 15, but the 8 pound gain in the final 3 days was fleeting. So, thinking optimistically, I was starting the last 8 weeks only 5 pounds in the hole.  And I was now committed to 3-day fasting every week, on consecutive days wherever my schedule permitted. This week it was Mon-Tue and then Thursday. By Wed morning I had lost 7 of the 8 pounds gained in Week 8. But…our social calendar included potluck buffets at gatherings with friends on both Wednesday and Friday, and I ate a small supper Thursday instead of fasting, so I gained 5 back and for the week only lost 2. FBG was also bad: 97mg/dl.
Week 10: Fasting this week Mon-Tue-Wed. Dropped 6 pounds, in spite of a little cheating every day! Had a small lunch Thu (kippered herring from a can) and a big supper (beef short ribs and a very large salad); gained back 1 pound. Fri had the same kippered herring lunch and a similar supper (lamb chops and a large salad); remained at 5 pounds down for the week. On Sat we had dinner out with friends before a concert. I had two low carb appetizers and one cocktail. At Sun weigh-in I was still down 6 pounds for the week. FBG aver: 95.
Week 11: I’m starting the week at 206 and will do another 3-day fast (300kcal/day), Mon-Tues-Thurs. (Lunch at the CIA Wed.) The goal this week is to blast through 205 pounds, the lowest weight I ever achieved on VLC (in 2008 while doing Bernstein). It’s also my weight at the end of basic training in the army in 1960. On Friday I left for a weekend family reunion in Rochester. That was a challenge. I brought with me 100 clams and a case of Michelob Ultras. Before leaving, I weighed in at 202 (FGB: 82), down 4 pounds. Upon my return I weighed in at 213 (FBG: 119). I gained 11 pounds in 3 days. That’s more than the weight of all the food I ate!
Week 12: Another challenging week: My wife’s surgery, hotel and hospital meals, and cooking for my invalid. Gained 2 more pounds to 215, 13 pounds above the 202 low just 9 days earlier! And my FBG average jumped to 107, with more challenges to come in the next week with 5 days/nights away from home. Time for a pause.
Discussion: A plan revision is in order. My new goal is to eat VLC for Week 13, then resume 3-consecutive-day fasting for the succeeding 3 weeks. Starting at 215, my goal is to get to 205 by end of Week 16, then to 203 by the next Tuesday (Dr’s appt.). That’s just half the 30 pound loss I targeted, so again, “the challenge continues.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #389: Don’t go to THIS* hospital…

The draft title of this post was, “Don’t go to THIS* hospital for outpatient Type 2 diabetes care,” but space didn’t permit. The warning, however, stands. It will only cause you harm, and as Hippocrates said, “First, do no harm." Beware, therefore, of the clutches of THIS hospital's outpatient department.
I discovered this while visiting my wife as she was recovering from successful back surgery (yeah!). I decided to check out the cafeteria and along the way saw signs for the Diabetes Care Center and decided to visit. The waiting room and reception station were empty, so I just gathered up all the free literature I could find.
There were four types available: 1) 2 3-fold 8½ x 11 glossy sheets promoting the hospital’s Diabetes Care Center, 2) 2 8½ by 11, 3-page, 2-sided color pages about “Healthy Eating” and food “Tips for People with Diabetes,” “brought to you by the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators), and “supported by an educational grant from Eli Lilly and Company,” a big pharma company that makes insulin, 3) 2 different 5 x 7 glossy magazines filled with diabetes drug advertisements, and 4) an educational flyer about injecting insulin.
Suffice it to say, the theme that dominated the “individualized” diabetes education program was drugs, specifically “initiation of insulin, instruction on blood sugar monitoring, insulin pump therapy, continuous glucose monitoring sensors, medical nutrition therapy and follow-up education.” But, those “individualized” therapies were the domain of the doctors and RNs. I was interested in seeing their advice for pre-diabetics.
One of the two hospital brochures addressed that. It said, “Dieticians who are Certified Diabetes Educators Serve as Resources,” both for “medical providers” [doctors and RNs] and for “participants” [diabetes patients]. For the diabetes educators’ advice I turned to the 3-page Xeroxed handouts on “Healthy Eating” and “Summer Fun and Food Tips for People with Diabetes.” And therein lies what I am warning you to avoid, like the plague.
Essentially, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), the organization comprised of CDEs (Certified Diabetes Educators), espouses the same one-size-fits-all diet for pre-diabetics and diabetics (both type 1s and type 2s) that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015) prescribe for everyone else in the U. S. over 2 years old: that is, “the plate method,” or in the “Summer Fun” version, “the paper plate plan”:
·          "Fill ½ the plate with non-starchy vegetables (such as greens, green beans, broccoli, cabbage)
·         ¼ should contain meat or other protein (fish, eggs, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, beans or legumes)
·         ¼ contains starch (such as a potato or whole grain bread)
·         On the side, include an 8 ounce glass of low-fat milk or a small piece of fruit."
Also, you are reminded that a “healthy meal plan” should include “a limited amount of heart-healthy fats.” Examples given are oils and nuts, all high in unsaturated fats. Meats should be “lean” and cheeses “low-fat.” In other words, avoid as much as possible, red meat, saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Straight from the “Guidelines.”
Your plate in this “healthy meal plan” is thus ¾'s carbohydrates. Doesn’t the AADE and their CDEs know that Type 2 diabetes is a dietary disease?!!! Apparently they do because elsewhere they want you to “count carbohydrates,” lose weight and exercise. But how are you going to do this on THIS meal plan, plus eating “small snacks between meals…to help keep your body going”? Answer: the hospital outpatient department will help you with 1) “emotional support,” 2) “empowerment,” and 3) “tools for self-care” (“education” and a meter). They will also supply you with oral medications (as needed, up to max dose in 3 different classes), then “initiation of insulin” [injections], insulin pump therapy, continuous glucose monitoring sensors, and eventually – and here’s an area where THIS hospital excels – they’ll help you with bariatric surgery.
* THIS hospital shall be nameless because this outpatient department for Type 2 Diabetes care is neither worse nor better than all the other hospital outpatient departments that deliver the establishment message about “Healthy Eating”. Here’s a clue though. A display in the main corridor proudly proclaims it is ranked among the best in the country for “Bariatric Surgery, Women’s Health and Heart Care.” Telling, isn’t it. Once they get you – the pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic – in their clutches, you are destined to “progress” along this course: Your glucose disregulation will continue to deteriorate and your heart disease risk will continue to rise. Your Type 2 Diabetes will ipso facto be progressive on THIS “healthy meal plan.” Solution:  Just don’t go there? Don't be a "participant." This is sick care, not health care.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #388: “A Piece of Cake!”

