We have survived as a species because our bodies are programmed to store fat. Periods of famine have occurred throughout human history. Mass starvation is the result.
Today, our bodies continue to behave as programmed: They store fat as they await the next famine — a famine that never comes.
Food is plentiful. We overeat fat-promoting foods. It’s really no surprise that there is an obesity epidemic in the United States.
How? Lose Weight!
It’s Simple but Not Easy.
There Is A Way.
Doing Everything Right And Still Can’t Drop The Pounds? Get Some Answers. Look Inside….
TOPIC: DIABESITY AND WEIGHT LOSS
We have survived as a species because our bodies are programmed to store fat. Periods of famine have occurred throughout human history. Mass starvation is the result. Today, our bodies continue to behave as programmed: They store fat as they await the next famine — a famine that never comes. Food is plentiful. We overeat fat-promoting foods. It’s really no surprise that there is an obesity epidemic in the United States.
How? Lose Weight!
It’s Simple but Not Easy.
There Is A Way.
Doing Everything Right And Still Can’t Drop The Pounds? Get Some Answers. Look Inside….
Overweight is the single greatest predictor of diabetes. Unfortunately, at least 66 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Further, 1 in 3 of us are genetically predisposed toward the disease. No wonder diabesity, obesity-dependent diabetes, has become a major public health concern in the US.
If you are overweight, then losing weight – for some as little as 10 pounds – is the most important action you can take to prevent, manage, and reverse the disease. In Nutrition News “Defeating Diabetes Naturally”, we discussed the lifestyle aspect of type 2 diabetes and presented a supplement program that supports blood sugar management. This issue is devoted to readers who are overweight, over 35 years old, and 25 points or higher on the Body Mass Index. 1
People in this group often experience both unsuccessful dieting and weight gain for no reason. This is true regardless of reducing calorie intake, conforming to the glycemic index, or engaging in regular exercise. Generally, these individuals have too much insulin in their blood. This condition makes it impossible for the body to release significant stored fat.
To achieve a healthy weight, two major handicaps must be acknowledged: 1) genetic programming and 2) aging. Genetically, all humans are programmed to store fat. That is how our ancestors survived periodic famines. In the US, food is abundant and cheap. The overweight body is waiting for a famine that never comes.
Secondly, the physiological changes of aging encourage weight gain. These include hormone changes and alterations in the way our bodies process nutrients. Too much insulin in the blood is one of the metabolic disorders of aging. Considering these changes, the research team at the Life Extension Foundation developed a specific approach to weight loss.2 The objective of this approach is to suppress insulin levels. There are three basic steps: 1) Correct metabolic disorders by restoring hormone balance; 2) Control insulin levels through timely eating; and 3) Use supportive supplements.
1. Balancing Your Hormones
When we are young, hormones help us maintain our weight. With age, hormones go out of balance, causing metabolic disorders. Poor lifestyle habits and chronic overweight make these problems worse. Too much insulin circulating in the blood is the culprit behind unexplained weight gain, no fat release, and difficulty in losing weight. Insulin also exerts a significant effect on hunger and fat storage.
In healthy, metabolically balanced individuals, sufficient insulin is secreted to metabolize glucose (blood sugar, the body’s favorite fuel). Once enough glucose has been cleared from the blood, insulin drops to very low levels. However, the cells of overweight people are insensitive to insulin. Thus, the pancreas keeps dumping insulin into the blood because glucose levels are not dropping.
This is what is happening in the body because of high blood insulin levels. 1) Since one of insulin’s functions is storing fat, as long as insulin levels are high, the body continues to store fat. 2) Meanwhile, it is making even more fat. 3) High insulin levels are also signaling the brain that the body needs glucose (blood sugar). 4) This stimulates hunger, particularly for sugary and starchy foods. The difficulty of losing weight is easy to understand in this terrible cycle of high insulin, high fat, and carb cravings.
One of the greatest risks of high insulin levels is the development of type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus). The easiest way to find out what your insulin levels are is to have a fasting insulin test. Optimal levels range between 0 and 3.
Other out of balance hormones that contribute to overweight problems are thyroid, testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and DHEA. Maintaining these hormones at twenty-five year old levels is desirable. In men, testosterone decreases as estradiol goes up. Low testosterone and high estrogen result in a pot belly, a risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease.
Sufficient thyroid secretion is particularly important to healthy weight. Thyroid hormones are involved in burning fat. Weight loss is a major symptom of overactive thyroid secretion while low levels result in unexplained weight gain and difficulty in losing weight. Further, dieting can reduce thyroid activity. Automatically our resting metabolic rate is reduced, and we burn fewer calories.
