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8 Reasons You Can't Lose Fat #DocMuscles #KetonianKing DocMuscles.com

Eight Reasons You Can’t Lose Fat

Inability to lose weight is the most common reason people see me. It’s often a combination of small things that they are unaware of that is keeping the spare tire inflated around the waist.  I’ve listed the eight most common reasons you can’t lose fat that are seen in my office.

You Eat Too Many Carbohydrates

About 85% of the people that walk through my office doors have some degree of insulin resistance. This means that they produce 2-20 times the normal amount of insulin in response to ANY form of starch or carbohydrate. Insulin is the hormone responsible for letting glucose into the cell to be used as fuel. More importantly, it is the hormone responsible for dampering glucose production in the liver and, it is the primary hormone responsible for pushing triglycerides into the fat cells (essentially, the master hormone for making you FAT). The more insulin you make the more fat you store. Insulin resistance, the inability for insulin to signal glucose dampering at the liver receptors, is the first stage that starts 15-20 years before you become a diabetic.

#DocMuscles #KetonianKing #WeaponOfMassDestructionIn order to lose fat, you have to decrease the insulin to a basal level. If you don’t the fat enters the fat cell faster than it exits and the fat cells get bigger. This is RULE number one to weight loss. You gotta turn down the high insulin surge that 85% of us are really good at producing. If you don’t do this, it is almost impossible for many of us to lose weight.

For at least 1/3rd of the people I see, this cannot be accomplished unless TOTAL CARBOHYDRATES are decreased to less than 20 grams per day. Yes, you read that correctly . . . Less that 20 grams per day.

  • Your banana contains 30 grams of carbohydrate
  • Your yogurt has up to 60 grams of carbohydrate
  • That oatmeal you thought was good for you has up to 200 grams of carbohydrate
  • The half and half you put in your coffee is half lactose (sugar from milk), 10 grams per cup.

You Eat Too Much Protein

Yes, protein can cause weight gain. There is always a body builder that sends me a nasty message after I say this, but it is true. (I’ll keep an eye on my e-mail).

#EatMoreChicken #DocMuscles #KetonianKing #TooMuchProtein

Five of the ten essential amino acids stimulate an insulin response. Remember why carbohydrates cause weight gain . . . ? (I will give you a hint . . . INSULIN).

Certain amino acids that make up proteins can do the same thing. Arginine, Lycine, Phenylalanine, Leucine & Tyrosine, in that order, stimulate insulin (1). We need protein to stay healthy, but too much of these amino acids in someone who is insulin resistant will inhibit weight loss and stimulate fat gain.

So, what foods contain these in the highest amounts? Sea lion liver (I know, this won’t go over very well with the polar bears), soy protein isolate, crab, shrimp, sesame flour, turkey breast, pork loin (it’s the leanest cut of pork – No. BACON is fine), chicken, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, spirulina (blue green alge that is found in the sea). Yes, I get it. We’ve been told these were the healthy foods for the last 50 years. But, think about it, when did we start gaining weight as a country? 50 years ago.

Too much chicken, shrimp, crab and soy foods will inhibit weight loss in those with insulin resistance. So, consider whether it should be chicken you add to your salad. Consider, instead, bacon or beef as a wonderfully tasty substitute.

How much protein do you need?  My formula for calculating your individual amount is here in my blog Calculating Protein Needs.

You Don’t Eat Enough Fat

#Snaccident #DocMuscles #KetonianKing #BaconBoy

To successfully lose fat on a ketogenic diet, 60-70% of your caloric intake should come from fat. Yes. You read that correctly.

If we limit carbohydrates (which is currently 80% of the body’s fuel on the standard America plate), and moderate excessive protein which also halts weight loss, you have to replace the fuel. That fuel replacement should come from fat.  Increasing fat will improve the sensation of fullness, provide all the fat soluble vitamins, and actually makes food taste good again.

As long as you are lowering the insulin to basal levels, you can actually eat all the fat for which you are hungry. Add bacon, butter, coconut oil, avocado, hard cheese, and oh, did I say bacon?

But Dr. Nally, what about all that saturated fat?

The saturated fat is only a problem with vascular disease, cholesterol and heart disease when the insulin level is also high at the same time. It’s the high insulin in the presence of large amounts of fat that drives the risk for atherosclerosis (vascular and heart disease).  Instead of cutting out the fat, we’re cutting out the insulin.

