Dr. Angela Tran is Board-Certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine and is an active member of the American Board of Obesity Medicine Association. She has practiced in primary care since 2007 and recognized that obesity was often the root cause of many chronic medical conditions that she saw in her office including diabetes and high blood pressure. Because of her Internal Medicine background, she has a greater understanding of the medical complexities that often serve as barriers to weight loss. She has seen the many struggles her patients have had with their weight, and therefore she has now dedicated her practice solely to weight management.
At Med-Fit, the primary focus is to teach patients and their families about healthy living through a variety of medically supervised diet and fitness programs. She also has a daughter, Haley, whom she gained 40 lbs during pregnancy. Along with being in her 40s, she met the challenges of her own metabolism but followed her own formula she has crafted for years and is living healthfully at her ideal goal weight despite also being a busy professional herself. She believes in modeling the way for her patients which is why she became a medical weight loss doctor in the first place.
In this episode, we break down metabolism, how to healthfully lose weight, and how we don't need to kill ourselves with fad diets.
Connect with Dr. Angela Tran:
Connect with Sugar Solved:
Welcome to the Sugar Solve podcast where we're demystifying health one gram of sugar at a time. From eliminating excess sugar to cutting back on carbs, diving into keto, or becoming a devout vegan, today's diet landscape can give you a sugar crash just thinking about it. Sugar Salt is here to demystify all the nutrition and health trends you're bombarded with on a daily basis, bringing you unbiased insight, research and real world experiences from experts in the field of medicine, nutrition, health and wellness. You'll gain knowledge and clarity around the biggest trends in health and nutrition and leave each week feeling empowered to make informed decisions in your own life to optimize your diet and personal wellness for longevity, long lasting energy immunity, improve focus and performance that will leave you feeling better day in and day out. The truth won't be sugar coated here. Welcome back to the Sugar's Health podcast. Today we have on Dr. Angela Tran, who's a board certified internal medicine and obesity medicine doctor. She runs the Medford Medical Weight Loss Center in Denver. And she's going to be breaking down what metabolism is, how we can all healthily lose weight and make it a lifestyle change and not be going on crazy fad diets or killing ourselves with tons of exercise. Hi. Welcome to the Sugar Solve podcast. Today we have on Dr. Angela Tran. Thank you for coming on.
I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. Yeah.
So if you could give us a little bit about your background.
And your expertise. Yeah. So I'm Dr. Angela Tran, owner and founder of Medford Medical Weight Loss here in Colorado. And we are a virtual medical weight loss practice and we help busy on the go professionals just like you who need to lose weight quickly, safely and with ease in a medically predictable way. And we have lots of fun when every patient gets a team of registered dietitian, fitness trainer and accountability, health coach and really make a comprehensive approach when it comes to getting healthy.
So when did you know you wanted to get into this field? Did you know you always want to be a doctor or work with people on nutrition and health? When did that happen?
You know, that's a great question. I did a almost what we call a 180 degree turn. So try not to make the story too long. But essentially, I actually knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was little. You know, my dad was a doctor, my brother's a doctor and I have another brother, said a dentist. So sure enough, third in line, you know, you go all the way. And by the time I became a doctor, I said, Wow, this is exactly not what I wanted to do with my life. And obviously I went into it. I wanted to save lives, but medical care reality hit me in the face because all I felt I was doing was writing prescription after prescription, you know, telling people they have diabetes or high blood pressure. And I became the classic definition of what we call physician burnout. So if there are listeners out there who can relate when you work so hard only to just realize that this is not what you wanted to do. So it actually affected my health. It was some of the darkest days for me. But I was fortunate that I, you know, one thing led to another. And I was introduced into weight loss medicine and I was like, What is that? I never even heard of that before. And I had a friend who introduced me to what she did and instant love at first sight. That's it. It was one phone call changed my life. And fast forward, my medical practice is almost ten years old and I'm just so grateful to finally get to do what I felt was the definition of being a doctor.
