You’ve done everything they’ve asked you to.
Eat fewer calories.
Avoid saturated fats.
Load up on fruits and vegetables.
Get out and exercise more.
Why isn’t the weight coming off?
If you are a diabetic, weight loss is not as simple for you as it is for others - not that it’s easy for anyone. But as a diabetic, you have a particular metabolic situation that you are dealing with.
Your body is burning fuel and storing energy differently than people who don’t have diabetes.
Over the last several decades that we have been struggling to lose weight, the medical community has accumulated enough evidence to know that low calorie diets do not work. Not for diabetics, not for anyone.
Let me tell you a story about an experiment done in 1944 by physiologist, Ancel Keys and psychologist, Josef Brozek. It was called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that Keys and Brozek owe an apology to all Minnesotans for forever linking their beloved state to something called a “starvation experiment.”
At the time, World War II had been ravaging the world for five years, and many Europeans had suffered through incredible atrocities, including starvation. The study was done to provide some insight into the effects of starvation on the body and mind, but also to determine the best way to refeed individuals who were recovering from starvation.
Keys and Brozek convinced 36 young, healthy men who were conscientious objectors to participate in this study for over a year. It began with 3 months of feeding these gentlemen about 3500 calories a day with each individual receiving the amount of calories that would maintain his body weight. Then for the next 6 months, they received half of their normal calorie intake, about 1570 calories a day. This was thought to reflect the conditions Europeans were experiencing during the war.
The men lost about 25% of their body weight during this time of significant calorie restriction. For the next 3 months, they were refed 2000 to 3000 calories per day. For the 2 months after that, they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. This amounted to 7,000 to 10,000 calories per day. (They were a little hungry.)
During the time that they were losing weight, the men suffered emotionally as well as physically. They experienced anemia, fatigue, extreme weakness, and swelling of the lower extremities. They were irritable, depressed, anxious, apathetic, lost their sex drive, and thought about food obsessively. They were hungry all the time.
They were eating 1500 calories a day.
This was a starvation experiment.
Does that sound at all familiar?
When the men returned to “normal” life, they were anything but normal. They regained the weight they had lost and much more on top of that. For years, some men demonstrated binge eating behavior. They developed body image concerns. Some participants who were interviewed for news reports decades later vividly recalled their experience.
Still think low calorie diets are the way to go?
If you have tried to lose weight, you have done this very experiment on yourself. I know this because the weight loss recommendation for years has been to move more and eat less. And it still is the recommendation from most physicians and nutritionists.
It doesn’t work.
As a diabetic, you are in a particular situation with your metabolism. You have something called insulin resistance.
You may be familiar with insulin as one of your medications. If so, you know that you use it to lower your blood sugar. That is but one of the many functions that insulin has in your body. Insulin is a storage hormone. It takes sugar from the blood and stores it away for cells to use over the next few hours and days. The energy from sugar is stored in the form of glycogen (a quick source of energy) and fat (a long-term source of energy).
The underlying problem with diabetes is that your cells become resistant to insulin. When insulin knocks on the cell’s door, instead of opening up and welcoming some more sugar, the cell keeps the door locked and says, “No one’s home!” That’s because the cell is already full of sugar.
But insulin is as persistent as a Mary Kay saleswoman with a pink cadillac in the driveway. It shows up in force at the door to the cell and pounds even harder. The pancreas aids in this show of force by producing more and more insulin. For a while, the cell takes on more sugar.
But eventually, it can hold no more. As a result, you have more sugar in the blood. At the same time, you now have massive quantities of insulin cruising through your blood, storing energy away as fat.
This is insulin resistance. In order to lose weight in this situation, you must decrease the amount of insulin in your blood. That’s it.
How do you go about decreasing insulin? You stop doing the things that trigger its release from the pancreas.
This means eating fewer carbohydrates and spending more time not eating.
Pretty simple, huh?
Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin more than eating fats or protein. Eating anything also stimulates the release of insulin. So, eat fewer carbs and eat less often. Insulin goes down. Energy quits getting stored as fat. Your body learns to burn fat for energy instead of relying on a meal called snacks every two hours.
If you want some help with learning how to eat this way, I can provide you with some guidance. In a couple of weeks I will be opening up a program called Defeating Diabetes: The Simple 3 Step System for reducing your dependence on medications, preventing scary complications, losing weight, and finally finding freedom by reversing type 2 diabetes. For those who are serious about making some life-saving changes.
Stay tuned for more information about controlling your diabetes and this program. In my next post, I am going to shed a little light on why your medications might not be helping you as much as you would like.
I hope you have found this information helpful. Please let me know if you have questions by sending me an email at [email protected].