Low Carb Lung Doc
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Low Carb Lung Doc

Addressing metabolic syndrome: A nutritional solution

To help address the real cause of insulin resistance and all of its related health problems, one of the most significant changes you can make is to change your diet from the way you used to eat. The basis of this approach involves changing how we look at food, and eating for health and healthy satisfaction. This does not involve buying special powders or special foods. Rather I tend to encourage the following 10 principles:

1. Eat real food, meaning non-processed food (things that come in a box or have lots of chemical words on their labels). This is food that looks like food. This is not bars, cereals, soda or energy drinks, and most frozen dinners. Good foods are meat, chicken, seafood, tofu, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, green and leafy vegetables. Preparing your own meals is often best, as you know exactly what you’re putting into them.

2. Avoid all grains and starchy vegetables. This includes rice, and things made from wheat flour like pasta, bread (yes, even if it is “whole grain”), cereals. This includes oatmeal, corn, and potatoes.

3. Eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet. This includes sugary soda, most sports drinks (like Gatorade or Powerade), and all fruit juices (like orange or cranberry juice).

4. Eliminate added sugars from your diet. This includes food that has all forms of sugar: table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, coconut sugar, agave, all caloric sweeteners.

5. Reading labels is super important. You’ll often be surprised at how much sugar or carbohydrates are in certain foods. Avoid foods with labels that say “Low Fat or No Fat” such as yogurt. These often have extra sugar to give them flavor.

6. Eliminate sweet, high glycemic (that’s food that raises your blood sugar) fruits from your diet, such as bananas, mangoes, and especially any dried fruit. If you want occasional fruit, choose fruits that will not raise your blood sugar so much, like berries (in a single serving portion), and eat it with fat in your meal (like with a little creme fraiche when you want dessert). Fruit becomes the treat rather than candy. But for the period of metabolic reversal, I tend to recommend no fruit.

7. At each meal make sure you are eating healthy fat. Fat is key to feeling full, so although you’re taking sugar and processed carbs out of your diet, you’ll be replacing it with fat. Healthy fats include butter, lard, coconut oil and olive oil. Also consider foods like fatty nuts (macadamia nuts), and vegetables (avocado). Unhealthy fats are processed seed oils (vegetable oil, margarine or non-dairy spread, soybean oil), which are more inflammatory. It is best to steer clear.

Grilled chicken, brussels sprouts, and olives on the side

8. Eat a moderate amount of protein. Not a high amount of protein. This comes out to 1.2–2 grams of protein per kilogram of reference body weight. There is a good reference blog and chart that I go to for this on the Virta website, and this chart is also in The New Atkins for a New You. But the key point is that this is not a high protein diet.

9. Do not snack between meals and eat 2–3 meals per day. If you’re doing this right, you’ll be full enough, will not have the sugar highs and lows, and will feel full. You will not need to snack. In fact, if you’re full and do not feel hungry, it is perfectly okay to extend your fast or skip a meal altogether. If you do feel hungry between meals, because you’re learning this new lifestyle, make sure your snack contains fat (a handful of macadamia nuts are a good choice).

10. Make sure you are also taking care of other essential basics of health: sleep, exercise, and stress management. Sleep and stress management are key, because without good quality sleep and a healthy way to manage stress, people are more likely to be energy-deprived, sugar-craving, and snack-seeking. Although you cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet, exercise is helpful to help you feel good, and moving the body is important on a daily basis.

For many people, it is possible to greatly improve health by eating less carbohydrates this way (no sugar, no starch, and eating healthy fat). Some people want to move the needle faster and really dive deep into this. For that, you hear about going fully into nutritional ketosis (for instance, a ketogenic or “keto” diet and/or intermittent fasting).

It is also possible to be vegetarian or vegan and eat in this way (although it takes more planning), but this is not just a meat and cheese diet.

REMEMBER: Consult with your doctor before you make any significant lifestyle changes. This blog is for informational purposes.

Steak, fish, and cauliflower rice

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Patricia George

Patricia George

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Physician, athlete, and lover of the outdoors. Seeking to understand how we manifest our best selves. Inspired by hope. Opinions are my own.