Let’s talk about metabolic syndrome. It’s a question that I hear A LOT! Is it affecting you? Metabolic syndrome is very common. This was a diagnosis that came about over the past 30 years or so. I’ll talk about the history of it and what’s involved with the syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome affects over 64 million people in the United States. That’s about 1/3 of all adults. It describes a collection of metabolic abnormalities. The metabolic abnormalities are what tend to lead to Type II Diabetes and/or Cardiac Disease. It’s important to recognize it and treat it.
It was first described in 1988 by Dr. Gerald Reaven. He noted that people with insulin resistance showed common metabolic disturbances that increase their risk for cardia disease. Originally it was called “Syndrome X, later “Insulin Resistance Syndrome (which is the more accurate name),” and finally “Metabolic Syndrome.” It really all back up to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a common theme for all the parameters that are here. It’s used as a diagnostic tool to identify risk of coronary vascular disease (heart disease). Dr. Reaven noted that a “low fat diet” (it was the diet being preached at the time), makes the syndrome worse.
Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of different things if you have at least 3/5. The first is waist circumference: >40 inches for men and >35 inches for women will put you at risk. That’s abdominal obesity. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be obese. It’s just waist circumference. It looks at fasting triglycerides: >150 mg/dl. Is too high. Next is HDL (the good cholesterol) : <40 for men and <50 for women puts you at risk. Blood pressure should be >135/85. Lastly is fasting glucose which should not be >100mg/dl. Notice that only one of these has to do with weight. You could have a large belly but not be that much overweight.
Metabolic Syndrome really means insulin resistance.
How does a low carb diet improve the 5 metabolic abnormalities? It improves waist size. Insulin turns on fat storage. Carbohydrates stimulate insulin release. Low carb decreases insulin release. This improves fat mobilization (weight loss) leading to decreased waist size. Insulin is one of the hormones we have control over. Most hormones we have no control over. Insulin only goes up when we have carbohydrate.
A low carb diet improves fasting triglycerides. They are made from glycerol. Glycerol is made from sugar. Fatty acids come from both the fat you eat and the carbs. You can’t actually put together the triglycerides without the glycerol molecule which come from the carbohydrate. The fatty acids that are not made in triglycerides can be utilized as an energy source. If we get rid of the carbohydrates (sugar) we can’t make the glycerol molecule needed to make the triglycerides.
The HDL is the good cholesterol. When you restrict your carbohydrate intake, you automatically increase your fat intake. Calories have to come from somewhere. By taking in more fat, you’ll automatically improve your HDL. It’s one of the easiest ways to make your HDL go up. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is made from carbs and insulin stimulates the making of cholesterol. Insulin turns on the making of the cholesterol molecules. That will make your total cholesterol go up. You want your HDL to go up. The biggest thing that affects HDL is exercise.
Low carbohydrates improve blood sugar in many ways. Insulin causes sodium retention (salt), leading to water retention, leading to increased blood pressure. If you have a weekend where you eat a lot and gain 5 pounds, it’s not the food you ate, its water. The insulin causes sodium retention. Sodium retention means water retention. Water retention leads to increased blood pressure. Lower insulin levels are going to reverse this. Insulin also stimulates the release of a potent vascular constrictor (endothelin-1). This means the blood vessels themselves are tightening down. If they’re tightening down, that means your blood pressure is going to be higher. Insulin also inhibits the production of a vasodilator (nitric oxide). That means the vessels themselves would relax. The nitric oxide lowers blood pressure. Because insulin inhibits this, it works against lowering blood pressure.
Low carbohydrate decreases insulin levels reversing each of these. We want to manipulate insulin and lower it. We don’t want insulin at zero. It’s a hormone you can’t live without. Keep it as low as possible because insulin tends to cause these other problems.
In summation, Metabolic Syndrome is extremely common affecting >1/3 of the adult population.
It isn’t just people who are way overweight. It includes: abdominal obesity, increased triglycerides, low HDL, high B/P, and high blood sugar. If you have any 3 out of the 5, you have metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is the common denominator. If you have metabolic syndrome, you have a significant risk of developing heart disease. A low carb diet will improve each of these factors by improving insulin. This will decrease you risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.
Call or text to schedule a lab consultation to find out if you have metabolic syndrome or for more information on your weight loss options. 757-873-1880
High fructose corn syrup can be found in almost everything. Is it the “fruit of the devil” or is it really just a sweetener? Are there more problems with it than just being a sweetener? There’s been a lot of controversy over HFCS. When you think of sugar, you generally think of the white stuff in the bowl. Starting in the mid 1970’s, HFCS began to sneak into our food and beverages. Now it makes up >40% of all caloric sweeteners added to food and beverages. The annual intake has increased 1000% since then. American’s health has suffered. Is this just a coincidence? Is there a potential cause here too?
Is HFCS an innocent vegetable or is it liquid death??!!
It’s in everything: soft drinks, fruit juice, frozen yogurts, ketchup, canned fruit, cereal, etc.… It’s in so many products now that if a product doesn’t contain HFCS there will be a label on it stating there is no HFCS.
HFCS was introduced in 1957. It’s a chemical reaction that changes starch in corn to a true sweetener. The industrialization didn’t occur until the mid-1960’s. This was also the time when Castro took over Cuba. A lot of the US sugar came from sugar cane grown in Cuba. When Castro came into power, there was an embargo and we couldn’t import sugar any longer. We had to find a different sweetener and we had lots of extra corn. The farmers were really good at it. High tariff on cane and subsidies for corn farmers made HFCS extremely cheap. So it made its way into just about every food product that uses sweetener.
