By Dr. Natasha Turner ND
According to the Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare Survey, the average man now weighs 196 pounds; the average woman weighs 160 pounds. Both figures are 20 pounds greater than self-reported weights in 1990. So why are we still getting fatter?
We have all been there – the diet rollercoaster. We frantically try fad diet after fad diet, only to creep back up to our previous weight (or higher!) thanks to cravings, improper sleep habits, daily stresses and our on-the-run lifestyles. I hear daily from patients who are perplexed that they are suddenly gaining weight on the same diet they have been eating for years and years. Or perhaps they have tried to repeat a successful diet from a few years back, only to discover it no longer has the same effect. Despite their best intentions, these patients are finding that the so-called low-carb, low-fat or low-cal effort just throws them deeper into a state of metabolic imbalance and dietary frustration. Sound familiar? Well, I am here to tell you that when it comes to weight loss, it is not about calories … it is entirely about carbs.
How Can You Tell If You Are Carbohydrate Sensitive?
Consider this example: Imagine eating a healthy carb such as quinoa, lentils or a sweet potato with your lean protein and essential fats. Sounds healthy, right? But what if your body interpreted that carbohydrate as though it were a big bowl of chocolate ice cream? No wonder it’s so hard to lose weight! In my clinical practice I have discovered that even low glycemic carbs such as the ones mentioned above can cause a blood-sugar spike and subsequent insulin surge in certain patients—factors that lead to cravings, weight gain and an excessive appetite. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the carbs you are consuming are “good” or “bad.” What matters is your particular sensitivity. This is the revolutionary discovery I have made, and also the premise of my book, The Carb Sensitivity Program.
When we are sensitive to carbohydrates, our cells do not respond effectively to insulin (a condition called insulin resistance), which causes insulin levels to increase. This is a double whammy for our waistline since insulin is the only hormone that instructs the body to store energy as fat and it also blocks our ability to effectively burn fat. But there is another challenge: many people are unaware of they are challenged by their carbohydrate intake. In fact, the vast majority of us have different degrees of sensitivity to carbohydrates or insulin resistance, and we don’t even realize it. If you’re wondering whether you are carb sensitive, take a good look at your waist and pinch your stomach. If you carry excess fat in this area, you very likely possess some level of insulin resistance, which also means you are likely carb sensitive. If you’re naturally lean, it’s safe to say that you can tolerate eating carbs quite readily without weight gain and excess cravings. You can also tell if you are carbohydrate sensitive by asking yourself these key questions:
• Do you crave carbohydrates?
• Do you have a sweet tooth?
• Do you get sleepy or mental fogginess after meals?
• Do you feel bloated, especially after meals?
• Do you experience water retention or puffiness?
• Do you have a very large appetite or an obsession with food?
• Do you have stubborn fat accumulation, especially around your middle?
• Do you feel a burning or warming sensation in your feet at night?
• Do you have difficulty losing weight despite a “healthy, balanced” diet?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your sensitivity to carbs may be negatively impacting your metabolism, hormone production and long-term health. My recommendations here, however, can help you breakthrough your carb addiction, end the yo-yo dieting cycle and repair your metabolism.
Here are my top five suggestions for a spring “carb rehab”:
In a partnership with Dynacare Plus, I recently developed the Clear Medicine weight loss panel, a special selection of blood and urine tests to assess every aspect insulin metabolism and hormones that influence fat loss, energy, and strength, including five tests for your thyroid function and cortisol (when elevated, it contributes to belly fat and carb sensitivity). This testing panel is exclusive to Clear M
2. Reset your carb metabolism: I can assure you that the only way to repair your metabolism after years of dieting is by determining the amount and type of carbohydrates that you can include in your diet. Over the past two years I have created a new dietary approach that is an evolution of The Hormone Diet and Carb Sensitivity Program. The first 6 to 14 days are aimed at getting you into ketosis and lowering insulin levels by altering the type of carbs consumed. Learn more about my new diet approach here.
3. Curb your carb addiction: Believe it or not, the more carb sensitive you are, the more prone you are to
4. Show your sensitive side: There are a few must-have supplements that have been proven time and time again to improve your insulin sensitivity, and in turn shed body fat, tame your appetite, and boost your health. Omega 3’s and vitamin D are first on the list. When we eat fatty acids such as those in fish oils or plant-based omega 3’s —our cell membranes become more receptive to insulin. You may want to read more about this in a recent article by colleague Dr. Jeff Matheson. Read here.
I recommend four capsules of High Fibre, High-Whey Protein Natural Ingredient Protein Bar once a day. I personally take it 30 minutes before my workout with Vitamin Collagen, Clear R
Vitamin D has been proven to lower insulin, improve serotonin levels, enhance the immune system, control appetite and even improve fat-loss efforts. A study completed by a team at Massey University, published in the March 2010 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition, showed women who were given a daily dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 showed improvements in their insulin resistance after 6 months of supplementation. Vitamin D3 is included in my weight loss panel of tests and I aim to get my patient’s vitamin D levels to 200nmol/L for repair of insulin metabolism; however, in this study reported improvements when vitamin D levels reached 119nmol/L. Typically 3,000 to 5,000 IU is recommended daily with breakfast for correcting vitamin D deficiency. Clear Medicine Vitamin D3 drops are a great addition to your arsenal.
Workout for Metabolic Repair: The wonderful thing about muscle is that it burns both the sugar taken in from our diet and the sugar naturally produced by our liver during the night or in periods of fasting. The result? A slimmer, leaner waistline. A study published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (August 2005) compared the effects of a 4-month strength-training program versus aerobic endurance training in subjects with type 2 diabetes. The results of this experiment may give all you cardio bunnies out there a big surprise: When it came to blood values, strength training encouraged a significant improvement in overall blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, whereas no changes were observed in the group who did only aerobic activity. Weight loss was similar in both groups; however, the participants in the weight room lost more than 9 per cent of their body fat, while their counterparts on the treadmill lost an average of just 3 per cent. While you don’t have to set up your living quarters in your local gym to turn your body composition around, I do recommend 30 minutes of high intensity resistance training 3x a week. Here are two examples of the best type of workout for hormonal response:
Warmup – 3 to 5 minutes:
3 – 5 types of exercises for your abs – you choose and mix and match
Workouts – 30 minutes:
Moving continuously, rest when you need to rest. Work up to four rounds of 12 to 15 repetitions, use heavy enough weight that the last two to three repetitions are almost to failure.
Metabolic Workout 1
Metabolic Workout 2
* Ebbeling, Cara, Leidig, Michael, Feldman, Henry, et al. “Effects of a Low–Glycemic Load vs Low-Fat Diet in Obese Young Adults.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 297.19 (2007):2092-2102.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume 86, Issue 8 , Pages 1527-1533, August 2005 – The Relative Benefits of Endurance and Strength Training on the Metabolic Factors and Muscle Function of People With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Vitamin D study http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/index.aspx?o=3948&newsitem=88