So the kids and I went to see my 87 year old grandfather the other day, and we had a very interesting talk about diet, food (or rather the timing of it), and diabetes. My Grandpa Jack was diagnosed with diabetes shortly after my grandmother passed away a few years ago and has been tring to learn how to keep his insulin levels within limits ever since.
He still doesn’t eat great (here is a man who lived on homemade biscuits made with Crisco — gosh, were they good!), but he is certainly trying. He quit margarine and is now using real butter (yay!). Also, no more white bread, OJ, etc. He’s making real progress! What I found to be really interesting is how he has changed the timing of meals. He doesn’t snack at all. He eats a good sized breakfast and lunch and has a very light dinner early in the day. No after dinner snacks, so goes 14ish hours with no food until breakfast. Even more interesting: his doctor said Grandpa Jack’s last blood test showed he had the insulin levels of a person without diabetes! His doctor couldn’t believe it!!
Although he was making improvements in his diet, I suspected that his changed alone couldn’t be the whole answer. After doing a lot of research, I found two interesting items. The first is “intermittent fasting” or “IFing”, and the second is something in our bodies called leptin and a “leptin reset” diet that can help with many health issues, diabetes among them.
Intermittent fasting of course made me immediately think, “oh but you’ll slow down your metabolism”. Apparently not. If you can go at least 12 hours without food, your body goes into “fat burning mode”. Once you eat, that stops. With IFing, not only can it help you loose fat, but there are many health benefits associated with it, including a decrease in blood pressure, reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, improvement in glucose uptake, as well as a improvement in insulin sensitivity. Ahhh, the insulin sensitivity part was very interesting because that relates to diabetes. I’m not a doctor and not going to bore you with all the details but if you want to learn more about IFing, you can read this or this.
Now for me, I couldn’t skip breakfast. I just seem to need my big protein breakfast. But once in awhile, I will stretch time between dinner and breakfast by eating dinner at 4:00. It’s amazing how good I always feel the next morning and not hungry in the slightest (which is abnormal for me). I just feel good. I do eat Paleo, so I’m not eating foods that would spike my insulin later in the evening and make my blood sugar go wonky. If that were the case, I don’t think I could IF, at least not easily, and then I would probably stress my adrenals or raise my cortisol levels. By the way, if you have irregular cortisol levels, or any adrenal problems, do NOT IF as that will only stress your body.
So how do you get to where you can try IFing? You need to first fix any insulin or leptin issues. If you’re not familiar with what leptin is, simply put, it is the hormone that regulates your appetite and your metabolism. It also regulates how much fat we are going to store and how much fat we are going to burn. It is the hormone that regulates our body’s set-point – that is, the weight that our body naturally wants to settle. Leptin resistance may also lead to chronic inflammatory condition which can in turn increase the chances of developing diabetes and dementia. It can affect your heart health seriously. It can result in growth of cancer or increase risk of strokes. Leptin resistance can cause life-threatening obesity, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and fertility problems as well.
How to fix this? There is a diet called “The Leptin Reset” by Dr. Jack Kruse, and here are his guidelines:
1. Never eat after dinner.
2. No snacking at all.
3. Eat 3 meals a day (unless you want to skip lunch).
4. Eat a breakfast containing at least 50 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking.
5. Reduce your carbohydrates.
6. Add coconut oil to your diet.
Apparently when we snack, we are keeping our insulin constantly high, which upsets leptin. My grandpa doesn’t snack and I think that is a big factor in his lab results (that and the IFing he didn’t know he was doing). Anyway, I was always taught to snack. But, as long as you are eating enough protein (and good fat), you shouldn’t need to snack. And wouldn’t it be nice to not have to think about those snacks, especially because we are on the go so much?
Here are a few good articles if you’re interested in learning more…
Article 1 – The Leptin prescription
Article 2 – The basics on the LR (leptin reset)
Article 3 – good article that covers LR to horomones
Article 4 – Forum about experiences on LR
Anyway, I just wanted to share these two topics but tried to keep it concise. I am not a writer, and actually did horrible in English class back at UGA (my professor hated me) . So if there are any mistakes, please forgive me. But, I hope you might find these topics as interesting as I did. If anyone has any experience with either IFing or doing the “Leptin Reset”, I’d love to hear about it!
Enjoy your Sunday!
kel - this is awesome and i love your blog!!
landriav - Thanks so much Kel!!
Shana - This was such an “a-ha” read for me…I’ve been meaning to comment for a while. But I have heard forever that you lose weight more easily and control your appetite if you don’t eat after 7 PM or so. I always just thought you would lose weight because you weren’t eating all the extra calories (which is probably also true), but this whole angle of allowing your metabolic chemistry to rest and “reset” made so, so much sense. No wonder I’m ravished in the morning when I eat at night!
My mom always used to say “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a wealthy person, and dinner like a poor man” (or something like that) – and apparently this saying is as old as the hills, so it seems like people have intuited this for many generations without knowing the biochemical processes at work.
I have been “going to bed hungry” this week and I just feel so much better throughout the day when I do. I am following up with a big, protein and veggie packed breakfast (with sweet potatoes usually), or dinner leftovers topped with poached eggs, and a salad for lunch, and I am good to go. The other day I even forgot to eat lunch – I think a first for me – but I really just wasn’t that hungry.
Great post and congrats to your grandpa! It’s hard to make big changes like that at any age, but especially when you’re older and have so many ingrained habits.
landriav - Thank you so much for posting that Shana! It’s crazy isn’t it how when we eat a big meal at night we are so hungry the next day. I am the exact same way! If I eat a light dinner at 4:00ish then the next morning I’m not hungry at all. But eat a late dinner or big dinner and the next morning I wake up so hungry, which is crazy since you would think you’d still be full from the night before. Your mom is a smart woman and I think she is exactly right! Glad you liked the post! 🙂
PJ - Awh, I thought your writing was wonderful!
Anyhow, I started Leptin reset about two days ago. When I tell you I have not had a snack since I began.. I can’t even believe it. I snuck in a lot of carbs the first day because I was SO scared I was going to be hungry all night. Instead, I went to bed REALLY full. The second day, I stuck to the guidelines, and really didn’t miss the carbs. Today, my breakfast is a little smaller, but heavy on the protein and fat. I got hungry between breakfast and lunch, but it seems to come in waves and go away. I’m actually making it 5-6 hours between meals. I look forward to the day where I don’t care about lunch, and my body doesn’t flip out as a result.
I think Grandpa Jack is definitely on to something 🙂 Good health to you all!
landriav - Thanks so much for posting PJ! I’m sorry I just now saw this!! Anyway, I love hearing how the leptin reset works for everyone. I did it for about a week or so and it was amazing how I wasn’t thinking about snacks or next meals. It was a little hard with me because of my long workout and I think I was a little too full after dinner, but I definitely think there is something to it. Anyway, thanks again for your post! 🙂