In this 11th Wednesdays With Will episode, Dr. Harden discusses how you can control your weight without feeling deprived.
He explains how insulin works in the human body and how you can control it.
Also, being overweight will effect a person’s joints and bones.
Jim from Camas, WA asked why he feels sick when he reaches a certain level of intensity. The problem is, he doesn’t know he is overexerting until it is too late. Then he feels sick to his stomach, weak in all his muscles and a little dizzy.
When he reaches this point of overexertion, or redlining as I like to call it, he is out for 20 to 30 minutes. He has to sit or lay down he feels so bad. This is pretty debilitating for him since he is a mountain climber.
What is the physiological reason for this sickness? It is lactic acid dumping into the stomach? Is it anemia? Is it a stress hormone? Listen as Dr. Will shares his knowledge on the matter.
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Links and Resources for This Episode
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- Ep 42 – Goal Setting Made Easier: 9 Steps to Weight Loss Success
- Ep 11 Dr. Barry Sears, The Zone Diet – Control Your Insulin
- Ep 15 Dr. Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet
Transcript of This Episode
Will: Okay. We’re gonna have a little discussion about weight management and how I address it with patients who present to my office presumably with let’s say chronic low back pain and they happen to be overweight by 50 or 100 or 200 pounds. That I will start by saying there’s something we need to speak to that’s very important. And it’s just not important to your back; it’s important to your long term health picture, your longevity, your susceptibility to disease. And that’s your weight because being excessively overweight, definitely makes one prone to increase incidence of cardio-vascular disease, increase incidence of diabetes. And there are just huge implications to the weight-bearing joints when they’re bearing a hundred extra pounds or even 50 extra pounds. And most people who lose 15-20 pounds can feel a difference on their joints whether it’s low back or knees. So obviously, I could tell you well if you’re overweight, you got to exercise more. And yes, that’s true. And yes, there is wisdom and truth to the idea that more calories burned than consumed will result in net weight loss. But I think I’ll defer to you Glenn, to address what’s an appropriate way to exercise in terms of your regimen if you want to lose weight.
But here’s what I tell people that management of weight comes down to mgt of insulin releases. And it works like this. When you eat, the food is digested. And as it absorbs, your blood sugar begins to come up. Your blood sugar should always remain within a certain range of let’s say between oh maybe as low as 70 or 75 when you wake up in the morning. In other words, you’re fasting for 8-12 hours to as a high as 135 or 140 an hour after eating. But if we did an average blood sugar when you had not eaten on hours, we should see that it’s somewhere around 95, maybe a hundred. So when you eat, your blood sugar begins to go up and it goes to 100 and 105 and 110 and 115. And then your brain says “Oh that blood sugar’s coming up. Let’s do something to commence to control it. Let’s release some insulin,” so you release insulin. And what insulin does is it makes cells all of which have receptors for insulin. In other words, landing sites that recognize only one thing, insulin. And when insulin contacts that landing site, that receptor, it makes the cell kind of like turn on and activate its uptake and burning of sugar. So insulin makes you take up sugar and burn it more efficiently and more rapidly but you can only do that so fast. After that, insulin will favor what’s called glycogenesis which means the making of glycogen. And glycogen is a long chain of sugars stored in your liver and a little bit in your muscles. But the truth is you can only store 1500 to 2000 calories worth of glycogen, which the chances are you’ve already done over the course of last day or 2 or 3 or week, unless you’ve engaged in some really prolonged or fairly extensive physical exertion like a 75 mile bike ride or a 4 hour or 8 hour hike and then you will tap in to glycogen to make blood sugar.
