The often-heard comments when someone says they're eating HFLC include "your kidneys will explode", "Atkins was really bad for him (Mr. Atkins)", "You'll have a heart attack", "You can't be athletic doing that; you need carbs" and more.
I would like to put some perspective on this. Yes, this is anecdote; it's a sample size of one with no double-blind, of course -- that is, my personal experience.
Some background: Somewhat over five years ago I essentially went hard-core Atkins-induction coupled with "Couch-to-5k." At the time I was unable to run one half mile without stopping, climbing a few sets of stairs was work, even summer lawn mowing was a strenuous exercise -- while the heat was certainly not helpful, neither was exercise tolerance. I was "nominally healthy" in that I was not diabetic, but my body mass had risen from about 155 in High School to right around 210, plus or minus a couple. I had several times undertaken fairly severe exercise regimes, including hour-long daily stints on a stationary recumbent bike I purchased, in an attempt to lose weight, along with a low-fat, "eat plants" diet -- without success. I could drop 10lbs without much trouble, but no more, I was ravenously hungry all the time, and as soon as I cut back on the exercise the weight came right back on and stayed.
I'm absolutely certain that I was insulin resistant even though my blood glucose was normal -- I'd get the "hangries" if I attempted to not eat in the morning immediately on waking, and was often hungry for something by mid-afternoon after eating a carb-laden (and low-fat) lunch. If there was a bag full of M&Ms in front of me and I had one, the entire bag would be gone within a couple of hours. The same for a tin full of cookies. A loaf of home-made bread (I have a bread-maker) would be lucky to make two days; the first big, thick slice would get consumed and I'd want two more an hour later.
In short despite my outward metabolic signs being ok, but being overweight (not obese) I know exactly where I was headed -- for both obesity and diabetes. I'm sure of it.
So in early 2011 I decided I'd had enough -- that the conventional wisdom was either wrong or I was simply going to be consigned due to bad genetics to get older, fatter, and sicker. The latter is what we have all been sold and I was determined to not simply give up.
Since that was the consensus, I saw no harm in trying something else -- after all, the odds were that I would not make it worse, at least not quickly, and when it comes to things like heart attacks and strokes they take years to develop, weeks or months.
So I went full-on, zero-carb Atkins induction, bought a pair of Nike running shoes and a Garmin 305 with a heart rate strap to track my exercise.
I'm not going to tell you that this was an easy path, at least at first. I modified the Couch-to-5k thing (you can look it up online) in only one way -- the very last segment of each work-out I ran as hard and fast I could. At the start this was maybe an eighth to a quarter of a mile, but it would grow to a half-mile later. Other than that I pretty-much followed the program.
I could not run a half-mile when I started. Not even close.
I felt like I'd been hit by a bus every.... single... day.
But I kept with it, both on the food and running. After the first two weeks I added back green vegetables, but otherwise ate zero carbohydrate -- and that included alcohol. Instead of three times a week I tried for five, and got up at 0500 every day to do it because living in Florida it's hot, even in May.
In the first week, five pounds disappeared. I knew this would happen and probably be (mostly) water. The next week and pretty-much every week thereafter, however, another one or two came off.
About two months later I ran a full 3.1 miles for the first time, without slowing to a walk or stopping. It was not easy, but I did it, and by now it was the middle of June.
Eight months later, roughly that Thanksgiving, I was down to about 160.
I looked at the Garmin stats. I had lost 50 lbs, which is about 175,000 calories. Running is about 120 calories a mile, according to a heart-rate adjusted GPS machine, and I had run roughly 500 miles at that point, or 60,000 calories worth.
Only one third of the body mass I lost was due to exercise. That's a numerical fact; the rest was lost due to changing what I ate.
I slowly lost about another 5 lbs; my body weight now fluctuates around 155, +/- 5, assuming I'm reasonably good.
And there it has stayed for the last five years -- whether I'm training for a half-marathon, the Wicked Triple (three races in two days of close to a marathon distance in total), hiking part of the AT, sitting on my ass enjoying a vacation or whatever else I might be doing. My exertion levels have literally been all over the map, yet my body mass has not.
What has remained constant, more or less, is my adherence to the consumption of food things (and not consuming others!) that I have laid out many times -- you can read that list right here.
Now here's what's changed long-term when it comes to my person and my health that I haven't talked about much:
I'm not going to tell you this was all easy, because it wasn't up front. Yes, carb-cravings are real. A week or so back while in a group having a conversation that turned to food I remarked that I do not, as a rule, eat carbs -- my carb intake is for the most part beer, and only a couple a day maximum. A nurse who was there proceeded to say that "Atkins causes kidney disease" and further that she "has cravings for carbs and thus needs them." Both are false; first, Atkins is high fat, not high protein. It is true that high protein diets can cause kidney problems but that's not Atkins; that's doing it wrong! Second, meth causes cravings too, but that doesn't mean you need meth -- it means you're addicted to it! Carbs are the same deal; when challenged as to the specific nutrients that you need that are in carbs, of course, she had no answer. That would be because there aren't any; the amount of carbohydrate you actually require in your diet is zero. I gave up; oh, she was complaining about having big snoring problems too (gee, I wondered, if you lost some weight what might happen to that........) This, however, is illustrative of the attitude of many in the so-called "health business"; their 4 hours of class at some point was not only insufficient most of what was in there is flat out wrong and even when taking this path might help alleviate a person problem they're experiencing they won't try it!
