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!

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