How much fat should you be eating? Shoot for 60-70% of your calories from fat.  If your fat grams are slightly higher than your protein grams, you’re there. Listen to your body and eat fat until you’re full. That’s how most of my patients gauge their need and suppress hunger.

You’re Drinking Tea

Black Tea #KetonianKing #DocMuslces #WeightLoss #KetosisI know, I know.  Tea is a national pass time in Europe. And, it is deeply embedded in the culture of many other countries.  I’m probably not winning any friends across the pond by saying this, and it may bring back memories of the Boston Tea Party.  However, the problem is that leaf based teas stimulate a rise in insulin (not taxes).  I have had many patients hit a weight loss plateau because of the use of tea, specifically black tea, oolong tea, and green tea (2,3,4).

Yes, I am well aware of the tremendous benefits of the epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC) found in green tea. ECGC, which can be isolated as an extract, improves insulin resistance and improves GLP-1 signaling.  ECGC has, also, been show to improve triglycerides (5).  For this reason, it is one of the components in the KetoEssentials Multi-Vitamin I developed a few years ago and recommend to all my patients.

It appears, however, that the theaflavin within the leaf of the tea may be playing the offending role in the insulin spike seen with their use (6).

You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep has been implicated in difficulty with weight loss and weight gain (7). Lack of sleep places the body into a state of chronic stress. This elevates cortisol, lowers testosterone, increases insulin (there’s that insulin problem, again) and increases the other inflammatory hormones. This perfect storm of stress, driven by lack of restful sleep, plays a big role in fat loss.

My average patient needs at a minimum of 6-7 hours of restful sleep to maintain and lose weight.

This is where untreated sleep disorders like sleep apnea play a big role. If you have sleep apnea, get it treated. What else can you do to help improve sleep?

  • Remove the computer, iPad and cell phones from the room.
  • Lower the room temperature. Men sleep better around 68-70 degrees F and women sleep better when the temperature is <70 degrees F.
  • Close the blinds or shades to add or darken the room.
  • Don’t study or watch TV in the same room you sleep in. Your body gets used to doing certain activities in certain rooms of the house. The bedroom should be reserved for sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time
  • Get up at the same time.

It may take your body and body’s biorhythm 3-4 weeks to adjust to changes you make around sleep habits. Be patient with yourself.

You’re Married to Stress

Just as lack of sleep is stressful, other forms of chronic stress also raise cortisol, insulin and the inflammatory hormones. Chronic stress also lowers testosterone. It, also, has the potential to lower neurosignaling hormones in the brain like serotonin and dopamine, putting you at greater risk for depression and anxiety.

Other forms of chronic stress can occur from poor relationships, chronic pain, stressful employment, unfulfilled expectations, chronic illness and all forms of abuse. If any of these are playing a role in your life, you need to address them, and address them now.

As a physician, my job is stressful. Dealing with life and death issues with multiple people through the day, six or seven days a week, takes it’s toll. I’ve found that weight lifting, horseback riding, and taking care of my animals are my outlets. Find something physical, that takes you outside in the elements and forces you to break a sweat for 15-20 minutes is the key.

#FightOrFlight #DocMuscles #KetonianKing Bear Chasing ManOur bodies have a “fight or flight system.” 100 years ago, the stress was fighting or running from the bear that squared off with you when you happened upon him in the woods. Cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, insulin, glucose, and inflammatory hormones pour into the blood stream.  The heart beats faster, blood flows rapidly to the muscles, sensory awareness is heightened in the brain and increased oxygen flows to the lungs. This lets you fight the bear or run from the bear.

But, you can’t fight or run from your cynical boss. You can’t fight or run from oppressive finances, the person that cuts you off on your one hour commute in traffic, or your coworker who keeps pestering you. However, your body still releases adrenaline, cortisol, epinephrine, insulin and a number of inflammatory hormones prepping you to fight or run. If you don’t burn these hormones off, they halt weight loss, and actually can cause weight gain, increase anxiety and over time disrupt sleep.

So find your favorite way of physically relieving stress, and do it 2-3 times per week. (No, gentlemen, sex doesn’t count).

You Have An MTHFR Deficiency

In the last few years, we’ve been able to identify a number of genetic deficiencies that play a role in weight gain. One of those is an methyl-tetrahydrofolate enzyme deficiency (MTHFR deficiency for short). This is a genetic deficiency in the enzyme that converts adds a methyl ion to the folic acid in the cells of your body.

This is important, because if you can’t methylate folic acid inside the cell, you’ll have difficulty using vitamin B12 and B6 very efficiently to form methionine (a key amino acid in blood vessel and nerve function). There are two genes that encode for the enzyme that does the methylation of folic acid. Deficiency in one or both of these can lead to problems.

In severe cases, it causes homocysteine to build up to unsafe levels in the blood and slow the formation of methionine.  It is associated with B12 deficiency, weight gain, fatigue, migraines, depression, anxiety, neuro-developmental disorders like autism, pregnancy loss, blood clots and neuropathy in pre-diabetic and diabetic patients (8, 9, 10).

Giving extra vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid (vitamin B9) doesn’t appear to help.  Clinical evidence is pointing to the pre-methylated form of the folic acid.  Finding this pre-methylated form has been difficult and notably expensive for patients. I found this deficiency to be so prevalent in my office, I added methylated folic acid to the KetoEssentials Multivitamin.

You Give “Couch Potato” A New Name

We have become a very sedentary people. We have engineered physical activity out of our lives. Remote controls, elevators, escalators, people movers, and automation have made our lives physically easier.

The average office worker burns 300 kcal per day sitting at a desk on a computer. The average farm worker burns 2600 kcal per day. That’s the equivalent of running a marathon every day.

Physical activity doesn’t necessarily cause weight loss.  However, physical activity changes the hormones of the body including increasing a hormone called atrial naturitic peptide (ANP).  ANP opens the fat cell, and lets more fat out (11).

When physical activity is paired with the correct diet, the weight come off.  This is where exogenous ketones may play a role.  The increased presence of ketones in the blood increases the release of ANP helping to activate triglyceride release from the fat cell.

Don’t get me wrong, many of my patients can lose weight with just dietary carbohydrate restriction alone, however, if you’ve hit a stall, you may need to look at your physical activity levels and the addition of exogenous ketones.

Kickstart Ketosis over the Plateau

Is your fat loss on a plateau?  Knowing that these challenges plague people over the coming holidays, and, seeing people get hung up on these issues, I’ve created the Keto Kickstart program for the month of October.  This package provides 30 days of ketogenic essentials including vitamins, exogenous ketones and private interaction with me through the month of October to help you get over the plateau and breeze through the holidays.

Click on Kickstart to find out the details, join me next month and let me help you bridge the weight loss chasm!

References:

  1. Floyd J et al., Stimulation of Insulin Secretion by Amino Acids, Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1966. 45(9).
  2. Bryans JA et al., Effect of black tea on post-prandial glucose and insulin. Journal Am Coll Nutrition 2007, 25(5): 471-7.
  3. Store KS & Baer DJ. Tea consumption may improve biomarkers of insulin sensitivity and risk factors for diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition. Aug 2008, 138(8): 1584S-1588S.
  4. Hosoda K et al., Anti-hyperglycemic effect of oolong tea on type II diabetes. Diabetes Care. Jun 2003. 26(6): 1714-1718.
  5. Chia-Yu Liu,Chien-Jung Huang, Lin-Huang Huang, I-Ju Chen, Jung-Peng Chiu, Chung-Hua Hsu.  Effects of Green Tea Extract on Insulin Resistance and Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Lipid Abnormalities: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, and Placebo-Controlled Trial. PLOS one(online). March 10, 2014.
  6. Cameron, Amy R.; Anton, Siobhan; Melville, Laura; Houston, Nicola P.; Dayal, Saurabh; McDougall, Gordon J.; Stewart, Derek; Rena, Graham (2008). “Black tea polyphenols mimic insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling to the longevity factor FOXO1a”. Aging Cell. 7(1): 69–77.
  7. Beccuti, Guglielmo, and Silvana Pannain. “Sleep and Obesity.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 14.4 (2011): 402–412. PMC. Web. 18 Sept. 2017.
  8. Divyakolu S, Tejaswini Y, Thomas W, Thumoju S, et al. (2013) Evaluation of C677T Polymorphism of the Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) Gene in various Neurological Disorders. J Neurol Disord 2:142. doi: 10.4172/2329-6895.1000142
  9. Gilbody, S., Lewis, S. & Lightfoot, T. (2007). Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic polymorphisms and psychiatric disorders: A HuGE review. American Journal of Epidemiology, 165(1), 1-13.
  10. Menon, S., Lea, R., Roy, B., Hanna, M., Wee, S., Haupt, L., & … Griffiths, L. (2012). Genotypes of the MTHFR C677T and MTRR A66G genes act independently to reduce migraine disability in response to vitamin supplementation. Pharmacogenetics And Genomics, 22(10), 741-749.
  11. Lafontan M et al., Control of lipolysis by natriuretic peptides and cyclic GMP. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 19(4): 130-137.
Basal Ganglia Fat DocMuscles #KetonianKing Adam Nally

