Note: This article is not about showcasing results. Instead, it is about learning optimal nutrition from the results achieved with different personality types, coming from different cultures, living in different environments and eating different food.

Some key learning’s and takeaways via my study, experiments and research:

  • Calorie in and calorie out is not a phenomenon that our body relates to.
  • Restricting your calories is not same as intermittent fasting. Starving is not dieting.
  • Sugar – the sooner you leave it, the better you live.
  • Fruits are not a must. And no…they are not necessarily healthy for everybody.
  • Processed food compromises the food quality significantly – case study below.
  • Not all cooking oils are healthy.
  • Insulin resistance is perhaps the most common while being the most ignored phenomenon in India and the rest of the world.
  • Metabolic syndrome  is responsible for several diseases like diabetes, cancer, dementia, high blood pressure, depression, obesity etc. etc. and these are treatable with diet.
  • Poor metabolic health precedes obesity.
  • Every chronic disease is some amount of hyper proliferation/hyper growth/inflammation.
  • Building metabolic flexibility (metabolic health) is perhaps the healthiest of all in my opinion
  • A person doesn’t have to look sick to be sick from inside.
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver is as bad as fatty liver due to alcohol with similar repercussions.

 

nutritionI have been researching nutrition for quite sometime now. From high carbs to high fat, it has been a journey which can’t be covered in one blog post. However, I will try to cover the important aspects which can help us all understand the subject of nutrition a bit better.

Over this lock-down period, I have been guiding my students on nutrition and they have lost anywhere between 5 to 9 kilos in the last 8 weeks or so. Not one but eight of them – across a range of age groups. A dream run for all of us in Covid times 🙂 Good job guys!

Of course, losing weight has been our prime target…. a pat on the back for that, but it is not just about kilos lost. When we rewind a motor/engine we are never sure about its performance. It may be able to work just fine, or in most cases, its performance comes down slightly. Right? And if it is about rewiring a body then it is absolutely impossible to predict the outcome. Unlike a motor, our body can’t be replaced. It can only be repaired. So one has to be certain before you start fiddling around with the engine.

low carb high fat

Background: Perhaps not many scientists were convinced of my research initially but I plod on. I did find support from a  few prominent scientists of the world eventually. In my experience the academicians don’t relate to the real world at times and they would rather dwell on something that looks perfect as per text books. They are often biased in their approach and negate the other side completely. This is why you see one side not appreciating the other side at all as if it is all wrong! How about taking the plus’s from both sides – carbs & fat? 

Here is an example: where the ‘Keto’ world chase ‘nutritional ketosis’ as a benchmark for low carb diet, I chase good health in our real world. I still do not understand why one should be chasing ‘nutritional ketosis’ or ‘ketones level’ (comes at 5% carbs) in healthy people, in an environment where it is almost impossible to survive without carbs? I could not find one reasoning in science confirming this, but for a general remark, that ketones are good for our body. So is fat!

This is the reason why LCHF (low carb high fat) diet never took off in India even though it could be the best thing to happen in a country full of Insulin Resistant population and dairy. Instead it is a luxury known to few. Whereas, factually speaking, it could be the easiest, simplest, and a non-expensive diet if you add intermittent fasting to it. You can maintain good health by eating twice without feeling starved. Easy? Example: Spinach is the cheapest and most easily green vegetable for anyone and you know what, it is GOLD for LCHF and so are all seasonal green vegetables that we regularly eat. Dairy doesn’t confuse you either and there is no shortage of it anywhere.

Technically speaking LCHF is the simplest and most favorable diet for a human body. How? Well, take this for an example: we can store up to 2000 calories in our body in the form of glucose whereas, the count can go anywhere above 20k – 50k in case of fat storage. 

Ques: Why would our body have such a high storage for fat whereas we prefer living on carbs? Why???

Analogy: A hybrid car with petrol and diesel tank. The petrol tank is small and it can run your car for 50 km’s at the max. Whereas, diesel tank is twenty times bigger and is capable of running your car for 1000 km’s. But we love petrol so we run 50 km’s and refuel the tank. We don’t touch diesel. We love driving on petrol.

