Dr. Kenny's Articles

Overdraft (part 1)

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One of the worst feelings in this world is the one of second-guessing your bank accounts bottom line.

I’m sure many of you have lived this nightmare. It makes your hairs stand on end and immediately pulls you out of reality. In my family, I’m considered a bit of a tight-wad with my hard earned dollars.  As my mom likes to say, “He could squeeze a lemon with those puckered cheeks”, whatever that means.

Your energy systems (aka metabolic systems) operate much like your bank account. Your constant activity could be thought of as “deposits” and “withdrawals” you make as a result of “energy in-energy out” dynamics.

You’re always operating in two categories throughout the day: anabolic and catabolic.

These two words refer to your “metabolic” or energy producing cycles that keep you moving on a daily basis. Anabolic refers to the “build and repair” processes you need to replace the energy reserves you’ve “catabolized” running up a steep hill or even the mental energy it takes to concentrate while taking a test. Catabolic refers to the process of tearing down, “burning” or “spending” those energy reserves. You are always in one of these two energy state, building up or tearing down, energy production or energy utilization, anabolic or catabolic, depositing or withdrawing.

In reality, it’s just a percentage game of how much of each is going on. It’s probably most accurate to think of it as a teeter-totter, with one side representing how much you’re “spending” and the other side representing how much you’re “saving”.

My purpose here is not to drown you with physiologic processes you don’t care about but rather to paint a picture in a simplified manner so that you catch my vision for your health. Remember, ideas have consequences. Your belief systems about your health will inevitably affect your own health and the health of your family/friends.

Every workday I’m faced with a challenge in private practice. The story unfolds like this:

“Doc, what is the purpose of your treatment protocols?”

That patient just gave me the challenge to break down a complicated message and the license to repeat the Ace Ventura, three minute-one breath monologue. That monologue usually resembles at least the bullet points I’m putting in this write up. The first one to grasp is:

  • Your nervous system is consciously concerned with negotiating energy demands at all times of the day.

As a physician, my job is to “balance the scales” and ultimately help you “save” or “deposit more energy than you “spend” or “withdraw”. Or maybe more accurately, I’m your hypothetical parent grabbing your ear and telling you to “spend your money wisely sunny-boy!”

To this end, my brain thinks of a “balance” or scale that’s teetering, trying to find the balance between the needs at any given minute of the day and the resources you have to meet those needs.

Basically, to reiterate, you’re always making “deposits” or “withdrawals” into your energy-bank-account.

Eating a well balanced meal is a deposit. Running to the end of the street and back is a withdraw.  Resting and recovering is a deposit. Throwing up as a result of feeling winded after running to the end of the street…….like i said, you’re always doing a bit of both.

Like a scale that’s negotiating the weight you put on it, it’s always going to be a percentage game with your nervous system. One side goes up, the other side goes down, alternating at all times of the day as you perceive and deal with life’s stress.

If you think about it, stress is a biological law of nature really. Like gravity, the “everything that goes up must come down” experience is very much similar to the laws of energy demands. Regarding energy cycles, you must put back what you take out of the bank. And too many withdrawals will result in injury, sickness, or worse.

The story doesn’t end here though because the currency is not the same across the board. Using fats for energy and using sugar for energy looks completely different.

I like to think of it as investing money.

If i went to the store and invested in a candy bar, the money i spent would be equal in value to the amount of candy bar i could walk out with,.correct? In other words, today that dollar is worth the value of that candy bar. Investing is a different story.

A dollar invested in the stock market today could be worth thousands of dollars given 30-40 years of growth.

In the same way, eating healthy fats today is a time-honored, energy saving, health-producing way to “save” over the long haul. Eating sugars today is like spending your money on groceries, you just lost your dollar so there’s no opportunity to invest in the stock market. You end up becoming a slave to pleasure-seeking “sugar fixes” (literally addicted to it) and retirement will come sooner than you think.

You can invest and secure a future of “energy reserves” as metabolic “cash reserves” and all you have to do is eat healthy fats over sugars. Again, this is a percentage game and playing by these rules is most likely to bring you a trophy.

Dr. RhettOverdraft (part 1)

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