Here's my view, more than five years into this: I've seen exactly zero bad effects from adopting this lifestyle, and multiple good ones. My indicators of metabolic health have improved, my exercise tolerance is up massively, I am more able to perform athletically today than I was when I was 17 despite being three times as old, I have zero glucose tolerance trouble evident when challenged, I am never "hangry", I do not crave carbs and in fact find things with sugar in them "too" sweet yet I count no calories or make other conscious attempt to control my food intake and my body mass is approximately what it was 35 years ago and hasn't moved more than a few pounds in either direction for the last five years. The only exception was when I was in a relationship, eating far too many carbs (and knew it) and five more pounds went on -- literally as soon as I cut that crap out they disappeared within a couple of weeks.
Why would I change what I'm doing now, when for the last five years it has worked -- effortlessly -- to not only halt what was an obvious and visible (albeit slow) decrease my personal vitality and health that many would simply attribute to old age, but almost-completely reversed it -- and in many cases my health and physical abilities now exceed those of my teen years!
Yes, I'm a data set of one.
Now tell me why would you not run your own experiment.
I'm all ears.
Aamodt is a neuroscientist, book author and former editor of a leading brain research journal. She also has become a prominent evangelist of the message that traditional diets just don't work and often leave the dieter worse off than before. And she's an enthusiastic proponent of mindful eating.
"I define it as eating with attention and joy, without judgment," Aamodt said in an interview. "That includes attention to hunger and fullness, to the experience of eating and to its effects on our bodies."
Look folks, there are people who have a mental disorder when it comes to food. I accept this, because it is trivially shown to be true. But the vast majority of people who are overweight are not sick in the head or suffering from some psychosis -- they've been actively misled as to what's going on and the media spurs this with its crap "reporting" such as this article.
Likewise, the "energy balance" folks (all of whom like to wag their finger and scold) are correct but intentionally misleading. That is, it is absolutely true that since a pound of body mass is roughly 3000-3500 calories (there is some debate on exactly what the number is but this is close enough; within 20%) if you wish to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than your body burns.
There's no escaping that; it's math. Isn't it funny, however, that these people never bother to continue their mathematical exercise? We'll get to why not in a minute, so hold that thought.
There is, unfortunately, also no escaping the fact that running, one of the highest calorie-consuming exercises, only burns about 100-120 calories a mile -- more if you're very heavy (it takes more energy to move your fat ass) and less if you're not, but again, we're talking about a 20% tolerance here and for the most part the figure is about the same irrespective of other factors.
This, by the way, means that you must run approximately a marathon to lose a pound!
No Mildred, you cannot outrun your fork and anyone who tells you otherwise is completely full of crap.
Yes, we have an obesity epidemic; fully 40% of US women are obese along with 35% of men -- and even worse, one in five adolescents! This is a ridiculous percentage and what's really awful is that those who are in this position are setting themselves up for utterly horrible, slow and painful ways to die -- first through amputations, then blindness and kidney disease, and finally heart attack and stroke, all after decades of avoidable suffering and restricted physical capability.
It seems that every couple of years someone else comes along with yet another crackpot theory on why it is that people get and stay fat -- and then both get sick and die as a result. They all keep trying to make the case that it's not your fault in some form or fashion, using words like "easy" to describe their particular prescriptive answer, knowing full well that this sells books.
After all, if you told people it was their fault or would be hard how many of them would pay you for the book -- the speech -- or the "counseling"?
But all these theories are just that -- theories, and IMHO they're all full of crap when it comes to long-term success.
Here are some facts for you and they are trivially proved through nothing more than casual observation of the world around you and arithmetic you learned in the first and second grades:
So what's actually going on?
"Numerous foundations, industries, professional societies, and governmental agencies have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to support basic science research in obesity, clinical trials and observational studies, development of new drugs and devices, and hospital and community programs to help stem the tide of the obesity epidemic," the journal's editors, Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, wrote in a commentary.
"The obesity epidemic in the United States is now 3 decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing," they added.
Did you all flunk basic organic chem, then biochem and simply ignore the monstrous body of evidence that has been accumulated on this problem?
There is one basic fact that has to be dealt with by anyone propounding on our obesity epidemic:
Your body knows how to regulate its caloric intake in light of highly-variable energy expenditure and do so within 10 calories a day. If it did not the species Homo Sapiens would have gone extinct centuries ago just as would any other species that could not regulate its caloric intake.
Therefore the question must be this and only this:
Why is that regulatory system not working, can a fat person restore it to normal function, and if so how?
I believe we know the answer to that question but admitting it means admitting that the medical and "nutrition" folks have been lying to overweight people for decades and, in fact, they know damn well they've been lying which means they should all be in prison for the outrageous harms they have inflicted on millions of Americans.
Let's start with history. Homo Sapiens (that is, our specific species) has been on this planet for about 200,000 years. Our direct lineage in that regard is the matter of some dispute, but what is not in dispute is that until about 12,000 years ago we had no industrial mode of food production whatsoever. That is, for better than 90% of the species' time on this planet we ate only that which we could obtain without processing, other than perhaps rudimentary cooking.