The problem was we didn’t know if there was a difference between one sweetener versus another. Corn is milled to produce corn starch. Corn starch is processed to yield corn syrup which is almost all glucose. Glucose by itself isn’t very sweet. A number of enzymes are sequentially added to change some of the glucose to fructose. Fructose is a much sweeter sweetener. The typical final concentration of HFCS used in most foods and beverages is about: 55% fructose, 42% glucose, and 3% other sugars.
Why should we care?
Is it really natural? In the chemical transformation could there be mercury contamination? That was a question back in the early days. The other thing that occurs when we do this enzymatic reaction is the formation of carbonyls. Carbonyls can potentially be formed in carbonated beverages. It typically comes from HFCS. The problem is carbonyls can increase cellular damage potentially leading to diabetes. Is it from the carbonyls or from the sugar itself? This also was a time when Americans were taking in a lot more sugar and carbohydrates. It was around the time people were talking about low fat diets. Which change in our diets caused the most problems? It’s hard to tell.
Regular sugar comes from processing sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide (2 sugar molecules). Sucrose is a glucose and a fructose bonded together. When sugar is digested it’s broken down into 50% glucose and 50% fructose. That doesn’t sound much different than HFCS. There is a difference. Sucrose does have more steps of digestion. HFCS are monosaccharides and don’t need to be digested. The percentages are different than sugar.
Sucrose has the same molecular formula as the glucose and fructose but there’s a lot that has to be broken. It takes more to break it down and utilize it. Is the fructose the problem and not the glucose? Glucose is what we utilize as an energy source. Any carbohydrate we take in that’s used as an energy source is eventually broken down into glucose. Could it be the fructose? Inherently it doesn’t make sense. Fructose is “fruit sugar.” Historically man ate only a small amount of fructose (<15 grams/day). We didn’t have big fruit farms or anything like that. Hunter/gatherers would stumble on a fruit tree every now and then. Nowadays we routinely get about 80-100 grams/day. What could possibly be bad about fruit sugar?
There is a difference between how fructose is digested and the way glucose is digested. Glucose is a simple sugar. It’s what we use as an energy source. It can be burned for energy is every single cell of your body. Mitochondria in the cell metabolize glucose to ATP (energy). ATP is adenosine triphosphate. This is where our energy really is. Glucose can also be stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. It can be utilized as an energy source or be stored later.
Fructose is metabolized much differently. It’s also a simple sugar. The chemical structure is similar but it can only be broken down in the liver. The rest of the cells in our body can’t actually utilize it. It’s broken down to acetyl CoA. This is the starting point of fatty acid synthesis. This can make your triglycerides, LDL, and HDL worse. This is where fatty liver comes from. This opens the flood gates of fat deposition. When you have fructose it doesn’t actually make your blood sugar go way up. Glucose makes your blood sugar go up.
Fructose can stimulate hunger and indiscriminate eating by NOT stimulating Leptin (a “fullness” hormone) and increasing Ghrelin (a hunger hormone). It won’t make your blood sugar increase, but will worsen insulin resistance, subsequently leading to increased blood sugars and fat storage. Fructose can also cause a depletion of inorganic phosphorus in the liver cells leading to fatigue (due to decreased ATP). If you decrease the phosphorus you have less energy. Fructose can do a number of things that can really work against you.
There are many potential consequences of excess fructose consumption. The biggest consequence is obesity. Fructose turns on fat accumulation everywhere. Once the fatty acids are made in the liver, they can be deposited anywhere. As I mentioned earlier, fructose can cause fatty liver. It worsens lipid profiles: worsens triglycerides, lowers HDL, and raises LDL. It increases hypertension because insulin makes you retain water. It tends to lead to diabetes mellitus. That leads to increased risk of diabetic complications (neuropathy, retinopathy, and kidney problems). It increases uric acid levels. Uric acid leads to gout. And, fructose also causes an increase in accelerated aging-formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). That means a sugar molecule gets stuck on other things. If it gets stuck on other proteins that means they can’t function normally. It’s cellular aging.
In summary, there is probably nothing good about HFCS. It’s probably not just the HFCS that is the “fruit of the devil.” The real problem is the fructose itself. The real wolf in sheep’s clothing is likely the fructose itself. Since about 50% of all caloric sweeteners is fructose, you ought to do your best to try and avoid any of them. That doesn’t mean we go crazy on artificial sweeteners. There are potential problems with those too. But that’s another story! (Read more in Artificial Sweeteners – Pros, Cons & Weight Loss)
Can they actually help with weight loss? Can they potentially hinder weight loss? So those are some real questions and we will get to them as we go.
Here’s an overview of artificial sweeteners. What role does sugar play in your diet? We will talk about nutritive vs. non-nutritive sweeteners. There is a difference there. We’ll talk about sugar alcohols and which ones have been around for a while. Then we’ll discuss saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and more. Finally, we will talk about artificial sweeteners and weight gain.
Things have changed over many, many years. A couple hundred years ago 1800-average consumption of sugar was 25 pounds a year. By the year 2000, average sugar consumption was 146 pounds a year! We have an innate desire for sweet things. As we’ve talked about in the past, your body requires NO sugar/carbohydrate to survive. In order to reduce the consumption of sugar other sources of “sweetness” have been developed in hopes that it will be better to have no so much sugar. This came about because we realized that maybe all this sugar isn’t good for us.
We divide sweeteners into nutritive vs. non-nutritive. Anything that is going to provide us with true nutrition or nourishment is considered a nutritive sweetener. Foods from food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat, and oils) provide nourishment and calories so they are considered nutritive. Products that are added to foods and do not provide any nourishment are considered non-nutritive. FDA places sweeteners under the “GRAS” (generally regarded as safe) list or as “food additives” or “dietary supplements.” It’s thought that they’re safe. We don’t know it absolutely. There may not be a way to study it completely. They can be listed under different things under the FDA. It will depend on what they’re made up of. Since 1999 at least 10,000 new products containing sweeteners have been launched. It’s probably close to 15,000 now.
