Trying another diet – the Starch Solution

It’s worth looking at Dr. John McDougall’s “Starch Solution.” You can find groups on Facebook, and also his book on Amazon.

It’s completely the opposite of Dr. David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry?” in that (1) It’s starch-centric and (2) it actually does seem to work – at least so far.

By that I mean even though I just started it this week it completely controls my hunger. And even though I’m just in my 5th day so far I’ve already lost 3.0 kg (6.6 lb). That is certainly a motivation to continue.

It’s quite interesting. A vegan + non-oil approach I never tried before. After all this time it’s hard finding a diet approach I never tried before!

I realize everybody is different, and low-carb may work for some people. I also realize, living in Japan, that the diet here has been rice-centric for thousands of years and the obesity rate is just a small fraction of what it is in the U.S. How can I ignore that?

So I’m going to try this for a while. It might be worth looking at if you are not succeeding in losing weight with “Always Hungry?” or other low-carb or strict calorie-counting solutions. There are also interesting chapters in the book on the benefits of such a diet not only for obesity and heart disease, but also for all manner of health problems, including immune disorders.

The diet is quite simple to follow. I’ve been concentrating on starches like sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, carrots) and some other non-starchy vegetables, like tomato and cucumber salads, with some legumes sometimes thrown in. It’s not a “strict” diet, in that he is very reasonable about such things as white rice (brown rice is better, white rice is ok if that’s what you have) and even sugars. In other words, it’s easy to prepare meals – especially for somebody like me who is not “handy” in the kitchen. He even likes Sizzler’s!

There is a very friendly support group (not run by me) here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StarchSolution/.

Dr. McDougall himself is quite approachable, and answers email quickly.

Anyway, another day another diet. I hope this one works out and turns into a permanent solution. It’s certainly a good start. And frankly, I feel better being back to vegan. Not just for me and my health, but also for environmental reasons.

 

 

 

Interesting article on why it is metabolically hard to keep weight off after a big weight loss

Unfortunately Dr. Ludwig, who is quoted in this article, also misses the point with his book “Always hungry?”

I tried his lower carb, macronutrient balanced approach for nearly 12 weeks, gained a small amount of weight, my blood sugar HbA1c went slightly up, and there was no improvement at all with regards to hunger control.

The problem is, that calories count whether you count them or not. And also whether we like it or not. As someone who has lost and regained very large amounts of weight multiple times in my life it remains a dilemma I can’t find a solution to.

You can read the full article here.

The Always Hungry Diet final report before I move on

Here are the results in a nutshell.

I started the Always Hungry? Diet (AH) on 2/8/2016 and had blood tests that day. Today is 4/18/2016, so that’s 70 days or exactly 10 weeks.

(1) Weight change: gained 3.5 lb

That is really depressing. In 10 weeks on a reasonable diet I should have been able to lose 10-20 lb without excessive calorie cutting or feeling deprived, if I just controlled calories better. I really feel like I wasted a huge amount of time on that point. Especially since I have a trip to the U.S. coming up this week. So I’m pretty down about that.

But I persisted because I had these blood tests today and I really wanted to see if the AH diet would help with my high blood sugar.

(2) Blood sugar (HbA1c)
before: 7.9
after: 8.0

The doctor said the slight gain is statistically insignificant. So the AH diet was of no consequence at all with my blood sugar. I really was really hoping for an improvement in my HbA1c, because for 10 weeks I’ve had no sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, starchy vegetables or high glycemic fruits!

My doctor explained it this way: It doesn’t matter what you eat. If you eat too much (which I’m obviously doing) and don’t lose weight your blood sugar is not going to go down.

That’s also been my own experience in the past. For example on the Ornish heart-disease reversal program I had lots of fruits and starchy vegetables, and ate grains every day. In the 2 years I could stick with it I lost about 100 lb and my HbA1c dropped to a completely normal range with no medicine.

So I agree with my doctor that the way to naturally control blood sugar – at least for me – is to lose weight. Avoiding sugar or high glycemic foods is not the way.

Think of it this way. Low-carb diet proponents are fond of saying it’s not fat that make you fat. And they point out that food cholesterol doesn’t increase blood cholesterol. Similarly eating sugar doesn’t give you high blood sugar. Weight control is really what’s most important.

(3) Cholesterol

My cholesterol was in the normal range when I started, and also in the normal range 10 weeks later, except for my TG value.

Total cholesterol before: 175, after: 177
LDL before: 95, after: 101
HDL before: 53, after: 49
TG before: 113, after: 159

So basically the fact I ate a lot of eggs, and also had butter (the only animal products I ate) didn’t have a significant impact on my cholesterol. That didn’t surprise me, because current research does indicate that food cholesterol doesn’t really impact on blood cholesterol. The TG value increasing isn’t really good though. The normal range for that is 30 to 150. My doctor said that was not a worrisome point though.

All my other values were basically normal before and after.

Since my appetite was never brought under control, and since I ended up gaining weight, and since my blood sugar wasn’t helped at all, my conclusion, sadly, is that the Always Hungry? Diet is meaningless. It’s just another book to toss on the pile of other diet fads that don’t pan out.

The only positive note is that I found out that eating yogurt every day really helps with my digestive system, and so I can eat tofu and legumes with no problems. That will be the only positive thing I learned on the AH Diet.

So I’m back to where I started and what I know is true – the only way to lose weight is to make sure that your net caloric intake (food less exercise) is less than your personal metabolism requires to maintain your current weight.

Some may say, “Well, if you are feeling deprived you can’t maintain that forever.” And indeed my experience after losing large amounts of weight multiple times in the past, and then eventually regaining, is that that is indeed a problem.

But it’s a fact that just because you don’t like the facts doesn’t make the facts less true.

(But wait! See this new post about the Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall!)