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LOWER YOUR CARBS AND LOWER YOUR INSULIN LEVELS!
By Dr. Joseph Mercola (used with permission)
For more details visit www.mercola.com
Low Carb Diet
Over the past fifteen years, our dietary establishment has made a
virtual industry of extolling the virtues of carbohydrates. We're
constantly told that carbohydrates are the good guys of nutrition,
and that, if we eat large amounts of them, the world should be a
better place. In such a world, the experts tell us, there will be no
heart disease and no obesity. Under such guidance, Americans are
gobbling breads, cereals, and pastas as if there were no tomorrow,
trying desperately to reach that 80 to 85 percent of total calories
advocated by the high-carb extremists.
This creates a terrible paradox: people are eating less fat
and getting fatter! No medical authority will tell you that
excess body fat makes you healthier. There is but one alarming
conclusion to reach: a high- carbohydrate, low-fat diet may be
dangerous to your health. Overeating carbohydrate foods can prevent
a higher percentage of fats from being used for energy, and lead to
a decrease in endurance and an increase in fat storage.
Eating fat does not make you fat. It's your body's response to
excess carbohydrates in your diet that makes you fat. Your body
has a limited capacity to store excess carbohydrates, but it can
easily convert those excess carbohydrates into excess body fat.
Diets based on choice restriction and calorie limits usually fail.
People on restrictive diets get tired of feeling hungry and
deprived. They go off their diets, put the weight back on
(primarily as increased body fat), and then feel bad about
themselves for not having enough will power, discipline, or
Weight loss has little to do with willpower. You need
information, not will power. If you change what you eat, you
don't have to be overly concerned about how much you eat. Adhering
to a diet of low carbohydrate meals, you can eat enough to feel
satisfied and still wind up losing fat-without obsessively counting
calories or fat grams.
Food can be good or bad. The ratio of macronutrients protein,
carbohydrate, and fat-in the meals you eat is the key to permanent
weight loss and optimal health. Unless you understand the rules that
control the powerful biochemical responses generated by food, you
will never achieve optimal wellness.
Unfortunately, many people don't really know what a carbohydrate is.
Most people will say carbohydrates are sweets and pasta. Ask them
what a vegetable or fruit is, and they'll probably reply that it's a
vegetable or fruit-as if that were a food type all its own, a food
type that they can eat in unlimited amounts without gaining weight.
Well, this may come as a surprise, but all of the above - sweets and
pasta, vegetables and fruits - are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are
merely different forms of simple sugars linked together in polymers
- something like edible plastic.
Of course, we all need a certain amount of carbohydrates in our
diet. The body requires a continual intake of carbohydrates to feed
the brain, which uses glucose (a form of sugar) as its primary
energy source. In fact, the brain is a virtual glucose hog, gobbling
more than two thirds of the circulating carbohydrates in the
bloodstream while you are at rest. To feed this glucose hog, the
body continually takes carbohydrates and converts them to glucose.
It's actually a bit more complicated than that. Any carbohydrates
not immediately used by the body will be stored in the form of
glycogen (a long string of glucose molecules linked together).
The body has two storage sites for glycogen: the liver and the
muscles. The glycogen stored in the muscles is inaccessible to the
brain. Only the glycogen stored in the liver can be broken down and
sent back to the bloodstream so as to maintain adequate blood sugar
levels for proper brain function.
The liver's capacity to store carbohydrates in the form of
glycogen is very limited and can be easily depleted within ten
to twelve hours. So the liver's glycogen reserves must be maintained
on a continual basis. That's why we eat carbohydrates.
The question no one has bothered to ask until now is this: what
happens when you eat too much carbohydrate? Here's the answer:
whether it's being stored in the liver or the muscles, the total
storage capacity of the body for carbohydrate is really quite
limited. If you're an average person, you can store about three
hundred to four hundred grams of carbohydrate in your muscles, but
you can't get at that carbohydrate. In the liver, where
carbohydrates are accessible for glucose conversion, you can store
only about sixty to ninety grams. This is equivalent to about two
cups of cooked pasta or three typical candy bars, and it represents
your total reserve capacity to keep the brain working properly.
The problem is that insulin is essentially a storage hormone,
evolved to put aside excess carbohydrate calories in the
form of fat in case of future famine. So the insulin that's
stimulated by excess carbohydrates aggressively promotes the
accumulation of body fat. In other words, when we eat too much
carbohydrate, we're essentially sending a hormonal message, via
insulin, to the body (actually, to the adipose cells). The
message: "Store fat."
