Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #90: The “Easy as 1-2-3 (and ½) Diet”

My wife says, “Most people aren’t like you.” What she means is, “She can’t do Very Low Carb like me ‘cause she can’t give up… (fill in the blank): a) bread, b) fruit, c) ice cream at bedtime – the list is endless. That’s okay. I understand that when people say “I can’t,” they mean “I won’t.” I understand this is a choice they are free to make.  If they refuse to take charge of their own health – when it becomes clear that their doctors are clueless about how to deal effectively with obesity and its co-morbidities – then they will progress to, and “get,” what lies ahead for them. Do I sound frustrated?  

If you are one of those who “can’t,” then this new diet – that I have just created (with my tongue plugged firmly in my cheek), is NOT for you. But if you have an adventurous spirit, it is a diet that you might want to consider for a day or two or even longer. I did the 1-2-3 part a while ago and it worked brilliantly. I lost 7 pounds in 2 days and 9 pounds in 3. I then stopped NOT because I was hungry but because I had achieved my goal, which was to turn around a trend of weight gain. I stopped the gain “cold” and dropped to my target weight for that week.

In other words, it worked for me in the way I had hoped. It might do the same for you if you are already ketoadapted, as I was. For the uninitiated, that means I had no glycogen stores in my liver to provide a steady supply of glucose to the bloodstream for a few days. I was already in a ketogenic state, and my body was adapted to burning ketones as my primary source of energy. If you’re not “there,” you will probably have a different experience. YOU might get hungry.

Anyway, the “Easy as 1-2-3” part of my diet is to eat a breakfast of 1 cup of coffee with 1 ounce of heavy cream and 1 packet of your choice of artificial sweetener (my choice is Splenda or Truvia); then you eat 2 strips of bacon and 3 fried eggs (for the choline). That’s breakfast: 38 fat grams, 26 protein grams, 3 carbohydrate grams, and 465 kcals total.

Then you skip lunch and you skip dinner. The next morning, repeat: the 1-2-3 breakfast, then no lunch and no dinner.

As I said, I did my 1-2-3 breakfast for just 2 days, but I can imagine (here’s the adventure part) doing it longer – maybe even a week. I reached a point almost a year ago where my body is in balance, that is, where it is in homeostasis while I am eating a VERY carb restricted diet: Under 900kcal/day when I eat two meals a day and 1200kcal when I eat three. My body is telling me that it is getting everything it needs from my body’s energy stores and from the food I eat and the supplements I take. It is the first time I have been at this point, and I am not sure how I got here. I read a lot, experiment a lot, listen to my body, and it seems to be telling me now that everything is copasetic. It is satisfied. I AM NOT HUNGRY.

I do not mean to imply that I am in a static condition. I am actively losing weight – about 2 pounds a week, exactly according to plan. I managed to do that through the holidays last year, and later while on vacation for a week, eating out and drinking every night. So, there have been challenges, but they have been easy to meet. I HAVE NOT BEEN HUNGRY.

What’s with the “and ½” part of the diet? That’s where I unplug my tongue from one side of my cheek and plug it into the other side. I just read the new edition of “Perfect Health Diet” by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. The PHD is a very good read for people in the Paleo and Primal movement and for people with imperfect health who want to regain their health through diet. I agree with their overarching philosophy and approach to health through diet…but, they are really clueless with respect to Type 2 diabetes. Safe starches don’t work for Type 2s. Frankly, I am embarrassed for them in this respect but otherwise wholeheartedly endorse their ideas for everyone except Type 2s.  T2’s need to eat to their meter.

As for the “and ½” part, on page 365 of the 2012 edition, in the section on “How to Raise HDL Levels,” the Jaminets say “a half bottle of wine per day raises HDL levels by 17 percent.” That’s a good thing. Check out their footnote (18) on-line. Of course, if you elect to follow the “1/2” part of my new diet, I think you should opt for the two-meal-a-day version and eat a small dinner of a fatty meat or fish and a non-starchy vegetable smothered in butter or roasted in olive oil.

 I have been doing Very Low Carb on and off for more than 10 years and I have come to a place where I am very comfortable and happy with the way I feel and with my health. My mood (and my prospects!) are much better today than 10 years ago (at 71, I’m no “spring chicken”).  I’m interested in living a lot longer and keeping “all my marbles.” So I have taken a keen interest in my own healthcare. I still need to lose weight (my BMI is still about 34). So, given that I feel so healthy, and I DO NOT GET HUNGRY AT ALL, EVER, ANYMORE, I have two easy choices: 1) Eat according to the “Easy as 1-2-3 Diet” for a day or two, or longer, or on alternate days, or some such random mix, or 2) eat according to the two-meal-a-day plan (“plus ½”), as we did on our recent 1-week vacation. I didn’t lose much weight, but I had more fun.

It’s nice to have choices, especially when they are easy. And they are easy if you don’t feel there are forces beyond your control driving you to seek out and eat food. Being hungry is a powerful hormonal drive to seek out food and then to eat it.  I also know now that I don’t have to convince my wife that “most people aren’t like (me).” It’s okay with her.

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