June was indeed a very productive month for me.
Besides getting the final stage of our house-remodeling project wrap up and have the new furniture delivered, it is also a month of further learning on the topic of low carb eating.
It was an interesting learning experience to attend the 3 days medical conference ‘Metabolism, Diet and Disease 2012’, in Washington DC. I guess I was the only non-medical related person professionally who attended this conference. Doctors, researchers, and professionals from related medical field was there to present their latest findings on this topic.
During networking session, when I was asked what is my specialty, I replied: ‘I cook delicious low carb meal.’ And it was fun to see the response of raised eyebrows. 😀
The major topic addressed in this conference was the raising health issue including disease, obesity, and increasing medical cost. Not only in this country but also many other part of the world. Research findings shared was on how food can affect our human body. Many latest research results were presented with charts and numbers on the power point presentation. I thought those confusing medical term and numbers would send me into the ZZZ land at some point. But it was interesting enough to look at this research results with the lay-man eyes instead of the professional eyes. I didn’t fell asleep during the conference.
At some point I thought one of the presentation didn’t make much sense to me.
It was a research concluding that ‘Fat is Bad’ for the body but did not explain what was the test subject regular diet includes. The question was raised and it turns out that more fat was given to the test subject with the regular high carb diet. No wonder the result. Eating high carb raises blood sugar, thus raises insulin level and the fat certainly got stored.
Gary Taubes, the author for the book ‘Good Calories Bad Calories’ and ‘Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It’, chaired the following day presentation. Gary alerted the audience that the coming research presentation is also regarding high fat intake, but with a carbohydrate restricted diet.
Dr. Luc Tappy, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Dr. Jeff Volek, University of Connecticut, USA., and Dr. Eric Westman, Duke University Medical Center, USA., respectively presented their research findings and clinical data on how carbohydrate restriction benefit metabolic syndrome and saturated fat metabolism. And how it has effectively help type 2 diabetes patients in their clinic.
It was interesting to watch what questions was raised in the Q&A session.
Obviously these test results and data presented still received many queries from practitioners and researchers in the room despite the result was encouraging.
I was glad to have the chance to meet with Gary Taubes, the author of my favorite book ‘Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It’. Also get to know Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Eric Westman whom had since kindly support my learning by sending me information to read.
Currently I am reading the book from Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr Stephen Phinney, ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living’.
This is an excellent book that explains ‘the why’ and also shares the secret on the ‘how to’ live a satisfying and healthy life with low carb living. This book also answered common questions most people would ask and explained why our body does not actually need carbohydrate to live.
Question 1: How do carbohydrate affect our health?
Answer: If you consume a high carbohydrate diet, particularly one with a lot of rapidly digested sugars and refined starches, your body has an increased dependency on insulin to maintain normal metabolic homeostasis.
The insulin released after a high carbohydrate meal is necessary to simultaneously inhabit glucose output from the liver and promote glucose uptake by skeletal muscle. Failure of insulin to perform either of these tasks such as occurs in insulin resistance, will lead to elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
A low carbohydrate diet switches the body’s fuel use to primarily fat. With that switch turned on. There’s less need to regulate hepatic glucose output and markedly reduced surges in insulin release and glucose uptake. Thus, a low carbohydrate diet allows less dependence on insulin to maintain metabolic health. If we view insulin resistance as a condition of carbohydrate intolerance, dealing with dietary carbs becomes a burden and reducing this burden allows the body to function more normally.
Question 2: Isn’t carbs are staple diet? We need carbohydrate for energy, especially when we exercise.
Answer: Yes, carbs do provide one source of energy for your muscles and brain, but both of these organs have completely adequate alternatives derived from dietary fat. A high carbohydrate diet blocks your ability to employ fat to fuel your brain, and to some degree, to your muscle as well. Does limiting carbs will adversely affect your ability to exercise? The answer is a definitive No. When carbs are restricted to the point of inducing nutritional ketosis, the body has a remarkable capacity to transition to burning fat, even during exercise. The reality is that you can exercise just fine without carb when you have experienced the keto-adaption that comes after several weeks of a very low carbohydrate diet.
Question 3: The fear of fat. Some doctors or dietitian agrees that a low carbohydrate diet might help to lose weight, but the concern is about eating too much far long term.
Answer: When you are keto-adapted, fat becomes your body’s favorite fuel. Fat is your friends when you are on a low carbohydrate diet.
Question 4: Restricting an entire macronutrient class seems extreme especially carbohydrates which are known to give us quick energy. Isn’t we should be encouraging moderation in all foods and a balanced diet?
Answers: The answer depends to some degree on preconceptions around the meaning of moderation and what you consider ‘good’ nutrition. If your body is carbohydrate intolerant, eating a low carbohydrate diet is your island of dietary safety. Should a person with gluten intolerant consume moderate amounts of gluten so they can have a balanced diet? Of course not. Then why should a person with carbohydrate intolerance consume moderate amounts of carbs to meet some arbitrary criterion of a ‘balanced’ diet?
There are some other major concern were addressed in this book, for example; the concern of history, scientific and cultural perspectives, physiology, and clinical application.
One must be willing to stay open mind for the paradigm shift to receive this important information that has been practice and not been taught for many years.
As Gary Taubes shared in his book ‘Good Calories Bad Calories’, rather than growing stronger as new data has accumulated over the last 30 years, the diet-hard hypotheses still stands on shaky ground. Much to the chagrin of the medical establishment and the rest of the herd defending the nutritional consensus, a growing body of literature linking low carbohydrate diets to improved lipid patterns has reached a critical mass. From a scientific perspective, the results are compelling. Nonetheless, the political situation remains that if you dare to present an alternative view opposing the tenets of the mainstream diet-heart hypothesis, chances are you’ll be branded a heretic.
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