Diets, even healthy diets, do not benefit everyone in the same way.
This has been proven since the 1960’s when the “low calorie, low fat, low salt” diet became the medically- sanctioned diet that would be recommended to the American public to help prevent cardiovascular heart disease (blood vessels narrowed by fatty plaque). The theory was that high fat intake caused high cholesterol and fat in the blood (This diet is still promoted today, almost 60 years later!). Ever since diet and food changes prompted by fear of consuming high fat containing foods, the US has epidemic levels of overweight/obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre- diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
If you have been to the hospital and are a person with type 2 diabetes you’ve probably been surprised that your breakfast tray contained whole grain unsweetened cereal with nonfat milk, fresh fruit, and whole grain toast; and maybe an egg.
This diet for someone hospitalized who has diabetes is low in calories, very low in fat, and without added salt ….all healthy food choices. But, this breakfast is extremely high in carbohydrate content.
It provides about 60-80 grams of carbohydrate at one meal. People with diabetes will have high blood glucose level after eating this meal. The hospital’s answer? A few units of insulin for coverage.
I’ve been studying medical nutrition therapy and practiced as an RD CDE for almost 40 years. Working in the trenches, I’ve seen what has evolved from the promotion of “backwards” dietary recommendations.
The low calorie, low fat, low salt diet has been (and still is) recommended for those with metabolic syndrome, overweight/obesity, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. The irony is that the lower calorie, low fat, low sodium diet has helped trigger the epidemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes!
The very issues that the AMA, ADA, and AND -sanctioned diet was supposed to prevent or control are the medical conditions that have exploded during the past 60 years.
As for myself: After working for 15 years teaching and living within the medically approved diet requirements, I had to admit that this dietary regimen did not work for myself or many of my patients. I followed the prescribed diet to the letter and found myself gaining weight, acquiring a roll of fat around my middle, and noting increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, and blood glucose.
How could this be happening as I LIVED on a 1200 calorie, low fat, low cholesterol low salt diet and exercised 6 days/week? Why was this happening to my patients, too?
This conundrum kept me awake at night and I grew less confident teaching/preaching the diet. I began to check on my long- term patients; sure enough they didn’t lose significant weight (8-10 pounds max), their blood pressure rose, lipid panel suffered, and blood glucose began moving out of the normal range to pre- diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
I could not in good conscience continue perpetuating dietary misinformation.
I left my cushy job as director of a hospital- based Diabetes Center and took an office in a medical office building with internists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, GI physicians, and cancer specialists. I told the physicians (who knew me from my work at the hospital) that I had been working on a new diet solution that would match the metabolic needs of the 60% of adults who had the genetic predisposition to insulin imbalance/insulin resistance.
I developed a diet/exercise lifestyle program and offered it to my private- practice patients. The results were literally off the chart. Word -of -mouth from the physicians and the patients made my practice explode. After I saw about 2500 patients and had data supporting the new program, I began to consider writing the program into a book.
I got a literary agent, had 3 publishers go into a bidding war for the book, and within 3 months, without paid publicity or marketing, it became a New York Times Bestseller. It also rose to the #1 position on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, and Borders.
The Metabolism Miracle is now licensed in 8 languages, was “a New Year’s gift to the British people” by Great Britain’s Daily Mail as a “front page” promotion and 4- day condensed release.
I now run the subscription support site; Miracle-Ville.com with over 2000 active members. MV has been available for 7 years! I’m in MV daily and personally answer questions.
So am I saying that other diet approaches do not work?
I’m saying that for the majority of US adults, those who have the genes for insulin imbalance/insulin resistance WILL SUCCEED on this lifestyle plan. I call these people “Met B’s ™”. (Metabolism B™)
This leaves the other 40% of the population who struggle with their weight, lipid panel, blood pressure but are not wired for insulin imbalance. They can succeed on a low calorie, high fiber, low fat, mostly plant based program. I call these people “Met A’s™”. (Metabolism A™).
I was asked a question about which diet is better; The Blue Zone Diet or The Metabolism Miracle….and why is it better?
