Glycolytic and Ketotic Feedback Loops

I have taken an interest in diabetes recently, and done some reading.

Fasting has a regulatory factor, improving patient outcomes. Here are some statistics.

There’s some stuff on PubMed, as well. There are a lot of complex feedback loops such as this:
I believe that humans are evolved to experience periods of fasting followed by periods of overindulgence, in response to hunting and harvests, and that such patterns are required for conditioning of the feedback loops in the body. Continuous steady overconsumption of food leads to overstimulation of certain feedback loops, and under-stimulation of others, resulting in the body’s loss of ability to regulate itself.
And I think to myself, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve been really hungry.

The feeling of exercising while hungry must have been familiar to our ancestors on the savannah. Surely they did not have a little something to eat before going out on a hunt, but rather must have gone hunting because they were hungry. My own experience and that reported by my friends who also train martial arts is that exercise suppresses appetite.

Doing some research on PubMed, I find that exercise actually _increases_ blood glucose.

This was counterintuitive to me because glycolysis would have suggested to me a reduction in blood sugar. But, the body actually responds to the increased energy requirement by making more available. (The body is responding to a perceived energy deficit by increasing available glucose. Also a symptom of T2D.) The particular study involved a “format of exercise was found to be well tolerated in an overweight population,” but was nevertheless intense, involving intervals above anaerobic threshold (VO2 Max). Most people I know hate to even break a sweat.
Advice from personal trainers is that one must exercise longer than 30 minutes to start to lose weight (read: burn fat, or ketosis). I wonder if glycolysis actually promotes ketosis, and ketosis inhibits glycolysis. There must be some complex molecular signaling involved. Type 2 Diabetics are stuck in a runaway ketosis. Their bodies are stuck in starvation mode – blood sugar is elevated because their cells are not getting enough energy, or unable to metabolize the glucose that is there, and they must get their energy from burning fat, resulting in weight loss even with increased food intake.
So I have been experimenting on myself. What happens when I eat foods with high glycemic index, like potato chips or bread? I feel hungrier. I suppose the mechanism is: blood sugar goes up, insulin production increases. blood sugar drops. I feel hungry.
What happens when I exercise? blood sugar goes up in anticipation of increased energy requirements. I feel less hungry.
I usually eat following exercise. Exercise without eating would also have been a familiar feeling to our ancestors on the savannah – suppose they went on a chase, but did not catch the game they were chasing. What happens when I do this? I seem to sleep well, but wake up very early. I don’t experience diminished energy. (I’m used to training Aikido and average three times a week, so I’m already exercising more than most people I know – your mileage may vary.)
Yesterday after training I just had a banana. Think: potassium.
Today after training I had 50g of peanuts: High-fat.
I actually don’t feel hungry right now, although I did before training. I’d had cake and cookies at 4:30pm, and training started at 7pm.
Why am I doing this? I’m trying to learn more about my body. If eating high-glycemic index foods makes me hungry, maybe I shouldn’t eat such foods. Also, I’m experiencing  the feeling of hunger, and finding that I can tolerate and adapt to it. (Much like cold showers in the winter.)
I am also interested in what effect it will have on my body fat and muscle. Will I store more fat as my body responds to a nightly calorie deprivation? or will my body become more efficient at storing and burning both glycogen and fat, resulting in a better ability to build muscle (as muscle requires a lot of energy).

On Recreating Knowledge

@ Brian H: Yeah – the important thing is to approach with fresh eyes. The importance of questioning things is not to question them for questioning’s sake, but to try to figure things it for yourself. Like Richard Feynman would work on physics problems. He would try to work through a problem himself. If he go stuck, he would open the literature, peek a little ahead, then close the book and continue on his own. This meant he spent a lot of time recreating things that others had done, but allowed him to develop a keen intuition, and sometimes he would come up with a simpler or more intuitive solution.

He wasn’t really so iconoclastic as he was using existing solutions as reference. This is how we train martial arts – in the same way as how Nobel laureates understand their material.

The more we pay attention to norms and standards, the further we get from this sort of organic learning.

This sort of thing should be fun. Not a chore, but recreational.

To Learn

I finished listening to James Gleick’s biography on Richard Feynman. In Feynman’s office, there was a blackboard on which was written a few personal mottos:

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.”
“Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.”

On the board nearby, under the heading “To Learn,” a running list of topics.

He died before he could get to them.

We can’t do everything we want, but maybe if we’re lucky we can do everything that’s important.

Briefly Joyful

Aikido practice, in Japanese, is called keiko, which can also be translated as “meditating upon the elders.” Today was the first practice of the spring semester at Taiwan University for me. I practiced with the teacher. It was a strenuous practice. He told me later – “thank you – the more I teach, the less I practice – the older I get, the weaker my body gets.”

“It happens to everyone.” I said.

As I folded my hakama, I thought about the elders – all those who came before. All my old teachers who were once young. The teachers before them, who have passed. Once, I wanted to lean Aikido to be strong and to be able to fight. Now, it is enough for me to be connected to this stream of history, and for me to use it to develop and maintain my body.

Much of the jazz music I listen to is by musicians who have passed on.
Many of the books I read are by authors who have passed on.

Jazz, aikido, dance, food, sleeping, then waking with coffee. I love all of this. How could I ever give it up? But there have been many before who felt the same way. All of us, briefly joyful.