Habit-Loop Cycle of Weight Gain & Obesity

In my last blog post about willpower, I described habits being neural impulse channels in our brain stimulated by a cue following a path leading to the same outcome each and every time – without exerting much effort. Researchers call the formation of these impulse channels habit-loop cycles.  Much of the original obesity research of the 19th century was conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists recognizing that people had habitual eating patterns.  Because of this, gluttony became the perceived influence of obesity.  This underlying philosophy still permeates the obesity research, treatment and low-carb dietary world today.  Yet, over the last 15 years, I’ve found that the habit-loop cycle is tied to powerful hormone responses. These responses to very subtle and often unknown triggers or cues powerfully drive weight gain, obesity and struggles with willpower.   How does the habit-loop cycle effect you?  Before we can change these habit-loop cycles, we have to understand what they are, and how they were created.

It’s All About That Basal Ganglia

All About That Bass (All About That Basal Ganglia) DocMuscles #KetonianKing

Meghan Trainor tells us that “It’s all about that bass . .  .” However, it’s really all about that basal ganglia. Deep inside our brains, close to the brain stem, at the location where the brain meets the spinal cord, is a little “nub” of neurological tissue called the basal ganglia.  This little nubbin of tissues was identified by the really smart scientists at MIT in the 1990’s as the location where habits are formed and executed.  The brain is – to take a quote from my favorite ogre, Shrek – “like an onion – it has layers!”

The Brain Is Like an Onion

If you picture the outer layers of the brain tissue, those closest to the hair and scalp, you can create a mental image of where our most complex thoughts occur.  When you think up a new invention, create a new way to cook with bacon, laugh at a friend’s joke, or link two complex thoughts about how habits form, you are using these outer layers of the brain.

Brain is like and onion DocMuscles #KetonianKing Habit-Loop Cycle
Like an Onion – It Has Layers! (DreamWork’s Shrek, 2001)

However, our interest today is deeper . . . much, much deeper.  Deep within the center of the brain at the basal ganglia is the location where our automatic behavior originates.  Swallowing, breathing and the startle responses are housed in this little nubbin of brain tissue.  It is this area of the brain that learns to recall and record patterns of neurological thought and stimulating action. This part of the brain has the ability, like the water drops on the mound we discussed last week, to record neural pathways and tracks leading to reduced mental effort and habit.  The basal ganglia even has the ability to store habits while the rest of the brain is asleep.  It is in this location, the basal ganglia, where the habit-loop cycle occurs.

Habits Created by Chunking

The habit-loop cycle is the process where the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine.  The really smart guys at MIT call this “chunking,” and it is the root of habit formation.  There are hundreds of behavioral chunking activities that you and I rely upon every day.  Some of these are as simple as the process you use to squirt toothpaste on your toothbrush before brushing your teeth.  Others are more complex like getting dressed or making a lunch box for the kids.

The Habit-Loop Cycle in Your Car

A habit-loop cycle is performed by this little nubbin of tissue by millions of people every morning.  Take, for example, backing your car out of the garage.  When you first learned to do this, it required huge amounts of concentration – and for very good reason. You’re steering 3000-5000 lbs of steel between a 16 foot garage-door opening into oncoming traffic.  Basal Ganglia DocMuscles #KetonianKing Habit-Loop Cycle

Safely backing your car requires you to open the garage door, unlock the car, adjust the seat, insert the key into the ignition, turn it clockwise, move the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors to visualize any obstacles, put your foot on the brake, put the car into reverse, gently remove your foot from the brake, mentally estimate the distance between the garage and the street while keeping the wheels straight and looking over your shoulder, applying a slight pressure between the gas pedal and the brake, and in some cases, slapping your teenagers hand while they fiddle with the radio dial.

But think about it . . . did you actually put any thought into these actions this morning?  You and I probably did this once or twice today without any additional thought.  It happened because the basal ganglia took over and created a habit-loop out of it.  This routine, repeated hundreds of times, became a habit, requiring very little mental effort.

