Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Retrospective #500: Many, many thanks, especially to my intrepid editor.

With this column (#500), I will cease publication on Blogger of the Retrospective Series of “The Nutrition Debate,” renamed at some point, “Type 2 Nutrition.” The daily Retrospective Series posts were edited versions of my original posts begun in 2010. The Retrospectives were begun in anticipation of a possible book.
None of this endeavor would have been possible without my intrepid editor, Laurie Weakley. From the very beginning, she has been there for me and my faithful readers. Of the original 500 weekly posts, she never missed a timely, thorough and professional review of even one – and she did it entirely pro bono. Laurie recognized, without my ever mentioning it, that 1) my writing skills left much room for improvement and 2) my motivation was purely educational outreach (not a commercial enterprise). She wanted to help with both.
Laurie was formerly a university librarian. She is smart and highly skilled in computers, very well read in the physical sciences (and otherwise), and extremely well organized with a vast library of saved hyperlinks. She also has the skill to improve a writer’s message without changing it. She’s flexible to adapt to a writer’s style, a very good communicator and has a soft touch when making corrections and suggestions. In case I haven’t made myself clear, I highly recommend Laurie Weakley to anyone looking for a highly qualified editor.
I originally began writing this column at the invitation of the editor/publisher of a local weekly newspaper. He published my columns as “content” to fill space between ads. He published about 20 columns and then lost interest in “all the low-carb stuff.” A few years later, he ceased publication of the weekly newspaper too,
On the other hand, interest in “the low carb stuff,” has increased exponentially. For me it began in 2002 with The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” by the heralded science writer Gary Taubes. Taubes based his story on research but fundamentally vouchsafed for Robert Atkins, MD. I’m very glad to say, it got my doctor’s attention. He just wanted to lose weight, and he wanted me to as well. So did I. He tried the diet recommended and lost 17 pounds in 6 weeks. My doctor then suggested I try it too.
And the rest, as they say, is history. By the time the local newspaper publisher asked me to write a column for him, I had lost 170 pounds, first on Atkins Induction (20g of carbs a day), 60 pounds over 9 months, and then another 110 on Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s 6-12-12 program for diabetics. I also learned a lot by lurking on Bernstein’s on-line “Diabetes Forum.” And in the first week on Atkins Induction, I had 3 hypos, and he took me off virtually all 3 of my oral anti-diabetes meds (all except 500 Metformin), putting my diabetes “in remission.”
My doctor knew he was going “off label” by prescribing “very low carb” for weight loss, so he monitored me monthly for a year. In that time, and in the 18 years since, I never had a hypo again. In addition, my HDL more than doubled, my triglycerides dropped by more than 2/3rds and he took me off the statin he had prescribed.
My column’s focus these last 10 years has remained the same: Type 2 Diabetes is a dietary disease. It is best treated with a Very Low Carb diet. Since 2010 I have had about 425k page views on Blogger, plus with the daily Retrospective Series, an unknown number on Facebook and Twitter. But that pales in comparison to the giants, many of whom arose after I began. Dietdoctor.com, I think, now gets about over 400k hits a day!
Andreas Eenfeldt, MD (dietdoctor.com), and Jason Fung, MD (The Jason Fung Fan Club – Fasting Support) are today two of the brightest stars in the nutrition firmament and among my favorite places to visit. They deserve our profound gratitude and thanks for their pioneering work and courage. But for me, personally, I am hugely indebted to my intrepid editor, Laurie Weakley, who stayed with me for almost 10 years in my weekly foray into the blogosphere.
Thank you, Laurie. I don’t know how I can ever repay you for your support and encouragement…and help. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Retrospective #499: Lose the Fat, Save Your Life

This column, #499, will be my next-to-last post on Blogger. I started to write on Blogger about type 2 diabetes and nutrition in 2010 because a friend, who was following “doctor’s orders,” died of heart disease, a Macrovascular complication of type 2 diabetes. He was a pharmacist, and as his condition worsened through medical mismanagement of his disease, he became an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic.

Why did this educated man follow “doctor’s orders”? Why would he not? Don’t we all, generally? Aren’t doctors trained to treat disease? Like high blood sugars, a type 2 symptom? The answer to these questions is, of course, “Yes.” So, you might suppose that a pharmacist would too. Pharmacists are trained in pharmacy and pharmaceuticals, and that is how doctors treat type 2 diabetes. With drugs. They treat type 2’s primary indication: a high blood sugar.

So, Dick continued to eat the one-size-fits-all, “balanced,” very high carbohydrate diet to which he, and the rest of us, sadly, have transitioned during our lifetimes, and especially since 1980: The Standard American Diet (SAD). This diet, if you didn’t know, is +/-60% carbohydrates. Check out the Nutrition Facts panel on processed food. And it is not the healthy, whole-food carbs we used to eat. They are highly processed boxed and bagged food products and sugars.

Knowing what I learned on my own, and from online forums, I was motivated to help others treat the cause, not the symptom of type 2 diabetes, and reverse the course of the disease. But it didn’t start out like that. From the time I was diagnosed a type 2 in 1986, I followed my doctor’s advice too. To control my blood sugar, my doctor started me on one oral medication and over the course of 16 years I graduated to where eventually I was maxed out on 2 classes of oral meds and starting a 3rd. I was, to be sure, on a certain path to becoming an insulin-dependent type 2 too.

Then my doctor turned his attention to my weight. He had read, “What If It’s Been a Big Fat Lie,” the cover story of The New York Times Sunday Magazine on July 7, 2002. He tried the diet himself, to lose weight. When it worked for him, he asked me to try it too, just to lose weight. It occurred to him, though, as we walked down the hall to schedule my next appointment, he said, “It might even help your diabetes. The diet was Very Low Carb (20g of carbs a day). We know now how well that works, but doc didn’t learn it in medical school, and Dick didn’t learn it in pharmacy school.

In the next week, strictly eating just 20 grams of carbs a day, I had 3 hypos (hypoglycemic episodes). Each time I called the doctor and each time he cut my meds. The first day I stopped taking the 3rd class and by week’s end had cut the other two classes of meds in half twice. I later stopped one of those, a sulphonylurea, and today just take Metformin.

In the course of 9 months, strictly followed the Very Low Carb regimen, I lost 60 pounds. Four years later I slipped a little and regained 12, so I started Very Low Carb again and over a year and a half lost another +/-120 pounds.

Of course, copious health benefits (and cost savings) followed. Besides the diabetes drugs, my doctor too me off statins. Why? My Total Cholesterol and LDL remained about the same, but my HDL more than doubled from borderline (39mg/dl) to 84 average. And my triglycerides (TG) dropped from 135mg/dl to 49 average. On this Very Low Carb diet, my TG/HDL ratio, “the strongest predictor of a heart attack” was always less than 1.0 (“a very low probability”). And so was my chronic inflammation, and my blood pressure dropped to 110/70 on fewer meds.