Eulogy for Lost Dreams

A friend of mine was a young genius, admitted to college two years younger than was the norm – had also applied and been accepted to Julliard Music Conservatory on the virtue of his love for and proficiency on the trumpet.

His parents knew what was best for him, though, and lovingly decided that he should join a good computer science program at another reputable university.

He found himself able, but not motivated, took solace in the thought that he could do well in class if he tried, turned instead to playing Counterstrike (a first-person shooter computer game), slept irregular hours, and flunked out of school before he finished his first year.

His name was Winston. I lost touch with him.

I wonder if he has found his muse, or if he labors in quiet desperation at a job that he doesn’t much care for, a victim even now of an insidious homogenizing strand of thought that would discount genius and force people to be average in favor of a nice steady job, in a cheapening of what is artisitic, passionate, or interesting. Fuck. That. Shit.

However much we sell ourselves short in order to gain the good opinion of others, or for material wealth, we cannot take any of it with us when we die.

Old friend, you must have lost your way for a long time. Do not die with your music inside of you. I pray that you have found your way.

The Link

I studied Aikido this afternoon with a friend. He is a new to it, and has lots of questions. As we train, I realize that I do not have explicit knowledge of the answers to the questions he is asking. I have been led to them by years of practice and experimentation. Movements in martial arts are those movements that were originally left behind by those that survived wars. They come to us from the deep past, and are largely passed down from person to person. They are not really mine – I only channel them.

I can hold these techniques and movements for awhile, but only while I am alive. They are mainly for me to pass on. I am a vessel for these thoughts. I am the river to gather streams of thoughts and channel them to the great sea of infinite time and space.

I am not the first to think these thoughts, nor shall I be the last.

It is the Lunar New Year, and the Taiwanese believe the ancestors are close. They burn offerings of ghost money to comfort them, they set firecrackers to scare away the restless souls that still wander the earth. I am not afraid of ghosts, in fact I think it would be nice for me to meet the ancestors, and learn how better to use what I have been given.

We are all given a finite time in this world, though we don’t know how long. Today we are just a little closer to the end.

The knowledge of the ancestors comes to me in sensations, some learned, like en-trained reflexes in martial arts. These originated in battle, and have been preserved, refined, and transmitted from person to person in an unbroken chain. Some ancestral knowledge is instinctual – I crave bananas when I am low on potassium, for instance. I know this because in between the time I took my last blood test and saw the results, I ate a lot of bananas. They looked good on the fruit stand, so I bought a lot. When the results came, they showed me that I had been low on potassium. This instinctual knowledge has been passed down to us from organism to organism in an unbroken chain, reaching back through deep time. We are just the latest link.

A prayer to the ancestors while they are close: show us the Way, protect us as you would protect your Legacy, let us channel you in work and in play, remind us that life has just one source, and that we are all children of the common beginning. May all restless souls find a listening ear, and be able to rest in peace.

Talking to Strangers

On a train ride home today. Brown line in Taipei, meaning narrow cars where there’s just enough room for one person to stand between the seats that are facing each other. It was crowded. Evening rush. Blue seats are reserved for the elderly, the pregnant, and children. Green seats are for general seating. It’s crowded, so one young guy sat down in the priority seating. He gestured. “There’s a seat free.” I gestured to the man standing between me and the seat. “Will you sit?”

The man moved out of the way, and I sat.

The young guy who sat down first must have been in high school. “Someone asks us to move later, we could always apologize.”
“Or, we could just offer the seat if we see someone in need.” I offered.
“Yeah.” he said.

I got out my phone and started reading. (Retropia installments from the Archdruid Report blog.)

“If I find keys, I tell the police.” He said.
“Did you find keys today?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No, but if I find keys, I tell the police.”
“That’s good.” I nodded, and continued to read.

“If I find keys in a store, I tell the police. I tell the police.” He said.
“That works. But why not just tell someone who works at the store?”
“I tell the police.” He insisted.
“Yeah, that’ll work, too.” I nodded, and continued to read.

The train stopped, and the person sitting across from him stood up and got off. A woman who got on sat down.

“If I find a wallet, I tell the police.” He said, looking at her.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
He shook his head. “If I find a wallet, I tell the police.”
My eyes were down as I was reading, so I couldn’t see the woman’s facial expression, but could see her she get up, and walk toward the doors, standing in the area in between the doors.

“I think I scared her.” said the young man.
“Yeah, it looks like it.” I agreed.
“Hey, sorry.” He apologized to her. The woman didn’t acknowledge him. “I’m sorry.” He repeated, this time in Taiwanese, rather than Mandarin, to show his sincerity.

The train stopped at a station, some people got off and some people got on, confirming that the woman had stood up just to get away from him.

“You know, maybe you should just smile and nod.” I offered.
He nodded. I continued reading.

“Sometimes people are scared of me, but I would never do anything bad. I’m the sort of person who’d never do anything bad. Never. Never do anything bad.”Yeah. I said. “But people aren’t used to talking to strangers. Maybe you should just smile and nod.”
This seemed to make sense to him, and he nodded. “But if I find keys I tell the police. Tell the police. Doesn’t matter if I’m riding my bicycle.” At the next stop, the woman got off.
“Bicycle! Do you like bicycling?”
“Yes, and if I find keys, I tell the police.”
“That’s nice.” I continued reading.

The train arrived at my stop. “Well, hey. This is my stop. I’ll see you.”
“Bye.” he said.”Bye.” I said, and got off.