The Blue Zone can be the ticket for those with what I call Metabolism A (Met A). About 40% of adults have Met A and will do fine on the Blue Zone.
But…over 60% of adults are genetically predisposed to glucose and insulin aberrations that can progressively lead to:
metabolic syndrome: belly fat, elevated LDL, triglycerides, blood pressure
visceral fat stores
Decreased Vitamin D
Type 2 diabetes
If a person has the genetic predisposition to endocrine (insulin) abnormalities AND faces years of environmental stressors like insufficient exercise, emotional stress, overeating carbohydrates, hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy/lactation, menopause), certain medications (steroids, beta blockers), chronic pain, surgery, physical stress, inflammatory disease…. medical conditions progressively unfold:
The answer for these patients is keep their focus on the 2 factors that influence increases in blood glucose and resultant insulin release:
1. The quantity and type of carbohydrate foods they consume
2. The release of glycogen by the liver when meals/snacks exceed 5 hours and during the night when a person sleeps cause blood sugar and insulin to rise.
Since insulin is a fat gain hormone…high amounts of insulin and resultant insulin resistance lead to a “fatty body”; fat around the middle, visceral fat (between the organs), fat in the blood (cholesterol, triglycerides), NAFLD (fat deposits in the liver). Met B’s don’t “get fat” from excess calories and elevated fat intake…they get fat from excess or inadequate Carbohydrate Intake.
What works for Met B’s ? The Metabolism Miracle (MM)
Step 1: 8 weeks or more of a lower carbohydrate intake to rest the pancreas and liver PLUS exercise for 5 days/week. Results are seen in predictable fat loss/inch loss, improvement in Met B labs (glucose, A1C, lipid panel, Vitamin D, insulin) and blood pressure as well as: improved mood, increased energy, improved focus/concentration, elimination of food cravings, feeling and looking rested and younger.
Step 2: 8 weeks or more of a carb-infused diet. Low glycemic, high fiber, antioxidant rich carbohydrates in a set amount at all meals, bedtime, and between meals that exceed 5 hours.
Step 3: A true balanced diet: 30+% carb, 30+% high quality protein, 30+% heart healthy fat with liberal neutral veggies.
Although the Blue Zone mindset will work well for those with typical metabolism (I call those without blood glucose/insulin issues; Metabolism A or Met A), it is not my preferred diet for those with conditions related to insulin imbalance/insulin resistance.
Met A’s have bodies that maintain normoglycemia based on producing and releasing the correct amount of insulin to normalize the blood glucose after a meal and from glycogen release between meals and overnight. Met A’s can flourish on a high fiber, whole food, high antioxidant, plant based, low fat, low animal protein diet. Although I can relate to the positive nutrition guidelines in the Blue Zone, it is not designed to address the special needs of those with insulin impairment.
The Metabolism Miracle is designed for those with Met B™ as they require dietary modifications to get and remain healthy. The issue for them is the amount and type of carb intake as their body “over-processes” carbohydrate with excess insulin. Insulin is a fat gain hormone.
The Metabolism Miracle is a CARB- CENTRIC lifestyle program…because it focuses on the amount and type of carbohydrate that works hand in hand with the Metabolism B physiology. It also promotes high fiber intake, lean high biological value protein,heart healthy fats, and liberal vegetables.
Blue Zone for Met A’s: Their weight, lipid panel, blood pressure can improve by decreasing calorie intake, fat intake, sodium intake, and eliminate highly processed, empty calorie foods. Those with Met A do not OVER-REACT to carbohydrate intake and will lose weight and get healthy by controlling calories, increasing fiber, changing type of fat and lowering total fat intake and exercise.
Blue Zone Facts with commentary (in all caps) by Diane Kress
Blue Zone says: 95/5 RULE Eat Plants 95 percent of your food should be fruits, vegetables, grains, greens, legumes.