CarIrony: As a general rule, some petrol gets converted into diesel every time you fill up your tank. So now your car not only has a full diesel tank but it has extra (from pertol) diesel which gets stored wherever it finds space in the entire car body. Diesel tank is full. Remember? And your car starts to look something like this. Double whammy? 

Outcome: This is why we feel hungry after every 3 hours and hence the concept of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.   

Science: It is highly complex and can’t be covered in a post. However, in simple words, our body’s preferred fuel is carbs. Damn!! Our storage capacity is high for fats and our preferred fuel is carbs. No wonder….the entire world is confused!

So we will chew all the glucose (carbs) which is available in our body first and then shift our metabolism to fat. If we eat less carbs then it would shift to fat metabolism faster and chew into what is available as fuel – fat. If not, then like this car, it will strive on carbs and keep depositing fat into our body for no reason.

There is a caveat where most of us get caught – we often confuse our metabolic machinery by chewing into carbs when it is enjoying and biting into fat. This is why we need to plan our meals in such a way that our body can enjoy both without intermingling the macro nutrients. Because unlike a hybrid car; our body doesn’t run on a switch. You just can’t switch off a metabolism and shift to next. It follows certain processes which takes time with hormonal/bacterial/enzymes indulgence/reactions, and it is not as quick and simple as a switch. Of course, your engine may require rewiring/rewinding before it could start shuttling between two metabolic pathways effortlessly.

Example: People can survive hunger strike of weeks! How is it possible when we can’t even skip lunch? Think….

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And so, me being me, I continue my study because I can see the results. Of course, I am learning every day but after diving deep into the physiology of metabolic pathways and organ functions, I am certain that my fundamentals are accurate. It is only then that I started working with clients.

LCHF: 20% carbs, 60% fat and 20% protein – all approximate quantities (variation 10 to 15%) – challenge me if you will!

Disclaimer: Unlike any other diet I do not claim this to be universal. This is what I have researched upon and found to be working. I am sure there could be several combinations within the macro nutrient matrix which can work for different people. In fact, this number varies with every client for me even. This is not a formula that one could use to solve any problem. Instead, this is a path which looks quite safe and working from my experience considering the healthy blood reports. Read on….

I always ask my students to stay in touch with me on daily basis and ask me questions. I make sure I answer them all, because I want my students to understand and not follow me blindly. There is always a learning in attending to questions even as a mentor. Once students understand why they are doing what they are doing, it becomes really easy for me. Selfish. I know 🙂 but this has been my methodology and this is why my athletes have shown results with a smile. Always.

For the sake of those who have not read my previous two research articles on the subject, I am not talking about ‘Keto’ or any other diet. This is the first research of its kind on LCHF (low carb high fat diet) suiting Indian lifestyle or anybody who loves to eat carbs. This is far away from ‘Keto’ or ‘Atkins’. Unlike any other diet; I insist on finding nutrition in our kitchen that is in sync with our metabolic taste. For more information kindly read my research articles:

Diet Research – Part I

Diet Research – Part II

Challenges:

1. Habits: Alcohol (wine, beer, vodka etc), sugar, fruits, roti (wheat), lentils, sugar tea etc.

2. Vegetarian diet & fat: how to keep a diet high on fat in a vegetarian Indian environment.

3. Lean muscle mass: without proper training it becomes a huge challenge maintaining lean muscle mass. Our body does chew into muscle protein while cutting fat unless you are training hard and taking extra protein makes sense.

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Challenge 1: If I had asked any of my clients to quit all their habits then some of them would have withdrawn in no time; and almost all of them would have gained weight when they came out of my diet. So I had to prioritize – yes, even the bad habits 🙂

Here’s what I asked my students on alcohol – either you have to quit alcohol or you quit fruits & sugar? Tea is allowed. Your call.

Guess what…they quit fruits & sugar 🙂

Challenge 2 (veg diet): It was difficult given the options available in these times of Covid-19, but it seems we managed it fine.

Medical reports (LFT, Urine & Lipid profile): I asked my students to get their medical reports done anytime between 6 to 8 weeks. Everybody’s numbers showed tremendous improvements and a very healthy liver & lipid profile. Eating diet which is high on cholesterol and improving on cholesterol numbers is a shock for all of them. I do not think they still understand it fully but for sure, they love fat now. Yes, this is besides regular alcohol intake for a few.

