I don’t care what the diet is, if you’re going to experience healthy weight loss, there is one thing that must be right. It must get rid of fat. Weight loss can come from losing water, bone or muscle, which obviously is not healthy. The key to weight loss that results from losing fat is maintaining low insulin levels. A person with high insulin will have have an increased risk of heart disease, MS, clinical long-term depression, high PSA levels (in men), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, inflammation of the liver, chronic pain, and arthritis. That may sound complicated but it is really pretty simple. I promise by the end of this post you will understand what I’m talking about. In fact, if you read this and still don’t get it I want to hear from you! Sadly, exercise alone is not an effective way to achieve weight loss. The truth is that if you’re going to shed some fat, you’re going to have to change the way you eat.
Losing FAT is NOT simply a matter of eating fewer calories than you use!
Yes, it’s true that if you eat fewer calories than you burn you will experience weight loss. However WHICH part of you there is less of will depend on what you eat. If you don’t eat enough protein the weight you lose will be your own muscle. If a meal results in high blood sugar the body will turn that sugar into fat. Not eating enough good fat will result in the body making and storing fat. Wouldn’t it stink to eat in such a way that ends up making a body weigh less but have MORE fat, less muscle and be more UN-healthy? I came across this video and it makes this point really well:
I have a connection with someone in Phoenix who uses ultrasound to measure the percentage of body fat and where the fat is. If you’re interested let me know and I will give you their contact information.
Insulin is the key to weight loss resulting from losing FAT!
Insulin is made in the pancreas. For our purposes I want to focus on two of insulin’s functions:
- Insulin takes sugar out of the blood and puts it in liver, muscle and fat cells. So insulin converts sugar to fat.
- Insulin PREVENTS the body from using fat.
HELLO! Did that hit you? If your body’s insulin levels are high you will get fatter! If your body’s insulin levels are low you will get rid of fat. BAM. High blood sugar causes the pancreas to make insulin.
So if high blood sugar = more fat then low blood sugar must = less fat. WRONG. The longer the body is in a low blood sugar state the more it will slow the metabolism. A slower metabolism = more fat. SO:
1. High blood sugar = more fat
2. Low blood sugar = more fat
3. Even blood sugar = weight loss via less fat.
Let me ask you a question. Based on what I have just taught you, what is the best thing to do if you want to achieve weight loss by losing fat?
- Eat so you cause high blood sugar and high insulin.
- Don’t eat so your blood sugar gets low causing slower metabolism.
- Eat so your blood sugar stays even so your pancreas doesn’t make insulin.
Did you answer 1 0r 2? Please go back to the beginning of this section and try again. The ONLY way to lose fat is to keep blood sugar levels from getting high or low. One more question. This one is extra credit. Can you get fat on a low fat diet? The answer is, “OH YEAH BABY you can get really fat!” Remember that when insulin levels are up the sugar is stored as fat. Low fat diets are really good at raising blood sugar levels. The rest of the article is going to explain how to eat so blood sugar remains level and insulin levels remain low so you can get some healthy weight loss happening.
Let me give you some important basics!
All food is made up of three main components: protein, carbohydrate and fat. A food may contain just one or two of these, or it may contain all three. For example foods that come from grains are mostly carbohydrates. Most foods that come from an animal contain protein. Fats come from both animal and plant sources. When working properly, our bodies break down the food we eat into its most basic ingredients. My article about Acid Reflux explains what happens when digestion is not working and how to fix it.
When protein is eaten it is broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Protein is the structure everything in your body is made of. Every cell in your body, hair cells, bone cells, eye cells, heart cells, muscle cells are all formed by protein. Protein is also like a fleet of semi-trucks in your body transporting nutrients to where they’re needed. Proteins also function like text messages in your body communicating chemically about what is needed. Protein reminds me of my boys’ favorite toy, Legos. When the boys want to build something, the first thing they have to do is take apart whatever they last built so they have the building blocks to build the next cool thing. That is exactly what the body does to protein when we eat it. It takes that grilled chicken and breaks it down and uses it to build the next bone, heart or nerve cells the body needs. When we eat a meal with the right amount of protein, blood sugar is raised slowly. I’ll get into the blood sugar in a little bit.
Fat is really important in the body. There are “healthy” fats and”unhealthy” fats. You might be surprised to learn that poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats, like most of the vegetable oils available, are more dangerous than saturated fats like butter and coconut oil. Worse than those are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats like shortening and margarine. Most pre-packaged foods contain these bad fats–read the labels! Good fats come from plants in their natural form, nuts and fish and oils that are easily expressed from their sources, like olive, palm and coconut oils. Especially good is coconut oil, which even helps you lose fat! Research has shown that replacing all cooking oils with coconut oil, without any other change in diet or exercise, can result in the loss of up to 36 lbs. a year!* Good fats can reduce pain, prevent cancer, lower risk of heart disease or stroke, weight loss and reduce belly fat. Unhealthy fats basically do the opposite of what the healthy fats do. When we eat fat it slows the digestion process, raising blood sugar slowly and causing us to feel full longer. Hang in there the connection to healthy weight loss is coming.
Any food that contains ingredients that came from the ground has carbohydrates. All carbohydrates contain sugar. Some carbohydrates are super healthy and low in sugar, like those nutrient-rich green things that grow from the ground. Some carbohydrates are pretty much the worst thing possible to put in our bodies, like white flour and white sugar, which rob nutrients from our bodies. Since I am focusing on weight loss there is another difference that separates carbohydrates into those that help us lose fat and those that are making us fatter. Carbohydrates that release the sugar they contain SLOWLY keep insulin levels low and therefore help us lose fat. As you are already thinking, carbohydrates that release the sugar they contain quickly causes insulin levels to get high and make us get fatter. There is a way to measure this characteristic in carbohydrates, called the glycemic index. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index are good. The sugar they contain takes a long time to get into the blood stream and keeps insulin low. Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index are the fat producers, because their sugar gets dumped into the bloodstream fast which causes insulin levels to spike. This chart gives some good examples of common foods on the glycemic index:
There are lots of great places you can find booklets with the glycemic index that have pretty much any food you can think of. There are some surprises on this index. Just because a food is in its natural form doesn’t mean that it is going to help get rid of fat. Where do you think protein and fat foods fit on a glycemic index? If you said protein and fat foods have low glycemic index you would be right. Can you get fatter eating foods that are low on the glycemic index? Yes, you can get SUPER fat eating foods that are low on the glycemic index. A person can even get fat by eating too many green beans. The amount of food eaten is still important. If you want weight loss from losing fat, then eating the right amount of the right foods is critical.
All the diets that achieve weight loss through losing fat keep the insulin level low!
There are lots of great low carbohydrate eating programs. My personal favorite has been around for a long time. Dr. Barry Sears wrote a book called “The Zone“. Dr. Sears’ book is an extremely practical tool to help a person figure out what and how much to eat in order to keep insulin levels low. If you are excited about what you’ve just learned, get this book and use it! If you don’t have the time to read the book I have a few tips from Dr. Sears that have been very helpful.
How you feel after eating is your bodies way to telling you about your insulin levels.
- If you eat a meal that results in low insulin levels you will feel energized, not hungry and have good mental focus.
- If after you’ve eaten you have good mental focus but you are still hungry, you’ve had too much protein relative to carbohydrate. Your insulin is low so the brain is telling your body to eat again to get some brain sugar generated.
- If you have have brain fog and decreased mental focus after you’ve eaten, your meal had too many carbohydrates relative to protein.
So a lack of hunger, no sugar cravings, and good mental focus are good indicators that your meal has kept your insulin levels low.
When you eat a well balanced meal it should “last” between 4 to 6 hours. That means that in order to keep insulin levels low, a couple of snacks a day may be needed. The snacks should have the same effect as a meal, but their effects will only last a couple of hours.
High insulin levels are linked to almost every chronic disease.
The benefits to low insulin levels are HUGE. Heart disease, MS, clinical long-term depression, men with high PSA levels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, inflammation of the liver, chronic pain, and arthritis can all be helped by keeping insulin levels low.
Some people will not lose the weight they should even if they do a good job of controlling their insulin levels. I have found that these people often have heavy metal toxins that are preventing the loss of fat. These toxins are stored in the fat and bone. Once the toxins are removed the fat seems to almost fall off. If you think you fit into this category, I can help.
I know that was a lot of information. Everything in this article is really important. Understanding how what we eat affects our bodies is vital to good health. If you only do one thing right, get this right and weight loss will just be the beginning of the benefits you receive!
As always I’d love to interact with you in the comment section!
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* St. Onge, M. and Jones, P. Physiological effects of medium-chain fatty triglicerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. “The Journal of Nutrition” 132; 329-332
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