diabetes

Healthy Diets and ScienceI have just discovered a really good resource for those interested in the science behind healthy nutrition, Healthy Diets and Science, by David Evans.

I’ll leave you to explore the over 1000 articles in there yourself, but I thought that people interested in the Ketogenic Diet might find these articles interesting:

See also:

Ketogenic What is a Ketogenic Diet, in a nutshell?
Ketogenic A Guide to Ketosis
Ketogenic What is the Ketogenic Diet Good For?
Ketogenic Tips for Starting and Restarting Ketosis
Ketogenic On Ketogenic Diets
Ketogenic How to Use the Keto Calculator
Ketogenic Ketone Testing
Ketogenic A one-page intro to Ketogenic Diets, to hand to medical sceptics
Ketogenic 203 Comments on Mark Maunder’s “Basic Ketogenic Diet”

Gary Taubes

Peter Attia

Most people with an interest in overcoming obesity will have heard of Gary Taubes, especially if you’re a regular reader of Live Free From Obesity: I mentioned him originally in Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and Vegetarian or Carnivore? You choose!, amongst other blogs.

In fact when I first read Gary’s [simpleazon-link asin="0307474259" locale="us"]Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It[/simpleazon-link] he immediately became a hero of mine.

Gary is a science journalist, rather than a practising scientist (although, I happen to believe, with a sharper scientific mind than many who are practising scientists).  For a significant part of his career he has majored in writing about bad science–which is what first got him interested in nutrition.  But whereas when he was writing about the bad science of cold fusion he was content to just tell the story, he has become much more deeply involved with nutrition and, last September (2012), with Peter Attia, he set up the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI).

I have always found both Gary and Peter quite scary: they have brains much sharper than mine (and I’m no fool), and they also have a level of personal discipline and persistence that I can only envy.  So I was pretty much moved to tears when I watched Peter’s recent TEDMED talk, when he, too was almost moved to tears.  See what you think.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3oI104STzs

For a less emotional, more factual introduction to NuSI and its work, spend three minutes with this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmfA9XFw-uU

Peter is also running a blog covering some of the most burning questions that individuals have: what should I eat, should I be concerned about cholesterol, how can I protect myself from the major “diseases of civilisation” on his own website, The Eating Academy.  To begin to study what Peter has to say, start on the Eating Academy’s “Start Here” page.

Peter is at pains to explain scientific concepts in everyday language, but I have to say, his blogs sometimes make me work hard, and I suspect they may leave some of the readers of Live Free From Obesity gasping for air!

Don’t worry, I will make it my task to translate the more difficult posts into still simpler language, so that people with little of no scientific training, but who are eager to understand Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It, can take the news on board!

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="0307474259" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Ni96jsZzL._SL160_.jpg" width="104"] [simpleazon-image align="left" asin="0307949435" locale="uk" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tR7-zIiFL._SL160_.jpg" width="98"] [simpleazon-image align="left" asin="1400033462" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ikBliWK8L._SL160_.jpg" width="105"][simpleazon-image align="right" asin="0091924286" locale="uk" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41zvRZLsE4L._SL160_.jpg" width="97"]

IFWe are not suggesting that as our ancestors ran across the plains of Africa they were nibbling on chunks of chocolate!

While the basic ingredients in good chocolate are real food, and really good for you, it is difficult to find commercial chocolate that doesn’t contain stuff that paleo people wouldn’t want to eat, like high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, various preservatives, etc.

So here’s a recipe that you can use to make your own, “real food” chocolate.  This is another “n=1″ piece of research (or n=x, where x is the number of people in your family!) in that the taste is very much down to personal preference.  It’s a case of “suck it and see” (sorry!)

It is also ketogenic chocolate (see the section on nutritional information at the bottom of the page).

In the equipment list and the ingredients lists below, if you click any of the pictures it will take you to Amazon where you can buy these things if you don’t have them.  We are making this chocolate while we are in Florida; availability of equipment and ingredients may vary in other countries.  When Susan talks in volumetric measurements, she’s talking American cups, spoons, etc.

You can download a printable version of Susan Courtneys Healthy Dark Chocolate here (right click and choose Save As).

In the video Susan mentions her Sweetener equivalents chart.  Right click the link and choose Save As to download.

There are six videos taking you through making paleo chocolate.  Here’s the first (the others are spaced down the page).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umbDYDjY6V0

Equipment

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B0014CZ594" locale="us" height="96" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51APSfuwBrL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]Double boiler.

There are dozens on Amazon; this is one of the cheapest but has good customer reviews. You can spend up to $300 on a beautiful, traditional copper “bain marie”, but that isn’t necessary!

You can also pop a basin on top of a saucepan of hot water!

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B000PSB5VU" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21bmJVYBElL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]Pouring Funnel

If you are going to put your chocolate into forms or moulds (molds) then this is essential.

If you are making “bark” by just tipping the chocolate into a baking try lined with parchment (greaseproof) paper, then it’s not necessary (but you get big, hard lumps of chocolate: I broke a tooth on a piece!)