When I started out to eat Very Low Carb, it was just to lose weight, as both my doctor and I wanted. I had followed his weight loss “prescription,” before, including when he employed a Registered Dietitian in his office. I did it then and in 2002 because, like most of us, I trusted my doctor. I was positively inclined to “follow doctor’s orders.”

But my doctor didn’t learn how to lose weight in medical school. He learned it from a newspaper story. He did it just to lose weight, and he did. And when he suggested that I try it, he thought – almost as an afterthought, channeling something he remembered maybe from a pre-med course in physiology – that it might help with my worsening type 2 diabetes – no matter how many drugs he prescribed for it. By accident you might say, my doctor saved my life. Today, 18 years later, I am in tip top health, still 150 pounds lighter that when I started, and I think I may live forever.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Retrospective #498: Save Money on Food and Meds Too

For almost 500 columns I have been harping on the health benefits of adopting a Low Carb or Very Low Carb Way of Eating. I have been trying to cajole my readers into acting in their own best interests. I’ve been telling you that you will lose a lot of weight, easily and without hunger, you will normalize your blood sugar regulation, and by strictly following a low-carb diet, you will put your Type 2 diabetes in remission…and with it reduce your risk of all the co-morbidities, both Macrovascular and Microvascular. By now, I hope, you have been persuaded…
However, just in case, if you need a little more push, there’s another very good reason to eat a Very Low Carb diet:
Let’s start with medications. If you are overweight (from chronic hyperinsulinemia), you are probably on blood pressure medications. At one time I was on 3 classes of BP meds. As you lose weight and your BMI returns to “normal,” your doctor will be able, in all likelihood, to titrate you off one or two or even all three BP meds.
If you’re a diagnosed Type 2 diabetic, you may be on as many as 3 classes of oral anti-diabetic meds. I was, and within the first week of going “cold turkey” on a Very Low Carb diet (20g of carb a day), my doctor had to take me off one and reduce the other 2 meds in half twice. And a while later, he eliminated a 2nd med altogether. I still take a very inexpensive Metformin, but many very low-carbers have stopped taking that medication as well.
In addition, the new classes of diabetes meds that are still on patent are very expensive. The 20% Medicare co-pay for the SGLT-2 class, that makes your kidneys excrete glucose, is $300 for a 60-day. That’s a $1,500 prescription!
And it you’ve been following “doctor’s orders” and eating a “balanced” diet of 55% to 60% carbohydrate, the Standard American Diet (SAD for short) of processed carbs and simple sugars (as in fruit), you may already be injecting insulin in your body…so I don’t have to tell you how expensive injected insulin (and other injectables) have become recently.
Then, if you’ve been eating the SAD, you probably have “high cholesterol,” a Total Cholesterol (TC) of 200mg/dl and an “elevated LDL-C,” so you’re taking a statin. But it’s low HDL and high triglycerides that are the real risk to your cardiac health. My HDL doubled and my triglycerides dropped by 2/3rds on VLC, and my doctor took me off statins. Eating a Low-Carb or Very Low Carb diet will fix non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) too. It will burn visceral (abdominal) fat around and within the liver and pancreas too, returning them to “normal” function. All of these medications (7 or 8 so far) cost a passel of money, and you can save virtually all of it…while improving your health!
Saving money on food is also a huge opportunity. People say protein and fat are more expensive than carbs, but have you looked at the price of a box of cereal or a bag of chips recently? And those “foods” are not nutrient dense. In fact, they are empty but addictive calories. And they’re totally non-essential. That right. There are no essential carbs.
Proteins have certain “essential” amino acids (that your body can’t make), and fats contain certain essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s and 6’s). And without fat, there is no way to take up the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
And fat is satiating and protein digests more slowly, so you will eat less real food when you eat just protein and fat because you’ll be less hungry. In a restaurant, I frequently order just an appetizer. That’s a big way to save money.
And then there’s fasting: the 16:8 type, where you skip one meal a day, and there’s the OMAD way, where you skip two meals every day and eat just one-meal-a-day, again because you’re not hungry. Now, that saves a lot of money.
Finally, there’s extended fasting (EF), where you fast all day, taking just water, coffee or tea. When your body is fat-adapted, it switches back and forth easily between eating VLC and fasting, while maintaining a high energy level because it has access to your body fat for fuel. When you are in this state of nutritional ketosis, you can full-day fast on alternate days, or even 2 or 3 consecutive days, all the while feeling pumped no matter what your activity level.
And you feel great, because you are full of energy, but also because of all the money you saved on food and meds.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Retrospective #497: How to Transition to a Low-Carb, Fat-Adapted Life

