Yesterday I was in the car for 4 hours, and in that time I listened to 3 or 4 podcasts featuring Ray Peat. I think I understand now why I’m having trouble with hunger in the mornings but less so in the late afternoon and evenings. I start each day in a state of metabolic stress.
Here’s how it works: A healthy person can store enough glycogen in their liver to get through the night (8 hours) without running out. I’m not healthy. What happens overnight is I run out of glycogen (which the body uses to maintain a healthy blood sugar level). The body’s first reaction to running out is to increase adrenaline, which “squeezes the last bit of glycogen out of the liver,” according to Peat. That same adrenaline will sometimes wake you up in the middle of the night. If you don’t eat when this happens the body’s next step is to increase cortisol. Cortisol is the guy that turns protein into glucose for the body to use (gluconeogenesis). Protein, meaning muscle. Hmmmm…so you don’t eat enough sugar, and your body raises cortisol to turn your muscle tissue into sugar. The appetite is suppressed (which is why I used to love low-carbing), but the thyroid is also suppressed in order to reduce the number of calories required to live. Our bodies are remarkable at shutting down important processes to keep us alive. All about the big picture. Anyway, yadda yadda yadda, now I have a lot of cortisol-induced abdominal fat and sub-optimal thyroid function.
Another thing I learned is that it’s the lowering of stress hormones that makes you feel tired after eating a high-carbohydrate meal when your body has been depleted of glycogen. I’ve always wondered about that. So you’re cruising along on the adrenaline/cortisol high of low-carb and suddenly you decide to have some orange juice or some rice…or you supplement thyroid hormone. In an hour you’re exhausted. Yeah, that’s because finally your body is able to rest and put the stress hormones away because you finally fed it what it needs. So your true fatigue shows up – the fatigue resulting from pushing yourself, staying up too late, waking up too early, running on adrenaline all day long. Suddenly you feel all of it.
So it seems I wake up with my body all saturated with cortisol from having no glycogen stores overnight. I’m going to focus on a pure Peat-friendly diet (no starches, which I’ve been eating sporadically) and I’m going to stop measuring my blood sugar throughout the day (with the exception of fasting blood sugar in the morning). I’m going to listen only to hunger cues. I think all the testing and micromanaging of my blood sugar, pulse, temperature, calories, macronutrients, and weight is interfering with me actually learning to feel what I need to be healthy. Also, I’m going to eat some fruit and/or sugar before bed and see what that does to my fasting sugar levels and my hunger the following morning.
Update: Wow…this chick said it way better than I ever could.