Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Advice Goddess: Low Carber

So what does a low carb woman eat?  And what does she look like? Check out this blog post from Amy Alkon, the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society  and the writer of The Advice Goddess blog. Scroll to the bottom to see what she ate the day she wrote this column, and to see the photo taken of her on Memorial Day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekly Update

I lost 0.6 pounds this week, for a cumulative total of 35.8 pounds.  Follow my progress with this chart. While that is not a great deal of weight, I have been weighing around the same weight for about a week now, which means I am due for another whoosh experience, where I will drop three to four pounds over night.  Except for the first two weeks, my monthly totals have been quite consistent, around eight pounds per month.  Just about what I expect to lose long term.

More importantly, other indicators are also positive.  I have notched up my belt another notch and I continue to have lots of energy.  I am sleeping better, my blood pressure is down, my blood glucose levels are still falling, and I am not hungry while following a low carb diet. All thanks to the low carb lifestyle I have discovered.

Dairy Consumption Does Not Elevate Heart Attack Risk

According to a recent study, dairy consumption does not elevate heart attack risk, even after controlling for high and low consumption and several other factors.  The authors still fear saturated fat but suggest there are "protective" elements present in dairy products that prevent heart disease.  (They should read the first 100 or so pages of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories for a thorough debunking of the saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease myth).

I've mentioned before that for good health, one should consume butter and cream (and feed it to your children).  It is very nourishing.

Low Carb Diets and High Blood Pressure

Apparently, one in five adults between the ages of 24 and 32 have high blood pressure, due to expanding waist lines.  This is a problem, because most young adults don't see a physician regularly and are probably not aware they have high blood pressure.The article suggests cutting salt as a way to reduce blood pressure, but we also know that the fear of salt is almost as overblown as the fear of fat so that is a pretty useless suggestion.

If you want to lower your blood pressure, why not try a low carb diet?  My high blood pressure normalized within two weeks of starting my low carb lifestyle, and empirical research shows low carb diets are very effective at lowering blood pressure (here is the actual journal article).  You will have dramatically lower blood pressure results a lot more quickly than cutting your salt intake.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Research Update

Want to increase your odds of getting Alzheimer's disease?  Then eat a high carb diet. Of course, as I have mentioned before, Alzheimer's disease is sometimes called type III diabetes, and the best way to deal with diabetes is a low carb diet, combined with exercise, drugs, and insulin, where necessary. Thus, it makes sense that a low carb diet will help to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

This article follows 13 to 15 year old girls who exercise, and concludes that exercise increases causes these girls to work up an appetite and to eat more. As we have mentioned before, there are many good reasons to exercise, but exercising in an effort to lose weight is not one of them because people work up an appetite and eat more.  In fact, just thinking about exercise causes people to eat more.

Hat tip: Michael R. Eades' twitter page.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Considering a Low Carb Diet? What Not to Do

I think there are some new readers of this blog who may be considering a low carb diet, so I wanted to post a caution about following the diet.

First off, you really need to be committed to it.  About the worst thing you could do is add a lot of fat to an already high carb diet. It won't work if you don't also cut carbs.  According to the Weight Loss Sweet Spot, you need to be consuming 100 or fewer carbs per day to lose weight, and really, to get into the fat-burning ketosis, you need to be below 50 carbs per day.  I would recommend fewer than 30 carbs, at least for a month or two, to see some dramatic results. If you consume 150 or fewer carbs per day, you can enjoy almost effortless weight maintenance.

Second, cheating is immediately punished in a rather shocking way.  If you cut out the carbs, you lose water weight quickly at first, perhaps 6 to 12 pounds in a week.  But if you cheat for a day and binge on carbs, it can all come back quickly, too.  But it is just water. Remember that if you binge on carbs one day and gain 10 pounds the next day. Your initial weight loss is water (the fat will come off later) and if you cheat, your weight gain is all just water, too. Get up, dust yourself off, and get back into the saddle and try again.