But most people by and large already max out in their glycogen storage. So the next way that insulin will lower your blood sugar is it will cost you to produce fat out of your blood sugar. But I got to back up and say if you eat a diet that constantly is causing surges in your insulin like for breakfast you have toast or cereal or pan cakes or waffles, for mid-morning snack, you have a snicker bar. For lunch, you get a burger and fries. For an afternoon snack, you have a bag of Doritos. I’m speaking to the typical American diet, aren’t I? And then for dinner, you have you decide to get healthy so you have halibut and a salad and then garlic bread. Every single one of those foods, those meals contained high-glycemic foods. In other words, foods that cause your blood sugar to go up fast. Therefore, cause your system to get flooded with insulin. And if you constantly and repetitively flood your system with insulin from that type of diet, plus soda, plus sweetened coffee, plus juice, you eventually start learning to ignore insulin. And the cell receptors stop responding to it. In other words, you’re prevailing blood sugar levels get so high and you’re releasing so much insulin that you have to make fat out of the sugar in your system in order to control your blood sugar. So the goal of losing weight is to pay heed to how foods are affecting insulin response. So the goal would be to eat a breakfast, a mid-morning snack a lunch an afternoon and a dinner and maybe an evening snack that never causes a surge in blood sugar and therefore a surge in insulin release. In other words, you want to eat what I called low-glycemic foods. So an ideal example would be for breakfast, 3 scrambled eggs, maybe even have a little sprinkled cheese on it. If you’re still hungry, have half an apple. And if you want to dip it in almond butter. For a midmorning snack, 2-3 hours later, because remember 2 or 3 hours later, the blood sugar is starting to come down. We’re trying to regulate and keep steady that blood sugar in that 75-100 if you’re fasting and 75 to maybe temporarily as much as 120 after eating. So for a midmorning snack, maybe finish the other half of the apple dipped in peanut butter or with a slice of cheese. For lunch, a big chicken Caesar salad but pitch the croutons because those are bread, they’re high-glycemic. They’re gonna contribute to a more rapid elevation of blood sugar. Therefore, release of insulin. Afternoon snack, handful of mix nuts, handful of almonds, salami rolled around cram cream cheese even. This is still a really low-glycemic food. Is that the healthiest choice? No, but its low-glycemic are making a point. For dinner, halibut, steamed roasted veggies and a big salad, an evening snack or half a handful macadamian nuts with small amount of a little sliver of dark chocolate if you want. Dark chocolate is much more lower glycemic than milk chocolate, lower in sugar. Notice, no juices, no pops, no fasting, no starvation. You’re eating 5 times a day but it’s foods that will not cause a surge in blood sugar and therefore, insulin.
When people eat this way, they almost always report that within two weeks, they’ve lost between 5 and 8 pounds but they feel like they’re pigging out all day long. So the list of foods that I suggest people avoid if they are trying to manage blood sugar, control blood sugar, prevent diabetes because of a family history or to lose weight is avoid breads, pastas, cereals and of course cookies, candies and sweets but also, potato-based foods, corn-based foods, white rice, juices, all sodas including diet sodas. And those who eat this way almost always report dramatic changes. And not just in weight, most people will say, one, I don’t crave sweets anymore after about 7-10 days of eating like this. In fact, what they report is when they eat for a week or a week and a half like this, when they do eat sweets, they really feel horrible. They’ll say a half hour later, “I was exhausted. I was so tired. I had to nap or I had to have coffee or I was craving an hour later a snicker bar.” Well, that makes total physiological sense. If your blood sugar shoots up, you release a lot of insulin. In fact, you overshoot. You release so much insulin that your blood sugar plummets. When your blood sugar plummets and is “too low,” what you’re gonna crave more than anything is a snicker bar or a soda or a bag of chips or a sandwich, something that will cause your blood sugar to rapidly elevate. And of course, that causes your blood sugar to surge which causes you to release a ton of insulin which causes your blood sugar to plummet and it makes you crave something that will bring it up. And when you eat that way, you are distinctly prone to the development of Type 2 Diabetes and to obesity or weight gain. And it’s really one of the most common health challenge is that I see. I think that all makes sense.
Glenn: So I have a couple of comments I’d like to make, Will. I didn’t want to interrupt you but when you are naming off the foods that a person should not eat.
Glenn: I’m hearing that person you’re telling say in response, “Well, what’s left? Those are all my favorite foods.”