Sugar alcohols are technically a nutritive sweetener because they provide calories (1.5-3 cal/gram). We see a lot of marketing out there. They can be labeled as sugar free. Sugar free doesn’t necessarily mean carbohydrate free. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean calorie free. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol, but are carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. That can be the reason why there is some sweetness to some fruits and vegetables. Some of them contain fructose. It’s actually sweeter than other types of sweeteners. Typically sugar alcohols aren’t as sweet as table sugar. Sweetness varies from 25%-100% as table sugar (sucrose). That means that often a lot more is added to mimic the sweetness. There are lots of examples out there like sugar free gum. But it’s not carbohydrate free. The following are sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, lactitol, and isomalt. They provide fewer calories than sugar since they are not completely absorbed. Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram. Sugar alcohols are typically about 1 ½ -3 calories per gram. Sugar alcohols have less sugar, but that doesn’t mean they can’t raise your blood sugar. The carbohydrate will eventually be broken down into sugar. They can cause the following side effects: gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Some people are very sensitive to sugar alcohols. Remember: they are NOT calorie free and since not as sweet, you often will eat more.
Saccharin has been around for a long period of time: sweet n’low, Sugar Twin, Necta Sweet. It’s been around for over 100 years. It was discovered in the 1800’s by researchers working on coal tar derivatives. It’s calorie free but it does have 200-700 times the sweetness of table sugar. Most of these artificial sweeteners we’re talking about have tremendous amounts more sweetness than table sugar. It tends to have a bitter aftertaste. Originally there was a concern of “bladder tumors in rats” (no increased risk in humans). The researchers gave rats 100X more than any of them could ever actually eat in a day. There’s no way anyone can ever eat this much sugar. When they re-did the study, they found that there were rats that were pre-disposed to getting bladder tumors anyway! So, the tumors probably had nothing to do with the saccharin. It’s never been shown to cause tumors in humans. If you’re allergic to sulfa medications, potentially you could have an allergic reaction. It’s very rare, but not impossible.
Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by scientists working on “ulcer drugs.” For some reason they licked their fingers and discovered how sweet it was. It’s now found in over 6000 foods. Aspartame is Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin. They made this by connecting 2 amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine). These 2 amino acids together have a very sweet taste. Technically it will have calories, but since it’s 200X sweeter than sugar, this amount of calories is miniscule. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) can’t break down phenylalanine. There have been reports of headaches. There are numerous websites that rail against its use. This is the most controversial sweetener. But there’s never been a study that showed that this is a problem. Because it’s just 2 amino acids, there really shouldn’t be a reason for any problems.
Sucralose is Splenda. It was discovered while trying to make a new insecticide. The name is somewhat confusing because it sounds a lot like sucrose. Sucrose is table sugar. They’re two completely different things. Splenda is about 600X the sweetness of sugar. It can be used for cooking and baking. It’s made from sugar, but it’s nothing like sugar. They chemically altered the sugar and put a chlorine molecule on the sugar, therefore rendering it unable to be absorbed. It’s like a backward or left-handed sugar. You get the taste of sugar, but you don’t get the calories. They added a filler to Splenda called dextrose or maltodextrin to provide bulk and volume. It’s a marketing ploy that sucralose has not calories but the fillers do have calories. A serving size has not calories which is technically right. However, a serving is less than a teaspoon. A cup actually has about 96 calories and 32 grams of carbs! A cup of sugar has about 768 calories and 192 grams of carbs. So it’s all a marketing ploy with regards to it having no calories.
Acesulfame K (Ace K) was approved in 1988. The K is potassium. It’s 200X sweeter than sugar. It’s often used as a “flavor enhancer.” It’s often put together with another type of sweetener because it tends to make it more palatable. It makes for a synergistic effect. That’s what is used in many of the “zero” sodas. It’s often listed in ingredients as: acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, ace-k, Sunett, Sweet One, Swiss, Sweet. It does contain a carcinogen called methylene chloride. However, the amounts are so tiny that it’s never really a thought of it causing any problems. It’s been linked to headaches, depression, and nausea. There are minimal studies done to fully evaluate. They’re generally regarded as safe.
Neotame has been FDA approved since 2002 (brand name Newtame). It’s a newer version of Aspartame without the phenylalanine dangers to PKU patients. It’s about 10,000X sweeter than sugar. It’s often used as a “flavor enhancer.” A newer one out there similar to neotame is altitame. It’s amino acids put together: aspartic acid and alanine. It’s 2000X sweeter than sugar. It’s not been approved in the US yet as far as I know. It very likely will get approved.
Advantame is the cousin to Aspartame. The FDA approved it in May, 2014 (6th one approved). It’s 20,000X sweeter than sugar. It dissolves in water. It doesn’t break down in heat so it can be used in cooking. It does have miniscule amounts of phenylalanine. The “safe” consumption level is >40,000 packets/day. Well good luck with eating 40,000 packets a day! Very unlikely it’s going to cause any problems.
Stevia/Rebiana is one you hear about more and more often. There are many of them out there. They’re all based on the stevia plant. It’s a plant native to South America (Stevia rebaudiana). They’re starting to grow it more and more places. It’s now being cultivated for harvesting its sweet leaves. The natives used to just pick the leaves and chew on them. There’s some evidence that potentially it can actually help control blood sugar. It’s 200-300X sweeter than sugar. The working molecule from the plant is called Rebaudioside A. By itself is available as a sweetener labeled as: Only Sweet, Truvia, PureVia, Reb-A, Rebiana, and SweetLeaf. Stevia can be sold as a “dietary supplement.” It’s truly not an artificial sweetener because it comes from a plant. Just because it comes from a plant doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good thing. A lot of poisons come from plants too. It doesn’t have any obvious harmful effects. There is a question as to whether it can help with controlling blood sugar. This is probably one of the potentially safer ones out there. There just aren’t a whole lot of studies being done. It’s already approved so who’s going to go back and start doing studies?