The epidemic of heart disease, obesity and diabetes is a 20th century+ phenomena. It therefore must be traced to something (or a group of somethings) that happened in that time frame. Ancel Keys claimed it was dietary saturated fat that led to heart attacks and strokes. He cherry-picked his data, however, which made his advocacy not a mistake but a lie, and a fairly easy one to prove too.
So would anyone care to guess where it began?
I'll help you. It began right here with a dramatic increase in use of a very dangerous substance.
About 20-30 years following that ramp in cigarette consumption, guess what happened? Lots of heart attacks and strokes. Do you think this was a function of "fat in the diet" or do you think this had something to do with per-capita cigarette consumption going from ~200 in 1912 to twenty times that rate by 1959? When you go from an average of less than one cigarette a day per-person to close to a full pack a day what do you think is going to happen to heart disease and stroke rates, with about a 20 year lag?
That's exactly what did happen. Duh.
Then there's Crisco and other related trans-fats. They came on the market in the early 1900s too and were in fact sold as healthier than animal fats. But we now know that transfats greatly increase the risk of heart disease, while the association with saturated animal fats in fact runs the other way -- among European diets the highest in saturated fat (the Mediterranean nations) have the lowest cardiovascular disease rates.
Between smoking and transfats is the causal chain clear yet or do I need a bigger clue-by-4?
Now let's look at obesity, which began to spike in the 1980s.
Again, what changed?
Simple: The US Government played hell with its "war on fat" predicated on the lie told by Keys (among others) and told people to cut it out of their diets. But there are only three foods at a macro level -- fats, carbohydrates and proteins. If you remove fat from the diet you must increase one or both of the others.
What got increased? Carbohydrates -- specifically, cheap, fast and highly-processed carbohydrates.
And what do we know about carbohydrates, especially fast, processed carbohydrates such as grains (e.g. breads, pastas, etc), sugars and similar? They all produce a large insulin response in the body.
Oh, and if that's not enough carbohydrate consumption also increases systemic inflammation and "bad" cholesterol, which prompts cholesterol in the body, a necessary component of our metabolic system, to perform the job it is present to do -- that is, to encapsulate and attempt to repair said inflammation. Blaming cholesterol for heart attacks (and trying to reduce it through chemicals) is like blaming it for the inflamed finger you have after sticking yourself with a thorn -- rather than removing the thorn!
Finally, with few exceptions these "foods" have only existed in our diet for the last few hundred to few thousand years -- an inconsequential period of time on the evolutionary time scale.
In other words there is no evidence that our bodies know how to process these carbohydrates without harm because we did not evolve in their presence and thus our genetic coding was not selected through evolution to favor said energy sources. The same is true for vegetable-based oils (PUFAs), none of which have been ingested in material quantity by humans for more than 100 years.
You would have to eat a full bushel of corn to get a tablespoon of corn oil and utterly nobody would (ever) eat a bowl of cotton seeds!
Now let's look at what we know to be fact in the context of body mass regulation.
Hunger (the desire to eat) is largely mediated by leptin and the hypothalamus, a small structure in the brain. This structure is responsible for regulating not only hunger but also body temperature, sleep, and thirst. In short some of the most-essential regulatory functions are directly controlled by this part of the brain and still more are via other structures that it interacts with, mostly via and through hormones. This has been known since modern medicine has existed.
Now here's the nasty piece of the puzzle nobody wants to talk about, but which I believe is key to the entire obesity issue:
Insulin is a leptin antagonist.
That is, quite simply:
The higher your insulin level the less active leptin is in signaling satiety.
Therefore insulin resistance is in fact a severe problem, even when it occurs at a level that is sub-clinical and does not result in an increased blood glucose level as long the body is able to produce enough insulin, and your cells are still able to respond, to hold blood glucose within normal limits.
The harm is due to the fact that irrespective of your ability to maintain a normal blood sugar that elevated insulin level still results, in every case, in a desire to eat more food.
That is the condition of an elevated insulin level tips the balance of the body's signalling and thus makes unconscious control of caloric intake within the required tolerance, given access to food in excess of metabolic requirements, virtually impossible.
This then leaves you with only voluntary caloric restriction (e.g. "dieting") as an option which we know you cannot maintain over the long term as the precision required cannot be met through conscious control.
Worse, the divergence between needs and desires is all in one direction -- overeating and if your "diet" is a low-fat one where the substitution is made with carbohydrates you make your desire to overeat worse.
This is why when you cease dieting you almost-invariably gain all the weight back plus more -- your "dieting" has in fact done more damage to the metabolic systems that control your desire to eat!
Again, that insulin is a leptin antagonist is not a theory it is a biochemical fact.
The only means by which one can resolve the problem at a biochemical level is to remove the leptin antagonist.
Achieving that requires lowering insulin levels, and that can only be safely done (without skyrocketing your blood glucose) by restricting carbohydrate intake, especially rapid-acting carbs such as sugars, grains and starches.
It is not a coincidence that this is a corrective action in that it coincides with removing "foods" from your diet that your body was never designed to process and in fact at no time in our evolutionary history did such "foods" exist. Those who make claims to the contrary that the intake of such "foods" in any quantity whatsoever are "safe" have the burden of proof to show how the body can handle such intake without any of the normal biochemical processes going out of the normal range.
