Must-See Video: The Function of Insulin Explained

Because one of its role in body fat storage, insulin often gets a bad rap in the ancestral health community.

Managing insulin secretion through diet is a good strategy for losing weight, but it is also important to understand that insulin performs vital functions in your body and is essential for your body to survive at all.

This short video from Kahn’s Academy is a good beginner’s guide to the function of insulin in fuelling your cells with glucose.

For an explanation of what happens to the glucose after it has entered your cells, see this video lecture by Doug McGuff, M.D.

Happy New Year! I am Back!

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

Dorothy Thompson

Happy New Year to everyone. You will notice it’s been a while since my last post on this blog. One of my resolutions for the new year is to share more about my personal journey into ancestral health as it happens. My family and I are still living the life-style and still reaping the benefits.

In case you wondered, I have maintained my weight loss, indeed many people comment that I have leaned out further recently. This makes it 18 months I have maintained normal weight. By summer it will be two years, which will be a major milestone achievement. Most studies show that the vast majority of slimmers are back to their old weight or heavier two years after achieving their target weight. Here is a nice article by Ned Kock on this topic with a few links to some of those studies:

All Diets Succeed At First, And Eventually Fail – Ned Kock

My current area of interest is how I reestablish what I call metabolic resilience. What I mean by this is that my metabolism is back to a state where maintaining my weight does not require me to carefully manage the macronutrients my diet. Don’t get me wrong, I consider my diet both healthful and enjoyable, and easy to maintain for the long term. But I would also term it a therapeutic diet. I believe my low-carb diet allows me to maintain a healthy body composition by working around my insulin sensitivity. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say my diet works around my glucose intolerance. In any case, my low-carb diet does not directly address my metabolic weaknesses. At least not to the degree that I would like. It would be good to know that my weight is not going to suffer, if I find myself in a situation where I have to rely on less than ideal food choices for more than a few days.

Jimmy Moore’s example has caused me to reflect a great deal on this (check out his Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb website). Jimmy achieved an incredible weight loss of 180 Lbs back in 2004. The experience made him a passionate advocate for low-carb living, and he is one of the most energetic and prolific activists in the ancestral community today. Despite maintaining a low-carb diet, Jimmy started putting the weight back on. Then last year to address this he started his now famous nutritional ketosis experiment, which has been very successful for him. He discusses this in this episode of his podcast.

Jimmy often describes himself as metabolically deranged to a point where he cannot tolerate any starch and very few carbs of any kind. Whilst I am very happy for him that he is getting back to normal weight through nutritional ketosis, I feel it would help Jimmy and many others if someone came up with a way to measure and track the relative metabolic resilience of an individual.

I don’t believe permanent ketosis is a natural state for the human body. I do believe it’s effective and healthy for some of us to stay in ketosis to maintain normal weight. But wouldn’t it be better if we recovered the ability to switch our metabolism between states without consequences for our weight?

So this is what I am exploring right now. Soon you will see posts here about exercise protocols as well as diet and supplementation strategies for metabolic conditioning. I will also explore how you can measure and track your metabolic resilience starting with insulin sensitivity.

That’s it for now. Why don’t you share with me and other readers what you are focusing on in 2013? Please leave a comment.

So, why should you listen to me?

“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are,
and doing things as the ought to be done.”

Josh Billings

Since you are investing time exploring the materials on this blog, chances are you are looking for an new approach to weight loss. You are looking for something that has a better chance of succeeding than the diets you have tried in the past.

If you want weight loss information that goes against the grain, you have come to the right place. But your health is a serious matter, so please take a moment to ask yourself why you should listen to me. After all, I am not a health professional. I am just some guy who had some success loosing weight. I didn’t take a degree in this stuff. I just experimented on myself, and the experiment happened to work.

I am going to make a bold and opinionated statement here. Most mainstream health professionals don’t really know how people get fat. And they know less about how to loose weight sustainably. Some think they do, but their hypothesis is wrong. They believe it’s all about energy balance and eating fewer calories than you burn. They completely ignore how hormones act on nutrients and how this influences an individual’s propensity to accumulate fat. Consequently, most of them offer advice that is ineffective, and sometimes even counter productive, for the majority of overweight people. And in the case of doctors, the advice is typically based on material they have spent no more than 2 weeks studying at medical school.

Have you tried more than once to loose weigh the mainstream way? Did it work? Did the weight pile back on? Are people blaming your weak character for your weight problem? Are you beating yourself up about it?

Why on earth would you want more of that?

I got tired of being down on myself. I made a choice to question everything I had been told about how to eat. I learned that government guideline and mainstream medical advice is not really based in any science. So, I looked for people who offered something different and who did have some science to back up their advice. This led me to the Ancestral Health community and a return to normal weight and dramatically improved health.

I would like you to take the same joyous journey, but I am not saying you should necessarily listen to me or emulate what I did. I just think you should take your own health seriously. Give yourself some credit and stop listening to advice that hasn’t worked for you. Explore alternatives and always educate yourself before you take anybody’s advice. Do your own research and apply a healthy dose of critical thinking to the information you find. Then take action and conduct your own self-experiment by applying what you have learned. If you keep an open mind and trust your ability to distinguish good information from bad, you will succeed.