When thyroid levels are low, DHEA levels decrease, another factor in weight gain. A six month study by Villareal, et al, revealed that 50 mg of DHEA reversed age-related changes in fat mass. A further study showed significant decreases in gut fat as well as improved insulin sensitivity. Other benefits of restoring DHEA levels include enhanced immunity, reductions in risks of cardiovascular disease, protection against osteoporosis, a boost in human growth hormone, and mood elevation.
DHEA is available over the counter. Life Extension Foundation recommends 50 mg of DHEA daily for men and
15-25 mg for women. At Nutrition News, we recommend that
you have your DHEA levels tested along with the other
hormones, and that you work with a hormone expert to help establish desirable levels.
A failure to correct hormone imbalances will compromise your ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Life Extension can refer you to physicians specializing in hormone balancing. Their contact number is 800-208-3444.
2. Eat Your Breakfast
Research by Taylor, et al (1999), established that when people eat may be more important than what they eat. Furthermore, obesity studies indicate most obese people eat the bulk of their calories during a short time in the evening.
On the other hand, people who eat early in the day are less likely to become obese or diabetic. Breakfast eaters actually had 35-50% lower rates of developing obesity and insulin resistance than those who ate breakfast two times or less per week.
In a clinical setting, overweight and obese patients experienced rapid and sustained fat loss by adopting the
1. Upon arising, eat a large breakfast, and eat as much as you want. (If you want high calorie foods, eat them in the morning.)
2. Later in the morning, have another good-sized meal. (A healthy meal containing the calories of a burger and fries is recommended.) The idea is to guard against a food breakdown in the evening when calories readily convert to body fat.
3. Mid-afternoon, have a light meal – the calories of a tuna salad sandwich with whole grain bread and some fresh fruit.
4. No later than 7:00 pm, have a modest dinner with a lean protein, a starch, and several servings of vegetables or salad.
5. Eat foods cooked at lower temperatures.
An interesting study looked at the difference it made to people with diabetes to eat foods cooked at either high or low temperatures. Both groups ate the same amount of calories. After six weeks, those eating foods cooked at lower temperatures lost weight and their blood sugar levels dropped. The high temp food eaters lost no weight and had increased blood
Foods cooked at high temperatures were fried, barbecued, broiled, or microwaved. Instead, consider steaming, boiling, poaching, stewing, stir-frying, baking, or using a slow cooker. Eating foods cooked at lower temperatures also reduced LDL cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and pro-inflammatory substances. Of course, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
It is critical to the success of this program that no food is eaten after the early evening meal. It may take a week to wake up hungry and to not want to eat in the evenings. (One must break the snacking habit.) At that point, the program is beginning to work. After 45 days, an improvement in metabolism will be evident, including a reduction in the amount of insulin produced after meals. Further, enough fat loss will have occurred that obese individuals will be motivated to reduce calorie intake and begin to exercise.3
3. Supplements To The Rescue
In addition to correcting hormone imbalances and shifting the time when most food is eaten, here are a few supplements to support your goal of losing fat and keeping it off.4
Highly viscous fiber blend 2-6 caps daily before each
meal (1-3 grams)
Omega-3 fatty acids Sufficient to equal 500 mg
EPA and 1000 DHA
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) 3-4 grams
Guarana extract (optional) 500 mg to each gram of CLA
Green tea extract 90 mg 3x/d with meals,
Curcumin/turmeric extract 900 mg
Chromium polynicotinate or 200 mcg ex/d with meals,
Chromium picolinate (max of 600 mcg) 500-700
mcg for women
Magnesium (any -ate: citrate, orotate, etc.) 300-500 mg
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) 500-1000 mg
• Fiber blend: taken before meals, fiber supplements can have a salutary effect. They enhance blood sugar control, decrease after-meal insulin levels (by slowing carbohydrate absorption), reduce cholesterol, and reduce the number of calories absorbed. In one double-blind study, people who took only a gram of glucomannan before meals and did nothing about their weight, lost an average of 5.5 lbs over 8 weeks. (Some types of fiber also improve blood pressure levels.)
To lose weight, purified soluble dietary fibers must be used. These include pectin, guar, psyllium, glucomannan, alginate, and beta-glucan. We recommend a proprietary blend of highly viscous fibers called PGXTM. PGX is a highly unique fiber blend backed by scientific studies. The American Diabetic Association recognizes it as one of the first “evidence-based fibers”.Over a period of three weeks, participants took 3 grams (6 caps) of the fiber blend three times a day before meals. At the end of the study, there had been a 23% reduction in after-meal (postprandial) glucose levels; a 40% reduction in after-meal insulin levels; and a 55.9% improvement in insulin sensitivity scores. As a bonus, there was an average reduction in body fat of 2.8% from baseline.
