Last week, I posted “Can “Working Out” Actually Backfire for Some People?”, and it got a couple of very interesting comments from Mary Shomon’s Facebook Group page.
This one was about my own experience with trying to lose weight after years of ulcerative colitis and a colon surgery by riding a lot of motocross, and it just didn’t work at all. At least it was fun. I didn’t know at the time how screwed up my blood chemistry was, or how to find out. On the advice I got from the hospital, I was on a “low fat” diet.
It concluded “Blood chemistry first, exercise second.” This is what I tell people when they ask about losing a lot of weight, and how important exercise is. Here’s the comments that were helpful and got me digging a bit more-
Mary Shomon: Thyroid Patient Advocate, Author: Steve — you may also want to read the Primal Blueprint book — he was a body builder who eventually figured out all the cortisol pumped out during aerobic exercise can burn out adrenals. Also read “The Slow Down Diet” by Marc David. BRILLIANT book, and he explains some of the reason of what’s happening to you, though I think you have a more dramatic/extreme response than most.
and this one…
Leslie Berger Blumenberg : Steve, if you were producing excess cortisol, that’s probably why you couldn’t lose fat. Then, by exercising your cortisol would go even higher… storing more fat. You might want to try a different type of exercise. I’ve had great successwith T-Tapp More, which is a slowed down version of T-Tapp for those who have medical problems, extra weight to lose and those who are older, like me. Here’s a discussion I started at the About.com thyroid forum:
Good clues! Sisson does go over it a bit in his book, but you can even get a longer discussion from two entries on his website-
Part 2- “More Chronic Cardio Talk”
Motocross would qualify as cardio, at least mine would, because we had worked up to two 30 minute sessions a day, 3 or 4 times a week. It would qualify as high-intensity as well, because it’s a strenuous sport and even when you get used to it, you still get off the bike huffing and puffing.
I was 245 lb when I started, and months later, I was 245 lb. Net weight lost = zero. Nothing. I don’t have much data from then, but I do remember when I went to see a doctor, my triglycerides were at 1,600, with the normal range 75-100.Share on Facebook
It’s frustrating to read the news and reports about the modern “epidemic” of type 2 diabetes. It should be no big mystery. People get too much sugar and simple carbs, and it’s wrecking just about everyone’s blood chemistry. There are people that have explained this very well, but they are being ignored.
I have been through this myself, so I know what it’s like, and what “experts” are missing.
It’s Not Rocket Science
Throughout most of human history, people consumed maybe 80 grams of sugar a day. Today, people are consuming about 350-600 grams, maybe more. This explains the type 2 diabetes problem, insulin resistance, and what is now being called “diabesity,” the combination of a wrecked blood chemistry and out of control weight.
It’s not rocket science. The answer is not more drugs. It’s simply to get the sugar consumption back to a reasonable level. Doctors and experts are acting puzzled about this problem and the answer is staring them in the face. It’s frustrating to see, because they really should know better.
It’s the Insulin, Stupid!
When troubleshooting a problem, doctors typically look at a patient’s blood glucose (blood sugar), and if it is OK, they say “Fine, you are not diabetic.” What they should say is “You are not diabetic-yet.”
What they need to be looking at is insulin as well. You can be taking in way too much sugar, and be well on your way to diabetes, have serious weight problems that stress the system, insulin resistance, all that, and doctors are not even looking in the right place. A high insulin level is easy to spot, but they don’t look!
My favorite explanation is that it is like the oil pressure warning on your car’s engine. The light comes on when oil pressure drops, which is not much help. It’s pretty much a light that tells you “Oops, your engine is toast now, call a tow truck.” If you knew all there was to know beforehand, like maybe the oil is leaking or has turned to mud, maybe you could have done something about it first.
This happened to me as well. I was asking doctors for years to explain what was wrong, and they would say “Blood sugar is fine, you are not diabetic, so no problem there.” One doctor, the one that was helpful, also looked at insulin, and was immediately able to explain what the others missed, and had a plan to do something about it-get insulin down to a normal level. This worked.
Insulin is a hormone. It does a lot of things. When there is too much of it, it screws a lot of things up. Why this is not part of a standard checkup is just a mystery to me.
What Do I Care?
Your insulin level doesn’t print out for you by itself. If you want to know what it is, ask your doctor next time you get tested for whatever. If you are starting a diet or exercise program, you should know what it is so you can plan accordingly. It may explain a lot of things, in fact, it probably will!