Diane Kress’METABOLISM MIRACLE: FRUIT, SOME STARCHY VEGGIES, AND GRAINS ARE CARBOHYDRATE FOODS! A PERSON WITH UNCONTROLLED MET B NEEDS TO CONTROL AND SPACE INTAKE OF THESE HEALTHY CARBS THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND NIGHT TO CONTROL BLOOD GLUCOSE AND INSULIN RESPONSE.
Blue Zone says: Use olive oil to sauté and spices flavor vegetables.
Diane Kress’ METABOLISM MIRACLE AGREES!
Blue Zone says: Feel free to eat a cup (cooked) of whole grains daily.
Diane Kress’ METABOLISM MIRACLE AGREES; WHOLE GRAINS HAVE A PLACE ON STEPS 1,2,3.
Blue Zone says: LIMIT MEAT Think of meat as a celebratory food. Portions should be no larger than a deck of cards, once or twice a week. Limit processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and sausages.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE SAYS: LEAN MEAT SUCH AS SKINLESS POULTRY, LEAN BEEF, GAME, LEAN PORK, EGG WHITES AND EGGS, FISH, SOY IS HIGH IN PROTEIN AND DOES NOT INFLUENCE BLOOD GLUCOSE OR INSULIN RELEASE. LEAN PROTEIN ALSO GIVES THE DIET SATIETY AND EXTENDS ENERGY.
Blue Zone says: FISH IS FINE Enjoy fish up to three times weekly. Wild-caught salmon or smaller fish like sardines, trout, snapper, cod, and anchovies are okay choices. Limit portion sizes to 3 ounces (about the size of the palm of your hand.)
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE SAYS: THE METABOLISM MIRACLE DOES NOT LIMIT THE PORTION SIZE OF LEAN PROTEIN OR FISH. THESE FOODS ARE OF HIGH BIOLOGICAL VALUE, DO NOT INFLUENCE BLOOD GLUCOSE OR INSULIN, AND GIVE A FEELING OF FULLNESS/SATIETY.
Blue Zone says: DIMINISH DAIRY Avoid dairy when possible. If cheese is a must, try ice-cube size portions of sheep (pecorino) or goat (feta) cheese to flavor foods. If you eat eggs, limit intake to 3/week.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE SAYS MILK IS A CARBOHYDRATE CHOICE WHEREAS CHEESE IS PROTEIN/FAT. MILK INFLUENCES BLOOD GLUCOSE AND INSULIN, CHEESE DOES NOT. MUCH RESEARCH IS AVAILABLE PROVING THAT EGGS NEED NOT BE LIMITED TO 3 PER WEEK, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WITH MET B.
Blue Zone says: DAILY DOSE OF BEANS Eat a cup of beans daily spread out across breakfast, lunch or dinner. All beans count, including tofu. They contain high quality protein and fiber. If you buy canned beans, avoid added salt, sugar and chemicals.
DIANE KRESS’METABOLISM MIRACLE AGREES. DRIED BEANS AND LEGUMES RE-ENTER THE PROGRAM IN STEPS 2 AND 3.
Blue Zone says: SLASH SUGAR Consume only 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. Reserve cookies, cakes, and candies for special occasions. Read labels and avoid foods with more than 8 grams of sugar. Make honey your go-to sweetener.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE SAYS MET B’S SHOULD NOT USE SUGAR, HONEY, OR AGAVE AS A SWEETENER. MET B’S HANDLE ERYTHRITOL, SUCRALOSE, AND STEVIA; ALL OF WHICH ARE ON THE “GENERALLY REGARDED AS SAFE” LIST AND DO NOT INFLUENCE BLOOD GLUCOSE OR INSULIN RELEASE.
Blue Zone says: SNACK ON NUTS Eat a handful of nuts daily: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, and peanuts. Try different nuts so you don’t tire of them. Avoid sugar-coated nuts.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE AGREES
Blue Zone says: SOUR ON BREAD
Eat only 100% whole grain breads or authentic sourdough bread made from live cultures. Limit bread to two slices daily. Chose whole grain corn tortillas over flour tortillas. Avoid white breads and wraps.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE SAYS THAT THE FOCUS IS ON A TARGETED AMOUNT OF WHOLE GRAIN, HIGH FIBER BREADS WITH FIBER OVER 2 GRAMS/SERVING.