A newer one is called Nectresse which is “from the makers of Splenda.” It’s made from Monkfruit, molasses, and erythritol. Monk fruit is about 150X sweeter than sugar. It’s said to have “zero calories” in a packet. Again, that’s somewhat of a marketing ploy. One little packet technically can be called zero calories. That’s not really true because if you’re using it in a large amount (baking) the calories would be there. It’s about 1/3 the calories of table sugar. It’s not technically calorie free because it’s mixed with molasses and monk fruit.
Are artificial sweeteners helpful or a hindrance to weight gain? Research is showing both possibilities. Can we see weight gain or weight loss? It could be both. It may depend on the individual. If you’re taking in fewer calories and using an artificial sweetener it could potentially help you with weight loss. The flip side is it can work against you because artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar is. They train us to like really sweet things. They may even increase sugar cravings. Sometimes when people are trying to stop sugar cravings they eat other things too that have more sugar and drives the calories up. So it might help with actually keeping the sugar amount lower, but it could cause you to eat more. Also when you get something sweet in your mouth, your body thinks it’s getting sugar. Your body prepares for the sugar coming into the intestinal tract by raising insulin. Potentially artificial sweeteners can raise insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that tells your body to store fat. Much higher sweetness trains you to prefer sweeter things. It depends what you’re doing with the artificial sweetener. My belief is that if you’re going to use them, use the smallest amount possible. There’s no nutritional value of any artificial sweetener. I would encourage you to experiment. Cut them out and see what happens. If you’ve hit a plateau and can’t figure out what’s going on, artificial sweeteners could be part of your solution.
Any sweeteners are not essential nutrients. They exist to nurture your sweet tooth not your body! Our innate desire for sweetness may be interfering with our ability to judge “good” from “bad.” As a general rule you don’t get something for nothing! I would recommend trying to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us here at The Center for Weight Loss Success. You can bring your questions when you come in. Stop by and get your free body composition analysis done. You want to preserve lean body mass and get rid of the fat. You should be receiving the weight loss tips and weekly recipes. Subscribe to my weekly webinar each Tuesday at 6pm.Remember it’s your life. Make it a healthy one. Have a good evening everyone. Take care.
What do you know about growth hormone? You might hear about this in the media as anti-aging, this wonderful thing that could keep you young forever. It’s not quite like that. But there is some evidence that potentially can be helpful for certain things. We’re going to talk about those things.
If you look at the literature out there, it suggests a lot of wonderful things that growth hormone can do. There are some wide ranges of potential effects. It can: reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, enhance sexual performance, stronger bones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, faster wound healing, higher energy levels, regrowth of vital organs, restore immune function, hair regrowth, sharper vision, elevated mood, and improved cognition. In theory, it sounds like this does all kinds of stuff. So, is this the Fountain of Youth?
Let’s talk about what this is, where it comes from, and what it can potentially do. Is there some way you can actually utilize this? Growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland in your brain. The pituitary gland is a tiny little thing separated into an anterior and posterior gland. There are two different lobes. It’s right there at the base of your brain. It’s controlled by the hypothalamus which sends signals down to the pituitary gland and what it should do. The pituitary gland secretes all kinds of different things. Many of them are hormones. We’re talking mainly about the anterior pituitary today. It helps control how your thyroid works, how your adrenal glands work, how the ovaries work (Follicle stimulating hormone), prolactin, and it secretes growth hormone. It also secretes some other endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones. The anterior pituitary secretes many hormones very important for overall health in addition to growth hormone.
Growth hormone is a peptide that stimulates growth. That means it’s made out of amino acids. It’s a protein. It’s made by the anterior pituitary gland. There are 190 amino acids and it’s a single chain. It’s folded in a particular fashion. A hormone is just a chemical messenger. Once a hormone is secreted (by whatever gland we’re talking about), it passes through the blood stream and sends messages to tissues that have receptors to that hormone. You have to have receptors on the tissue in order to receive the message. Different tissues may receive a slightly different message to do different things. Basically, this is what all hormones do. Growth hormone is abbreviated HGH. It stands for Human Growth Hormone. You’ll often hear about athletes abusing it to improve their athletic performance. It is a prescription drug and can be used legally for deficiency syndromes. If someone truly has a deficiency syndrome in growth hormone, then potentially they can utilize growth hormone to help fix that deficiency syndrome.
You’ll often hear about it in age management. Part of the reason is, as we get older, just like most hormones, we typically don’t get as much out of our hormones. Hormones are not secreted at the same rate and same amount. The theory is that as we get older and growth hormone decreases, we could possibly prevent some of these aging processes by supplementing growth hormone. This is a very controversial subject. Right now we can’t legally use it unless you have a proven deficiency syndrome. What is a proven deficiency syndrome? If you ask many different experts, you’ll get many different opinions. It is a very controversial medication.