Third, do NOT try a low-fat, high protein version of the low carb diet (like the old Weight Watchers Core program). If you truly cut out your carbs, but eat a lot of lean protein (like skinless chicken breasts) and very little fat, you may actually get sick. If you are going to try a low carb diet, you must get over your lipophobia (fear of fat) and eat animal fats. They will not clog your arteries and they won't cause a heart attack. For a very detailed explanation of this, read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Warning: this is a dense book, but it outlines the history of the saturated-fats-cause-heart-disease hypothesis, including a very thorough debunking of this hypothesis. Or just watch this video instead, which essentially says the same thing Taubes said, but without dozens of pages of scientific citations.

Fourth, realize this is a lifestyle, not a diet you can step off once you get to your weight loss goal and then resume eating like you used to eat. If you do that, you will just gain back all the weight you lost.

Finally, if you do a low carb diet, and cut out most of the carbs you have been eating, you will experience carb withdrawals to one degree or another. But this is temporary, and the healthy aspects of the low carb lifestyle will quickly outweigh the withdrawal symptoms. Michael R. Eades, M.D. has a two part series on starting (or restarting) a low carb diet, including tips for getting over carb withdrawal.  Part I is here, part II is forthcoming.

Now for the good news: you will not be hungry, you will lose weight safely, you will have more energy, your lipid profile will improve, and you will be very healthy. Here are some very useful suggestions for following a low carb diet.


I feel very nourished today.  Eggs and Irish bacon for breakfast, hardboiled eggs, ham, and cheese for lunch, then dinner.

We ate at an Irish steakhouse in Dublin and had grass fed steaks.  All the beef in Ireland is grass fed, according to the server at the steakhouse, as they don't grow corn in Ireland.  We had duck liver pate for a starter, then an Irish rib eye with whatever sauce we wanted. I chose garlic butter, and had a salad and a side of butter coated green beans and snow peas. It was so good that we decided to go back for dinner tomorrow night.  I love eating in Europe.  Both Belgium and Ireland are very friendly to low carbers.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eating While Traveling

Eating while traveling is a challenge.  We left the apartment at 5:30 a.m. to catch a flight from Brussels to Dublin.There is a grocery store in the Brussels airport and I bought some full fat, unflavored yogurt plus some cheese.  I also had a few almonds.  Lunch was at Burger King, where I bought a double bacon cheeseburger, but only ate the meat, cheese, and bacon, but not the bun.  Nasty, but I was hungry.  I had a few more almonds, then a beef stick I brought along.  Finally for dinner, at an Irish restaurant, I had a bowl of vegetable soup, a salad, a steak with pepper sauce, and a cheese platter for "dessert."

Tomorrow for breakfast, I am hoping for a traditional Irish breakfast of thick bacon and eggs.  We will also go to a store to get something for lunch before we get on the bus and continue the tour with the students.  Hopefully, I can find a salad or a piece of roasted chicken somewhere.  If not, it will be those beef sticks again for lunch.  Dinner will be in another restaurant, but thankfully, Irish beef is some of the best in the world and I can always eat another steak.

This convinces me that the best way to live low carb is to cook at home and eat in, like we do when we are in Antwerp or when we are back home in the states.  While eating out is much easier in Europe for a low carber, it is still not optimal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Low Carb and Infertility

Infertility is a growing problem in the U.S.  At least one doctor is treating infertility by putting both the father and the mother on a very low carb diet (less than 20 grams of carbs per day; VLCD).  He claims now to have a 90% success rate in getting couples to achieve a pregnancy.

The basic problem is insulin elevation in the woman.  When insulin levels are high, the ability to get pregnant is sometimes compromised.  As mentioned often in this blog, the VLCD helps to reduce insulin levels, and these reduced insulin levels lead to greater fertility.  Listen to this interview with Dr. Michael Fox of the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine, as he talks about how the VLCD helps increase fertility.  He discusses why a high carb diet is bad, as well as other beneficial side benefits to both the mother and father, including less nausea, less weight gain during pregnancy, lowered blood pressure, and better lipid profiles.

I continue to be amazed at the problems elevated blood sugar and insulin levels create, and the very simple solutions for many of these problems (lowering blood sugars) by following a low carb diet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Defense of Bacon

I just read a great article called "Bacon: Health Food or Devil in Delicious Disguise?"  The article essentially defends bacon from the fear mongers who try to tell us that eating bacon will kill us. The notion that bacon will kill us is just another load of CWOPO. A must read for anyone interested in their health.

