It’s that time of year again when the delights and abundance of sugar are all around us. It’s hard to ignore and even harder to pass up. We have all seen people who can eat anything and everything and never gain an ounce. Although this phenomenon is not what it once was. Then there are those who try countless methods of losing weight, including workouts and every diet known to man, but can’t lose the excess fat. What keeps one person thin and fit in an almost effortless way while others simply cannot lose weight – permanently? What influences losing and gaining weight?
It is thought that obesity is caused from too many calories and not enough exercise. While calories do count, they aren’t the cause of obesity. There have been many studies done to disprove how ‘eat less, move more’ isn’t the answer. If a person has some sort of hormonal imbalance, he or she will struggle regardless of calorie restriction and workout routine. It’s that simple.
One example I can think of is from the reality show My 600 Pound Life where morbidly obese people need to drop weight to have bariatric or gastric bypass surgery. We see these people eat next to nothing and still don’t lose weight. The doctor portrays these people as unmotivated, not having self-control and pretty much tells them “I guess you don’t want to lose weight”. I realize this is made for TV stuff and we don’t know the whole story, but the show doesn’t provide much hope. When the show does a follow up at the end many of the patients gained the weight back. It’s a sad show to watch but this is the world we live in.
When speaking of “hormone imbalance” in relation to weight gain, I am talking about insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store in the form of fat for future use. How well insulin is controlled translates into how well you control weight.
If you notice more men and women carry fat around their middle. It used to be more prevalent in menopausal women and men over 50. Now you see the belly fat on everyone! From children to people in their 90’s. The most dangerous type of fat is visceral fat, the type of fat that’s around the belly. This fat is also stored around important organs like the liver, intestines, pancreas and can build up in the arteries. The storage of visceral fat is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes. The good news about visceral fat is as you lose weight that’s the fat to go first.
On January 1, 2017, I started on ketogenic diet and I started intermittent fasting which accelerated my weight/fat loss and my well-being. When I had blood work done my fasting insulin was at 7 and A1c at 5.1. The best measurement of our blood glucose control is the A1c test. It tells us a few things.
First, how much of our hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) is coated with sugar. Sounds delightful! Second, it’s a measure of the blood glucose level over a 3-month period. The less glucose that stays in our bloodstream the better we feel now and the better our health.
I had embarked on an extended fast of 6 days with great success and while weight loss was not the primary objective, that was a great side effect. The euphoria kicked in at day 3 and lasted until I ended the fast. I felt fantastic!
I still practice intermittent fasting. I did another round of blood work which showed my fasting insulin at 3 and A1c was 4.6. These results were within 3 months of starting a ketogenic diet.
There are those who say a ketogenic diet is not sustainable. If you listen to your body you’ll be fine.
The big phrase of the day is “follow the science”. If people can get healthy by changing their diet without the use of medication the drug companies lose. I’m specifically talking about type 2 diabetes, which is related to lifestyle and not type 1 diabetes whereby the body cannot make its own insulin and medication is required.
In the Ketogenic world I would suggest following and reading books from Jimmy Moore, Dr. Jason Fung, Dr. Adam Nally, and Dr. Eric Westman. I would highly recommend reading KetoClarity by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric Westman as well as The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Dr. Jason Fung and Timothy Noakes. Also, The Complete Guide to Fasting – Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate Day, and Extended Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. If you really want to go deep into the science read Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes.