Metformin and Appetite

This is a very long story that at the moment I will keep very short.

At my annual physical 4 days ago I asked for a prescription of metformin – a diabetic drug. This is a treatment that the American Diabetic Association believes to be reasonable in the treatment of prediabetes to slow the onset of the actual disease.

Clinical trials have shown that people at high risk for developing diabetes can be given treatments that delay or prevent onset of diabetes. The first therapy should always be an intensive lifestyle modification program because weight loss and physical activity are much more effective than any medication at reducing diabetes risk.

Several drugs have been shown to reduce diabetes risk to varying degrees. No drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat insulin resistance or prediabetes or to prevent type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that metformin is the only drug that should be considered for use in diabetes prevention. Other drugs that have delayed diabetes have side effects or haven’t shown long-lasting benefit. Metformin use was recommended only for very high-risk individuals who have both forms of prediabetes (IGT and IFG), have a BMI of at least 35, and are younger than age 60. In the DPP, metformin was shown to be most effective in younger, heavier patients.

I don’t think my doctor would have given it to me otherwise, but because I referenced the ADA’s view on it, he agreed, though maybe, just maybe, with a little annoyance. Note that my BMI is lower so I don’t exactly fit the profile.

My blood sugar, which hung out in the prediabetic range of 100 to 125 most of the time now resides mostly in the 80s.

Instantly, my appetite has changed. I feel like how I imagine ‘normal’ people feel when they eat. I eat, I am full, and I don’t think about food after. It is very, very early in all this, and I am not exactly thrilled to be on another medication, but what once seemed hard – avoiding the goodies – that pizza that calls my name from the kitchen at night – seems to have been quieted.

Continue reading “Metformin and Appetite”

For Women, Your Fat Determines What You Earn – Not Your Brains

I have lifted this verbatum from

Overweight women make $13,847 less than average, while underweight women make $15,572 more. That means that a fat woman makes $29,419 less per year than a skinny one.

A study led by Timothy Judge at the University of Florida and published by the American Psychological Association studied the salaries of nearly 25,000 U.S. men and women. He found that women who were 25 lbs heavier than average make much less a year, while women who were lighter made more.

The pay discrepancy is telling because it reveals employers’ inaccurate assumptions about overweight workers, especially women. According to the study:

“Even though these stereotypes are inaccurate it appears that in the United States, obese employees are viewed by their employers as lazy and lacking in self-discipline…overweight women are consistently judged more harshly in the workplace than overweight men,”

The rewards for underweight women are staggering, according to the study:

This means that, all else equal, a woman who is average weight earns $389,300 less across a 25-year career than a woman who is 25 lbs below average weight.

For men, being heavier can actually pay. Scrawny guys made about $8,000 less than average, while peak earners weighed 207 pounds.

While I have been thinking that health should always come before the number on a scale, one conclusion that can be drawn from the above is that: in business, being thin pays. It’s economics. Another reason it’s called ‘the dismal science’.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our culture of thinness. There’s a big difference between someone wanting to fit into a dress, and someone facing actual discrimination their entire lifetime. Fat people – and especially fat women as evidenced by this –  are about the only people left that can be held up to ridicule and discriminated against in America – and I guess Americans need to look down on some group in order to feel better about their own inadequacies.

Is Obesity The Government’s Business?

God, I am tired of the level of discourse in the world today. It appears to me most ‘debate’ has descended to little more than character assassination and pithy sound-bites that might feed the heart, but starve the mind.

Here’s something different.

Intelligence Squared is a group of folks who put on Oxford-style debates. They poll the audience on a question, gauge their responses, and then let two teams of two people debate the topic for 40 minutes or so. Then the audience votes again. The side that changed the most minds wins.

I’ve listened to these shows for a while now, but recently heard one that you folks who stop by this blog might have some interest in: Is obesity the government’s business? This is from a debate held February 7, 2012 including:

Continue reading “Is Obesity The Government’s Business?”

Check Out This Blog: Low Carb For Two

I came across this blog – Low Carb for Two – when Lauren, the blogger, left a comment here. This blog has only been around a few weeks, but in that time, Lauren has managed to whip up a slew of recipes, detail her successes and failures – and take a boatload of pictures of the cooking process to boot. She also has her meal plans, shopping lists, and insightful posts on low carb in general.

My biggest fear is that she’ll stop posting.

She’s using Dana Carpender’s 1001 Low Carb Recipies as her inspriation, so I hope she continues her exercise of trying her own versions of these recipes and taking copious pictures.

This is a public service as I, too, was disappointed in the book not because it isn’t a great low carb recipe book, but it doesn’t have pics.

We low carb folks need recipe ideas, and this resource she is creating is a welcome contribution.

Please visit her site and let her know there’s an audience for this.

Awesome Roast Garlic Chicken

Binder clips - not just for papers anymore

This isn’t mine – I found this one over at The Fork Left Behind.

