Eating Well and Losing Weight
Mark Hyman, MD, makes some pretty bold promises in his feature. I got a prerelease copy of his new book, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, and embarked on a 10-day journey with two of our readers, Nancie Carter and Jennifer Schreiner, to see if this program would do what he claimed.
Here’s the basic detox regimen. We started the day with 30 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning. We took a PGX fiber supplement before each meal, had a morning detox shake, drank eight glasses of water throughout the day, had a soup or salad for lunch, and cooked dinner. A few of the dinners were Grilled Salmon with Onion Marmalade over Greens, Asian-Flavored Chicken Skewers, and Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Roasted Garlic, so we were definitely eating well. If anything, I felt like it was hard for me to finish all the food! We took supplements, the allowable snacks were nuts and veggies, and there was no eating after dinner.
We cut out sugars entirely—the only sugar we consumed was what occurred naturally in the relatively small amount of fruit we had. We ate no flour of any kind.
We finished each day with an “ultra detox bath” with Epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender. We did breathing exercises and journaling, fasted from the media (I’ll confess I didn’t do great with these last three), and tried for eight hours of sleep a night. Lastly we did all this in the context of a virtual community, through an invite-only Facebook page and exclusive online content Dr. Hyman created for our group.
The three participants
Nancie Carter is a busy mom with a 12-year-old daughter. She had tried other diets but “got bored with the bland shakes with no substance and eating minimal fruits and only certain vegetables.” Her goal was to lose weight, be symptom-free, and feel more energized.
Jennifer Schreiner is a busy mom with three kids who is taking college classes. Her family was addicted to junk food. Her goal was to lose weight and get energy up. Her ultimate dream was to start running.
I was starting from a pretty healthy BMI, so I wasn’t overly concerned with losing weight. I did have a major caffeine addiction and my energy levels were pretty up and down, a little brain fog now and then, so those were the issues I wanted to address.
By the end of the 10 days, Nancie had reported increased energy, glowing skin, no food cravings after day four, her brain fog cleared, and her chronic knee pain had greatly improved. She had lost nine pounds, including three inches from her waist and five inches from her hips, and planned to start the program over again as soon as she finished. On day nine, her daughter even said, “Mom, I like this new you.”
Jennifer reported increased energy and glowing skin, and her food cravings went away. She lost a total of seven pounds, but lost eight inches off her waist, six inches off her hips, and 3.5 inches off her legs. She used ketone strips that she had left over from when she was a diabetic, and they revealed that her body was indeed burning fat. She fit into skinny jeans she hadn’t worn in 10 years and started running.
At the beginning Jennifer said, “When my family hears I am making a salad, they order a pizza.” But by the end, her fridge was filled with vegetables and fruits, and there was a loaf of bread that had been sitting there for four days that no one had touched. Jennifer is now dreaming of planting a garden and of when the first organic farmers’ market will open for the year. She is also starting the program over again to continue the weight loss.
For myself, I lost eight pounds, found increased energy and focus, and completely kicked my caffeine addiction. I actually leaned out enough that I am going to have to get my wedding ring resized—I’m not sure whether to put that in the plus or minus column.
I am reintroducing coffee to my diet, but instead of three cups of regular a day (with a cup in the evening once in a while) I’ll be going to two cups of half-caf, thus cutting my caffeine intake by two-thirds.
As a young(ish) guy with a good BMI, I had never gone on a diet before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Calories weren’t explicitly talked about in the book, so it wasn’t something I gave much thought to. I certainly felt like I was eating enough—the PGX fiber supplement is an appetite suppressant and contributes to blood sugar control, and the meals were quite filling. My lunchtime salad, in particular, was hard to finish each day. I never felt hunger pangs, and food cravings subsided after a couple of days as my blood sugar normalized.
What I realized after I did some math was that we were eating about 1,200 calories a day—good, whole foods are incredibly low in calories. Two cups of lettuce has 10 calories, and two cups of broccoli has 62. So the foundational part of my salad? 72 calories. The real calories came from the protein, avocado, and extra virgin olive oil.
But my body (I’m 6’3” and 189 pounds) should burn 2,892 calories a day. The body makes up that calorie deficit by burning fat. Presto: weight loss.
Now clearly you shouldn’t run this kind of calorie deficit long-term, but over a 10-day stretch, it certainly will burn fat and promote health.
If there was any doubt in my mind that the way out of our massive healthcare problems was through diet and exercise, that is absolutely gone now. Of course, there are conditions that must be treated, but anyone can change their eating and their exercise habits and allow the body to heal itself. If we support the body by giving it good whole foods, exercise, good sleep, and limit our stress, it will normalize its weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Dr. Hyman’s work (along with many others before him) proves that.