Progress Report …

We are two weeks into the Low Carb diet. Gayle has been cooking up a storm. Some of the food is less than exciting but most is delicious. Some is quite exceptional given the inclusion of previously shunned fats.

We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to eat dead animals so have to be thoughtful about our protein, eggs and cheese are in after that it’s tofu and nuts. Ground linseeds help with the omega 3s. Vitamin B12 comes from a pill.

I was losing weight before starting the diet. Three kilograms in the three months since I bought the bike. Two more kilograms have gone in the past two weeks along with 2 inches off the belly. No cravings, hunger satisfied. Not a calorie has been counted. I’m drinking a lot and peeing a lot, sure signs of ketosis. My confidence is high.

It feels as though athletic performance has suffered a bit, perhaps more for Gayle than me. We have been able to keep up a pretty high volume (by our standards anyway) 343 km in the past 14 days. I skipped this week’s long ride in favour of a more modest distance. I think we are getting through that now as we start to burn fat as our energy source.

Every diet that I’ve tried has worked … for a while. The promise from this one is that it will go on working. We will see.

Low Carb High Fat …

Get ready to read a lot of packets and do a lot of home cooking.

What’s in?

Meat, seafood, eggs, full-fat dairy, above ground vegetables, nuts, avocados and in moderation dark chocolate, berries and dry wine.

What’s out?

The bottom layer of the food pyramid!

Starches (including bread), sweets, processed meats, low fat or sweetened dairy, high sugar fruits.

Orthodoxy would have it otherwise …

The acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR) are 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein. (healthline.com).

Ancel Keys is a goliath of the orthodoxy. His rather sketchy epidemiologic research into diet and heart disease pointed the finger at saturated fat as the cause. In 1977 a US Senate Committee issued the Dietary Goals for the United States which became the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The American Heart Association was on board but Philip Handler, President of the National Academy of Science had this to say,

What right has the federal government to propose that the American people conduct a vast nutritional experiment, with themselves as subjects, on the face of so little evidence?

Heart disease hasn’t gone away, obesity and type 2 diabetes have soared.

There is a great deal of inertia in that orthodoxy but it is slowly crumbling under the onslaught of evidence. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with getting your calories from fat. It satisfies hunger without sending insulin levels through the roof. For some of us it may be the best option, at least for a while.

The way to plan your meals is simple. First pick your protein source aiming for roughly 1.5 grams per kilogram of your reference weight (life tables previous post). Next add a couple of serves of above ground veggies. Finally some fat stuff like avacado or nuts.

So that could be a chunk of meat with the fat on and two veg. Sounds just like the meals my mother used to cook and there weren’t many fat kids around back then.

There are any number of resources online and a shelf-full of cook books at the shop. Look for keto or LCHF, checkout Low Carb Australia on Youtube.

It is powerful stuff and it will change your biochemistry. If you are on anti-hypertensives, anti-diabetic agents including insulin, pregnant or breast feeding medical supervision is needed.

 

Why Surrender …

Diabetes comes in several flavours. Diabetes mellitus is the sweet one – the problem is in the pancreas, diabetes insipidus is a less famous alternative that has it’s origin in the pituitary gland.

At university I learnt a very neat summary that I could regurgitate at exam time, “Diabetes mellitus is characterised by polydipsia, polyurea, ketosis, coma and death”.

Polydipsia, polyuria are excessive drinking and excessive peeing. They are the features that make the disease a diabetes which is a name that comes from the Greek meaning passing through or a siphon. Mellitus is from the Latin, why be consistent, meaning sweet. And yes, back in the day the doctor had to taste the urine to make the diagnosis, or at least his apprentice did.

Type 1 diabetes (mellitus) usually has its origin in childhood. It’s due to an autoimmune attack on the cells that make insulin in the pancreas. Death can be averted by regular injections of insulin, a treatment that was first used in 1922.

What I didn’t learn about at university was the work of Frederick Allen. He pioneered the treatment of diabetes with a low carbohydrate diet. The link that describes Allen’s work has this to say …

Allen’s diet was far from a cure. It essentially brought people with severe diabetes to the brink of starvation in order to control the disease.

The brink of starvation, really? Fat and protein are essential nutrients and are as calorie rich as carbohydrate. The body can make as much glucose as it needs from these sources by the process of gluconeogenesis. Nor is insulin a cure it’s a lifetime’s treatment. A lifetime in which even well controlled diabetics face complications like blindness, heart disease and severe vascular problems. Carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient although it would be almost impossible to dream up a diet that was entirely carbohydrate free. Our Frederick may have been on to something that the addition of lower doses of insulin could have made even better.

Now please don’t take anything that I’m saying here as individual advice. A low carb diet will bring down blood glucose and blood pressure. If you’re on antidiabetic agents or antihypertensives this could put you in more than a spot of bother. If you’re on medication and considering a low carb diet a discussion with your doctor is essential.

For adults with pre-diabetes or as yet on oral antidiabetic agents a vigorous fight back appeals to me far more than a surrender.

In the last post I mentioned the Diabetes Australia web site. If you search the site you can find their statement on low carb diets. For type 1 diabetes the verdict is unproven, more studies needed. For type 2 they have this to say …

In summary, this research indicates that lower carb diets are more effective at reducing blood glucose levels in the short term (three to six months) than higher carb diets and appear to be at least as effective as higher carb diets for long term blood glucose management (12-24 months) and weight loss.

So why are they steering people away from it?