Thursday, March 31, 2016

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blood sugar and low-carb eating.

Sometimes I wonder if my insulin response has become sluggish because I don't typically ingest sweet/starchy things anymore. That is a known phenomenon - low carbers can test almost like type 1 diabetics when they have their insulin levels tested in response to oral glucose tests. Apparently if they start eating some carbohydrate for two weeks, this normalises again and their insulin response becomes normal.

I wonder this because my blood sugar readings go very high in response to, let's say, cake with icing. My usual blood sugar readings these days are very low - anywhere between 4-6 mml/L. This is great! However, one time - a while ago now - my blood sugar in response to a piece of my son's cake went up to 11.2! My fasting reading is usually 4.0 -4.8 - and it has never ever gone over 8 except in response to cake! My son's blood glucose reading (the only time I ever managed to convince him to let me prick his finger) was only around 6.8 even after eating a honey sandwich. This is a good sign that his insulin is clearing out the high sugar from his blood stream, but of course, he needs to NOT eat too many honey sandwiches.

So I like having low blood sugar readings - it shows me that I am not doing damage to my body with unusually high levels of glucose coursing around my bloodstream. This is good!

One thing I don't like with regards to being low-carb - that I suffer with cramps - and I don't like that I sometimes feel achy in my legs - weaker - when I don't ingest carbs. It's a minor thing, but for exercise performance it's quite a big deal. My exercise performance suffers because I am unable to push as hard or for as long. And this is really my one and only complaint. But it bugs me because it doesn't happen to every low-carber, so I sometimes wonder "Why me?"

Today I tested my blood sugar before eating an apple - 4.9 - and then around half an hour after eating just half the apple - it went up to 6.4! That is after only half of an apple!

Make no mistake, carbs need to be treated with caution. So if you want to have some carbs daily to "maintain" your insulin response (although there really is no need to do this unless you're going to test your insulin post-prandial) then make sure they are from lower sugar sources like sweet potatoe, or perhaps pumpkin or even, as I did, half an apple. But don't get your carbs from sugar or cakes...you are sure to be raising your blood sugar too high.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The dietary requirement for carbohydrates is ZERO....?

In this Huffington Post article the author shares from the Institute of Medicine's manual, which states that "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life is apparently zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed." (IOM 2002).

That we can survive without carbs is a scientific fact. As the article states, yes, our brains needs glucose but our bodies can make it.

There is just one point I need to make here - a sort of caveat if you will for those who exercise: I have been experimenting with adding carbs BACK in, in small amounts, because of my weight training. I have to admit, I am feeling better for it. My cramping improves, my ability to push a bit harder improves and I feel slightly better. It's not a lot of carbs required, just a small amount of sweet potatoe, or half a banana (I am still experimenting with the correct carb source for me) but I have to say, a little bit of carbohydrate DOES indeed help performance, in my experience.

Monday, March 7, 2016

What if you DIDN'T EAT for 24 hours?

Could you not eat for 24 hours?
What if I told you that you could:
·         Dramatically lower both insulin and blood sugar (without a drug)
·         Raise your level of growth hormone (to enhance fat-burning, muscle building and anti-aging),
·         Improve your leptin response(to betterregulate hunger and satiety)
·         Activate your body'sinternal spring cleaning mechanisms (for cellular repair and regeneration)
…. and what if all of these things were known to:
·         Lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity
·         Increase your longevity
·         Boost your BDNF - your brain derived neurotrophic factor,(a substance that increases the growth of new nerve cells in the brain and protects the brain against stress and toxins)
…. and what if I told you that this would cost you nothing?
Would you do it?

These benefits are what Intermittent Fasting promises. IF (Intermittent Fasting) has always intrigued me but I have been "iffy" about doing it until recently.

My first attempt at fasting was in 2014 after I had been Banting for only a month. I felt so terrible (weak and lethargic) that by midday I just had to eat. I only managed to skip breakfast.

Now that still counts as a fast since I had fasted for 17 hours! I just didn't realise back then that I wasn't necessarily required to go a whole day without food and that there are various methods of intermittent fasting, one of them being simply skipping breakfast. I thought I had to go a whole day without food, but according to Brad Pilon, author of Eat. Stop. Eat(the book many call the bible on fasting) that would have been a 36-hour fast, and not necessary at all. He advocates doing whatever works, and mainly doing a 24-hour fast. You could stop at 3pm today, and resume eating 3pm the next day. Which means that you get to eat on both days, but you just put 24 hours in-between eating times.

So yesterday, I tried again, and fasted with relative ease. I did a 24-hour fast from supper the night before to supper the next night. Was it pleasant? No. I won't lie. But was it bearable? Yes. It was better than I anticipated. And I lost a whole kg! (Which I am sure will come back, but I was still amazed that a whole kg on the scale disappeared, literally, overnight. This may be useful for athletes to know if they need to make weight categories.)

I only got two really bad hunger surges the whole day, around breakfast and lunchtime. The lunch hour hunger surge was worse, but after that, I didn't feel hungry at all. I did have a mild headache the whole day and I felt colder. It was a hot day, and whilst everyone was complaining of the heat I was feeling cool and comfortable. Dr. Michael Eades, in an article he wrote on IF for the website fourhourworkweek.com, says that the drawback to Intermittent Fasting is a reduction in thermogenesis . Perhaps this is why I felt colder. His view is that this phenomenon explains why not everyone loses weight through IF. His view on IF is underwhelming as he concluded his article by saying that IF "looks good in animal studies, then not so good in human studies." He also states that fasting is "long on promises, short on delivery" meaning that although it works well in animal studies, we are not animals and the benefits seen in the animal models may not transfer to humans.

However, Dr. Jason Fung, a top nephrologist, is a big proponent of IF for health and restoring insulin sensitivity in diabetics, as well as for weight loss. He himself practices it and says that the first one or two times you may feel uncomfortable, but then it gets easier. He points out that for some people even a low-carb diet is not enough to decrease insulin to the lower levels they need, whereas fasting can do that. He says everyone can do it and best of all, there is nothing you have to buy to do it. Dr. Fung says that "you don't have less energy, you have more energy."

Admittedly I didn't feel that at all, I felt very "slow", as if my body was conserving energy, but that may change if I was a regular faster. Dr. Fung explains in thisYoutube video: " So growth hormone goes up to preserve lean muscle, then you'd be burning just fat. Adrenaline goes up to give you more energy and you're fueling all that energy with fat, because you can measure free fatty acids in the blood and they go up, so what's happening is that you're burning fat, you're preserving your muscle and you've got plenty of energy. Perfect."

Perfect, except, perhaps if you're a woman, or a female rat. In one rat study it showed that female rats did not cope as well as their male counterparts (they got stressed) with fasting, and in a three-week human study, women showed slight impairment in their glucose response to a meal. However, both these studies were conducted on alternate day fasting (one day fasting, one day eating), and not, as is usually recommended, a once or twice a week only 24 hour fast. Perhaps in that scenario the results would have been positive for females too? The research on that is lacking.

In general, for most people, a weekly fast seems safe but there ARE contraindications, whether male or female. For example if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue or malnourishment, then fasting is NOT for you. The same holds true for anyone under the age of 18 - fasting is NOT recommended as muscle and bone is still growing and forming.

Ultimately, fasting is just one of many health and weight-loss tools, and you have to decide if it's one you'd like to use.

By Louise Hughes