Leptin, Weight Loss and Carb Nite OutDecember 12, 2016
Leptin and Carb Nite Out
Ever plateaued on weight loss? You and everyone else. We now know that you don't lose weight unless you quit carbs and turn off insulin. So far so good. But somewhere along the line, you plateau and stop losing weight. You are frustrated and upset. The method seemed to work for a while and then didn't.
What's cooking? The problem is that we are much more complicated than just insulin. In response to every environmental stress, you get all sorts of other hormones. Prolonged dieting with starvation is a real stressor. That causes you to release insulin AND cortisol. That grows new fat cells. Then you regain weight above and beyond when you get back to normal eating. And leptin, your hormone that signals sufficient calories, drops to very low very quickly.
When leptin is low, it means either that you are at a normal weight, or that you are starving and need to conserve calories. When it's high, you are signaling that your fat cells have enough food and you can stop eating, or you are resistant and have a lousy appetite control. Which is which? We have been concerned those high leptin signals indicating leptin resistance, and abnormal weight leading to confused weight loss signals.
But that's only on one layer of complexity. Which is it? John Kiefer has stumbled into the next layer with this book. In his own attempts to lose weight while not losing muscle, he applied his physics research approach to weight loss and found ideas deep in the basic science literature about how to "hack" leptin. He devised his "Carb Nite" method from that and wrote the book. And when a client of mine came in having plateaued and "broken through" and proceeded to lose another 15 pounds, I read the book too.
John Kiefer's method is actually ingeniously simple. You have to start with very low carbs - have to. That's baseline. Maximum of 30 grams a day. That's what we have been teaching for a while. Then, and catch this, you must have a carb night every 7 nights. Must. No skipping. Not more frequently than every 5th night. And for 6 hours, you get to have carbs. Lots of carbs. Two or three hits. Go for it. What happens is a spike in insulin. All true. But then, also a spike in leptin. Here is the unique part. Your insulin comes down in 8-12 hours, but your leptin stays up for a couple of days. In the environment of weight loss, your higher leptin signals to your body that you have plenty of calories, so keep burning.
In animals there is even evidence that you kill off baby fat cells and don't grow new ones. And the effect lasts a full four days, shadowing the 8-12 hour effect of insulin. Did you get that? Ok, a repeat. Cut your carbs to less than 30 a day. Go for 10 days to get started, then have a carb night. Not just a donut, two or three good hits of carbohydrates. Have some mashed potatoes, some ice cream, how about pancakes.... I'm serious. Then back to 30 grams max. Repeat once a week once you are started.
WWW. What will work for me? I'm completely on board with this idea, having seen dozens if not more folks who have plateaued and then gotten discouraged. If you are one of those who has gotten stuck, give it a try. Buy the book. Let us know. I believe it and think this is a meaningful advance. I would love to hear anyone's contrary opinion, and any success stories.
1. To lose weight, I have to turn off insulin. T or F? Answer: True but it only works for a while. Once leptin falls to low levels, your body goes into conservation mode.
2. So the key to losing weight is to starve myself with just 1200 calories. T or F? Answer: False, false, false. You will fail because you induce huge stress response, and the resultant cortisol peak will make your grow more fat cells than ever, resulting in new weight gain over and above.
3. What's the key physiological change that occurs with Carb Nite? Answer: You reignite leptin to get back to its originally intended signal, that you have sufficient calories and your fat cells can start losing again. That's leptin's original role. When you are overweight, it gets too high and for reasons not completely understood, you become leptin resistant and lose that signal.
4. The effect of leptin lasts 12 hours and insulin from carb night lasts 48 hours. T or F? Answer: False? Backward and wrong numbers. The insulin lasts 8-12 hours but the resurgent leptin will be ignited for at least 4 days. Think of it as 1 step back but 4 steps forward. But forward it is.
5. You have to have at least a candy bar on carb nite. T or F? Answer: False. That wouldn't be enough. Probably at least two good insulin peaks a couple of hours apart. (Isn't that fun? Icecream and then more later!)