Jason Fung’s recent post, “Towards a Cure©” must have garnered a lot of hits. Dr. Fung is a Toronto-based nephrologist with a busy clinical practice. In addition, his office operates in parallel an on-site and on-line clinic, Intensive Dietary Management (IDM), headed by Megan Ramos. Besides this, Dr. Fung blogs weekly under the aegis of the Institute of Kidney Life Science. He’s a busy guy. He is also a thinker whose hypotheses about the etiology and pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes are shaking things up a bit. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
In “Towards a Cure,” after a brief review of his hypothesis, he gets right to the point with these excerpts:
“The treatments that are known to lead to a cure – fasting, bariatric surgery and low carbohydrate diets – all share one feature in common. They are all treatments that lower insulin. Here’s comes the sudden, horrifying realization. The treatments we have been using for type 2 diabetes were EXACTLY wrong. Too much insulin causes this disease. Giving insulin or drugs that raise insulin will not make the disease better. It will only make it worse!
“This is precisely what happened. Type 2 diabetic patients are generally started on one medication at diagnosis. This only treats the symptoms, so over time the disease gets worse, and the dose is increased. Once the maximum dose is reached, a second, then a third drug is added. After that, insulin is prescribed in ever increasing doses in a desperate bid to control the blood sugar. But, if you require higher and higher doses of medications, your diabetes is not getter better, it is getting worse. The treatment was exactly wrong.
“In type 2 diabetes insulin levels are high, not low. Injecting more insulin is not going to help treat it. Yes, in the short-term, the symptom of high blood sugar is better, but the disease, the diabetes, was continually getting worse. How did we expect that giving more insulin to a patient with too much already would help? Our standard accepted treatments were precisely how NOT to treat type 2 diabetes.”
Of the 3 three treatments that “are known to lead to a cure,” bariatric surgery, which he is NOT advocating, is fraught with unnecessary risk. The other two, fasting (for which he is a strong proponent), and low or very low carbohydrate diets, are not risky…and they are patient controlled. You are in charge. You decide what to eat.
Jason Fung doesn’t have an editor (or a proof reader, apparently).  His posts frequently have typos. As my editor counseled me years ago, let a post percolate for a day and then edit it, and then edit it again the next day and the next. Jason Fung doesn’t have the luxury of time to do that. And neither does he have the benefit of an outside editor. For example, I would have counseled him to edit the penultimate sentence of the first paragraph above to read, “Giving insulin or eating foods that raise insulin will not make the disease better.”
I’m not nit-picking or carping really. Jason Fung is the most refreshing voice out there at the moment. And I think he has the best of all worlds. I’m jealous. He has his nephrology practice. He has a broad-reaching clinic focused on weight management and metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. And he has his Institute in which, as a 1-man think tank he morphs into a research PI (Principal Investigator) each week. What fun! I think his blog title this week, “Towards a Cure,” is less a hook to garner internet hits than a reflection of his own excitement that he may just be on to something.
Maybe his weekly exercise in researching and writing is a ritual that is getting him closer to understanding why “(o)ver 50% of American adults are estimated to have prediabetes or diabetes,” as the lede of this week’s column states. Maybe as more people incorporate low carb or very low carb eating, and fasting, either intermittent or all-day fasting and very low carb eating as I do, it will also enable others to lose weight easily and without hunger, and greatly improve their general health too, as I have. Just maybe…
But that’s up to you. You are in charge of what and when you eat. You decide if you want to try it. I’ll tell you this much: Full-day fasting is easy, when you are KETO-ADAPTED. No hunger. Easy weight loss. “Piece of cake!”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #387: 15 Years on a VLC Diet

In August 2002 my doctor asked me to go to a website I’d never heard of, study a diet plan described there, and then start the diet when he returned from vacation two weeks later. He wanted to monitor me closely.
The impetus for his interest in this website was the cover story of the July 7, 2002, New York Times Sunday Magazine that he had read a month before, “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?” by Gary Taubes. The cover photo was of a ribeye steak with a big pat of butter on top. He had tried the diet himself…and it worked.
The website was Atkins and the diet was the startup phase called “Atkins Induction” in which the dieter goes “cold turkey” from eating the Standard American or Western Diet to consuming just 20 grams of carbs a day. That’s very low. Today anything below 50g/d is described as Very Low Carb and up to 100 as Low Carb.
Very Low Carb (VLC) is similar to the Very Low Carb Ketogenic Diet (VLCKD) and also to the Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) diet. LCHF stresses quality saturated and monounsaturated fats. All eschew vegetable and seed oils.
Followers will differ in their precise definitions, but most agree that they are all characterized by being LOW carb, MODERATE protein and HIGH fat. The high fat part is still the most controversial and easily the hardest for neophytes to accept. Despite being a hard sell, high fat is an important part of the plan.
We have been told for more than half a century that consuming fat, especially saturated fat with cholesterol, is a risk factor for heart disease. That guidance was not supported by good science and today is increasingly coming under review and criticism by a growing number of reputable sources. But the AHA, the Standards of Practice of the medical specialties, the government Dictocrats who influence payments by Medicare/Medicaid and private health insurers, and most practicing physicians are still wary and way, way behind the curve, as is the mass media. So, in this context patients generally do what their doctor tells them to do. I did.
And who can blame them? I just got lucky. My doctor had been trying to get me to lose weight for years. I saw his staff nutritionist and tried to follow the low-fat (high-carb!), “BALANCED” diet she prescribed for me. It didn’t work. Whenever I lost weight, my metabolism slowed, I was hungry, and I re-gained. And I felt like crap. My body told me to eat for energy balance. It didn’t like to starve. I didn’t like it either. So I failed, repeatedly.
What was different about this diet (Very Low Carb: 20 grams a day)? I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t crave food. My body was in energy balance and didn’t slow down because, when it needed energy, it switched from the food I ate to the food it had stored. It could do this because the food I ate was VERY LOW CARB. This meant that after the level of glucose (from carbs) in my blood dropped, the level of INSULIN in my blood also dropped. The insulin wasn’t needed to transport glucose to my cells. So, seeing lower blood insulin, the brain got the signal to switch from using glucose for energy to burning body fat for energy.
The key to weight loss w/o hunger: low carb → lower glucose → lower insulin→ access to body fat for energy.
Everybody’s level-of-carb threshold is going to be different. Among other things, it depends on the level of Insulin Resistance (IR) you have developed over a lifetime of eating 60% carbohydrates the way we have been told to do since 1977. That’s 300 grams of carbohydrates a day on a 2,000 kcal diet and 375 grams on a 2,500 kcal diet (for men). So, everyone who eats just 20 grams of carbohydrates a day will lose weight easily and without hunger. In the first 9 months I lost 60 pounds, and kept it off. It was life changing. Life saving, I think.
This is not an endorsement of Atkins, especially since it has changed so much since I did it 15 years ago. I later moved on to Bernstein (30g carbs/day) and lost 110 more. Today I am still 170 lbs. lighter than I was in 2002.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #386: Max Planck was right…

