Optimizing metabolism: feedback: does your body back you when you feed it right?
Subject: Metabolism (Health aspects)
Metabolism (Physiological aspects)
Author: Kohlstadt, Ingrid
Pub Date: 02/01/2012
Publication: Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464
Issue: Date: Feb-March, 2012 Source Issue: 343-344
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 282825234
Full Text: Isn't it ironic that losing weight is among the most healthful actions that many Americans can take, yet when they try dieting most people say that their bodies fight them all the way?

Many people who decide to diet take an approach that they will stick to their diet no matter what. They become what I call Willpower Warriors. While I want to support their resolve and determination, I caution Willpower Warriors to consider listening to what their bodies have to say:

If your body were a car, "check engine" would appear across the console in bright red letters right now. You would appropriately pull over and find out what is wrong before driving any further. Please treat your body at least as well as your car.

You know that you have metabolic engine trouble when your body doesn't back you (i.e., give you positive feedback) as you feed it right. If you feed your body the appropriate calories in the form of a balanced, high-quality meal and all you get is negative feedback, check your body's metabolic engine! A healthy body "thanks" you for healthful choices.

If I were to write an owner's manual on metabolic mechanics, these would be my four key points:

1. Lower Triglycerides

The body's loudest negative feedback tends to be a shout for calories. The body has difficulty accessing its needed calories due to metabolic engine troubles. There are many laboratory tests to measure the efficiency with which the body utilizes energy sources. Triglyceride level is one that's usually already in the patient's chart, and often overlooked. Triglycerides are fat calories in the bloodstream just a few chemical reactions away from becoming ATP energy. Many clinicians take the approach that if patients become Willpower Warriors and lose weight, their triglycerides will respond into a more healthful, lower range. Conversely, if you first repair the metabolic pathway that causes the triglycerides to be abnormally elevated, losing weight becomes easier and, I would argue, safer as well.


The body can convert triglycerides into ATP energy more easily when patients do the following:

* Cut refined carbohydrates.

* Optimize magnesium in several ways: through diet, Epsom salt baths, appropriate hydration, and adding magnesium to bone mineral supplements.

* Supplement with L-carnitine 2 grams twice daily.

2. Meet Protein Needs

Nearly as much negative feedback comes from inadequate protein. Related to point 1, when the body demands more calories, it tends to take metabolically expensive protein intended for building and repair and spends it on ATP energy the way that it would spend carbohydrates like sugar.

* Eat protein throughout the day, especially at breakfast and immediately after exercise.

* Eat a hardboiled egg a day. Boiling is the safest way to eat an egg, and eggs are the single food source most resistant to going the way of the carbohydrates (broken down for energy). This has been easily measured by net nitrogen utilization.

* Incorporate supplemental sources such as whey and pea protein.

* Consider amino acid formulations specifically designed to preserve muscle and other protein structures such as neurotransmitters during active weight loss.

* Treat poor sleep associated with weight loss, which usually involves neurotransmitter imbalances.

3. Treat The Choline Shortfall

The negative feedback from inadequate choline is often overlooked. Choline is a nutrient that most of us don't get enough of, according to nationally representative data by the CDC, Dietary sources are nuts, seeds, egg yolks, and organ meats. Note that a surgically removed or poorly functioning gallbladder reduces choline absorption from the intestinal tract. Replenish choline:

* Eat more choline-containing foods.

* Supplement with oral choline sources. I have observed favorable clinical results from oral glyceryl phosphoryl choline (GPC) and phosphatidyl choline liquid (not lecithin extract).

* I do not recommend phosphatidyl choline injections for weight loss. These are not FDA approved for good reason. However, the fad might have become popularized because of a pervasive choline deficiency in our population.

4. Hydrate Cells - Don't Think a Glass of Water Will Do the Job!

Oil and water don't mix. Obesity can reduce someone's total body water from a healthful 65% to 35%. The dramatically low percentage of total body water is a function of biophysics. More body water is stored in muscle than fat. The practical application is that carrying excess body fat makes staying hydrated even more important.

Carrying excess body fat is associated with edema. Edema is a hydration traffic jam wherein fluid is experiencing difficulty entering cells where the hydration is needed.

* Electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte improve the uptake of water in the intestines and possibly in the cells themselves. Avoid electrolyte solutions that contain more than 2% glucose or any artificial sweeteners.

* Adding a twist of lemon or lime helps alkalinize the body, often improving uptake of water into cells. Even though citrus is acidic by pH, it helps alkalinize the body by donating citrate.

* Improving the quality and balance of dietary fats improves cell membrane function, which in turn improves cellular hydration.

In summary, metabolic engine repair makes dieting run more smoothly.

Ingrid Kohlstadt, MD, MPH, has been elected a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and the American College of Preventive Medicine, and is an associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She recently completed a two-year appointment at the FDA working in the Office of the Commissioner, and published one of Medscape Public Health's "Top Ten CMEs for 2010." Dr. Kohlstadt is the founder and chief medical officer of INCRIDients Inc., editing Food and Nutrients in Disease Management (CRC Press; Jan 2009) and Scientific Evidence for Musculoskeletal, Bariatric and Sports Nutrition (CRC Press; 2006).

by Ingrid Kohlstadt MD, MPH www.INGRIDients.com
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