If you’re like me, you want to eat all the junk food you want and try to exercise your way out of it. But it’s not working. Do you feel like you’re not eating that much, certainly less than you used too and you’re still getting fatter.
I know, I do too. The truth is exercise or calorie reduction alone won’t lead to weight loss, and here’s why.
[10 Second Tip] Make small changes in your diet to see big changes in your health and fitness.
The reason you’re gaining weight even though you’re eating less and exercising is “carbohydrate intolerance.”
The “dirty” secret that’s turning off your fat fighting ability
Sugars and starches act like a kill switch to your fat fighting ability. If you’ve ever ate a piece a cake and felt like it turned automatically into fat, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like an allergic reaction but instead of breaking out in a rash, you’re body breaks out in fat. In addition to rapid fat accumulation, carbohydrate intolerance also blocks your bodies ability to burn fat – no matter what you try.
Here’s how it works:
According to Dr. Johnny Bowden, carbohydrate intolerance means that your body can’t handle processing sugars and starches. And it’s not just sugar or sugary foods like soda, it’s any food that your body quickly turns into sugar like breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, and corn.
Our bodies contain an enzyme called glucagon that stimulates or “turns on” a fat burning enzyme called HSL. HSL shrinks fat cells by breaking down stored fat so it can be burned as energy. Foods like bread, pasta, soda, and many others that you might have been told were “healthy” prevent glucagon from turning on HSL.
When you eat sugars and starches, your body produces insulin. Insulin turns the fat burning switch off. The reason you haven’t been able to exercise your fat off has been an excess of insulin. The key is to eat foods that keep your insulin in check. When our insulin is in check, glucagon turns on HSL which pulls it out of our fat cells where goes to our liver which converts it into ketones.
“Sugars and starches turn off your bodies fat fighting ability.” – Dr. Johnny Bowden
There’s a test you can do to determine if you have carbohydrate intolerance but if you’re still reading this article, you probably have a gut feeling that you already have it. We’ll talk more about the Two Week Test to determine if you are carbohydrate intolerant but whether you have carbohydrate intolerance or not, if you make these simple changes it will lead to a healthier, leaner you. So let’s look at the foods that block your bodies fat fighting ability and the foods that you can eat that can turn your fat fighting switch back on.
Foods that turn off your fat fighting ability
When taking the Two Week Test for carbohydrate intolerance, you have to avoid the following foods so it’s not a bad idea to cut them out even if you’re just trying to get healthier:
- all carbs except vegetables: yes this means fruits too, and any starches like potatoes and rice and most processed foods
- beans and legumes
- corn: this is a tough one, corn has found its way into almost every food through its derivatives
- milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cottage cheese: you can use milk substitutes but check them for added sugars like brown rice syrup
- energy or “nutrition” bars
- most alcohols and soda
- honey, molasses, maple syrup, and stevia
- processed meats and any “fake” food
What should you eat instead?
Contrary to what is advertised, many foods that are labeled as unhealthy are not bad if purchased and prepared properly. It all comes down to money. Which do you think as a higher profit, whole eggs or a box of egg whites? Most of the nutrition advice that we are constantly bombarded with is driven more by what is profitable than what is healthy.
- whole eggs
- real cheese (not processed), heavy cream, sour cream, butter: cream is ok and not milk because of lactose
- meats: unless it has been cured in sugar
- vegetables: except corn, potatoes, and rice (which are not vegetables anyway)
- fish and shellfish
- all nuts, seeds, and their butter counterparts, and coconut
- oils, vinegars, mayonnaise, and mustard: but no ketchup, anything hydrogenated, or with sugar added
- spices and herbs: lemons and limes are an exception to the fruit rule
- WATER: herbal tea and coffee are fine, but don’t added sugars or milk
So what’s going on here?
According to Dr. Gangemi aka The Sock Doc, carbohydrate intolerance can cause someone to crave sugar but also cause headaches, weakness, irritability, lack of focus, and angry. Insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance are often used interchangeably because they usually go hand in hand.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and it lowers blood sugar. Insulin resistance means the body’s cells no longer use it effectively. A normal person converts about 40% of carbs in to fat, a person with insulin resistance converts 50-60%. This causes blood sugar to drop quickly which causes the adrenal glands to kick in and more glucose is released. Then the body produces more insulin to combat the increased glucose and the cycle deepens. Besides a poor diet, carbohydrate intolerance/insulin resistance can be caused by stress.
The effects of insulin resistance include:
- elevated blood pressure
- higher LDL, the “bad”cholesterol
- increased weight gain
- pms and polycystic ovaries
- low energy, especially after eating
- a craving for sugar
- poor circulation which feels like hands going numb or pins and needles down the hands
- irritability and moodiness
If this sounds like you, Dr. Gangemi lays out three simple steps you can do to improve your carbohydrate metabolism:
- get lots of fats and proteins in your meals
- exercise aerobically, develop an aerobic base, then add strength training
- take the Two Week Test to find your carbohydrate level
Check out this article to see the single best exercise that should be a part of every workout routine.