Max Planck was right when he said, “Truth never triumphs – its opponents just die out.” Planck (1858-1947) was the originator of quantum mechanics and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. A longer version at Wikiquotes is, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

If you sense my frustration, you’re right. It is discouraging, at times, to realize that the message that food is the best medicine is lost on people who have spent a lifetime writing prescriptions. Medical doctors should be the first to acknowledge this. It was, after all, Hippocrates (460BC-370BC), the “Father of Western Medicine” and author of the Hippocratic Oath that many physicians take when graduating from medical school, who said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Yet, they have forgotten. It is very sad indeed.

Examples abound. I recently tried to share the English and Spanish language versions of a 16-page booklet I have written on “Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease” with the professional staff of a local network of clinics that proclaims “Everyone Welcome” and “Bienvenidos Todos.” The network administrator wouldn’t even give me the courtesy of an appointment. When I sent her the e-file text of both brochures, she said they only “use educational material that is peer-reviewed or has an .edu or .org tag.” When I said I would be happy if only the staff read it (not the patient population), she didn’t reply. I had been stonewalled by the establishment.

In conversation with two women at a party recently, one woman told the other, who is an MD and former head of a large hospital, that her husband had an appointment to be evaluated for cognitive impairment. I know personally and have written about Dr. Mary Newport's experience with exogenous ketones for her husband, and I had just read Amy Berger’s “The Alzheimer's Antidote.” So I suggested that a ketogenic diet has been strongly associated with a delayed onset and even improvements in cognitive function. My doctor friend scoffed at “my” idea and dismissed the suggestion. She said “KETOSIS” was dangerous and to be avoided

I replied, quoting Dr. Richard Veech, the go-to expert on ketones at the National Institutes of Health, that ketosis is the “normal state of man.” We are either in a fed state or a fasting state. When fasting, after the body uses up its hepatic stored glycogen and amino acids, it breaks down body fat to make fatty acids and ketone bodies. I told my doctor friend she was confusing KETOSIS with KETOACIDOSIS. In the former, the level of ketones is 0.5-3mmol/L, a normal, healthy state, whereas in the latter it is >30mmol/L and life threatening.

I said I would not go on and the doctor quipped, “Do you promise?” I walked away and stood at a window for a long time looking at a long row of hostas under mature oaks. I could have told this so out-of-touch doctor how John Hopkins has been using the ketogenic diet to treat intractable childhood epilepsy since 1921 with marked success. Google it: ketogenic diet/Johns Hopkins. It’s NOT dangerous to be in ketosis. It’s normal.

But the other woman said her husband “wouldn’t change his diet anyway.” I guess he’d rather be a vegetable.

Later the doctor came over to me to apologize “for being rude.” I accepted but was still piping hot. I told her she was pig-headed and out-of-touch with recent developments in nutrition and health. Retired doctors apparently still carry a lot of authority, but they can only hurt the ones they love. Those that maintain their licenses without keeping up with continuing education courses in their specialties are doing a disservice to the ones they still serve. That is, until, as Max Planck said, “a new generation grows up that is familiar with” the latest developments in medical science. That includes recognizing that Hippocrates’ 2,500-year-old sage advice, to “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” was right on! Some of us are coming to see that now. But for the aging population of physicians and their friends, it may be too late. Too bad, really.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #385: My 2nd (and Last) 30-lb Challenge: Half-time Report

