I'm so fired up! I've stumbled upon gold! Namely, the research and writing of Diane Kress, notable Diabetes Educator and Dietitian.
Ms. Kress coined the concept of "Metabolic Types," and revealed that there are actually two: Metabolic Type A, and Metabolic Type B.
It turns out I'm Type B. I suspect the majority of people who follow my Blog are, too. If you're like me - having struggled your whole life with weight, chronic hunger and cravings, health worries (such as gradually worsening lab results, borderline high blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid issues, etc.), and if you've felt all along like the typical guidelines just didn't apply to you, you NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS.
THE REAL CAUSE OF CARB ADDICTION
- Diane Kress
When I stumbled upon the above article, I read it with a growing sense of vindication! Finally, the reality of my experience with food and dieting was being explained in relatively simple terms and I wondered how no one had figured this out before! I highly recommend reading the article for yourself, but I'll give you the executive summary and some of my thoughts here:
There are 2 metabolic types:
- Metabolism Type A (naturally thin)
- Metabolism Type B (naturally heavier)
The Met A people are the ones we picture in our minds when we think of folks who can "eat whatever they want and stay thin." Met B folks, on the other hand, struggle with weight much of their lives and dream of someday finding the right diet or exercise regimen to transform their bodies so they act more like Met As. However, the two types actually have verifiable physiological differences which make that unlikely to happen.
The way it stands now, ALL of the prevailing diet and exercise guidelines are based on things that work for Metabolism Type A. Met As can eat according to the food pyramid and be the picture of health. If they do put on a little weight, they can just eat less and exercise to return to normal.
Met Bs follow the Food Pyramid, experience chronic hunger and cravings, and see their weight steadily climb. To drop back down, they're told to eat 1200 calories of things like low-fat rice cakes, fruit, whole grains and vegetables, which usually means the scale doesn't budge at all. Met B's often feel like screaming, "It doesn't work!!! None of this works!!!"
But the problem is, it does work. For the Metabolism Type A people. They make it look easy and sustainable because it IS. For them. Doctors and personal trainers and magazines and celebrities affirm that these guidelines are sound. And they look at the rest of us with disdain and an assumption that we just don't know how to put down a bag of chips or cookies.
According to Ms. Kress, the problem isn't with us, it's with the fact that there is only ONE set of guidelines, but TWO kinds of metabolisms.
To illustrate how this works, I'm going to get a little bit technical on you here, but please bear with me as this is very critical to understand.
Met A folks are the GREEN line on the graph below . When they eat according to the food pyramid (meals containing on average 60% of their calories coming from carbohydrates), and even when they indulge (meals with 50-100g of carbohydrate), their blood sugars rarely rise above the high-normal or mid-normal range. This means they hardly ever enter fat storage mode, and they rarely crave food/carbs. If they do gain a little weight, it works for them to restrict calories a bit and increase exercise to lose it.
Metabolism Type B folks, on the other hand, are the Purple line on the above graph. The main difference in their physiology is a predisposition to OVER-REACT to carb consumption at levels considered normal for Type As. Met B's blood sugars (and in tandem, their insulin levels) rise higher than usual, which then leads to blood sugar "crashes," which trigger carbohydrate cravings. The Met B person then eats more carbohydrates, which starts the cycle all over again. Compared to Met As, Met B's spend a lot of time in fat storage mode even though they're eating the same foods.
Oh, and just a note about carbohydrate cravings… Contemporary neuroscience confirms that the craving for carbohydrates triggered by a steep drop in blood sugar is akin to the cravings addicts feel for cocaine or heroin. So we're not just talking about the munchies. In a low blood sugar state, our ancient metabolic mechanisms respond as if our lives are at stake with hormones powerful enough to ensure we survive the famine it believes we are in.
Behind the scenes, this continuous cycle of over-reactions leads to insulin resistance and eventually Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. These metabolic conditions lead to worsening obesity, cardiovascular problems and many others issues. (Insert thumbnail of Metabolic Syndrome graphic).
Once the weight piles on, Met Bs are instructed to eat less and exercise. This strategy doesn't even *touch* the imbalances which created their obesity in the first place. They didn’t gain weight from simple over-consumption of calories, so just cutting calories doesn't fix things. A deep state of insulin resistance means Met Bs are in chronic fat storage mode, especially when they consume carbohydrates, so a "balanced diet" based on nutritional roadmaps geared for Met As just exacerbates their problems. In fact, some Met Bs who have become very deeply resistant actually *gain* weight on the weight loss plans used for Met As.
Awesome, right? As frustrating as it is to find all of this out NOW (after 48 years), it's also a relief! It's nice to know that I'm not crazy! I'm not broken and I'm not a fundamentally weak or flawed human being. But all of this begs the question… What DOES work for Met Bs?
Well, I've studied Ms. Kress' recommendations, and they match my own observations from 5+ years of experience with my own success and that of my clinic's Maintainers.
First, Met Bs need to go into deep ketosis to get their insulin-dominant bodies to leave fat storage mode and enter fat-burning mode. (In other words, Ideal Protein Phase 1). It so happens that this deep ketotic state, over time, and with strict adherence, reverses insulin resistance to a great extent!
Next, in order not to regain the weight, they need to strictly control their carb intake and begin fueling themselves primarily with fat. Yes, FAT! You heard me correctly. On our Ideal NW Maintenance plan, maintainers eat primarily fat, non-starchy veggies and moderate protein. Met Bs find this advice difficult to follow after decades of misguided fat avoidance based on Met A guidelines. But it's working! Believe it or not, my maintainers and I actually eat things called Fat Bombs and desserts made purely from whipped cream! We add olives and cheese and avocados to our salads! We eat sugar free cheesecake for breakfast! And we THRIVE.
I stumbled on these solutions after a lifetime of trial and error. It was a happy accident that I found Ideal Protein. I now know why it worked so well but back then I was just desperate and groping in the dark for help. I didn't know my biology was closer to that of a caveman's and that I needed to eat more like they did. I didn’t know that the kinds of carbs we're told are healthy today would've caused them to store fat just like I do now.
It gives me a little bit of solace to know that my predisposition toward fat storage used to be an evolutionary advantage! My body would've won fat-storing championships in the old days! The prize would've been survival while my emaciated Met A friends perished in those brutal ancient conditions. I imagine the only reason there are so many Met Bs today is that our ancient ancestors were the ones who SURVIVED! We carry their genes, despite the fact that we don't quite need their superpower anymore. I comfort myself with the knowledge that if some big new catastrophe befell us, say a Zombie Apocalypse, my metabolism would suddenly become a big ASSet to survival. (Pun intended).
One more metaphor occurs to me. I'm a Tesla. But for decades, my doctors have been giving me instructions as if I were a Honda Accord. Putting gasoline in my engine is useless! I don't have a system which utilizes petroleum products! I operate on a battery! I can only properly refuel by plugging myself into a 240 volt power outlet! Now that I know this, I have a lot of damage to clean up, but I can go forward with a new understanding which should allow my body to run like the marvel of metabolic design that it is! And if you learn to apply these new insights, so can you!
Thank you, Diane Kress, for your courageous, bold and game-changing work!