Your Basal Ganglia Makes You Fat

The habit-loop cycle occurs hundreds and maybe thousands of times throughout our day. It is the cycle that drives hundreds of our activities.  In fact, it is this same cycle, in combination with 30 different hormones, that drives our weight gain or weight loss.  Yes, I said it, your basal ganglia can make you fat.

Habits Make for a Smaller Brain

Your brain will try to turn any regular routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to slow down and conserve effort, energy and fuel. The efficient brain allows us to stop thinking about basic behaviors like walking, breathing and eating. This effort-saving effect of the brain is a major advantage, otherwise our brains would be huge, requiring heads the size of watermelons, or even the size of a water tower, causing their own weather systems.  Your wife will thank you for an efficient brain that is smaller and requires less room. Can you imaging giving birth to a watermelon or a small Chevy?  (Did you notice the size of Shrek and the Donkey’s head? Just say’n . . . )

Habits Are The Root of Behavior

What all this leads to is this – habits, as much as memory and reason, are the root of our behavior.  We often don’t remember the experiences that create our habits. However, once they are created, they influence our action without our own realization. Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit is a great resource for further information on how habits drive our behavior.

The Habit-Loop of Obesity

So, how does all this affect obesity and weight gain?  Let’s, first, look at the habit-loop cycle.  Researcher, Larry Squire, documented the habit-loop through three decades of research.  He and others published numerous articles showing that habits have a cue or trigger that stimulates a routine.  The routine leads to an outcome or reward.  The reward usually satisfies a craving.  Cue-> Routine -> Reward.  What we learn through our studies in obesity is that the reward often stimulates a hormonal response of 1-30 different hormones in brain and body leading to repeat cues or triggers.  The cravings are hormonally driven.  I call it the Habit-Loop of Obesity.

Habit-Loop of Obesity DocMuscles #KetonianKing Adam Nally

 

The Craving is the Key

Human psychology and emotion is the key behind habit creation.  First, there must be a trigger or cue.  Second, the trigger is attached to  a previously experienced emotion or craving tied to the cue.  The key to habit formation is the craving.  The craving is what stimulates the physical routine to occur.  It is an emotion or craving that drives the brain to create the habit. Third, there must be a clearly defined outcome or reward that satisfy the emotion or the craving. The emotion or craving doesn’t have to be associated with hormones, however, in the relm of obesity, it is usually tied together.

I am all about making things easier.  Your brain does it. We all do it.   And, I’m all about trying to help you lose fat and get healthy more easily. Let food be your medicine, let medicine be your food. That’s my mantra and that is as easy and natural as it gets.  But, in our day and age, we don’t always have access to growing and raising our own food.  That’s why my second mantra is – better living through chemistry.  So, I created the KetoKart.  Over the last 15 years of medical practice, I’ve found products and supplements that aid in letting food be your medicine, changing triggers, modifying hormones, and help to satisfy cravings in a healthy way to make your decisions easier.  Go to the KetoKart, see which package works for you and order it.  You’ll thank me.

How do  we change our obesity habits?  Stay tuned for the third part in this series: Fixing the Habit-Loop of Obesity.

So, I want to know . . . which package did you choose?

 

Triggers #DocMuscles #KetonianKing Habits Self-Control Self-Discipline

Willpower & Self-Discipline in a Ketogenic Lifestyle

Hundreds of people come to my office each month desiring to lose weight.  Among the challenges they experience is the complaint that they lack willpower and/or self-discipline.  Many people feel they cannot lose weight because they don’t have the self-control to do so. However you define it, willpower, self-discipline, or self-control, is an elusive and mysterious thing.  Scientists have been trying to find out what willpower & self-discipline is and how to improve it since the early 1960’s. “If only I had more self-control,” people lament, “I could . . . lose weight, exercise regularly, eat right, avoid drugs and alcohol, save for retirement, enjoy more bacon, stop procrastinating, . . . . or even achieve the noble peace prize.”  A 2011 American Psychological Association study reveals that almost 30% of those interviewed felt that their lack of willpower was the greatest barrier to making a change in any of these areas.

Excellence Comes From Habit

DocMuscles #KetonianKing Excellence Act Habit ActionExcellence is not an act . . . it is a habit of repetitive action.  To understand willpower & self-discipline, you have to understand habit.  Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort or conserve energy.   Left to it’s own devises, your sub-conscious brain will attempt to take any routine and turn it into a habit.  Our brains do this to conserve mental effort and energy. This allows us to stop thinking about basic behaviors like walking and eating, so that we can devote mental fuel to doing important things like making spears, finding bacon, creating irrigation systems, building airplanes and, for some, designing video games.