Will: You would not believe how frequently… When I’m describing the list, literally patients say “You just described my exact diet.” And particularly patients who are over – I’m gonna say – over 50 pounds overweight, they nearly unanimously state that’s primarily my diet right there. And so the answer is that I’ll give them a list of foods. I’ll say foods to consider for replacing this diet, nuts and seeds, fruits with the exception or ripe bananas, grapes and dried fruit because those three are fairly high-glycemic. Replace rice with either brown rice or better yet quinoa. Quinoa is the grain that is the lowest glycemic, highest protein alternative to rice. Feel free to munch all you want eggs, meats, cheeses if what you’re trying to do is control blood sugar or reduce weight. Obviously, I would never suggest you eat bacon for lunch, a steak for – I’m sorry – bacon for breakfast, ham for lunch and a burger not on a bun for dinner, and feel free to eat steaks whenever you want, munch on cheese throughout the day. Know there’s a lot of reasons why we know that is not an ideal diet. But eggs are very low in fat. They are not likely to cause any elevation of cholesterol no matter what you might have read in the past. Those who eat lots of them will typically report no change in blood cholesterol levels overtime. Almonds and mix nuts are ideal for on-the-go food in the car between meals. Apples are certainly handy. You can dip them in almond butter or peanut butter to spruce them up.
And the truth is when you avoid high-glycemic foods for a couple weeks, these other foods taste really good. Slicing a large quantity of veggies and then maybe even making a homemade hummus that you keep in Tupperware is actually a really easy food once you get past the initial preparation. It’s great on-the-go food. Veggies dipped in homemade hummus is delicious. And after you eat that way for a week or two while avoiding high-glycemic food, you start realizing “Wow. Vegetables are surprisingly tasty.”
Glenn: And also surprisingly filling. They don’t seem to be filling at first. But after you’ve eaten them for a while and just become used to not getting that huge carb load, that glycemic load on your blood stream, then vegetables do become more satisfying.
Will: Absolutely so true and especially if you’re combining it with like a really nutritionally dense food like hummus.
Glenn: What if you don’t like hummus?
Will: Then you’re out of luck. (Laughter) Well, you’re alternative would be some veggies like celery and carrots, a really good dip in almond butter or peanut butter. Veggies mix with thin sliced cheese, delicious. It’s a great combination.
Glenn: So well there’s another sort of confounder to insulin. Or let me put it in another way. And correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve always understood that when insulin is released, not only is it storing excess glucose in to the liver, muscles and turning it to fat but at the same time, it’s repressing fat from being broken down into glucose. So it’s known as fat-sparing. So insulin is known as the storage hormone but also keeps a person from burning body fat, correct?
Will: Absolutely true. Insulin is attempting to lower blood sugar. Now when you burn fat, you’re mobilizing fat and turning it to sugar so insulin prevents that from happening.
Glenn: And when people eat low-fat meals, what they’re doing is they’re actually working against themselves. They’re causing fat storage and causing fat to not be burned for fuel.
Will: In many respects, that is true. In fact, we know a low-fat, no-fat, fat-free diet is absolutely unhealthy as it relates endocrine function or hormonal functions, detoxification functions, biliary function. The list is long as to why we now know a low-fat diet is not healthy.
Glenn: And that relates back to your cholesterol talk when you mention—
Will: That’s right.
Glenn: –why people get gall bladder stones or gall stones because the gall bladder is not being used enough from eating enough fat when people eat too low a fat of meals.
Will: True. So a case in point, last week I have a new patient, a 49-year old male who reported when I gave him the list of foods to avoid, literally he said that is my entire diet right there. But he was… I’m gonna say he was easily 350 pounds, had a family history which included a mom who had a stroke in her early 50’s. And he at least conveyed that he was worried about his overall health since he was 49 and he was having that mid-life consideration of “Oh boy. I’m turning 50 and I’m not all that healthy.” And essentially what I told him was “Given your family history, your present weight, if you continue this diet, I can essentially promise you that in the next 1-3 years at 49, eating this way, you will develop Type 2 Diabetes. And I firmly believe that you will have a stroke with this weight, this diet and a family history. And he got teared up. “I know that what you’re saying is right.” But he was in town for a single day. And I made him promise that we would talk in one month because he promised me that he would make this change in his diet. And when I followed up the next morning to see if he had thought about what we did, he was surprisingly excited. He said, “I think it’s gonna be a huge challenge but I’m gonna do it.” And from his hotel room, he said he called his wife and she agreed. She joined him in this because she was having apparently the same struggles which is really common, which really speaks also to the value of having a partner in arms in the course of making really radical change in lifestyle like an entire dietary revamp.