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B0013IDHTO" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QpH2onrWL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]Scales

There is no need to get this sophisticated: however it is a good idea to have some scales in your kitchen to measure ingredients.  Americans: this may be radical for you, as you are used to working in “cups and spoons”.  The rest of the world is used to working in weight: I’ll translate from ounces (oz) to grams as we go.

However, these are brilliant: they will analyse and weigh all your ingredients so that you can have the equivalent of a professional “nutrition label” for your chocolate.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B003VIIQJ0" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41VUv8zJKgL._SL110_.jpg" width="110"]Moulds or Forms

… or “molds” if you’re in America!  There are lots of different ones on Amazon.

We used to make “bark”: Susan would line a baking tray with grease-proof (parchment) paper and just tip the molten chocolate in it, and put it in the freezer.  When it was solid we’d break it into lumps and put it in zip-lock bags, back in the freezer.  You do tend to get BIG lumps that way!

In addition to the above you will need some sort of mixer or beater, some measuring cups and spoons and a spatula.

And quite a lot of dish-washing liquid and cloths: it does have a tendency to get everywhere!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fiLq6-P0fw

Ingredients

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B009XEANGU" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4110hzoGSyL._SL110_.jpg" width="110"]Organic Cocoa Butter

Whether or not you use organic or inorganic is, of course, up to you.

But you are making high-quality chocolate here, so why not go for the best ingredients?!  The brand shown here is Kakosi, which is what you see Susan using in the video.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B000GAT6NG" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Iy4KB3ODL._SL160_.jpg" width="109"]Coconut Oil

We use Nutiva coconut oil.  It seems to be a reasonable price for the quality: again, we are looking for organic.

On Amazon there are all sorts of brands and all sorts of “qualities”: Certified Organic, Extra Virgin. etc., and they all seem to have pretty good customer ratings and comments.

Another “suck it and see” area, I think.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B007QR6A7C" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51x47kuvRcL._SL160_.jpg" width="157"]Organic Baking Cocoa

Equal Exchange seems to come with a version that says “vegan” in the title, and cost a lot more.  But ours says “vegan” on the tin, so I don’t understand the difference.  This is also fair-traded, so your chocolate is not only healthy, but also ethical!

Susan used to use a mixture of cocoa powder and carob powder, and it’s certainly true that the chocolate that had carob in it felt slightly gritty in the mouth.  Now we just use cocoa powder, and it tastes fine.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B003BHZ71G" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21%2B6N1PhpBL._SL110_.jpg" width="54"]Sunflower Lecithin

The brand that Susan is using in the video is currently (March 3 2013) out of stock at Amazon, so I searched for “Sunflower Lecithin Organic” and it came up with soy lecithin granules, not organic, so beware!

The brand here is liquid, is sunflower, has no GMOs, and no soy, so I think that Susan would approve.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B003IO20T4" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/11AKx5je5gL._SL110_.jpg" width="70"]Sweeteners and Flavourings

Susan uses a mixture of stevia powder (which she gets at our local whole food store, Hoovers Market) and Luo Han Guo (Chinese Monk Fruit!).  If we were back in the UK, we would probably use liquid stevia from our medical herbalist, Alan Hopking.  If you haven’t come across stevia before, check out what Alan says about it, here.

In the video Susan mentions her Sweetener equivalents chart.  Right click the link and choose Save As to download.

When looking for stevia, you can get the powdered leaves, and that powder is green.  I know that Alan would tell you that it’s one of the purest forms, and I’m sure that as a medication it’s the best.  But I tried it, and to me it tastes of grass (not “grass”, but that green stuff on your lawn!) and I don’t want my chocolate to taste like it’s just been mowed!

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B002LIGPR6" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41FjhpuK7oL._SL110_.jpg" width="57"]Once upon a time stevia was hard to come by, because it hadn’t been approved by the FDA as a food stuff.  Now it has, and everyone is in on the game, and it’s harder to get good stevia.  We know that the major soda drinks manufacturers are starting to use stevia, and the suspicion is that, at least in the USA, they are producing GMO stevia, so we avoid Truvia and PureVia.  Vanessa Romero has a good article about it here.  The picture on that page, of  NuNaturals stevia is what I use in my coffee: but it’s not as sweet as the pure stevia that Susan is using in the video (it has bulking agents so that the contents of the little packet are about the same sweetness as in any other packeted sweetener).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng0t1nKTtR4

Process

  1. Melt 4oz (115 g) of cocoa butter and 4-5 ozs (115g – 140g) of coconut oil and 1 tsp (5ml) lecithin in the double boiler.  Stir until it is all melted.
  2. Add a cup (250ml) of cocoa powder and mix with your mixer until it is all mixed in.
  3. Add a quarter teaspoon (1.25ml) of stevia powder and a couple of teaspoons (10ml) of luo han guo powder.
  4. Stir, taste, and add more cocoa powder, stevia and luo han guo to taste.  This really is an experiment.  You won’t produce anything inedible, but it may take several goes to get the feel for what is your favourite.
  5. If adding orange flavouring (or vanilla, or any other) add that last, just a little at a time.
  6. Pour the mixture into your pouring funnel and fill the molds.
  7. MAKE SURE YOU ALREADY HAVE A FLAT AREA, BIG ENOUGH, IN YOUR FREEZER!  (I can’t tell you how long it takes to clean once runny, now frozen solid chocolate off of the inside of your fridge or freezer.  We went off chocolate for quite a while after that incident!)
  8. Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, until it’s hard.
  9. Remove from the molds, pop into zip-lock bags, and continue to store in the freezer.