Hold on; it gets even worse. Not only do increased insulin
levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell
it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you
to use your own stored body fat for energy. So the excess
carbohydrates in your diet not only make you fat, they make sure you
stay fat. It's a double whammy, and it can be lethal.
Insulin responses can vary greatly from person to person. But
generally, more refined foods evoke a stronger and/or more rapid
insulin reaction. One reason for this is refined carbohydrates lack
the natural fiber which helps minimize the carbohydrate/insulin
response. Consumption of natural fiber with carbohydrates can reduce
the extreme blood sugar reactions described above. Low-fat diets
cause quicker digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the form
of sugar. By adding some fats to the diet, digestion and absorption
is slower, and the insulin reaction is moderated.
Recommendations for them include long-term restriction of
carbohydrates and an increase in dietary fats. For some of these
people, it means lowering carbohydrate intake to below 40%,
sometimes even as low as 20%. By moderating carbohydrate
intake you can increase your fat burning as an optimal and efficient
source of almost unlimited energy.
As we now know, insulin has many functions. While it can't get
glucose into the cells efficiently when they're in a state of
insulin resistance, insulin still performs its other tasks,
including converting carbohydrates to fat and inhibiting stored fat
from being burned. In a normal person, 40% of the carbohydrates
eaten is converted to fat. In the IR person, that number may be much
higher. Many people with IR have a family history of diabetes.
Don't think of IR itself as a disease, although left unchecked, it
can create problems that lead to disease. It may be quite normal for
some humans to be unable to eat large or even moderate amounts of
carbohydrates. As a matter of fact, we evolved for hundreds of
thousands of years from the so-called "cave man's diet," which
consisted solely of meat and vegetables. With the onset of modern
civilization about 5,000 years ago, our physiology suddenly was
asked to digest and metabolize larger amounts of sugar and starch
especially refined sugars. But if we are unable to utilize the
amount of carbohydrates we eat, certain symptoms will develop.
Below is a list of some of the most common complaints of people with
IR Many symptoms occur immediately following a meal of carbo-hydrates,
and others are constant. Keep in mind that these symptoms may also
be related to other problems.
3. Low blood sugar. Brief, mild periods of low blood sugar are
normal during the day, especially if meals are not eaten on a
regular schedule. But prolonged periods of this "hypoglycemia,"
accompanied by many of the symptoms listed here, especially mental
and physical fatigue, are not normal. Feeling jittery agitated and
moody is common in IR, with an almost immediate relief once food is
eaten. Dizziness is also common, as is the craving for sweets,
chocolate or caffeine. These bouts occur more frequently before
meals or first thing in the morning. The old hypoglycemic diet,
still in use today, recommends frequent snacks, and individuals with
IR usually know to eat often. However, the hypoglycemic diet
contains too much carbohydrate for most IR people.
4. Intestinal bloating. Most intestinal gas is produced from dietary
carbohydrates. IR sufferers who eat carbohydrates suffer from gas,
lots of it. Antacids or other remedies for symptomatic relief, are
not very successful in dealing with the problem. Sometimes the
intestinal distress becomes quite severe, resulting in a diagnosis
of "colitis" or "ileitis," although this is usually not a true
disease state. However, IR is often associated with true
gastrointestinal disease, which must be differentiated from simple
5. Sleepiness. Many people with IR get sleepy immediately after
meals containing more than 20% or 30% carbohydrates. This is
typically a pasta meal, or even a meat meal which includes bread or
potatoes and a sweet dessert.
6. Increased fat storage and weight. For most people, too much
weight is too much fat. In males, a large abdomen is the more
evident and earliest sign of IR. In females, it's prominent
buttocks, frequently accompanied by "chipmunk cheeks."
7. Increased triglycerides. High triglycerides in the blood are
often seen in overweight persons. But even those who are not too fat
may have stores of fat in their arteries as a result of IR. These
triglycerides are the direct result of carbohydrates from the diet
being converted by insulin. In my experience, fasting triglyceride
levels over 100 may be an indication of a carbohydrate problem, even
though 100 is in the so-called "normal" range.
9. Depression. Because carbohydrates are a natural "downer,"
depressing the brain, it is not uncommon to see many depressed
persons also having IR. Carbohydrates do this by changing the brain
chemistry. Carbohydrates increase serotonin, which produces a
depressing or sleepy feeling. This is the reason nice hotels place
candy on your pillow in the evening; it l iterally helps you sleep.
(Protein, on the other hand, is a brain stimulant, picking you up
mentally. Here's another example of how trends distort the real
picture: many people have been taught that sugar is stimulating.
This is a significant consideration for those trying to learn,
whether at school, home or work.)