A few years ago, Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, founder of dietdoctor.com, the world’s most widely viewed source of information on the health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle, produced a New Year’s video with these 5 guidelines:
This prescription works. I lost altogether 180+ pounds, put my Type 2 diabetes in remission (in the first week!), and dramatically reversed “high cholesterol” (stopped taking a statin) and lowered my “chronic inflammation level.”
How you transition from “here” (where YOU are NOW) to “there” (how you WANT to be) is what this post is about.
To strictly follow a low carb diet, you need to know what a carb is. No joke! Most people don’t know. There is not room here to describe a carb in detail, so suffice it to say: IF IT IS NOT PROTEIN OR FAT, IT IS A CARB. Think about that. Then make the time to learn about carbs, because to be successful in this Way of Eating, you need to know.
Then, when you strictly follow a low-carb diet, you will soon discover that you eat a lot less because you are never hungry. That’s because when you eat low-carb, your blood insulin level is low and your body can access stored fat whenever it needs it for energy balance. Your body is adapted to burn its own fat for energy, so you don’t need to eat.
When I first thought about the Diet Doctor guidelines, I wanted to reverse the order of guidelines 1 and 2 above. Then, I realized it’s nonsensical to follow the “eat only when you’re hungry” guideline if you’re always hungry! And if you eat a “balanced” diet (typically 55% to 60% carbs), you WILL always be hungry, or at least every 2 or 3 hours. So, that’s why you have to “strictly follow a low-carb diet” before you can, “then, eat only when hungry.” Got it?
Then came along Jason Fung, MD, the Toronto nephrologist whose book, “The Obesity Code” was a blockbuster. Fung has a way with words, and his writing style is very “accessible.” You will see that, when you’re not hungry, fasting becomes much easier. So, Fung and Andreas Eenfeldt are kindred spirits and now frequently collaborators in fasting.
The two IF methods Eenfeldt described a few years ago were 5:2 and 16:8. I suggest you use them both to transition to a low-carb, fat-adapted Way of Eating. Once you start strictly eating low-carb, and you start skipping breakfast (except for coffee with heavy cream), because you’re not hungry at breakfast, you’ll already be fasting 16:8.
Then, you might also sometimes transition to skipping lunch, or to eating a very light one (one or two hard boiled eggs). And voilà, you’ll be in a mildly ketotic state – a mild form of nutritional ketosis – for most of the day.
The other form of IF that Eenfeldt describes is 5:2. I have instead adopted, from time to time, as needed for weight loss, intermittent 42-hour fasts 2 or sometimes 3 times a week. Instead of eating 5 days and fasting 2, I eat 4 days (Tue-Thu-Sat-Sun) and fast the 3 alternate days, M-W-F, fasting from supper one night to lunch the second day after.
Guidelines 4, to get a good night’s sleep, they say is important. Just make sure your bladder is empty before retiring, and if you have trouble falling off, take a magnesium pill or even a glass of wine. Guideline 5, weighing yourself daily, is a good idea for motivational reasons. I keep a written record and set a weekly weight loss goal.
The essential thing is, when you eat, eat Very Low Carb. In 2002, I started “cold turkey” on 20 grams of carbs a day. I saw immediate results. Within the 1st week, my doctor took me off virtually all the oral antidiabetic medication I was on to avoid hypos (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar); I had three hypos the 1st week, but not one since (in 18 years).
The other two macronutrients (protein and fat), besides carbohydrates, are important to understand, but are secondary in importance to weight loss. Protein is important to eat, every day when you’re not fasting, but if you’re fat-adapted (from strictly eating very low carb), and you want to lose body fat, you don’t have to eat extra fat beyond that which comes with the protein. Give your body a chance to burn body fat, not food, to make up the energy deficit, whether you’re fasting, or eating less because you’re not hungry, even of “feasting” days. Your body likes to burn fat.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Retrospective #496: Maintaining “Half the Man I Once Was”

In The Nutrition Debate: Type 2 Nutrition #400, I related how after years of eating Very Low Carb, with ups and downs and many misadventures, and finally with an excursion into Extended Fasting – both alternate day and consecutive day – I achieved a weight loss result I could never even have imagined at the start: I was just half the man I once was.

It all began with my doctor’s suggestion in 2002 that I begin a program of eating Very Low Carb (20g of carbs a day), to lose weight!  I weighed 375 pounds. After 15 years of on-again, off-again compliance – even some periods of outright cheating – I finally weighed in at 187 pounds. My BMI went from 54 to 27, and I was just half the man I once was.

As everyone who has lost a lot of weight knows, the challenge at that point was to maintain that loss, or at least most of it. Alas, I failed. In the ensuing months, I regained and then lost some of the weight. Along the way I thought a lot about my attitude toward food, including the cultural influences and the emotional drivers that influenced the eating habits and patterns that I had acquired over a lifetime. That’s a lot to know, and my introspection was not perfect.

One thing was certain though: Carbohydrates drove my weight gain and regain. I had been diagnosed a type 2 diabetic in 1986, at age 45. I had probably begun to develop Insulin Resistance in my early teens (I remember when and how and why.) By the time I reached middle age, I was Carbohydrate Intolerant, Insulin Resistant and a full-blown type 2.

Reading Gary Taubes’s New York Times seminal piece, “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” gave my doctor and them me the confidence to try Very Low Carb. Reading Taubes’s tome, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (“The Diet Delusion” in the UK), gave me an understanding of the science of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity (“Diabesity”). It also explained Metabolic Syndrome and Gerald Reaven’s associated Unifying Theory of Disease. When I started to write about type 2 diabetes on Blogger in 2010, Gary Taubes was the subject of The Nutrition Debate #5.

An important factor in my early adoption of eating Very Low Carb was the online community. I became a regular at The Bernstein Forum, first as a lurker, then as an active participant to learn more, and later as a sort of mentor to others. I had lots of questions, and members of this community were very supportive of Very Low Carb eating. In no time at all (it seems), I had lost 170 pounds. Seriously, support in a friendly environment is very conducive to learning.

Another influence, long before he (they) became the blockbuster enterprise they are today, was Andreas Eenfeldt at DietDoctor.com. It was Andreas who, in a timely January post some years ago, available as an inducement to becoming a monthly subscriber (which I recommend), suggested a 5-point manifesto. Rule #1 was, “Eat only when you are hungry.” This was so valuable on so many levels: a) think before eating, b) question cultural norms and habits, and c) remind yourself of the primary purpose of eating: nourishment to maintain energy balance (if required by eating).

That last point became clearer when I thoroughly understood the role of the hormone insulin in energy management: If your body has access to stored energy (body fat), possible only when you have a low level of circulating blood insulin, in turn made possible by a low level of glucose in the blood, your body will be both nourished and in energy balance.

So, returning to where I began this post, my goal now is to be forever in ONEDERLAND. Onederland is the world in which, when you step on the scale, the first number you see is a “1.” Does that sound like fantasy to you? It did to me, at one time. But when eating Very Low Carb worked, for losing weight easily and without hunger, it was just a matter of one-day-at-a-time, then one-week-at-a-time, and with every passing month, the goal became closer to reality.

In my case, my goal for the rest of my days on this planet is to maintain my weight between 195 and 199 pounds. I will do this with a combination of generally following the principles of Very Low Carb (VLC) and One Meal a Day (OMAD). I will include protein every day, including whatever saturated fat is inherent in it. In fact, I will choose fatty cuts and always eat full fat dairy, including heavy whipping cream in my morning cup of coffee. I will otherwise eat only a moderate amount of fat, to allow my body to burn its own fat, and I will avoid as much possible all unnatural PUFAs.