This is my 2nd 30-lb Challenge since I started to experiment with full-day fasting after the Super Bowl. This one did not start off well. In the first four weeks, where my goal was to lose 7 pounds, I lost only 1. This period was plagued by a succession of missteps and generally reflected a lack of focus. I just got off to a bad start and never got my head straight. I knew I could do better. So, to jumpstart the 2nd Quarter, I did a 3-day fast. 
Week 5: It was a rough start. We had company Monday night, and I made a delicious dinner…and besides a big drink and 2nds of my roast pork, I had dessert: Gained 2 pounds. FBG Tuesday: 108. That was followed by a 3-consecutive day fast in which I lost 8 pounds. I worked 4 to 6 hours in the garden in scorching heat on all 3 days, drank pickle brine and ice tea to keep hydrated, and felt great. In fact, I mentioned to my wife on the 3rd day that I felt really pumped! Ate 2 meals Friday and gained 2 pounds back (probably water), but all my FBGs this week besides Tuesday were 70s and 80s. My 7-day average was 85mg/dl (4.7mmol/L), and I lost 4 pounds.
Week 6: I started the week still 4 pounds behind plan, and because we have theatre in NYC on Tuesday, I’ll fast (300 kcal/day) just Wednesday-Thursday this week, from Tuesday supper to Friday lunch. That’s a good thing about full-day fasting. You can mix and match, including alternate day or consecutive day. That didn’t occur to me before I started in February, but I discovered it makes no difference when you’re keto-adapted. Result: FBG average 82mg/dl – mostly 70s and 80s with 1 low 90s from a cheat at a pre-theatre restaurant. But, I gained 3 pounds for the week – 4 in the last 2 days. Either my body is resisting its weight loss, or I’m eating too many calories on my “feasting” days. Honestly, I think it’s mostly the latter. So, I resolve to try to eat less.
Week 7: Now, starting the week 9 pounds behind plan and with theatre in NYC 2 times this week, I need to tweak my fasting plan again. Fundamentally, I am never hungry, so when I eat – either too much at supper or to snack before supper – it’s not from hunger. I need to recognize that and act accordingly. That’s my plan. Well…as they say about war, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” On Tuesday I had a 3-course dinner before the theatre. The cheese course, for desert, had more calories and carbs (in accompaniments) than the appetizer and entrée together. By next morning both my FBG and weight had risen. Thursday’s pre-theatre supper wasn’t much better. But, because I fasted M-W-F this week, I lost 4 pounds and my weight was down to 211. So, I gained 2 on my 9 pound deficit but, 7 weeks in, I am still 7 lbs behind plan. FBG aver. = 91.
Week 8: Halftime is looming and I need a 2nd consecutive week of losses to be in the best position to catch up in the 2nd half and achieve my 2nd 30-pound challenge and reach my teenage weight of 187 pounds. There are few confounding factors this week. I know I can do it. This week I plan to fast M-T-W. Net result: DISASTER! I lost 5 pounds in the 3-consecutive day fast (and accomplished lots in the garden); then, naively ate pasta and 1/3 of my wife’s desert in a restaurant on Thursday, and snacked without discipline at receptions after an art gallery opening and a harpsichord concert on Saturday. Outcome: a shameful and embarrassing gain of 8 pounds in 3 days. FBG aver. = 99. It’s a head shaking setback, but it is what it is. And fasting isn’t the problem.
Conclusion: Halfway into my 2nd 16-week, 30 pound challenge (34 actually, since I started it after a 4-pound gain), I am only 2 pounds (6 actually) down, 13 behind plan. This looks insurmountable BUT, the last 8 is water. So, if I think of it that way, I have only a 5 pound deficit to overcome in the next (final) 8 weeks. That’s doable.
Discussion: Currently, I think I prefer a 3-day, weekday (Mon-Tue-Wed or Tue-Wed-Thu), 300kcal/day, fast. I think my wife does too. She is spared the trouble of cooking for me, and she can prepare foods that she prefers to eat. One night last week she had a micro-waved baked half of a potato, stuffed with butter, sour cream and shredded cheese. In any case she has accepted my full-day fasting. Perhaps it is because, for all my misadventures, she knows that I am losing weight and my blood sugar regulation and other health markers have improved greatly. Or maybe she just misses baked, stuffed potatoes. Anyway, the challenge continues.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #384: The Problem with N = 1 (Spoiler: I’m keto-adapted)

Everyone agrees that achieving weight loss is a multi-factorial endeavor. Among the obstacles are cultural issues (e.g., certain staple foods); longstanding habits (e.g., eating 3 meals a day); food preference (e.g., sweet and/or starchy foods and processed foods made to “taste good”); and budget (low-nutrition carbs cost less than high-nutrient foods like protein and fat). But the biggest obstacle to weight loss is a broken metabolism. People who eat the Standard American or Western diet, described below, do it because they are hungry.
Hunger is the primary driver when you eat mostly carbs. But eating mostly carbs is an acquired habit. It’s been abetted by a decades-long campaign of government advocacy, suborned by the influence of Big Agriculture,  advertising and media hype. Should you “eat a big, healthy breakfast to start your day” even if you’re not hungry? Should you eat another meal 4 or 5 hours later, during the “lunch hour,” if you’re still not hungry? The problem is, if you do eat mostly carbs, as above, you will be hungry. In fact, you might even have to sneak in a mid-morning snack because you’re feeling a lack of energy. And the sad truth is: you will be lacking energy!
Why, because you’re eating mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, and all fruits, and especially heavily processed carbs in packaged foods like cereals, begin to digest as soon as they are in contact with your mouth. Your blood sugar level peaks within an hour or two and then it crashes. And if you’re just a little insulin resistant, because you’ve been eating VERY high carb for decades, your blood insulin level will be high; thus your body cannot access its own fat for energy and your metabolism slows… until you eat again.
When I advocate to others that they try my Way of Eating (WOE), they frequently say, “I can’t give up (this or that).” I used to reply, “You don’t mean ‘can’t’; you mean ‘won’t’ or ‘aren’t willing to’.” After all, I thought, if they are health-motivated individuals, they would be willing to make the Lifestyle Changes necessary to achieve intentional weight loss. But I don’t think that any more. My thinking has evolved, to wit:
When you say you “can’t,” what you are recognizing (unconsciously) is that your metabolism is driving you to eat because it (your body) has to maintain energy balance to function. If it is denied access to the food (fat reserves) it put away, then it must slow down (reduce your metabolic rate) and TELL YOU TO EAT AGAIN. The question, then, is, how can you break this cycle? Answer: you must change what you eat. Eat in a way that avoids the vicious cycle. Eat in a way that gives your body access to its own fat storesto avoid hunger!
How do I do that? I eat Very Low Carb. Fifteen years ago I started “cold turkey” on strict “Atkins Induction” (20 grams of carbohydrates a day). I lost 60 pounds. Later I switched to Bernstein’s 6-12-12 program (30 grams of carbohydrates a day). I lost another 115. Today, I’m still down 165 pounds. Currently I’m doing full-day fasts to lose another 20+ pounds. I can do this because when I eat Very Low Carb I am KETO-ADAPTED. What’s that?
Keto-adapted means that when you eat very few carbs, both your blood glucose and your blood insulin levels will be low. Insulin is the hormone that the pancreas secretes to transport blood glucose (from carbs) to the cells. So when you eat a lot of carbs, your blood insulin level rises. If you have a touch of Insulin Resistance, you are “pre-diabetic” which means you have a slightly elevated blood sugar and your insulin level stays high.
Insulin is also a signaling hormone. When its level in the blood is low, this tells the brain to break down body fat to maintain energy balance. So, my metabolism continues to runs full tilt. I do not need to snack. I am not hungry because my body has access to another source of “food,” the body fat it put there for the purpose.
But I’m only N = 1. You’ll have to do this to replicate it. Try it for yourself and see how your body works. Human physiology is pretty awesome. It’s been working that way for millennia, til we changed what we ate.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #383: Fasting on 300kcal a day while keto-adapted

