This was how my client, SF, described himself when he got his labs done after only 5 months of low carb, healthy fat eating... a METABOLIC ROCKSTAR!
Here's the backstory - a middle-aged man, morbidly obese with a BMI of 55.7, had been obese for decades despite trying various, often extreme, interventions for weight loss, up to and including surgery. For comparison, normal healthy BMI range is 18-25, and over 30 (where up to 1/3 of the US population is right now!) is considered obese. So SF was at very high risk of a multitude of health concerns because of his obesity.
If you are interested in checking your own BMI range, go to this link for an easy to use calculator: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
In January of this year, wanting to get healthier, SF had a full panel of blood testing done to determine his starting status. It showed some really concerning results in regards to his diabetic status, although he has never had a diagnosis of diabetes before. In particular, his FBS (fasting blood sugar) was 6.0 (109 in US values), considered a pre-diabetic level. HbA1c is a measure of how much sticky sugar is glooped onto one's red blood cell hemoglobin and is a good representation of what the average blood sugar levels have been over the past 3 months (which is the lifespan of an average red blood cell). SF had a HbA1c of 6.8, well up into the not-very-healthy range. A HbA1c over 7 is confirmed diabetes.
His HbA1c value of 6.8 correlates with an average circulating blood sugar level of 9.0 (US - 163), well up into dangerous diabetic range. Scary...
But what's scarier is how hard his body was working to keep his blood sugars in even that tenuously adequate range. On my recommendation, he was tested for Fasting Insulin Level, to determine how much insulin his body was producing and circulating to keep his sugars down to a "healthy" range. Most doctors do not order this test, and many don't even understand why it is an important marker. SF's fasting insulin level was off-the-charts high at 42. Optimal range is below 5, although the lab test report indicated that anything from 2.6-24 was a good result.
So what does this mean? It means that his body is highly resistant to insulin, and insulin resistance is the underlying mechanism for type 2 diabetes and a multitude of the other "chronic", "lifestyle" diseases of the 20th century and Western civilization.
Although he has managed so far to keep his sugars in a semblence of order, his body has been struggling mightily to do so. Insulin is the fat-storage-promoting hormone, because that is how the body deals with excess carbohydrates - convert them into triglycerides (fat) and shunt them off to storage. In the presence of high circulating insulin level, the fat cells are in acquisition mode and are totally incapable of releasing fat molecules from storage for use as fuel.
Think of it as sitting in the middle of a bank vault full of gold coins, but starving to death because you don't have the right change to buy a snack from the vending machine. That's what happens when insulin levels remain high. Your body is carrying literally hundreds of thousands of calories of energy, but you get hungry every two hours and reach for another snack because you can't access any of those fuel stores. Weight loss is impossible when insulin levels are high.
Fast forward to last week. SF has been following a LCHF diet (more or less) for 5 months (since mid-April) and returned to his doc for followup bloodwork. He has lost about 30 lbs since starting the LCHF lifestyle, bringing his BMI down to 51, still well up into morbidly obese status. He has another 100-140 lbs to lose to reach an optimal BMI range. However, under the skin, big changes have occurred that have put him at a hugely improved health status.
FBS has dropped from 6.0 to 5.5, the bottom of "prediabetic" range. That's good, but it gets better...
HbA1c has dropped from 6.8 (almost full-on diabetic range) to 6.0 - now in the pre-diabetic range, approaching normal. Wow! That correlates with an average blood sugar level of 7.6 (US 136), better than 9.0 (US 163), but still diabetic levels.
Fasting Insulin levels have dropped markedly from 42 to 27.4, still high but a vast improvement. This is the underlying change that has allowed the other things to happen - the weight loss, the reduced HbA1c and FBS levels. Insulin levels in the blood have lowered in response to the "environment", meaning the lower carb intake levels of SF's diet.
By the way, his lipid profile (that's the group of tests for total cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol and Triglycerides) was totally unchanged from the initial test, and remained at optimal range for every value. That's despite 5 months of butter, bacon, eggs, and cheese...
All of these improvements and risk reductions have happened despite a modest 30 lb weight loss and this man still remaining morbidly obese at a super high BMI of 51. And all this was accomplished with almost no exercise, although SF will tell you that he is much more able to be functionally active now than he was before - better endurance, less "creaky joints", fewer aches and pains. Imagine what good things will be reflected in his next lab tests with another few months of low carb, healthy fats eating and further weight loss...
He really is a METABOLIC ROCKSTAR!
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