Low-carb, intermittent fasting: The life-changing journey from diabetes to weight loss

(Note: This is not medical advice. Consult your doctor if you decide to follow any diet or exercise).

They say fear is a powerful motivator. It creates a powerful impulse to move away from that state of fear, towards our “comfort zone”.

I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes (and then diabetes) 8 years ago. During that time, I’ve seen at least 3 different doctors. Among other things, they advised me to slow down on carbohydrates (rice, bread, pasta, etc.), and to exercise regularly. I was relatively younger at the time, and I had no shortage of excuses. I was happy with my cravings.

fear challange

Since 2014, I’ve been taking metformin, the number one medication for type 2 diabetes. I thought I’d just go along, expecting my condition to go away.

My parents had diabetes. The disease did not go away. Both died of “common diseases” associated with this disease (Dad in 2015 and Mom in 2021).

Statistically, my siblings (I have three, I’m the third child) and I have a 50% risk of the genes being passed on. Our oldest, Chris, is now taking injections to control his hyperglycemia.

We have all seen our parents go through a lot of pain and discomfort due to complications of diabetes, apart from the difficulties of old age.

Weight gain: Ignore doctors’ advice

The thought of going down with a similar affliction is a constant. So I take (or have taken) my medication religiously.

For the greater part of my life, I’ve been at least 10kg overweight. Doctors advised a “lifestyle change” – that is, lose weight, reduce carbohydrates, and eat more vegetables; Less sweets, more exercise.

I refused all of that and considered myself the exception to the rule. Now, the exceptional has faded. I started feeling lethargic, cranky, unable to lose weight, sugar cravings, cracked skin, and even brain fog.

My situation changed from feeling invulnerable to feeling compassionate in the face of impending anger. Probably, from the same disease that caused my parents to fall.

Diabetes corner at home

As an Asian, I grew up eating anything with rice: chocolate rice, rice with chips, meat/fish rice, coconut rice. Rice with rice.

Suman lehya – a local Filipino delicacy made of sticky rice with sticky coconut milk whipped with sugar extract and vanilla herb (pandan) – is a staple in our home (usually an extra table) on special occasions. It was my mom’s favorite dish.

During the eight years I’ve been on blood sugar-lowering medications, I haven’t given much thought to my weight problem, or to doing anything completely different than I used to.

I stand 168 cm – ideal average weight 63.5 kg. My weight has always been around 75kg or more. There was a self-talk: “I feel fine at this weight.”

couple strength

How did you decide to lose weight? The journey from a high-carb lifestyle, anything that goes into a low-carb intermittent fasting regimen, has kind of imposed on me.

One of the main catalysts: health insurance. My wife shopped for medical insurance last year. Most agents rejected me immediately, after I declared my “pre-existing” status.

That incident made me feel like an outcast, unclean, social burden. Finally, a man offered “global coverage” – for what I thought was a huge bonus – the equivalent of $2,000 a year.

Facebook |  Hilotin' tweet

After the birth of our third child, my wife Tweet had tip the scales at 90kg (although her ideal body weight should be 65kg or less). Since 2018, she has been prescribed four “maintenance” medications (300 tablets each) after an operation at a local hospital. Nothing seems to work.
Image Credit: Facebook | Hilotin’ tweet

With insurance companies turned down and worries about getting sick and having young children, I thought it was time to take on the music. Troubled times require desperate measures.

training

After the birth of our third child, my wife Tweet had tip the scales at 90kg (although her ideal body weight should be 65kg or less). Since 2018, she has been prescribed four “maintenance” medications (300 tablets each) after an operation at a local hospital. Nothing seems to work.

This led us to the search for low carb training. We found Dr. Josephine Chua Rogo, and Dr. Liesel Gannelanchial, our mentor for intermittent fasting. At first, we tracked their live sessions on social media, then signed up for one-on-one coaching online, after paying the fee (in total, about $100).

observation sheet

Earlier this year, my wife also signed me up for an online training with a Low Carb Doctor. This observation sheet had to be filled out constantly, during those 30 days. I’ve found that the hardest part is adopting this lifestyle, especially when no one is looking or checking.

Part of breaking our unhealthy eating habits is keeping a close eye on our food intake and finger pricks — for at least 30 days. not easy. I realized that eating habits are one of the hardest of all.

It unfolded like a slow-motion movie, until it became routine. They say it takes at least 21 days of daily practice for something to become a habit.

21/90 قاعدة rule

■ One common way to build habits is what behaviorists call the “90/21 rule.”

