Overcome obstacles with information

Every low carb eating book, article, and blog (including ours!) has a section on overcoming obstacles. Here is a sampling of some of the things that could be interfering with weight loss even when a low carb eating plan is being followed:

Food allergies or intolerances (especially dairy and wheat)
Stress or elevated cortisol levels even without stress
Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease
Yeast overgrowth
Thyroid issues
Not drinking enough water
Eating too few carbohydrates (paradoxically)
Eating too many calories overall, even if low carb calories
Medications (prescription and over-the-counter)
Inadequate nutrients to assist fat-burning (remedied by taking supplements, like l-carnitine)

In Juliana’s case, allergy medications and not drinking enough water were definite obstacles. But we’ve addressed those: she stopped taking allergy medication and instead we went to an alternative allergy practitioner who was able to clear up her mold and dust mite allergies without drugs, and she now fills and drinks several large water bottles a day, plus tea and low carb lemonade. But she is nonetheless stuck at her current weight. We tried some supplements, but didn’t notice a change. We tried eating no dairy, but didn’t notice a change. We honed in on overall calories, making sure she was eating appropriate protein and fat portions, but didn’t notice a change.

Rather than all this trial and error, wouldn’t it be great to have Information specific to your body to guide you? We just got the results of the tests Dr. Hopewell ordered for Juliana.

Lots of them were completely normal. Fasting insulin levels, cortisol levels, and thyroid function were all normal. Cholesterol was in range and most of the LDL cholesterol was the big fluffy kind. She did not show markers of Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease.

This was good and bad news. It’s good that she doesn’t have a hormonal imbalance or a thyroid problem. But it was bad because there was no smoking gun to explain her weight stall. However, there was one more set of results–the food allergy panel. Despite not having eaten gluten or wheat for 10 months, Juliana tested positive for wheat and gluten allergies. (Ordinarily food allergy reactions diminish over time when the food is not consumed). She tested positive for allergies to chicken and egg whites, and very positive for egg yolks. Since she has been eating 2 to 4 eggs every day, that could be a problem.

We are now trying an elimination eating plan where the offending foods are removed for a month. At the same time, Juliana is taking supplements to improve her gut health, since the wheat and gluten allergies may have caused leaky gut issues.



What can water do for you?

water: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.netYou hear it all the time–drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  What does water do for you–and lack of water do–when you are eating low carb to lose or maintain your weight?  Three things.

1)   It’s the job of your liver to metabolize fat.  If your kidneys don’t have enough water to do their job, however, they send some of their work over to the liver.  Then the liver has less bandwidth to metabolize fat.

2)  On a low carb eating plan, you literally urinate out portions of fat molecules called ketones.  You are not only “burning” fat–you are also excreting fat in your urine. See page 170 of No More Fat Kids. Without enough water, this process slows down.

3)  If you don’t drink enough water, your body tries to conserve water, meaning you will weigh more.  If the body has plenty of water coming in, it won’t retain water.  So, paradoxically, drink more water to get rid of water bloat.

Drinking A LOT of water has been critical to Juliana’s progress.  When she came home from six weeks of traveling, in August, 2012, we found that Juliana had maintained her weight while growing half an inch.

She resumed a very low carb eating plan to give herself another weight loss jump start after a summer of less control over her food. But after five days, she had gained a pound. On the one hand, a pound could be normal variation. On the other hand, the more experience I get the more I feel that she is likely very sensitive to carbohydrate, and it is not easy for her to lose weight even on a low carb eating plan.

Unlike an adult who finds after the age of 40 that they can’t maintain their weight on a high carb diet after a lifetime of high carb eating–she was sensitive to carbohydrate already at a young age–she became obese over one year from 3.5 to 4.5. And she isn’t one of the many people you read about, if you poke around in the low carb community, who dropped 5 dress sizes in as many months eating low carb. So to me, a gain of a pound when we were trying to jump start her weight loss, when she hadn’t been doing a lot of strength training or the like that might argue she had added muscle, was significant.

We reviewed many tips and tricks. I zeroed in on water. Juliana has never felt much thirst, or drunk much water. I’ve encouraged her to drink more water for years.

We set a goal of a gallon per day. She has a 32 ounce water bottle she fills and empties four times. As her coach, I check in with her during the day to see how many water bottles she has finished. I frequently find the water bottle in the house, fill it with ice water, and bring it over to her.

After 3 days of drinking a gallon of water per day, she had dropped a pound and a half, and is now at her lowest weight ever since we started the low carb eating plan.