When we do cleanses for example on a patient, I always strongly advise that the partner or spouse joins them so that two people on the same household are not for 9 days or 10 days eating completely different way. And maybe more importantly so that the spouse who isn’t cleansing is not constantly tempting and teasing the one who is who feels like they’re so deprived for 9 days. But I think my real point in elaborating on that is that scenario of people eating a diet that’s comprised of things that are really high-glycemic that are the root of half or more health challenges is extremely common. And I am certain that in a month, he’s gonna tell me his energy is higher. He feels better about himself. He feels better about the future. He’s for or less anxious and worried and that he’s lost somewhere around 15 to 18 or 20 pounds. And in the end, what do we want? We want him to be healthy and happy. And he’s gonna be moving in that direction. I’m certain of it provided he can keep in mind all the basic construct of everything that led up to this decision on this part, which is high-glycemic diet is slowly killing people literally slowly killing people.
So that by the time they hit 60, what I like to think is that when I’m 60 “No, I feel great. I went for a great bike ride yesterday. Tomorrow I gotto…” super high planned, not what most American’s tend to accept which is “No, I don’t hike anymore. For God’s sake I’m 60. I don’t do that kind of thing anymore not with my knees, not with my back and my weight and my energy levels” and it’s on and on, all the reasons why many people accept that from 50 or 60 on, they slowly twiddle away in terms of health. That’s unacceptable. I submit to you that your health should go just like a candle. Right, like when a candle burns out, it’s just as bright the 10 seconds before it goes as it was when it was fresh and young. I like age. I like that imagery of aging and death that it’s sudden but preceded by relatively good health.
Glenn: Yeah, I wanna live a long life. I would really like to see 100 years but I do have stipulations. And I’m not gonna spend the last 20 years as a puddle of goo in a bed or in a walker.
Will: You have reasonable demands.
Glenn: That is not at all… I would rather go tomorrow than to…
Will: Agreed than to burn out for decades.
Glenn: Yeah. Yeah.
Will: I agree with you whole heartedly.
Glenn: Well, thank you, Will. This have been very eye opening. I hope a lot of people you know see the light.
Will: I hope so.
Glenn: From this conversation, we could potentially save millions of lives if people really accept this as being the truth and worth it.
Glenn: Worth it. I know that carbohydrates taste good. They’re cheap. They’re easy. They come in so many different flavors and shapes and styles.
Will: Oh my goodness.
Glenn: But they are killing us.
Will: Every guy through out the country.
Glenn: Just like cigarettes, they’re killing us.
Will: Agreed. I have a friend who describes smoking as passive suicide.
Will: And we might say that eating a diet that you know is contributing to weight problems, potential diabetes, the realization of a family history of such problems, we might say it’s equivalent to that.
Glenn: It adds up. One potato chip or even one bag of potato chip isn’t gonna kill you but it adds up over time.
Glenn: It certainly does.
Glenn: Okay. Will, I have a listener question here. And it’s actually from one of my personal training client, Jim, and myself. I’ve been trying to find the answer to this question for him for years. And I just had the same experience. I was running some stairs. And about a minute of high exertion up the stairs, I felt dizzy, queasy. After doing the stairs several times, I felt like I was gonna throw up and had no energy and just want to collapse. And the same with my client when he over exert with any sort of activity whether it’s you know resistance or a cardio or sprinting, he tends to feel sick. And he’s pretty much out for the rest of the work out. What do you think is causing this?
