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Friday, November 25, 2011

High Carb Dangers

For the better part of my life, I didn't like carbs. I ate few carbs and did not have a sweet tooth. In the past 2 years, I've developed a strange craving for carbs like durians, pasta and rice, where before I shunned them because I didn't like the taste. The more carbs I eat, the more I want to eat. The USA Food Pyramid depicts carbs as healthful energy food that one should consume the most of. So, you can imagine my surprise to find that when I was finally eating healthily, I was actually feeling worse.

I felt hungry every morning but after wolfing down my 2 pieces of toast and jam, I would feel tired again. By noon, I would again be famished, and would chow down one bowl of rice instead of the half bowl that I used to, plus the usual servings of vegetables and meat. And I had this thing for root beer too!! I had to have it at dinner every night. Before bed, I would crave a bowl of cornflakes, a chocolate bun, a croissant or a slice of chocolate cake. As I indulged my cravings, my weight inched up and my waistline inched out. Clothes that I had worn for 20 years had to be pushed to the back of the wardrobe. I bought new bermudas with some allowance and walked through my day like a frump. I even decided to never wear high heels against because I reasoned that my feet could no longer support my weight.

Then I read Blurting's post here.

Since then, I've had a banana/apple/pear and some almonds/pistachios in the morning with my tea (sans sugar nor milk). For lunch, a slice of ham and an avocado... or an egg with an apple... or a banana with more almonds. I hope you get the idea. I eat a little protein and a piece of fresh fruit that contains slow releasing sugars. This diet prevents insulin spikes in my bloodstream. When we ingest refined sugars, glucose enters the bloodstream quickly and causes a spike in levels of insulin. Insulin in turn stimulates the conversion of glucose into fat for storage in cells. In other words, insulin leaches all the glucose out of your bloodstream and plonks them onto your waistline as fat. When this happens, your glucose levels drop and you feel tired. This explains why after a large meal of rice or wheat pasta, I feel so tired I can't keep my eyes open.

My new diet of fruit, nuts, meat and vegetables starved my body of glucose. This forced my body to make a metabolic transition to burning fat and protein for energy. The transition itself was unpleasant. I had a low grade headache for about one day, and then developed a thirst that wouldn't go away no matter how much I drank. And my breath smelled bad because of the ketones (the byproduct of burning fat as fuel). I had to keep drinking water to clear these ketones out of my bloodstream.

I continued to ate protein and fat regularly in the form of nuts and meat. I drenched my vegetables in olive oil. I cut out sugar completely (no cakes, no jam, no sweet drinks). It has been a week. I feel a great deal more energetic. It's no trouble keeping awake after meals, and I fit into my old shorts again. From now on, I am gonna be real careful with what I put into my mouth. The cravings have gone quite away. Burning fat and protein has blunted the edge of my hunger. I no longer feel famished after every 4 hours and must eat something. I eat because it is time to, not because I have an uncontrollable urge to eat a horse. Best of all, I can stare down a chocolate cake. Once in a while I indulge in sweets but I try to re-establish a healthful routine immediately after so that my body knows it has to continue to burn fat and protein.

I really like this diet. Whenever I am hungry, I eat 5 nuts. This gives protein and fat, and is not easy to digest so I never feel hungry. More of this and I might be able to go back to the 43kg I used to weigh? I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I read somewhere that our bodies are not built for a high carb diet. In the wild, hunter gatherer humans ate mostly meat and complex carbohydrates. So... that is what Petunia will eat too.


Blur Ting said...

I used to succumb to convenient food like bread and cakes but not anymore. Like you, I don't have hunger pangs or lethargy anymore and feel satiated after eating a few nuts.

In the book, the author mentioned that a high carb diet leads to hypertension, diabetes and a whole host of diseases.

petunialee said...

Ting - I quite believe that going by how my own health has deteriorated in the past 2 years after I developed carb cravings. I thought it was part of the inevitable aging process. But nope... it wasn't. I quite feel like my younger self again.

Wen-ai said...

43 kg??!!??!!??!!!!!! Petunia, you must be really petit to have an ideal weight of 43 kg!

petunialee said...

Wen-Ai: That was my weight up until I got pregnant. After that, it stayed higher for a long time. I guess I am kinda smallish.

Blur Ting said...

I think I was 43kg when I was in primary 5 or 6.

petunialee said...

Ting - Heh... Some people actually did think I was an underaged mother!!

Open Kitchen Concept said...

I was 43 in primary 5!! Lol

petunialee said...

OKC - I think I am gonna weigh my son after this. He is in P5.

Blur Ting said...

I just discovered another fantastic thing about this diet and how fat cells shrink when you're not eating carbs. I used to fret so much over my eye bags cos they were getting so big and prominent, I was contemplating surgery. This weekend, I discovered that they have shrunk so much, they no longer stand out.