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.

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