Note: The idea is to not chase ‘nutritional ketosis’ which could be helpful in curing a disease or two; but we were targeting weight loss and healthier body. Because nutrition ketosis is a phenomenon that occurs when our body has squeezed carbs to its lowest level and produce ketones as a source of energy.  Ketones are made from fat – same fat which we are metabolising and nourishing our body directly with anyway; so I don’t understand the fuss about a source (ketones) which only comes into action when most work is already done by fat in our body if we are on LCHF. And interestingly our brain is happy with carbs as a fuel as it would be in case of ketones. Are we missing anything if we are not in nutritional ketosis in a healthy body? I don’t think so….and you? 

Case Studies:

IMG-20200518-WA0018Case Study 1: Shifting from LCHF back to your regular diet is effortless if you are not insulin resistant.

Stats of my father: 77 years old, a die hard fan of carbs & sugar (tea, milk & fruits)

Medical reports – brilliant considering his age. His LFT  numbers came out as good as any young person. His cholesterol (lipid profile) came out excellent and healthy while hogging on cholesterol. If it can happen at 77 then it can happen at any age. Right?

Facts: He lost 4 kilos in 6 weeks. At 77 years, it is a huge number especially when you are not overweight. It was difficult to contain him or restrict him on carbs with limited fat options so I decided to cut him loose after 6 weeks. He was at 71 kg (from 75.5 kg) and I had no reason to starve him as he would say 🙂

Normal diet: I shifted him to his regular carbs diet with a few adjustments and guess what….he not only maintained the weight but in fact, lost another 500 gms in 4 weeks of his regular diet. He is at 70 kg today and enjoys eating what he has always loved. I am glad that he is not insulin resistant.

Rewiring done…performance improved.

A case study?

InShot_20200531_180815363Case Study 2: Processed food loses its nutrition value

Stats: 45 year old male, slightly over weight (87 kg)

Facts: Lost 9 kilos in 8 weeks. Again a significant number considering he hasn’t touched under 80 kilos in last 15 years. A sports coach, brilliant student…would ask lot of questions…learnt a lot and we managed his diet as per his metabolic taste.

Medical report: I asked him to do a medical test after 7 weeks to see if his reports showed improvement from his last one. Even though the numbers improved and he was happy about it. His triglyceride (TAG) came down to 220 from 350 but this number did not correspond well with his HDL, LDL and VLDL numbers. So I asked him to do another report in a week’s time and revisited his diet. It’s normal to deviate by 20 to 30% in these numbers depending on the machine, your metabolic state, and how have you been eating since last few days. However, I was still not happy and I knew that something is not right, besides of course, him losing 9 kilos. It was time to study every food item he was ingesting.

Finding: he was eating some processed food in the form of non-veg and high fat butter.

Case Study: I then asked him to cut out processed food completely and eat only fresh non-veg (not packed) & ghee instead of processed high fat butter.

“Processing of any kind in any food item changes its structure and most foods would loose their natural properties to a certain degree when processed”

Result after one week: His TAG came down to 120 and all the other numbers HDL, LDL and VLDL improved and now looked in sync unlike his last report. Like every other student he was utterly shocked that he could bring down his numbers this low (120 from 349) while eating a diet high on cholesterol.

A case study?

Examples: How quickly can a diet work for you? What is possible?

Staying on my experience with different individuals, below mentioned are photos of two of my students who have been on my diet for just 7 days. Can you spot the difference?

 

Workout/Training:

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Training is an important part of our life as it not only helps us to stay in shape but it has a huge impact on our metabolism and therefore, our health in general. I do not believe in online training even though I would guide my students how to train and all my students have trained as per their potential. Training helps to rewire the engine faster. My standard advise to all my clients is to go with a pace that they can manage in the long term. Training should not be a seasonal affair and instead it should become a part of your lifestyle. The sooner you adapt to it, the better benefits you will reap long term.

 

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If you’re wondering…what about athletes? Does this help sports-persons? I would suggest you to have a look at above mentioned two articles to get insights into how good nutrition can help your skin tone, lean muscle mass and fitness in general. However, I will leave fitness freaks with this picture of mine (:-)) as this article is more about nutrition in general.

 

 

Trust this research helps you understand nutrition a wee bit better than before.

Warmest regards,

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist