Chad K. Park's Blog

2, February 2012

My stuck fuel selector switch

Filed under: Uncategorized — chadkpark @ 9:04 am

It was DW (Dear Wife, a.k.a. Nancy) who finally kicked the switch loose.

I refer to a biological switch internal to mammalian biochemistry.  Sometimes I would go a few hours without eating and then I would start freaking out.  It was like my body was about to collapse.  I would get the shakes and just feel awful.  There was nothing that could stop me from getting a bagel or some fritos or a clif bar.  This went on for years – all throughout undergrad, grad school, post-doc…. During all that time, DW said nothing. About 2-4 years ago, I started coming around to the idea that I was a bit overweight.  Just a bit, right?  It’s totally normal, right?  Like, at my age and all?  My doctor (what do they know anyway?) said I was classified as ‘obese’.  Ouch, doc.  DW knew what the doc had said and after witnessing my need-to-eat behavior (compulsion?) for years of togetherness, she finally broke down and spoke up.  I was shocked by what she said.  But, it was just what I needed to hear.

It happened like this.  I started having the shakes, I mentioned that I need to get something to eat real quick and she said, ‘It’s not like you’re starving’.  Well, I think that’s what she said.  I don’t remember – I was shocked!  But it was clear that she was right.  I was packing enough food (around my gut) for a week or two.

Anyway, I got my snack that time, but the comment stuck and festered.  It took me several more bouts of dealing with ‘the shakes’ before I could finally figure out what was going on.  It took me months after that fateful comment, but as I made my diet better and better I finally busted through that area and into the gilded realm of fat burning.

I think several things were going on.  First, I was addicted to carbs.  My body was habituated to running off that type of fuel.  My brain was probably addicted to the exorphins that some people get from some starches.  Second, my metabolism had probably never made any fat burning enzymes in years.  I can picture a bunch of metabolism enzymes running around looking under the rug for dusty DNA blueprints labeled, ‘proteins needed to burn fat’. I persisted.  Weaning myself off refined carbs and learning to fast for 12-36 hours once or twice a month were the best things for me.

Carbs are your accelerator pedal for the master hormonal fuel selector switch, insulin.  Cram your craw full of carbs and you’re keeping the pedal to the medal.  That’s great if you’re about to run a marathon or if you’ve just finished a 1 hr workout like “Murph“. But it’s probably not where you want to be for day-to-day existence.  Cutting out carbs, having a short (1 day) fast, eating only vegetables – no starches, are all great ways to reduce your insulin levels and increase your insulin sensitivity.

It’s probably psychosomatic, but I would swear that I can tell when I switch from burning mostly carbs to mostly fats.  Either way, I should credit Mike T. Nelson and his website for influencing my thinking (and using peer reviewed literature!) as well as providing motivation and instruction on fasting and how to reset my insulin sensitivity.


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