INSULIN – The steering wheel toward fat or lean. You choose the direction.
What insulin controls
The hormone insulin talks to the cells of your body, telling them to hold or release fat, to use sugar you consume as energy, to use the fat as energy, and an array of other critical functions. When your diet is high in sugars, (that’s rice, corn, wheat and potatoes as well as refined sugar), your insulin levels are staying high and you are developing a dangerous cellular resistance to the important functions of insulin.
What can you do in your meal plan to avoid high blood sugar and help lower your insulin resistance?
The reason the food plan I use (which draws from Tim Ferriss’ research and from the slow-carb concept) works so well is that I stay focused on keeping my insulin levels “flatlined.”
In the beginning, and then in a less controlled way later on, this means focusing on these foods:
The visual conflict
There’s a visual conflict with the “recommended” foods we see now and have seen for decades.
When I sit down to a “food planny” meal, it looks like a serving of protein with three servings of vegetables.
In the “recommended” charts, vegetables and protein share the plate with fruits and grains.
With fruits and grains, it is too easy to make big mistakes, saturate your body with sugar, which then drives up a steep insulin spike. It’s that spike that creates a resistance to insulin. Your cells get tired of responding to the excess insulin. The cell’s receptors quit responding to it.
Let’s look at the fruits and grains. How about a nice bowl of granola with lots of mixed fruit on top? Looks healthy, doesn’t it?
One rule of thumb I’ve seen is “5 & 5.” That’s less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber, when deciding on a cereal. The average bowl of granola, at half a cup, is at least 20 grams of sugar. Add the mixed fruit and you’re pushing 50 grams or more. How about some yogurt with your granola? Yum! Typical yogurt from the grocery store will be flavored with fruit. Add another 20 grams of sugar. Now on the food plan recommended by Tim Ferriss, you wouldn’t consider grains or fruit except on your cheat day once a week. You probably know by now that I bend the rules a lot and I suggest you experiment to find the lifestyle that’s really going to work for you.
Breakfast is about the protein. On the best day, it’s also about veggies and legumes. But the protein is the critical feature. My favorite breakfast is a stew that has all three components in it, and I poach an egg and add it to my stew. Very yummy and not too time consuming, as the stew is made in advance and lasts through quite a few meals.
My little dark secret:
When I head to a cafe to write after breakfast, I always crave some sweet treat to go with my coffee. World of bad habits here. I often give in, but with a big adjustment. Now I have one small cookie or a “mini scone,” which amounts to about 1/5 the sugar I was eating in the past. Plus, I’ve already set my metabolism in motion with a food-planny breakfast. I’m stable. So the small amount of sugar has much less effect on me for the whole day.
Lunch looks like this:
I cover the plate with a bed of spinach.
I add three or four tablespoons of lentils, black beans, cannellini beans, or pintos.
Next I pile on sauteed vegetables including yellow squash, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, broccoli or brussels sprouts. I will use carrots occasionally, but not as the feature vegetable. Potatoes are not on the list, although I have started including occasional sweet potatoes — just a few bites. Now comes the protein. A 3 or 4 ounce serving of turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp, beef, or pork. Eggs work too, but it’s hard to get quite enough protein just using eggs.
See what I mean? It looks like three servings of vegetables.
I eat this way all the time. A gazillion varieties, changing out the protein sources, spices, dressings, adding guacamole, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives.
It’s very satisfying. The plate of food is daunting when I dive into it, and I almost always think “there’s no way I can eat all this.” Almost always, I clean the plate.
“It’s not healthy to avoid fruit”
Of course. I thought the same thing. Maybe you’ll do fine keeping the blueberries in the mix, but I made those early milestones by following this food plan without the fruit. I am used to eating an apple every single day of the year, so this really bothered me at first. Now, after several months getting used to the food plan, I have some apple, maybe a few strawberries or blueberries, and a string of other yummy treats through the week. I just watch the frequency and the amount. I continue to very slowly drop weight.
If you can eat these kinds of meals two or three days a week, leaving fruit out of the picture at the beginning (eat it on “cheat day!”), you will see sudden and motivating changes in your energy, your weight, and your jeans size. You are “flatlining” your insulin. That’s why the results are dramatic.
Learn more about it in The Sugar Divorce.
Here’s the book on Amazon.