Finally, I will use full-day fasting, as often as needed, to keep my weight within my Onederland range. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Retrospective #495: “A Very Low Insulin Diet”

I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this diet! Am I right? Well, if you haven’t, it’s because there isn’t a diet as such. It’s an outcome actually, of eating a certain way that achieves a low blood insulin level.  And that is a very good outcome, as I’ll explain. It’s also the natural outcome, as I will show, of eating the way our ancestor ate. The problem is there’s no way yet of knowing, objectively, from a simple (inexpensive) blood test, that you’ve achieved that desired outcome.
As a consequence, once you have achieved this outcome – until a cheap blood test is available – you will have to rely on a surrogate marker to know if, how and when you have achieved your goal: a low blood insulin level.
To understand “how,” we’ll need to delve into a little basic human physiology. Insulin is a hormone that has multiple roles in metabolism and fat partitioning. It is secreted by the pancreas, a small gland near the stomach, in response to eating carbohydrates. And as carbs are digested into glucose, insulin accompanies them into the bloodstream and acts to “open the door” of the cells where the glucose is taken up for energy.
So, when you eat carbs, your blood insulin level naturally rises. And the glucose from the carbs you ate are in excess of your energy needs, they are stored or, when storage is full, by a process called de novo lipogenesis, the liver converts them to fat and stores them in your fat cells. Then, as the circulating glucose is absorbed and burned or stored or converted to fat, your blood insulin level drops. And that is what a normally functioning glucose metabolism does.
Then, in that normally functioning glucose metabolism, when you blood insulin level goes low between meals, when you body calls for energy for whatever purpose (basal metabolic or activity), your low blood insulin level signals the liver to take energy from those recently refilled or other fat cells. Your fat cells cycle the triglycerides back into your blood stream (broken down as free fatty acids), and you get all the energy you need from your stored fat. Again, that is what a normally functioning glucose metabolism does. A low blood insulin level allows your body to continuously access stored body fat to maintain energy balance, including any level of energy required by your activities.
But what happens if for years and years, to avoid “saturated fat and cholesterol,” you have eaten – as you’ve been told – a diet very high in carbohydrates? And what happens if that diet, for your “convenience,” is mostly processed carbs from prepared foods or products sold in boxes and bags? And what if, to make the food more “palatable,” sugar (a simple, easily digestible carb) is added to virtually all processed foods, e.g., store-bought bread or peanut butter?
What happens is that for many people the body resists the unnaturally high level of glucose in the bloodstream. The transport hormone – the insulin accompanying glucose in your blood, it unable to open the cell that needs the energy. Those cells have developed Insulin Resistance. Well, the glucose and the insulin, continue to circulate, the cells don’t get the glucose energy they need, and because your blood insulin level is still high, your liver can’t access your stored body fat for the needed energy. So, your metabolism slows, and you feel tired… and sluggish…and hungry.
If you are one of those who has developed…over many years…a degree of Insulin Resistance, your doctor has no direct measurement to find out. He doesn’t have an affordable or insurance reimbursable test that he can use to measure your blood insulin level. But she, and you, have a few good surrogates: 1) you body fat level. The cause of obesity, or “overweight,” is not sloth or lack of activity. It is Insulin Resistance. If you have a “touch” of Insulin Resistance, your elevated blood insulin is being transported back to your liver where it converts it to fat, and your elevated blood insulin is blocking body fat from being used for energy when your body needs it, so you’re hungry and you eat for energy.
Another surrogate is an elevated blood glucose level. Your doctor can easily test for this, either with a hemoglobin A1c test which measure the glucose on your red blood cells over 3 months. This is a good surrogate because, as we say, if you have an elevated blood glucose, it is because you have an elevated blood insulin because of Insulin Resistance.
If you have Insulin Resistance, the precursor condition for Type 2 Diabetes, you can treat it yourself by not eating the foods that make your body produce and transport insulin to help your body take up glucose: CARBOHYDRATES.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Retrospective #494: My Simple Food Rule

My “food rules” haven’t changed much since I started eating Very Low Carb in September 2002. At the my doctor’s suggestion, to lose weight, I began with Atkins Induction: 20 grams of carbs a day. It worked in the way my doctor intended. I lost 60 pounds in 9 months. It also worked in another way that was unintended, or at least not anticipated. In the 1st week I had to come off nearly all 3 oral diabetes medications that I was on.
As best I can remember, the Atkins protocol only addressed carbohydrates at the time . That’s worth noting. It’s only – okay, well largelyonly carbs that matter. To lose weight (lots of it – I eventually lost 180+ pounds), you only need to restrict – severely, I’ll admit – CARBOHYDRATES.
So, if all you need to know, to lose lots of weight and greatly improve your health, is to severely limit the carbs you eat, the first thing you need to learn is: what foods contain carbs. Today, there are many ways to go about doing this: 1) You can “count carbs.” That’s what I did. From the start, I estimated portion sizes, used on-line sources for carb counts and recorded everything I ate in an Excel chart I created; or 2) You can use an on-line service to do the work for you, but be careful; many of these sources are much too lax in their allowed foods. They think you “can’t” or want to eat in a way that severely limits your carb intake. They’re too friendly to the weak-willed or insufficiently motivated, or 3) Once you know what foods are carbs, you can just totally (or mostly) avoid them, in most meals or by fasting. Whichever way you choose, once you learn about carbs, remember: you just have to stick with Very Low Carb.
I learned what I needed to know, and then I ate (mostly) in compliance with this new knowledge. The foods I ate, were primarily protein and fat – saturated fat that is an inherent component of animal protein. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you will have a tough row to hoe. Artificially manufactured vegetable oil (polyunsaturated) fats are inherently unhealthy, and you must eat fat with protein. Protein has primarily cellular and hormonal functions. And you need healthy saturated fats, and some monounsaturated fats like olive oil, to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
As I lost weight by eating mostly protein and good fats,, I discovered I needed less food to feel full.  I wasn’t hungry most of the time. My body was in mild ketosis, just ketotic enough to burn body fat as an energy source. Fat and carbs are the only two sources of energy.  I didn’t need to eat carbs for energy. My body fat provided all the energy needed.
That’s when I started to ask myself: If I’m not hungry, why am I eating 3 meals a day? My body runs well on its own fat (and some ketones), so, if I’m not hungry, why eat just because it’s a certain time of day. I started having just coffee with heavy cream for “breakfast,” and skipping lunch or just being sure lunch was only protein with some fat so I could stay mildly ketotic and not be hungry. At supper, just eating a small meal of animal protein (with saturated fat) and a portion of low-carb vegetables tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil, was always enough for me.
But I sometimes snacked. My snacking was always just before supper (happy hour). When I was on anti-diabetes meds (sulfonylureas) that was always the time of day when my blood sugar was lowest. My snacking may be cultural as well. I have always enjoyed a glass of wine, or two. (I only drink spirits in a restaurant or when we have guests for dinner.) And with wine I might have radishes with salt and butter or celery with anchovy paste, or stuffed olives.
My cheats are 1) once in a while I’ll steal some of my wife’s ice cream from the freezer, or 2) in a restaurant, eat a roll with butter or olive oil. Rarely, I’ll share a dessert. These are indulgences. Simple pleasures, from a previous life almost forgotten. The best part of eating Very Low Carb almost all the time, besides the stellar labs, is how well I feel. I am often “pumped,” almost euphoric. The mood difference is palpable. It’s not just knowing I am no longer fat!
Oh, and did I mention...I have saved a lot of money on drugs and food. And my blood pressure is lower. And my HDL doubled and my triglycerides dropped by 2/3rds. And I don’t have to take a statin. And my chronic systemic inflammation blood marker (hsCRP) is way lower. And I did it without exercise (and saved lots of time and gym costs).
And all it requires is that I eat Very Low Carb most of the time. That’s VERY Low Carb. It’s all you have to do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Retrospective #493: Why fasting is soooo easy!