Are you old enough to remember “melts in your mouth, not in your hands”?  This melts in your mouth, your hands, on the plate you serve it on, on the rug, your mother’s pure white carpet, the sofa, your clothes … (’nuff said?)

You can download a printable version of Susan Courtneys Healthy Dark Chocolate here (right click and choose Save As).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXbcGj7xBM

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="1591203198" locale="us" height="110" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51w6FncNM7L._SL110_.jpg" width="74"]Alzheimer’s Syndrome

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="B0019LRY8A" locale="us" height="150" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21royfiStHL._SL160_.jpg" width="85"]We don’t know that this chocolate will cure, prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s, but that’s what got us looking, as Susan says on the video. She was inspired by Dr Mary Newport and her website, www.coconutketones.com. Check out Dr Newport’s book and website: in particular, watch the latest video from CBN news.

Susan also talks about MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides).

We use it a lot, but haven’t tried it in the chocolate: it would probably make it even meltier at room temperature!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8-9XoQA4cw

Nutritional Information

I was so keen to get the videos made that we didn’t stop to use our fancy scales properly, so I will have to do these calculations by hand (well, spreadsheet!)  I am only going to consider the fats and the cocoa powder; everything else is present only in vanishingly small quantities.

Main Ingredients

 Cocoa Butter  Coconut Oil  Cocoa Powder
 IF  IF  IF
Fat 108g, Carbs 0g, Protein 0g Fat 140g, Carbs 0g, Protein 0g Fat 255g, Carbs 32g, Protein 16g

These figures are for all of the ingredients.  Note that the carbs in the cocoa powder are all dietary fibre, so most people would ignore them.

However, given that we got 45 chocolates out of this mixture, it shows that each chocolate is almost 6g of fat, 0.7 gm of carbs (of which 100% is dietary fibre), and 0.35 gm of protein.

I therefore declare that these chocolates are ketogenic chocolates!  If you restrict yourself to 20gm of carbs a day, and include fibre in that (which is being very strict), you could still eat 28 chocolates a day and stay within your limit.  That assumes you eat no other carbs, but I reckon if you eat 28 of these a day you wouldn’t want to eat anything else!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPqDXe0cvco

It’s been an age since I blogged.  Went through some tough and busy times this year, but am now back in Florida where it’s sunny and the sky is blue, and I decided to crack this obesity thing once and for all, even if I don’t (yet) have my Together We Can group.

So I started to “Lighten Up” the second we got back to Apopka and by the end of the first week I had lost 12lbs, but my body fat percentage had gone UP by over 10%. So whatever I was losing it wasn’t fat, and I was TIRED.  Went for a five-mile walk on the Thursday and tried to repeat it again on the Saturday and “ran into the brick wall” big time.  I couldn’t move.

And whenever I checked for ketones, there was barely a trace.

So a few days back I started Googling “ketogenic diets” and have come up with some very interesting stuff and have put myself on a ketogenic diet.  My weight loss seems to have plateaued, but the fat percentage is coming down, so presumably I am burning fat while I replace whatever it was that I lost last week.  One  of the best / simplest versions of the Ketogenic Diet I found on Mark Maunder’s blog (that’s him, looking all slim and fit over there on the right).  And it’s what inspired me, but with some changes, and those changes have been inspired by Elaine Cantin, who cured herself of aggressive breast cancer in two weeks flat, also using (her own) version of the ketogenic diet.  She has written a book describing how she used the ketogenic diet not only to cure her aggressive breast cancer, but also to cure her son’s type 1 (yes, really, type ONE) diabetes.  It’s an inspiring story.

Here’s how it works:  My friend, JP, has a car that is “dual fuel”. It runs on either LPG or petrol, and he can change between the two by the flip of a switch. LPG is cheaper, and greener, but isn’t that easily available, so he fills up on LPG when he can, but if he runs out of LPG he flips the switch and, hey presto, he’s running on petrol.