How do you know if you have a deficiency syndrome? It’s not easy to measure. That’s where one of the problems comes in. Growth hormone is released in a pulsatile fashion during the early hours of the deepest sleep. The half-life of growth hormones is very short, so you’d have to catch it at the exact time to know whether you’ve got enough or not. It usually happens in your deep sleep. That’s when it’s released the most. Once it’s secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, it’s taken up by the liver. The liver converts it into growth factors. Growth hormone by itself is really difficult to measure. You have to catch it at the right time. The half-life is so short. How do you actually measure it? You can measure it in your urine. If you were to collect a 24-hour urine specimen you can look at how much is secreted into the urine. It can give you an idea of whether a person is secreted enough growth hormone. One of the most important growth factors it’s converted into is insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). We talk about insulin all the time. Insulin is the antithesis of weight loss. We want to keep insulin levels low. This IGF-1 is something different. It just has a name that begins with insulin. It’s insulin-like because insulin is a growing hormone. With regular insulin it means growing fat. IGF-1 can be a growing factor of growing muscle mass. IGF-1 can be measured because it’s a longer half-life. It will stick around for a longer period of time. If someone were actually had a deficiency syndrome of growth hormone, and we gave them growth hormone, we could get an idea of what the response to that hormone by measuring IGF-1.
Typically growth hormone declines with age. The biggest time to have growth hormone is when we’re growing in adolescence and early adulthood. It declines about 1-3% per year after age 30. It goes down relatively quickly. You’ll see this in Olympians. Typically for men they’re at peak performance in their mid to late 20’s. That’s true with most professional athletes. It happens a little bit sooner with women. The reality is that most of us by the end of our 20’s will start to have a growth hormone decline. We don’t have that same physical performance that we did in our mid to late 20’s. It drops off relatively quickly, but the highest amounts are in the mid to late teens. It can be up to about 3% per year. At some point it will be really low. As we get older we start getting debilitating illnesses. The question is, if we kept supplemented growth hormone higher, could it actually take care of these illnesses of aging?
What are some common signs of low GH? The problem is that most of these signs are really vague because they go along with just feeling bad. The common signs are: premature aging, flabby and obese, stretch marks, droopy eyelids and sagging cheeks, thinning skin, reduced foot arch, thinning muscles of the hands, and prolonged skin folds after pinching skin on the back of the hand. The prolonged skin folds after pinching can also be a sign of dehydration. It could also be a sign of adrenal problems too. Those are really vague things.
What are common complaints with low GH? Again, these complaints tend to be really vague. They don’t mean a whole lot by themselves. The complaints are: poor quality of life, lack of inner peace, anxious, depression, low self-esteem, lack of concentration, lack of self-control, excessive emotions, thinning and weakening of the muscles and skin, exhaustion and poor recovery, feeling of rapidly aging, low libido, and lack of sleep or excessive need for sleep.
What tests can we actually do? GH has a very short ½ life and is released in a pulsatile fashion, so measuring blood levels is impractical and may be meaningless. If someone is measuring your growth hormone and trying to send it off in a lab for bloodwork, it’s pretty much meaningless. IGF-1 can be measured but there is a wide range of “normal.” GH can be measured in 24 hour urine collection, but many labs cannot do this accurately. Almost all of the signs and symptoms of GH deficiency go along with testosterone deficiency. Testosterone deficiency is really common. Both men and women need testosterone. As we age, our testosterone levels drop. Almost every complaint I just mentioned of GH deficiency is actually more likely testosterone deficiency. This might be much more fruitful to measure than to chase GH around.
Let’s say we’re going to treat you for GH deficiency. What are the risks versus the benefits? The benefits are that the complaints we just mentioned could potentially get better. In theory, it’s really safe because we use bio-identical GH. It looks exactly like human GH. If it truly were that unsafe, we would see a lot of younger people with a lot of GH problems because they have really high levels of GH. You don’t want your GH too high either because it could cause Gigantism. Every once in a while you’ll see the 7 foot person that later was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor that secreted GH. Andre the Giant was one of the classic ones. They have a very enlarged jaw and large hands and feet.
Hormone balance is a key concept. We don’t want something out of balance, whether it’s too much or too little. GH has to be given by injection. In theory could we do something to stimulate your own GH? That’s possible in theory. If it’s given by injection, it could take months to notice a clinical improvement. And, this is incredibly expensive. Unless you truly need it and get approval from the insurance company to get treated for this, good luck with getting it paid for! It would be a few thousand dollars every single month. I don’t know many people who are going to do that or want to do that. There’s always the question of because it’s a GH could it actually stimulate tumor growth? If you had some type of tumor, could GH actually make that grow? That’s a real theoretical concern. There’s never going to be a study to look at that. If someone has a tumor we’re not going to start injecting them with GH! It’s been done in animals and was determined it can actually stimulate tumor growth.
Are there certain things that we could do ourselves that would optimize GH release? That would be the optimal thing. What can we do to improve the release of our own GH? We can’t live without it even though our levels go really low with age. Things that improve GH release: strenuous exercise (like High Intensity Interval Resistance Training), deep quality sleep, and protein. These are the best ways. There are a number of potential enhancers. They are: B-vitamins, inositol (like a B-vitamin), minerals (chromium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. Magnesium also helps with testosterone), amino acids (glutamine 2g/day, carnitine, arginine 7g/day, GABA-all can be found at health food stores), hormones (DHEA, melatonin-helps with sleep-, estradiol, testosterone, thyroid, progesterone), and herbals that can potentially help. Things to avoid: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and milk products. These are a lot of things we talk about anyway. There are other things that truly inhibit GH release. Carbs-insulin inhibits the release of GH. Stress increases cortisol levels. Cortisol inhibits GH release. If you’re doing things we encourage you to do, you’re probably doing a lot of these things already.