Will: The best I can do is hypothesize because the real answer is that could be explained by few things. So the first thing I would say is “Wow. If a person gets dizzy or feels sick with exercise, they must really be out of shape.” But that’s not what you’re asking. You’re asking about a person who’s been working out for years and continually gets sick. So some people theorize that getting sick or feeling nauseous during heavy exertion exercise is a result of lactic acid’s spilling into your stomach. And yet I… there is really no physiological logic to the idea that that would even happen because lactic acid is generated within musculature and then it’s processed in the bloodstream when it’s “carried away” and whereas you might have some increase lactic acid within the lymphatic system immediately post-heavy exertion there is no reason that would end up “spilling in to the stomach” so I can’t explain it that way. I might postulate that the over exertion of the diaphragm which pushes down your breathing muscle that pushes down into the abdomen might force some stress on the GI organs especially upper GI because the stomach is immediately below the diaphragm so that could definitely induce some stomach upset and maybe even force mild degree of vomiting if you really heavily exerted but I have a theory for the gentlemen who’s been getting sick. Every time he works out at least moderately heavy for years, would be that he either has anemia which would certainly induce dizziness with any kind of heavy exertion because anemia is when you have enough either red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry an adequate of oxygen to cope with increase demand. And therefore, it makes you dizzy because now you’re not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Or he has a degree of adrenal fatigue. Whenever you incur any increase stress, for example in the case of exposure to sudden really cold temperature, for example if you did a hot-cold baths. if you… when you step into that cold water, it induces a major adrenal burst that is a release of adrenaline and that makes you stronger so under heavy exercise, even moderate exercise, you’re incurring additional adrenal stress. And if the adrenals can’t meet that demand that definitely could make you feel fatigued really burned out unable to gauge in a heavy activity level after that for the rest of the day. And if that were true then the use of a certain nutritional compounds can make the adrenals feel better. In fact, I submit to you that high proportion of people suffer from daily adrenal fatigue manifesting as tiredness regardless of the amount of sleep they get, always feeling like you need more sleep. And when you fortify someone’s adrenal gland for example with an adrenal glandular extract with some Zinc and Vitamin C and maybe an extract of licorice in it, which all of which are good for the adrenals; these people will often will say they come out of a fog they’ve been in for years. And that they feel like whereas they normally need 8 or 9 hours of sleep not to feel tired; they hopped out of bed after 7 hours feeling refreshed. Adrenal fortification can really help in that respect of fatigue but I think that could explain that gentleman’s exercise-induced stress.
Glenn: I think that’s more likely because I actually ask him to have some blood work when he went for his annual check-up and I hypothesize that he might also be anemic. That’s one of my thoughts as well. I’m glad you said what you said about the lactic acid dumping into the stomach because I heard that before too and it just didn’t make any sense.
Will: There is no physiological logic to that.
Glenn: Yeah. I’ll talk to him about the adrenal fatigue. And is there a supplement that has all the things you need together?
Will: No. There is. There is such a thing as DSF which stands for De-Stress Formula. The idea is that stress is what put a high demand on the adrenals. And that excessive prolong stress fatigues the adrenals which then makes you tired. And by the way, another sign of adrenal fatigue is that when you get up from lying down and sometimes even sitting, you have a 2-5 seconds spell of light-headedness. That’s a fairly classic adrenal sign in addition to fatigue.
Glenn: I’ve had that all my life.
Will: Oh boy. Okay. Then you have an adrenal issue.
Glenn: I thought it was low blood pressure.
Will: That is also entirely possible, that hypotension can induce a moment of fatigue. And yet that happening can also be a reflection that low blood pressure with getting up can be a reflection of adrenal fatigue also.
Glenn: Good to know. And what’s the name of that product again?
Will: It’s called DSF.
Glenn: DSF. I’ll have a link to it for your—
Glenn: –on my Show Note’s page on the Live Fit Podcast.
Glenn: Well, thank you very much, Will.
Glenn: Very educational.
Will: My pleasure.
Glenn: Take care.
Background on Dr. Harden
These special Wednesdays With Will episodes are a series with Dr. Will Harden, chiropractor, creator of the Dr. Will Bar, and health and fitness guru. He will discuss health, fitness, nutrition, and chiropractic issues that have the potential to improve your health and life. Dr. Will Harden has been a chiropractor for 26 years. He graduated first in his class from National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, IL and moved to Portland, OR in 1989 and owns a practice called the Corbett Hill Wellness Center.
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