I have been eating Very Low Carb (VLC) for about 15 years. I lost 170 pounds, but inevitably gained some of it back. Losing it the 2nd time proved to be harder, so I decided to try Intermittent Fasting (IF).
I gave up my breakfast of eggs (I wasn’t hungry anyway) but kept a cup of coffee with heavy cream and stevia powder to take with my pills. I sometimes ate a light lunch (all protein and MY good fats) and then a supper of animal protein and one low-carb vegetable, with more fat (olive oil or butter). I did it for about a year, and it was easy. But, I didn’t lose weight! It was satisfying, but still too much food. I needed to try something else.
Then last fall Megan Ramos, director of Jason Fung’s Toronto IDM Program, suggested full-day fasts, i.e. the “other” kind of fasting. I told Megan that during a 2-month period during the winter I would do it, and I did. In 10 weeks I lost 30 pounds. With that success under my belt – why mess with success, right? – I decided to do it again, this time breaking new ground with the goal of reaching a weight I haven’t seen since my early teens.
How do I do it? What is the secret of my success? Full-day “fasting,” MY way. I put “fasting” in quotes because, on days when I fast, “my way” is not a strict water-only fast, although it is a basically a liquid-only fast. For Breakfast I drink a 12-oz coffee with 1½ oz of heavy cream and a smidgen (1g) of powdered stevia. If I feel dehydrated during the day, I will have just iced tea, sweetened with liquid stevia, and a pickle slice or just a little brine. Then, for Supper I drink 6-oz of red wine in a large glass filled with seltzer (with my evening pills ;-).
Macronutrients: Coffee w/cream: Fat: 16g (144kcal), Protein: 1.2g (5kcal), Carbs: 1.2g (5kcal); Total: 154kcal. Spritzer (6oz): Carbs: 4.5g (18kcal), Ethyl alcohol: 18g (126kcal); Total: 144kcal. Fasting day total: 298kcal.
This is a departure from the usual “water-only” fast in three respects: 1) it includes dairy, 2) it includes a sweetener (pure stevia, not artificial), and 3) it includes alcohol. Total carbohydrates: Less than 6 grams/day.
The secret for the success of this “fasting” regimen is that on “feasting” days, I eat VLC. I am not hungry because I am “keto-adapted.” Keto-adapted means that my body is almost continuously in “nutritional ketosis.” On “feasting” days my body lives on what I eat, which is high-fat, moderate protein and Very Low Carb. For energy it burns the carbs first, then the unused glucogenic proteins stored in the liver as amino acids, then the dietary fat. Then, if my body needs more energy to maintain homeostasis, it simply transitions to breaking down body fat. My body fat is accessible because of my low blood insulin. That’s being keto-adapted!
At first, even though I’d read Jason Fung’s book, “The Obesity Code,” and another he wrote with Jimmy Moore, I had trepidations about not eating from one day’s supper to “breakfast” (my coffee) two days later. So, I started off with the idea of alternate day fasting (Tuesday and Thursday) every week. But I was surprised how easy it was (being keto-adapted to begin with), since I was not hungry at any time, day or night. In fact, I was not hungry at “breakfast” on the day after. So, I decided to try 2-consecutive-day and then 3-consecutive-day fasting. Again, easy. Absolutely no hunger. Lots of energy. I was alert, pumped, actually. Almost hyper!
I take Metformin twice a day: 750mg ER (extended release). It never occurred to me to reduce my meds, but then after a full day of fasting my FBG dropped into the mid 60s (3.6-3.7mmol/L). Once my FBG dropped to 60mg/dl (3.3mmol/L), but I felt fine. On a 3-consecutive-day fast, my FBG would be in the mid 60s all three days. I mentioned this to my doctor, and with a brush of his hand, he said, “Don’t worry about it. You can never get hypoglycemic on Metformin.” And I never did. The liver makes glucose, via gluconeogenesis, from both dietary protein (amino acids) and body fat (the glycerol molecule when a triglyceride breaks down). And when the lab report came back, my A1c had dropped a full half of a percentage point from 5.8% to 5.3%.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #382: Can fasting “wake-up” the pancreas?