I tried this recipe and followed it to the letter – which I don’t usually do. I salted the bird and let it sit in the fridge for 3 hours, then let it sit covered on the counter top cover for another hour. Did the garlic bit and sealed it up with office binder clips (I didn’t have toothpicks). This was as *awesome* as the author described.

My wife asked why I just didn’t buy one of the roast birds at the store – and then she tasted it. My daughters loved it as well, my older one saying: “I don’t usually like chicken, but I like this chicken.”

Do yourself a favor and try this recipe – it is going to become a go-to recipe for me, certainly.

Check it out. This recipe ruined the notion of a store-bought roast chicken forever.

UPDATE: I asked the blog author if I could post the recipe verbatim here, and she generously agreed. Please don’t make that an excuse not to visit her blog – she’s got some interesting things cooking that are low carb-friendly – and some interesting posts as well.

Crispy Garlicky Roasted Chicken

  •  One 3-4lb chicken
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated but left unpeeled
  1. Salt and pepper chicken as soon as you think of roasting on – sometime between 2 and 24 hours before. Return salted chicken to the refrigerator.
  2. Remove chicken 1 hour before ready to cook and allow to come to room temperature, more or less.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F and fill cavity with garlic cloves and seal cavity closed using a toothpick.
  4. Using a small* roasting pan or dish, add a little olive oil to the pan and then add the chicken breast side up. Roast 20 minutes.
  5. Turn chicken breast side down and continue to roast another 20 minutes.
  6. Flip chicken once more and roast breast side up for the final 20 minutes.
  7. Allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes so that juices can redistribute. Remove roasted garlic from cavity and serve alongside chicken.

*It is essential to use a roasting pan or dish or even pie plate approximately the same size of your chicken. This will ensure that the juices and fat that come from the chicken don’t burn.

It is extremely important to note that my wife specifically asked me to make this. I probably have 100 different recipes here – she’s asked me to make maybe 3 or 4 of them (the kale soup is one I remember offhand).

New Year’s Resolutions and Goal Setting for 2012 – A Simple, No-Cost System That Works

I’d say I’m a bit unusual in that I spend a lot of time setting a lot of goals for myself. I do it weekly, in fact.

Each week, I take a few minutes to reflect on the week that has passed and try to write down goals for the coming week in a little paper book I fold up and put in my pocket. The book itself is a simple origami move you can see in the video below from a site called that gives away free software to allow you to print these little books any way you please. That’s a bit much for me, so I just use the origami.

I’ve tried all sorts of systems, but I’ve found this one to work the best for my weekly goals. Even with an iPhone, and it’s omnipresence in my life, the stack of old origami books – one for each week, showing the goals and the to-do lists with the lines through them showing they were completed prove to me that I have made progress and am capable of changing and achieving things on those days when it’s tough going. Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions and Goal Setting for 2012 – A Simple, No-Cost System That Works”

Book Review: Unwasted by Sacha Scoblic

Note: I tend not to do book reviews because I feel I’m awful at them – and I’d only bother to do a review of a book that I enjoyed and found to be of value. If you agree that this attempt is a hatchet job like I do, I ask you to check out some real reviews, as this work deserves a look. 

I was at my local B&N one lunchtime trying to decompress from a brain-sucking morning at work when I stumbled across this book. I read a few pages and was hooked. As the Kindle version was a few bucks cheaper and reading on the iPhone doesn’t bother me for certain books, I bought it for that and consumed this short book in a few days.

While the book is about giving up alcohol, and dealing with the pitfalls of sobriety in a world where booze ads are everywhere and there’s a bar on every corner, it is also about any decision to go against the flow. The awkwardness that others might have in dealing with us. The awkwardness we might have with ourselves as we leave the comfort of our routines.

And the simple fact that addiction is a bitch – the Uncontrollable that We Must Control.

It reminded me a lot of low carb dieting.

It bothers me that I always feel the outsider – planning for a day where my food choices might not be under my control. Trying to avoid the carbs that set me off. Asking sheepishly what the menu will be. Trying not to be the pain in the ass. Eating ahead of time. Turning down food offered by well-intentioned and sometimes very demanding folks who don’t quite understand.

Then there’s the explanations. The wrinkling of their brow. Their trying to understand – sincerely trying to frame the information so it makes sense to them.

And if they have made sense of it – it’s usually only insofar as to partition you as unlike them. You’re now the Outsider. When dessert is served, they ask: “Can you have this? It’s low in calorie.”

They don’t quite ‘get’ low carb – it’s not their fault – not their deal, really. It’s yours.

And the really awful part of all this? You really WANT what they’re serving. But you say no.

In some ways Sacha has it easier. An alcoholic embraces sobriety by a total abstention of drink. But people on a diet still need to eat – the slippery-slope of no-carb to low-carb to high-carb to eating an entire pint of Hagen Daz is much easier for those of us prone to this.

You might might read her book and say: this isn’t me. She’s a druggie and an alcoholic. She did Ecstasy!

Is your Ecstasy a box of Oreos and a quart of milk?

I give her a lot of credit for writing such an honest and authentic memoir. I didn’t feel sorry for her. It’s obvious she doesn’t want our pity.