The body of evidence found in the form of rampant obesity and insulin resistance, all of which exactly correlates with the "war on fat" by medical "authorities" and substitution of fast-acting carbohydrates in its place, strongly suggests that these foods are not safe and cannot be made safe; they can only be avoided or the consequences of consuming them accepted exactly as the correlation with smoking and transfasts correlated exactly with the rise in heart disease with the expected 20-30 year lag!
"Mindful eating" will not change your insulin levels nor improve your body's leptin signalling.
Getting the pasta, potatoes, rice, sugars and grains out of your diet, on the other hand, will. If you want the full list read this article.
As a "side effect" of following same, if you actually do it, I predict that your pants will fall off.
There is excuse-making and then there is an entire damned industry that works its level best to asset-strip you to your underwear so your fat ass (and the rest) hangs out.
“The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, who was not involved in the study. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”
Well sure, if your "path" to weight loss is to eat damn near nothing (e.g. starve) and run your metabolic demand through the ceiling by engaging in extremely intense exercise.
Look at the quotes: "It's hard. The cravings are there."
But the kernel of truth is right here:
“There is a lot of basic research we still need to do,” said Dr. Margaret Jackson, who is directing a project at Pfizer. Her group is testing a drug that, in animals at least, acts like leptin, a hormone that controls hunger. With weight loss, leptin levels fall and people become hungry. The idea is to trick the brains of people who have lost weight so they do not become ravenous for lack of leptin.
Pfizer wants to sell you a drug, of course.
But what if you learned that hunger is largely regulated by leptin, leptin response is largely mediated by insulin levels, and it is what you eat, not how much, that is almost-entirely responsible for insulin levels?
Guess what: That all happens to be true.
What is being discussed here is that the contestants on the show The Biggest Loser basically poisoned their metabolism through the path they engaged in -- that is, extreme caloric restriction coupled with intense exercise.
But the "big lie" is right here:
“What was surprising was what a coordinated effect it is,” Dr. Proietto said. “The body puts multiple mechanisms in place to get you back to your weight. The only way to maintain weight loss is to be hungry all the time. We desperately need agents that will suppress hunger and that are safe with long-term use.”
Agents, of course, means drugs. Yeah that's a great idea -- hand over $10,000 a year forever to someone for a pill that will probably have side effects that destroy your life (eventually.)
Look at what they had these people eat:
His routine went like this: Wake up at 5 a.m. and run on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Have breakfast — typically one egg and two egg whites, half a grapefruit and a piece of sprouted grain toast. Run on the treadmill for another 45 minutes. Rest for 40 minutes; bike ride nine miles to a gym. Work out for two and a half hours. Shower, ride home, eat lunch — typically a grilled skinless chicken breast, a cup of broccoli and 10 spears of asparagus. Rest for an hour. Drive to the gym for another round of exercise.
Mother of God will you stop killing yourself?
Look folks, fat in the diet is not fat on the body. This sort of "diet" is nothing other than starvation and it's stupid.
What's the problem? Right here:
His slow metabolism is part of the problem, and so are his food cravings. He opens a bag of chips, thinking he will have just a few. “I’d eat five bites. Then I’d black out and eat the whole bag of chips and say, ‘What did I do?’”
Get the damned chips out the house!
Oh, and the rest of the carbs.
You're not sick because you're fat (and cut the "shaming" crap, facts just are) you're fat because you're sick and you're sick because you refuse to stop eating things that make you that way.
Look folks, I know you don't want to hear it because you're all looking for a drug and an excuse.
That's why you lose 10, 20 or 30lbs, then put it all back on with interest.
You can't stop eating pasta, potato chips, pizzas and bread.... Really? You're willing to trade being fat and ultimately developing diabetes causing you to have your toes chopped off one by one as they turn gangrenous, along with losing your eyesight and ultimately your life, rather than getting the damned potato chips out of your house and not calling Papa Johns or Dominos? REALLY?
You do understand that your body's metabolic system is capable of handling quite the level of insult before it breaks, right? That you "pass" the common glucose test (OGTT) or have a normal (or marginal) A1c today does not mean you have not accumulated decades of such damage and that while there is a test to determine this (OGTT+insulin assay) it's expensive and insurance will not pay for it since it doesn't diagnose a disease that is occurring now.
You do understand that the majority of adults in America and damn near everyone over the age of 60 are metabolically compromised by decades of eating fast carbohydrates and vegetable oils, even if you do not today show evidence of diabetes and related diseases, and that if you are overweight, even only somewhat, or obese it is a virtual certainty you're one of them irrespective of age, right?
I've been there and done this over the space of a couple of decades. I too poisoned myself because I was ignorant and believed that if I ate fewer animal fats, more vegetable oils and more carbohydrates while simply exercising more and eating less I'd lose weight and keep it off -- along with avoiding said disease.
Everyone who told you this either didn't know what the hell they were talking about or was lying. The results were the same as they are for most of you -- slowly but inexorably increasing body weight.