■ The rule is simple: stick to a personal or professional goal for 21 consecutive days.

■ After three weeks, the pursuit of this goal should become a habit.

holistic approach

Understanding is the key. Advocates of this lifestyle are pushing for a “holistic approach” focused on physical and mental health and wellness. Some of the low carb sessions are steeped in cell biology and biochemistry, and delve into the basics of hormonal functions, metabolism, enzymes, toxicity, glycogenesis, and glycogenolysis.

These terms were completely strange to me. Additional readings led me to Science Direct, which published a 2018 study suggesting that even so-called “digestible carbohydrates” are more toxic than fats (fats).

Carbohydrate toxicity

■ Excessive carbohydrate intake can send blood sugar levels through the roof. This causes your body to produce more insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream.

■ Carbohydrates range from indigestible sugars to refined sugars that collectively lead to adverse effects on human health, a phenomenon known as “carbon toxicity”.

■ This condition tells your cells to conserve excess glucose as fat. Over time, this can be unhealthy, especially since you are already tipping the scales with more than your ideal weight, which then leads to diabetes and other related health issues.

What is behind someone’s food cravings? I’ve found that an imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can lead to a downward frenzy with cravings.

Why does fasting work when combined with few carbohydrates?

I realized that fasting is easier when you are low in carbohydrates. They kind of support each other. Instead of a treadmill, it’s a virtuous cycle. Promotes adaptation to fats. This happens by regulating fat-burning mitochondria, stimulating the creation of new mitochondria, and reducing your dependence on sugar.

glycogenolysis

■ Glycogenolysis occurs when the body, which prefers glucose as an energy source, needs energy.

■ Pre-stored glycogen is broken down by the liver into glucose and distributed throughout the body.

In the low-carbohydrate community, we were introduced to the list of “safe,” “caution,” and “risk” foods.

We started with a 12-hour daily fast, then moved up to 14, then 16 and then 18, and drank only fluids (water, unsweetened tea, or sugar-free coffee) during the fasting period, then stuck to “safe”, low-fat foods. carbohydrates while eating.

The testimonies of people who have done this before us were eye-opening as well.

Food List Danger List Caution Safe Safe List

Image Credit: Mr. Della Lata | Source: Josephine Chua Ruju

The introduction of sugar

■ Glycogenogenesis is the synthesis of glycogen without the use of glucose or other carbohydrates, instead of using substances such as proteins and fats.

■ One example: conversion of lactic acid to glycogen in the liver. So glucose is so important that the body produces it, even without carbohydrates or sweets in our diet.

What the UAE doctors said

Interviews with doctors in the UAE who practice low-carb, intermittent fasting reinforced this.

In my younger years, I would practice fruit concentrated lollipops and sweets, mixing bitter chocolate with sweets, in a misconception to lessen the ill effects of sugar.

In the UAE, where I have lived for 20 years, the widely and affordable availability of fruit – watermelons from Iran, rock watermelons from Honduras, kiwis from New Zealand, mangoes from Pakistan/India, local dates, all kinds of food from different parts of the world – were convincing Extremely.

Then I realized: There is a reason why fasting works. For centuries and millennia, humans have survived droughts and food shortages for days, if not months. However, they have adapted their bodies and minds during this cycle. It’s counter-intuitive, but fasting sharpens the mind, an essential physiological state of survival (where do you find the next food?) among primitive men.

There is a downside to excessive abundance. The easy availability of food in general, and carbohydrates in particular, is a recent phenomenon, thanks to transcontinental flights and giant ocean-going tankers.

Now, some people (including co-workers and my great-grandmother’s 93-year-old sister) are expressing concern (or horror), wondering why I’ve lost “so much” of weight.

Jay and tweets

Part of breaking unhealthy eating habits is closely monitoring your food intake, limiting carbohydrates, doing finger pricks — for at least 30 days — and intermittent fasting.
Image Credit: Jay Helotin | Gulf News

But I’ve never felt better: now, I sleep better. Gone are stomach upsets, bloating and constipation, sugar cravings, and skin bloating. Now, my blood sugar is slowly rising back to normal without medication. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I feel confident I’ll get there in time. (You will be updated here, when I do).

The low-carb intermittent fasting lifestyle was the furthest thing from my mind. The despair that led me to it. and fear. Maybe love.

Even with training and follow-up, our journey wasn’t a perfect flat line to stick with. We allow ourselves to “fail,” sometimes, but not every day.

And it’s never too late to choose a healthy, low-carb lifestyle, intermittent fasting, and a purpose-driven life.