Tracking Diabetes to Control Weigh Loss and Blood Glucose
When scientists first began sequencing the human genome, one of the first things they discovered is that we're pretty much all the same. You could pick a couple of guys from Lagos and a couple of guys from Stockholm and there would be as much difference between the two Swedes as between the Swedes and Nigerians. A quick look at the genes would not tell you who was who. Now that the research has gone further and scientists are looking at variants of particular genes in different groups, families or individuals, they are now discovering that it is equally true that we are all different. This spills over into what we are learning about diabetes. We all know that Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different. What is now becoming apparent is that even within these two types of diabetes there may be different causes and mechanisms at work. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has an online book available on The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes for those who are interested in where the research is headed, together with some links to video lectures at the National Institute of Health.
Now what does this have to do with weight loss and diabetes? Simple. While some principles are generally true, when you get right down to it, what works for me may not work for you. This may account for some of the confusion we lay folk experience when confronted with the often contradictory advice we get based on the latest study of this or that aspect of human health. (I would recommend Gretchen Becker's encounter with blubber deficient whales for a good comic statement of the problem.) So, what do we do until the experts get their stories straight? The best answer I've found is to become the head researcher for your own self-study. You live with yourself twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Who else has a better opportunity to observe the subject? I'm not saying you should ignore the experts, but rather that we need to put the advice to the test and see how it works for us as individuals.
In practice, what does this mean? When I first started changing my diet, I read about low-carb eating as a way to control your blood sugar and lose weight. I started reading nutrition labels and counting my carbohydrate consumption. I also religiously checked my blood sugar before and after meals with different carb contents. Sure enough, it showed in the numbers; fewer carbohydrates equaled lower blood sugar readings. I also kept track of the numbers on my bathroom scale. Fewer carbohydrates also equaled fewer pounds on the scale. Pretty primitive science, but helpful nonetheless. The only testing equipment required was what I already had on hand: A scale, a blood sugar meter with test strips and a notebook. That third item is the key. As any good researcher will tell you, it doesn't mean a thing unless the numbers add up.
I had also read that exercise helped with blood sugar control as well as weight loss. So, I set up the experiment; go to the gym, write down what you do, check the blood sugar the next day and get on the scale. Again, when I check the numbers I find that my morning readings are lower if I have worked out hard the evening before. If I skip a couple of days, my meter knows. The scale results have been a little more ambiguous. When I started doing regular workouts of some intensity, the scale showed a drop from a previous plateau that diet alone could not get me past. I seem to have hit another, lower plateau the past two weeks. I would like to think that this means that I am putting on muscle weight as fast as I am losing fat, but it is not likely that this is the whole truth. So, I have gone back to the experts and have some changes to put in my workout routine. The research continues. If you have your own projects underway, drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you are doing and what results you are getting!