Results can be expected using 2-6 capsules (1-3 grams) 5 to 10 minutes before each of three meals with 8-16 ounces of water. Take this instruction seriously. The water you drink with PGXTM must be in addition to your usual daily water intake or constipation will be the result.
• Omega-3 fatty acids (fish and flax): Omega-3s help keep the cell membranes pliable, making them more sensitive to insulin. Secondly, the omega-3s are the body’s most important anti-inflammatory substances. Diabesity is highly related to inflammation. According to Murray and Lyons, sixty different health conditions have been shown to be either prevented or improved by diets high in omega-3s, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
• Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): This is a fatty acid in beef and milk from grass-fed cows that has been found to reduce body fat in humans and animals. CLA has the remarkable action of blocking the fat cells from absorbing excess glucose and fatty acids. Because of this action, the size of fat cells is actually reduced. In addition, CLA has anti-inflammatory properties. Take a dose of 3-4 grams in the morning on an empty stomach or a half hour before lunch. Expect to wait about 3 weeks before fat loss begins to occur.
Caffeine (tea or coffee) accelerates the effectiveness of CLA. This effect has been tested with guarana, a Brazilian caffeine-containing plant. Researchers at LEF reported a 50% reduction in the number of fat cells when CLA was combined with guarana. Dose is approximately 500 mg of guarana to 1000 mg of CLA. (If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to skip the guarana and use CLA by itself.)
• Green tea extract: This extract has been shown to increase our metabolic rate. In one human study, green tea extract decreased body weight by 4.6 percent and waist measure by 4.48 percent.
• Curcumin: Curcumin is an active element in the spice turmeric. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. A number of human studies have shown the reversal of diabetes-related inflammatory conditions. In addition, the human use of curcumin in reducing inflammation in other conditions (such as joint pain) is well established.
• Chromium and magnesium: Both minerals are important to fat loss. Chromium increases insulin sensitivity. Magnesium functions in a number of enzyme reactions which support the body’s use of glucose. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are magnesium-deficient. This deficiency causes insulin resistance and contributes to diet failure.
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC): Carnitine is used by the body to carry a form of fat into the cells where it is burned as energy. Because excess insulin lowers carnitine levels, it is important to supplement. The body changes carnitine into ALC in order to use it. Supplementing ALC saves energy in the body.
on the Body Mass Index.1
Too Much Insulin*
Two blood tests disclose your blood insulin levels: the fasting insulin test and the A1C blood test. Fasting shows current levels while A1C reveals the effect of glucose-insulin levels over three months. The following conditions can indicate chronically high insulin levels:
including arthritis and multiple sclerosis
Cancer (some forms)
Candidiasis (yeast overgrowth)
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Compulsive overeating/food addiction
Diabetes (type 2 and gestational)
Digestive disorders, such as IBS and GERD
High cholesterol and triglycerides
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Thrombosis (blood-clotting disorder)
*List from Miryam Ehrlich Williamson’s Blood Sugar Blues (Walker 2001).
1 The World Health Organization publishes the BMI. It is available online by searching “BMI”. Although 24 points is not overweight, the Nurses Health Study (122,000 participants) showed
that a woman at 24 points was 5 times more likely to have diabetes than a woman at 21 points. At 5’5”, this would be the difference between weighing 126 lb and 144 lb.
2 This approach is available in its entirety online at www.lef.org. (Click on Health Concerns and then drop down to Obesity.) The approach is not for young people (including obese children)
nor for those whose BMI is less than 25. These individuals can resolve most of their weight complaints with sensible eating and regular exercise.
3 To maintain a healthy weight, the NIH recommends 30-60 minutes of exercise at least 4 days a week. For weight loss and weight loss maintenance, the recommendation is 60-90 minutes
4 Don’t forget DHEA, discussed earlier and available at natural products stores. Men, 50 mg/Women, 15-25 mg.
What About Lap-Band Surgery?
Less drastic than a gastric by-pass, lap-band surgery involves placing a band around the upper stomach, limiting the amount of food one can eat. Research suggests that this surgery not only helps the obese, it can also help people with diabetes who aren’t severely obese.
Although the surgery is expensive and carries risks, it shows promise for people with diabetes who just can’t get the weight off. Sixty diabetes patients defined as obese (30-40 BMI) participated in a study. They were assigned to either banding or using the classic diet and exercise.
After two years, 22 of the 30 lap-band patients were in remission. This was the case for only four of the diet and exercise patients. Even more telling, the surgery patients lost an average of 20.7 percent of their body weight, while the dieting group lost only 1.7 percent!
John Dixon, who conducted the study, credits weight loss with the remission of diabetes. Weight loss old style is difficult. However, using the recommendations in this newsletter has great promise and is cheaper – and far less drastic – than surgery (currently about $18,000). Personal research and experimentation can help each person find an answer.