The Two Week Test to determine your carbohydrate intolerance
The Two Week Test (TWT) was developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone. He identified carbohydrate intolerance as one of the precursors to obesity and a set of diseases now referred to as Syndrome X – diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Before The Test
Take note of any health problems that you have such as insomnia or fatigue. This is important to set a baseline to review after the test. Take a few days to accumulate your list because all of your symptoms may not present every day.
Weigh yourself. Some people only lose a few pounds and some people lose up to 20 pounds during the test.
Go grocery shopping. Stock your cabinets with the foods listed above and get rid of the temptations.
Plan your meals out for the next two weeks. Try to schedule the test when you are free of distractions like vacations or holiday.
Very important, within an hour of waking up, eat breakfast.
During The Test
A small fall of the wagon means you’re going to have to restart the test so be strong!
For some meal ideas, check out the recipes at the bottom of this post.
Moderate amounts of dry wines and spirits like whiskey, gin, and vodka are acceptable.
Check your blood pressure periodically during the test.
After The Test
Re-evaluate your health, how do you feel now compared to your pre-test complaints? More energy? Sleeping better? Less depressed? Did you lose weight? If yes, then you probably have some degree of carbohydrate intolerance. The bigger the difference, the higher degree you have. Dramatic improvements in health in two weeks are not uncommon.
If you lost weight, it probably not due to calorie reduction since most people eat more during the test. What’s going on is your body is burning fat better because of less insulin resistance.
Unless nothing changed for you during the test, the next step is determine what your carbohydrate level is by slowly reintroducing carbs back into your diet.
Add a single serving of carbs (such as yogurt to your breakfast or an apple for dessert) to every other meal or as a snack. Do NOT reintroduce any refined carbs like sugar or starches such as white bread, cereals, or pasta. Better suggestions include brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans, and legumes.
Do not add more than one carb every other meal. Your body will be hyper sensitive to these foods now and you will notice the return of symptoms rather quickly. Knowing which foods caused the return of the symptoms will help you make better choices in the future.
Small changes can still make a difference
The best diet in the world won’t make any difference if you don’t stick to it. Most people aren’t going to make wholesale changes to their habits until something drastic (like a heart attack or diabetes) forces them to. If you’ve read this far, you probably already know that you should be making better choices with your diet, just like I do. If anything, there are some easy replacements you could make that you would stick with that can give you long term benefits.
- replacing milk with coconut milk
- adding vegetables to every meal
- drinking more water
- replacing your factory farmed beef with grass-fed beef
- cutting back on soda (I know it should be eliminated but I just can’t do that, yet)
Even small changes like these should open up your body’s fat fighting ability.
You can also look to use workout supplements to aid in your fat loss goals.
Bonus: Meal ideas and dining out suggestion from Dr. Moffetone
Omelets – whole eggs, unprocessed cheese, grass-fed meat, vegetables
Scrambled eggs with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.
Boiled egg with spinach, hollandaise sauce, and bacon.
Chef salad – vegetables, grass-fed meat, natural cheese, whole eggs
Extra virgin olive oil and vinegar as a salad dressing, or
Creamy salad dressing made with cream, mayonnaise, garlic, and spices
FISH AND MEATS
Grass-fed pot roast made with onions and celery
Roast chicken with anise and carrots
Chili – grass-fed ground beef, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, peppers, zucchini,
Steak and eggs
Fish – not breaded or deep fried
Butter: yup, that’s right, plain melted butter is fine
Cream sauce – simmer heavy cream with mustard or curry and cayenne, delicious over just about everything
Italian style tomato sauce – makes anything parmigiana style, or make lasagna by replacing the pasta with eggplant or zucchini
Hard boiled eggs
Slices of meat or cheese wrapped in lettuce – we call this “animal” style in California
Raw nuts: almond, pecan, cashew, brazil, etc… just make sure it’s not salted and sugared
Celery with peanut butter or cream cheese
Guacamole: instead of chips use vegetables for dipping
No bread or bread sticks
Ask for vegetables instead of rice or potato
Chinese: steamed meat, fish, or vegetables, remembers to ask them to leave the rice and sweet sauce behind
Continental: just about any type of meat – steak, duck, roast, fish, shellfish, seafood
French: boeuf a la Bourguignonne, or Coquille Saint-Jacques (I’ll be honest, I have no idea what these are)
Italian: veal parmiagiana, remember not breaded or deep fried, seafood marinara
After the TWT is over, you may want to look into Paleo diets. Paleo is also known as the caveman diet because it “consists of foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat, offal, and seafood, and foods that can be gathered, such as eggs, insects, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and spices.” – Wikipedia
My favorite website for Paleo recipes is PaleOMG. Juli writes her posts with a self-deprecating and irreverent sense of humor. It’s definitely the most fun blog you can read about recipes.
She doesn’t always stick strictly to the paleo mantra which makes her recipes some of the most mouth-watering healthy recipes you’re going to find. Like this one for spaghetti squash encrusted quiche.
I never thought I’d want to eat spaghetti squash but the way Juli makes it, it sounds damn good. Check it out!