“Fasting Diet for Diabetes ‘Could Repair Pancreas’” is the full title of a WebMD Health piece by Peter Russell in Medscape Medical News. Note that the ‘could repair pancreas’ is within single quotation marks. Still, the headline is provocative and got my attention.  After all, you only get one pancreas, and by the time most people are diagnosed as Type 2 diabetics, a substantial part (up to 80%) of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. And the evidence is scant that the pancreas can or does create new beta cells.
Thus, as the lede states, “‘Rebooting’ the organ in this way could help [these] insulin-producing cells to repair themselves and start producing the hormone.” “This way” refers to a diet of “a very limited number of high-fat calories.” The researchers compared this restricted-calorie, high-fat diet with biomarkers associated with a water-only diet and found it had “the same physiological effects on the body as more extreme fasting.” Thus, they called the restricted-calorie, high-fat diet a “fasting–mimicking diet.” Alas, the study was done on mice.
Nevertheless, the study, published in the journal Cell, said that “during periods of fasting, the cells go into ‘standby’ mode. Then when feeding begins again, new cells are produced that have the potential to become insulin-producing.” “New cells” is hopeful; “potential” a lot less so…but it is still worth further investigation.
Medscape also reported: “The research team, led by the University of Southern California, says that laboratory tests on tissue samples from people with type 1 diabetes produced similar effects.” Now that IS promising. But this piece, “intended for a consumer audience,” was pretty thin, so I referred to the full article in Cell. Quote:
“In consideration of the challenges and side effects associated with prolonged fasting in humans, we developed a low-calorie, low-protein and low-carbohydrate but high-fat 4-day fasting mimicking diet (FMD) that causes changes in the levels of specific growth factors, glucose, and ketone bodies similar to those caused by water-only fasting. Here, we examine whether cycles of the FMD are able to promote the generation of insulin-producing β cells and investigate the mechanisms responsible for these effects,” the researchers say.
The diet: “…a low-calorie, low-protein and low-carbohydrate but high-fat 4-day fasting mimicking diet…”
Well, the rest of the article in Cell is way over my head, but some aspects of the premise, the findings, and the discussion were comprehensible to me, so I will try to convey a bit of the essence in these excerpted quotes:
“The ability of animals to survive food deprivation is an adaptive response accompanied by the atrophy of many tissues and organs to minimize energy expenditure.” This is related to autophagy, a well known process.
“Stem-cell-based therapies can potentially reverse organ dysfunction and diseases, but the removal of impaired tissue and activation of a program leading to organ regeneration pose major challenges.”
“In mice, a 4-day fasting mimicking diet (FMD) induces a stepwise expression of [certain genes], followed by [another gene]-driven generation of insulin producing ß [beta] cells, resembling that observed during pancreatic development.” The researchers focused on fetal pancreatic development in both mice and humans.
“FMD cycles restore insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis in both T1 and T2 diabetes in mouse models.”
“Fasting conditions reduce [certain intracellular signaling pathways that are central regulators of cell metabolism] and induce [gene] expression and insulin production”
“These results indicate that a FMD promotes the reprogramming of pancreatic cells to restore insulin generation in islets from T1D patients and reverse both T1D and T2D phenotypes in mouse models.”
So far I’m up to fasting 2 and at times 3 days a week. It’s easy. So, I’m not averse to trying a fasting-mimicking-diet (FMD) cycle that “entails [a] 4-day FMD cycle and up to 10 days of re-feeding.” That’s like every 2-weeks!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #381: My Next 30-lb Challenge: 4 weeks in…

After losing 31 pounds in 10 weeks this winter, and learning how easy it is to do a full-day (300 kcal/d) “fast,” without hunger, I relaxed a bit, and I immediately regained 4 pounds in the first week. So, I decided the best way to preserve the weight loss (and A1c benefit: -0.5% from 5.8% to 5.3%), was to start a new challenge: to lose 34 pounds (30 + 4) over 16 weeks, leading up to my next doctor’s visit. For the Design Protocol, see #378.
Week 1: That “first week,” in which I regained 4 pounds after my doctor visit, I let my guard down a bit – not much really – okay, I had a milk shake after seeing the doctor. I deserved it, right? But I paid for it. Even my fasting blood sugars (FBG) were elevated (93 average) with a couple as high as 105mg/dl (5.9mmol/L). Gone were the days of the 60s and 70s. My body stubbornly refuses to take up sugar after such transgressions. I lose insulin sensitivity; my insulin resistance is elevated, at times for many days, even with Metformin. Go figure.
Week 2: I started Week 2 behind the 8-ball. Besides the 4 pound gain in Week 1, my Sunday main meal was a shrimp cocktail and a large bowl of salted peanuts, plus 2 cocktails. See, my body shouldn’t trust me. I gained another 2 pounds (from the salt). The next day I dropped the water weight but was still deep in the hole. And then on Tuesday we ate out before theatre…which didn’t go well. You don’t want to know the details; suffice to say my FBG on Wednesday was 111. So, to start both a FBG drop and weight loss, I began a 2-consecutive day fast. The result: after 1 day, while forgetting my spritzer and my pills (including Metformin and a diuretic), my FBG on Thursday was 94 and I dropped 4 pounds! By Friday, I’d lost 3 more and my FBG was 82. I ended the week with a 5 pound weight loss and a 91mg/dl FBG average. Back on track!
Week 3: Two weeks into this new 30 (34 really) pound challenge, I was down 1, leaving 33 more to lose in 14 weeks. I knew that was doable, so long as I continued with at least 2 days of fasting a week, with perhaps a boost from a 3-consecutive-day fast, or two, if required “by circumstances.” Well, “circumstances” happened. (I love the passive voice; it’s so useful at times.) Monday night we went out to dinner, and I had 3 slices of really good crusty bread, slathered in butter, while waiting for my entrée…and I paid for it. After 4 days in the low 80s, next morning my FBG jumped to 102mg/dl. So, I decided that instead of alternate day fasting this week (Tuesday and Thursday), I would do a 3-consecutive-day fast. I need to protect that new 5.3% A1c!!! Result: The 3-day fast was easy. For the week I lost 4 pounds and posted an 83mg/dl FBG average. Not bad.
Week 4: This week I’m just doing alternate day (Tuesday +Thursday) 300kcal “fasting.” I’m on track to achieve my 4-wek goal, and Wednesday is my birthday. Oops, a premature expectation. I cheated on Tuesday (some junk food in the pantry), and well, Wednesday was my birthday. Okay, so I’m human. My weekly FBG average climbed to 91mg/dl with no day over 100…but the trend line was not good. I also gained 4 pounds (largely water), putting me 6 pounds behind schedule. Clearly, I’m off-message, and I need to do another 3-day fast.
Discussion: My 4-Week goal was to get to 210 (8 weeks to 202, 16 weeks to 187), and I missed it big time. At my August doctor’s appointment, my goal is to rack up another 5.3% A1c and reach 187 lbs. So, I will soon be entering “new territory” here, and we’ll see what’s possible. I remember writing several years ago ("My Goal Weight and the BMI Table") and ("How much Protein Should I Eat?"), that “goal” or “ideal” weights were subjective and basically unattainable for people who have been eating the Standard American or Western Diet for their entire lives. “Lean Body Weight,” on the other hand, was the weight that should be used to compute the body’s protein requirement because overeating protein just puts amino acid stores in the liver which become the building blocks for glucose via gluconeogenesis. That’s a major reason we take Metformin, to suppress this gluconeogenesis. I am now trying to eat just 60 grams of protein a day, and a “lean body weight” of 187 for me, while still “overweight,” now seems achievable:  BMI of 27, vs. BMI of 54, 15 years ago.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #380: Newcastle Diet (“Counterpoint Study”)