Health Update

The good health news just keeps rolling in.

Diabetes: My blood sugars are mostly normal, except for high morning readings. Low carb diets actually tend to raise morning readings, so I am not too concerned about it. I am still taking Metformin, but after I lose another 40 or so pounds, I will start to wean myself off of that drug as well.

High Blood Pressure: My blood pressure is normal now, and has been for quite a while.

Sleeping:  My sleep habits have greatly improved, as I mentioned in a recent post.

Fasting: Fasting is a joy, and I am often on the road, which means I sometimes have to miss a meal.  No problem on a low carb diet.  This has greatly added to my spiritual life and I feel great when I fast.

General Health:  I have a lot more energy during the day.  I am not as tired as I used to be and I feel great. My patriarchal blessing promised me I would live to an old age, but I thought I short circuited that blessing by getting diabetes.  Now I feel so good I will probably outlive my wife and live to see the promise given in my blessing.

Thank you, Gary Taubes, for introducing me to the low carb lifestyle.

Eating Out in Belgium

Eating out in Belgium is so simple.  The food is real food, the kind that is not processed and does not come in a box.  The food is prepared from scratch and for the most part, it is very easy for a low carber to eat.  I have been to a soup restaurant, a rib restaurant, a fine dining restaurant, and a local restaurant, and all of the cuisine is light years ahead of what I could find in America.  They use real butter and cream, the eggs are mostly free range, and the fresh fruits and vegetables are simply divine.  They cook real food, and it is delicious.

Monday, May 23, 2011

For the Science Behind Low Carb Lifestyles

If you are in to the science behind the low carb lifestyle, there are some great blogs out there.  They are dense, and it helps a lot to understand multivariate statistics.  I wouldn't recommend these links for the casual reader, but if science is your thing, read on.
  • HyperLipid--If you want to know about dietary fat, this is the site for you.  Written by Petro "Peter" Dombromylskyj, a veterinarian and deep thinker about all things fat related.
  • Whole Health Source--The science behind the primal or paleo movement.  Written by Stephen Guyenet, a Ph.D. in neurobiology.
  • Perfect Health Diet--The science behind what the authors believe to be the perfect diet for health.  Written by Paul Jaminet, a Ph.D. in astrophysics and his wife, Shou Ching-Shih Jaminet, a Ph.D. in molecular biology.  They discovered the low carb lifestyle in 2005 and have been studying it ever since. Plus, great recipes.
  • Cholesterol and Health--The science behind the cholesterol debate.  Written by Chris Masterjohn, a Ph.D. candidate in nutrition at the University of Connecticut.  His blog is linked to this site.
There are others, but in my opinion, these are the heavy weights.  Again, not for everyone, but if you like the scientific discussion behind nutrition, you will love these blogs.

Weekly Update

After an unexpected gain last week (that may be entirely due to using a different set of scales), I dropped 3.8 pounds this week.  It was another WHOOSH experience: I stayed the same weight for six or seven days, then whoosh, overnight I drop most of the weight.  It amazes me how this happens, but it does.

I am down 35.2 pounds since February 14, for a weekly average loss of 2.51 pounds. Follow my weight loss journey by viewing this chart.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Low Carb Diets and Sleep Disorders

My wife has commented that I am sleeping much better since starting my low carb lifestyle.  I sleep deeper and do not wake up as often during the night to use the bathroom.  My insomnia has stopped and I am able to fall asleep easier.  So I decided to dig into the research and see if there was any relationship between low carbing and sleeping.  This is what I found.

Apparently, both sleep restriction and sleep apnea are associated with insulin resistance.  Who knew?  Read the linked article, but it is a function of bodily hormones such as cortisol and leptin.  Especially for sleep apnea, there are many possible cures, including a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) mask and machine for sleeping, surgery, and other oral appliances.  Or, you could try following a low carb diet.  Sleep disorders have been associated with high blood pressure and, as mentioned above, insulin resistance.  A low carb diet has a dramatic effect on lowering both blood pressure and insulin resistance (making you more insulin sensitive).  Of course, if you are on high blood pressure medication and drugs/insulin for type I or II diabetes, you will have to work with a physician to get your medication adjusted if you follow a low carb diet.

