In today’s interview I get to speak with US board-certified internal medicine physician, Dr Tro Kalayjian, about identifying foods that trigger our appetite (& help cause obesity), best way to start losing weight and how to keep it off long-term.
Tro is very passionate about helping people achieve their weight loss goals and better health through easy lifestyle changes. He shares what he has learnt through his personal 150 lbs weight loss story from being morbidly obese to healthy weight again. Dr Tro hopes this insight, along with evidence-based research, will help people understand their own struggle with weight.
In today’s interview, we get a chance to talk about the reasons why people gain weight and struggle with weight loss in the short and long-term. Dr Tro believes it often comes down to the simple truth; we eat because we are hungry. By taking control of our hunger and satiety we can easily achieve healthy long-term results.
If you know someone who is obese or struggling to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term, then this interview is for them.
I enjoyed this interview and after talking to Tro I have a better understanding of what can cause trouble to lose weight in some people & overeat and how to be mindful of foods that trigger our appetite.
Special thanks to Tro for joining me on the show. Enjoy the episode!
Show Notes with Timestamp Links
Highlights of what we talk about during the interview:
Click on one of the timestamp links in the brackets to jump to that point in the interview audio[00:19] – Introducing Dr Tro Kalayjian, a US board-certified internal medicine physician with a therapeutic focus on metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity and medical weight loss.
[00:36] – For those people watching the video, Tro starts off by explaining why he is in his car, shirtless.
[01:17] – Tro shares his own weight loss story and journey. He comes from a family with a history of obesity (he was an obese child himself), diabetes and hypertension among other things. After successfully losing weight as a teenager, he started to gain weight again since the age of 20.
[03:22] – Tro explains how a combination of his wife’s pregnancy and a question of how he was going to be an involved father, coupled with an uncomfortable experience with an airplane seat-belt proved to be a powerful motivator and a catalyst for change.
[06:05] – While emotional stress can compound the situation and play a role, Tro explains how it is also irrelevant. When trying to answer the question as to why he was obese, Tro was lost. That was until one day he came to a simple realisation; he was obese because he was hungry.
[10:04] – Tro explains how he approached the problem through the scope of evidence-based medicine, reading numerous research articles on weight loss. He uncovered that the trends indicated that the low carb diet is favoured for weight loss and this started his journey. Hunger/satiety govern weight gain/loss and decreasing desire makes the process easier.
[13:27] – Tro describes where he was before he started his journey and explains how protein and fibre promote satiety. He started his low carb diet without any restrictions apart from limiting carbs to 50-100g/day. People on low carb diets voluntarily decrease food input more than on any other diet.
[15:46] – How ketchup and honey mustard dips helped Tro come to a realisation that certain types of food probably had an effect on the dopamine pathway; adding sweetness would increase the sense of hunger. It is important to pay attention to foods that drive our hunger.
[18:57] – It is not only sugar that can have this effect on satiety. Some fatty, salty or savoury foods can also trigger food addiction and binging. A good example is nuts.
[22:13] – The first step for people trying to lose weight is to identify foods that trigger their appetite. Tro explains how it is not necessarily a lack of self-discipline that makes people fail, it is lack of knowledge.
[24:34] – Tro started by cutting down carbs and trying to eat real food that’s high in protein, without being overly concerned with fat. He explains why he believes low carb foods, fiber and protein promote satiety. He also explains the 3 mechanisms he believes explain why low carb diets promote satiety: 1. Improving glycemia, 2. Being in the ketogenic state and ketones, 3. Preserving peptide YY hormones.
[28:30] – Dr Shawn Baker challenged Tro to go no carb. That experience convinced him of the fat adaption concept and he realised the importance of fat in a long-term low carb diet. (Biohackers Lab Tip: Click here for our carnivore diet interview with Dr Shawn Baker)
[30:44] – There is a Goldilocks area when figuring out how much fat to eat. Trying to lose weight eating only lean protein is not a good idea but eating too much fat can result in zero weight loss.
[32:40] – In ketogenic diets for athletic performance, the concept of fat adaption is important; it can take 3-4 weeks or even up to 3 months and it improves over time. It helps with muscle soreness and decreasing recovery time without impacting on performance. (Biohackers Lab Tip: Listen to Dr Peter Brukner talk about the benefits of the low-carb diet for athletes here)
[34:33] – We are often advised to exercise, however, if we are severely overweight this can be quite challenging. Tro advises to focus on fixing the diet first and forgo exercise for the first 6-8 weeks of weight loss.
[38:10] – Evidence shows exercise for weight loss is almost useless. Exercise is tremendously important and exponential for overall health including bone health, cardiovascular health etc… A good tip is to to start making positive changes, begin with creating good habits that you can build on when the body feels better.
[41:35] – The standard advice of counting calories (for long-term weight loss) and moving more has been showed to be unsuccessful and unsupported by the literature. For a long-term solution focus on hunger, appetite and satiety.
[43:38] – Obesity is a complex and multifactorial disease with the bottom line being: if you are not hungry, you will not eat and will lose weight. Tro explains the process he goes through with his patients is intense in the beginning where they are re-learning how to take control of hunger and satiety.
[45:17] – Tro shares what his diet looks like now and what he advises his patients. This includes vegetables, berries, nuts,eggs, meat (avoiding processed meat), fish and seafood with an allowed carbohydrate intake of 30-50g/day.
[48:05] – Tro explains that he still has to be mindful of trigger foods and why he avoids getting into a habit of letting himself go with food, even with 0 calorie foods. A good tip is if you know you are going to an event where you are going to be tempted, prepare beforehand and eat a good meal. (Biohackers Lab Tip: Listen to Dr Jen Unwin on how to know if you’re addicted to sugar)
[55:47] – To follow or contact Tro visit his website palisadesmd.com, Twitter @trokalayjian or Facebook. He is pretty responsive on social media and does medical consults online with patients all over the world.
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