I’ve never been “fat” by full definition of the word. I have however fluctuated from chubby to curvy like a yo-yo until I hit age 25 when I settled on my default setting. Slim enough to create the illusion of being thin, when in fact affording to lose a few more pounds to really deserve that adjective we’re dying to possess.
So a few years ago, I joined the program Metabolic Balance on which my parents, sis and uncle had all spectacularly lost weight. Following a blood test, you receive a list of foods that specifically increase your metabolism, rather than slowing it down. The first 2 days is the cleansing period when you only eat veggies, potatoes or rice. The following 2 weeks, you follow the meal plan which is custom designed for you, which typically involves a type of protein with vegetables…with one little twist. No oil whatsoever! After the completion of these difficult 2 weeks, olive oil is introduced. Allelujah! After that, you follow the same regimen until you reach your goal weight.
It was a huge success! My body changed completely, like it had been transformed in photoshop. Within a month, the fat on my thighs and butt dissolved. My clothes fit me differently, more flatteringly. My mind became clearer. The dark circles under my eyes lightened. My skin gained back its glow. I felt more energetic and pumped up than ever.
I quickly realized it was less about losing weight, but more about being healthy in general; about getting to know my body better. I loved the idea of having a list of foods that I knew my body tolerated better than others, and this major information I could use for a lifetime.
And sure enough, I find myself in need of a deep detox again. The past year or so, the exceptional cheats became the rule. As life decisions became heavier, exhausting me, I turned to good hearty food for comfort and my love for wine, bubbly and Negronis to release the tension. Yet after providing the temporary illusion of comfort, it left me feeling even more exhausted, forgetful and rather cranky. When you realize a leisurely pleasure becomes a necessity to cope, you know it’s time to make a change.
Yes, you have to be psychologically ready to do it. Not just to diet, but to do any kind of a detox – social, emotional, spiritual. But you also at some point need to take the plunge to hit the start button, which is the biggest challenge. You can rationalize till eternity for why it’s not the right time to do it. But remind yourself that you will feel worse in the future, telling yourself, “I should have started back when…”
And what better time to do a spring cleaning of the self than April? If we are what we eat, then start there and hopefully it will be a stepping stone for you to re-discover, re-imagine and re-invent yourself.
If you also feel inspired, here are the questions that my friends kept asking when I was sticking to my program with an iron will (a requirement), thought it’d be best if my sponsor Dr. Altay Oktem answered them:
1. What is Metabolic Balance exactly?
Metabolic Balance is a custom-designed metabolism program which aims to enable hormones and enzymes to be produced in an ideal manner and getting the metabolism to work at its best.
2. Because a blood test is involved, one immediately thinks of Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s blood type diet. What is the difference between Metabolic Balance and the blood type diet?
Let’s not say difference as they actually have nothing to do with each other. The blood test that is done for Metabolic Balance gives detailed information about the metabolism of that particular person, such as the functions of kidney and liver, blood lipids, sugar, tiroid, blood levels, certain electrolytes etc. It is a program that is entirely based on medical, scientific studies.
3. Other than our custom list of food, what are the main rules that we need to follow?
There are 8 main rules in Metabolic Balance. It is important to adapt them in our lives in order to control our weight as well as to bring down the risk of suffering from metabolism related illnesses.
We have three meals a day. There needs to be at least 5 hours in between each meal. This time is necessary for our digestion to be completed. In addition, there are important rules about proteins. We start each meal with protein, meaning our first bite needs to be protein. This is a necessary precaution to eliminate sudden increase of blood lipids, consequently insulin. We also do not mix protein types, therefore cannot eat two different types of protein within one meal.
We need to finish our dinner at 9 pm the latest. We need to consume enough water and eat one apple a day. We need to finish each meal within one hour. These are the golden rules.
4. Why does the first bite have to be a protein?
Because if we start our meal with vegetables, salad or a piece of bread, insulin is produced, which is necessary for the pancreas to digest carbohdydrates properly. If our first bite is protein however, the necessary enyzme to digest proteins is produced. This way, we prevent the rapid secretion of insulin. As you know, insulin levels are highly important. If insulin increases, the body makes fat. If insulin decreases, the body burns fat.
5. We used to believe that to make metabolism work faster, we need to eat 6 small meals a day. Is this a myth? Why 5 hours between each meals?
