A couple of days ago (Retrospective #374), I told you the story of a man I met only once, and then only briefly, at a New Year’s Eve party. I was, no doubt, “juiced”, and probably rattled on a bit about my Way of Eating (WOE). I related how I had lost a lot of weight, and otherwise greatly improved my general health, on a Very Low Carb (VLC) diet. I then apparently gave him a card for my website, www.theNutritionDebate.com. I honestly expected nothing to come of it.
A few weeks later he emailed me, “I have gone off carbohydrates almost entirely…and lost 10 pounds.” I replied congratulating him on his success and his motivation. I asked, “What was the trigger for you?” He said, “My doctor had me tested for diabetes and suggested I might be pre-diabetic – hence the urgency for weight loss.” I asked, “Why Very Low Carb?” He had doubts, he said, but, “I am hoping I will do myself more good than harm.”
In terms of mental reservation, given the fat phobia most people have learned from bad government guidelines, and from the medical establishment and the media, that was a fair place for him to be; notwithstanding that, however, my casual acquaintance took the next step. In his words, he foreswore “carbohydrates almost entirely.”
THEN, 6 WEEKS LATER I GOT THIS UPDATE: “LOST 40 POUNDS AND AM TAKING ONE-A-DAY ‘SILVER’ DAILY.”
I was thrilled for him and pleased that I had at least been a catalyst. It was just serendipity that I had been there (sort of) at that moment to help him point the gun at the right target, CARBOHYDRATES, before pulling the trigger.
My “new friend” had the 3 keys: 1) the motivation, 2) the courage, and 3) the pertinacity to stay with it. All three are critical, but the “catalyst” for him was my bibulous rant on New Year’s Eve. So, what’s your “trigger”?
In my case, way back in 1986, I was diagnosed a Type 2 diabetic. In 2002, 16 years later, I till eating a “balanced” (55-60% carbohydrate) diet as I had been for my whole life. And I had recently gained enough weight that I was too fat to weigh in in the doctor’s office. So, before my next appointment I went to a fish market and stepped on a commercial scale and “discovered” I was 375 pounds! I was shocked. That was my motivation. Then serendipity stepped in for me.
As I opened the door to my doctor’s waiting room, he was standing at the nurse’s station and said, “Dan, have I got a diet for you!!!” Turns out, six weeks earlier my doctor had read the New York Times Sunday magazine cover story: “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie,” by award-winning science writer Gary Taubes. He tried the diet Taubes promoted. Lost 17 pounds in 6 weeks, and liked the effect it had on his lipid profile. So, he suggested that I try it too, and I did.
The third factor, your firmness of purpose, or dogged determination, may seem to the uninitiated (or the misled) to be the hardest of the three, but it’s not. After just a few days of adjustment, while you use up the stored glycogen energy in your liver, or immediately if you’re already keto-adapted, you become accustomed to eating mostly protein and fat. You no longer crave carbs because your blood insulin level has dropped enough to allow access to your body’s fat stores. Your body then breaks down that fat when the calories you eat aren’t enough to maintain energy balance.
But your body can’t do this 1) if you eat enough carbs to raise your blood insulin level and/or 2) you eat more food than you need to maintain energy balance. But you won’t, if you listen to your hunger signals, because WHEN YOUR BODY IS BURNING ITS OWN BODY FAT, YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY. Your body is feeding on its own fat stores, so it doesn’t tell you, “I’m hungry. You must feed me with food-by-mouth.” That’s what makes this easy. You won’t be hungry (after I period of adjustment) because your body is content to feed on its own fat stores. And it makes sufficient essential glucose from amino acids (from digested protein) and from the glycerol molecule freed up when body fat (triglycerides) break down. And in the process, it will make ketone bodies, which your brain will love.
So, what’s happening with my “new friend” who lost 40 pounds in two months after “going off carbohydrates almost entirely”? I don’t know, but if he sticks to a Very Low Carbohydrate eating plan, both he and his doctor will be very happy – he a lot healthier and happy with the weight loss and his doctor with that and all his improved lab tests, including his cholesterol panel. Yours will be too. All you need now is that “trigger.” What will it be for you?