There are some commercial formulas out there. I see this all the time in magazine and newspapers. They say a famous person takes GH and it keeps them young. That’s their secret! What they’re talking about is something that can potentially help increase the release of GH. They tend to be very expensive. They’re usually a mix of amino acids and/or vitamins and herbs. It’s a “proprietary blend.” There are a number of them out there: SeroVital-hgh, Pro-HGH, Symbiotropin, etc.… They’re combinations that, in theory, that will increase the release of GH. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that they actually work. There have been a couple of small studies, and they do tend to work in the people that don’t need it! They work really well in young adults, but they’re not GH deficient. Let the buyer beware! They tend to be very expensive with limited studies that show that they help at all. But they’re not completely lying either because it can help in the people that don’t need it.
In summary, could this GH be the “fountain on youth?” Unfortunately many of these questions are unanswered. Optimizing your own GH may be helpful in your overall health and weight loss because it does so much that we want to accomplish. For many people the easier answer may be looking at testosterone levels both male and female. There could be something beneficial there for potential weight loss. It’s something to consider and it’s much easier to measure.
Long-term weight loss is achieved through permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices, not through fad quick fix diets or pills. Before beginning on your weight loss journey, make a commitment to your health and stick with it!
Regular exercise is a critical component of permanent weight loss. We recommend a minimum of five 30-minute sessions per week. Read our exercise tips on this blog for ideas on how to stay motivated and enjoy your exercise routines.
Go slowly and keep your expectations realistic
Remember that drastic weight loss in a short amount of time is not healthy, and it is more likely the loss is coming from water and muscle, not fat. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly. Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week.
Tracking your foods & fitness
Tracking in an app or keeping a weight loss journal can be very helpful for long-term weight loss and keeping you focused on your goals. Each day, record what you have eaten, how much, and your mood and emotions. A journal not only keeps you accountable for your food choices, but can also help you identify any behaviors or emotions that trigger overeating. (We recommend an app like Baritastic to track daily)
Don’t go it alone
An important factor of long-term weight loss is the support and encouragement from others, whether it’s from your doctor, nutritionist, family or friends. Connecting with others helps you stay motivated, learn tips and techniques, and keep focused on your weight loss goals.
Fat blockers are out there. You’ll see them on the internet. You can buy them over-the-counter. Do they work? Can they be helpful a weight loss plan? The short answer is potentially they really can be helpful.
What are fat blockers? There are two different fat blockers out there. They’re the same generic medication called orlistat. Orlistat can be found over-the-counter as Alli. It also can be sold in prescription strength as Xenical. They’re the same thing. But what they can do is block 25%- 1/3 of the fat that you eat. By doing that, it can decrease the amount of calories that are absorbed. You have to be very careful because if you’re not absorbing that fat, it’s going to run through you.
Potentially, fat blockers can cause significant gastrointestinal problems. You might get bloated or have cramping. Eventually, it’s coming out the other end. If you eat too much fat it might be coming out the other end sooner than you thought. So, you’ve got to be careful. But it can be helpful. If you’re doing the right things like a good diet and exercise, cutting back on fat can decrease some of the calories you’re eating.
I’d like to talk to you about Phentermine. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant. It’s been around for a long time. Appetite suppressants are really carefully regulated by the FDA, so there are some hoops to jump through for those people utilizing them, but it’s very doable. Potentially it can be helpful from a weight perspective, but also from a hunger/craving perspective. It works very well for cravings.
A lot of appetite suppressants have come and gone. There have been a number of them over the last 20 years or so. They got approved by the FDA, were around for a few years, and then gone. One of the reasons is because the drugs were causing other problems. There are a couple of newer ones in the last few years. None of them really work any better than phentermine. The new ones can be really expensive. Phentermine has been around for about 60 years now. It can be very helpful. And it’s very safe. We’ll talk about the risks, which are something we do have to keep an eye on. It can help with any medical weight loss plan. You have to be doing the right things. Phentermine will not make up for a bad eating and exercise plan. It’s very closely monitored by the FDA. Part of that is because back in the 90’s they had phen-phen. It was a combination medication of phentermine and also phenfluramine. They put two medications together and it worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, the phenfluramine ended up causing heart problems. It was taken off the market. Because phentermine was associated with it, it’s very closely regulated. Overall, it’s a very safe medication. It has stood the test of time. It can actually be used long-term but it needs to be monitored. There can be some potential side effects. You do have to watch blood pressure. It’s rare but not impossible.
The clinical indications for using phentermine are a BMI over 30 or BMI over 28 with medicals problems. It’s similar to having weight loss surgery. Generally what they’re talking about mostly are sleep apnea and diabetes. Chemically, phentermine looks like amphetamine. Because amphetamine can cause all kinds of problems, and can be addicting, it was thought that phentermine was in the same class as amphetamine, and therefore just as dangerous. It was more regulated by the FDA. A lot of those theoretical problems really never panned out.
I’ve been utilizing phentermine in the patient population for about 15 years now. Just like surgery, it’s a good tool. It’s just another tool in the toolbox. There’s nothing magic about it. It can be a good additive tool along with the surgery. All it really does is takes the edge off hunger. It really takes the edge off cravings. It won’t prevent you from eating. It can also help with carbohydrate withdrawal. Most of our patients are very sensitive to carbohydrates. If they fall off the wagon and start eating too many carbs and then try to cut them back again they’ll go through withdrawal. Carbohydrates are like a drug. The phentermine can help with the carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms. We have found that phentermine can give you 8-12 pounds of extra weight loss. It’s the same with our surgical patients. If they feel like they’ve stalled out, the phentermine can give them some more weight loss.
If you are keeping your carbohydrates down while utilizing phentermine, you can lose a tremendous amount of weight. The weight loss from phentermine will vary from person-to-person depending on age, genetics, sex, and other health problems.
