A Dietitian’s Journey – three weeks in

INTRO: Three weeks ago, the pain of changing was less than the pain of remaining the same and so I changed. At that time, my blood pressure had hit dangerously high levels and I didn’t even know what my blood sugar levels were, as I hadn’t checked them in ages. I didn’t want to know. Despite being a Dietitian, I was in classic denial. March 1st, I began eating low carb high fat (LCHF) and delaying the time until the next meal (called “intermittent fasting”). Keep in mind, three weeks is an incredibly short period of time, but I did not expect to see these kinds of results. There was not only significant weight loss (water?) but loss of inches around the waist (also water?), but lower blood sugar and blood pressure, as well.

Today is three weeks since my journey began and here is an update on my progress – three weeks in.

Blood Sugar

In the first two weeks, my blood sugar decreased substantially even on the days I was not intermittent fasting – provided I ate very few carbs. When I was eating what most would consider “low carb”, my blood sugar would spike.

arrows indicated 2 periods of eating 10-15% carbs

It became clear that as long as I kept my net carbs (carbohydrate minus fiber) fairly low, I did very well but above a certain level my body could not handle the sugar load. You can see this from the graph above.

On Saturdays I was eating more than that level of carbs, which can be seen indicated by the grey arrows, below the graph. My blood glucose would spike if I had any more than the carbs found naturally in low carb meals.

I could see clearly that I was very insulin resistant –which is no surprise, considering I was diagnosed with Diabetes ~ 10 years ago. Despite my pancreas producing more and more insulin in response to eating carbs, the insulin was unable to take the glucose (sugar) from my blood in a reasonable amount of time, to store it in my liver.

[Note: According to the research of Dr. Joseph R. Kraft between 65-75% of people with normal blood sugar are actually insulin resistant - that is, they have the same risk of hardening of the arteries and heart attack as those with Diabetes, they just don't know it because they don't have high blood sugar to indicate that. That's is very sobering.

Since realizing how sensitive I was to more than the carbs naturally found in non-starchy vegetables and nuts and seeds, I cut out all other sources – including my beloved Hawaiian purple yam and homemade (baked) yam fries…for now, until my blood sugar levels are consistently in the non-diabetic range and my insulin levels, normalized. Even then, I know I will only be able to eat such things once in a while and in small servings, but that’s okay. As one of my sons would say “dying is bad“.

A week ago, I began tracking my carbs (easy to do and requiring no apps – not even a pencil). I aimed to keep them at the same lower levels and as you can see from the graph below, there has been linear decrease in my blood glucose levels at all times of the day – including first thing in the morning, after lunch, after dinner and before bed. It’s only been three weeks!

Week three – March 15 – Mar 21

Interestingly, the little ‘spike’ yesterday was in the early morning after – I hadn’t eaten for 12 hours! The effects of cortisol, perhaps?

My body was breaking down the fat I have stored and was converting it into glucose for my blood – a process known as lipolysis. This is a ‘good’ thing. My body was doing exactly what it was designed to do;

(1) store excess glucose as fat, in times of plenty,

(2) break down stored fat for glucose, in lean times.

The issue is, there have been no “lean times”.

Blood Pressure

Week One

The first week my blood pressure was divided up between

50% Stage 1 hypertension

~30% Sage 2 Hypertension

hypertensive emergency (not good!)

<15% pre-hypertension

It was all over the place (very hard on the heart) and the systolic pressure (the first number in a blood pressure) was very high.

After the issue with my eyes (which was non-diet or lifestyle-related) having hypertension (high blood pressure) put me at risk for blindness. I took this very seriously!


Week Two

The second week my blood pressure dropped to;

>80% Stage 1 Hypertension

<20% pre-hypertension 

This can largely be explained by the fact that the first thing that happens when we reduce insulin levels (a response to eating low carb) is something called naturesis. That is simply a medical term meaning our kidneys get rid of the excess salt by making us pee a lot. This period usually lasts ~4-10 days following going low carb.