A high carb diet leads to insulin resistance, and so do sleep disorders.  Both of these conditions are common with people who are overweight.  And a low carb diet can apparently solve both problems in many people.  Listen to this podcast with Terry Brown, M.D., a specialist in treating sleep disorders with low carb diets for more information (it is about 45 minutes long).

Consume Butter and Cream

I weigh myself every day, even if I only report it on this blog once a week.  I have been trying an experiment recently, where I am consciously adding more fat to my diet and eating less protein.  I am striving for 75% fat, 15-20% protein, and the rest in carbs (5-10% for those of you bad at math).  In particular, I make sure I eat two or three eggs per day, use butter for cooking and seasoning, eat fatty cuts of meat (bacon!), and eat more cream (in sauces or whipped up and eaten with berries).  The weight keeps coming off.  Even though I do not make any attempt to count calories and eat until I am full (but I don't overeat), the weight keeps coming off.  So far this week, I have dropped 3.6 pounds.  Of course, I avoid most carbs except for green vegetables plus I am active (we walk a lot in Europe), and both of those activities contribute to the weight loss success.  But the butter and cream are great sources of fuel and help me to feel full. A recent study demonstrated that children who eat saturated fat and full cream dairy products were healthier than those who did not.

And I won't be dying from a heart attack any time soon.  Remember: saturated fats do not cause heart disease.  The fat in mothers' milk is 60% saturated and our brains are 60% fat.  If saturated fats are so bad, why is so much of it in mothers' milk?  We are designed to consume saturated fats (by evolution or our creator, whatever your belief system).  We've been around for a long time, and it's only in the past few decades that Americans in particular have become hung up on the concept of saturated fat.  And as our rates of saturated fat consumption have plunged (see table 1 in this linked document), cardiovascular disease has increased. Something does not compute.

So go ahead, eat butter and cream if you are following a low carb diet.  Don't gorge on it, and stop when you are full.  But eat butter and cream.  Put butter on your veggies, cook your meat in butter, make delicious sauces using cream for your meats, eat cream with your berries, add cream to your scrambled eggs, etc. and you will be healthier and lose weight.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Since discovering the low carb way of living, I have been reading a number of new and different books, which have expanded my horizon.  I am about half way through a very interesting book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  It is by a Cleveland are dentist who, in the 1930's, decided to see what habits led to healthy teeth and overall health.

He visited isolated populations around the globe, including isolated villages in the tops of the Swiss Alps, Eskimos, African tribes, Melanesians, Maori, Peruvian Indians, etc.  His investigations happened at a very interesting time, right at the intersection between traditional and modern ways of eating, and what he discovered was truly amazing.  Those who followed traditional eating habits were healthy, vibrant, and had a full set of teeth without much evidence of tooth decay.  Those who followed a modern diet of, among other things, refined white flour and sugar, were much less healthy and had a lot of dental problems.  I am now in the part of the book where he is distilling what he learned over a decade of such travels.

The next time you are in Barnes and Noble, pick up a copy of this book and simply look at the photographs.  You will be astounded at the differences in dental hygiene between those who at the traditional diet and those who ate the modern diet.  An image is truly worth a thousand words and I was stunned by the difference one single generation made in the health of these peoples.  He also has a lot of photos of skulls of ancient peoples who lived before modern times, and their teeth and jaws are perfect, with little to no decay or deformities.

One thing that has bothered me about this book is that it was written in a time period when eugenics was practiced and believed.  Phrases like, "Is it just for society to permit production of physical and mental cripples?" (p. 8) almost made me abandon the book before I got started.  For a brief historical overview of the eugenics movement, read this essay by novelist Michael Crichton.  But if you can get past the eugenics and elitist comments that are a product of the time period in which it was written, it is an excellent book.  I am glad I did not abandon the book, as it has been extremely interesting.

I have discovered there is a Weston A. Price Foundation dedicated to the nutritional philosophies discovered in this remarkable book.  While not completely low carb, it is certainly a very healthy way of eating.  I will report more on this remarkable book when I have finished it.