Then I changed what, not how much, I ate and my body's regulatory system healed over time. Is it completely healed? I'm sure it's not, and if I was to go back to eating how I used to eat all the weight I lost and probably more would come right back on -- and quite quickly too.
But guess what? You can do it too. I don't care how fat you are now or how long you've been fat. I don't care if you've yo-yo dieted before, or engaged in some sort of extreme attempt to lose weight.
You're overweight because you have poisoned the regulatory systems in your body that control your desire to eat. You almost-certainly poisoned them unintentionally but whether it was intentional or not does not matter; what matters is that it happened and unless you change what you eat the damage will continue to accrue over time and at some point it is very likely it will manifest itself as clinically-diagnosed disease.
To succeed in allowing your body to repair itself to the degree it can, however, you are going to have to do two things: Stop making excuses and stop looking for answers in a damned pill bottle -- or a surgeons office.
The answer is found in what, not how much, is in your pantry and refrigerator.
Go through your house -- pantry, fridge and freezer. Throw anything on the "don't eat list" in the trash can and never let it come back into your home or pass your lips when you are somewhere other than at home.
Go to the store once you've thrown everything away on the "don't eat list" and re-stock your fridge with things on the DO eat list. Note that almost none of them will go in the pantry because the pantry is for things that are shelf-stable and processed. A few will go on the counter that are going to get eaten within a couple of days but the rest go in either the fridge or freezer.
Don't tell me that you can't do it because you can do it. You can do it when you're home and you can do it when you're eating away from home. If you absolutely must have a sub sandwich when out go to Jimmy Johns and have them make it as a wrap; they will, in lettuce -- or if you want then go to Subway and have them make your "sub" as a salad (same thing but with the lettuce chopped up and thus less-convenient to eat "on the go.")
If you're overweight your pants will shortly try to fall off, but more-importantly your body knows how to regulate its caloric intake if you stop poisoning the mechanisms that control it. When you reach an appropriate weight - which is not one where you're "large", but rather a body mass that looks like a normal, not-fat person in every case (no, you're not "special" in that regard: You're not "big-boned", you're fat) the weight loss will stop all on its own without you making a conscious decision to do so.
Here's the thing, however: You can't get there from here if you "diet" because as soon as you stop "dieting" you will go back to poisoning your body's metabolic signalling system and the weight will come right back on. In fact it may come back on faster than ever because some of the damage you've accumulated is probably permanent.
This is not a matter of "blame" it is a matter of fact -- whether you undertook what you did because you were stupid, you got bad advice from so-called "professionals" or any other cause doesn't matter.
You are an adult and thus you are responsible for the outcomes that occur when you listen to various people no matter who they are.
If you take someone's advice and it doesn't work but you keep doing what you were told would work why in the hell would you keep listening to them?
Look folks, do it for 30 days. That's all. I'm no doctor but I can tell you what works because it did after a couple of decades of the "conventional advice" not working. I can also point you to the comments here from others who also had it work with some of them having ridiculously dramatic results when it came not so much as to weight (in that short amount of time) but metabolic markers of serious disease such as their blood sugar. This isn't something that was a "fad" or an undertaking that I "recently" did and thus can't give you any sort of honest answer on whether the weight I lost will stay off.
You want to know how many people I've run into who have actually done this and not had it work? Zero. Every one of the people I've been acquainted with that failed has admitted they just didn't do it. They ate the pasta. Or the potatoes. They called Dominos and ate the pizza. Or they just "had to have" the pie. Or sugar in their coffee. They had the craving, they had a bad day exercising and had to "add back" some carbs (even though they were less than a week into it), and on and on. Rather than tough it out for a few days, literally, knowing it would go away in a few days to a couple of weeks (like a cold does) if they just kept at it, they didn't.
It didn't fail -- they simply didn't do it and they admit it.
I changed my lifestyle in this fashion in 2011. I used no drugs, no doctors and no surgical interventions -- nothing other than what I stuffed in my pie hole and had in my house. I did it despite having a kid at home at the time who refused to give up her Doritos, M&Ms and similar.
Despite the bad stuff being present I didn't eat them, choosing instead to reach for the broccoli or piece of leftover zero-carb roast.
If you're one of the millions of Americans who have heard that it's all "hormonal", that you need "help", that you have a "damaged" metabolism and "it's not your fault" or that nothing other than invasive surgery or drugs (and perhaps not even then) will make a long-term difference what do you have to lose by trying?
Do you really think that a month or two of changing what you eat is going to do some critical damage that all those years of piling on the pounds hasn't? Are you really too lazy to go spend under $50 for instrumentation that will (largely) last virtually forever to test a hypothesis on your body and your metabolism and give you objective results by which to measure whether it works or doesn't? I don't think there's anywhere in this country that's more than a 20 minute drive from a WalMart these days and if there is Amazon covers every US address within a couple of days (even without Prime) so there's simply no excuse other than willful refusal.
You can't argue with objective numbers so if you don't have them because you won't go buy the $20 worth of stuff to obtain them in the privacy of your own home where nobody else can ever see them then the only excuse is that you are consciously refusing to put such a change in eating habits to an objective, personal test.
If you're happy with being overweight or obese, or worse you expect someone else to either fix it or give you a pill then shut your pie hole and deal with the consequences of your choice. A choice that, I remind you, given our corrupt and extortionate medical system will bankrupt you as well as having a high probability of making you both sick and ultimately dead.