Week Three

This week my blood pressure was;

~85% Stage 1 Hypertension

~15% pre-hypertension 

Yes, it was a tiny bit higher, but very stable.

The first two weeks I ate very low sodium as I usually did, but this week I actually had to start adding salt into my diet as my kidneys had expelled all the excess sodium it was retaining and my sodium levels were too low.  I felt a bit lethargic and light-headed.  The reading I’ve been doing in the literature and the Conference Proceedings I’ve been watching from some of the world’s leading physicians that treat diseases (such as Diabetes, hypertension / high blood pressure, dyslipidemia / high cholesterol as well as Alzheimer’s and some cancers) using a low carb high fat diet, mentioned this need for increasing sodium after the first 10 days.

A pleasant surprise was seeing my diastolic pressure (the second number in blood pressure) hit normal levels several times.

One of the roles of insulin (besides taking the glucose in our blood and storing it in our livers as glycogen or fat) is to signal the kidney to retain salt.  That makes us bloated and causes our blood pressure to go up.

Being Diabetic or insulin resistant (65-75% of people aged 3- 90 years, according to Dr. Joseph Kraft’s robust studies) causes people to retain sodium and raises their blood pressure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is called “the silent killer” – but much of this is entirely diet related.  For the most part, is not too much salt, but too many carbs and too little green leafy veggies (rich in potassium) that underlies high blood pressure.

Anthropometrics

Weight

The first week and a half, my weight dropped ~4 pounds – much of it was water, from my kidneys expelling the excess sodium.  My weight didn’t budge for most of the last week and a half, but I didn’t let that discourage me.  My body was now burning fat and not carbs and the weight loss necessarily had to follow.

It is now the end of the 3rd week, and I have lost 5 pounds all together.

Waist Circumference

In the first two weeks, I lost 1 inch off my waist and this week, another 1/2 inch came off.  That is a very good thing – but for a different reason than I thought.

As Dietitians, we were taught that BMI (weight-to-height ratio) and waist-to-hip ratio allows us to factor in the greatest risk of cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes) but current research is showing that there is a much better predictor years of life lost (YLL) due to overweight, and that is the waist-to-height ratio.

Years of Life Lost (YLL) compared to Waist to Height Ration (WHtR)

Most of us have heard that where we carry our fat is even more important than how much of it we actually have. This is true.

Carrying it around the abdomen (belly fat, what Dietitians and Doctors call “central adiposity“) is a greater predictor of cardiovascular risk than BMI (weight to height ratio). Simply put, being an “apple” as opposed to a “pear” is not good.

But what should our waist circumference be?

A meta-analysis from 2012 pooled data from multiple studies which in total looked at more than 300, 000 adults in several ethnic groups, found that Waist to Height Ratio (WHTR) was a far better predictor than BMI or Waist Circumference of cardiovasular of metabolic risk factors in both sexes.

Ashwell M, Gunn P, Gibson S (2012) Waist-to-height ratio is a better screening tool than waist circumference and BMI for adult cardiometabolic risk factors: systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev 13: 275–286

The least amount of years of life lost is associated with a Waist to Height Ratio of 0.5 (mine was not anywhere near that!).

That is, take your height and divide it by 2.

NOTE: Measure your waist at the location that is the mid-point between your last rib and the top of your hip bone, with the front and back of a flexible seamstress-type tape measure at the same height, and your belly fully relaxed. This is not the time to suck it in! If you measure your height in inches, measure your waist in inches and if you measure your height in cm then measure your waist in cm.

If the result of your Waist to Height ratio is greater than 0.5, then welcome to the club.  The question is, what to do about it?

That’s where I can help.

Practicing what I preach,

Joy

If you would like to read well-researched, credible “Science Made Simple”  articles on the use of a low carb or ketogenic diet for weight loss, as well as to significantly improve and even reverse the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and other metabolic-related symptoms, please  click here.

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/lchfRD/

Note: I am a "sample-set of 1" - meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating "low carb" and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.

Copyright ©2017 The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.) 

