Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday - The Mystery Solved

I am happy to report that I've lost 3 pounds in the last week~! That was while I was on vacation too! :) Can you believe it??

I think I may have finally solved the mystery that has been plaguing me for years. That mystery is why it is so hard for me to lose weight, even when I am cutting back on calories and increasing my exercise.

According to my latest diet book :) -- "It is hard to lose weight by simply restricting calories. Eating less and losing excess body fat do not automatically go hand in hand."

AND . . .

"If you're eating too many carbohydrates, you can expect the following, even if you're on a judicious program of aerobic exercise: constant hunger, decreased mental alertness, difficulty in losing body fat (if not outright fat gain), decreased oxygen transfer to the muscle cells, and decreased endurance."

All quotes are from Enter the Zone, by Dr. Barry Sears.

According to Dr. Sears, "The ratio of macronutrients -- proteins, carbohydrates, and fat -- in the meals you eat is the key to permanent weight loss and optimal health." Dr. Sears explains in detail why losing weight is more than just an equation based on balancing "calories in" versus "calories out." He states that, "Every time you eat, these macronutrients generate complex hormonal responses in your body. These responses ultimately determine how much body fat you will store."

Dr. Sears explains how eating foods high in carbohydrates (desserts, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.) generates a rapid rise in blood glucose, which causes the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin, which lowers the levels of glucose in the blood by shuttling the excess into fat storage.

"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 you stay fat."

It may sound like Dr. Sears is promoting a low carb diet, but in fact, he encourages a diet of moderate carb intake balanced by adequate protein. He believes the ideal ratio is 4 grams of carbs for every 3 grams of protein, eaten in 3 small meals and 2 smaller snacks spread throughout the day.

One thing that struck me was his assessment of the general population. He believes that about 25% of people can eat excess carbs without a surge of insulin. These are the lucky folks that can consume large amounts of carbs, such as bread, pasta, and dessert, and never suffer from intense cravings or excess weight. We all know someone like that! Those are the folks we love to "hate!" He believes that another 25% of of the population has an extremely elevated insulin response, which makes these people get fat from simply looking at a carb laden meal or dessert! (Yep, I've known a few people like that too!) Then, the remaining 50% of the population has a normal response to carbs, which means they will have a somewhat elevated insulin response if they eat too many carbohydrates or too many calories.

For optimal health and to maintain an appropriate weight, it is important to maintain a delicate hormonal balance. "If insulin levels are too high, or if glucagon levels are too low, the result is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. When that happens, brain function is compromised. There is also a condition known as insulin resistance, in which insulin levels are elevated but blood sugar levels remain high because the target cells no longer respond to insulin. Insulin resistance and the resulting elevated insulin levels lead to the accumulation of excess body fat . . . and can promote diabetes and the development of heart disease."

How do you know if you have insulin resistance? If you are fat with an apple shape, have high blood levels of triglycerides, low blood levels of HDL cholesterol, and hypertension (high blood pressure), you can be fairly certain that you are insulin resistant and on a path headed towards diabetes and heart disease! Since I said, "Yes," to three of the four risk factors, I believe that I am insulin resistant, and I believe that is why I have had a hard time losing weight. My elevated insulin levels must be preventing the release of stored body fat.

Therefore, I began to try to implement the principles from this book while on vacation, with excellent results. I felt great, wasn't hungry, and lost weight! I started with these basic principles:

1. Choose a source of lean protein that is approximately the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.

2. The size of protein portion determines how many carb portions you can have.

3. If eating favorable carbs (think low glycemic or non-starchy), the size of your carb portion should be double your protein portion. If eating unfavorable carbs (think starchy vegetables, grains, and sweets), limit your carb portion to the same size as your protein portion.

4. Add a small amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

Click here for a quick-start guide to the Zone Diet. For an explanation of the program, click here, and for an overview of how to eat on the Zone, click here.

I found it fairly easy to eat this way while I was out of town, and it wasn't hard to follow these rules for dining out. However, I am finding it more of a challenge now that I am home and trying to prepare appropriate meals and snacks and keep up with my busy schedule of running boys to work, football practice, etc. Also, I am in the habit of using cheap carbs to stretch the grocery budget and fill up the bottomless pits, otherwise known as teenage boys!

So, two questions remain: Can I afford this diet? Can I stay on the program for the long haul or will I give up? I don't know! Pray for me! And encourage me by leaving me a comment telling me how you've been able to make the changes in your life that add up to fat loss and improved health and fitness!


Martha said...

My oh my, sounds like you've got it figured out. Congrats on the three pound weight loss, that is IMPRESSIVE!

I am still trying to figure out which diet is suitable for my body type, I'm still looking for it ;) I think exercise is the key with me, I've been procrastinating on finding a workout :o)

I'll pray for you, please keep me in your prayers too :)

<3 Martha

Rebecca's Refining said...

Congrats on losing three pounds!! However, I think I am "finding" your "lost" ones!

busymomof10 said...


Check out the TTapp workout!


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