Some Very Good Reading
Here’s a very good summary of what you should know from Mark’s Daily Apple-
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1) The levels of blood glucose stay higher longer because the glucose can’t make it into the muscle cells. This toxic glucose is like sludge in the bloodstream clogging arteries, binding with proteins to form harmful AGEs (advanced glycated end-products) and causing systemic inflammation. Some of this excess glucose contributes to a rise in triglycerides, increasing risk for heart disease.
2) More sugar gets stored as fat. Since the muscle cells are getting less glycogen (because they are resistant), and since insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase, now you can’t even burn stored fat as easily. You continue to get fatter until eventually those fat cells become resistant themselves.
3) It just gets better. Levels of insulin stay higher longer because the pancreas thinks “if a little is not working, more would be better.” Wrong. Insulin is itself very toxic at high levels, causing, among many other maladies, plaque build-up in the arteries (which is why diabetics have so much heart disease) and increasing cellular proliferation in cancers.
4) Just as insulin resistance prevents sugar from entering muscle cells, it also prevents amino acids from entering. So now you can’t build or maintain your muscles. To make matters worse, other parts of your body think there’s not enough stored sugar in the cells, so they send signals to start to cannibalizing your precious muscle tissue to make more – you guessed it – sugar! You get fatter and you lose muscle. Woo hoo!
5) Your energy level drops, which makes you hungry for more carbohydrates and less willing to exercise. You actually crave more of the poison that is killing you.
6) When your liver becomes insulin resistant, it can’t convert thyroid hormone T4 into the T3, so you get those mysterious and stubborn “thyroid problems”, which further slow your metabolism.
7) You can develop neuropathies (nerve damage) and pain in the extremities, as the damage from the excess sugar destroys nerve tissue, and you can develop retinopathy and begin to lose your eyesight. Fun.
Eventually, the pancreas is so darn exhausted, it can’t produce any more insulin and you wind up having to inject insulin to stay alive. Lots of it, since you are resistant. Congratulations, you have graduated from Type 2 to Type 1 diabetes.
Eat whole grains! They make you healthy and you will live longer!
Who says? People who want to sell them to you, and people who will just say anything and try and prove it with bogus statistics.
We Were Not Meant to Eat This Stuff in the First Place
Mark’s Daily Apple, a website about eating naturally (primal) is about an approach to diets that shows how foods added to the human diet in recent history (measured in thousands of years) are actually less healthy than, for example, “eating like a caveman.” One of the things added to the human diet in recent history has been grains.
Our bodies did not evolve over time by eating cultivated grains. Maybe early humans munched on some when they needed to, but humans were meant to eat lean protein, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables, things that were common in our long evolutionary history. Grains were cultivated in the last few thousand years, when people started learning agriculture. This is a tiny blimp in time compared to all of human history.
Just because this cultivation fed more people, it does not prove that it is healthy, or even a good idea. It just shows that it fed more people. There was a practical and economic reason to do it.
In more recent times, we have been hearing all about food groups, and food pyramids, and these always had a bread/grain component. Why? Because there was still a business reason to sell this stuff. A lot of it was crap, and in fact, wheat makes a lot of people sick and they don’t know it. Check this Mayo Clinic link on Celiac Disease.
The latest trend, which even health food suppliers have been fooled by, is to swap “whole grains” for processed grains. This is often backed by all kinds of supposedly scientific studies, with lots of talk about fiber and living better and/or longer. It’s still a bunch of crap.
Mark’s Daily Apple Takes a Skeptical Look at Whole Grain Study
Studies pop up all the time, and they can use numbers in a lot of deceiving ways. One such study was just ripped apart by an entry on Mark’s Daily Apple called “Will Eating Whole Grains Help You Live Longer?” The entry is by Denise Minger, and she found the conclusions to be suspicious.
What Minger doesn’t argue with, is that eating whole grains is better than processed crap. That’s not too hard to argue with. What the study does not prove, and it is just assumed, is if any of this is even good for you or not? One is just less harmful than the other.
Minger points out some problems in this study that are common tricks when one tries to use data to prove a point-they use “confounders.”
What’s a confounder? A quick google finds a definition on wiki-
In statistics, a confounding variable (also confounding factor, lurking variable, a confound, or confounder) is an extraneous variable in a statistical model that correlates (positively or negatively) with both the dependent variable and the independent variable. The methodologies of scientific studies therefore need to control for these factors to avoid a false positive (Type I) error; an erroneous conclusion that the dependent variables are in a causal relationship with the independent variable. Such a relation between two observed variables is termed a spurious relationship. Thus, confounding is a major threat to the validity of inferences made about cause and effect, i.e. internal validity, as the observed effects should be attributed to the independent variable rather than the confounder…
Now my brain hurts. What was that about?