Mummies Revisited

I just read a great article in Scientific American about the mummies with heart disease controversy.  I linked to a story by a journalist, who was quick to blame meat for the heart disease.  I forgot that the original researchers were also astounded that Egyptians who ate a "healthy" diet of grains, vegetables, and very little meat, developed heart disease.

This Scientific American article takes those "surprised" researchers to task and does a very credible job, citing actual evidence, explaining why these mummies had heart disease.

Hat tip: Dr. Michael Eades' tweet on May 20, 2011, that pointed me to the article.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Conventional Wisdom or Prevailing Opinion (CWOPO) has really let me down in recent months.  I have learned that salt restriction may actually be dangerous, contrary to what we have always been told.  The idea that cholesterol causes heart disease has been debunked for years now, but the USDA still issues food guidelines that assume it is true.

Soy is supposed to be the new health super food (and it's in everything we eat that is processed--just read the labels).  Yet I am discovering that soy is a very dangerous food, and that giving soy formula to infants is like giving them birth control pills.

We are told to do cardiovascular exercise, and then learn that it may actually cause heart disease.

My daughter has educated me about natural child birth and the benefits of using a nurse midwife (see the movie, The Business of Being Born on Netflix or Amazon Prime).  Naturally, this movie upset the AMA.

We are told to have regular physical exams, then we are told that annual physicals don't do much for us.

The American Diabetes Association approved diet is heavy on carbs, yet these same carbs are causing blood sugar spikes.  Don't these so-called professionals know this?  Dr. Bernstein takes the ADA to task for its 2008 guidelines that are problematic for diabetics.

Last year, I had a scare with rheumatoid arthritis (fortunately for me, it was merely reactive arthritis), and all the conventional treatments are pretty scary, not to mention expensive.  Yet there is a simple, safe, inexpensive, medically proven alternative to the other expensive and dangerous rheumatoid arthritis treatments.  And this treatment is shunned by rheumatologists and the medical establishment.

I am now starting to question a lot of what I have been told to do by medical authorities.  CWOPO is often seriously flawed and out of date, in my opinion.  I have discovered that evidence based medicine is not usually practiced, though it should be.  CWOPO is what is practiced, and it is very hard to change, despite empirical evidence to the contrary.

I am learning that if it is my health problem, I must take ownership of the problem and do the research about what to do.  This is what I have done with the type II diabetes, what I did when I thought I had rheumatoid arthritis, and what I have done with my weight loss strategy.  I will not merely passively accept what an M.D. tells me in the future.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Egyptian Mummies with Heart Disease

Apparently, there are some Egyptian mummies out there with heart disease.  So how did they get heart disease?  According to the "journalists" who wrote the above news story, from eating too much saturated fat and meat.  What idiots!  The Nile River valley and delta is one of the earliest sites for agriculture and a lot of agricultural products were grown and eaten there, plus a fair amount of fish.  The early Egyptian diet is well known, complete with pictures depicting fat Egyptians.  The agricultural products they grew in this lush delta region provided most of what they ate.  To blame the heart disease on meat and fat is to be seriously uninformed about agricultural and Egyptian history.

For the record, saturated fat and cholesterol does not cause heart disease.  In the past few years, numerous scientific studies in prominent medical and scientific journals have thoroughly debunked the cholesterol-in-saturated-fats-causes-heart-disease myth, as have several books.  Want heart disease?  Eat more carbohydrates and become diabetic.  Or smoke cigarettes.  Or lower your cholesterol level too far (in this study, the lowest rates of cholesterol were associated with the highest number of deaths from heart disease).  But stop blaming it on meat and saturated fats.

Why Do a Low Carb Diet?

Low carb diets are a great way to lose weight, but they are even better for type II diabetics.  I ran a cross a very interesting, if somewhat technical, post on why one should do a low carb diet.  If you are in to the scientific explanation and justification of low carb diets, you will find this post very interesting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Week Free of Diet Soda

Today marks one full week since the last time I had a diet soda.  I had a single can of Sprite Zero on the plane over to Europe last Wednesday, and nothing since then.  Baby steps, but a milestone for me nonetheless.  I gave up caffeinated diet soda in March, 2010, after realizing I was addicted to the stuff, and went through about 10 days of caffeine withdrawal (including some very serious headaches).  Since there are not many caffeine free diet drinks in Europe, and since I will be here for about seven weeks, I decided to use this opportunity to just give up on diet drinks altogether.