Or, for nearly zero money you can change, what, not how you eat -- not as a "diet" but as a lifestyle and as a side effect it is highly like that your pants will fall off.
The medical industry doesn't want you to read this.
Nor does the food industry.
But you should read it, and let it sink in.
There is a lot of BeeEss flying around about low-carb eating. Here are some common myths and truths related to this lifestyle.
Once again, for those who missed it the last time, here's the "don't eat" list:
So what do you eat?
If you eat this way it is very hard to exceed 50g/carb a day. As an example a cup of brussels sprouts has eight grams of carbs, only five of which count (3 are fiber and don't digest.) If you eat a cup of those, two cups of broccoli flowers during the day in various snacks (8g more), one cup of green sweet pepper chopped up as a component of a main course or side for dinner (4g net) you'll have eaten quite a decent amount of vegetables yet you only consumed 17g of carbs net all day; you'd also have consumed just 108 calories. You could triple that and still be ok on the carbs and yet have consumed just about 1/6th of your caloric intake requirement!
It then becomes a matter of choosing protein sources without trying to limit fats and, in fact, buying the cheaper sources tends to work better because the stores charge more to trim or otherwise remove the fats! Between eggs, cheeses and animal products while intentionally leaving the fat content present you'll wind up with a low-carb diet that is very rich in nutrients and almost-completely absent in insulin-spiking carbs that also happens to be free of PUFAs that are associated with heart disease.
Oh, and you won't be hungry either; your body knows how to regulate its food intake all on its own if you simply stop poisoning the signalling pathways (largely mediated by leptin) that tell you whether you're hungry or not.
Welcome to waking up and not really wanting anything to eat until the middle of the day; a nice side effect of living this way is that your pants will fall off.
The so-called "authorities" on health all admit that half of all adults are metabolically compromised (in terms of insulin resistance) with most of those over 65 being in this situation.
Being metabolically compromised places you at a materially higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. These are diseases that may kill you, but even if they don't they are debilitating. Obesity is a big part of that; you can't run, you can't move, you wind up with joint replacement surgery as you age (which has to be re-done every 10 or 20 years and is major surgery) and, if it gets out of control it can and will lead to amputations, blindness and ultimately kidney disease and dialysis.
This is a miserable way to live the last 20, 30 or 40 years of your life and it's not a pleasant way to die either.
Most people will say "well, I have no symptoms and my doctor is ok with what I'm doing", so they'll ignore the possibilities here. This is extraordinarily unwise as the damage that causes these diseases happens over years or even decades before clinical disease (that sends you to the doctor) presents itself.
It is easy and inexpensive, however, to know if that damage has accrued to the point that some detectable signs are present. You can do it at home, and you should because once these markers get into your medical chart they never go away and while people may think they're protected by Obamacare right now until and unless we deal with the medical monopoly situation in this nation you are risking financial ruin without cause if those markers get into your chart even if you reverse the damage.
What happened before Obamacare and will happen if and when it collapses? If those markers are in your chart you may become completely uninsurable at any rational cost. That means that any major medical emergency instantly bankrupts nearly anyone.
As an aside I'm going to make an assumption here: You're not diabetic today (diagnosed.) If you are diabetic then none of the below is news to you in terms of testing as you already have these results over time since they're part of what your doctor has you doing already. Nonetheless, you might be shocked at the improvement from the below eating pattern changes, so keep reading -- just ignore the testing thing, as you're already doing it.
This is something you can do in the privacy of your own home with nobody but you having the results. You can then change your behavior, specifically, what you do and do not eat, if you have a deteriorating situation and see if it improves. There is little cost to this, essentially zero risk over the time involved and if it doesn't work for you or if you think I'm a crackpot (I don't have an "MD" after my name, after all) you will have lost nothing other than a few dollars that were spent on something you probably ought to own anyway, one of which is not consumed.
You're going to go buy two things:
1. An A1c test kit. WalMart has them and they're under $30. There are two tests in the box, so each is about $15. No, one isn't for your SO, spouse or kid -- they're both for you. If you have two people to check buy two. These are consumed and tossed when used up.
2. An inexpensive glucose meter and a box of lancets. Buy one of the models with inexpensive strips; the meters are all cheap (~$20 or so) but the strip cost varies widely, by as much as 500%! While you're not using this for diabetes monitoring this is a device that will last years if not a decade or more so strip cost does matter, although not nearly as much. Again, WalMart has a wide selection -- IMHO make yours based on the strip cost (lower is better) and choose one that has individually-wrapped strips (this way they do not deteriorate by having a bulk package opened, since you are not using these multiple times a day as a diabetic would.)
When you get home open up the A1c kit, read the instructions (yes, you have to follow them to the letter to get good results) and run one. Keep the second. Write down the result.
The ADA and "some" docs say any A1c number under 6.0 is ok. You want a number at or under 5.6%. Note that these kits as with all tests, including lab tests, have an error band to them which means that one test provides decent information but you need to check it as the actual number could be a few tenths to either side of the displayed result. Don't use the second test immediately (unless the first errors out due to a mistake on your part); you'll use that a month or two down the road to both check the error band (the odds of a random error going the same way twice is 1 in 4 instead of 1 in 2) and your outcome.