Let’s pick a simpler example. I will just make one up. Suppose you want to sell bathrobes. You do a study that shows that people who spend the most time in bathrobes get less sunburn, and less skin cancer than people who don’t wear them too much. Conclusion: bathrobes are effective in reducing skin cancer. The numbers prove it. Easy.
Of course what you do not say, is that the people who spend the most time in bathrobes are people that stay inside anyway! Duh. They won’t get sunburn or skin cancer as much, because they are inside, in their bathrobes.
This is how food studies lie with confounding statistics. It happens all the time.
More Truth About Grains
Minger’s entry about the study didn’t spend a lot of time on what it really wrong with grains in the first place. She was really showing how bogus the recent news bit was.
For more detail, take a look at “Why Grains Are Unhealthy,” on the same site.
For another view, see “Fiber, Cereals, and Grains; even whole grains and oats are out on a Paleolithic Diet.”
For some balance, South Beach says Whole Grains are OK in Phase 2.
What Does Diet for Humans dot com Really Think?
This site is all about exploring the question of what you should eat, what you should do to be healthy, and who to believe. Overall, I agree with the primal/paleo argument for “eating like a caveman.” Sisson’s primal approach and the Paleo approach are consistent with South Beach Phase 1 (something I had much success with myself) and there is something to it.
You probably don’t have to be a purist about it, but avoiding grains is good, and if you must have them, go for whole grain. Just don’t get too wrapped up in studies that try and fool people with confounding data!Share on Facebook
Sure, we all know that one ancedote doesn’t prove much, but I hear too many stories like this one, and this one I got involved with myself. I just can’t believe how bad endocrinologists are sometimes-
Don’t Believe Something Just Because a Doctor Says So
A friend at work was told by an endocrinologist that his thyroid was overactive due to a cyst on it, and it would have to be treated with radioactive iodine, which would almost certainly mean he would be on thyroid meds for life, and his health would never be the same.
As it turns out, the doctor was wrong. He was able to do a little research himself, find a better solution, and he’s fine, and no crazy treatments that would change his life were required.
How can this be? Maybe it is just one time, but I don’t think so.
To protect my friend’s privacy, I will change his name to Bart.
A Scary Diagnosis
Bart was 24 and in excellent health. He’s an engineer at a NASA center, gets a lot of attention from the girls, and a workout freak. He’s often at the gym twice a day. He starts having some symptoms and is dragging a bit, so he goes to see a doctor. Long story short, a TSH test shows that his thyroid is very over-active. TSH is way under normal, so the diagnosis was hyperthyroidism.
His doctor did a scan and claimed that a cyst was seen on his thyroid, which would explain why it could be overactive. The fix would be to remove all or part of the thyroid with surgery, or zap it with radioactive iodine. Either option is a scary thought for a young guy who is not used to such things, and a permanent life change is not something anyone would look forward to.
The problem with either option is that it would be nearly impossible to either remove the right amount of thyroid, or to zap it just right so it works normally in the long term. As a result, Bart would almost certainly be on a synthetic thyroid (T4) for the rest of his life. I know about this stuff myself and I don’t trust it at all, and I don’t trust the numbers they use to decide what normal is. My friend is about to go from a healthy gym rat to a wreck.
Off To the Bookstore
Bart knows I have a thyroid history, and soon we start talking about it. He tells me what the doctor wants to do and I just can’t believe it. Based on one number, and what they think they saw on a scan, these people want to do the radioactive iodine thing on a healthy, active young guy and change his health forever. I just didn’t believe them and wanted him to study it and make his own decisions. Fortunately, he did.
From a local bookstore, I found Mary Shomon’s Living Well with Hypothyroidism, and Dr Mark Hyman’s Ultrametabolism. Neither of these books were an exact match for what we were looking at, but they had enough information to lead Bart in the right direction and he could use google from there.
We also went through his blood test results for clues. The TSH was in fact very low, but overall he was not a wreck. Whatever happened must have been a bit recent. I thought that someone with chronic, long term problems would have a lot more problems, even though I really wouldn’t know what. We also talked about how much he was at the gym, because I would think that maybe this could explain it, and maybe easing up on the training for a while would be a good idea before just doing something drastic.
Even though Shomon’s book was about not enough thyroid (hypo), not too much (hyper), Bart found enough information, combined with some google research, to go back to the dr and suggest something else. There are antithyroid drugs available, and his suggestion was to at least try one for a while and see if something changes.
Telling the Doctor What to Do!
It was a hard sell, and it wouldn’t, in theory, do anything about the cyst, but he was able to talk a doctor into it. It didn’t take long to discover that he made the right call.