Well, the human body is the same. It is dual fuel. It can run on glucose, or it can run on “ketone bodies” – usually just called ketones. Glucose comes from carbohydrates and ketones come from fats. If you have glucose in your bloodstream then the body won’t bother to burn ketones. It is also fairly well known (well, it’s very well researched, but the news hasn’t got out to many doctors yet!) that the body runs more efficiently on ketones than it does on glucose (the brain is much sharper, for one), but it does take a little effort to get the body to switch.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="1477567593" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31Ntu24N%2BjL._SL160_.jpg" width="107"]But here’s the thing that I didn’t know until a couple of nights ago, and it’s the thing that made me buy Elaine’s book (I got the Kindle version so I could start reading straight away). Every single cell in the human body runs just fine on ketones … except cancer cells. Cancer cells can’t use ketones: they must have glucose. So, if you put yourself on a “ketogenic diet” and clear the glucose out of our system, then your body will appreciate it – but the cancer cells will starve to death. There are all sorts of reports on the internet, but it looks like it takes around two weeks for them to die: maybe longer if it’s a truly massive cancer.

Elaine had an aggressive form of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy but refused chemo and radiation, and the lump came back. By the time she saw her oncologist the lump was 2cm big and the oncologist wanted to rush her to the surgeon. She had only just started her diet and wanted to give it a chance. Two weeks later the doctors could find no sign of any cancer and wondered if the oncologist had made a mistake!  And she’s not the only one to report this effect.  Check out this video from CBN News:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLClqy5CbTQ

Elaine introduced me to a simple method to know whether a food is going to work in a ketogenic diet.

Egg IngredientsCheck out this ingredient list for a fried egg.  It’s from a brilliant website called http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition.  This is for a fried egg.  You will notice that there are 7.04 grams of fat in your egg and 6.27 grams of protein.  Add these together (we don’t need several places of decimals — let’s just call it 13).  Now compare that with the figure for carbohydrate: 0.4 grams.  If you divide both sides by 0.4 (you may need a calculator, but here it is roughly) you get a ratio of 26:1.  That makes an egg (especially a fried one) an excellent food for a ketogenic diet. We are looking for a ratio of from 3:1 to 5:1 or above.  I had been existing on almost exclusively different forms of cabbage: sauerkraut (ratio of 0:3.  Bad!), raw cabbage (0.28:1), onions (0.1:1).  No wonder I wasn’t getting into ketosis.  I was having very low levels of calories, but all my calories, few as they were and healthy as they were, were carbohydrates (I only just looked up red onions, and I was shocked!)

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="145169914X" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51AHwQW%2BtCL._SL160_.jpg" width="106"][simpleazon-image align="left" asin="1477567593" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31Ntu24N%2BjL._SL160_.jpg" width="107"][simpleazon-image align="left" asin="193630323X" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41BWLjR7ryL._SL160_.jpg" width="134"][simpleazon-image align="left" asin="B008WTOVOC" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Sh96N1gCL._SL160_.jpg" width="100"][simpleazon-image align="left" asin="B009LNGZ74" locale="us" height="127" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41DlUcuFYnL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]Now I am using this formula all the time.  For breakfast I had sugar free Canadian bacon (24.25 : 1 Great!!!) and scrambled eggs (14.4 : 1) with some grated Gruyere cheese (176.2 : 1 !!!).  Instead of having black coffee, I now have coffee with cream (coffee 0.5 : 1, not good, but heavy cream is 14 : 1 so that more than evens things out).  And notice that it doesn’t work with milk (1.12 : 1).  If you want to use non-dairy creamer, check the labels carefully.  Some work well, others are a disaster.

I was also inspired by two articles by Mr and Mrs JaminetKetogenic Diets, I: Ways to Make a Diet Ketogenic and Ketogenic Diets 2: Preventing Muscle and Bone Loss on Ketogenic Diets.  This inspired me to order their book, The Perfect Health Diet, but it won’t be here until after Xmas (make a Kindle version, please, Mr and Mrs Jaminet!)

It’s going to be fun applying the formula to turkey and Brussels sprouts over the next few days.  Unfortunately it looks like one of my Xmas favourites, roasted potatoes is going to be a no-no (0.35 : 1).  No amount of cheese is going to correct that imbalance!

See also:

Ketogenic What is a Ketogenic Diet, in a nutshell?
Ketogenic A Guide to Ketosis
Ketogenic What is the Ketogenic Diet Good For?
Ketogenic Tips for Starting and Restarting Ketosis
Ketogenic On Ketogenic Diets
Ketogenic How to Use the Keto Calculator
Ketogenic Ketone Testing
Ketogenic A one-page intro to Ketogenic Diets, to hand to medical sceptics
Ketogenic 203 Comments on Mark Maunder’s “Basic Ketogenic Diet”

I have been following up some Internet research for a good friend of mine who has followed the “Radical Nutrition Programme” of LFFO, has lost close on 60lbs and looks FABULOUS, but still has some problems.

Some of those are in the mind, and we’re working on that together, but this person also has all the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Can’t shift the weight around the middle, even though the BMI says you’re at a good weight
  • High Blood sugar that medication has difficulty shifting (insulin resistance)
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • High Cholesterol

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="1468161776" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ZUxuOCjLL._SL160_.jpg" width="107"]There are other symptoms, but this is enough.  Susan found an article in “The Week” that was a summary of a longer article in the Daily Telegraph, called “The Bitter Truth About Sugar“.  It’s not a long article but it certainly inspired me to Google the scientist behind the article, Professor Robert Lustig of UCSF.  His video on You Tube (below) has had 2.25 million hits and makes compelling viewing: I just watched it in one go.  He argues that sugar is as toxic as ethanol (alcohol).  The table above summarises the argument: I still think it’s worth watching the video.