Yeah, that's awesome. So, you know, you obviously have them firsthand experience of being just so busy and being wrapped up in so many things. And that's a lot like a lot of people say, Oh, I can't lose weight because they just don't have time. They don't have time to, you know, prep healthy meals. They don't have time for exercise. So what's that first thing that you tell your patients? How do you even begin managing that balance? Oh, this is.
A fun question because I do say this all the time. Nutrition gets the weight off, exercise keeps it off. Now I know that we're in March and so the New Year's resolution is died down by this time. But everybody makes the same mistake every single year thinking they're going to hit the gym and they're going to exercise five days a week. And sure, you know, you can lose weight, you know, in that short term fashion. But everybody needs to understand that you can't out exercise a bad diet. So you got to look at nutrition before you figure out what you're going to do at the gym.
Now, with so many, you know, new diets coming out from keto to being vegan and plant based, do you encourage people to just kind of start with like healthy fundamentals, obviously? And then do you ever recommend doing one of these more super low carb or super low sugar diets? Like is sugar the enemy or what really is the major trigger that people always get caught up with? Yeah, you.
Know, I get really excited because, you know, you're always looking for like the next fad diet. You know, I'm hearing there's like a hot dog diet now. And of course, the cabbage soup diet is still around. And I literally am a proponent of when I meet a patient for the first time and they ask me that very question, should I do keto or intermittent fasting or whatever they've been following? I say that, you know, you need to follow the diet that you can follow long term period, end of story. It doesn't have to have a special name other than it is something you can do for months and years. Not this two week boot camp or 30 day, you know, cut out everything type of mentality. It's got to be sustainable. Nimble. And the reality is it doesn't require restriction and it doesn't require extreme to actually get there. And so it's the common the tortoise always beats the hair. So that's how I start my patient and kind of recommending what diet they should follow.
So for someone who loves their sugary sweets and they love those really higher carb foods or desserts, what's the best place to start? Like, what's your take on, say, you know, swapping out the sugar with stevia or a natural artificial sweetener? Where do you stand on that?
Yeah, you know, my answer is going to just rock your audience because it's going to be the unexpected answer. I always say if you're craving sugar, it's actually a chemically driven problem. So before you even start figuring out, okay, I'm just not going to eat sugar for the rest of my life, which is next to impossible, right? I always tell our patients, you got to get lab work, end of story. And again, you can go to your primary care doctor. Obviously, I specialize in weight loss medicine, so I do have a more advanced panel of bloodwork that I look for. But I always have to tell, particularly our female patients, you know, you could have pre-diabetes or you could have a hormone or thyroid issue. You really have no idea that you actually have a metabolic condition that's actually causing that sugar addiction. So before you go and collect $200, get your data information first. That's actually where I would tell everybody to start.
So once you. have that information, those test results back and they start with a diet that they can learn to live with, then how does your practice come in? How do you help your patients find that sustainable long term plan? Like do they stay with you forever? How many times do they see you if they want to get in touch with you? Are they working with personal trainers and all of that to maintain? You said fitness. So how does that all work out?
Yeah, we run our business just like a medical practice. So once you're my patient, you're my patient for life, you don't have to see me often. But I know where you are year after year and how it works. This is that we really are mantra truly is. I know it's cliche, but not one diet fits all. So it's a truly customized type of plan because we work with 20 and 30 year olds, we work with 40 and 50 year old females, some with kids, some without kids, some in menopause. And I tell you, you imagine how many variables there are. You know, obviously we start with lab work and then you'll get an entire nutrition assessment from our registered dietitian team where we aren't just looking at your food preferences, but we're looking at your lifestyle. You know, are you a high executive and back to back meetings? Do you travel? Are you a stay at home mom? And you have many of those responsibilities. So it's really I call it our meal plan where we really want to map out easy to follow step by step. And it truly fits within the body chemistry and the life so that we can keep this a long term success for everybody.
So here is sugar solved. We're always kind of interested in getting the data from a CGM to see what your glucose levels are now. A lot of some, obviously, that's a necessity for someone with type two diabetes or Type one. But do you ever recommend or do you ever look at that data for someone who does not have diabetes, but just as a way to kind of get a baseline and see how their blood sugar levels affect them?
