Sugar vs Fat – How I Lost 20 Kilos By Learning The Difference
Diabetes sucks. It does. It does. It really, really does.
When I was 18, I went for a health checkup in college. They used to have those compulsory health checkups because I went to a law school and they wanted to basically avoid any potential liabilities in case one of their students had a health condition they didn’t know about.
I had a serious health condition... But before we get into that, let's do our introductions! I'm Vishnu Gopinath and this is ‘Vishnu Ki Secret Life’, where I teach you something new - about nutrition, fitness, life or lifestyle choices, usually through my own SOMETIMES questionable decisions. Click on the player below to listen to the podcast:
At 18, I Was Pre-Diabetic
So back to our topic. I had a serious health condition. I... was fat as f**k. And no I’m not being hateful or terrible. I was ridiculously fat. I was 5 feet 7 inches tall. And I weighed 117 kilograms.
For my height, that was just a little bit too much. Kitna too much? Well you know how they have that BMI thing right? BMI means Body Mass Index in case you didn’t know. Anyway, if your BMI is in the 18-25 range, you’re healthy. If it’s from 25 to 30, you’re overweight. If it’s above 30 you’re obese. I was at 41. FORTY F**KING ONE!
That’s WELL beyond obese and happily into a little territory they call morbidly obese. The doctor tested my blood sugar and he didn’t say anything, but his face said, “Dude you messed up.”
My blood sugar was super high. At 18, I was what they call pre-diabetic. And since both my parents are doctors, and I’ve grown up in a family where LITERALLY every person is diabetic, I knew that I was on the verge of getting diabetes. I’ll be honest. When I was 18, I pretty much thought I’d be diabetic by 23 and have a heart attack at say 28.
What Changed For Me?
I’m 27 now, I’ve lost a lot of fat (and put some back on) and I can say with absolute certainty that I’ll NEVER get diabetes in my life. How? Because I learned something about the way sugar works, and the way your body reacts to it, and now I’m going to share it with YOU so you can live confidently knowing that you won’t get diabetes.
Oh before we continue, quick disclaimer, I’m not a doctor but what I’m saying has worked for me personally, so I’m talking from experience. If you have some serious health conditions, consult a doctor before you do anything stupid.
So just to be clear, before I did this thing that I’m going to tell you about, I tried EVERYTHING.
Unlearning The Wrong, Learning The Right
So the first thing I read about was how sugar affects my body. Sugar, as it turns out does a real hormonal number on you. This part gets a little technical so stick with me. Here’s what happens:
Your body can draw energy from one of two food groups, fat or sugar. If you haven’t eaten any sugar in a long time, your body will function how its meant to, and it’ll use fat for energy.
But if you eat sugar, and its beyond a certain amount, say 5 to 8 grams, your body feels like ah, now I have another source of energy. And sugar gives you energy faster also, so your body will be like ‘Yes! That’s what I want!’
So your body turns ON the system that uses sugar for energy and shuts OFF the system that uses fat for energy.
The thing is, it’s easy for your body to switch on the sugar-burning system and switch off the fat-burning system. But it’s tough for it to switch the fat-burning system back on fast.
Meaning it takes some time. Your body will first need to understand that there’s no sugar left for it to burn, then you’ll feel hungry and tired, because your body is telling you that you need to find sugar to keep your energy up.
But I was like, I just ATE a LOT of junk, and biscuits and cookies and stuff, so why am I hungry?
So then I kept reading, and I read this thing about Insulin and glucose. Your body runs on glucose. It can get glucose from sugar or carbohydrates, or it can make glucose from other stuff like fat or protein, but that process is slow and takes more time.
Understanding the Insulin & Glucagon Equation
So the article I was reading said that your body produces insulin to absorb the extra glucose in your blood. At any given time most of us only need like 5 to 8 grams of glucose in our body to function.
But when you eat junk food or anything that has a ton of glucose, your body goes into a panic and dumps a LARGE amount of insulin to absorb the extra glucose.
Which means you had energy, then you had too much energy, then your body released insulin and it’s absorbed that energy, so now your body is telling you its energy source AKA sugar or glucose supply khatam ho gaya, so go find something sweet to eat quickly!!
So then I had a moment of epiphany! I realised that’s why I feel like having dessert, or munching on something sweet. That’s why I’m hungry a few hours after like a buffet or some junk food.
How I Made The Switch to My Diet
I decided enough was enough. I threw out all my junk food. Bye bye chocolate biscuits, bye bye soft drinks, munchies, namkeen, bread and rice.
Over the next few weeks, I stuffed myself with the meat and vegetables. I didn’t starve. I ate till I was full. And kept eating every day till I was full. But I only ate lean meat, some good fat, and vegetables.
Initially it was a little tough. Because I’d have these cravings for sugar. And in the first few days I’d have maybe a bite of chocolates and stuff. See, that’s human. Like that song says, “I’m only human, after all.”
Side note: These cravings happened because my body was shifting to a burning-fat-for-energy system, from the burning-sugar-for-energy system that it was used to.
The important thing was this time I wasn’t going to let myself slide. Don’t let one slip up lead to a landslide. I read that online somewhere and it made so much sense. You will feel cravings and sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll indulge.
That’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn and move on. Don’t give up good work because you wanted perfection.
The enemy of the good is the perfect. That’s another thing I remember reading somewhere.
So I stuck with this eating pattern – lots of meat, vegetables, some fruits and nuts (not peanuts, peanuts are not real nuts).
I DID indulge still. Once a week, I’ll eat whatever I want all day. And yeah it would make me sick. Quite literally. I’d be physically sick and also exhausted because of the hormonal madness and the sugar. But because of that I actually STUCK with my diet.
Piece of advice: If you’re cheating on your diet, do it, but don’t cheat more than one day a week. One day is exhausting. Two days is much worse. If you cheat for three days good luck getting back to your diet because it’s going to be a slightly exhausting process all over again.
That’s it for this episode of Vishnu Ki Secret Life, Join us again next week for another episode where I tell you about some basic drinking mistakes that you should avoid if you’re going out.