At times it gets a bit technical when he delves into the biochemistry, but he’s entertaining and keeps us with him, but if you’ve ever worried about your weight, you owe it to yourself to find the times to watch one of these videos.

Nobody chooses to be obese,” says Lustig. “Nobody. Especially not children. This is a global pandemic. D’you think, all of a sudden, everybody in the world became gluttons and sloths at the same time? Get with the programme!

Read the article and if it catches your attention, and either watch the short version of the video (26 minutes)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ZIKOQkTiM

… or the long version (89 minutes)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

This isn’t just scare stuff: he suggests what we can do to help ourselves:

Lifestyle Intervention

  1. Get rid of all sugared liquids–only water and milk
  2. Eat your carbohydrate with fibre
  3. Wait 20 minutes for second portions
  4. Buy your “screen time” minute-for-minute with physical activity.

Also, get some exercise: not because you’ll burn the calories (it takes a LOT of exercise to burn a Big Mac!), but because:

Why is exercise important in obesity?

  1. Because it improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity
  2. Becasue it reduces stress and resultant cortisol release
  3. Because it makes the TCA cycle (the basic process that digests food and produces energy) run faster, detoxifies fructose, and improves hepatic insulin sensitivity.

Also, he’s heavy on making sure that you have plenty of fibre in your diet:

Why Is Fibre Important in Obesity?

“When God Made the Poison,
He packaged it with the antidote”

Fructose is a poison, but wherever it appears in nature, it’s packaged with way more fibre.

Fibre:

  1. Reduces the rate of intestinal carbohydrate absorption, reducing insulin response (Fat or Fart)
  2. Increases speed of transit of intestinal contents, raising PYY 3-36 and thus induces satiety signal sooner
  3. Inhibits absorption of some free fatty acids to the colon, which are metabolized by colonic bacteria to short-chain fatty acids, which suppress insulin

So, here’s the summary of the message:

  • Fructose consumption has increased in the last 30 years, coinciding with the obesity epidemic
  • A calorie is not a calorie (fructose is not glucose)
  • You are not what you eat, you are what you do with what you eat
  • Fructose metabolism in the liver leads to Metabolic Syndrome
  • Consuming fructose interferes with obesity intervention
  • Fructose is a chronic liver toxin: it’s alcohol without the buzz.

Here’s an excellent infographic from an article (The Amazing Similarities Between this Toxic Sugar and Alcohol) on Mercola’s website with a wealth of info:
fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.” Use the embed code to share it on your website.

fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.”

Yes!! It’s one of the worst health problems facing the western world, and the UK is up there with the worst of them.

According to a BBC health report, around a quarter of all UK adults are clinically obese.  If you go with “merely overweight” the figure jumps alarmingly to over 60%.

The report goes on to say that:

As many as 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions.

Some experts believe obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking. Being significantly overweight is linked to a wide range of health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Indigestion
  • Gallstones
  • Some cancers (eg, breast and prostate cancers)
  • Snoring and sleep apnoea
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Infertility

And the cost tot he UK economy is huge.  The National Audit office reckons that obesity costs the NHS £500,000,000 a year (that’s £500 million, but you get the real feeling with all those zeroes).  But the overall cost to the UK economy is far worse: £2,300,000,000,000.  £2.3 billion.  With around 60 million people in the UK, that’s £37,000 for every man, woman, and child.

I think I’ll get slim and ask for my £37,000!

But the health-care systems of the world (and the people wanting to lose weight) pick out one or two things to look at: pills, special diets, special exercise fads, the latest book.  Live Free From Obesity aims to use specialist nutrition to speed our progress to a healthy weight, while introducing fun and easy exercise, and rewiring our brains to only want healthy food.

It has to be worth a try!

I first wrote this post a year or so ago.  Since then I have learned some things that I didn’t know back then, which means I need to make a few changes.  There are a number of “great debates” in the weight loss world, and one of the biggest is “CICO vs GCBC”.  That is, the “calories in, calories out model” (eat less, exercise more: you can’t gainsay the physics) versus the “Good Calories Bad Calories” model (not all calories are created equal … some foods will have a worse effect than other foods).  Intellectually I have come to believe and follow the GCBC model … but my personal experience says that CICO is also true; you can’t gainsay the physics.  Even when you’re eating exclusively good calories, too many of them will make you fat!

This post was, originally, based exclusively on CICO … I will make notes where I think we need to make an adjustment.  To get an idea of why all calories are not created equal, check out my post on my number one nutritional-science guru, Gary Taubes: “Why We Get Fat“.

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When I first started this odyssey I was “morbidly obese”: I had a Body Mass Index (BMI) just over 40. That meant I was 9 stones (126 lbs, 57 kg) overweight.

