Friday, August 26, 2011

Weight loss, Fat Loss, and Voodoo

It has been awhile since my last post. When I started this blog, it was my intention to post monthly. But such are things with life.  I post today after my workout. But before I get to that, let me tell a little story.

Over the last 2 ½ years I have changed my diet. I was changed forever after reading Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution. Since then I have read many other books/blogs. Those include The Paleo Diet, Good Calories Bad Calories, The Perfect Health Diet, Bulletproofexec, and The 4 Hour Body among others. I have also been collecting journal articles reading about as much of the research that I can.  

The main thing I surmised is that it is key to keep insulin levels even (mostly by controlling carbohydrate intake in both quantity AND quality), adequate fiber intake when eating carbohydrates to buffer the insulin response, and fat can be your friend and has been wrongly demonized.   

Back to my “story”. The problem recently has been that I had reached a plateau in my weight loss efforts. In addition I just got back from vacation and was about 5 lbs above the baseline I had been over the previous six months. So what did I do? Like every other person does, I hit the gym.  So for two months I did cardio 4-5 x a week with some weights, mixed in with some hot yoga. But results were not forthcoming and I was getting frustrated. I had actually gained 2 pounds (not sure if this was fat or muscle or both).

 Then my gym started a 90 day challenge. So I thought to myself, what the heck, I know it was pretty much a scam to get me to by more services (which of course I did), but I thought that a challenge is what I needed. Recommit! I hooked up with a trainer, 2 x a week. He asked what my main goal was, and I obviously pointed to my gut and said “I want to get rid of this”.  He said not a problem, but you are not going to like me very much. What ensued was a brutal high intensity workout 2 days a week with cardio/spinnning or hot yoga on off days. 90 days later I was down about 5 lbs and had lost about 2% body fat. Not quite the results I was looking for, but it was a start. I thought my nutrition was good, but I know it was not perfect.  About 1 month ago, I had come across a blog called the Whole9. On their site, they mentioned something called the Whole30 challenge. Basically you eat whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days, including no alcohol and processed carbohydrates.  Again, I was up for the challenge.  Re-recommit! Well, my 30 days are almost up and I must say I have been impressed.  After 3 weeks I had lost 9 lbs and decreased body fat by about 3-5%, all with only working out 2-3 x a week (very little cardio).

Here are my observations.  They are specific for me and are not intended to be extrapolated to other individuals (see #9).

1. I must stay under 100 grams of carbohydrates in order to continue my weight loss.  On days I go over 100 grams I either stay even or gain weight, no matter my calorie count!
2. During the 30 days I did not actively “count” calories (although I did log them along with wearing my Fitbit).  My daily calorie intake ranged from 1400-2500 calories a day.
3. Eggs are my friend.
4. I LOVE the grass fed beef I purchased locally (I went in on 1/3 of a cow). 
5. I need to eat this way for the rest of my life, not just 30 days, Duh!
6. Post prandial blood glucose never went above 125 at the 1 hour mark or 2 hour mark.
7. Counting calories is imperfect because food labels are imperfect. 
8. If I “carb crave” in the evening then I have not eaten enough fat during the day.
9. Self-quantification is important. Collect data about your body then make changes from the data you obtain. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Weigh daily, check blood sugar and blood pressure regularly, track activity (Fitbit or Bodybugg), track your sleep (Fitbit or Zeo Sleep Coach).

I am most interested in my lipid, metabolic, and inflammatory markers. My hs-CRP, Lp-PLA2 and MPO were already low, but several markers of insulin resistance (IR) were elevated. I performed a baseline in April and will have them re-drawn next week. I will post results.

Nutrition, weight loss, and muscle gain are a complex machinery and it is even trickier in the setting of IR. About 70% of patients I treat have some form of IR, along with some form of lipoprotein abnormality. IR is really the source of most people’s issues that I treat. Until this is addressed, pathology (cardiovascular disease) will continue to ensue.  I see this in patients day in and day out. I firmly believe carbohydrate restriction is a major piece of the puzzle and continue to recommend this for my patients with IR.

In the meantime, I will continue my low carb, moderate fat ways as it is working for me as it has for countless others.