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While I was young and single, my fit (regularly running and lifting weights) weight was around 185 lbs. After getting married and having kids, my weight slowly crept up to a peak of 231.6 lbs on 2008-09-21. Afterwards, my weight would drift between 212 to 220 lbs. Besides the unhealthiness of being overweight, I didn't like the way I looked. I have been slowly working to become much leaner but, like for many people, this has not been easy. Over the years, my weight increased but every summer I had ambitions of burning off the extra pounds with exercise (biking, cutting my lawn, splitting wood, etc). By winter, I saw that the weight I had lost by autumn was temporary and insufficient. As I got older and heavier, my blood sugar increased and eventually needed medication to control diabetes.

In February of 2018, my doctor switched me to new medication that caused me to excrete excess glucose, which resulted in an immediate weight loss and reduction in my blood glucose. This also resulted in a reduction in my other medication. Although I thought I was eating reasonably well, starting with advice from the diabetic clinic's dietitian, I've been making an effort to eat a healthier diet and I've lost about 30 pounds since the medication change.

The population of western societies and especially those living in North America tend to be overweight. The obvious causes are poor diet and a lack of exercise due to a sedentary lifestyle. When it comes to shedding excess weight, exercise for the sole purpose of losing weight is unsustainable. It is important to stay stay active and keep moving as much as possible - easier said than done though.

The states of being overweight and obese are medical classifications based on BMI (Body Mass Index). Dr Arya Sharma explains that a person's highest body weight is the normal state that the body attempts to maintain at all times. If a person loses weight, the body has a various of responses that try to return the body to the "normal". Whatever method is used to lose weight is the method that must be continued to remain at that weight. Effectively, this means that obesity should be treated as a medically chronic condition. This is the reason that fad diets generally do not work in the long term and result in yo-yo weight loss.

A good mental attitude is crucial. People want to become less overweight for a variety of reasons (need to fit into dress for an occasion, going on vacation and want a beach body, etc). This will not work in the long term and will set you up for failure. Instead, a better reason is because you want to become slimmer because YOU like the way you look and feel. As you start to shed weight (or rather fat), the changes will be positive reinforcement for your efforts.

DISCLAIMER: My background is engineering and what I have written here is from my personal interest in staying healthy. If you disagree with any of it, let know what you feel is inaccurate and include some references so I can make corrections. This is a work in progress so check back often for updates as I continue to learn. CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE MAKING DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES.

Weight Loss

Obviously, if you want to lose weight, you need to "burn" (metabolize) fat and the common wisdom is that you need to eat less and exercise more.  If you don't succeed, you're obviously lazy and not trying hard enough.  However, this is supremely poor advice because it doesn't take into account your body's metabolism, which depends upon its metabolic state:  fed or fasted.  Your pancreas produces many hormones but the one that determines its metabolic state is INSULIN.  The FED state is characterized by high insulin while the FASTED state is characterized by low insulin.  One of insulin's jobs is to regulate blood sugar (ie, serum glucose) and the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) in your meal has a huge effect on serum glucose.  The Randle Cycle describes the process the body uses to determine whether it is the fed or fasted state.

Carbohydrates is the only macronutrient that contains sugar and this can take the form of monosaccrarides (ie, glucose, fructose, galactose) or disaccharides (ie, lactose, maltose, sucrose) or starches (long chains of glucose).  Since your body tries to tightly control serum glucose, insulin is used to store excess in muscle and fat tissue.  Protein isn't really a fuel (unless you're starving) and your body primarily uses protein to maintain its structure.  Depending upon the type of injested fat, your body will either preferentially metabolize it or store in fat tissue and fat elicits a much lower insulin response for storage than glucose.

In order to maintain a low insulin level, the obvious thing to do is minimize carbohydrate consumption and those on a carnivore diet avoid carbs completely.  This is contrary to government food guides but there are NO essential carbohydrates - only essential proteins and essential fats.  "Essential" means that the human body cannot synthesize these nutrients itself and requires their consumption.  If you don't eat carbs, you still need to maintain your body's caloric requirements so you need to get fuel from another source, which is fat.  Although some tissues in your body absolutely require glucose (ie, red blood cells and some brain cells), your body has the ability to manufacture ALL of the glucose it needs on demand from adipose tissue (fat cells) via gluconeogenesis in the fasted state.  Fat is also converted to ketone bodies (acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetone) in the liver via ketogenesis and the brain readily switches over to ketolysis when ketones are available.