The brain creates time saving patterns in it’s thought processes in a similar way to what happens when a few drops of water are dropped on the top of a mound of dirt.  As each drop hits the top of the mound, the water runs down the side where it finds the least resistance.  Each drop of water erodes a little channel down the side of the mound of dirt.  The more water drops you release, the deeper the channel is carved in the little hill, and after a while all the water runs down the same path over and over.   To get the water to run down the path, the water has to drop on to the top of the path. This starting point for thought is actually a “cue” or a “trigger.”  Once the water, or in our example the thought, hits the trigger point, it always follows the same path.  Always.

Habits are Repetitive Thought Channels

It takes great effort to turn the water out of the path.  This can be likened to our habits.  Habits are neural impulse channels in our brain that follow a path leading to the same outcome every time without much effort.  All that is necessary is to trigger the neural impulse.  The neural impulse follows the channel in the brain effortlessly causing a mental or physical routine to occur leading to a end point or reward.  Some researchers call this a “habit loop.”  Trigger-Routine-Reward.

What is Willpower?

Image

So what is willpower & self-discipline? It is the ability to resist the unproductive patterns of though and redirect the neural impulse that was triggered down the channel.  Redirecting this habit takes a great deal of mental energy.  The first studies on willpower like Walter Mischel’s famous study of Four Year Olds & Marshmallows gave the impression that willpower was a learned skill.

Henry P Liddon said, “What we do upon some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.”  This means that willpower or self-control can be learned or improved.   The more you repeat a task, the easier and less effort it takes to complete it.  Thus, excellence isn’t an act . . . it is a habit of repetitive action.

But, this doesn’t explain why one day you eat healthy, and the next day, when you are tired, you raid the freezer and down the entire quart of ice cream.  You may find that you exercise one day without any problem, but the following day you can’t seem to get yourself off the couch.  If exerting willpower to exercise were a skill, it wouldn’t be so difficult to do it everyday, once the skill is learned.  The problem with the self-discipline theory is that you don’t forget a skill overnight.

Willpower is Like a Muscle

More recently, Mark Muraven found that willpower is actually more like a muscle.   He wondered, as we did above, that if willpower was a skill, then why doesn’t it remain constant from day to day?

Muraven decided to conduct an experiment by placing a bowl of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies next to a bowl of radishes.  The room containing the bowls was a closet with a two-way mirror, a table, a wooden chair, a bell and a toaster oven.   Sixty-seven undergraduate students at Case Western were recruited and told to skip a meal.   One by one, the students filed in and sat in front of the two bowls.  They were told by a researcher that the experiment was about taste perception, which was untrue.   The experiment  was to force half the students to exert their willpower & self-discipline.

DocMuscles #KetonianKing #KetoCookies #ChocolateChipCookie

Half of the students were instructed to eat the cookies and ignore the radishes.  The other half were instructed to eat the radishes, but ignore the cookies. Muraven’s theory was that it was difficult, requiring mental energy and willpower, to ignore the cookies.   Ignoring radishes takes absolutely no energy when there is a full bowl of warm cookies overflowing with chocolate chips.

“Remember,” the researcher instructed, “you can only eat the food that has  been assigned to you.” Then the researcher left the room.

After five minutes, the cookie eaters were in heaven and the radish eaters were experiencing mental agony.

Researchers stated that one of the radish eaters went so far as to pick up a cookie, smell it longingly, and put it back in the bowl.  Another grabbed a few cookies, wolfed them down, and licked the chocolate off of his fingers.  Muraven estimated that after five minutes, the radish eaters willpower would have been fully taxed by eating a bitter vegetable and ignoring treats, where the cookie eaters hardly used any of their self-discipline.

The research then entered the room and asked them to “wait 15 minute for the sensory memory of the food that was eaten to fade.”  To pass the time they were each asked to complete a puzzle that looked fairly simple.  They were to trace a geometric shape without lifting the pencil from the page or going over the same line twice.  If you want to quit, the researcher left a bell to ring. The researcher then implied the puzzle wouldn’t take long.   In truth, the puzzle was impossible to solve.

The puzzle was the most important part of the experiment.   It took enormous willpower to keep working the puzzle. Particularly after each attempt failed.

What they found from behind the two-way mirror was that the cookie eaters with their reserve of will power and self-discipline worked the puzzle even after hitting road block after road block for over 30 minutes.