I know. It doesn’t ring true. It sounds, literally, incredible. But it IS true, as I’ll explain. I wouldn’t lie to you. My credibility with my regular readers is too important for me to squander it.
But first, let’s address the thinking that questions this assertion. On hearing this, a person thinks and maybe asks, “Don’t you get hungry? How’s your energy level? Do you feel okay? My answers are: “No, I don’t get hungry,” and “my energy level is very high.” In fact, I feel pumped, sometimes euphoric, almost manic. “I actually feel better than okay. I feel great!” And no, I’m not “Tony the Tiger.”
Why then do people ask those questions? Because it’s common sense, and we’ve all experienced it. If you eat less on a “balanced” (carbohydrate-based) diet, you are going t0 be hungry when you don’t eat! And if you don’t “feed your body” (by mouth), your body will slow down! And as your metabolism slows, you will have less energy and you will feel weak. You may even feel unwell. That’s all very logical and true. Yes, but notice the big “if.”
This “if” clause contains the phrase “balanced carb-based diet.” Eating less with that diet will produce the effects described above because you are starving your body of needed energy. It is being starved because it is unable to access your body’s fat stores. However, your body is designed 1) to be fed by mouth when food is available and 2) to be fed from fat stores when food is not available, for example, when fasting. There’s only one problem. For your     body to work like that naturally, a switch is needed to turn on the body’s fat fuel source. Here’s how the switch works.
When you eat carbohydrates, your blood insulin level rises. Your body secretes insulin to carry energy (glucose) from the digested/absorbed carbs in your blood to your cells. Insulin then opens the “door” for the energy to be taken up. Then, when the level of glucose in your blood drops, your insulin level also drops. Insulin is thus the switch. Low insulin signals the liver to switch from burning carbs for energy to burning your body fat stores.
So, in a normal metabolism, when your energy from the carbs you ate and have stored is expended, and your blood glucose level drops, your blood insulin level also drops and your body switches to burning body fat for energy. It does this without your feeling hungry, without slowing down your metabolism, and without making you feel unwell. The reason that all this is true should now be obvious: Your body IS still being fed…FED BY OWN YOUR BODY FAT.
You will be fed at the level your body needs for your activity level. You could run a marathon! This energy balance – called homeostasis – will be met by the liver breaking up triglycerides (body fat) as needed. You will be in energy balance so long as you have fat to burn and you don’t eat too many carbs.
Another way to lower both blood glucose and blood insulin is fasting. It is especially effective for people with a disregulated glucose metabolism, e.g. those with Insulin Resistance (Type 2 diabetics and Pre-diabetics). When we don’t eat, blood glucose and blood insulin go down and good things happen: 1) we burn body fat for energy without slowing down our metabolic rate, 2) we lose weight without hunger because our body is being fed at the cellular level by body fat, 3) ketone bodies, a byproduct of fat (triglyceride) breakdown, feed the brain, and 4) while fasting, out bodies gather up and use cellular debris (autophagy) and 5) oxidize (burn up) old cells (apoptosis). These renewal processes provide great benefit. It is also hypothesized that burning omental (visceral) fat, including fatty liver and pancreatic fat cells, beta cells (erroneously considered to be ”burned out”) begin to function normally again.
I’ve been a Type 2 for diabetic 34 years. So, what happens when I eat Very Low Carb with Intermittent Fasting? I lose weight, my glucose metabolism stabilizes, and I’m never hungry because I’m a fat burner. I have loads of energy, I save money on food (and medicines), and I feel “pumped.” What’s not to like about those outcomes?

Your doctor will love it too. A year ago, my A1c was 5.0%. My cholesterol panel is “to die for.” No statins. “Blood pressure of a teenager,” the nurse said.” When you’re not hungry all the time, fasting really is soooo easy.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Retrospective #492: Weight Maintenance on VLC

As I re-approach (LOL) a 180-pound weight loss and my goal weight of 195 pounds, I’m again giving serious thought to how I am going to maintain that weight. Truth be told, most people who lose a lot don’t maintain it. So, how am I going to do it this time? Ironically, this is a problem I never thought I’d have. Who among the morbidly obese ever achieves their goal weight? Well, after 17 years, and many “misadventures,” I’m nearly there.
Over the years I’ve read lots of bad advice on the subject of “low carb.” Then one day I read something that made sense to me. The advice was in Volek and Phinney’s, The Art and Science of Low Carb Living. A few years later, when I met Stephen Phinney – at Banff in 2016 at the 5th Global Symposium on Ketogenic Diet Therapies – I told him, “Yours was the first time I had read a prescription for weight maintenance that made sense to me.” He replied, “That’s because we told the truth.” He then added, “Our publisher told us, “If you say that in your book, it won’t sell.” We replied, “We don’t care. It’s the truth.” That’s another reason why it is one of my favorite books.
Excerpt from Chapter 16, “The Importance of Dietary Fat on Long-Term Maintenance,” page 206: “(T)he purpose of this chapter [is] to address the need for added dietary fat while keeping carbohydrates within an acceptable level of tolerance in the long-term maintenance phase of carbohydrate restriction.”  Then, another excerpt from page 210: “There’s no metabolic reason why increasing [protein] would be beneficial,” and “too much protein…has a modest insulin stimulating effect that reduces ketone production.”
From Chapter 18, “10 Clinical Pearls,” page 238, relating to the Induction Phase of Very Low Carb dieting: “the weight loss occurs because you are eating much less energy that your body is burning.” “Typically, early on up to half of your daily energy needs are coming out of your love handles. However, one’s protein needs (expressed as grams per day) are about the same across all phases of carbohydrate restriction, whether it’s your first week in Induction on your second year in weight maintenance.” Then, the coup de grace, this excerpt is from page 239:
“Simply put, there is no option for weight maintenance that is simultaneously low in carbohydrates and low in fat. Your energy has to come from somewhere, and for people with carbohydrate intolerance, their best (and long-term) energy source is dietary fat. Practically speaking, that means purposefully seeking out enjoyable sources of fat and routinely including them in your diet.” “You must get comfortable eating fat as your primary source of dietary energy if you want to succeed in low carb maintenance.” Let that sink in. It’s carbs or fat. It’s pretty clear.
Now that day, for me, is near. I will soon be at my maintenance weight, again. I will then continue to eat the same Very Low Carb way I have striven for over the years. I will still have one cup of coffee at “breakfast” with a dollop of heavy cream and a pinch of pure stevia extract. For lunch, if I eat lunch, I will still eat a small tin of kippered herring snacks in brine, or one or two hard boiled eggs, or a can of Brisling sardines in water or EVOO, or occasionally a Haas avocado with vinaigrette dressing in the cavity. To drink: cold-brew iced tea with liquid stevia.
For supper, I will eat the same small meal of a moderate protein portion and a low-carb vegetable tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil. On occasion, before supper, I will snack on radishes with butter and salt, or celery with anchovy paste, or olives. I will also have two 5-oz. glasses of red wine, usually as a spritzer (topped off with seltzer).
I will continue to weigh myself every day. When I rise to the top of my target range (195-199), I will “fast” for a day. My “fast” will consist of my morning coffee (with cream and stevia) and just one red wine spritzer for supper.
I find that my weight varies more due to water retention, from carb cheats, than from too many calories. Weight lost during a one-day “fast,” due to the diuretic effect, usually returns me to the bottom of my range.
I like what I eat on my VLC diet, and I feel great. I mean pumped! The older and leaner I get, the better I feel! And people tell me I look good in my new wardrobe. It’s actually fun being almost “half the man I once was.”