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

A Dietitian’s Journey – the road to better health

A Dietitian’s Journey – the road to better health

In the previous article titled “A Dietitian’s Journey – the beginning“, I shared about why I am (1) following a low carb high healthy fat diet and (2) extending the time between meals in my pursuit of improved health. In this post, I talk about the smaller third of the picture, (3) exercise. Why I am doing this is because quite literally, my life and quality of my life depends on it.

This “journey” is my road to better health – to optimal health.

As a Registered Dietitian in private practice, I’ve spent the last decade helping people in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver learn how to eat healthier, lose weight, lower their blood sugar and blood pressure and have cholesterol that is in the healthy range.  While I had lost 50 pounds myself a few years ago, little by little over the last 2 years, I’d put 1/2 of it back and along with the higher weight, came higher blood sugar levels, followed by high blood pressure.

My “fat picture” – prior to losing 50 lbs.

I had two choices; (1) go on medication or (2) change my lifestyle. I chose the latter. March 5 2017 was the beginning of the journey, on the road to better health.

But what was the “road”?

Over the last 2 years, I’ve done a lot of reading with regards to the physiology of why and how diets high in carbs underlie the “obesity epidemic”.  I understood how excess carbs that were not needed for energy were converted to fat and stored in the liver. I also understood how this excess fat in the liver negatively impacted cholesterol levels – that it wasn’t eating fat that gave people high cholesterol (except for a very small minority with genetic conditions) but eating too many carbs.

Day in, day out in my private practice I’d explain to people how eating “plenty of fruit and vegetables” was making things worse for them because of the carb content in these foods – foods that were eaten with- and between meals. I knew that following the standard recommendations of the last 40 years – to eat low fat and high carbohydrate and restricting portions was not going to accomplish my goal.

I decided to “practice what I preach” by eating a low carb, high fat diet (LCHF), and by extending the time between meals.  In time, I also hope to incorporate short periods of high intensity interval training (HIIT), but for now I just need to get moving!

Since I am not yet “fat adapted” – that is, my body hasn’t yet switched over to using my own fat stores as a fuel source, I knew that I needed to start with walking. Baby steps!

Yesterday, I set an appointment with myself to do just that, and while I was 3 hours later than I planned to be today, my ipod wasn’t charged and it was 5° C and pouring rain, I went to the track and did what I said I would do.


If you would like to read well-researched, credible “Science Made Simple”  articles on the use of a low carb or ketogenic diet for weight loss, as well as to significantly improve and even reverse the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and other metabolic-related symptoms, please  click here.

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/lchfRD/

Here’s a clip from my first workout:

Note: I am a "sample-set of 1" - meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating "low carb" and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.

Copyright ©2017 The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.) 

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

A Dietitian’s Journey – the beginning

A Dietitian’s Journey – the road to better health

I remember back at McGill, when I was doing my undergrad training as a Dietitian, one of my professors saying that most people chose Dietetics because they came from a background of disordered eating or diet-related health issues.  True to form, most of my extended family were obese and most had Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and were on a whole host of medications for each.

Fast-forward 20 years (and several children later) and despite losing 35 of the 60 pounds I had to lose, I became Diabetic. More recently, I’ve had high blood pressure.

Unable to answer my questions regarding addressing both of these through a low-carb-high-healthy-fat eating plan, my GP referred me to an Endocrinologist. After a thorough physical examination and a whole host of blood work, she asked me about how I planned to address this, given that I am a Dietitian.  Hesitantly, I told her that I planned to eat a high healthy-fat diet and low carb diet with a medium amount of protein and use intermittent fasting to lower insulin resistance. She asked me what percent of “net-carbs” (total carbs minus fiber) I was aiming for and what percentage of protein and what my fat sources would be, and I told her.  I was waiting for an extremely negative reaction, but instead was completely taken aback by her reply. She said that from she’s been reading in the literature, my plan was not only evidenced-based, but that if I didn’t don’t lose the rest of the weight and eat this way, that I will end up on both medication for my blood sugar, and cholesterol and likely for my blood pressure, too.

