Friday, April 10, 2009


I haven't posted in a while because I have been floundering around. I successfully maintained through the holidays and then promptly fell off of the wagon January and February and pretty much regained all of the weight I had lost.

I began having more stomach problems during this time and decided that I needed to focus on health rather than just simply try to lose weight. It seemed that I was having problems with nuts and legumes. I started to study lectins, which are a specific kind of protein found in almost all foods. There are a handful that many people have autoimmune problems with, gluten being one. Since I had a problem with one of them for sure, it made sense that I might have sensitivities to others. I decided to try an elimination diet to try to pinpoint the problem.

The idea is to eat only meat for a period of time, since that is the safest food, lectin-wise. I would do that for a week and then add in one food group - dairy, for example. I would see if it caused any problems and then go back to meat only for another week and try something like eggs.

I tried it for a week in mid-March and felt great that week, after a day of induction flu. I ended up going off of it at the end of the week because of J's birthday, our anniversary and the fact we were going on vacation for a couple of weeks, which would have made it extremely difficult to keep it up.

During the time I was looking into this, I came across the concept of zero carb (ZC) eating. The idea is to keep carbs as close to zero as possible to correct the insulin levels in the body. High insulin traps the fat in your body and can cause a host of problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer's and possibly cancer.

I had always thought that fat on the body was just bags of unused fuel. It turns out that fat actually circulates through the body and is metabolically active. An analogy that I saw on a ZC forum was that fat in the body was like a series of interconnected pools. When you ate something, it was broken down and triglycerides are formed. These circulate through the blood stream and are used as immediate fuel for cells in the body. Any excess is moved into the circulating pools to be used as fuel during fasting periods (times between meals).

In someone with normal insulin levels, triglycerides are drawn back out at the end of the series of pools when the cells need more fuel. However, high insulin levels will put fat in but resist pulling it back out. In effect, it clogs the drain, causing the pools to back up (putting visible fat on the body). Since the drains are clogged, fuel can't get back out and the cells signal that they are starving. This triggers the metabolism to slow down and also triggers hunger to increase, driving the person to want to eat more. If that meal is again high carb, it maintains the vicious cycle of high insulin literally starving the cells while the body carries excess fat.

Since someone with chronically high insulin levels will quickly become insulin resistant, it is often necessary to bring carb intake to a minimum to fix the problem (it is unclear if it can actually ever be cured, but it is possible to bypass the problem with ZC). Going ZC starts unclogging those drains and allowing the fat to be drawn back out as it would be normally.

My dieting pattern has shown an increase in insulin resistance (IR). Weigh Down worked for over four years but because of the carby food I was eating, slowly stopped working and I found it increasingly difficult to stop eating when full. Next, a low carb version of Weigh Down worked really well but failed quicker because my carbs were apparently still too high. Then my attempt last year at low carb Weigh Down combined with intermittent fasting failed even quicker.

So now my attempt at fixing this and stopping the yo-yoing is to do near ZC. I am going to do this for at least 90 days and see how it goes. I plan on eating mainly meat with a small amount of eggs and dairy. I found that dairy was a good way to overeat so it will mostly be limited to butter and a small amount of heavy cream in my tea. Since even sweet tastes can trigger an insulin response, I will wean off of my Diet Pepsi habit and keep Splenda to a minimum.

Most ZC-ers don't take supplements but I am going to continue mine for now. They have been keeping me healthy for several years (no colds or flus in that time). I will also eat two or three Brazil nuts every day. One nut only contains one tenth of a gram of usable carbs, so a couple of them are still very low. Brazil nuts are an extremely good source of selenium, which is severely lacking in our food supply. I just feel like it is important to get it and it keeps my immune system humming.

This all starts tomorrow. My wife, K, is planning on doing it with me, though she will probably be closer to induction levels of 20 grams or less, with the addition of some low carb veggies. She is doing it more to improve her health than to lose weight (she doesn't need to lose anything).

We will eat meals only when physically hungry and eat as much as we want at that point. I won't try to restrict how much I am eating and will leave it up to what my body tells me.

I'll get starting weight and measurements tomorrow. After that, I plan on posting my menus and thoughts on the process.

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