This means I am basically drinking water now, with nothing added except, perhaps, a slice of lemon.  Since I also don't drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, this makes water the only reasonable choice.

I am still eating a small amount of artificial sweeteners in the whipped cream I make, but I may give that up as well.  The whipped cream is really tasty without the added sweetness.

So, does this mean eating is boring?  Absolutely not.  I have discovered that making sauces is a great way to spice up most meat dishes, and adding butter, cheese, or bacon to vegetables is a great flavor enhancer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Update

I don't really know how much I lost this week.  We are now in Europe with a student group and I am using a different set of scales.  Both my wife and I have noticed it weighs us two pounds heavier than the set in the states, even though it is the same make and model.  So, according to the scales I am using over here, I have gained 0.4 pounds.  But if we subtracted 2 pounds from that, that would make a 1.6 pound loss...

So I guess we go with the new scales.  If it really is two pounds heavier than the usual scales, I will recoup that loss when I return.  You can follow my weight loss progress on this chart.  Whatever the result, I have noticed that on a low carb diet, I tend to stay the same weight most of the time, then whoosh, I drop several pounds from one day to the next.  Oh, well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eating Real Food

I love Europe, they eat real food over here.  The kind of food that is fresh, or comes in a package with one ingredient (e.g., cream, butter, meat, cheese, vegetables, etc.).  The eggs are free range eggs (not produced in a cage) and the meat for the most part comes from grass fed animals.  Much of the cheese is made with unpasteurized whole milk, and you can buy fresh, whole, unpasteurized milk right in the supermarket.  It also helps that we are staying in an apartment and are able to cook in.

Tonight for dinner, we ate pork cutlets in a cream sauce, a large Jerusalem artichoke with Dijon mustard (me) or a cream and cheese sauce (my wife; made with cream, cheese, salt, and pepper), red cabbage with bacon (cooked in bacon grease), and fresh, seasonal Belgian strawberries in whipped cream.  I am sure the French would be horrified that I made the cheese sauce and the cream sauce for the cutlets with whipping cream, instead of cooking cream.  Yes, they sell many types of cream, depending on how it will be used.  But it was good, nonetheless.

The only real downside is that all of the above mentioned food items cost quite a bit more than in the U.S.  But, quoting Captain Kirk from Star Trek III, "As they say on earth, c'est la vie."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Low Carbing in Belgium

It's been a good day today.  We started it off by going to the local Saturday market to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese.  We bought some tasty asparagus, fresh mushrooms, several types of French and Dutch cheese, raspberries, and strawberries, which are in season.  For dinner tonight, we had "lamburger" patties (made of lamb), mushrooms cooked in butter, and the asparagus (with butter).  Hint:  if you want your kids to eat vegetables, season them with bacon and butter.  That will do the trick.  For dessert, raspberries and whipped cream.   Who says one has to suffer on a diet?  It still amazes me that I can eat like this and lose an average of 2.6 pounds per week.  Besides, for me this is not a diet, but a change of lifestyle.

We've been stocking up the refrigerator: we bought hamburger, pork cutlets, various sausages, lamb, eggs, bacon, etc. Last night, we had fresh salmon for dinner.  Cooked in butter, of course. Eating low carb in Belgium is much easier than in the U.S. They eat real food over here.