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Retrospective #491: Ketogenic Intermittent Fasting

My wife tells me I should tell “newbies” how I started out on my VERY Low Carb journey, not how I manage to maintain a 180-pound weight loss. I tell her I did that in Type 2 Nutrition #419, Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: My Secrets,” I describe the many ways that my Way of Eating has evolved since I began to eat Very Low Carb in 2002
In this post, however, I’m writing about my current paradigm, the “Ketogenic Intermittent Fast,” as described by Dominic D’Agostino. D’Agostino, a PhD, is probably the leading researcher in ketogenic metabolism in the USA today. He initiated the 2016 Nutritional Ketosis and Metabolic Therapeutics Conference in Tampa, FL, that I attended. By the 3rd year, 2019, it had morphed into The Metabolic Health Summit in Long Beach, CA, which I also attended. It sold out, and they announced the next year’s Metabolic Health Summit, would also be held in Long Beach in January. And it was, without me.

D’Agostino appears to be a healthy, very fit, non-diabetic scientist. He says he follows a Ketogenic Intermittent Fasting diet 95% of the time. Jeff Volek, a PhD physiologist, now at Ohio State, is also a world-renowned expert in low carbohydrate research who presented both in Tampa and Long Beach. Together with Stephen Phinney, MD, Volek authored, “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” one of my favorite nutrition books. Phinney is co-founder of  Virta Health, “a clinically proven treatment plan to reverse Type 2 diabetes without medications or surgery.”

At the Tampa meeting Volek spoke to an overflow crowd in a break-out session attended mostly by endurance athletes and bodybuilders. I did not attend. LOL. In Long Beach Volek had a plenary session, which I did attend. But I gleaned from some Tampa attendees that many of the ultra-lean and ultra-muscular attendees take a therapeutic dose of Metformin, off label, to help get and stay lean. Metformin works by 1) suppressing unwanted gluconeogenesis especially in those with any degree of Insulin Resistance, and 2) by increasing insulin sensitivity. In this way users keep their blood glucose levels low and thereby their blood insulin levels low…and thus, being in ketosis, burn body fat (instead of the “unwanted” glucose) for energy TO GET AND STAY LEAN.

This would explain the pied piper interest in Volek and Nutritional Ketosis from athletes and bodybuilders. It stands to reason. To burn body fat, they want to be in nutritional ketosis most of the time. To do that they eat low carb, moderate/high protein, and high fat. They keep blood glucose and blood insulin low, eat protein and exercise to build muscle, and burn body and dietary fat for energy. To get and stay lean, that is their modus operendi.

So, for “healthy” people who want to stay lean, that is the “ketogenic” part. What does that have to do with fasting? When you fast, your blood glucose lowers, you blood insulin lowers, and you burn body fat for energy. If you were a Low Carber before – low enough to be in “Nutritional Ketosis” – your body easily shifts from “fed” to “fasting,” without hunger, and you use body fat for energy and without slowing down your metabolism
In addition, according to D’Agostino, fasting has 1) anti-inflammatory effects and 2) epigenetic effects, by the mechanisms of apoptosis and autophagy. Check out the hyperlinks. These effects are why ketogenic nutrition and fasting are such hot research topics today. Researchers are exploring the use of ketogenic nutrition and fasting for the whole panoply of metabolic disorders. All that, however, is OT (off topic) for today’s post.

My focus these days is how to maintain my 180-pound weight loss, keep my Type 2 diabetes in remission (with A1c’s in the low 5s), and stay in tip-top physical and mental health. In other words, how I’m going to continue to thrive. I’ve concluded that Ketogenic Intermittent Fasting is the best way for me to do that.

As the National Institutes of Health Richard L. Veech (d. 1/30/20) told Gary Taubes, “Doctors are scared of ketosis. They’re always worried about diabetic ketoacidosis. But ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue that is the normal state of man.” And, as Dr. D’Agostino says, “It keeps the brain happy,” and “I feel better.” D’Agostino also says he “likes the food,” and he’s “lost his sweet tooth.” I like it too.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Retrospective #490: Why, just…why?

I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time. Why what? Well, that’s the problem. It’s hard to figure out what the question is. And then there’s the answer. That’s even more of a conundrum.

As readers know, I’m not afraid to be honest, even brutally honest. I also don’t mind if I offend someone’s sensibilities…if it’s in a good cause. And I believe passionately that the health and well-being of our nation, even the world, both physically and mentally, is a good cause. It’s worth broadcasting the truth, even if at a cost.

I have put the question in various forms: Why don’t people want to change? Why is it so hard for people to change? Can a person change what one eats, or the way, or when, one eats, at any age? Why don’t people believe that changing what they eat will improve their health? Or if they do, whom do they believe when it comes to what is a “healthy diet”? Why should a person give up their favorite “comfort” foods? What if it’s all been a big fat lie?

As I approach column #500, I’m frustrated. I’m no closer to the answer as to why others can’t/don’t/won’t change than I was when I started. I can only re-tell how I did it and hope that is persuasive and connects with you.

In 2002, as I approached the end of my work life, I weighed 375 pounds and faced a short retirement; Why? I looked around and didn’t see many morbidly obese old people, and those I did see didn’t look to be in good health. I had been a diagnosed Type 2 diabetic for 16 years, was maxed out on 2 oral meds and starting a 3rd. My prospects were that I would soon be injecting insulin. And sooner rather than later I would die of “diabetic complications.”

