I’ve decided to start this thread now because I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to figure a lot of things out, including aspects of my health, and I think that documenting my progress will help me stay on track. I also welcome any feedback on my approach!
First, to get super personal, and to give some context as to what I mean by “trying to figure a lot of things out”…I’ve been going through a separation from my husband. We were together for a long time, so while it’s hard in a lot of ways, our separation will give both of us a chance to figure out who we are as individuals. Even though being on our own is tough I think both him and I will come out of this stronger and more resilient than we were before. That’s my hope anyway.
Even though we’re all kinda living our own n=1 all the time, for me I think setting specific goals for myself here will keep me focused on something productive and help me feel healthier both mentally and physically.
My hypothesis is that I have a tendency toward being insulin resistant in response to three different factors: an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable/seed oils, carbohydrates, and environmental stressors. Here’s where I get a little radical though, I don’t think that the carbohydrates and the environmental stressors would be enough on their own to cause real metabolic dysfunction. Yes, if I ate pastries all day and lived a stressful, but sedentary life I would probably be unhealthy without the seed oils. However, I think those oils make it much, much harder for me and others to stay healthy despite great efforts to do so.
I’ll try to do a summary of why I think this overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids is so metabolically disruptive to give an idea of how I came to my hypothesis. My interest in this subject started around the time I first posted on this forum. This is from that first post: “While reading “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” I had a few aha moments. One of these moments was when I found out that the membranes of our cells are made up of polyunsaturated fats, and that the wrong ratio of pro-inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats in our cell membranes could influence insulin’s ability to interact with our cells, leading to worse insulin resistance.” I hope it’s okay that I just quoted myself like a weirdo, it was just easier than re-stating
Then I watched Michael Eades’ video “A New Hypothesis of Obesity” where I first heard about the ROS Theory of Obesity. For more info on that I would recommend checking out other threads like this one: Fire in a Bottle - The ROS Theory of Obesity and The Proton Theory. The first post from @RightNOW is especially helpful. Basically this theory focuses on the way that different fats affect energy production in mitochondria. These different effects depend on the length of the fatty acid chain (longer chain fats create more reactive oxygen species) and on the ratio of how much FADH2 vs NADH is produced while the fat is being oxidized. Fats with a higher F/N ratio will cause a cell to become physiologically insulin resistant, which in this case is a good thing because it means the cell will not accept any more energy until it has used up what it’s already got. Omega-6 fats are both long chain fats, meaning they create more reactive oxygen species, and they have a lower F/N ratio, meaning a cell will not become insulin resistant and will accept more energy than it needs. Anyone here let me know if you you think I was off on any of that!
My next thought is my guess at the connection between the overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids and chronic inflammation (I’m summarizing from one of my previous posts): Omega-6 fats cause hypertrophy (fat cells getting stuffed with too much fat) over hyperplasia (fat cells multiplying) because the cell stays insulin sensitive even after the fat enters the mitochondria, meaning the cell accepts too much fat (and/or glucose). Fat cells that are stuffed with too much fat cause cytokine release and other immune system responses, hence the link between obesity and inflammation! On the other hand Omega-3 fats promote fat accumulation through hyperplasia rather than hypertrophy.
This again is my opinion, but I think what makes this high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats so deleterious when it comes to our health is that we have to think not just about our daily consumption of these fats in food, but also how much is stored on our body. The ROS theory leads me to believe that omega-6 fats are more likely to get stored, at least temporarily, and that burning them for fuel causes a demand for insulin, leading to blood sugar rollercoasters and, over time, to insulin induced insulin resistance. What I think this means is that if you are losing weight and burning those stored fats for energy, you will probably experience hunger, stalls, inflammation, etc. We also know that the meat from animals like pigs and chickens can have differing fatty acid profiles depending on the food those animals were fed. I think it’s reasonable to assume that as humans which fats we store could also depend on the food we eat.
Now that I’ve written a novel, what’s my actual plan for how to address this issue? I am going to attempt to change my own fatty acid profile
I’ve been losing weight slowly over the last view months while focusing on decreasing the amount of omega-6 fats in my diet. I want to continue my cut to bring my body fat percentage down, and then I will do a bulk, during which time I will focus on filling my diet with omega-3 fats and continuing to avoid omega-6 fats. I’m not unhappy with my weight, but I would like to see a change in where I store fat and I think that will happen as my hormones adjust. I’d also like to gain muscle to bring my metabolic rate up.
Here are some numbers from my smart scale (taken this morning):
Current weight: 131.6 lbs
Body Fat: 22.2%
Fat-free Body Weight: 102.4 lbs
Subcutaneous Fat: 20.6%
Visceral Fat: 4
Body Water: 53.4%
Skeletal Muscle: 45.3%
Muscle Mass: 96.2 lbs
Bone Mass: 6.2 lbs
Metabolic Age 27 (I’m actually 29 so yay I guess)
This is more info than is necessary, but that’s what I get from the scale so I thought I’d include it. I’m also not really sure how accurate the scale is, so those numbers might be off. I’d like to continue tracking my weight here, but probably won’t go into the other details after this.
I’d like to get down to about 120 lbs and then when I bulk I’d like to gain back about 8 to 10 lbs.
As far as food, for the rest of my cut, which I hope to finish before the beginning of summer, I’m going to do a mostly animal product diet with the exception of berries. I will, however, cheat when I go out with other people because that’s just easier for me socially. I also find that if I’m drinking alcohol when I go out it helps to have some carbs with it. When I bulk I’ll try to get at least 8 grams of omega-3 fats a day, probably from mackerel, sardines, salmon, fish oil and maybe chia seeds. While I’m gaining weight I’ll also add in some more carbs maybe in the form of potatoes, squash, and fruit. I’ll have to play that by ear a little bit.
As far as exercise, I’ll continue to focus on doing some in the form of strength training and maybe a little HIIT at least twice a week for now and will increase strength training when I want to start gaining weight. I’ll hopefully talk more about this later, and figure things out as I go.
While on paper I’m pretty healthy there are a lot of things that I would like to see change through this experiment. One of the biggest things is my mental health. I feel a lot of guilt and shame around talking about my issues because in general I’m fortunate to have the life that I do. I think the amount of mental pain that I sometimes feel doesn’t seem reflective of the amount of actual adversity in my life, and I guess that’s what I’d like to see change.
There are a lot of other changes I’d like to see, as far as body composition, how easily I gain or loss weight, the health of my skin and hair, etc.
I’m excited about the future and looking forward to continuing to share this stuff here. Thanks for listening