By Dr. Tro Kalayjian
I was in the middle of writing a blog post about last Tuesday’s highly successful low-carb/keto event when I saw a tweet linking to an article in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) entitled “The Miracle Cure. “
People often ask me why I occasionally lose my composure on Twitter (I’ve been known to unleash an expletive or two when provoked). This article is a perfect example of why.
The “miracle cure” BMJ Editor in Chief Fiona Godlee is talking about is physical activity—something I believe can contribute significantly both to a person’s health and their enjoyment of life. But I also believe it’s outrageous to suggest the solution to our multi-continent epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease is as simple as telling patients to get more physical activity.
A quick search on Twitter reveals tweets linking to this article have received hundreds of thousands of impressions, with a disturbing number of those who shared it echoing the sentiments of the author.
Executives at soda and sports beverage companies must be getting goosebumps. I wonder how many copies of the article have already been taken in for custom framing to be displayed in corporate offices around the world.
That people believe physical activity is “THE miracle cure” is nothing short of a miracle for the sugar industry—because it’s the perfect way to take the focus off the true culprits, sugar and processed carbs, and place blame on a patient who is not exercising enough.
I tried the “miracle cure” Godlee writes about when I weighed 350 pounds as a medical student. It worked about as well for me as it does for the overwhelming majority of people who try to follow the standard medical advice, which studies have shown is not at all.
Standard advice is to “eat less and exercise more,” but exercise—just about any physical activity, actually—is difficult, if not impossible when one weighs 350 pounds and is struggling with chronic fatigue. I was exhausted, and my joints hurt. Physical activity was most certainly not a miracle cure for me.
Nutritionists routinely instruct patients to eat six or seven small meals throughout the day, and to eat everything in moderation. Patients are told to eat more fruits and whole grains, and more plant-based products. These recommendations don’t address the causes of metabolic disease and insulin resistance—and in many cases simply make them worse.
Most of my patients have tried the miracle cure of physical activity (coupled with cutting calories) many times with no sustainable positive results. By the time I first see most patients, they have failed so many times they’re on the verge of losing hope.
Many react with surprise, some with tears of joy, when I tell them their treatment initially requires no exercise and allows them to eat until full.
The true miracle is when—after learning how to eat real foods like meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, nuts, Greek yogurt, vegetables and berries—they can be taken off medications, their cravings disappear, and they lose weight sustainably.
Increased physical activity is the natural result of all these positive lifestyle changes, not the cause.
Down more than 150 pounds from those days in medical school, I am now deriving all the benefits exercise affords. I lift weights, do high intensity interval training, and can run a 5k race in about 19 minutes. You’ll never hear me downplaying the benefits of exercise—that is unless you try to tell me that exercise alone is a miracle cure.
“FAT: A DOCUMENTARY” & ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BRAZILIAN BARBECUE
More than 70 people showed up for a low carb/keto event last Tuesday night at the Texas de Brazil restaurant in West Nyack, NY. Many traveled an hour or more each way to attend, and one woman who learned of the event on Twitter drove four hours from Delaware.
The event featured a screening of Vinnie Tortorich’s hit film, FAT: A Documentary, which attendees watched while dining on all-you-can eat Brazilian barbecue.
The film and the food were both great reasons for people to attend, but as I looked around the room, it was clear there was something else drawing these people together on a random Tuesday in September. After all, Vinnie’s movie is currently available for streaming for just $2.99, and many of the attendees had already watched it at least once. And Texas de Brazil is open seven days a week, and who goes out on a Tuesday, anyway?
Before and after the screening, people were coming up to both me and co-organizer Antonio C. Martinez II, wanting to talk about various things related to low carb and keto. And while we were talking, the rest of the people in the room were busy talking to each other.
Like Antonio and I, many of the 70+ people at the event had a story of weight loss, diabetes reversal, or some other success story they were happy to share. This was literally a room filled with people who had lost 50, 80, 150 pounds or more. And others who were only a few weeks into their journey, but had just recently realized their lives were on the verge of changing for the better. And still others getting ready to give low-carb or keto a try, after trying virtually every other option imaginable.
Among the attendees was Amy Eiges, whose recent heart-wrenching article entitled “I Am Not Broken” documents her experiences trying to lose weight and regain her health in spite of the dysfunctional medical community. Many of the attendees had been moved by the article and enjoyed having the opportunity to discuss it with her.
Also in attendance was Paulo, a patient at my practice who appeared on Episode 39 of the Low Carb MD Podcast. Paulo is a former professional basketball player in Brazil who became a morbidly obese dad suffering with severe pain. Paulo lost over 100 pounds on a liquid diet and gained it all back in six months after stopping the program. When we helped Paulo discover low-carb, his life changed.
Several people have expressed surprise at how many people showed up for an event that was not highly publicized, was pulled together in less than two weeks, and was held on a Tuesday night. When I see how much these lifestyle changes have literally transformed people’s lives, I’m not surprised at all. I firmly believe what we’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’d like to be informed of future events (we’ve got some real exciting things on tap in the coming months and well into 2020), subscribe to our email list using the form at the bottom of this page.
Dr. Tro Kalayjian is a physician who is board certified in Obesity Medicine and Internal Medicine. Dr. Tro’s Medical Weight Loss & Direct Primary Care is Rockland and Bergen County’s premier medical weight loss facility, with a focus on helping patients make drastic changes through lifestyle interventions. Visit www.doctortro.com/appointments/ or call 845-397-CURE to make an appointment.