His TSH started going back to normal sooner than expected. Soon he got a call and said that a follow up scan showed that the cyst wasn’t really there. Maybe it was an error in reading the scan before. (I would suggest maybe they expected to see something, and thought that they did.)
In about half the time that was planned, his TSH was fine, his scans were clean, and he had no symptoms or complaints. That was over a year ago, and he’s just fine. I think he eased up on the overtraining a bit, and learned that doctors can make some really big mistakes, and you have to take matters into your own hands.Share on Facebook
Melatonin, The Science of Sleeping Right, Naturally
One thing my doctor insists I do for better sleep, less stress, and better overall health is to sleep using melatonin every night.
Melatonin is well known, but largely misunderstood. It has been called the “jet lag pill,” “midnight shift sleeping pill,” and by some, “just nonsense.”
The truth about it is that you were meant to start sleeping with some melatonin. It is not a “fix” for the odd situation, it is or should be your normal situation. Melatonin is a hormone your body makes itself, and it is to help you get to sleep at the right time, and wake up the way you are supposed to. It is much smarter to use melatonin than prescription sleeping pills.
Bad Advice #1-Sleep Better with Food Choices
There is a lot of nonsense advice about sleeping better with food choices that needs to be countered with logic. For example,
“Foods That Help You Sleep”, or “Sleep Deeper With Better Nutrition”- bad advice! You should not have to use food to help you sleep when your body already has it’s own system that has been worked out naturally. It is, however a good idea to know what foods may work against you and avoid those, but these don’t negate the fact that your body is designed to sleep in a pattern that starts at dark and it uses melatonin to manage it, not food.
Bad Advice #2 – Sleep Better with Drugs
Sleeping pills are big business, but they are bad business. There is no sleeping pill that actually helps you sleep the way nature meant for you to sleep. They are all just variants of ways to use chemicals to knock you out, and of course ways for doctors and drug companies to make money. Like many drugs, they don’t address the problem, they just address the symptom (like insomnia).
How Does Melatonin Work?
Here is a pretty good explanation I found. It is a bit technical, but a good source. It also does not go overboard with recommendations for or against it, it’s just good data. This article explains how melatonin comes from the pineal gland in your brain and how it is part of your natural “circadian rhythm” that starts when the sun goes down.
There goes that Primal/Paleo/Caveman Thing Again!
So am I saying that what worked for the caveman is the right place to start, and that we were meant to go to sleep at dark, and things happen during your sleep to help you wake up right, and that modern lifestyles have disrupted this cycle, and that there is a lot of bad advice out there that pushes other approaches, including drugs and they are all wrong?
Yeah. That is exactly what I am saying.
I Tried That Stuff But…
I hear a lot of people saying that they tried melatonin and quit and went back to sleeping pills, or nothing. Some people say they had weird dreams, or they woke up too early and it worked against them, or whatever. My advice is don’t give up so easy!
Like any other supplement, they are not regulated like drugs are, so anyone can make a claim and get away with selling you junk. This is a valid criticism, but no reason to just give up. Shop around, and don’t just buy the cheapest thing you can find at the Slack-Mart. Go to a quality vitamin/hippie store, and get something you trust.
I have settled on “Tranquil Sleep” by Natural Factors. It also has L-Theanine (something my doctor likes as well), and 5-HTP. I take 4 a night and I’m sleeping before you can say “insomnia.” I also had good experience with a mix called “Power to Sleep PM” by Irwin Naturals. It also has L-Theanine and GABA (a popular thing to add to melatonin) and some other hippie stuff.
If at first you don’t succeed, just shop around. Most vitamin stores have a good variety of melatonin, and mixes with fun names like “Sleep Tite,” “Knock Out,” or whatever. Some of the more common things to add are 5-HTP, GABA, L-Theanine, Green Tea, Passionflower, and Valerian Root.
I wake up too early as well, and asked my doctor about this. He said just take it again and finish the night’s sleep. That won’t hurt anything or make you oversleep more than usual.
The standard dose is 3mg, but I take 4 times that myself (per doctor’s recommendations).