Conventional wisdom suggests a safe rate to lose weight is 1 lb per week. At that rate it would have taken me about two and a half years to get to goal weight. Actually, on the sort of nutritional regime that achieves a one-pound-a-week weight loss, it will take forever, because the last few pounds just won’t come off.

The first time I did this, I lost 7 stones (100 lbs, 45 kg) in 30 weeks, cured myself of various problems along the way (like Type II diabetes), and was never healthier in my entire life.

That same conventional wisdom that says only lose a pound a week also suggests, variously, only weighing yourself once per week, or once per month, or throwing the scales away altogether.VLCD

Nonsense. Weigh yourself every hour for two days, then every day.

I guess I better justify these bold assertions. After all, I am not medically qualified, and I’m not a professional nutritionist.

I am a fat bloke who wanted to stay alive. I am also an intelligent man, capable of reading, researching (I have a Master of Philosophy, M.Phil. degree; that’s a sort of “PhD Lite”), and forming reasonable hypotheses that I can test on myself.

Safe Rate for Weight Loss

So let’s examine where this “1 lb per week safe limit” argument comes from, and to do that, we need to get into a little (very simple, I promise) science.

Our bodies need food. I want to use the a metaphor: “The Body is Like a Car”.

The body (I’m just considering physical stuff here; mental, emotional, creative, spiritual, social and cultural considerations I’ll deal with in “Together We Can”) needs food for three things:

  1. Fuel (Petrol, Diesel, Gas)
  2. Maintenance (Spare parts)
  3. Getting maintained (the motor repair person)

Fuel is calories. The body uses it up doing absolutely everything it does, from just staying alive, through thinking hard, to running a marathon, and everything in between.

Maintenance is vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These are the building blocks that are used for constantly repairing, growing and rebuilding our bodies.

The “repair person” function is carried out by certain enzymes and other substances that catalyze (cause to happen) changes in our bodies.

All foods contain these three components in different proportions. The reason why people criticize “junk food” is because it contains loads of fuel and almost no spare parts or repair people.

The body, like a car, can store fuel for later use. However, a car has a fixed-size fuel tank. When it’s full, adding more just causes a mess on the filling-station forecourt.

The body, however, just grows the fuel tank to contain all the extra fuel you add. In extreme cases that means the body is almost nothing but a great heaving, wobbling fuel store. The trouble there is that the body becomes so ungainly and difficult to move, that it’s really hard to actually use up this excess fuel. That means you have more fat (which doesn’t use fuel) and less lean muscle (which does use fuel), so your fuel consumption drops whilst your fuel store goes up.

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Another way that your body is unlike most cars is that your body can have a reserve fuel tank that has a one-way valve.  You can add more fuel to your reserves, but then be unable to actually use it up.  More of that later on.

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How much fuel do we need?

Well, that depends. If you were lying in a coma in a hospital bed, you’d still be using fuel.  They say that your brain uses up around 600 calories a day (although I know some people where I would swear it’s less!)

When I first owned a car, cars were very simple things. If you turned off the lights and the ignition … that was it; it was totally inert.

But my big blue Mercedes uses electricity all the time, whether I’m driving it or not. The clock, the car’s engine computer, the security system are all using power, whether I’m driving it or not (as I learned to my cost when I came back from a three-month trip and had to pay £200 for a new battery, and silly money to the Mercedes garage for resetting all the systems so they worked again–I’ve got rid of that car now!).

This underlying rate of energy consumption is called your “Basal Metabolic Rate”, and differs, based on your gender, weight, height. Here’s how Wikipedia defines BMR:

Basal metabolic rate (BMR), and the closely related resting metabolic rate (RMR), is the amount of daily energy expended while at rest in a neutrally temperate environment, in the post-absorptive state (meaning that the digestive system is inactive, which requires about twelve hours of fasting in humans).
The release of energy in this state is sufficient only for the functioning of the vital organs, the heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver, intestine, sex organs, muscles and skin.

BMR changes with age, gender, height and weight.

On top of your BMR requirement is the energy you need for normal daily functioning: getting up, getting dressed, washed, fed, to work, etc. This total amount of energy is called your Daily Calorie Needs, and can be anything from 1.2 to 1.9 times your BMR.

And here’s the simple truth. Eat more calories than your Daily Calorie Needs, and your body will store the excess energy. Eat less and your body will make up the difference from the energy store.

In even simpler and balder language: eat more than you need and you’ll get fat, eat less than you need and you’ll get thin.

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The difference in the Good Calorie – Bad Calorie model is that our endocrine systems can get damaged, in which case eating less may not make you thin, and even eating small amounts can make you fat.  If your waist measurement is larger than your hip measurement, then this may already have started happening for you.

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HOWEVER … if all your requirements come from food, then eating less calories means you are also eating less spare parts and “maintenance people”.. To avoid linguistic clumsiness, from here on I will just divide food into fuel and nutrition.