10. IR is also prevalent in persons addicted to alcohol, caffeine,
cigarettes or other drugs. Often, the drug is the secondary problem,
with IR being the primary one. Treating this primary problem should
obviously be a major focus of any therapy.
IR sufferers may have other symptoms as well. However, when a person
with this problem finally lowers carbohydrate intake to tolerable
levels, many if not most of the other symptoms may disappear. With
the stress of IR eliminated, the body is finally able to correct
many of its own problems. It is possible, although unlikely, that so
many of these symptoms can be found in someone who tolerates
carbohydrates quite well.
RULES OF THE ROAD TO REACH BALANCE
1. Protein. Know how much protein your body needs. Never consume
more protein than your body requires. And never consume less. For
precise measurements our nurse can determine that for you. You can
also perform the calculations reviewed in The Zone. Generally adult
protein requirements range from a low of 35 grams per day or a
sedentary 100 pound obese individual to as much as 200 grams per day
for a lean heavily exercising 250 pound athlete.
Corrinne Netzer wrote a book "The Complete Book of Food Counts" that
can help you make this calculation. You might also want to make an
appointment with our diet counsellor Anne to help you with this
process. Choose your protein based on those recommended for your
blood type. This can be found in Dr. D'Adamo's book Eat Right For
Your Type. If you are seriously ill you should have your blood
subtyped so we can provide an even more accurate recommendation for
2. Carbohydrate. You should also chose your carbohydrates from Dr.
D'Adamo's book. If you are insulin resistant, (have high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or are overweight)
then you need to specifically restrict your carbohydrates based on
the Heller's book "The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program".
Combining all three authors is the most powerful method know to
lower your insulin levels and produce optimum health.
If you find yourself hungry and craving sugar or sweets two to three
hours after a meal, you probably consumed too many carbohydrates
that last meal. Whenever you have a problem with hunger or
carbohydrate cravings, look to your last meal for a clue to the
reason why. No matter how consistently you follow this dietary
strategy, you are bound to make mistakes. This is especially true at
parties or when traveling. Remember, if you're only unbalanced for a
short period of time, you're only one meal away from rebalancing.
It's like falling off a bike-you just get back up and continue your
3. Fat. Choose your fats based on Dr. D'Adamo's recommendations.
Most people can tolerate olive oil and is the oil of choice. It is
best purchased in small glass bottles. Fish is a good source of EPA
which is beneficial fat that will help balance out your hormone
levels and decrease inflammation.
4. Water. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of pure water per
day. If you are a heavy caffeine user, gradually reduce
caffeine intake to zero whenever possible as the breakdown products
of caffeine will tend to increase insulin levels.
5. Exercise. Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of walking in
four to five days a week if the weather permits. If you are
seriously debilitated you will have to wait until your health
improves. As you are healthier and if you are blood type 0 or B you
can shift to more aggressive exercises.
Most of the above information is abstracted from books by Dr. Sears: "Enter the Zone", and Dr. Maffetone "In Fitness and in Health".
Since writing this page I have aged another year chronologically. I have competed in another 2 bodybuilding competitions and placed 3rd and 1st respectively. At the tender age of 45 and training naturally I am approaching a 500 lb squat and can still say that I'm in the best shape of my life. I realize that many are less fortunate and I do not take my health granted. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for my continued strength, good fortune and the ability to be an inspiration to others.
Thousands of people visit this site regularly and many send testimonials of their improved health, physical appearance and self-esteem. They have become role models within their sphere of influence and many others will benefit from their experience.
I like to speak of the pursuit of fitness as being on the path. Regardless of your current condition, regardless of your weight, regardless of your genetics, if you are willing to get on the path and follow it you will be changed. The degree of change is up to you. It takes time, it takes commitment, it takes self-control. The rewards of being on the path however greatly exceed the sacrifices. When you step on the scale and have lost another pound you will not regret the pizza that you did not share with your friends. When you lift your shirt and for the first time see the outline of your abdominal muscles you will not regret that you drank water instead of beer or pop. When you play with your children and find that you actually have the energy to keep up with them you will not regret the time that you spent exercising.
This country is in desperate need of role models. People who can show by example that it is possible to transform you're health and physique. To be strong, vibrant and healthy into the middle years and beyond. People of any age who are willing to be ambassadors of health to their family and their peers. The epidemic of obesity and the sedentary lifestyle has robbed far too many people of their vitality and self-esteem and claimed far too many lives. Its time to make a difference. I challenge you today to take the first step, not only for yourself, but for those you care about.
You're on the path. I wish you the best in your pursuit of physical excellence.