Blue Zone says: GO WHOLLY WHOLE Prohibits foods with more than 5 ingredients.
DIANE KRESS’ METABOLISM MIRACLE AGREES IN THE BENEFIT OF WHOLE FOODS LIKE FRUIT, VEGGIES, GRAINS, NUTS, AVOCADO, OLIVES, ETC. agrees in the benefit of whole foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, avocado, olives, etc) but does not prohibit foods with more than 5 ingredients.
Blue Zone says: DRINK MOSTLY WATER Drink six glasses of water daily. Feel free to drink unsweetened teas and coffee. Enjoy Wine at 5 with friends or with Blue Zones inspired meals. Avoid all sugar-sweetened and diet sodas.
DIANE KRESS RECOMMENDS 64 OUNCES OF WATER OR DECAF BEVERAGES/DAY. A LIMITED AMOUNT OF WINE/UNSWEETENED LIQUOR IS ALLOWED ON THE PROGRAM WITH MEDICAL CLEARANCE. MOST DIET SODA IS PROHIBITED DUET TO ITS SWEETENER ASPARTAME. .
Comparing the Blue Zone diet principles that work for Met A’s and why they don’t all apply to those with Met B.
BZ: Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full to avoid weight gain.
MM: (Those with uncontrolled Met B do not feel full due to blood sugar fluctuations. They may be hungry
in less than one hour after eating due to excess insulin release causing hypoglycemia. Met B’s cannot use
“fullness” as a guideline for when to stop eating.)
BZ: Eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening.
MM: (With Met B’s, it’s all about carb- balance. Too much or too little carb at a meal, delaying meals,
skipping snacks if meals will exceed 5 hours, and failing to eat within one hour of wake-up and bedtime
all cause rises in blood sugar and over-release of insulin (fat gain and blood glucose fluctuations))
BZ: Eat mostly plants, especially beans. And eat meat rarely, in small portions of 3 to 4 ounces. Blue
Zoners eat portions this size just five times a month, on average.
MM: For those with Met B, very lean and lean protein is “neutral” in that it does not spike blood glucose
or trigger excess insulin release and fat gain.
BZ: Drink alcohol moderately and regularly, i.e. 1-2 glasses a day.
MM: (5 oz. wine, 1.5 oz liquor, or 12 oz light beer (x2 maximum with MD okay) is allowed on the MM
lifestyle with physician ok)
There’s a Blue Zone community in the U.S.. Its members are Seventh-day Adventists who shun smoking, drinking and dancing and avoid TV, movies and other media distractions.
They also follow a “biblical” diet focused on grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables, and drink only water. (Some of them eat small amounts of meat and fish.) Sugar is taboo, too. As one Loma Linda centenarian says: “I’m very much against sugar except natural sources like fruit, dates or figs. I never eat refined sugar or drink sodas.”
MM’rs must be aware that all sources of carbohydrates convert to blood glucose, cause Blood glucose to rise, insulin to over- release, and fat to accumulate on their body, in the blood, between organs, and in liver.
Labs that indicate a need for Metabolism Miracle (MM)
Glucose over 85
LDL over 99
HDL under 45
Cholesterol/HDL ratio 5 or over
Triglycerides over 99
Hemoglobin A1C under 5.2 or over 5.6
Vitamin D under 40
Insulin over 7.9
BP over 135/80 without medication
TSH under .45 or over 4.5
There is not “one diet” that helps everyone with health, wellness, appropriate weight, and feeling great.
Those with “Normal Metabolism; Met A” can lose weight and get healthy on the Blue Zone program.
Those with “Metabolism B” can lose weight and keep it off, improve their health and require less medications for fat related labs, and can regain their wellness, improve their energy, and regain focus and concentration with The Metabolism Miracle.
I believe that both styles of diets are healthy for different subsets of people. As physicians and medical nutrition therapists, it is our obligation to present our patients with the program that matches their metabolic needs.