Like anything else, it’s a good idea to google for some warnings ahead of time, just in case there is a reason to not do it. This link is reasonable and has a good basic warning…
I noted something on that link that really bugs me-
…However, melatonin supplements have not been approved by the FDA; therefore, it is not clear as to how much melatonin is safe and effective…
Notes like this are found on just about everything it seems. I don’t like the attitude! This makes it look like the FDA is or should be the all-knowing, all-wise, all-whatever keeper of the facts, and if the FDA doesn’t say yes, then beware. This is just incredibly arrogant. If something is natural, and exists as a result of eons of natural selection and trial and error, who do the FDA think they are judging that? That is like saying “The FDA has not evaluated the fact that people grow fingernails, therefore is it not clear if fingernails are safe to have…”
If you ask your doctor and they say “No, don’t get near it, I will write you a script for a sleeping pill instead,” politely decline and just find a new doctor. Seriously…
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One problem in overweight individuals is the loss of 24-hour rhythm patterns (circadian rhythms), a problem that is central to the clocking operations of every cell and consequently to the coordinated calorie burning efforts of your body as a whole. This aspect of the issue has lead researchers to focus on the use of melatonin1, especially to help protect against the slide into diabetes and cardiovascular problems. A new animal study confirms that melatonin may be a potent nutrient2 for weight management efforts…
Can “Working Out” Actually Backfire for Some People?
This question has bugged me for at least 10 years. Is it possible, for some “big” people, to have blood chemistry issues that are out of whack enough that doing exercise without getting the issues solved first can actually be counter-productive?
I have searched and searched online, and just can not find anyone willing to challenge the assumption that exercise always helps, for everyone, no matter what. I guess I am the only one.
People ask me for advice a lot, and part of that advice is “don’t worry about exercise so much if know you have some blood chemistry issues to address first.” In other words-
“Blood chemistry first, exercise second.”
Why say such a crazy thing? Because I have talked to enough big people that are frustrated with exercise just making them tired and not helping. These are people that have some issues that clearly need attention…their thyroid meds are not working, their triglycerides are way high, or they are so hooked on sugar that they clearly have issues with insulin, and just don’t know it.
Plus, some crazy things happened to me too, 3 times, and I just can’t explain it. Maybe someone will read this and add some wisdom to the comments section.
My own experience-
Obviously this is not a typical example, but I’ll explain things to make the point. Sometimes when things are way, way off, they help us understand how things work (or don’t work).
Many years ago, almost 20, I get a relatively new surgery to address chronic ulcerative colitis, which was tearing me up for about 5 years. About the last 2 years of this, I was on a lot of a strong steroid called Prednisone. It wasn’t working so the colon had to come out. It was replaced by a “j-pouch,” with is a replacement made from small intestine, and it is done to avoid using a colostomy bag. It was a pretty radical thing to do, but it’s beats colon cancer.
A dietician visited me while I was recovering and gave me the speech about staying on a “low fat” diet, and getting enough exercise once I recovered. This was the worst diet advice I ever got, but we will save that for another blog entry.
A few months after recovery, my weight starts climbing steadily. I took the “low fat” advice seriously and was very strict about it. Everything I touched had to be low fat, or non fat. I decided to work off the weight by cycling.
I get a mountain bike, found a route that was 11 miles round trip from my house and rode it every single day after work. I was determined to get the weight to start going back down, and decided that I would not stop riding every day until it worked. It never did. The diet was the same, but after at least 3 months of 11 mile bike rides, I gained 5 lb, right in the stomach. Additionally I was just getting tired doing this, and just gave up. All this talk about exercise making you feel better didn’t seem to apply. It wore me down.
Fast forward a few years. I have moved to another state, weight is still creeping up. I find my old friends from school days that are still racing motocross. Motocross is very strenuous. Any racer will proudly tell you that the sport is ranked second to soccer as the most physically demanding sport of all. I decide that the only way I am going to work this weight off is with something like this, because I will never get tired of it like I did cycling.
Long story short-It took a lot of effort, but I was able to work up to two 30-minute sessions on the bike (motos) a day, and this was 3-4 times a week. A close friend was a local pro at this, and I went along so he would not train alone. I was 245 lb when I started. We did this for at least 6 months, when an injury forced me to quit. I was 245 lb when I stopped.
How can this be? I was not a big eater, and stayed strictly low-fat. I didn’t drink either. Anyone else would have been 170 after this much riding. (I am 5’8″) For hydration we drank Gatorade, which I know now was a huge mistake.
I go to see a doctor to ask for a complete physical, and ask what could this j-pouch (and no large intestine) have to do with this? I really want to know. All he really found was that triglycerides were 1,600. This is so high, that it is 3 times the danger level, and 16 times the upper scale of 100! Normal is 75-100.
Do a google on high triglycerides right now and every entry you find will tell you that exercise will bring it down. I hate to be difficult, but that just can not be right. This dr was totally stumped, and wanted me to use some powder you mix with water to bring down cholesterol. I moved to Houston due to a job change, and a grad student at Baylor who was working on his Phd in hypertriglyceridemia was good enough to consult with me to try and understand it. I explained about the weight increase following the pouch surgery, the failed attempt at cycling, and the crazy results after all the motocross. He was stumped too. It was impossible to explain.
