Very Low Calorie Diets Do Not Work In The Long Run

Have you heard of the new hCG diet?  The hormone hCG is actually the hormone that the body makes during pregnancy.  The hCG diet is an extremely low calorie diet (500 calories per day for 8 weeks) while taking hCG, either by getting a shot or by taking a homeopathic product, such as oral drops, pellets, or sprays, which you can buy at health food stores.   The Bernstein diet is also a very low calorie diet (700-900 calories per day) and they give you B-12 injections.  There are tons of diets that supply less than 1000 calories per day but are they good for you?

I am not personally a fan of very low calorie diets (VLCD) as I don’t believe that eating so little calories is successful in the long run.  Statistics show that people who follow a very low calorie diet put their weight back on quickly because they go back to eating more calories once (if) they achieve their weight loss goals, and once you start eating more calories, the body wants to store the extra calories simply because it needs it for daily body functions and doesn’t know if you are going to starve yourself again.   The body is quite brilliant and resourceful.

We all have what’s called a basal metabolic rate (BMR).  The BMR is the amount of calories the body burns AT REST just to operate our bodies.  This would include respiration, digestion, elimination etc.  My BMR is 2,200 calories due to my weight, amount of muscle and water is in my body.  If I eat only 800 calories (or less) then my body is in a deficit of 1,400 calories.  This deficit will greatly upset my body as it needs energy to function.  This is actually very dangerous to your body because you will not get all the nutrients that you need thus having nutritional deficiencies which will cause a plethora of other health issues.

Look at the “fight or flight” response.  When you are facing a life threatening situation you can either run or you can fight.  When this happens, some factors come to play.  Your pupils dilate (so you can see better), the blood is shunted to your muscles (so you can run) AND your body stores fat because it simply doesn’t know how long you are going to run or fight for.  This is an automatic response of the body, which is also why it is difficult for you to lose weight if you are stressed (physically or emotionally).

The same thing happens when you ‘starve’ yourself.  Your body will store fat the minute you start eating again because it is simply trying to protect itself for the future.  It’s quite amazing really and at the same time, quite frustrating.

Bottom line…don’t starve yourself.  It’s not healthy and you will most likely put your weight back on at some point.  It’s simply not feasible to eat less than 1000 calories every day forever.  Be realistic.  Make healthier lifestyle changes including following a healthy low carb diet and walking or some exercise.  I wish I had that magic weight loss pill but if I did, I would be somewhere in the Caribbean drinking Mai Tai’s on the beach…

 

 

Have you heard of the “Fat Set Point’?

The body weight set point theory is simple: it suggests that the body uses hormones, hunger, behavior changes, and other physiological mechanisms to “defend” a certain range of body weight (and body fat in particular).  A simple way to think of this is as a “thermostat” or “cruise control” system for body weight and fat levels. Whatever numbers are set are what your body strives to maintain.  But is this true?

The human body is able to adapt to situations of excess or insufficient energy intake (food). Several studies have shown that not only eating habits, but also genetics determine adult body size. For adults who do not consciously try to control their body size, weight is remarkably stable over time. These three factors together have led to the description of a “set point” – a reference point around which the body tries to keep a weight stable. An example of another set point is body temperature – if temperatures go above or below 37ºC (for example, from infection or exposure to a cold environment) there are a variety of physical mechanisms that “kick in” to try to get back to, and
maintain normal body temperature.

Each individual may have a genetically determined set point for adult weight. If weight is gained it has been shown that some people experience an increase in metabolism so that excess energy is wasted. Following this period of weight gain, it is relatively easy to revert to the previous set point weight. However, trying to go below the set point weight has the opposite affect. Metabolism can slow down as less food is eaten or exercise is increased. This leads to a slow down in weight loss, a plateau, or even weight regain on few calories. This is your body’s attempt to keep your weight stable.

These mechanisms have been used to explain why few people are able to maintain any weight loss following a reducing diet. Those who do maintain a lower weight were probably above their set point when they started the diet. They lost weight down to their set point and were able to maintain at their set point without constant restriction. However, for those already at their set-point, but above “average” weight, a reducing diet attempts to get them below set-point, resulting in slower metabolism and quick regain on few calories, as the body attempts to keep the physically “normal”, but culturally “high” weight. Your set point, unlike your brain, does not care about current fashion. You may say that a weight of 175 lbs is too high for how you would like to look, higher than the height/weight tables tell you to be and, indeed, higher than your family doctor tells you to be. However, it may be exactly what your genes are telling you to be. This creates a real conflict.

