Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Low carb eating - how did it go....

Do you remember a few weeks ago I wrote a post called 'Escape the diet trap' based on a book written by Dr John Briffa. This was about a low carb, high fat, high protein diet which Dr Briffa said was a more natural or primal way of eating.

In essence the diet works because by cutting out carbs you prevent insulin peaks in the bloodstream. Insulin not only pushes sugars into cells where they are metabolised for energy, it also pushes fatty acids into cells where they bind with gylcerol (sugar chains) to form tri-glycerides. Tri-glycerides are to big to diffuse back out of the cells so fat effectively becomes locked into the fat cells.

This means that if you continue to eat carbs, no matter how much you cut your total calorie intake, your fat will still be locked inside those cells and your body will preferentially metabolise sugars (and cry out for them by making you feel hungry) followed by proteins (from muscle). Weight loss will stall even though you still have a lot of excess fat on your body. Repeated insulin spikes also lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorder.

If you cut the carbs (particularly grain based ones such as pasta, rice and cereals) and replace them with extra fat (eat full fat versions of products, e.g greek yoghurt, butter, cream but avoid all trans-fats) and protein (fresh meat and fish but not too much processed meat e.g ham, sausage, bacon and soya protein) then the result will be that you avoid insulin peaks (fat does not stimulate insulin production). Your body will now preferentially burn fat and with the lack of sugar in your blood the triglycerides inside fat cells will breakdown, releasing the fatty acids into the bloodstream where they can be metabolised for energy i.e you will burn up your own fat! You will not lose muscle bulk either.

Anyway, that's the theory and I've been putting it to the test for the last 3-4 weeks. The results...

Okay, I didn't have a major weight problem but for years I've had a stubborn 5-6 lbs of excess fat around my middle that just wouldn't budge whatever I did. It was as if my body had a set point at which it could lose no more weight but the set point was too high! I started the low carb eating plan from this set point. Three weeks later I have lost nearly 4 pounds, I am the lightest I've been since 2008. I think my set point is finally being lowered.

The other positive but unexpected effects I have experienced include a complete cessation of all 'gurgly gut' symptoms. My stomach is flat and stays flat all day! I didn't think I was particularly sensitive to grains but presumably I was. The other positive thing is that I no longer fall asleep in the evening in front of the telly - something I have been renowned for in my family. I used to put the tiredness down to it being the end of a busy day and relaxing on the sofa in a warm room just flipped my off switch. Now I have just as busy a day but my energy reserves seem to last me right until bedtime. I now enjoy watching the end of films as well as the beginning!

I am also sleeping better at night. As long as I can remember I have woken 2 or 3 times in the night, tossed and turned and had periods of wakefulness during the night. Now I am sleeping through until about 5-6 am and then still managing to get back to sleep for another hour - this is a new and welcome experience for me.

These positive effects mean much more to me than the weight loss - I FEEL so much better and I don't think I will go back to eating lots of carbs again. It has changed the way I shop, cook and regard food. It is a bit of a challenge to work out ways of filling that carbohydrate sized hole on the plate every day but there are plenty of low carb cook books out there to help with ideas.

I am a convert. Why don't you give it a try.....just for one week and see what you think?

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John Coles said...

I don't believe you now watch the end of movies. Impossible! You are a woman. Women always go to sleep before the end of the movie, but, infuriatingly, want a say in the selection of a movie to watch - even though they'll sleep through it.

I did the high protein/low carb eating regime. It is NOT a diet. I to can vouch for its efficacy. However, it had a slightly different result for me.

High protein/low carb - losing wieght like mad, increased energy, and lifting weights like I'd never lifted before in the gym. However, I hit a ceiling because of torn tendons in my shoulders, so, after diagnosis, surgery, rehab, and 2 years later ... bloody high protein/low carb eating regime.

Sue C said...

John, Yep! I now know how Terminator 2 finished!

I agree that low carb eating is not a diet in the sense of merely being a 'reducing diet'. I was using the word diet in the more general medical sense of the word i.e selecting a food regime to achieve a particular aim.

I take it you're now eating carbs again...

The Strongest Karate said...

Hi Sue,

The health effects you experienced certainly seem to warrant a little experimentation for lots of people. I still have trouble with the "cave man" diet comes down to this: I simply can't trust diet advice that tells me I can't have a banana any time I want. (I know I am being a little hyperbolic, since the paleo-diet does include some carbs).

But still, I cant have brown rice? Or my backyard-grown russet potatoes? I LOVE baking them and adding a little olive oil with salt and pepper.

I too have a couple mid-section pounds that like to stick around, even with all my karate training. But a little P90-X melted them away (no, I didnt do the p90-X diet with the program).

Anyway, diet is a personal thing. I'm just offering my own alternative experience. I suppose I certainly could try paleo eating for a week, though. If nothing else it would add to my recipe book.

Sue C said...

Hi Brett, I miss bananas too! I used to have one every morning with breakfast, along with toast and fruit juice (all forbidden foods now). But you get used to it. Anyway breakfast now consists of omelettes made with smoked salmon, mushrooms, tomatoes, goat cheese, followed by a bowl of berries and natural yoghurt. Not a bad replacement eh?

BBat50 said...

I tried the Atkins diet for a year and, although I dropped the extreme measures, I've never gone back to carbs. I had a similar experience when I cut out all pasta, bread, and crackers.

No more stomach problems.
Much better physique.

Restaurants are a big problem since they are often slow and put bread in front of me when I wait. Whenever I succumb and starting munching, I regret it.

Sue C said...

BBat50, I'll be having my first real restaurant test this weekend - it's a fish restaurant so hopefully I'll be okay, just need to summon up all my will power on the night....


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