You know, that's a great question. You know, I definitely enjoy technology. And so there's so many different gadgets and apps out there. And I am a proponent for measuring and tracking. I don't necessarily get too detailed in monitoring glucose unless the patient felt like that was helpful. I find that there are more important things to track, which is, for example, sleep. Sleep far superior is something that I really prioritize, believe it or not, even more than exercise. And then for those who really hate the scale, you know, tracking more of your measurements, waist circumference, I even also track heart rate. So I'm a big proponent of some of these fitness activity trackers where it helps you identify if you're working too hard in your exercise or maybe working not enough. So I definitely see the value of getting data information. So blood sugar, yes. Can be helpful, but it's not a critical number. I think there's some easier components, but I'm fairly certain Apple Watch will probably someday give us. Ability to measure our glucose on a on a second by second scenario.
Now, one aspect I know that you have a lot of knowledge in is metabolism. So if you can just give us a full breakdown metabolism one on one, what is it? A lot of people are confused by it and they don't really know how it works in their own bodies.
Yeah. So I'm going to give a very, very simple explanation. So is basically your ability to burn calories when you do step on that scale, that one number isn't just one number. It incorporates primarily your body fat, your muscle water, weight in your bones and joints and tissues. And what you want to do is to play the game of metabolism. You want more muscle and less body fat. Simple, end of story. So that way your body is able to burn off whatever you eat. Now, when it comes complex, as we get older, we lose muscle. We have kids, we've got hormones, we're hitting menopause. So that's where the complexity comes in. But if you really want this super straightforward metabolism, you need to understand how your body efficiently burns calories to operate. And then you want to incorporate nutrition and exercise to play the game and win at the same time.
So now there was there was a study that came out in Science Journal in August of 2021, and it said that a lot of people think that all of a sudden there's going to be some massive decline in your metabolism rate once you get into maybe your thirties, forties. But they saw that it really only started to decline in your sixties. So you're really you have like your peak metabolism when you're a young child and then it's pretty steady throughout your entire mid and adult life. So are there really proven ways where you can actually speed this up or is it really just having more muscle, less fat? But are there other simple things that people can do to maybe just keep it at tip top shape for them?
Oh, absolutely. 100%. You can actually manipulate your metabolism second by second, just like your heart rate. So when we did have a brick and mortar office, we did have one of those specialized scales that measured your body composition so that you could really actually calculate what we call basal metabolic rate. That's truly your inherent ability to burn calories. So again, that's what we do when you actually eat better and you're doing the right type of exercises. Absolutely 100%. You can increase your basal metabolic rate regardless of whether you are 20 years old or six years old. But again, the challenges are different when you're younger versus older, so you're constantly playing that game. But once you turn it into habits in your normal day pattern, that's why it's so easy for those to manage their weight versus the others who just continue to not eat so healthy, have a sedentary job or lifestyle, and just not able to have an understanding of their body chemistry.
So now you've also said that can too much exercise actually be a detriment to your metabolism? Is that something that can actually end up slowing it down or just totally doing the opposite of what you had wanted it to do?
I love this question. Thank you so much for asking. I see this all the time now here in Colorado, we're very active outdoors type of culture. And I believe it or not, I see people who over exercise and gain weight all the time because it's basically for me to put in a simple way, their input is not matching their output. Meaning if you exercise so much but you're not nutritionally putting, it's basically not putting gas into the fuel tank. And so your body has no other choice. In fact, again, I do have a fitness activity tracker that actually tells me when to rest. I admit there are times where I'm super active and I want to do a lot of things, but today I'm in the yellow zone, which means that I probably shouldn't go all out like I usually do. Believe it or not, rest can be just as healthy as understanding when you want to peak in your exercise.
