The Real Normals – Weight Loss

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This?


Or this?


I’m an old nurse. Literally. I graduated in 1968. When you spend half a century in the same career, you are uniquely positioned to evaluate the changes that have occurred in the medical field. If you pay attention, you can begin to put things together and identify certain trends. One of those trends is how “normal” health indicators have changed in the course of those fifty years. That is not a good thing – in many cases, what was once considered normal is now considered a disease. And of course, a disease must be treated, preferably with the newest and most expensive medication. While treatment lines the pockets of the drug companies, it often does the patient no good.
The Food Supply
We live in an era when food is abundant. While we have lots of food, the quality of said food could use some improvements. Processed foods make up 57.5% of the American diet, according to one study. Processed foods are generally higher in sugar, contain additives, are more expensive, have less fiber and contain fewer vitamins and minerals. They are also higher in refined carbohydrates. In other words, almost two-thirds of what most Americans eat is unhealthy. Not to mention more expensive than raw ingredients. But it’s convenient and it tastes good. So good, that it’s addictive. It’s no wonder Americans are overweight and/or obese, or that weight loss is such a common topic.
Carbohydrate and the Human Body
I’ve talked about blood sugar in a previous post. Blood sugar stability is important for your health and carefully regulated by insulin. Processed foods destabilize this delicate dance. But even too many healthy carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. Our ancestors (we’re talking the cave-dwelling Uggs I’ve mentioned in previous posts) ate some plain, unsweetened ripe fruit for a short period each year. If they ate grain, it was minimal, as agriculture hadn’t been invented yet. What they did eat was protein, fat, wild tubers and vegetables, nuts and seeds. They also ate a really wide variety of foods, which increased the odds that they would obtain all the necessary nutrients for good health. Finally, they got a lot of exercise, and the carbohydrates they ate kept them fueled for that exercise.
Weight Loss
For years, experts have said weight loss was simply a matter of controlling calories. Except it’s not true. Yes, calories matter, but Dr. Robert Atkins proved that if you changed what you were eating, you could eat the same amount of calories and lose weight. Dr. Atkins proved his point in his clinical practice, meaning in the real world rather than the laboratory – many of his patients lost weight on this “unhealthy” diet. Atkins recommended cutting carbs and increasing the proportion of protein and fat in the diet. Atkins, by the way, was not the first to make such recommendations – William Banting published a similar recommendation in 1863. Banting, however, eschewed butter. Of course Atkins was overwhelmingly attacked, even after his death, by those who had a vested interest in the status quo. At the same time, Dr. Dean Ornish took the exact opposite view – low protein, low fat, high carbohydrate vegetarian diets were the way to go. Since Ornish was going more along the establishment lines, he was not attacked. Some people were very successful at losing weight the Ornish way. It’s very restrictive, however, which makes it hard for the long-term.
It’s NOT One Size Fits All
People are different (I know – big DUH!). Not everyone responds the same to a particular diet. But there seem to be a few basic principles:
1. Don’t eat sugar. Or at the most, have an occasional sugary treat, maybe two or three times a year. And pay close attention to how you feel afterward. I find grains – or worse, sugar plus grains – make my back hurt. The pain is right across the flank area, in the same location that hurts if you have a bad kidney infection. Makes me wonder if this food combination is overloading the kidneys as they struggle to get rid of something my body sees as toxic. In addition, all of my joints ache for at least a day afterward and my blood pressure climbs dramatically.
2. Don’t eat refined carbohydrates and eat very little in the way of grain products, period – they screw up the blood sugar regulation process. While whole grains are better than refined grains, they are still very high carb foods. Soak the grains and flour before cooking (see Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions).

Yum, real butter!


3. Increase your fat intake – lard, tallow, grass-fed butter, olive oil and coconut oil. It promotes satiety (which means you eat less), and your brain and nervous system need the omega-3s.
4. Do eat adequate protein, preferably animal protein, which is much better quality than the protein you get from veggies (assuming the animal is not raised in a CAFO operation). By the way, from what I can see, young people on vegetarian diets often lose or maintain weight, but that changes as they age.
5. If you are older and/or have been overweight or obese for a number of years (meaning you are likely to be insulin resistant) you are probably going to do better on a keto-, paleo- or Atkins-type diet.
6. If you are really overweight and struggling to lose, try a fat fast program alternating with the diets in #5. Fat fasting is a technique developed (or at least popularized) by Dr. Atkins. You eat 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day, with the bulk of your food coming from fat. This program kicks you into ketosis and makes low carb diets more effective. It’s probably not a good idea to use fat-fasting for more than a week at a time or more than twice a month. Fat fasting is also a way to break through a weight loss plateau.
7. No matter what your diet, take daily multivitamin/multimineral supplements plus B-complex and extra vitamin C.
8. Engage in regular exercise, including strength training, cardio and flexibility/balance work.
9. Make sure you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
10. Manage your stress with exercise, meditation, prayer, counseling – whatever works (but not with prescription drugs and definitely not illegal substances, nicotine or alcohol!)
11. Most important, don’t let the numbers on the scale or the opinions of others determine what’s right for you. Your healthy weight could be 20 pounds or more above the “desirable” BMI. More important is exercise tolerance, strength, energy, mental health and how you feel every day. Remember the “normal” numbers are all too often artificially low.
Think about it.

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