There are potential side effects. You absolutely need to have an EKG done prior to starting phentermine. You want to document that your heart is fine. It’s not going to cause a heart problem. But if you’ve already got a heart problem, it can worsen the problem. Almost everyone starting phentermine gets a dry mouth. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. It can make you feel slightly jittery. It’s kind of like having a few cups of coffee. They typically fade away in about 7-14 days. It’s a side effect. It’s not how the medication works. I tell people that if it makes you jittery and it bothers you, then quit taking it. The medication will be out of your system within 12 hours. One of the uncommon side effects of phentermine is insomnia. If you take it too late in the day you might have a hard time going to sleep. But that typically over time goes away. Other uncommon side effects are tremors, dizziness, and high blood pressure. It’s really rare for blood pressure to go up, but that’s one of the reasons why we have to monitor it. Theoretical potential problems (which are related back to the phen-phen) are heart problems and addiction/withdrawal. You can get used to the medication, but that’s not necessarily addiction. You can build up a tolerance to the medication where it stops working as well. But you can’t go through withdrawals. You don’t have to wean off the medication. You can just stop taking it.
There are some real reasons to avoid phentermine. If you have an allergic reaction to it, obviously you shouldn’t take it. If you have a history of heart problems (no matter what it is), I would discourage you from taking it. You shouldn’t take it if you have high blood pressure that’s poorly controlled. You can take it if your blood pressure is well controlled. Theoretically you should avoid phentermine if you’re taking antidepressants. Because of the chemical make up of phentermine, there was a thought that there would be a cross over, and some antidepressants would make this exacerbate heart problems. It would make antidepressants not work as well or the antidepressant would make it exacerbate heart problems. But it’s absolutely fine to take it with antidepressants. There is actually some antidepressant affect with phentermine.
Legally I have to have a discussion about the” art” of taking phentermine to a patient if they’re going to be taking it. I have to talk about the potential side effects as well as the” art” of using the medication. It tends to last for 10-12 hours. So, since most people don’t wake up starving, don’t take it first thing in the morning. There’s no sense in taking it then. Take it mid to late morning. Play with the timing. If you find you’re having a hard time getting to sleep, then take it earlier. If you have a lot of hunger and cravings right before bed then you need to take it later. It’s one of those medications that work if you take it. It doesn’t work if you don’t take it. You don’t have to build up to it or wean off of it. Therefore you can use it intermittently. It’s fine to use it certain days of the week. We typically write it as a daily dose but there’s no reason you need to take it every day. Take it as you need it. It can be used long term. It originally was written in the PDR to be used for only 8-10 weeks. They originally said that because the original studies were only done for 8-10 weeks. It was then approved by the FDA but never approved for long term use. It has been used for long term use for many years the PDR has never been changed. So most physicians only prescribe it for a few months. It’s kind of silly to think we can fix something in a couple months. I’ve had people on phentermine for 10-12 years. It just has to be monitored. We’re making sure there aren’t any blood pressure problems, ensuring it’s still helping, and make sure there are not side effects bothering you. If it’s not helping, you shouldn’t be taking it anymore. There is evidence that if a person is taking it long term that if they stop it every few months for 7-10 days, and then it tends to work better.
There are some cautions about phentermine. Sometimes it may work so well that you don’t eat. We’ve talked about intermittent fasting and how that works. The problem with skipping meals and intermittent fasting are two different things. If you’re just skipping means, then it was unintentional. Fasting is intentional. You don’t want to be skipping meals all the time. If you’re doing intermittent fasting for a day or two, you can take phentermine. It’s another tool in the tool box. Starvation has never been a good weight loss plan. Phentermine won’t stop you from eating. If you’re eating for many reasons (not hunger), then it’s not going to help you. You need to take a good look at the behavior side of things. Why are you actually eating? Work on solving those problems. Without a good nutritional and exercise plan, any weight loss with the phentermine will likely be temporary.
In summary, phentermine has been around for a long time. It has stood the test of time. It can be very safe. It can be very helpful, especially for cravings. But it still needs to be used with a good diet and exercise plan. It doesn’t work to fix a poor life plan. You need to have a normal EKG. We have to monitor your blood pressure as well as side effects.
Come in and get your body composition done. Make sure your losing body fat and not lean body mass. Remember it’s your life! Make it a healthy one! Take care everyone.
I have something in common with Blake Shelton. I have a really hot wife. I finished the Jump Start Diet a couple of weeks ago. I still use some of the shakes during the day. It’s relatively easy during the week. It’s the week-ends that tend to be a little bit harder. But I have been able to keep the weight off pretty well. Initially when I finished I kind of went a little crazy and had little more than I should. My weight jumped up a couple of pounds. But checking this morning I was back down to 175. My low is 174 so I’m pretty happy with that.
I talk about goals, especially in the beginning of the year and encourage people to write them down. I don’t encourage people to do things that I wouldn’t do. So I write them down every year in my notebook. I carry the book with me all the time and it’s got in it what’s important to me. I write down what I’m doing all throughout the week, I keep track of all the books I’m reading, and I also have my goals written in it. I’ve split them up into my personal goals, family and home goals, business goals, and others. The Jump Start Diet was one of my goals. I’ m also trying to eliminate excess carbohydrates, excess caffeine, excess artificial sweeteners (which I’ll talk about individually). It’s going pretty well. I feel better when I can do that. I realize I’m not going to completely give up caffeine. I like coffee every once in a while. I’ll probably not give up artificial sweeteners completely, but there’s no nutritive value in them. The bottom line is you need to figure out what your goals are and then write them down. Post them somewhere very obvious to you. It could be on your computer screen, mirror at home, or refrigerator door. Keep track of what’s going on. It’s not just writing down the goals. Now we have to develop a plan to get to those goals. Its’ the whole point of having a goal and working towards that goal. So you need to develop a plan and then work the plan. What is working for you and what is not? One of the best ways to do this is write things down. Journaling is something I encourage all the time.