Be aware that there are some confounding factors with the A1c test. First, it "assumes" blood cells live three months. We know this is not always true; people with severe metabolic damage tend to have them live for less (which means the number reads low) and those without said damage tend to have them live longer (which means the number reads high) since what A1c measures is the percentage of glycated hemoglobin in the blood. Further, if you have some conditions, among them anemia (in particular) it will read low because in that case hemoglobin is below normal levels -- this is a particular risk for women who don't get enough iron in their diet although there are other causes. This probably won't change your test result enough to matter, but it is the reason that standing alone an A1c test, while good and in fact an essential checkpoint, isn't enough.
Next, you're going to do two different checks with the glucose meter. The first is a fasting test, which is done when you first wake up in the morning before eating or drinking anything other than water. Most meters will store some amount of history but again, write it down. If your number is under 90 but greater than 50 that's ok. If it's under 50 test it again -- a persistent result under 50 is an indication of hypoglycemia (low sugar) which is dangerous as levels below 40 can cause you to pass out (and if nobody finds you and deals with it you can die), so if you get a confirmed reading under 50 consider obtaining medical advice. Again, the ADA and some docs say anything under 100 is ok. Correct clinically but wrong for the purpose you're intending here. If you get a number over 90 do it again the next day; if you get a second reading over 90 you've got a potential problem.
The final thing you're going to do is wait until you eat a "normal" meal at home (whatever that is) but it should include a decent amount of carbohydrate. "Decent" doesn't mean carb overload, but it does mean roughly the equivalent of one cup (cooked) of rice. If you eat low-carb normally, this is your chance to eat something you usually don't. Test your blood sugar level before eating, then test again both one and two hours after eating. Write down the results; no relying on memory here. You should not get a result over 140 on either of the post-eating tests and ideally within two hours you should be back to where you were before consuming the meal. If you're not, take a third test at the three-hour point.
Now let's interpret.
If you are eating food containing carbs on a regular basis, your A1c is at or under 5.6 and your fasting glucose is under 90, neither of the one and two-hour post-meal readings exceed 140 and you are back to baseline within three hours you are probably ok metabolically at this point. This doesn't mean you don't have insulin resistance of some amount but at this point it is not manifesting in clinically-detectable harm to your cardiovascular system. If you are eating low-carb and have been for several months or longer your fasting glucose level may be a few points higher, anything under 100, and is ok provided the other two tests are both in-range. Note that if you are overweight you probably are metabolically compromised (an OGTT w/insulin assay would easily detect it) but the test is expensive and frankly, the mirror works just as well for anyone in this category: If you have a gut, you're metabolically compromised. Incidentally just because you eat low-carb you are not necessarily going to get a somewhat-higher fasting glucose level; I don't, for example, and I've been eating low-carb now for something like five years now but some people do. If you are eating low-carb and get a reading over 90 for your fasting glucose there is a decent chance you're doing it wrong; specifically, you may be eating far too few green vegetables in an attempt to go "very low or zero carb" and thus massively short on vitamin and mineral nutrients. It is possible to eat "VLC" and not have this problem but severe nutrient deficiencies play hell with hormone levels, so don't just blindly accept that an elevated fasting level is "ok" -- it's not, and it usually means you're doing something wrong and accumulating damage.
If your A1c is over 5.6 (but under 6.0) or your fasting glucose is over 90 (over 100 for low-carb eaters) or your first two-hour post-meal readings (either or both of them) go over 140 or you are not back to baseline within 3 hours you are accumulating metabolic damage that is doing material harm to your body. Your doctor will probably not detect this in his routine screen but if you ran the (expensive) OGTT w/insulin assay test, which your insurance will not cover in this instance since there is no clinical indication of disease, I'll lay a large wager it would show significant metabolic compromise with insulin levels perhaps as much as twice normal levels. You're at severe risk down the road even if you are not overweight and if you are overweight you're a walking heart attack or stroke unless you change what you're doing. More than half of all adults in the US and most people over 65 are in this category or one of the worse ones below.
If your A1c is over 6% or fasting glucose is over 100 (irrespective of what you eat) or either of the first two post-meal readings is over 160 (you almost-certainly won't be back to baseline within 3 hours in this instance) you're either diabetic now or shortly will be. Your doctor will be able to detect this in a routine screen; if he's honest he'll call it "pre-diabetes" and if he does your medical chart will be "branded" forever which, to the extent legal now or ever again, will trash your ability to obtain health insurance at a rational cost. You'll also get a whole raft of pills shoved at you, probably including metformin (to start) and a statin. That's the traditional thing for them to do but it may be both harmful and unnecessary.
If your A1c is over 6.5% or fasting glucose is over 130 or any of your post-meal readings are over 200 you are in trouble as you are almost-certainly clinically diabetic now. This pretty-much meets the "bright line" test in the medical establishment to call you diabetic. If this is the case your chart and impact on health insurance is irrelevant if you change nothing as it is a virtual certainty you will if not are suffering real, material and serious damage to your health. You're probably symptomatic too but denying it. It is your call what to do with that information but before you run to the doctor for a formal diagnosis and permanent branding on your medical chart, assuming you haven't previously been diagnosed, read the rest of this article.
