October 9, 2009
Solution to a problem
I'm not real big on abstract learning. I've ALWAYS learned better through real world experiences. After all, there are those who can be told about it, there are those who can read about it, and there are those who have to piss on the electric fence to know what it feels like. Me? I'm that last one. So I'm confronted with a problem of being presented with all these metabolic pathways that amount to strange abbreviations with arrows going off in hundreds of directions with long, strange words over the arrows that often end in -ase as in synthetase, dehydrogenase, kinase and the like. And now I have to commit these to memory. If I were a good student, I could memorize them and regurgitate them like a good little med student. That ain't me. So I needed a way to actually understand and learn them. The instructors especially focus on how these pathways are regulated which to their credit, makes sense because both disease and drugs oftentimes affect these same regulatory steps. As they elucidated pathways, they'd use starvation as an example of how if one path is altered, the body responds by turning up (or down) a different pathway. It's like squeezing a balloon. You compress one side and the other bulges out. As my feeble brain tried to assimilate the info flying at me, it suddenly dawned on me that the changes induced in starvation look similar to those impacted by low carb diets. Ah-Hah! Methinks here's the chance to apply info to real life. I need to lose a few pounds for reasons I'll elucidate in a different post. Low carb presents a quick and relatively easy way to do that (I love food too much to diet, per se) and more to the point, I'll actively begin to THINK about what's going on inside me. In the process, I should hopefully not only learn these metabolic processes well enough for the exam (2 weeks away) but I'll actually understand them to remember later in life. Plus, I hope to actually be a physician someday so I'll have some first hand experience with weight loss to better empathize with my patients. So I will document my experience of a low carb diet (somewhat South Beachish, not really Atkins - it's really a bit of a mix of my own ideas with others). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I'm going to adopt a similar format as this blog, which incidently, has two very good blogs and they are worth following if you're interested in health. A good source of information. Day 0 Weight - 225.0 Measurents - didn't remember to take any Exercise - very modest as I'm pretty much horribly out of shape and started up weakly a week ago. Attitude - Crappy. I've done the low carb thing before and I hate it. Well, I hate anything that restricts what I can eat. Observation - a great way to avoid studying while not napping! Biochemical lesson learned - While singing to I'm not sure which tune, "Oooohhhhhh, you can't make net glucose from Acetyl-CoA." I'm not kidding. Two professors sang this in the lecture hall. It was great because it sure as hell stuck. I won't EVER forget this lesson anymore than I can forget THIS Sung to pop goes the weasel X is equal to negative B, Plus or minus the square root, Of B squared minus 4 A, C ALL! over two A. What the hell does that mean? See, your picky brain won't, well can't, use fats for energy like muscle can. It needs glucose. Even the slow witted like myself can see the potential problem. Depending on where you get your info, your body needs about 120 grams of glucose daily to just get by. So if you eat less than 120 grams of carbohydrates, a problem arises. Like our government, you're spending more than you bring in. And just like our government, you can print your own! And just like the government, it's at the expense of someone else. The problem is that fat breaks down into Acetyl CoA and that CANNOT be converted to fat. They're kind of like the lobbying class. Amino acids, ie protein, however, can be converted to glucose. Enter in high dietary protein content. Instead of losing muscle mass (which DOES happen in almost all clinical trials of weight loss either through pharmacological means with or without dieting although I don't know about low carb body composition), your body starts using your increased dietary protein to make energy. Apparently, my body is not as good at that as others. You see, by 3pm-ish, I was starting to go into a 'brain fog' meaning I was getting dumber by the minute, presumably due to decreased brain glucose. Sure, I know that the 'experts' say this will pass within a few days. Not me. I tried this once before. I kid you not, it was the 6th day and I was a blithering idiot. So much so that on a trip driving to Dallas (I would have probably been a safer driver had I been drunk), I had a conversation with my wife that went a bit like this: Me: Blah, blah, blah Her: You just told me that 5 minutes ago. Me: Really? No. Really? I did not. You're just yanking my chain. Her: Yes, really. You seriously don't remember that? Me: Ummm.....No. Should I? Her: When we get to Dallas, you're going to go to the sports bar to watch the Michigan game. When you do, please, please, PLEASE drink some beer and eat something with carbs. Me: Thinking to myself (Who am I to ignore a wife that pleads with their husband to drink a beer?) Now just blankly stare off into space as my brain has frozen...... So you can see that decreasing the efficiency of the ol' gray matter during med school is probably not a good idea. So I eat fruit, beans, some chocolate and try to find a balance between ketosis and stupidity (more on ketosis later).