From time to time, different methods are being tried to solve metabolism problems. Different theories are being thrown out there and contradictory applications are being done. Actually it is smartest not to venture out of classical approaches that are proven scientifically. Humans are beings that eat three times a day and human metabolism is designed this way. This is not new information. This was being taught at medical schools twenty years ago just as it is being taught today.
Carbohydrates are digested faster whereas it takes approximately five hours to complete the digestion of fats and proteins . To eat something before the digestion is complete means to disrupt the metabolism and its natural time management, to increase motility and insufficient digestion of food. Medically put, “eating disorder.” Yes, eating frequently within the day may increase the metabolism but the body makes us pay when we increase it with unhealthy nutritional choices causing eating disorders.
6. Aother belief was not to mix proteins and carbohydrates during a meal. Yet the one rule that I found most difficult was not to mix proteins. What is the main reason behind this rule?
I’m not quite sure where that belief came from. IT has no scientific foundation. It is merely impossible not to mix protein and carbohydrates. As you know, vegetables are also mostly carbohydrates, bread also. When weighing these beliefs, one must loook back. Obesity didn’t used to be such an epidemic. Did people not consume bread when eating vegetables? Did they not gain weight because they didn’t eat meat or yoghurt witht heir veggies? These one-way nutritional habits are not healthy for our metabolism.
About not mixing the proteins, it is a precaution to keep acid levels from increasing. Proteins are made of amino-acids and every protein that we consume is agile amino-acids. If we eat two proteins at a time, the agile amino-acid levels will increase. The first symptom of this is reflux and it not only increases the acid in our stomachs but our overall body. Enfections and cancer are also diseases that are born in acidic habitats. Furthermore, some of the agile amino-acids turn to fat-acids. The most common mistake that we make is to mix proteins together. To sum it up, if we eliminate dishes like chese omlettes from our menu, we not only control our weight, but also take a huge step towards general health.
7. An apple a day is a must .Why apple?
Apples are magical fruits. Almost all the daily vitamins that a person needs, an apple carries. At the same time, an apple has the daily dosage of iron that a person needs. Its fiber is extremely helpful for digestion. Not to mention the fiber in apples are able to cover the excessive cholestrol in foods and enables them to be secreted by the intestines without suction. These are just a few reasons. If I carry on writing the benefits of apples, it would take pages. All you have to do is to make a habit of eating one apple a day.
8. I always used to have whole-wheat bread when dieting. The only type of bread that is allowed in this program is 100% rye. What’s the difference?
Because rye has a low glycemic index, it not only keeps the lipids and insulin levels low, but also keeps us full because its digestion takes longer. Because it has a lot of fiber, it is extremely effective for weight control. Rye is the most harmless grain for diabetics. It consists of minerals such as selenium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus which are good for the metabolism. Because of its fiber build, it eases the secretion of the toxins stored in our intestines and the excessive cholestrol in our food intake. In short, rye is the healthiest choice of grains for our metabolism.
9. There is no oil allowed whatsoever for the first 2 weeks, but then at least 3 tablespoons of olive of oil is required. How come?
The lack of oil intake prepares the metabolism to adapt to the program smoothly and enables the stored fat to be burned more rapidly. After the body adapts, it requires the daily dose necessary for our health. We prefer olive oil at Metabolic Balance. Yes, at least 3 tablespoons a day. There is no harm in consuming more. On the contrary to popular belief, the oil/butter that is used in food preparation has no relation with our weight. What makes the body fat is not that, but carbohydrates.
10. If we gain weight after we complete the program, can we always go back and have the same results?
The most significant quality of Metabolic Balance is that there is no yo-yo effect. If we follow the 8 golden rules as a habit in our nutrition, it is merely impossible to gain weight again. Even if we do, this program is made for a life-time. If we follow the same regimen of the first few weeks of the program, we will lose weight as effectively as ever.
11. Can diabetics do this diet?
There are two types of diabetes. Type One is caused by the malfuncions of the pancreas and insufficient levels of insulin. Type 2 is caused by nutritional dysfunctions and genetic factors. Especially with Type 2 diabetics, we have accomplished excellent results with Metabolic Balance. In addition to weight loss, lipid metabolism increases and gets regulated. Especially because they only have three meals a day, insulin remains under control and therefore diabetes remainds under control.
12. How much does the program cost?
We have different packages of 2, 4 and 6 months of follow-ups. Including the tailor-made nutrition program, the 2 month doctor follow-up is 1050 USD. 4 month program is 1600 USD and the 6 month program is 2100 USD.