Here’s the danger; cut down on food in order to cut down on excess calories, and you’re in danger of cutting down on nutrition, too. Do that and you’ll get ill; maybe even die.

Where does the boundary lie between reducing calories to lose weight and not endangering your health? Let’s do a little sum.

A pound of fat contains 3500 calories. So, to lose a pound a week you’ll need to consume 3500 calories a week less than you use. A woman who needs around 1250 calories per day, or 8750 per week would need to cut her food intake by about 60% to lose a pound a week. If all she does is stay on the same diet, but just reduce quantities, you can see she’s going to be in BIG trouble: 60% less calories, but also 60% less nutrition.

But how about if there was some way to get 100% of the nutrition you need, at very low calorie levels?

Welcome to the Very Low Calorie Diet, or VLCD. My diet is incredibly well formulated to give me all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes I need to get top-notch, fabulous nutrition, but only 500 calories per day.

I’ll do a worked example, but, for the math-phobic among you, I’ll put all the sums in an appendix. It comes out that on my 500-calorie a day VLCD I will, based on my today’s weight, lose 6.6 lbs a day.

Of course, tomorrow I’ll be about a pound lighter, so the BMR equation will change, so I’ll either get very good with a calculator, or I’ll build a spreadsheet (which I have; have a look at it or download it from here).

There’s one more thing to explain.

How The Body Stores and Uses Energy

The body stores energy in two forms, one available for quick access in the short term, and one for longer-term use.

The evolutionary need was for, on the one hand, a rapidly available energy store that could be used for flight or fight, or chase, or sex. On the other hand, we needed a slower-release energy store to get us through the winter and spring, when there wasn’t much food around.

For short-term, rapid uptake use, our bodies store glycogen in our liver and our muscles. For long term use, energy is stored as fat, which has a second use to keep us warm.

When we start a VLCD the glycogen is the first thing to go, and glycogen bonds with five times it’s own weight of water, hence for the first few days we pee every 90 minutes, morning, noon, and night, and the weight absolutely falls off. It looks exciting on the scales, but it is only water!

How do we know when the glycogen is all gone? We enter a state known as “ketosis” (not to be confused with ketoacidosis). We know we are in ketosis when:

  1. We stop feeling hungry,
  2. We stop peeing every 90 minutes,
  3. If we pee on a “ketostix” strip (get them from our store) it goes purple,
  4. Our teeth start to fur up, and we start leaving toothbrushes and toothpaste around the house for immediate use,
  5. Our weight loss conforms to the above equations.
  6. Our brain starts to get sharper.

It’s important to stay in ketosis for reasons 1 and 6. And you do that by sticking strictly to the diet. Any little extras (not so much as a slice of lemon in a glass of water) are liable to kick you out of ketosis.

I have experienced (6) above. Apparently it’s because ketones fuel the brain instead of glucose.

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Since then being in ketosis and ketogenic diets have become even more important to me.  Check out my blog posts “On Ketogenic Diets” and “203 Comments on Mark Maunder’s ‘Basic Ketogenic Diet’“.

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I’ve Been Told to Throw My Scales Away

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="B002JE2PSA" locale="us" height="103" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41zH94zSuwL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]No. Check out the Withings scales in our store. (We commute between the UK and the USA: in America I use the FitBit Aria scales[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B0077L8YOO" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/314fN8XxK%2BL._SL160_.jpg" width="160"]) They are not cheap, but they are very accurate scales that will weigh you and measure your body fat percentage, as well as calculate your BMI. They are worth every penny, because they are WiFi, and will report your weight on line.  You can keep that private; but we recommend making the details available to your doctor, and to your Live Free From Obesity group: when we are all monitoring each other’s weight, it has a highly motivating effect!

When you get them, weigh yourself every waking hour, day and night (and when you get up for a wee). They record your weight on a central website (only you can see it, unless you allow your Dr access), so you can do it half asleep.  Do this without dieting; just your normal lifestyle. After two days, look at the results. You will find that your weight can fluctuate by as much as 5-8 lbs (2-4 Kg) during the day.

This means that you can “lose” a pound simply by weighing yourself an hour later! And it means that a target weight loss of 1 lb per week can’t be detected … it’s lost in the “noise”.

Would you trust an airline pilot who didn’t look at his instruments? I wouldn’t. Your scales are your instruments: they tell you how you’re doing. And when you’re feeling all miserable because you can’t eat your favourite food, go weigh yourself; you’ll be so excited at another couple of pounds lost, that all your motivation will come back!

Won’t a VLCD Damage my Muscles?

No. I went from obese couch potato to walking 500 miles with Walking for Happiness. I did my first 200 miles whilst on my VLCD, and my longest walk was 15.5 miles in a day. VLCDs (ketogenic, low-carb diets) are known to be “muscle sparing”, or to even increase muscular endurance, and that has certainly been my experience.

Won’t a VLCD Cause My Metabolism to Slow Down?

No. That’s why weight loss is so rapid. It does that by sparing lean muscle mass. Something like 25 year’s research on Lipotrim has shown you can stay on it as long as you need to, to get to your healthy body weight.