If you want more information, I encourage you to join us at Losing Weight USA. It’s a live webinar I do every Tuesday at 6:00pm. We talk about all kinds of different things. Each week is a different topic but it all has to do with weight and health. You can go to the website www.losingweightusa.com. If you’re already a part of our medical or surgical plans, you’re already signed up. You should tune in, but if you can’t we record them all and post them in the membership site. The last Losing Weight USA I talked about intermittent fasting and how it potentially could help with overall health. It could be part of a weight loss plan. It’s something I’ve been toying with in my mind about whether I would try this or not. I’m leaning towards I might try this in the near future. I’m going to try if for a month and see how it goes. That doesn’t mean I’m fasting for a month. I go into the details on Losing Weight USA. I’ll probably talk about that over the next few weeks.
This is the morning of day 15. I wanted to give you an update and tell you my results. I encourage you to give us a yell at the Center for Weight Loss Success and go to our e-store. I finished up this morning. I had my official weigh- in. I came over here to the office and got my body composition done. I was excited to get up and have breakfast. Over two weeks I lost 18 pounds which is more weight than I anticipated. I’m not going to try and lose more weight. I improved my body fat percentage by 3% points which I was surprised at too. So it’s been a good couple of weeks.
I feel great. I want to give you an update and an overview. I want to talk about how to get started if you’re interested in doing this because the concept is simple. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It is a two week Jump Start Diet using 5 shakes a day. It’s 1000 calories, 145 grams of protein, and 70 grams of carbohydrates a day. For people who are especially carb sensitive, this can potentially be a little high but we have a low-carb option.
I encourage people to take vitamins. Some vitamins that can be helpful to add: extra magnesium (muscle function and regular bowel movements), essential fatty acids (muscle and nerve function and mental clarity), and extra B-vitamins. You might want to consider a stool softener if you’re prone to constipation. It’s a great way to get your weight loss jump started. Some people think two weeks is forever but it’s a short period of time. It’s not easy but the concept is simple.
If you’re interested in getting started you really need to get your mind right. You need to decide, “I’m going to do this!” I assure you “kinda” working on a weight loss program does not work very well at all. So, get your mind right. Pick that time-frame when you’re going to do it. Figure out what’s going on. Is it something you can practically do during that two week period? If you’re going on vacation or have some big event it probably won’t work well. There will be temptations. What I found is the week-ends were harder because typically that’s the time for socializing. We’re not in our normal routine and that does make it harder. Get your mind right. Set you mind to it. Commit to what you’re doing. Just like NIKE said, “Just do it!”
If you’re interested, go to our corporate web site at www.cfwls.com. Click on the e-store. We have a book in our store called, “After the Jump Start” which helps you when you’ve completed the two weeks. I appreciate you listening. I appreciate you following along with my two week journey. My journey is still going on just like yours is. This is not something that truly ends. We just change how we work on it.
I’m in the midst of day 14 of the Jump Start Diet. I’m continuing to do well. I’ve lost 17 pounds so it continues to come off. We’ll see how it all winds up tomorrow.
This was the week-end so we got together with friends for a little get together and socialization. It was a little difficult avoiding alcohol as well as not eating when everyone else is. But again, it’s only two weeks. You can do anything for two weeks. Yes, I got through it but it wasn’t the same. But it’s very doable. I want to comment again about alcohol. I mentioned in one of the earlier videos that alcohol can be the downfall of many a weight loss plan for multiple reasons. Number one, it tends to add extra calories. If you have any drink with the standard amount of alcohol it’s going to add an extra 100 calories. If it’s a double, you’ve just doubled those calories. There could be something in the drink that’s going to add even more calories such as fruit juice or simple syrup. It’s going to add extra calories and extra carbohydrates. Also, alcohol itself is easily converted to carbohydrates. Sometimes you see advertisements about alcohol that market it as being low-carb. But alcohol itself is easily converted to carbohydrate. So, even if there’s very little carbohydrate in the alcoholic drink, it can still give you blood sugar swings. Keep that in mind. If you’re doing the Jump Start Diet get rid of alcohol for a few weeks.
The next topic is food intolerance and sensitivities. They are incredibly common. If you get rid of all these extra things, which the Jump Start Diet does, you just have water and the shakes themselves. Usually over that two week time you’ve gotten rid of most of the things you were intolerant to. An exception to that could be artificial sweeteners. There are some artificial sweeteners in the Jump Start Diet. In an elimination diet you basically get rid of everything that could potentially cause you problems. You’re trying to figure out what it is that might be causing you problems. What you do is slowly add things back and see how your body does with that. It might not be GI stress, but you may find you’re more tired, not thinking as clearly, or have aches and pains. Gluten is one of the biggest culprits. I’m going to have discussions in the future on gluten sensitivity and fastings. So this actually works great as an elimination diet.
The last thing I want to talk about is Losing Weight USA. Every week I do a live webinar on Tuesdays at 6:00pm. You can join me. All you have to do is go to: www.losingweightusa.com. It’s a live webinar and you get to interact with me and ask questions. We also record them all. So, if you join it’s really inexpensive. A year cost 50 dollars. It’s 5 dollars a month. It’s very minimal and you get 30 minutes to access me and ask questions. Also you get into the membership site. There are a lot of other bonuses on it. You’ll see what those bonuses are on the losing weight USA website. It can be a good way to get information on weight loss. I cover a lot of different topics including overall health. I just finished a topic on planning if you’re getting ready to begin a weight loss program. I talked about planning, mapping out, and setting SMART goals for a weight loss program.