So how can someone find that good balance between their nutrition? They have that down pat and then where can they find that sweet spot of exercise? Are there any telltale signs or should they wear a tracker or something? Or should they just kind of, especially for a different age range? Obviously, someone younger will have more energy. They'll be doing a lot more active things. But as you age and you're tired and say you're a mom who has a ton of kids out there taking care of what type of activity is the best thing to do? Is it short hit type of workout or some? In suoh as easy as a walk, what's the most beneficial when you are adding an exercise?
Yeah. So one of the advantages obviously working with us is is that you get a team, you know, dieticians, fitness trainers and accountability coaches all on the same page. I know that not everybody out there has that advantage because you're often working with a nutritionist who doesn't know your trainer who doesn't know your doctor. So it can be very disjointed. But I do encourage you to get a coach or get someone to help. That's the first step because we can be stubborn. We feel like we can do it on our own. But at the end of the day, our life is too busy. And especially if you're older like me, you know, you need professional assistance. The second thing is I am a proponent for measuring. There are so many fitness activity trackers, even just the simplicity of the of a Fitbit or Apple Watch because it takes the guesswork so out of trying to figure this out. So I always want to use data as truth information so that I can make proper decisions and third pieces all again, when it comes to exercise, obviously there are different advantages, particularly for women. Weight resistance, hands down, is the most important type of exercise. But if you're just starting out, you absolutely have to do something that you enjoy. Don't bother going to the gym, trying to sweat it out, only to realize you hate the treadmill. You know, we call it the treadmill here, you know, so we'd rather be doing something else. And I tell you, exercise was meant for enjoyment. So don't try to do something that you don't like. That's the recipe for disaster.
Now, if you could leave our listeners with one actionable tip they can take away today, they can implement it in their own lives. They can try it out for themselves. What would that be?
Oh, in the theme of your podcast, Be a Sugar Cop. So what that means is look at the labels. I'm telling you, all of these marketing and labels that you see at the grocery store where they're just technically saying there's zero sugar or this is healthy or it's healthy because it's cheap. I tell you, you have to look at the fine print because some of these, quote, like healthy protein bars, for example, they can actually have high sugar, high fruit. You don't even realize it because the packaging looks so cool, but you don't even know how much sugar you are consuming. So really look at the grams of sugar and even in the ingredients, you know, forms of sugar such as artificial sweetener, sugar, alcohols. So if there's one thing that you can really change in your life is purely just look at the label so that you truly know if you are getting proper amount of sugar or excess sugar that's sneaking in, which is, you know, the biggest problem in this country. Yeah.
Do you see a difference between types of sugar? Like, obviously, there's natural sugar, too. Like those bars. There's all of it's made out of complete fruit, and people think that's healthy. But yet when you look at it, the sugar count is so high and so is the carb count. So is that something that people should be like, Hey, wait, this still is sugar and I should avoid it or.
Yeah, you know, your body can't tell the difference sometimes and it can't tell if it's real sugar or artificial sweetener. But guess what? It's going to respond the same way. And I think that's the missing piece of information that people don't understand. Is is that okay? Well, they're drinking diet soda. Agree, you know, no zero calories. But hey, guess what? The artificial sweetener chemically is still causing a reaction to your body that you may not even realize. And so it's it's just that important to just be more inquisitive and just, like I said, be a sugar cop and don't take everything at face value. And at the end of the day, we just teach our patients to take ownership of their health and they just realize what belongs in their body and what doesn't.
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on. Dr. Tran, if you could leave our listeners with how to get in touch with you, your practice is they want to work with you, anything like that.
Yeah, yeah. You know, I encourage if you are a Colorado resident, you know, go to Denver Weight Loss Clinic. That's our main website. We are expanding into other states this year, so go ahead and join my newsletter list and we will make sure when we launch our new program that we give access to everybody because we know that there's a lot of people that need our help and we're just excited to really start helping patients outside of Colorado.
So we will have all those links in the show notes. Thank you so much.
Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Sugar Salt podcast. As always, if you like what you hear. Share it with a friend. Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and tune in next week for another episode of the Sugar Salt podcast, where we demystify health and nutrition. One gram of sugar at a time.