Previous Article in the Series: Health Screening 101: Blood Testing (Part 1)
In this article, we will discuss the recommended courses of action to obtain healthy screening numbers posed to us by an officer with recent blood screening questions. The goal of the recommendations below is to turn the subject’s next blood test into fewer RED LIGHTS and eventually ALL GREEN LIGHTS.
Exercise, Diet, & Medication Recommendations
An exercise program should help you burn the glucose from your body as well as reduce your fat stores. To effectively do both, it is recommended that you start off your workout with resistance training (weight training or calisthenics) for 20–30 minutes to burn your blood sugar (glucose) and glycogen first. The higher your heart rate the more sugar you are using for energy. This is anaerobic training which requires your body to burn glycogen in order produce energy for the challenging demands of this high intensity exercise. Follow your anaerobic training with an easy paced, “fat burning”, aerobic training program like walking, jogging, biking, swimming at a pace that you can still hold a conversation but just barely. See below for a sample full body workout with cardio program:
|Typical Workout to Produce the Results You Need: Perform three days a week (every other day)Warm-up – jog / walk fast or bike 5–10 minutes|
Weight Training Circuit: (full body workout – non stop movement)
Repeat 2–3 times (depending on fitness level)
Cardio option of your choosing: Walk, bike, elliptical, row, swim, etc for 20–30 minutes at a steady pace
Many feel, including myself, that calories IN must be less than calories OUT in order to lose weight and body fat. It is true, but it lacks the complete details. If you have a meal of 400 calories of carbs or 400 calories of protein, it DOES make a difference. All calories are NOT the same and your body will process them differently. You have to be more detail oriented with your food planning and focus on limiting / eliminating simple carbohydrates (sugars, breads, grains) from your diet and focus on lean meats, complex carbohydrates, and limit the fats to only the good fats (mono– and poly-unsaturated fats). Remember – NOT ALL CALORIES ARE EQUAL.
The food plan that will be most beneficial for your issues is a low carb diet - not a NO-carb diet. There are many diets out there, but according to Dr Greenwald the latest clinical trials suggest that America would benefit greatly from limiting sugars, refined grains, and starchy vegetables. Dr. Greenwald and his team prefer a Paleo / Low Carbohydrate approach. He states, “Paleo nutrition is very solid. The addition of an exercise and sleep program makes it just perfect for our nation’s military and first responders. Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and the obesity epidemics that are plaguing our country CAN be reversed. With 30–35% of our first responders being insulin resistant, we have an incredible opportunity to make a huge paradigm shift. We can avoid so much human misery.”
After conversing with Rob Wolf, author of the Paleo Solution and informational website www.robbwolf.com , he agreed with Dr Greenwald and recommended the following:
“Matching nutrition to the training needs of our military and first responders is a challenging proposition on the best of days. Add to this an individual who is also insulin resistant and we have an interesting “nut to crack.” Eating a higher protein, lower carb diet is critical in reversing insulin resistance and decreasing the blood markers associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. However, low carb can make intense PT not only miserable, but actually tough to do. The solution is two-fold:
1 — To the degree one eats dense carb sources, try to consume them immediately post workout. The list below mentions carbs to avoid. Pull from the “paleo carbs” (starchy roots, tubers etc) but consume these only in your post workout meal. This will keep insulin levels low “most of the time”, only allowing for a larger carb meal post workout. This will provide sufficient glycogen for hard training, but not so much carbohydrate that we make the insulin resistance worse. Other meals are protein, low glycemic load carbs (from the “Eat these carbohydrates” section) and healthy fats.
2 — You may not have the same “pop” in your training when you initially start a program like this. You will need to experiment a little to see what your carbohydrate tolerance is. We want enough to help you train and recover, not so much that you are experiencing health problems. You will also notice that your carb tolerance will change based on stress, sleep and training load. Shift work dramatically impacts carb tolerance, so you may need to eat a bit less carbohydrate on those days you do not get solid sleep.“
Some suggested reading for diet ideas, recipes, and background on the problems with the typical modern American diet can be found in the following books:
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain Ph.D.
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
For a good guideline of foods to avoid and to eat see charts below:
|Avoid These Carbohydrates|
|Simple sugars / carbs like: common table sugar, dried fruit, fructose, doughnuts, any sweets, cookies, candy, dairy products, ice cream, pastries, fruit juice, soda, even diet soda, alcohol. NO MORE SODAS!!!|
|Grains: breads, pasta, crackers, popcorn, crackers, white flour, white rice and corn (yes actually a grain). Whole brown rice in limited quantities|
|Starchy Veges / Fruits: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, peas, green beans, eggplant, yams.|
|Eat These Carbohydrates for Work / Exercise Energy|
|Small amount of fruit but eaten with protein meals is acceptable. Limit but do not eliminate: Berries, lemon, lime, black berries, blue berries, cranberries, apples, bananas, grapes peaches – as a post-exercise treat to help you recover for the next workout.|
|Raw or lightly cooked non starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, green lettuce, romaine lettuce, peppers, onions, mushrooms, cucumber, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, and other greens.|
|Eat These Proteins|
|Create meals that at rich in lean proteins. Fresh fruits and vegetables should add into meals but eat along with some form of protein as well. Raw or lightly cooked vegetables are recommended.|
|Proteins like: wild or grass feed animals: beef, chicken, turkey, fish, crab, lobster, eggs, and other game. Bison, alligator, deer, etc are some lean sources of protein.|
|Eat These Fats / Oils|
|Create meals that at rich in good fats /oils. Fats / Oils like: Good fats can be found in walnuts, almonds, olives, olive oils, flax seed oil, are rich in the needed Omega 3 oils.|
|A low fat diet is not healthy, AND you should limit the saturated fats so avoid butter, cheese, animal fat, other dairy products.|
|Drink More Water|
|Drink more water — up to a gallon a day. Limit the salt and sodium rich foods.|
*For complete lists / recipes, I recommend any of the books above.
Many people prefer not to go on medications if they can avoid them. However, often due to genetics, and nothing we can control through diet and exercise, we need a low dose medication to lower cholesterols, triglycerides, and lipoproteins.
Dr. Greenwald recommends the following for this case subject:
“In this patient, we elected to put him on a generic statin. This one costs only ten dollars every 3 months. (Pravistatin ). We recommended that because of the extremely high particle count (lipoproteins 2000+) which is a count in the 99 percentile of the population. Nothing lowers the particle count better than a statin and we were happy the patient agreed with us. The plan of course is to re-check the particle count soon. In the next 3 to 4 months.“
We will follow up with the patient’s scores in a few months to check progress. See Health Screening 101: Blood Testing (Part 3).