Plateau Challenge – Week 2
Today, I completed my second seven-day sprint on my strategy to overcome my plateau. I started the week at 167.6 lbs and ended the week at 167.7 (averaged over all 7 days). This is very illustrative of the plateau I’ve been experiencing for the past few months.
Part of my strategy to overcome my weight plateau involves me assessing my current level of insulin resistance. My last lab work was taken in December and while it captured results for blood glucose and lipids, it did not capture data as to the amount of fasting serum insulin present in my blood. Without that data, I’ve been flying a bit blind as to just how insulin insensitive I may be. Anecdotally, I know I have some level of resistance or I wouldn’t be in the metabolic state I’m in right now. I suspect my resistance is high because when I do eat more than 50 carbs a day, I put on weight very easily and generally experience a “sugar rush” followed by a crash and ravenous hunger. I’m concerned that even with me consuming a VLC diet, my resistance may be so high that my plateau is a result of my reaching equilibrium between my carb consumption and my insulin resistance. That would be most unfortunate as I don’t think I can get very much below 20 carbs a day without making some very drastic changes that I’m not sure I’m willing to accept. Getting this latest blood work completed is a huge step in learning what lifestyle changes I may need to make to not just get past the current plateau but also hit my eventual lifetime weight goal.
I received my test results from DirectLabs at the beginning of the week. These results will serve as my baseline and I will re-evaluate again after 60 days. If you haven’t discovered DirectLabs, I strongly suggest you take a look. Basically, this site allows you to order your own blood chemistry tests without any doctor’s orders. The tests are competitively priced (I paid $89 for three test which would have easily cost $300-$400 if the lab had billed my insurance – plus an office visit charge to see the doctor to get the tests ordered). Once you purchase your lab test orders, you go to LabCorp to have your blood drawn and in roughly 24-48 hours you’ll have test results available online for your to download or even send to your doctor.
I actually had a whole CWP, Hemoglobin A1c and lipid profile done but just want to focus on my results relevant to glucose, insulin and lipids as these were the only abnormal values:
Not surprisingly, my results showed that my fasting glucose was high – 108 versus 7 months ago when my fasting glucose was only 98. I think I’m going to attribute this higher reading as a result of the “dawn phenomenon”. I took my latest reading at 8AM and the one 7 months ago was taken after 10AM. I think that the fact that my HgbA1C is in an optimal state also supports that there isn’t an immediate problem with fasting blood glucose at this time.
Interestingly, my HgbA1C is 5.5%. This is lower that it was 7 months ago when it was 5.9%. It would appear, over a longer term, I’m managing blood glucose quite well for a pre-diabetic. Obviously the combination of my low-carb/high-fat diet and the supplements (like Glycosolve) is keeping blood glucose under control.
However, I firmly believe from the research I’ve read (including the book: The Blood Code, which I strongly recommend) that blood glucose levels alone are not what eventually erodes health and shortens one’s lifespan. Insulin resistance is the culprit. High IR results in fat gain, fluid retention and, damnably, more insulin resistance.
This leads me to my fasting insulin and HOMA-IR ratio results. Fasting insulin is not a standard test on the CWP or HgbA1c tests. You need to make sure you order it separately (if ordering through DirectLabs). If in doubt, view the same test results available next to each test (another very cool feature – see what results you’ll get before you order the test). If you don’t see “Fasting Insulin” listed, you don’t have the right test.
My fasting insulin is 14 uIU/mL, which is painfully high and my HOMA-IR ratio is 3.73. Your HOMA-IR calculation should be as close to or less than 1 as possible. A ratio above of 2.9 indicates significant insulin resistance. As you can see, I’m considerably insulin resistant. Sigh. There can be no denying that I simply cannot metabolically handle any significant amount of carbohydrates and probably have reached the point where even the 20 or so carbs I am eating are causing some level of weight stability vs. loss.
Next on the list to watch is triglyceride/HDL ratio. This ratio is used as a criterion for diagnosing metabolic syndrome. The ratio helps you understand if your metabolism naturally tends towards cardiac protection or whether you must make lifestyle changes to create such protections against heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke. You want the ratio to be as close to 1 as possible and if it’s higher than 3 you could be at greater risk of heart attack or stroke.
My calipers also arrived early last week and I was able to take measurements. The results were not surprising. I fell into the last “too high” category for men at 23% body fat (I briefly recalled 14 years ago when I was a true gym-fanatic and had 10% body fat). As I predicted, if I could lose 10-15 pounds, I would be in the health body-fat range.
So what does all this mean to me?
My HOMA-IR tells me that my carb-restrictive behavior is conducive to my metabolic state and if I have any hope in improving my insulin resistance, low-carb continues to be the way to go. Just like I don’t believe a calorie is a calorie, I also don’t believe a carb is a carb. I believe the carbs I’m getting from cruciferous vegetables should be what my metabolism expects and can handle. The carbs from processed/refined foods as well as farinaceous (starchy) vegetables are not. So those few carbs I do eat need to come solely from natural, cruciferous sources and nowhere else. However, if I want to loose more weight, I need to bring my insulin resistance down.
Since I’m not quite a “3” with my TG:HDL ratio, I think this serves as a wake up call that I need to do more to change my lifestyle habits. Even if I could increase my HDL levels by just a few points, my ration would improve tremendously.
Bottom line, it appears I’m doing all that I can from a VLC dietary and supplementation standpoint. If I want to get past this plateau and truly improve the baramoters of health and longevity (HOMA-IR and TG:HDL), I need to eat more foods that increase HDL and develop a plan for quality (not quantity) resistance training exercises. If I would just drop the excuses and get to the gym, I could raise my HDL levels through exercise and I could increase my insulin resistance by adding more lean muscle tissue. Even a small amount of progress on this front would drastically change my ratios.
Hand me those dumbbells, it’s time I worked out. Groan…..