Here is a video lecture from another contrarian who encourages you to think for yourself. Tom Naughton is not a doctor nor a scientist. He is a journalist and a former comedian. In other words, a sane voice worth listening to in a world that has gone mad.

Must-See Video: Andreas Eenfeldt interviews Loren Cordain

On this blog you will find a number of videos by Andreas Eenfeldt (aka the Diet Doctor). His collection of video interviews is a great resource. Andreas has interviewed most of the leading lights in the Ancestral Health movement. Check out his YouTube channel here.

This week Andreas released a video interview with Dr. Loren Cordain who many consider the founder of the Paleo movement.

This interview covers the following topics:

  • What the Paleo diet is and who can benefit from it
  • The consequences of ignoring evolutionary biology in our diet
  • Why saturated fat is healthy when part of a low-carb diet
  • Why Dr. Cordain believes a vegan diet is unhealthy
  • Why Dr. Cordain advises caution against milk products (but is OK with butter)
  • How leaky gut, chronic inflammation and a range of auto-immune diseases appears to be linked

Enjoy!

Primal Case-Studies: An update from Phil

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will recall I interviewed Phil back in November.

Phil switched to a low-carb life-style  September last year in an effort to manage his diabetes. His early results were spectacular. He lost 14 lbs / 7kg in 3 weeks, and he cut his use of insulin to a third of what it was previously.

Phil has agreed to update us on his progress periodically. Here is the latest instalment.

What has happened since we last spoke in November?

My weight has stabilised at 85Kg. I probably could lose a few more Kg, but everyone I meet notices the loss of weight.

My ill fitting clothes were getting embarrassing, so I have had to buy a new suit, and lots of new clothes.

And I feel fantastic. None of the drowsiness that I used to have almost every day. Generally I am full of energy.

What challenges have you come up against in maintaining your new life-style?

Every time I find myself in a different place or situation, finding something suitable to eat can be a challenge. I used to be very flexible and would eat whatever was available. But now it is the opposite. But then, when I do find something, I almost always feel really happy with what I have eaten and rarely regret not having what I would have eaten. If that makes sense.

How do people react to the changes you have made?

Everyone seems to be very respectful of it. Last week we went to dinner with friends and they went to so much effort to make the meal suitable for me. I was moved that people react so well.

What have you learned over the past two months that have caused you to make further changes to your life-style?

I have learnt that this way of eating can be really enjoyable. And the benefits are clear. I have done lots of reading, which led me to stop taking the Statins that my doctor had recommended.

What are the health questions that pre-occupy you at the moment?

The main thing that I haven’t sorted out yet is my exercise. I love doing exercise, in particular running and playing football. But I was finding it hard to manage the sugar levels. Then I got an Achilles problem that was not going away. I am seeing a specialist about it and he recommended a change in exercise routine.

What changes to your health do you hope to see in the coming months?

Once my Achilles is sorted I am looking forward to starting a new regime of exercise. I hope to get back to my old fitness levels and lose a few more Kg.

Weight Loss Success Stories

Other people’s successes inspire me whatever goal I am pursuing, and weight loss is no different. I particularly like stories about people who have both lost weight and transformed their health in the process.

Here is a selection of weight loss stories I really like. Not everything these guys advocate would work for me, but the success they have had is irrefutable and amazing. We can all learn from their journeys.

Read how Greg got rid of hypertension, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome and 75lbs in 6 Months.

Kristy Griner tells us how she conquered depression, lost 120lbs and discovered the joys of being a strong and healthy Mum.

I wonder how you must feel when like this guy you have lost more than half your total body weight going from 538lbs to 268lbs.

The Unconquerable Dave has become a bit of a celebrity on Mark Sisson’s website. No surprise, his transformation is amazing and he is quite a character too.

Jay Meyers lost 80lbs along with his dandruff problem by eating primal. It’s hard to believe his before and after pictures are of the same person.

Tell me about the success stories that have inspired you by leaving me a comment below.

How tying my shoes became a daily joy

“The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones
is the way you use them.” – Proverb

Tying shoelaces is a trivial task for most people. But when I was at my heaviest it was a daily challenge and a constant reminder of my generous girth and poor health.

Kneeling down or bending down to reach my feet was very uncomfortable. So, to put on my shoes, I would sit myself down in an armchair. As I reached down for my feet my gut would press up against my diaphragm, which severely restricted my breathing. This meant I had to hold my breath as I was tying my laces. After finishing the first lace, I would sit back, take a little break, and snap a gulp of air before diving down for the next shoe.

When both shoes were tied, the next challenge was to get out of the chair. To do this I would rock my bottom to the edge of the seat and then push myself up out of the chair whilst making various strained noises. All this made me toy with the idea of wearing slip-on loafers. Thankfully, I managed to lose weight before this became more than a fanciful idea.

Nowadays, things are very different. I stand when I put on my shoes. I simply balance on one leg, lift up the other and slip on the shoes without making any strange noises or feeling any discomfort. To tie my shoelaces I kneel or bend down without thinking about it. It takes a fraction of the time it used to, and I view it as a daily opportunity to take satisfaction in the changes I have made to my life.