She makes a very good point about ‘hitting bottom’. It’s not necessarily the same for all of us. It doesn’t fit a stereotype.

It’s when you’ve decided to stop digging.

This point can apply to alcoholism, obesity, or a dozen other things in our lives we should control – that we tell ourselves: “Tomorrow I’ll do it.”

But don’t.

There is another strong similarity between alcoholism and obesity: you are never ‘cured’ of either.

You don’t stop being prone to obesity because you lose weight any more than you stop being an alcoholic because you don’t drink.

No matter how thin you get, you are only a few months away from gaining it all back.

If you’re here because you’re fat and want to be thin, or trying to stay thin, you should check out this book.

Even if you’ve never had a drink in your life, you’ll relate.


Do You Know What Your Veggie Burgers are Made From…Really?

Let me start by mentioning that I don’t know if this is for real. I hope not.

The video above links to a story on a Japanese researcher who is perfecting a process of making artificial meat from human feces.

(Long pause here to let that sink in…OK…ready to go on?)

While there’s a lot one can say about this, my point might be a bit different that most of the commenters out there.

As someone who tries to avoid processed food as much as is possible, this adds to my reasoning why.

You never really know what you’re eating.

There is a long and rich history of food adulteration going back centuries. I have a wonderfully disgusting book on the subject named ‘Swindled!’ that I should review here (but haven”t because I’m lazy).

The one big takeaway from the book is this: the longer the chain that the food needs to travel to get to your table, the more likely it has been adulterated along the way.

The point being – even if you know that you would never order a burger made from the above process – how do you know some didn’t slip in?

Let’s score another one for eating natural foods, being a locavore, and knowing the farmer that feeds you.

Like Your Meat-Glued Steak Rare? Not So Fast…

(A quick update for anyone who follows my personal weight loss story – I’m maintaining my weight loss at about 220 from my high of 237 from the fall of last year. There. Now you know.)

You learn something new every day.

These days, however, it seems what you learn is a bummer.

Next up on the bummer hit parade for me is ‘Meat Glue’.

Meat glue?

Let’s say you decide to follow a paleo diet, or primal, or low carb with an emphasis on minimally processed food. You go to the grocery store and pick up a nice boneless steak – or go to a fancy restaurant and order one. You say to yourself: “I’ll order it rare – why ruin a nice piece of meat by burning it to a crisp?”

Here’s a reason for well-done.

This video shows the clever trick that meat producers – at least the sleazy ones – do to take cuts of meat too small to sell and turn them into steaks you pay a lot more for.

In short, they use an  enzyme called transglutaminase to take small cuts of beef, pork, chicken or fish and glue them together. Sprinkle some on, and those itty-bitty bits of meat, after setting in the fridge, become a handsome steak.

Hey – wait a second – better living through chemistry – right? What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that you don’t know this. And because you don’t know this, you aren’t aware that all these little cuts of meat once had a lot more surface area where bacteria could land. Now this bacteria gets glued together on the inside surfaces of your glued meat, unlike a real steak, where the bacteria would only be on the outside.

So now you get your, ahem, ‘steak’ rare – and get yourself a mighty fine case of food poisoning.


What can you do?

Not much, unless you buy your meat from a local farm, which isn’t an option for a lot of us. Even if you ask, can you be sure the people selling you the meat are telling the truth – or even know  the truth?

This leaves only one recourse for meat-loving low-carb, paleo, and primal folks.

Memorize these three words.

Repeat after me: “Well-done, please.”

Researcher: Losing Weight Doesn’t Improve Health Because People Can’t Lose Weight

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I’m the dope.

I’m not a researcher, but I simply don’t know how to grasp the following report out of Australia:

Losing weight is often touted as a way to improve health, but many weight-loss programs may not help stave off disease since people tend to gain the weight back, Australian researchers say.

What’s better is the methodology our researchers used:

To test the potential impact of different diets, the researchers ran two computer simulations: One included a low-fat diet, the other a diet rich in whole grains and vegetables plus 180 minutes of exercise per week.

According to the models, people lost an average of 8 to 12 pounds on the diets and kept the weight off for an average of 6 months. But the pounds slowly crept back on, and after less than 6 years, the dieters were back where they started — negating any improvement in health from the weight loss.

In addition, the researchers estimate that only about 3 percent of Australia’s population would participate in weight-loss programs.

That’s right. They sat in front of a computer the whole time and based their data on 2 diets – low fat and low calorie – that we know quite well don’t work in the long run.

I work with data all the time, and know how easy it is to feed in a bunch of numbers, run an analysis against it, and have it spit out beautiful, detailed results – which are completely and entirely wrong. It just takes one bad number or one erroneous assumption and it all falls to pieces.

And besides all that – what is the point? To come to a conclusion that people can’t improve their health losing weight if they can’t keep it off is so obvious that I can’t conceive why it would take more than 5 minutes sitting in an armchair to figure this one out.

And yet it gets printed in a respected journal on obesity.

Is it any wonder that modern science is essentially useless in helping us fat folks get thinner?