The common Microvascular ones: 1) end-stage kidney disease with dialysis (nephropathy), 2) being wheelchair bound because of amputation(s) (neuropathy) and 3) blindness (retinopathy). But today, the Macrovascular complications are being recognized as even more common: heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease (“type 3” diabetes) and several cancers. I was scared. I didn’t want a “short retirement.” I was motivated to change.

My doctor thought the best way to treat my Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, was for me to lose weight. He had urged me to do that for many years. All his cajoling – and my attempts – had failed. When I lost weight, following his advice to “eat less and move more,” on a “balanced diet – I failed. Then, one day, when I walked into his office (at 375 pounds, remember), he said, “Have I got a diet for you!” His timing was perfect.

A few months earlier, in July 2002, my doctor had read, “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie,” the cover story of The New York Times Sunday magazine. The author, Gary Taubes, proposed an “Alternate Hypothesis” to the “low-fat,” “balanced” diet that mainstream medicine had pushed for sixty years and has made us fatter and sicker.

Taubes, thrice an award-winning science journalist, wrapped up GC-BC with 10 “certain conclusions [that] seem[ed] inescapable” to him. The first 3 follow; the others are in The Nutrition Debate #5, posted here.

1.      Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not the cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.
2.      The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis – the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3.      Sugars – sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup particularly – are especially harmful, because the combination of fructose overburdens the liver which has to dispose of it while glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels.

My wife says, “Your diet is too extreme. You don’t have to cut out all carbs. You just have to cut down.” Okay, I say, if that works for you, DO IT. I have friends who’ve cut back on their carbs a little and a lot, and they’ve all lost weight. I found it easier to eat so few carbs that my body burned my body fat for energy. I’ve lost 180 pounds. The trick: Eat few enough to lower your blood insulin levels to signal the body to access your body fat. If you don’t access your body fat for fuel, you will be hungry, and you’ll just wind up back where you started.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Retrospective #489: When I was morbidly obese…

It’s been a long time since I weighed 375 pounds, or even 250. It’s also been awhile since I weighed 188 (“not half the man I once was,” my wife quipped), so I think it’s worth retelling what I ate when I started.

As I’ve told here many times, I started on Atkins Induction at my doctor’s suggestion after he tried it himself. Atkins induction is basically Very Low Carb, just 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. That’s a very strict regimen, but it only restricts carbohydrates. Atkins didn’t address protein or fats at that time, as I recall, but he didn’t have to because strictly eating VERY Low Carb (VLC) is all you have to do to start losing weight FAST.

I lost 60 pounds in 39 weeks (1½ pounds a week), following a regular 2-meal-a-day regimen, and then I retired. During those 9 months I ate a breakfast that I ordered from a kiosk on the street and took to my desk: eggs (2 fried or scrambled) and bacon (2 strips), plus coffee with half and half and 1 Splenda. Nothing else. Nothing. Period.

I didn’t eat lunch. I worked through lunch and wasn’t hungry because the protein-and-fat breakfast I ate, every day, was satiating. When I got home, our usual supper was roast chicken thighs (2 for me) and a large serving of a low-carb vegetable tossed in butter or roasted in the toaster oven with olive oil. Today, since I’m a little more than half the man I once was, I am satisfied with 1 chicken breast and a smaller serving of vegetables.

Why am I retelling the story of how I began to lose weight when I was morbidly obese? Because it was (is) not complicated. The guiding principle is VERY low carb. THAT’S ALL. That’s the secret. That’s all you need to know. There’s no need to count anything. Not calories, or carbs, or grams of protein or grams of fat. There’s no need to obsess about anything. You just need to be honest with yourself. Don’t rationalize, AND DON’T CHEAT. If you just follow this simple principle, you will lose a lot of weight…and be much healthier for it.

Of course, my own story did get complicated, but that’s because of my personality. I’m obsessive-compulsive about many thing, like recording things. I like numbers and tables and writing and learning, and they all helped me on my journey. But they aren’t necessary. Don’t let them be obstacles to your taking the plunge. All you have to remember is: Just eat VERY LOW CARB. Always. No rationalizing and no cheating. And if you screw up (as we all do), don’t beat yourself up too much (a little is okay). If you fall off, just get back on the horse and go forward
Getting started with breakfast worked well for me. My job required that I put in a full day, so taking time off for lunch didn’t work. But if you’re not hungry in the morning (I never am now), you could just have coffee or tea with cream and a sweetener (not sugar). I always have. I now use pure powered stevia with my coffee or liquid stevia with iced tea. And then have a lunch of protein and fat. Not a salad. Salad greens are carbs. Eat an avocado, or olives, or cheese for lunch, or roast beef, turkey or ham slices. When I ate lunch after I retired, it was usually a can of Brisling sardines.

Supper got smaller when I got smaller. Conversely, when I was still morbidly obese (and started counting calories and protein and fat as well as carbs), I was always surprised at how many calories I ate and still lost weight. The reason was that I was used to eating large, “BALANCED” meals, but now they were VERY LOW CARB, moderate protein and high fat. But they didn’t even have to be high fat because if I didn’t EAT the fat, my body would break down body fat to use as fuel to maintain energy balance, so long as I ate VERY low carb.

Be conscious of your eating patterns. Do something else if you get the “willies” and have a craving. Nervous and mindless eating are things that you will have to control. When that happens, just remember: stick to the program: Eat just two meals a day, no snacks, and you will lose lots of weight, so long as you eat VERY low carb.

Bottom line: It’s not complicated: SO LONG AS YOU EAT VERY LOW CARB, you will have access to your body fat for fuel. And if you aren’t feeling hungry, don’t eat. Generally, don’t eat more than two meals a day and don’t snack. You won’t be hungry because your body will be in energy balance, so long as you eat VERY low carb.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Retrospective #488: NPR on Coconut Oil

A while back I caught the last few sentences of this “Eating and Health” piece on NPR’s Morning Edition. In it, somebody (it was Alice Lichtenstein – more on her in a minute) said, “Why things like coconut oil somehow slipped under the radar is a little bit unclear. But it’s not consistent with any of the recommendations that have occurred [passive voice] over the past 30, 40, 50 years.” I made a note to listen to the full segment later.

My first naïve thought was that the “30, 40, 50 years” remark was a hedge. My hope was that the speaker was saying that the quality of evidence against saturated fat was poor, as more and better research has recently revealed. That the speaker was trying to scapegoat the long-held Federal Government’s recommendation to avoid saturated fat, including plant-based coconut oil, as unhealthy. Alas, my hopes were dashed.

