Friday, March 6, 2020

Retrospective #384: The Problem with N = 1 (Spoiler: I’m fat-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 vs. high-nutrient dense 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, eat 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 on government public health policy, and by 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 heavily processed carbs in packaged foods like cereals, and simple sugars, including all fruits, begin to digest as soon as they are in contact with the saliva in 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 body fat for energy and your metabolism slows… until you eat again.
When I advocate to others that they try my Way of Eating, 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.
When you say you “can’t,” what you are recognizing (unconsciously) is that your metabolism is driving you to eat because your body has to maintain energy balance to function. If your body is denied access to the “food” (fat reserves) that it put away for that purpose, then it must slow down (reduce your metabolic rate) until YOU EAT AGAIN. So, how can you break this cycle? Answer: you must change what you eat. Eat in a way that avoids the vicious “sugar burner” cycle. EAT IN A WAY THAT GIVES YOUR BODY ACCESS TO ITS OWN FAT STORES…TO AVOID HUNGER!
How does one do that? Eat Very Low Carb (VLC). Eighteen years ago, I started VLC “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), and I lost another 115. Today, I’m still down 150 pounds. Occasionally I’ll do full-day fasts trying to lose the 25 pounds I regained. I eat do this without hunger because eating VLC, I am fat adapted.
Fat-adapted means that when you eat very few carbs, both your blood glucose and your blood insulin levels remain 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, called “pre-diabetic,” when you eat carbs your blood sugar level goes up and your slightly elevated blood insulin level remains high.
Insulin is also a signaling hormone. When the insulin level in the blood is low, THE LIVER BREAKS DOWN BODY FAT TO MAINTAIN ENERGY BALANCE. So, your metabolism continues to runs full tilt. You do not need to snack. You are not hungry because your body has access to another source of “food,” the body fat it put there for the purpose. But, with insulin resistance, when your insulin level is continuously elevated, the body puts the food you eat into storage.
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, until we changed what we ate

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