I only ate two meals today, breakfast and dinner, but snacked on a bit of cheese and a beef stick.  I didn't even think about lunch until 3:30 p.m., when I realized I hadn't eaten.  We have been busy today running a lot of errands and getting ready for the students' arrival on Monday.  It's amazing to me that I can eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and not even think about food until 3:30 p.m.  Fat and protein really fill me up and take away those always intrusive thoughts of food.  I am loving life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Google's Been Down

So, blogspot.com has been down, and it took my last two blog posts with it.  Sigh.  No use recreating them, I guess I will just have to try some more fantastic Belgian cuisine, such as the asparagus with butter and eggs that was the subject of one of the posts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekly Update

Another week, another weight loss.  I am down 1.8 pounds this week, for a total of 31.8 pounds in 12 weeks, or an average of 2.65 pounds per week.  My blood sugar levels are near normal (my fasting blood sugar this morning was 100!) and my blood pressure is in the normal range as well.  I am still amazed at the health benefits of following a low carb diet.  You can follow my weight loss progress by referring to this chart.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tofu Damages Middle Aged Brains

So, tofu consumption is associated with cognitive impairment and brain atrophy in middle aged persons.  Better to go low carb and avoid all the health problems of a vegetarian diet.

"Bad" Cholesterol is Not So Bad

One problem with a low carb diet is that it can cause your LDL (or "bad") cholesterol to rise.  As I have explained before, this is not necessarily bad, as long as the LDL particles are large and fluffy, not small and dense.

Now a recent research study suggests that the "bad" cholesterol is not as bad as previously thought.  In this study, people who exercised and gained muscle mass had the highest LDL levels, a surprising finding.  I enjoyed reading how the researchers had to spin the findings, since exercise and gaining muscle mass is generally considered a good thing.  More ammunition that the "bad" cholesterol is not always bad.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Salt Intake and Cardiovascular Health

Everything I thought I knew about nutrition and health is being turned on its head.  Now two recent studies conclude that lowering salt intake is a risk factor in cardiovascular disease.  Haven't we been told to limit our intake of salt?

The first study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that lower salt intake was associated with higher cardiovascular disease mortality.

The second study concluded that a low salt diet increased insulin resistance in healthy subjects.  Insulin resistance is a risk factor for developing type II diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Indirect Vegetarian

I guess you could accurately state that I am an "indirect vegetarian."  That is, the cow eats the grass, and I eat the cow.

Why We Get Fat

For those of you out there who don't want to read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, Michael R. Eades, M.D. has written a very good review of the book, in which he spells out the main points in Gary's book.  The review is much shorter than the book, but it should whet your palate to go and read the book.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Vegetarian Myth

I just finished a great book called The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.  Keith is a former vegan (for over twenty years) who has converted to a meat based diet for various reasons.  She talks about how veganism led to the destruction of her health and takes on moral, political, and nutritional vegans and vegetarians.  I don't usually read books by radical feminists, but so many people had recommended the book that I decided to read it.  Other people have done excellent reviews of the book, so I will comment only briefly.

Refuting Moral Vegetarians.  She points out that all eating, including veganism, causes death.  To grow the grains vegans love so much to eat, they have to strip the land of living trees, wage chemical warfare against the weeds (which kills a lot of the bacteria in the soil), then kill the small mammals that live in the fields at harvesting (estimated at more than 300 mice, moles, rabbits, etc. per acre).  She calls this "biotic cleansing," not a pretty term.  Plus people eat the grains (seeds), cutting off the genetic future of everything they eat.

Refuting Political Vegetarians.  Political vegetarians make the specious claim that raising a pound of beef takes sixteen pounds of grain, which could go to feeding hungry peoples around the world.  Keith points out that grains are not the solution to sustainability, and they cause misery and death through obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  She makes an argument that agriculture is killing the planet and that political vegetarians are well-meaning, but wrong.  She also points out that grass fed beef uses no grains at all, is sustainable, treats animals well, and actually builds topsoil, instead of depleting it like agriculture does.

Refuting Nutritional Vegetarians.  This was my favorite part of the book.  She looked at all the diseases she and others have suffered as a result of the vegan lifestyle and does an excellent job of showing where dense nutrients come from: fat and meat.  She blows apart a lot of idiotic vegetarian claims, such as the claim that humans were not built for eating meat (we are very clearly omnivores).  She carefully details the diseases vegans have, and that their children are much more prone to some really nasty problems.  It was quite sad to read about what veganism did to her body, some of which is irreversible.

This book is for anyone contemplating a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, especially young women (teens and early twenties), who are the primary targets of vegan/vegetarian recruitment.  If you are in this age group and considering a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, please read this book.  It may just save your life.