The “Newcastle Diet,” as it seemingly is practiced today, is not the same as the original diet developed at Newcastle University for their “Counterpoint Study,” conducted in 2009 and published in 2011. I wrote about this study four years ago in "Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes" (#88) and "'Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes' Revisited"  (#89). Column #88 garnered the most page views of any column I have ever published due to the appealing but misleading title. Note: My column titles were in quotes because they are the paper’s authors,’ not mine.
The author’s use of “reversal” in the title is misleading because of their definition of “reversal”: “Reversal of diabetes” was defined by them as “achieving fasting capillary blood glucose < 6.1mmol/l [110mg/dl] and/or, if available, HbA1c less than 43 mmol/mol (6.1%) off treatment.” In my book, that is neither a “reversal” nor a “cure,” as some would claim. A FBG of 110 is smack in the middle of “pre-diabetic” (which begins at 100mg/dl (5.6mmol/L) in the U.S). By way of reference, many doctors consider an A1c of 5.7% (39 mmol/mol) – the threshold for “pre-diabetes” – to be incipient type 2 diabetes. That’s because it’s manifest evidence of Insulin Resistance (IR), the cause of type 2 diabetes. “Pre-diabetes” is simply an arbitrary point on the IR continuum.
Why is the Newcastle Diet called the “600 kcal diet”? Quoting from the Newcastle University 2011 paper, the dietary protocol of the “Counterpoint Study,” “consisted of a liquid diet formula (46.4% carbohydrate, 32.5% protein and 20.1% fat; vitamins, minerals and trace elements; 2.1 MJ/day [510 kcal/day]; Optifast; Nestlé Nutrition, Croydon, UK). This was supplemented with three portions of non-starchy vegetables such that total energy intake was about 2.5 MJ (600 kcal)/day.” That’s why the Newcastle Diet is called the “600 calorie diet.”
However, Diabetes.co.uk, which funded the study and has the only official description of it on the web, now says it is 800 kcal diet, comprised of “Optifast meal replacement sachets, which provided 75% of the calories (600 calories). The other 200 calories came from non-starchy vegetables.” Then, “Note: The diet is referred to as the 600 calorie diet (rather than 800) due to the meal replacement aspect of the diet totaling 600 calories.” Wrong! The Optifast portion is 510 kcal, but I guess NHS doesn’t want Brits trying such a “drastic” (600k cal total) diet, and certainly not “without the help and approval of a dietitian or doctor.” Good luck with that!
Note also the macronutrient composition of the Optifast part of the original Newcastle Diet: 46.4% carbs, 32.5% protein, and 20.1% fat. That’s high carb, very high protein and low fat. And that’s not counting the 3 servings of “non-starchy vegetables,” which if you ate them would boost the carb content higher, to 55% of the 600 kcal diet and 66% carbs in the 800 kcal diet. That is how you developed diabetes in the first place!
In addition, the 32.5% protein is much too high. Virtually no one recommends more than 30%, and hardly anyone eats more than 20%. Americans eat 15% on average, and the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged and processed foods is based on 10% protein. Any protein that your body does not take up in 4 or 5 hours is stored in the liver and is used to make glucose (or fat!). In T2s, suppressing this unwanted gluconeogenesis is one of the things that Metformin does. So, basically, Newcastle is a low-dietary-fat diet, but since your body has access to its own fat for fuel, if you burn a pound a week, it’s a pretty HIGH-FAT diet AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL.
Okay, so why does this diet work? The answer is that it is fundamentally a very low CALORIE diet. On this the authors agree. They conclude, “Normalization of both beta cell function and hepatic insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes was achieved by dietary energy restriction alone” (my emphasis). Makes sense. You eat less. You lose weight. In this respect the Newcastle diet is similar, both in mode and outcomes, to bariatric surgery…but tremendously safer. And in lieu of the 300g of carbohydrates that the typical Western 2,000 kcal diet includes, the original Counterpoint Study (600 kcal) version would have 59g of carbs from Optifast and 23.5g added for “non-starchy vegetables” = 82.5g total. So, in addition to being very low in DIETARY fat, the original Newcastle is low carb! In the higher-fiber 800 kcal version recommended by Diabetes.co.uk, the carb count climbs to 132 grams, no longer considered “low-carb,” but it’s still pretty low compared to 300 or 375! Good for the gut too.
300g of carbs is the RDA in a 2,000kcal diet; 375g in 2,500kcal (for men). Surely everyone knows, even if the NHS and the ADA and the public health establishment won’t admit it, TYPE 2 DIABETES IS A DIETARY DISEASE. As such, the best treatment for type 2 diabetes is a HIGH fat, moderate protein, LOW carbohydrate diet.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #379: “Man-up, guys!”