My weight loss has taught me that small things make a big difference. That’s why I advocate writing down the niggles and discomforts that are part of overweight life when you first embark on an effort to regain your health. Here is a list of things to think about to get you started:

  • When you get home from work, do you change into comfortable clothes like sweat pants with an elasticated waist?
  • Do you sit down or stand up when you put on socks?
  • Do you hide behind other people when someone is taking a group photo?
  • Do you have any aches or soreness that won’t go away?
  • Are there times of the day when your energy level crashes?
  • How do you feel after you have walked up more than two flights of stairs?

After you are back to normal weight, it is easy to forget how your body used to get in the way, and it is worth reminding yourself frequently. Take pride in all your little victories and resolve to make them permanent. Once you have escaped the limiting impairments of obesity, you won’t want to go back.

Recipe: Red wine liver with sweet potato mash and caramelised onions

Are you looking to incorporate more offal into your diet? Then why not try this delicious and quick recipe for red wine marinated lamb’s liver.

I am on a drive to introduce more offal into my diet, and I decided to start with lamb’s liver, which is readily available in the UK and also very affordable.

Most recipes I have looked at are fairly basic variations on liver, onions and mash, and many involve soaking the liver in milk and dusting it with seasoned flower.

For obvious reasons, I wanted to avoid the flour, and I also wanted to make this liver dish a little more interesting. This recipe is inspired by various basque recipes, and involves marinating the liver in red wine and vinegar for 3-4 hours. The marination process makes the flavour of the liver a little milder and also seems to improve the texture. The marinate is also used to make a delicious sauce that ties the whole dish together.

Once the liver has finished marinating, it takes no more than 30 minutes to make this dish, and trust me, it is delicious.

If you try out this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

450g Lamb’s Liver
1 large glass dry Red Wine
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 cloves Garlic (crushed)
1 Bay Leaf
¼ tsp salt

3 tbsp Olive Oil
3 large Onions, halved and sliced thinly

4 rashers Dry Cured Streaky Bacon, chopped

3 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp coarse sea salt

5 sprigs Parsley, finely chopped

Method:

  • Combine the wine, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf and salt in a dish, add the Lamb’s Liver and coat well. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  • Start cooking the onions 30 minutes before the livers have finished marinating. Heat three tbsp of Olive Oil in a frying pan and cook the thinly sliced onions over a low heat. Cover for the first 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add a little salt and cook uncovered over medium heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Place 4 rashers of streaky bacon on a baking tray covered in aluminium foil and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven up to 180 C / 350 F , and leave the bacon to crisp up, about 20 minutes, then leave it to drain on kitchen paper. Conserve the bacon fat for frying the livers in.
  • Place the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in a steamer and sprinkle over 1 tsp of course sea salt. then steam for approx. 12 minutes or until soft all the way through.
  • Remove the Liver from the marinade and pat dry. Brown them in the pan with the conserved bacon fat for 1-2 minutes either side. Place on a warm plate to rest.
  • Pour the red wine marinade into the pan and boil rapidly, uncovered, until it has reduced by half.
  • While the marinate reduces, mash the sweet potates with butter and seasoning to taste.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and enjoy.

Tips:

  • You can conserve any left over red wine for by freezing it.
  • You can also freeze any left over parsley. Simply wash it and freeze the parsley whole with the stalks. To use, simple crumble the frozen parsley between your fingers. You won’t even have to chop it when it’s frozen.
  • I imagine you could cook this recipe with other meats. Why not try steak.

My personal trainer at PaleoFX 2012

So, I have a bit of a guilty conscience. I have not posted any material to this blog for a while, and I have not done any exercise for nearly a week.

Work has been taking my attention, so there hasn’t been much time for play. In a week’s time I should be in the clear.

In the meantime, my personal trainer Darryl Edwards appeared as speaker at the PaleoFX 2012 conference in Austin, TX. He also did some Primal Play classes at the conference. I really like this video he posted of it on YouTube.

I am a fan of Darryl’s methods, and I really hope his appearance at PaleoFX helps raise his profile. Check out the testimonial I wrote about my experience with his Play Camp classes here.

How the Paleo/Primal diet works

 

One of the things my blog has been missing, is a dissertation of how the Paleo/Primal diet actually works. I have been wanting to post an article on this, because understanding the science made a big difference to me. I would like to think it could also make a difference to others.

The problem is the science is not easy to explain. To be honest I have been putting off writing an article about it because I knew it would be time consuming and challenging.

So, I was very pleased to find this video with Dr. Doug McGuff where he goes through the biochemistry of human metabolism to explains obesity, diabetics and why eating Paleo/Primal works for optimal health.

I have read a lot of material on how Paleo nutrition works, but this is by far the clearest explanation I have come across.

The whole video is 1 hour and 38 minutes long, but I have embedded it so it only plays the part where Dr. McGuff explains current understanding of metabolism. If you want to understand the science of Primal eating, these 36 minute are going to be worth your while.

Enjoy!!

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