One frustration with the concept of set point is that there is no direct way to measure it. You cannot say that your set point is 150 lbs. You can only estimate that you are at set point if you have been eating “normally” and participating in moderate exercise for about a year. It is estimated that it takes that long, free of dieting, to allow your metabolism and weight to return to what is normal for you. Of course, this applies to adults. The concept cannot be applied before growth has stopped. One other observation to make is to look at your family of origin. What size were your parents, their siblings or their parents? Predisposition to be a certain size “runs in the family”.

There is controversy about what alters set point. Pregnancy, for example, increases the amount of body fat as well as weight. It is an area of research interest, looking at why a group of women revert immediately to their pre-pregnancy weight, and other women never do. Some researchers say that factors such as repeated dieting or certain drugs permanently elevate the set point, meaning that you will likely stay at this new higher “natural” weight. Others say that you are “artificially above set point” and will revert to your “natural” weight in time. At present, there are more questions than answers.

So what does this mean? Does this mean you can never be thin? Does it mean that you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight? You can lose weight; you can gain weight. However, the implication of the set-point concept is that the farther you get from your set-point, the more difficult it is to continue, and your body will try to revert to your “natural” weight. Allowing your weight to remain stable, at your own set point, is healthier than the diet-regain cycle.

It means that you should consider weight as you consider height. Just as people have the genetic background to be short, average or tall, they have the genetic predisposition to be thin, average or large.

To summarize, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you do not have to keep beating yourself for being “weak-willed” or “lazy” as reasons for your inability to maintain weight loss. The bad news is that we are living in a culture which highly values thinness in women. We need to learn to accept ourselves and others at whatever they natural weight and to challenge the notion that thin people are necessarily happier, smarter and have more fun.

Resource: Donna Ciliska, R.N., Ph.D

 

Appetite Control and Leptin

Appetite Control and Leptin

Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger.  After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full.  Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode.  Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating.  It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone.  The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin.  Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream.  Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies

People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition.  If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.

Reversing Leptin Resistance:  How do you know if you’re leptin resistant?  There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror.  If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.  Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.

So what can we do?  The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!

  • Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
  • Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
  • Always have protein with each meal
  • Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
  • Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
  • Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep

So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle.  Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.

Cancer Prevention

Angiogenesis Inhibitors – Cancer Prevention

Everyone knows someone who has had cancer or lost someone with cancer.  We know some of the causes of cancer like smoking, poor diet, chemical exposure etc. but do we really know what happens to the body when we get cancer?   Know this….cancer cannot survive and grow without blood vessels!

In 1961 Dr. Folkman saw something while doing some medical research that gave him a hunch.  “What if cancerous tumors, in order to expand, needed to trigger the growth of new blood vessels to feed themselves? And if that was true, what if a way could be found, to stop that growth? Could cancers be starved to death? Dr. Folkman had ample reason to be self-confident — second in his class at Harvard Medical School, he was already considered one of the most promising doctors of his generation. But even he never guessed that his idea would eventually grow into a multibillion-dollar industry that is now racing through human trials with drugs that show unparalleled promise of being able to control cancer, as well as other deadly diseases.” – Dr Folkman.  His book is called Dr. Folkman’s War and it is fascinating information.

‘Angio’-means blood vessel and ‘Genesis’- means growth:  Blood Vessel Growth.  If we cut ourselves our body sends out signals to create blood vessels to heal the wound which is a good thing but what happens if these signals do not shut off?  That’s cancer.   Anti-angiogenesis are things that inhibit the blood vessel growth.  Foods that are natural angiogenesis inhibitors that you want to include in your daily diet (which will strengthen your immune system and should be organic) would include mushrooms such as shiitaki, reishi and maitake mushrooms, berries, citrus fruits, red grapes, red wine (yay!), artichokes, turmeric, kale, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and dark chocolate (yay again!).

I personally take Host Defense Turkey Tail mushrooms every day as they have proven to be natural angio-genesis inhibitors.  I also take Host Defense “My Community” which is a blend of 17 different mushrooms.

I strongly recommend watching this video by Dr Li.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjkzfeJz66o  It is from Ted Talks and is called “Can we eat to starve cancer”?  It is fascinating and you will want to share it with your friends.  Know that mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi are natural angiogenesis inhibitors but the film lists many foods good for anti-cancer.  It’s a must see and once you watch it you will want to share it with your friends.  I hope so anyway!