After another job change, and no luck with doctors, I keep gaining and start to show the signs of a thyroid disorder. I get TSH checked, and it is supposed to be between 3.5 and 5.5. (This is from memory, the numbers drift a bit over time). My TSH is 131! That is about 24 times the upper limit. Again, this is just off the chart crazy. I get put on Synthroid, a synthetic T4 thyroid hormone that is used to get TSH to go back to the normal range.
I ask my new doctor, “What about this jpouch? That’s a big change isn’t it? Can’t this be a clue? I have exercised very, very hard, and nothing. And can you explain triglycerides at….”
“That has nothing to do with it. We just need to get you to get your TSH in line with this Synthroid… and eat a healthy diet. Here is your lab sheet. Lab is down the hall…”
I get frustrated enough that when I was walking to the lab with my lab sheet, I stopped and looked it over for more tests to add myself. I checked “triglycerides,” and did the test. The next day the doctor calls me at home, “Can you come back here, I need to see you, something is really off.” “Ya think!?”
I have to give this doctor credit, I think she had figured out how to google high triglycerides. “We think you have insulin resistance, here is some reading, and I want you to try this…” I leave with an additional prescription for more junk intended for people with high cholesterol. It’s expensive stuff.
I hit the bookstores and found a few things to read… There are a lot of researchers calling this “metabolic syndrome,” insulin resistance,” or even the mysterious sounding “Syndrome X.” I also found an Atkin’s book, and found that it helped a little and addressed the symptoms, but weight loss was minimal. At least I had figured out that minimizing carbs was helpful. It just didn’t really solve the problem.
OK, this is getting long, but we are working up to the exercise thing for the third time.
After a few years of Synthroid, it’s just not working. Weight is going back up, and I’m feeling fatigued. I can’t be as active as I was (I was a full time photojournalist at off-road motorcycle races, and pretty active, despite the weight.
While in Pittsburgh to shoot an event there, I am getting desperate so I ask to see someone at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a nice place where I had done a feature for Men’s Health before about some of the racers. I thought maybe getting them in a big magazine might put them in the mood to help me out!
I was able to see someone, but I didn’t like what I heard. They said stay on the Synthroid, do Weight Watchers, and give it 6 months. I go “6 months! I have been doing this for 6 years. Something is very wrong here. What about the triglycerides? There MUST be something else for problem cases. I know this is not working. We have to be missing something and I want to know what it is.” I lost that argument.
After whining about this online, a reader that I will always be grateful for referred me to the Holtorf Medical Group, which is linked in the “Best Health Info” Page above. I won’t go into all that here because this is getting very long, but soon, I was off the Synthroid, getting my hormones in shape, and losing 10-15 lb a month with no exercise program at all. It was all diet, hormones and relaxing.
Obviously, I’m pretty pleased to at last have the answers. Still working down from over 300lb is a long haul and I get impatient. I want to lose it even faster. I get a bicycle, nothing fancy, just something to get out and get my heart rate going.
Within a week, I put on 5 lb, and put the bike away, puzzled. This was not due to leg muscle either, it went to my stomach.
I wait a month, and try again. Same thing.
A month later, maybe it will be different this time. It wasn’t.
I finally gave up after 6 tries.
Of course, your results may vary! I went over all this detail for a reason. We know that I did in fact have insulin resistance, high insulin, hormone imbalance, and many things wrong that were on their way to getting right. My triglycerides went down to 64.
I would really like to see some valid medical literature that can explain why is it that someone with some of these problems gains when they exercise instead of loses. All I ever see is “exercise works, it always does.”
I can’t believe that, because I lived the opposite, and I doubt I am the only one.
I’m sticking with this advice…
“Blood chemistry first, exercise second.”Share on Facebook
Just ran across this using google, didn’t see a date on it but it is worth a read.
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Insulin Levels and Health
As we have seen, when blood glucose levels get too high, insulin is released into the bloodstream by the pancreas to help disperse the glucose. The insulin transports the glucose to cells needing extra energy. The cells have “insulin receptors” positioned so that insulin can bind to them, facilitating glucose entry and utilization in the cells. Once inside the cells, the glucose is burned to produce heat and adenosine triphosyphate, (ATP) a molecule that stores and releases energy as required by the cell.
