Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not As It Seems - Diet and Weight Loss

I'm just south of 40 and hover between 220 and 230 pounds at 5'11. I've been that way most of my adult life. If you ask my doctor, I'm two columns into the obese category. My fasting blood sugar was running in the 120 neighborhood and my HgA1c was 5.9. These values are border line diabetic. Personally, I hated being that way. I hate how I look. I hate how I feel. I hate that I can barely stand up on a snow board. ...that my knees hurt. ...that my back hurts ...that...that....that. I've spent countless hours and dollars on diet books and diet food.

I know what my problem is. I over eat. By the end of a typical day, I could eat the entire fridge for dinner and the pantry for desert and often did. For clarification, it is just quantity. I'm not a huge sweet eater and haven't had a non-diet soda in years.

I've asked at least 3 different doctors what to do about it. It is almost as if they learn a script in medical school. "It's just calories in, calories out. Eat less. Exercise more." But I'm overpoweringly hungry if I'm conscious and not walking out of a Mexican restaurant. "Have you tried a food scale?" Yes, I've tried a scale and journaling and a long list of things. About the only thing I haven't done is Atkins, because "It can't be good for you" and "you can't sustain it."

By coincidence, I listened to a book called "The End of Overeating" by Kessler. It basically says two things (at least that stuck in my mind.) 1. That there is a multi-billion dollar research and marketing machine working overtime to make you addicted to food and 2. that sugar and fat in anything close to the right proportion is no less addictive than nicotine and many recreational drugs. I started to see things in a new light, but to my surprise, not enough in and of itself to solve my weight problem.

My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last summer. Wanting to better control his blood sugar, I sought out some books on the mechanics of insulin, glucagon, glucose - a major part of the body's closed loop metabolic system. By lucky coincidence, the first two books I read were Bernstien's "Diabetes Solution" and "Protein Power" by Eades. Before I reveal anything about these books, let me tell you what I've done over the last 4 weeks based on them and the results. Bear in mind that in my efforts to keep my weight under control, I've worked out 5 or more days a week for years. I alternately lift and play racquetball, generally for 70-90 minutes. After years of that, and some help from a body builder friend, I had started to get some traction, but not much.

I cut my carb intake to 30 grams a day and elevated my protein to 170 grams per day. (Your prescribed protein intake may be different.) I hit 222 after the first week. 218 the second. 214 the second. 211 this morning. After the 2nd week, both my random and my before breakfast blood sugars fell well south of 90. We have a Mexican restaurant here called Azteca. In the past, it was as if I had a post-hypnotic suggestion to eat the entire bowl of chips, with beans, and ask for more. I could no sooner avoid those chips than avoid sleep. I've eaten there 5 times since starting this. The first time, I didn't even notice that they had put chips on the table.

I have a three egg omelet with cheese and ham and something to give me a 6-10 carbs. For lunch I have turkey or chicken with Avocado or stir fried veggies and chicken or tofu. For dinner I have salad with generous portions of meat. That isn't enough to get me adequate protein, so I also take 50 grams of whey protein in a powder made for body builders. It controls my appetite so well, lunch is practically optional.

Both of these books make a case and substantiate it in their respective clinics and in readily available medical literature that high insulin levels are the root of most medical evils. They further make the case that for non-type1 diabetics, that this high protein - low carb diet is the only way to get it under control. In fact, they basically assert that it isn't fat, it's carbs, (not just sugar and flour, all carbs) that cause fat. They also speak to cholesterol and blood pressure. I'm kind of anxious to get mine tested, but if their predictions follow the rest of the phenomenon they have predicted and I have experienced, then I have nothing to worry about.

Assuming my success is continued, my question is, why couldn't my doctor have told me this 10 years ago? Believe me, I've asked. This is common medical knowledge. These books weren't citing obscure medical studies in far away places, by questionable authorities. This isn't an obscure disease that half of the adults in the US aren't suffering from! The protein book is 15 years old. Seriously. What is it? Is it economic? Has the food industry lobby penetrated the medical industry that deeply? Do my doctors think I'm too stupid to understand or follow it. Do my doctors believe it? Has the food industry marketing machine convinced my doctors that what I just experienced is impossible and unhealthy? If you have the answer, I would love to know.

If you can relate to my first paragraph, I highly recommend these three books.

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