I began to implement the dietary and lifestyle changes and was seeing my “numbers” coming down, but like many people, life happened and I didn’t follow through. The weight crept up and presumably so did my blood sugar and pressure, but I had stopped monitoring those ages ago. But it was a problem with my eyes — one whose cause was unrelated to being Diabetic or having high blood pressure that was a game-changer for me. Having these conditions put me at higher risk of losing my vision and this was simply not something I was willing to risk.

Two weeks ago, I arrived at a fork-in-the-road. One direction was the same as most of my family took; with medication for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. The other was the road that I am taking; the one less traveled, but very well-researched, and with the encouragement of my Endocrinologist – a low-carb-high-healthy-fat way of eating, with extended periods of time between meals, and periods of days of eating and then not eating. Not “starving”, but “intermittent fasting”.

The difference?

Starving results in the body lowering its metabolism to spare calories and intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting results in the body raising its metabolism and burning stored fat.

The expected outcome?

The first goal begins with lowering insulin resistance; which is the underlying cause of Type 2 Diabetes, and with lower insulin resistance follows lower blood sugar levels – both fasting blood sugar and A1C (3 month average).

A change in diet and strategic use of fasting, lowers insulin and cortisol levels which in turn, lower triglycerides (TG). TG are largely a byproduct of a high-carb diet (especially affected by fructose), so lowering these results in lower TG and in turn, lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol).  Lower insulin and cortisol as well as less abdominal fat, results in lower, more normalized blood pressure.

Will it work?  The research seems to indicate it will and over the weeks to come, I will posting the results of some of that research so that the context of what I’m doing can be understood.  After all, I am a Dietitian and a scientist — it has to be evidenced-based.

The First Two Weeks – off to a good start

Blood Sugar

Of course this is an incredibly small period of time to look at, but in the first two weeks since I started my low-carb-high-healthy-fat eating with intermittent- and alternate-day fasting , my blood sugar has decreased substantially even on the days I was eating, provided I was eating very few carbs.

arrows indicated 2 periods of eating 10-15% carbs

Blood Pressure

My blood pressure went from 50% Stage 1 hypertension with 1 hypertensive emergency (scary!) and ~30% Stage 2 Hypertension the first week:

…to approximately 80% Stage 1 Hypertension and almost 20% Prehypertension the second week.

That is a significant change!

My weight is only down ~ 4 pounds, but I’ve lost 1 inch off my waist.

I am not hungry on my intermittent-fast days …and keep in mind, I talk about food all day long with my clients. If I am not talking about food, I am working on meal plans and writing about food!  If I was hungry, this would be torture, but it’s not. In fact, the last time I ate was last night at supper and I feel fine. I should have had a coffee though (as I get caffeine headaches if I don’t).  I’ll make one soon.

I’ve only taken one alternative-day fast so far and it went fine.  I drank “bone-broth” (I’ll explain in coming blogs!) and had my morning coffee with a little cream, no milk because of the carbs. I don’t really like cream, but it was okay.  Bone broth is interesting — a bit like chicken broth, but different.

One side-bonus that I never expected, is that I am sleeping better than I have in years.  Crazy good sleep and waking up rested.  What a great added bonus.

I have a long way to go to get to my goals (plural) because I’ve set the bar very high…and why not? If the literature indicates that this works, then I want;

(1) blood sugar in the non-diabetic range

(2) normal blood pressure

(3) normal / ideal cholesterol levels

(4) a waist circumference in the “at or below” recommended values of the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Will I meet all these goals?  Who knows?! But I won’t know if I don’t try and the alternative of a life of medication for blood sugar, blood pressure and eventually cholesterol too does not appeal to me!

So join me in my journey – a journey of change, of good health and on a road less traveled.

To our health!

Joy

If you would like to read well-researched, credible “Science Made Simple”  articles on the use of a low carb or ketogenic diet for weight loss, as well as to significantly improve and even reverse the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and other metabolic-related symptoms, please  click here.

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/lchfRD/

Note: I am a "sample-set of 1" - meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating "low carb" and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.

Copyright ©2017 The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.) 

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.