If you're of both of normal weight and your results are in the first category then relax -- and in a year, or if you become overweight, do it again just to keep tabs on things.
But let's assume you are either (1) overweight or (2) your results are in any of the bottom three categories irrespective of your weight.
Try the following for a short period of time (4 weeks):
1. Stop eating sugars of any sort. If it says "sugar", "fructose", "sucrose", "corn syrup", "hfcs" or anything of the sort anywhere on the label do not eat it. No more cookies, no more chocolate, no more sugar in the coffee, no sugared sodas, etc. Just stop. No exceptions, no tapering down, stop.
2. Stop eating starches and grains. No more pastas or potatoes of any sort. No more bread irrespective of the type.
3. Stop eating anything containing machine-processed vegetable oils. No more corn oil, canola, rapeseed, etc. No cooking with any of these oils and yes, that includes peanut oil; the only exception is olive oil as a salad dressing (e.g. with vinegar.) This crap is in a lot of "food" and no amount of it is healthy. This means no more packaged foods in the general sense; no more boxed dinners, canned ravioli, "lunch pouches or easy-prepare things" and similar (those probably break all three constraints!), nothing that comes in a bag (other than frozen vegetables), etc. This also means no fried food of any sort prepared away from home since essentially nowhere fries anything in either tallow or lard any more (but they should.) If you like wings find a place that bakes them and order them with the dry rub instead of the HFCS-laden sauce.
These three rules above are absolutes. You'll be tempted to cheat, but we're talking about a month here. Just don't; you can do it, and you know it.
Now on to what you do eat.
4. Do eat all the green vegetables, whole, not canned or packaged, you want. Find something or a bunch of somethings you like such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, lettuce and similar. Whole, fresh or frozen (e.g. in a bag) are fine; canned or otherwise processed are not. Substitute these any time you would otherwise eat any sort of snack and keep eating them until you're not hungry any more. It's not impossible and it won't hurt you; in fact, they're all good for you. It is close to impossible to overeat if you're consuming green vegetables.
5. Do eat full-fat protein. Pork, chicken (skin-on, not trimmed), steak, hamburger (no bun; that's grains), fish, eggs, cheese, etc. No restrictions on any of these foods, but eat when hungry until you're not, not until "full."
6. Use spices, including pepper, cumin, etc. as much as you wish. Hot sauces typically contain zero sugar and are perfectly fine even in wild amounts (yes, Tobasco is ok.) This is a taste-based thing, of course, but anyone who thinks you can't toss on the Lowrey's or pepper the hell out of your steak is flat-out wrong. Not only can you use salt unless you are one of a very small percentage of the population that has a genetic intolerance to sodium restricting salt intake is worse than worthless in that electrolyte imbalances lead to cramps (especially if you exercise) and can be dangerous.
7. Be careful with legumes and nuts. These are generally ok but nuts are very high in caloric content and it's easy to wind up eating 3,000 calories worth of them in a few minutes! So if you want a few as a snack, go ahead; just don't eat them as a meal rather than as a snack. But do not generalize this to nut-based oils (such as peanut oil) or anything processed from nuts because you are then concentrating the bad without the balance of the good (see above in point #3.)
8. If you normally consume alcoholic beverages keep it to one per day on average and not more than two on any day.
9. Drink any time you're thirsty; water is of course ok, if you like coffee go right ahead. Cream is ok (not non-dairy creamer, actual cream that has to be in the fridge) but sugar is not. If you want sweetener use any of the non-sugar ones (we're not going to be a nazi about these for this purpose.) Diet sodas may be ok, but if you can avoid them do so.
Do this for one full month.
Now repeat the above tests. Note that A1c typically measures average blood glucose levels over about a three month time frame, so the change there may not be dramatic and in addition the error rate on the test may obscure the results.
But remember the above table; if you drop a category or approach doing so you have hard proof that you required no medication whatsoever to improve your situation and these results are individual to you.
In other words you didn't read something on The Internet by some kook (like me), you didn't take blind advice from some doctor or nutritionist (irrespective of how many letters are after his name) you ran an individualized test with objective results on your particular genetic and metabolic make-up and have a set of numbers before you that document the outcome in your particular body.
If the results show no change (or get worse) then you've lost nothing other than a bit of time and a few dollars. Over this short of a period of time no harm is going to come to you; the harm that comes from bad metabolic markers in this regard requires years of accumulation before it "gets" you. But if the results are either dramatic or trend the right direction (and if you actually do the above it's a good bet they will) you now know that it is possible to change those objective metabolic markers through near zero-cost measures that are easily implemented in your daily life without spending one minute in a doctor's office or taking (and spending money on) one single pill.
Is that enough motivation to continue for another month or two and see if you can return your metabolic profile to the top, that is, "ok" category?
Further, you just prevented yourself from being "branded" in your medical chart and you didn't do it by cheating, you improved your actual metabolic profile.
That ought to be plenty of reason to continue on that path and make it a lifestyle, considering that the difference between said improvement to the top category and any of the others is a very material change in your risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation, dialysis and death! Further there's a very good chance that at the same time you're going to see a change on the scale if you're overweight, and I bet you'll like that change as well.
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Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.