It turns out that the clip I heard was not scripted by an NPR segment producer; it was actually made by Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., chief architect of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And she was now “doubling down” and using confirmation bias to assert the strength and “truth” of the Dietary Guideline’s perennial dictum
Since 1980 the Guidelines have recommended that we strive to avoid eating naturally occurring saturated fat, i.e., animal fat, in favor of “vegetable” (seed and grain) oils, all man-made, unnatural and highly processed polyunsaturated fats. The reason coconut oil “somehow slipped under the radar” is that it, like palm kernel oil, are unusual in that they are plant-based saturated fats. The Guidelines, if you hadn’t noticed, are generally biased towards “plant-based.” And that is why Lichtenstein would say, disingenuously, that “it is a little bit unclear.”

NPR’s April Fulton begins the piece, “Is coconut oil a healthy food? It certainly is promoted as one. Survey a broad group of Americans and 72 percent say, yes, coconut oil is healthy.” Fulton adds, “Fat is not the enemy. Fat helps us feel fuller longer and stay satiated. Eating some fat can actually help us snack less and potentially lose weight.” And I would add, although neither Alice Lichtenstein nor Alice Fulton mentioned it, the Dietary Guidelines dropped the recommended limit on dietary fat, of 30% of total calories, in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines!

However, six months earlier, in this USA Today story, Dr. Karin Michaels, PhD, professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said Coconut oil was “pure poison.” “I can only warn you urgently,” she said, “this is one of the worst foods you can eat.” Such advice from a Harvard epidemiologist only does Harvard and all dietary epidemiologists harm. The First Law of Holes is, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” But continue to dig they do.

Lichtenstein was more fully identified in the USA Today “pure poison” story as “Tufts professor of nutrition science and policy” and “vice chair of the 2015 federal government’s dietary guidelines advisory committee.” She recently told The New York Times ‘there’s virtually no data to support the [coconut oil] hype.’” None? Really?

Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, at theDietDoctor.com, responded, “Study after study has shown that saturated fat isn’t bad for you. Unfortunately, outdated advice based on old and disproven theories is still being believed, even by some professors at Harvard. I recommend checking out the updated science on the topic…or just watch this short video, where some very clever medical doctors answer the question, is saturated fat bad?”

NPR’s Fulton concludes, So, it’s okay to use coconut oil; just don’t use it all the time. What you want to do is shift the ratio more towards unsaturated fat and away from saturated fat. And that means more olive, flax and canola oil and less coconut oil and bacon. It’s all about the balance.” NPR IS SO, SO WRONG! IT’S THE EXACT OPPOSITE!!!

The NPR piece then gets even worse. It advocates “unsaturated fats like corn oil, sunflower oil or olive oil” and “olive, flax and canola oil.” Curiously, there was no mention of SOYBEAN OIL. Soybean accounts for a whopping 87% of U. S. edible oil production. [2008]. Why do you suppose NPR didn’t even mention soybean oil? Aren’t Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill both NPR underwriters? It appears that there’s more work here for a good, objective investigative reporter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Retrospective #487: Fat Cat, Skinny Cat

We have two house cats; one is fat and one is skinny. They were both born to feral moms about 5 years ago, one behind a pizza parlor and the other in a backyard. A non-profit trapped the moms as part of their TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) program. The moms were spayed, treated and released. The offspring were also trapped or rounded up. We fostered the last one from each litter and eventually adopted both.
The backyard cat is a big, lanky, lean male. His pizza-parlor “sister” is smaller boned and very fat. They both eat the same food: supermarket “Fancy Feast” in 3oz (70kcal) cans, twice a day, plus Purina “Complete Cat Chow”, ad libitum. 
Both house cats seem to like both foods equally. They clean their dishes and put a big dent in the chow bowl daily. They also snack at an outdoor station where we feed our own small feral colony. That’s how we originally got involved with the local TNR non-profit. A litter of 4 adolescent ferals walked into our backyard about 15 years ago. They were adolescents – way too old to socialize – so we fed and eventually trapped and TNR’d them all.
The food we give the ferals is the same Cat Chow (32% pro; 13% fat; 42% carbs), plus 2-13.5oz cans of Purina’s “Friskies.” The analysis of these 366kcal cans is again 11% protein, but 2.5% fat, and 27% carbs (dry matter basis). The ferals (and our house cats) also like these offerings equally, scarfing both down twice a day. Both the house cats and the ferals “know” each other and frequently eat side by side at the outdoor feeding station.
(As an aside, one of the ferals occasionally comes into the house, through a door left open in warm weather, and crosses to the kitchen to eat at the house cats’ station. But never, in the 15 years that we have faithfully fed them all, have any of the ferals ever allowed either of us to touch any of them, or even get close.)
All the ferals are lean. So why, given the way they are fed, is one of our house cats, and all the ferals, lean and the other house cat fat? They both have access to all 3 types of food. Both have good appetites, and both have equal opportunities for exercise. Both run around the house and yard, frequently chasing each other or birds or butterflies. The big, lean male, is less active – more of a couch potato, but the fat female is completely undeterred by her girth.
If this were simply a comparison between two carnivores – our house cats – eating a high carbohydrate diet, one could hypothesize that the “pizza baby’s” genetic makeup was epigenetically “expressed” when she was exposed to the high-carb Fancy Feast and Friskies diet. Or, that the “pizza baby’s” mother, or her mother, developed those “expressed” genes (remember: she survived by living behind the pizza parlor) and passed them on to her offspring. Her offspring (our “fat” cat and her siblings) were thus born predisposed and are therefore likely to get fat on a high-carb diet. And our lean house cat – the “backyard baby” – was perhaps the product of a feral mom who hunted mice and voles (as our feral colony did before we starting feeding them twice daily) and had a different set of genes or similar genes that had not been epigenetically expressed by what she and they ate. She therefore produced a large, well-shaped, lean male kitten. For further reading, see Dr. Cate Shanahan’s book, “Deep Nutrition.”
Restating the question: Why didn’t the young ferals who wandered into our backyard 15 years ago get fat on our nutritionally poor diet? Is it because they were offspring of a carnivorous mom who ate animal protein and fat and had not had her genes “expressed”? Is that why her offspring aren’t fat cats like our “pizza baby”?
We’ll never know. Our house cant and our ferals will never reproduce. But how about you and your offspring? We’re said to be omnivores, but I would say that humans, while not obligate carnivores, are perhaps facultative carnivores, a species that “does best on a carnivorous diet, but can survive-but-not-thrive on a non-carnivorous one.”
This has been amply demonstrated, I think, by the effects that the high carbohydrate diet that we’ve been eating since the dawn of the Neolithic Age, made much worse recently by the highly processed industrial foods and processed oils that we now eat.