Friday, March 06, 2009

Visceral Fat

Some people who know me are familiar with my hypoglycemia. Since I was an early teenager I periodically have an episode where it feels like my blood sugar drops precipitously- I start sweating, I get so weak I can hardly move, and I get so hungry that it feels like if I don't eat in the next 10 minutes I will pass out.
I've mentioned it to doctors, but none of them seemed to care very much since the symptoms didn't really match diabetes and they didn't really have any idea what was going on with me. I just got used to the idea of always being somewhere with ready access to food: if I went on a camping trip, I packed enough food for a trip of double the expected length, just in case. These episodes will happen at least once a month, but usually once a week or so.

But something amazing has happened. About 2 months ago I started my new lifestyle of working out everyday and limiting my calories to 2000 a day or less (something that I was sure would bring on more hypoglycemic episodes). Since then I have had exactly one episode, and I think that one only happened because I had a sugary breakfast. I am now able to eat breakfast (usually something high in protein like eggs, or whole grains like homemade bread or oatmeal), and then go until 3:00, usually working out in there somewhere- running at least half an hour and lifting weights, without an uncomfortable hunger. I mean, yeah, I get hungry, but not hypoglycemic hungry, and trust me, after experiencing hypoglycemic hunger my whole life, being a little "normal" hungry is like a pleasant walk in the park.

Doing a little research, I think I might have discovered one of the reasons this has happened. Most people who know me would not characterize me as fat. My whole life I have never been able to pinch even a centimeter on my arms, legs, or wherever. Nevertheless I was always able to poof out my stomach to look like a drunk old man. I've always had a pot belly, even as a little kid, and its gotten worse as I've progressed through my twenties. After a little reading I've discovered that I must carry all my fat next to my internal organs- "visceral fat". This is apparently the unhealthy kind of fat. Hip fat, arm fat, leg fat- thats all good, but visceral fat leads to diabetes, heart disease, and a bunch of other problems including Alzheimers, and thats the only fat I've ever had (stupid Webb genes!), and I'm starting to think it may be one of the causes of my hypoglycemic stuff.

Now, since I've lost at least 12 pounds of that visceral fat (I measure 12 pounds lost, but I have also visibly put on some muscle mass so I've probably lost a lot more), my hunger episodes have basically disappeared. Apparently excess visceral fat gets in the way of the body's insulin regulating system. Now that my pot belly is slowly melting away, I no longer worry about not having eaten for 4 hours. Hurray for exercising!

6 comments:

lefty said...

I just read "You on a Diet" by Drs. Roizen and Oz. Yes, I used quotations; good times. But the book was good and had a great chapter on visceral fat. You assumptions are very good, too, by the way. I get that hypoglycemia, too. Fast Sundays don't happen! But the worst thing for low blood sugar is to have a lot of sugar. Sugar with protein is the best thing if you're going to have sugar. So next time you snort a pixie stick, chase it with a cheese stick. Good luck with that, buddy.

And you posted! Was it because of my haiku? I'm assuming it is...

Nick said...

It definitely was a contributing factor.

JonF said...

You're being such a good boy, Nick. One of these days I should start excercising. What I really need is a good running buddy...

apyknowzitall said...

*coughs rather loudly*

Nick said...

Cover your mouth. Or go cough on someone else's blog.

Michael Morris said...

Am I too late to comment on this? I hope not. Nick, I'm taking your advice on this one, sir. I've had hypoglycemic episodes since my mid 20s crept up on me (I'm 28 now), and have had the doctors tell me that nothing is wrong with me. Occasionally my episodes get bad to the point that an anxiety attack occurs, but I notice it going away when I cut calories and workout. Thanks for the motivation!