I’ve always said that if someone gave me a good enough reason to ditch toast with my morning omelette – I would.
Well, I’d give it a go at least.
You see, ever since primary school I’ve always been told by my parents, teachers and the local Italian baker to eat my bread – especially if I wanted chest hair.
And so I have. Everyday. For 50 years, although they lied about the hair.
And to this day nothing bad has ever come from it until last month after a twisting and turning dance in the mirror to examine my body’s front and back midsection.
After 30 years of an 8 out of 10 diet and above average exercise compliance, there it was, the beginnings of a muffin top. Not the extra-large blueberry variety you get at the corner bakery….more the dainty little ones you get at a corporate conference break. But there was no denying it…
Bloody hell, how the did that get there?
I then did what most blokes would have done – I put on a t-shirt and forgot about it – hoping that it would just disappear.
But it didn’t – in fact as the weeks wore on I was only getting more muffiny.
With a background in health and fitness I knew biologically WHY I was gaining weight around my middle I just didn’t know WHAT was causing it. This was frustrating as I couldn’t pin point any dietary changes that could be the culprit.
To work backwards, I was gaining fat because my body was storing it, rather than using it. I was storing it because it had no where else to go. You see, the food we eat is used by the body for energy, in particular carbohydrates and fats (protein is more of a backup for energy rather than a primary source). Once digested, all carbs (fruit, vegetables, grains) are converted to the most simple source of energy – glucose – with the body trying to keep a homeostatic level of about 4 grams (one teaspoon) circulating in your 5 litres of blood at any one time. That ain’t a lot, right?
Once in your bloodstream glucose is then pushed into your muscles with the assistance of a hormone called insulin (secreted from the pancreas). If you have enough glucose already stored in your muscles, glucose then knocks on the door of your liver. Now here’s the kicker – if the liver is also full of stored glucose (glycogen) it’s then transported to your body cells and stored as fat – yep, good ol’ body fat. The stuff which reaches our thighs, butts & guts. The fancy name for this process is de novo lipogenesis – in other words, the making of new fat. Delightful!
How clever is that? Over 2.5 million years of evolution your body has designed a 3-tiered energy storage system to keep you energised for every second of everyday for the rest of your life. The good news is that this process all works in reverse. Yep, fat can be used by the body as energy in a process called lipolysis and this is how we lose body fat.
But, back to my problem – what was I eating which was causing the excess glucose?
Grain. Bread, pasta, rice.
You see, these foods are a concentrated source of carbs and the body couldn’t care less whether you’re eating the finest stone ground wheat from Egypt or a bowl of skittles – its all converted to glucose in the digestive process and used for energy.
Let’s return to insulin for a moment. Remember how I said it gets secreted from the pancreas in response to glucose in the blood? Well, as soon as it does it immediately shuts down the ability of your fat cells to release fat. Think of your body as a hybrid car. The petrol (glucose) will always be burned first before the electricity (fat) kicks in.
As long as you’re continually eating a steady supply of carbs in the form of sugar and grains your body will prefer these over your stored fat any day of the week.
So, I did what I had to do. I trialed a grain separation agreement with my body for 21 days to see what would happen.
One notch on the belt. Then two. Six months later I’m down to a 32 inch waist (from 34 and a bit) and a new set of trousers in the wardrobe.
And the best of all, no muffin top.
Aesthetics aside, the change to my clarity of thought, energy levels and all-round feeling of well-being has been profound.
To note, this has been my experience with grains but it may not be yours. The best diet for you is the one that works for you – know one else.
My suggestion? If you’re struggling with your weight and yet ‘doing everything right’ give this a go and I promise your health will not go against the grain.