I’ve Been Told to Come off a VLCD After Four weeks

NO NO NO NO NO! At least, not if you’re on a decent, nutrient-complete VLCD. That rule was invented by the US Post Office, 30 years ago, because, after a completely charlatan company poisoned people with a rubbish VLCD, they were worried that they could be sued if they delivered a VLCD to someone, and they died. Legal advice said that people could go with no nutrition at all for four weeks, so if they made that restriction, they were legally safe!

Why you shouldn’t come off, and go back to normal food is because there is a “re-feeding protocol” to use at the end of a VLCD, and then a “new you” protocol, for on-going maintenance. Ignore these and your food addiction will come back in spades, and you’ll pile all the weight back on. I know. I’ve been there!

Do it once. Do it properly. Follow the rules. Live healthily forever.

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… and there’s more.  When you cut way down on your carb intake, as you do on either a commercial or home-made VLCD (I don’t recommend this, because I can’t, because I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist.  However, when I am in America I can’t get my VLCD, which is only available in the UK, so I make my own), your body takes some time to switch from expecting to be able to run on glucose to making up it’s mind that it has to break down your body fat stores and run on ketones.  The more you yo-yo back and forth, the more your body doesn’t believe that you won’t give it any more carbs.  The cravings get worse, and, during the period when you aren’t eating carbs, but your body isn’t in ketosis, you really don’t have any energy, your brain is totally fogged and your headache just gets worse!

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What VLCD Should I use?

Ah, this is where I can’t recommend, only tell you what I did, and am doing. I followed, and am following the Lipotrim diet. The problem for anyone not in the UK is that Lipotrim is only available in the UK, and only through your GP or your pharmacist. There are two videos you can watch for more information, Lipotrim’s own video, and one made by Professor Dr David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLfih175fZg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BspgMc_bk70

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Beware: In America you can find a product called Lipotrim.  It is not related in any way to the Lipotrim that’s available in the UK, and works (if it does work; I have no idea) on an entirely different principle.

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I have experienced all the advantages mentioned by Haslam in that video.

Originally, Lioptrim was developed by Dr Alan Howard, whose career at Cambridge University spanned 60 years. He has been responsible for developing a number of VLCDs, including Lipotrim, the Cambridge Diet, and, I believe, Lighterlife. Lipotrim is probably the most heavily researched of all the VLCDs; there’s masses of research documented on the Lipotrim website.

When I’m not on Lipotrim, I miss it. It tastes OK, and it is simple. I have tried varying Lipotrim with Cambridge, Exante, and Be-Yu. I only trust Lipotrim 100% because of all the research that has been done, because of the clinical supervision, and because it worked for me.

What Else Do I need?

You need psychological, emotional, cultural, spiritual and social help and support, and that isn’t provided anywhere in the world … which is why we are developing Live Free From Obesity, and Together We Can.

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And you need to understand that for the first 1.8 million years that humans were around, our bodies ran almost exclusively in ketosis, we were hugely more healthy than we are today, and we were capable of feats that today we would regard as “super human” … but more of that elsewhere!

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Appendix: The Maths

All this “maths” is in a  spreadsheet which makes it all very easy.  Check out the Live Free From Obesity maths spreadsheet here.

English BMR Formula

Women  BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men         BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Metric BMR Formula

Women  BMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kilos ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men        BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )

I’ll do mine, in kg (because that’s what my scales register). This morning I was 133 kg, I am 193 cm tall, and 63 years old.

So my BMR is:
66 +(13.7 x 133) + (5 x 193) – (6.8 x 63)
66 + 1822 + 965 – 428 = 2424.

That’s what I need just to stay alive; my BMR.

Next we use something called the Harris-Benedict equation to see what my daily needs are.

With this amount of exercise

Multiply the BMR by this

Little to no exercise

1.2

Light exercise 1-3 days/week

1.38

Moderate exercise 3-5 days/week

1.55

Intense exercise 6-7 days/week

1.73

Extremely intense exercise 6-7 days/week

1.9

(That’s the same for men and women.) I reckon I should multiply by 1.55. That gives me a Daily Calorie Requirement of 3758. Let’s call it 3800 to make life easier.

But on my Very Low Calorie Diet, I only get 500 calories a day. That means each day I am 3300 calories short. Over a week that’s 3300 x 7 = 23,100 calories short each week.
And at 3500 calories per pound of fat, that means I’ll lose 23,100 / 3500 = 6.6 lbs per week.

NOTE

On 500 calories a day, you cannot and should not engage in heavy exercise; you will “run in to the brick wall” … something that long-distance runners experience if they haven’t “carb-loaded” sufficiently the day before.  I have experienced it twice: it’s a very weird feeling; you just have no energy to go on.

I like Nordic Walking (see our Walking For Happiness website).  I didn’t start walking until I was two weeks into the diet, and then built up slowly.  I will soon be posting an article on “How to Start Walking for Optimal Safe Weight Loss”.  Watch this space!

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