How to Choose Low Carb in Restaurants

How to Choose Low Carb in Restaurants

Do you find you avoid eating out because you are afraid of going off your low carb program?  You don’t have to.  It’s not so hard eating low carb in restaurants providing you know the right questions to ask, what to look for and what products are absolutely not allowed.
Bread, breading, pasta, rice and potatoes are big No No’s on a low carb diet. Ask your server to substitute these with extra veggies or salad. Watch for breading on chicken and other meats as well as chicken wings. You can order them un-breaded. Order hamburgers without the bun and see if they will wrap it in lettuce, or simply eat it without the bun. Breakfast can be any style of eggs (fried, scrambled, omelette’s etc) with bacon but hold the potatoes and toast. Ask for sliced tomatoes or other veggies instead. Watch sausage as it often has bread fillers. Fast food can be eaten but again hamburgers without the bun. Have a nice salad with chicken breast (not breaded). Bring your own salad dressing which is made up of MCT oil and regular vinegar with spices.  Most fast food restaurants offer acceptable meals for low carbers.

As far as drinks, you can have a glass of wine (preferably red as it is lower carb) or any liquor (gin, rum, vodka etc) with club soda and lemon, or water.  I am not a fan of diet pop as it is laden with aspartame which is extremely toxic.  If you must have pop purchase Zevia which uses stevia for a sweetener instead of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.  No beer or cocktails as they are too high in carbs/sugar.

Most restaurants don’t have low carb/sugar desserts so you may want to pack your own if you must have some.  Most restaurants won’t mind if you tell them you are on a strict diet.  So go out and eat!

Coffee: Is it good or bad?

So What’s the Scoop?  Is caffeine good for you or bad for you?

Every single day billions of people wake up to caffeine.  There’s a Tim Hortons on every corner and Starbucks is not far behind.  We spend billions of dollars on coffee not only to wake us up and give us energy but because it tastes great!  Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America.  Personally I cannot have caffeine.  I am very, very sensitive to it.  If I have just a little, my world is spinning, my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like I am fighting fainting.  BUT I LOVE COFFEE and so like everyone else, I still drink it but I drink only decaf.

How does caffeine work in the body?  According to Authority Nutrition “Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.  From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.  Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.  It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.  Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.  Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness.  It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.  This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.  Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly. For instance, the amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness.”

So let’s go through the good and the bad about caffeine

The Good:

  • Very high in anti-oxidants
  • Increases energy
  • Better alertness
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Enhance exercise performance
  • Boosts mood
  • Helps bowels with elimination
  • Supports gut health

Newer Studies Show That Caffeine May:

  • Decrease risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Helps to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Wards off type II diabetes
  • Prevents gallstones
  • Liver protective
  • Cancer protective (due to the anti-oxidant value)

The Bad:

  • Could cause anxiousness
  • Could cause nausea
  • May reduce risk of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reduce the risk of developing gout
  • Aids in longevity
  • Highly addictive
  • Headaches and migraines when weaning off caffeine
  • Trouble sleeping

The studies are still on-going.  The bottom line is, enjoy your coffee or caffeine laden beverages but don’t over-do it.

What is Syndrome X?

What is Syndrome X?

Well it USED to be called Syndrome X but now it is called Metabolic Syndrome.  According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people. This syndrome runs in families and is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age.  So what is it?

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels (of good and bad), and abdominal fat.  Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for serious problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes and they increase your risk of diabetes by five times!

The complications that may result from metabolic syndrome are frequently serious and long-term (chronic). They include: hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), diabetes, heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease.

If diabetes develops, you may be at risk for additional health complications, including: eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease and amputation of limbs.

The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be controlled, largely with changes to your lifestyle!  I know you know what lifestyle I am talking about.  There are so many scientific studies now regarding the low carb diet that you cannot dispute the positive health effects by following this lifestyle including fast weight loss, reduced hunger, insulin and blood sugar control, lower risk of heart disease, reduced risk for certain types of cancer and the list goes on.  So, if you have been told that you have metabolic syndrome, why not try it?  It is so easy if you just keep an open mind and be creative.  My blog is to make the transition easier with all of the amazing low carb (and gluten free) recipes as well as all of the tips available.  Scroll down to one of my original posts where I give you the rules of following a low carb diet.  It’s one thing to cut your carbs but if you really need to lose weight or have any health issues mentioned above, you need to stick to the rules closely.  Let me know your thoughts!