WWhen fat is metabolized, ketones are produced and diets that maintain low insulin levels tend to result in ketone production from fat metabolism.  A ketogenic.diet (low carb, hight fat) is essentially the opposite of the standard [American, Canadian, Australian, etc] diet (high carb, low fat) and is effectively the US Food Pyramid turned upside down.  Amber O'Hearn makes a good case that humans have evolved to become lipovores (fat eaters) rather than carnivores (meat eaters).  While it has been known a long time that insulin lowers the basal metabolic rate, Dr Ben Bikman's research has found that ketones increase the metabolic rate because they cause white adipose tissue to become uncoupled so that they generate heat like brown adipose tissue.  High ketone levels also waste fat via respiration and urination while also improving metabolic health.

Processed foods are typically made in factories by industrial processes and characteristically contain high amounts of carbohydrates and fats [usually in the form of industrial seed (vegetable) oils].  Besides the obvious high caloric content of processed foods, highly processed foods cause a much higher insulin response than those foods in their whole-food form due the distruption of their cellular structures.  A food's fibre content is more of marker of its degree of processing than its nutrition so added fibre isn't beneficial. Vegetable oils also play a huge role in cardio-vascular disease, especially when they become oxidized from heating.

While exercise is highly beneficial for multitude of reasons, it is nowhere as effective at weight loss compared to diet.  Exercise doesn't burn-off nearly enough calories as you would want although you're probably not snacking while you're exercising. It's a lot more effective to avoid ingesting unnecessary calories than it is to metabolize them. For example, a 300 calorie donut will require about 60 minutes of walking (3.5 mph / 17 minutes/mile) or 30 minutes of running (5 mph / 12 minutes/mile) for a 155 lb person. See Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights.

A lean physique is a characteristic of metabolic health.  Rather than focussing on losing weight, it is far better to become healthy and the weight will come off and stay off.  To see how I've reversed my own Type 2 Diabetes, see Metabolic Health.

Dr Ben Bikman's alliteration to help easily remember macronutrient consumption from whole foods.

  1. Control Carbohydrates (< 50g/day from unprocessed, low glycemic index foods)
  2. Prioritize Protein (1-2g per kg of body weight per day)
  3. FFill with Fat (all remaining caloric needs from animal & fruit)

According to Dr Bikman, fat and protein should ideally be in a 1:1 ratio as is found in animal-sources food such as eggs and meat.  Keep in mind that your own body fat counts in your fat consumption, which is why you need to have sufficient protein intake for tissue maintenance and we need more protein as we become older.  The healthy fats that we should be eating are saturated.  The degree of saturation depends upon the amount of hydrogen atoms that fatty acid chain contains and the difference between between beef tallow (containing stearic acid) and olive oil (containing oleic acid) is one carbon double-bond and 2 less hydrogen atoms, which makes olive oil a mono-unsaturated fat of the same 18-carbon chain length.


If you're wondering what I've been eating lately, the following list is what my daily meals typically look like.  As I become more fat-adapted, I've increasingly been doing one meal a day (aka, OMAD) so I eat breakfast when the rest of my family has supper.  Minimizing carbohydrate consumption allows my body to have a very steady blood sugar, which allows me to have a better gauge as to when I'm actually ready to eat.  I don't count calories and eat as much as I want but the important thing to remember is: eat when you're hungry, don't eat when you're not.

I found that mindless evening snacking (like while watching TV) is a great way to ingest unnecessary calories.  Having a high fat (using healthy saturated fats) afternoon meal with sufficient protein is enough to prevent any craving for an evening snack.  The ketogenic diet's need for inceased salt consumption often presents as hunger so a glass of salty water between meals can be satiating. I find that moderate exercise (walking, biking, etc) with intermittent high intensity (ie interval training) is readily doable and evening walks (30-60 minutes) are a great post-supper/breakfast activity.

Mealstrong> Description
(morning)
  • coffee
Breakfast
(mid-afternoon)
  • 3 large eggs (with bacon if I feel ambitious) AND/OR
  • 1 avocado (2 if they're small) AND/OR
  • luncheon/deli meat AND/OR
  • [dairy] butter (no bread) or coconut butter AND/OR
  • plain high-fat yoghurt or skyr (100-150 ml or ~1/2 cup), with:
    • fresh or frozen berries
    • dry roasted sunflower and raw pumpkin seeds
    • ground flax and/or chia seeds (for added Omega 3)
Supper
(late afternoon)
  • normal Canadian meal (see Canadian Living recipes)
    • minimize bread and potatoes
    • sometimes basmati rice or cabbage
  • peanut butter (no bread, no jam)
  • fruit (apple, grapes, orange, banana, etc)
  • dessert (eg, small piece of chocolate)
Snack -varies
(evening - if hungry)
  • roasted peanuts
  • walnut halves
  • almonds
  • dry roasted sunflower seeds
  • luncheon/deli meat
  • cheese
  • beer or wine or liquor (1 serving)

 

We've been getting seeds and nuts from the local Bulk Barn and buy just enough to use the coupon in the BB flyer.