Health Consequences of Insulin Insensitivity
The combination of insulin-insensitivity and insulin over-production typically leads to one of two results:
Either, the pancreas gets worn out and insulin production slows down to abnormally low levels. Result? We develop type 2 diabetes. (About 30 percent of cases)
Or, the insulin-resistant patient doesn’t develop diabetes (because the pancreas continues to produce sufficient insulin) but, instead, contracts hyperinsulinism (abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood), which can cause chronic obesity as well as high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, heart disease, and possibly some cancers.
Low GI Foods Cause Lower Insulin Levels
This is why experts are beginning to recognize the health advantages of following a low GI diet. Because lower GI foods are converted into glucose much more slowly, causing less insulin to be produced…
A new clinical trial at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center is among the first to test surgery specifically for Type 2 diabetes. The aim of the study is to understand whether surgery can control diabetes, as well or even better than the best medical treatment available today. This is the first study of its kind open to patients who are overweight or mildly obese…
I just can’t believe this one. They call this science? If people have had this done and are happy, or want it done and it makes them happy, good for them. But it is still questionable, and should only be done after the right lifestyle/diet changes have been ruled out.
I had an internal medicine dr suggest the same surgery. I was “morbidly obese,” according to her notes. That was disturbing to even read, but she didn’t know what to do about it. She knew my thyroid was off the charts (TSH of 131,when normal is about 3-5.5). That is nearly 24 TIMES the upper limit. Triglycerides were previously found to be 16 times the upper limit, but she said this had nothing to do with it, because blood sugar was normal and I wasn’t diabetic (at least, not yet!).
I turned down the gastric bypass suggestion. I knew something had to be very wrong, even if this doctor was unable to explain it. I would have gone from huge and sick to slim and sick.
The explanation and what to do about it are not that hard to figure out, if you know where to look. The “Why We Get Fat” book by Taubes explains it very well. I just wish I would have had this book back then.Share on Facebook
I spent some time in the hospital recently, and one day got into a long chat with a young nurse that was frustrated with her weight and wanted to get down to business and really lose 40 lb. She had put on the weight after a baby, and nothing was working. She knew from my charts I was on a lot of interesting meds and she just decided to ask-
“Hey, those hormones really work, don’t they?”
“If you need them and handle it right yeah. What’s up?”
“I am just sick of this weight, I’m tired. Nothing works. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
I think quite a few medical folks have mixed feelings about people using hormones to solve thyroid or weight problems. Most of the advice I got before deciding to go for it was very negative, and fortunately, I ignored it! People are supposed to tell patients one thing, but when it is your own health, well, that is different!
This nurse really needed some good advice. Something that would really work. She was tired all the time, could not lose weight, and knew I had lost a lot and vital signs were good, so maybe what I am doing would be right for her.
We had a long chat and she knew enough to make a good decision. I’m pretty sure she didn’t need any strong meds, just the right diet.
She put on weight since having a baby and it just stuck. She craved quick carbs, sugar. Her triglycerides were about double the upper limit. She was fatigued, and was having trouble finishing her shifts. Diets did not seem to work and it was easy to give up.
What to do? I get asked this all the time. Heck, I’m not a doctor. I’m just a patient with a lot of experience. What do I know? I at least know something about stubborn weight and high triglycerides because I lived it already. This points to insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is just a matter of time. This is a very alarming problem, and you would think that more would be done about it, but only a few rebels seem to be saying the right things.
My advice was the same as I got when I started working with Holtorf in California, at least in part. Do South Beach, phase 1 (low carb, lean protein and veggies), break the sugar habit right away, and stop drinking milk! This plan will help get you over sugar in 7-10 days. After that, you lose the taste for it and it’s easy. It’s only tough for about a week, but it’s worth it. The milk has to go too. it’s just liquid carbs, and poison for people with insulin resistance. One should expect to lose 10-15 lb a month in this case, and it’s consistent. The weight loss does taper off.
We didn’t know her insulin level, because no one seems to pay much attention to it. Instead, people look at blood sugar, which is a common mistake. When you get too many carbs, you make too much insulin as a result, and blood sugar looks OK. What you don’t see is that you just raised insulin to level off that blood sugar. Eventually insulin goes way up and you have even more health problems (and weight), or your ability to make enough insulin starts breaking down and then diabetes is next. By then the damage is done. Insulin is a hormone too, and too much of it in your system is an issue, since the endocrine system is complex and responds to how much of what is in your system. You don’t want too much or too little of anything.
I’m not making this up. I learned this the hard way, and didn’t see a lot on it (even though you can find it if you look). I just picked up “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes, and that is just what the book is about. He’s been finding this for years, and he is asking the same questions!
My advice to my new friend the nurse was to get insulin checked as soon as she could, don’t let it get high, and stick with the low carb (like South Beach Phase 1) until triglycerides are normal again (and if it is high, insulin). This is what is preventing diets from working in the first place. She also asked about exercise. This may seem counter intuitive, but I just don’t think exercise is that important, until the blood chemistry is sorted out.