Okay, I have been, or should have been, saying this to myself for years, but…let’s face it: straight talk like this is too confrontational when addressed to oneself. And it’s condescending when addressed to others, so it’s usually left unsaid…but not “unthought.” It’s subtext for the way we think of ourselves and others think of us.
In this instance, the context for this exclamation is eating strictly Very Low Carb (VLC). The benefits, which I have realized for 15 years and espoused since I started writing this blog in 2010, are manifest. Besides losing weight easily (my original motivation), and doing it without hunger, I am so very much healthier by every measure my doctor uses…and I feel so much better and am totally energized.
But eating strictly Very Low Carb is difficult… because it requires change. I have for these 15 years considered it my goal, and, it must be said, have adhered to the protocol at times better than at others. As regular readers know, over a few years in the beginning, following first Atkins Induction (20g of carbs/day), then Bernstein’s 30g/day program for diabetics, I lost 170 pounds. Of course, my blood pressure and cholesterol improved dramatically. My triglycerides dropped to <50mg/dl (<2.8mmol/L), and my HDL doubled to the 80s (high 4s).
While I have kept most of the weight off, and my blood lipids continue to be stellar, my A1c has been disappointing, at least to me. In this respect I get no acknowledgment or agreement from my doctor. He is in the business of treating the sick and those whose health and diabetes are poorly managed. He dispenses pills. And most doctors (not mine) dispense bad dietary advice. I don’t blame them. They’re expected to follow the medical establishment’s Standards of Practice and the Medicare and insurance company guidelines.
My A1c has been in the high 5s/low 6s (38-48mmol/mol) for more than 8 years. Of course, from a physician or RD or CDE, this result elicits praise. The ADA considers an A1c of <7.0% “optimal.” They believe that my A1c is proof that my type 2 diabetes is “well managed,” i.e.  “I don’t yet need progressively more medications!”
The high A1c level that the medical establishment has set for the care of type 2 diabetics  -- ≤7% for the general population and ≤ 8% for persons over 75 years – is a disgrace because of the increased health risk associated with it. BUT this low bar is the result of 1) limited success in using drugs to manage the disease, 2) ignoring the fact that type 2 diabetes is a dietary disease and is thus best managed by the patient and 3) the dietary advice given by doctors to the diabetic or pre-diabetic patient is JUST PLAIN WRONG – in fact, it is the polar opposite of what “healthy eating” should be for type 2s: to wit, to restrict carbohydrates.
So, why do I now say, “Man-up, guys”? Because I finally did it! Ergo, this is as much addressed to me as to others. Please don’t view it as condescending. It is not meant to be. It is meant to be just a statement of fact. I finally did it, and two weeks ago, here in #377, I published the result: a greatly improved A1c. My previous A1c was 5.8%, eliciting nothing but satisfaction from all who heard it.  I was hoping to see an A1c ≤5.5%, with an emphasis on the “less than,” and I wasn’t disappointed. My A1c dropped 0.5% from 5.8 to 5.3 (34mmol/mol).
Comment: This result was the outcome of eating strictly Very Low Carb for 10 weeks. I also fasted on two alternate days a week, and a few times on 3 consecutive days. For most of the 10 weeks I prepared my own meals: just a 12oz coffee with 1½ oz of cream for breakfast, and on non-fasting days, usually a “light” lunch, and then supper (including about 6oz of protein: fish, veal, lamb, or offal), in a stove top preparation cooked with vegetables. Sometimes I grilled meat and had a big salad. All suppers were accompanied by 10-12 oz of red wine (in 2 spritzers); on fasting days, just one spritzer. I hardly ever ate out until the last 2 weeks, when I rejoined my wife and we were travelling, but I continued my fasting routine. Altogether, I lost 31 pounds.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease #378: My Next 30-lb Challenge: Project Design

As everyone who has ever lost a lot of weight knows, the worst thing you can do is waste the effort by gaining it back. And gaining it back it so much easier than losing it. So the best defense to avoid gaining it back is a strong offense, i. e., to immediately launch another campaign to lose weight. And that’s just what I’ve done.
I made this decision exactly one week after the conclusion of my original 10-week, 30-pound challenge (originally 2-month, 20-pound challenge), in which I lost 31 pounds. During this last week, I regained 4 pounds and my FBG average climbed to 93mg/dl. Ugh! So, the new challenge is actually to lose 34 pounds. The length of the new challenge will be 16 weeks, again to coincide with my next doctor’s appointment in early August.
In this new challenge I intend only to report at 4-week intervals. At the mid-point (8-weeks or June 11th), I should have reached 202 pounds, my lowest weight since my original 170 pound weight loss. I lost 170 pounds after starting to eat Very Low Carb, first on Atkins Induction (20g/day), then later on Bernstein (30g/d). That was also my weight at the conclusion of Basic Training in the U. S. Army in 1960, 57 years ago. By the end of this Challenge, I should have reached 187 lbs, exactly half the weight I started at in 2002 (375 lbs).
For reference, 187 lbs is still smack in the middle of the “Overweight” range in the BMI chart. I am starting this new challenge at 217lbs, which is still considered “Obese.” It was also my weight during my teenage years.
CHALLENGE DESIGN: As before, on most “FEASTING DAYS” I will strive to eat about 1,200kcal: 100g of fat, 60g of protein and 15g of carbohydrate. The carbs will actually range up to 30g to accommodate my daily 1 or 2 spritzers, never more. Breakfast on these days will consist of a 12oz coffee with 1½ oz heavy cream and stevia powder. Heavy cream is fat, so any overnight ketosis (if achieved) should continue into the day uninterrupted.
Lunch, if any, or any other food before supper, will be just protein and fat. Examples include a can of Brisling sardines in EVOO, a can (or 2) of kippered herring in brine, or a hard-boiled egg (or 2). And iced tea sweetened with liquid stevia. Occasionally I will lunch on a can of pork liver pâté. A snack break from gardening can be an iced tea and a few spears of dill pickles to restore lost salt and maintain fluids and electrolytes. Before supper, to accompany a (or 2nd) spritzer, I might indulge in some celery or sliced radishes, with added salt.
Supper on feast days will include a small to medium (not large!) serving of protein, with inherent and added saturated fat, and one low-carb vegetable, prepared with added fat (butter or olive oil), or a salad. Vegetables include green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli. My salads include romaine, mushrooms, hazelnut pieces or slivered almonds, and aged grated Parmesan Reggiano tossed in a homemade vinaigrette. My beverage, to wash down the pills: 2 red wine spritzers – 5 to 6 oz of red wine in a glass filled with seltzer.
This regimen works because, even though this is a low-calorie meal plan for a “feast” day, at no point in the day will I be hungry. That’s because my metabolism is humming along in high gear, burning body fat for energy so long as both my blood sugar and blood insulin levels remain low and stable. I eat this food because I like it. I am not hungry before “breakfast,” but I enjoy my morning coffee. And I look forward to a break from working in the garden – to rest and refresh myself, have a beverage and sometimes a bite, and then go back to work.
“FASTING DAYS”: On these days (2 or 3 every week), I will consume about 300kcal/d. I will take my morning pills with the usual 12oz coffee, 1½ oz heavy cream and stevia powder. If I feel dehydrated during the day, I will have just iced tea and a slice (or 3) of pickle; and in the evening, just one red wine spritzer with my pills.
Macronutrients: Coffee w/cream: Fat: 16g (144kcal), Protein: 1.2g (5kcal), Carbs: 1.2g (5kcal); Total: 154kcal. Spritzer (6oz): Carbs: 4.5g (18kcal), Ethyl alcohol: 18g (126kcal); Total: 144kcal. Fasting day total: 298kcal. The secret, I think, for the success of this “feast/fast” regimen, is that since I eat VLC, I am already “keto adapted.”