Naturopathy Case Studies – Fat Loss
In targeting fat loss we do not focus on reducing fat intake as much as lowering blood sugar levels, and as a result, insulin levels. For more comprehensive detail on the role of sugar and insulin in fat gain/loss and energy production, refer to The Problem With Sugar.
In short, elevated insulin levels will result in:
Increased storage of sugar as fat.
Ultimately insulin resistance, or unavailability of some insulin receptors (on cell membranes) to insulin – meaning that less sugar gets into the cells for energy production, and more sugar gets sent off for storage (initially as glycogen in muscles and liver and then as fat).
Lowered Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – and therefore use of blood sugars for energy (and as a result, increased storage of unused sugar as fat).
Lowered release of fat from fat stores.
Essentially, our bodies end up in ‘storage mode’.
Due to a significantly increased carbohydrate or sugar intake by the average Westerner nowadays, compared to the amounts we consumed hundreds and especially thousands of years ago, basal blood sugar and insulin levels are by and large significantly higher than the levels our systems run optimally on.
As such, a focus on lowering blood sugar levels will switch us from fat ‘storage’ to fat ‘burning’ mode.
In this program, often considered a ‘controlled ketogenic’ plan, we lower blood sugar and insulin levels by eliminating many sources of starchy, sugary carbohydrates from the diet. This is including sugar, anything with added sugar, flavoured drinks, juices, sweets, honey, all grains and grain products (bread, cereal, pasta, cakes, pastries, biscuits etc) and alcohol.
We also maintain a regular intake of meals/snacks, and protein in meals/snacks in order to keep blood sugar levels stable or consistently low. The protein will:
Slow down the release of carbohydrate/sugar into the bloodstream.
Maintain or elevate BMR.
Make one feel fuller for longer (by promoting the release of ‘satiety hormones’).
The term ‘ketogenic’ refers to the conversion of fat back to carbohydrate or sugar for the purpose of energy production. Ketones are the by-product of this conversion and urine levels of these indicate that fat is being burned. We aim to control ketosis however, as more is not better.
If ketone levels are elevated for too long it is not healthy as the kidneys and the body can perceive that it is under threat i.e. starving. As a defensive mechanism, if ketone levels are too high for more than a few days, the body will increase insulin levels, and raise BMR forcing it back into storage mode in order to spare energy production in case this perceived famine goes on for a long time. This is a defensive mechanism inherent in our bodies that is a result of our evolutionary history where we experienced regular incidences of famine (or feasts). Remembering from previously that when BMR is lowered and insulin levels are raised, the release of fat from fat stores is blocked. As carbohydrate levels are already low on this program, the body will then source protein for energy production. The by-product of the conversion of protein to carbohydrate is ammonia, which places a large acidic load on the system, especially the kidneys.
So, ketone levels are monitored twice daily (via a simple urine test) and kept at very moderate levels so that we can make sure we are burning fat. But not at levels that the body will switch into ‘famine’ or ‘storage’ mode.
I have displayed results of two cases of fat loss on a controlled ketogenic program. If followed and monitored properly, results can be fantastic in terms of weight loss – especially fat loss, which is our main objective. Many diets shed weight, but much of it is water and muscle, and not always a lot of fat.
Body composition (muscle mass and fat mass) and cellular health is monitored weekly in the clinic by Bio-Impedence analysis. Results of progress are tabled based on these analyses.
Case 1: 51 Year Old Male
VLA Body Composition History – Tabular
This male carried approximately 10kg of extra fat (above ideal for his height, age, frame size) initially and most of it was in the abdomen region. Abdominal fat is considered extremely high risk as it acts like an endocrine gland secreting inflammatory hormones that promote chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer etc.
Over a 5-6 week period he shed over 9kg of weight – 5.35kg of it being fat (approx. 1kg per week!!!), whilst only losing 2.37kg of muscle mass (represented as ATM (active tissue mass) on the table) – which includes muscle and organ mass). As muscle mass is active tissue, it is vital in maintaining BMR, declines as we get older so it is ideal to preserve as much as is possible on this program.
In addition, he lost 11cm off his waist circumference.
Not only did he look great, he drastically reduced the likelihood that he will produce or suffer from a chronic illness in the short or long term.
Case 2: 66 Year Old Female
VLA Body Composition History – Tabular
This woman achieved outstanding results. Over 12 weeks of approx. 10kg in weight lost, approx. 9kg of this was fat and 1kg was water. She lost virtually no muscle mass!!!
Her waist also dropped 6cm. She delighted in buying several new outfits that fitted her new body.
Both of these clients are still achieving similar progress to this day.
Once we conclude this dietary program, the timeframe of which is dependent on the goals of the client, we run a maintenance program based on similar hormonal principles (with regard to maintaining consistently low blood sugar and insulin levels) but introduce small amounts of whole grains into the diet, whilst maintaining a regular intake of moderate amounts of protein in meals and snacks.
As a result, we do not regularly see the classic ‘rebound’ weight gain experienced after following many dietary programs that do not correctly address how fuels are processed for energy production and body composition.
For a Bio-Impedence analysis on body composition or cellular health, or consultation with Tim on fat loss or general wellness nutrition, email Tim or call 0425 739 918.