Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. By this definition, most of us would definitely qualify as insane. Over the years, we have all, at some point in our lives, tried to follow the dietary guidelines that are supposed to help us get healthier and thinner – Failed miserably, fallen off the bandwagon only to start again, expecting a different result every time!!! Certifiably insane!
Medical professionals have regurgitated the mantra “Eat Less, Move More” in order to lose weight and control various health issues and the public, at large, has followed this advice. What has happened in the last 4 decades of issuing these guidelines? Well, the results are pretty clear – there has been a explosion of obesity and diabetes. Studies show that occurrence of obesity has steadily climbed up from 1977 (when the guidelines were issued). It is infuriating that medical world keep blaming the public for not following guidelines when in essence the advise is fundamentally flawed.
My own experience tells me that a low fat diet combined with a 2 hour exercise regimen, five times a week, is not sustainable for me. The hunger, fatigue, cravings and mood swings are too difficult to deal with, both for me personally and for those around me.
Sure, in the short term, there are definitely some gains made in terms of weight loss however, the question is whether the results gained in the short term are sustainable over the long term and what effects does a low fat diet have on your body? Why is it so hard to follow this advise over the long term?
These are the questions that I sought to answer in my quest for an alternative solution to put my health and weight back on track.
As I have said earlier, my pursuit of this knowledge led me to Dr Jason Fung and others like him who have successfully helped people not only reverse Diabetes Type 2 but also to lose weight. Dr. Fung has an excellent series on Hormonal Obesity. I strongly recommend that you read this series as it clearly explains how your body works and thus empowers you to actually do something about it.
Here is what I have understood from the literature:
- A calorie is not a calorie – I have long believed and been told that if my body requires 1500 calories to function then if I stick to between 800 to 1000 calories a day then I will lose weight. It doesn’t matter where that calorie comes from as long as I stick to the calorie deficit, I will lose weight. Complete, utter nonsense!!! Each type of macronutrient is metabolised differently in our body and triggers an insulin response. This insulin response combined with the macronutrients in our body determine what our bodies will store or use as energy.
Carbohydrates : especially refined carbohydrates are converted to glucose to use up as energy and the excess is then converted to fat. Carbohydrates occurring in nature such as leafy green vegetables have fibre in them that protects the body by slowing down the absorption rate.
Proteins are metabolised by breaking them into amino acid chains which are then used to build muscle and excess proteins can also be converted to glucose for energy. See here for more details on protein metabolisation
Fats are converted, in general to fatty acids and used for energy and various other functions. It is an essential component of our diet.
Without fat and protein, we would die. Carobhydrates, do not seem to have any discernible function on the body.
2. It appears that Insulin is the culprit hormone, when it comes to weight gain and insulin resistance. Insulin is activated when we eat and different foods trigger the hormone to different intensities. Refined Foods being the highest trigger and healthy fats almost not at all
3. Your body has a Set Body Weight which appears to be determined by the amount of insulin circulating in the body. Therefore, while diets work in the short term, your body will fight to get back to its original weight which is why in the long term, all diets fail. The key must therefore be to reduce the amount of insulin circulating within the body.
4. Over time, the hormone insulin becomes resistant due to high consumption of refined carbohydrates, that is, it is unable to effectively metabolise glucose at a fast enough rate and larger and larger amounts are needed to do the same job. This causes an increase in the amount of glucose in the blood.
5. Despite the high levels of insulin, it is unable to function to its full capacity. As a result your blood sugars creep up eventually leading to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
6. Eat Less, Move More is rubbish advise: In a study conducted on the popular TV show – The Biggest Loser – Kevin Hall, a researcher at the National Institute for Health followed the participants for 6 years after the show. During the show the participants lost massive amounts of weight however, almost all of them gained it back and more, over the 6 year study period. What is shocking is that their metabolism slowed down and never quite recovered! Why? Dr. Fung explains that reduction in the number of calories caused the body to compensate by burning less calories .Moral of the story: If you eat less, your body is not stupid – it will compensate by adjusting its energy output.
7. We seem to have missed the point. Our focus has been on Calories In, when we should have been looking at Calories Out. If the amount of energy expended by the body can be kept constant or increased, then we can find a solution to the obesity pandemic.
8. The first order of priority is, therefore, to reduce the amount of insulin that is circulating in the body. Insulin prevents the body from accessing its fat stores. The lower the insulin level, the better chances your body has of burning the stores of fat.
9. Fasting combined with a low carb, high fat diet effectively solves all of the above problems. Studies show that fasting actually increases your metabolism. This is different from a low calorie diet, which decreases your metabolism. Presumably our pre-historic evolution mechanisms tell our bodies to go out and look for food. I mean, seriously, if your body was to shut down when you’re fasting, then you’d die! The ultimate goal of any species, from a scientific point of view, is survival and proliferation so why would mother nature set you up for failure?! Mother Nature is much smarter than we give her credit for.
In the face of scientific evidence that suggests that our bodies thrive on fat and do well without all the processed junk that we are eating in our modern day lifestyles, it is difficult to sustain the notion that the dietary guidelines currently in circulation hold any water. For goodness sake, the experiment has gone on long enough (4 decades to be exact!) and as this movement (and make no mistake, this is a grassroots movement) spreads, the “powers that be” will have to take stock and listen.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth (Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of Four)