The radish eaters, with their already depleted willpower, muttered, showed immediate signs of frustration, and complained loudly to themselves.  A few of them even closed their eyes and put their heads on the desk.  One even snapped at the researcher when she walked back into the room.  On average the radish eaters lasted only eight minutes.  When asked how they felt, one complained that he was sick of such a dumb experiment.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Fatigue

By forcing the use of willpower & self-discipline to ignore cookies, it placed the radish eaters into a state of willingness to quit much faster.   More than 200 studies like this have been completed since this test was done.   All of them found the same conclusion – willpower is like a muscle.  It’s not just a skill.  Willpower fatigues.

This may explain why people, who succumb to extramarital affairs, are usually likely to start them late at night, after a long day of work.  It explains why good physicians make dumb mistakes after a long, very complicated task that requires intense focus.  It also points to reasons why people are more likely to lose control over their drinking or cheat on their ketogenic diet.

I meet and work with people every day who feel they have no willpower.  In actuality, will power and self-control are learned behaviors that develop over time, but are greatly effected by fatigue.  Anyone can have willpower, you just have to understand how willpower can be strengthened and what makes it weak.  

Willpower is More Important than IQ

2005 study showed that willpower & self-discipline was more important than IQ in academic successes.  This study also found that increased self-discipline lead to less binge eating, higher self-esteem, higher grade point averages, better relationship skills and less alcoholism. Fascinating isn’t it!?

Willpower strengthens with use, but has a daily “shelf-life.”   It is always greater or stronger in the first part of the day.  Willpower declines over the course of the day as you fatigue.

How Do You Improved the Self-Discipline Muscle?

First, you must establish and write down a reason or motivation for change.  In addition, that change must fulfill a clear goal. Just wanting to lose weight isn’t good enough.  You have to be motivated because of a consequence that arises from the obesity or overweight.  Just “losing weight” isn’t a clear goal.  You must set a (1) specific weight reduction goal. It has to be clearly written down with your (2) motivational reason. “I will lose (1) 30 pounds to prevent (2) diabetes,” is a great written goal.  Willpower or self-control cannot begin to form until these two steps occur. Writing the goal with these two specifics and re-reading the goal regularly is the essence of multiple drops of water running down the hill forming the channel.  This also creates a trigger by setting specifics about the goal.

Second, you must begin to monitor your behavior toward that goal.  When it comes to weight loss, I ask all of my patient’s to keep a diet journal.  In your journal, write down every thing you eat and drink.  This evening, write down your plan for tomorrow’s meals, then the next evening, you account to yourself for your success or failure by journaling on that same page what you actually ate and drank. Tomorrow evening, compare what you did, as you plan for tomorrow and journal why you were successful or why you were not successful.  It’s that last part that is so powerful, a short 3-5 minutes of self-introspection. Self-introspection is the key to behavioral change.  It is the key that allows a person to see their habits, and then make very small changes that break bad habits, solidify good habits and strengthen willpower.  This time of self-introspection is re-enforcing the desired channel of flow.

Third, willpower is developed and strengthened over time.  It is developed by being accountable to ones-self on very little things every single day.  But it MUST be written down. If I planned to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast and I didn’t, why?  When I look at my day, I may realize that I went to bed too late to get up early and cook bacon and eggs. So, instead, I ate a yogurt that was in the fridge. I am accountable to myself.  If I plan to eat bacon and eggs tomorrow, I must either go to bed earlier, prepare them the night before, or throw out the yogurt . . . so not to be a temptation again.  Planning re-enforces the triggers, and takes away the mental energy required to have self-discipline when you lack sleep, are feeling stress from waking up late, or running out of bacon in the fridge.  it also provides more willpower to be available for other decisions later in the day.   Pre-planning by writing down tomorrows tasks provides you strength for future willpower and eliminates fatigue when needing to make a large or small change tomorrow.

kid-musclesOver time, this self-introspection becomes easier and easier, to the point that you do it sub-consciously.  It is this sub-conscious self-introspection and change will be seen by others as self-control or willpower.  Just like exercising or strengthening a muscle, recording short goals and and accounting for them makes your self-discipline stronger.  The self-discipline muscle becomes more powerful. In time, you’ll be able to make a split second decisions about a piece of cake.  Strong willpower will be perceived by those around you. You’ll recognize that it’s just flexing your well rested self-discipline muscle.

