Adapt­ing a new way of eat­ing has had a dra­matic im­pact on Dou­glas Lang's think­ing.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS - Dou­glas Lang is the di­rec­tor of Al­tris (­ spe­cial­is­ing in lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and coach­ing.

Low carb clar­ity. By Dou­glas Lang.

AP­PROX­I­MATELY THREE YEARS ago I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a col­league of mine who was a regis­tered psy­chol­o­gist. At the time I was notic­ing that I had lost a bit of my ‘ joie de vivre', and over­all was rather ‘flat'. I was wor­ried that I might have de­pres­sion – not at a very sig­nif­i­cant level, but de­pres­sion nonethe­less.

My col­league pro­vided me with a cou­ple of self-assess­ment tools that showed that while I wasn't ‘clin­i­cally de­pressed' I was a bit ‘ down'.

While this was a re­lief in many ways I still knew that I didn't like the way I was feel­ing. Over sub­se­quent months I tried a few things to im­prove the way I was feel­ing. These had some im­pact but the ‘flat' feel­ing never re­ally went away.

Fast for­ward to to­day, and I can say that my state of mind has to­tally changed. Look­ing at what I've done in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod the only sig­nif­i­cant change I have made has been to adopt a ‘ low carb' ap­proach to nu­tri­tion.

As you know from a pre­vi­ous col­umn this in­volves lim­it­ing my in­take of car­bo­hy­drates (par­tic­u­larly sugar, re­fined carbs and starchy veg­eta­bles) and sig­nif­i­cantly up­ping my in­take of healthy fats (olive oil; co­conut oil; but­ter; cream; av­o­cado, etc., but no veg­etable oils – canola; rice bran, etc.) so they be­come my pri­mary source of en­ergy. As a con­se­quence I have changed from be­ing a ‘sugar burner' to a ‘ fat burner'.

With­out get­ting too deep into the science, suf­fice to say that the hu­man body can use car­bo­hy­drate ( glu­cose) and/or fat ( ke­tones) for en­ergy. While many peo­ple think that your body and brain can only run on glu­cose, the re­al­ity is that, af­ter a short pe­riod of adap­tion, it can ac­tu­ally run very ef­fec­tively on fat.

While your body typ­i­cally has a store of around 2,000 calo­ries of glu­cose en­ergy at any time, it also stores around 40,000 calo­ries of fat – and ei­ther of these sources can be used for en­ergy.

Given the dif­fer­ence in these lev­els of avail­able en­ergy, re­search shows that fu­elling with ‘ fat' is a much more sta­ble and re­li­able source than fu­elling with carbs/glu­cose.

By fu­elling with fat you avoid the highs and lows that we are all fa­mil­iar with when we con­sume carb-laden food, i.e., the mid­morn­ing or mid-af­ter­noon slumps that we tend to as­sume are nor­mal and just part of the nat­u­ral rhythm of a busy and stress­ful life. I can con­firm from ex­pe­ri­ence that when you fuel with fat you have a much more sta­ble en­ergy level and don't need to grab some­thing to eat (nor­mally a sugar / carb-filled so­lu­tion) ev­ery two or three hours to keep you go­ing.

Since adapt­ing to this way of pow­er­ing my body the im­pact on my think­ing has been dra­matic. The best way I can ex­plain it is that it feels like the world has ‘slowed down' and, as a re­sult, I'm bet­ter able to make sense of what's go­ing on around me and to make de­ci­sions us­ing an ‘un­clouded' mind.

I also feel more ‘present' and aware of my sur­round­ings – pick­ing up some of the sub­tle cues from peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions that I know I would have missed in my pre­vi­ously ‘clouded' and ‘flat' mode. As a con­se­quence I'm hop­ing I'm pro­vid­ing a bet­ter ser­vice to my clients and col­leagues.

Things that would pre­vi­ously have stressed me out seem to be much more ‘man­age­able' and not a big is­sue any­more.

In re­al­ity I am still fac­ing the same kind of things I would pre­vi­ously have been anx­ious about but I seem to be able to han­dle them bet­ter as a re­sult of hav­ing more level en­ergy and a clearer mind. Notic­ing the ef­fect this ap­proach has had on my own think­ing and en­ergy re­in­forces for me the value that could be gen­er­ated for lead­ers, their fam­i­lies, their teams and or­gan­i­sa­tions by mak­ing changes to what they eat.

It seems so sim­ple when you say it like that. But it re­quires some willpower and ded­i­ca­tion to make a switch as well as to fly in the face of what we have tra­di­tion­ally been told is good for us.

My per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence is that the ben­e­fits from mak­ing the change more than make up for some short-term ‘pain' as your body gets used to burn­ing fat again.

If you're feel­ing that your think­ing is cloudy or mud­dled, or you no­tice en­ergy slumps mid-morn­ing or midafter­noon I en­cour­age you to ex­plore the LCHF ap­proach. Re­search on large groups, as well as my own per­sonal ex­plo­ration, demon­strates the pos­i­tive im­pact this can have.

In time, I'm con­vinced that this will be recog­nised as the most ap­pro­pri­ate way for hu­man be­ings to eat. But rather than wait un­til it be­comes main­stream, feel free to jump on board and be at the head of the curve.

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