I picked up on this problem a few times when I was struggling myself with this, but I can’t find much work being done on it. People just assume that exercise is good, no matter what. I’m going to be challenging that assumption and have some interesting ancedotes about it.
Get blood chemistry sorted out first, worry about exercise later.Share on Facebook
If you are reading this site, either you hit it by mistake, or you want to know some simple answers to things we all struggle with today. We will start with three key questions. 1) What should I be eating, 2) what steps should I take to be healthy in today’s world, and 3) who to believe?
There is so much information out there on this, it is nearly impossible to sort through it all. It is often contradictory, often just wrong, and much of it comes from people who just want your money and brand loyalty.
There are a lot of sources, and many of them come with impressive medical credentials and experience. Some of them are so impressive that it was hard to make the decision to start this website and take them on, but the fact is that many, many experts can’t agree anyway, and a lot of what they have been telling people deserves to be challenged.
This site is not going to make the claim that all writing and research is backed by some medical degree and 30+ years of “practice.” There are plenty of people who have done that and made their information available. Some of them do a good job, and we want to find them and point it out. Some do a terrible job and we want to look at those too and know why that is.
This site will be about cutting to the chase, and doing a clear, logical investigation that gets to the right answers quickly, and hopefully it will not be too technical. This site is also going to break the rules a little bit and rely not just on studies and data, but on ancedotes (stories and personal experience) as well.
A lot of people get offended by reference to ancedotes, and will say that they have no place, because diet advice must come from studies, not stories. To answer that, I would ask that people wait and see the big picture, and don’t worry about it so much. The site will make every effort to make sure that ancedotes are relevant, and just used for backup and clarity. Besides, as we will see, I went through a lot of this already, and found a lot of the answers the hard way. Who would you rather believe about your diet? Someone who is naturally skinny and always has been, and thinks somehow that this makes them an expert? Or would you rather hear from someone who was huge and sick, got the right advice, and got back to normal?
I like to say that naturally skinny people are no better experts at being skinny than tall people are experts at how they got tall. They CAN study and become experts, but thinness alone is not a credential.
Here is a quick preview of what our look into the three mains questions is going to be like:
1) What to eat?
Simple. Every dieter just wants to know the answer when they start. What should I be eating? If you are reading this, either you want to know for yourself, or for a loved one or maybe even a friend you want to help, and that is the right question to start with. No need to wait then, let’s start with the answer!
This site will argue that the best diet advice comes from a combination of lower carb, “healthy fat,” and natural approaches. As we step through these, the advice given will be supported with evidence and sources. There are very good diets already available and very good books to go with them and very good advice. We are not going to invent anything new here. This site will help the reader sort through the flood of information and get to the answers quickly, and explain where they came from.
2) What to do?
There are times when just knowing the answer to “What do I eat?” is not enough. Poor nutrition and diet can and has led to lot of health problems that people need to be aware of. These may exist without the dieter knowing about it, and a doctor may not know as well, or be looking in the wrong places. This is actually quite common.
No website can or should make the claim that is has the answers. This one will go through a lot of the best sources available and discuss what to look for, and what to do about it. We will discuss what kinds of things one should look for when deciding to see a doctor, what kind of doctor and what to ask. There are some sites already with better advice than this one will have, so these will be identified and explained.
The main things covered will be metabolism, thyroid issues, hormones, and diabetes-related problems such as insulin resistance. There are a lot of good sites and books, and we want to find them and make them better known.
3) Who to believe?
This will actually be the fun part. If we do a good job of covering what to eat and what to do, who to believe will be easy. The answers are going to be sometimes surprising. A lot of people with impressive credentials and white labs coats are telling people some really stupid things. The goal here is to help understand how to see past it, and find the right answers.
A lot of the ancedotes mentioned above will be about people that were wrong and why. I just hope this information will help others somehow.
The site will start out as a blog and a forum. The blog articles will have the comments open. The first comment is moderated to sort out spam robots, and after the first comment, they all just post automatically. People are invited to sound off in the comments section and disagree all they want. Readers are only asked to refrain from personal attacks on the writer and other site visitors. Personal attacks will get edited out, the rest probably won’t.
The forum will be open as more of a “hangout,” where people may start their own topics, add advice, argue, or just vent. The moderation will be minimal there too. People are just asked to refrain from the negative personal comments. Posting links to other sites or arguing is just fine. The language and pics also need to be mild, no “R” rated stuff, please.Share on Facebook