Fourth, plan or attack the hardest decisions of your day, those things that require the greatest energy, in the morning when your fresh.  This allows you to have the strength to maintain willpower.  In the evening, when your willpower muscle is the weakest, have rescue foods available so you’re less likely to cheat. Pre-cooked bacon, pork rinds, guacamole, macadamia nuts (the highest in fat), rolled meats and hard cheeses are in my fridge and pantry for this reason. This is where fat bombs in the fridge at the end of a long day allow you to snack when you’re hungry at the time willpower is weakest.

A great way to pre-plan is to go to the KetoKart and order your pre-packaged 1, 3, or 6 month program that will provide you with the supplements necessary to stabilize insulin and ketones on a daily basis.  This is one decision you don’t have to try to make ahead of time.

So, my question for you is which KetoKart package did you choose and . . . where’s your diet journal?

(Stay tuned for the second part of this series: Fixing the Habit Loop Cycle.)

Why Be In Ketosis – Part XII (Thyroid)

There is a pattern that I’ve noticed on every live-stream that I’ve appeared on talking about ketosis that someone always asks the question: “What about the thyroid?”  That’s literally how it’s asked. . . someone I am unfamiliar with keys in the question, “What about the thyroid?”

The blunt sarcastic response in my head is usually, “Well, what about it?”

Buried within the vague periscope or twitter question above is the real question that is on the minds of thousands of people,  “Does ketosis effect the thyroid . . . ?”

There’s loads of information about the thyroid on the internet.  Much of it is garbage.   Seriously.  Ask Google about “thyroid,” and you’ll see thousands of articles, posts and comments on WebMD, Women’s Health, and Wikipedia all across the “interwebby.”  Everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to have a “thyroid opinion.”  Much of the “wikopinion” out there is here-say, conjecture and anecdotal. It doesn’t really give people any foundational understanding of what their thyroid is doing, or more importantly for that matter – what their thyroid isn’t doing.

Of late, the Paleo and Vegetarian thought leaders seem to decry nutritional ketosis because they claim that this dietary approach suppresses thyroid function. This wiki-theory (yes, it is just a theory) was extrapolated from a single study where the T4 level dropped in the first few weeks after ketosis was entered.  But just because T4 drops, doesn’t mean the diet suppresses the thyroid.  Using T4 as a screening test alone for assessment of thyroid function is 1987 thinking (1987 brought us the Kia Concord and the Subaru Justy just so you get the mental picture).  T4 fluctuates with a number of binding proteins and following this number alone is really bad medicine.  Taking thyroid advise from the Paleo people is like asking your Fed Ex driver about the correct lift on your 4×4 truck.  Really?

Excessive insulin, the hormone produced when you eat sugar, starch and some proteins, actually stimulates thyroid peroxidase antibodies and can cause exacerbation of thyroiditis (causing over-production or under-production of thyroid hormone).  Because 85% of the people I see in my office over-produce insulin (this is referred to as insulin-resistance), in response to starches, there is a significant flux in thyroid function due to  this pre-diabetes state (insulin over-production) on high carbohydrate based diets.

Leptin, the hormone produced by fats cells when they are “full,” actually stimulates the conversion of T4 to T3.  At least 40% of my obese, insulin-resistant patients are also leptin-resistant, meaning they over-produce leptin as well.  This has a suppression effect on T4 (by converting it to T3) and is the usual cause of the T4 levels being lower when initially staring a ketogenic diet.  It is also the reason that some people feel anxious or “activated” when changing to nutritional ketosis.  Leptin-resistance is driven by a high level of fructose in the diet and the presence of high triglycerides, inhibiting the leptin signal from crossing the blood-brain barrier.  As a person follows a ketogenic diet and lifestyle, leptin returns to normal over 3-6 months and T4 levels normalize.  The Paleo and Vegetarian nay-sayers never mention that . . . do they?  What they won’t tell you is that calorie restriction, which is a must for weight loss, on the DASH, Mediterranean, Paleo or Vegetarian diet causes suppression of testosterone, leucine, and thyroid function, causing worsening T4 suppression over time.  Hmmm . . .  put that in your low-fat green vegetarian taco, and smoke it.

Wait . . . I don’t advocate smoking so, ignore that.

The point is, a ketogenic lifestyle stabilizes thyroid function and improves auto-immune thyroiditis. I’ve seen it happen clinically for over 12 years.  It, also, dramatically helps stabilize the other 30 hormones involved with the diseases of civilization including obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Watch my live-stream recording below to find out more about the thyroid.