The worst thing about this book: it's loaded with radical feminist and left-leaning politics.  I just skipped over those parts.  But the parts about why vegetarianism is wrongheaded are very good.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cholesterol and Heart Disease

I just watched Dr. Malcolm Kendrick debunk the cholesterol/heart disease myth in one minute and 17 seconds.

Tonsillectomies and Obesity

Gary Taubes has taken on conventional wisdom by challenging the "calories in, calories out" paradigm (read all about it in his book, Why We Get Fat).  His contention, basically, boils down to this: other factors, such as insulin, affect weight loss.  He has taken a lot of grief for his position, but consider a new piece of evidence:

One research study now considers that tonsillectomies might be an obesity risk factor.  In this review study, 1,549 children who had a tonsillectomy were followed for up to seven years.  They were weighed pre- and post-surgery and thereafter for the duration of the study, and were compared to a control group.  The children with tonsillectomies were significantly heavier than the control group and "the gain in height was not commensurate with the gain in weight."  The authors conclude that the tonsillectomy may be an obesity risk factor.

How does a tonsillectomy lead to obesity?  The authors don't say, but they did notice the weight gain.  This may be one of these "other" factors that contribute to obesity, not merely "calories in, calories out."

Along the same lines, another author, Michael R. Eades, M.D., suggests that the "quality" of calories, not just the quantity, counts.  He described two very different studies of people on a 1,500 calorie diet.  In one study, the subjects had to be locked up to prevent them from eating additional calories.  In the other, the subjects ate as much as they wanted, until they were full.  There are some astonishing differences between the two studies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Processed American "Cheese"

Gross: look at the ingredients for processed American cheese:  water, transfats, cornstarch. Contains: milk.  My wife has long maintained that such cheese is not food, and I agree with her.  Fortunately for me, she never buys any.  Just real cheese.

Research Update

Three interesting articles I found on the web.

This article compares a high protein diet with a high carb, high fiber diet and concludes the high protein diet was significantly better in helping women lose fat and lower blood pressure than the high carb, high fiber diet.  Note that the "high protein diet" was a low fat diet and relatively high in carbs:  30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat.  The high carb diet was 50% carbs (with more than 35 grams of dietary fiber), 20% protein and 30% fat.  So it was not really a "low carb" versus a high carb diet.  Still, it is interesting to note that despite all of the pro fiber voices out there, a diet lower in fiber and higher in protein still beat the high carb, high fiber diet.  I used to eat a lot of legumes (black, red, kidney, Great Northern, or garbanzo beans), because they were high in fiber.  But I have since learned that they are also very high in carbs (35 to 121 grams of carbs per one cup serving depending on the type of legume).  So the results of this study are not surprising.

Another article that is not really related to low carb diets suggests that extra weight at middle age leads to a greater likelihood of dementia when you are older.

Finally, a growing body of research confirms that the artificial sweetener Stevia can be used with confidence.  It has been in use in Europe for a while now.  Stevia is a naturally occurring sweetener found in herbs grown in Paraguay and Brazil.   Stevia is sold in the U.S. under the brand names Truvia and PureVia.

Monday, May 2, 2011

10% Goal Reached

I dropped 3.4 pounds this past week, bringing my total weight loss to 30 pounds in 11 weeks, for an average of 2.73 pounds per week.  Follow my weight loss progress online with this chart.

This weight loss also marks a fairly significant milestone for me.  As of today, I have dropped 10% of my body weight.  When I was following Weight Watchers, that was a big deal.  And it is a milestone, a road mark on my way to better health.  But the health benefits WW claimed would be mine by losing 10% of my body fat started appearing long ago, almost immediately after starting the low carb regime.  My blood sugars stabilized after only three or four days and have been rapidly declining since.  I got off of injectable insulin after only a couple of weeks and my blood pressure went down quite rapidly as well.  Better yet, my energy level has increased, constant hunger has disappeared, and I have been sleeping much better.  So while dropping 10% is significant, the health benefits of following a low carb diet happened almost immediately.

I am very grateful that Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com linked to an article about weight loss by Gary Taubes, which led me to pick up his book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.  That book has very literally saved my life.