Ask a Health Coach: Prediabetes, Detox and What’s More Important, Diet or Exercise?
Hi Guys! Erin returned to answer more questions. If you’re struggling to keep your blood sugar in balance, just finished a 30-day challenge, or want to know the real solution to long-term weight loss, stick with this week’s post. We love your questions, so ask them in the comments below or on our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.
“I just got a blood test and it turned out that I am a prediabetic. I don’t eat a lot of sugar (I’m not a dessert type) and follow a paleo diet about 70-80% of the time so I’m confused. What else could be at play here? “
Sugar is sneaky. It’s everywhere in our culinary culture and not just the places you’d expect such as $ 6 worth of cookies, cakes, and coffee drinks. The average person consumes up to 66 pounds of added sugar a year. This is added sugar, not naturally sweet foods like fruits or foods that convert to sugar, which I’ll talk more about in a moment.
Is Prediabetes Bad?
When you are a chronic consumer of sugary or sugary foods, your body begins to become insulin resistant Cells stop responding to the insulin your body pumps out (which keeps blood sugar levels under control). Your doctor has already told you that you are prediabetic, which does not mean you will get diabetes, but neither does it – especially if you continue to eat the way you are used to. But to answer your question, there are many factors other than food that can affect your state of health.
Things That Affect Insulin Resistance:
- Genetic factors / family history
- Chronic stress and cortisol spikes
- Sedentary lifestyle or lack of sleep
- Altered gut microbiome
Where sugar hides
But let’s say it’s something you eat. Food manufacturers use sugar, and yes, even fat, to make foods extremely palatable, making them difficult to resist and easy to overeat. Perhaps you were fooled by foods that are purported to be low in sugar just to find out These “healthy foods” are loaded with ingredients like maltodextrin, dextrose, and rice syrup. Processed foods are a big culprit for hidden sugars – everything from soups and salad dressings to ketchup, nut butters, and deli.
In addition, a diet high in refined and processed carbohydrates is digested faster and causes your blood sugar to rise. And when you get to the point where your cells stop responding to insulin, certain foods will keep you on the chronic disease fast lane.
Do you eat any of these regularly in your 70-80% paleo diet? Even non-sugary foods and non-sweet products turn into sugar in the body, including:
- Oatmeal and breakfast cereals
- Bread (also gluten-free bread)
- Pasta and rice
- Pastries and baked goods
- Low-fat yoghurt
Your best bet is to go for whole, real, unlabelled foods, sleep well, and check your lab again in a few months.
(By the way, when I got my prediabetes diagnosis about 12 years ago – which inspired me to go Primal and never look back – my doctor got mine very stressful job as one of my insulin resistance triggers. Lifestyle factors add up too!)
Ellie asked, “I’m completing a 30-day detox this weekend, hoping for some clarification on how to get normal foods back into my diet. I know I shouldn’t be eating a whole pizza right away, but is there a formula for that? “
With summer and this urge for “summer bodies” just around the corner, I have the feeling that there is a lot of cleansing and detoxification going on. I’ve never officially done one – well, unless you include me “cleaning” myself of grain about 12 years ago – but maybe that doesn’t count as it wasn’t an official * thing * I did .
What’s Wrong with 30 Day Challenges?
It seems like everyone on my social feed is going sugar free for 30 days. Or try a dry 30 days month without alcohol. The problem with a plan like this is exactly what you mentioned, Ellie. What if you inevitably bring that food (or drink) back with you?
When I eliminated grains from my diet, I did so with no intention of ever reintroducing them as part of my normal diet as there are no good reasons to include them. That being said, some non-primitive foods pop up from time to time: pizza included (of course).
Why Go On An Elimination Diet?
However, I encourage my clients to try an elimination diet for a period of time, not boosting their metabolism or losing a lot of weight, however with the expectation of getting a taste of how much better they can feel without the grains, sugar and their usual snacks, crunchy, creamy foods.
You will be eating pizza again. Of course you will! But before you do so, pay attention to what changes you have noticed over the past 30 days. You may have noticed that you:
- Sleep better
- Experience less pain and discomfort
- Are less bloated
- Have less food cravings
- Have more sustainable energy all day
These 30-day challenges always make me pause because, What happens on day 31? The invitation to return to your old patterns until you feel your symptoms creep back in? Or a friend is forcing you to join them for another no sugar / no processed food / no alcohol challenge that temporarily leads you to better health? I think these challenges can be incredible stepping stones into health; I just want people to consider the stamina of what they learned in the 30 days.
Connecting with what feels better in your body is an incredible motivator to anchor yourself to. From there, look at Mark’s 80/20 Rule to envision how you will be mostly living the Primal philosophy for the rest of your life, with some well thought out goodies.
“What is more important for weight loss, nutrition or exercise?”
As I like to tell my health coaching clients, I’m not really into weight loss. For me, weight loss is a wickedly great side effect of getting the metabolism going again. When your metabolism is doing its job, you don’t have to rely on chronic dieting or exercise – it just happens.
How to speed up your metabolism
You are probably familiar with the old calorie-in / calorie-out conversations or the popular “abs are made in the kitchen”. Both are tragically oversimplified and, in some cases, completely wrong. If all you had to do was eat less and exercise more to lose weight, we might not suffer the scourge of an obesity epidemic.
The food culture tells us that something is wrong with us if we can’t move the number on the scale. As if this number was a reflection of our self worth. On top of that, The stress caused by compulsive measuring, tracking, and counting calories can actually lead to weight gain. Or at least cause resistance to weight loss. The real secret to getting your metabolism going again is to get your hormones going again.
To get back to your question, does diet exercise have more of an effect on fat loss, or does exercise have more of an effect on fat loss? – The answer is that both diet and exercise are important, but may not be as we have taught ourselves to be. As I already mentioned, If you overdo it in the gym or starve yourself (which is different from fasting) it only causes more cortisol, more insulin, more blood sugar, and more stored fat.
Out-of-whack hormones have an impact on weight, not to mention mood, energy, and head ripping off when hungry. And the * easiest * way to get them back in line is to implement a reasonable mix of diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
3 tips for hormone balancing:
- Eat protein and fat. Start your day with a high protein meal that contains healthy fats. Think bacon and eggs, full-fat yogurt, leftover ribeye …
- Manage your stress. Not all stress is bad, but when it is chronic it can be a problem. Consider trading in your high-intensity spin class for a yin yoga session.
- Exercise daily. Make a habit of counting calories burned or spending a full hour in the gym every time you go. Instead, go for a walk, garden, or just move your body around as it feels good. Your body, hormones, and metabolism will thank you.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their body – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and have a desire to help people like Erin does for her clients every day, consider becoming a self-certified health coach. Learn the 3 Easy Steps to Building a Successful Health Coaching Business in 6 Months or Less in this dedicated info session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson.
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