For the last umpteen years, if not decades, nutritionists have poorly advised us, or, most certainly me. By my ignoring this mainstream nutritional advice, the food pyramid, and other common myths about what’s healthy, and by shifting to a nearly inverse paradigm, I’ve been able to lose weight, keep it off, and increase my health markers.
I’m describing a low carbohydrate, high fat diet, or LCHF.
Many people have been very kind to me, commenting on my weight-loss. Most commonly, I hear; “You look great! You must be hitting the gym pretty hard?” My answer is, it’s not the gym. I’ve been hitting the gym “pretty hard” for at least a decade, if not longer. I started my running habit in college, back in 1982. In my youth, exercise seemed to be the key to weigh-management. However, as I aged, my amount of exercise ceased to benefit my weight management. Indeed, I found it having nearly no benefit at all.
I have been overweight my whole life. In high school, I was the kid who was four laps behind the slowest kid in Phys Ed class. The term in the 70’s for us overweight teens was “husky.” Since then, I’ve been on nearly every diet, from Weight-Watchers, Shaklee, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, South Beach, standard calories-in, calories-out diets, Atkins, to, finally, LCHF.
In the spring of 2016, after my yearly checkup, my general practitioner had noted on my chart that I was obese, with a Latin term that meant “belly fat.” My weight was 285. His dietary prescription was essentially mirroring all the failed advice I listed above. Nevertheless, I was resolved to chip away at this problem with renewed zeal. That summer, I closely tracked what I ate with an online macro and calorie counter. I tried reducing sugar but ate a robust amount of “healthy” starches, such as corn or whole wheat. I dramatically increased protein, most usually by way of protein-whey shakes. I saw moderate weight loss, 20 pounds, but the holiday triumvirate of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day cause my weight loss to stall and then climb into January and February.
One day, while incidentally checking out the official Duke University video feed, I found a presentation featuring Dr. Westman, of Duke University, giving a talk on “The Science and Practice of Low Carb Diets.” I had done Atkins with great weight-loss success, only to backslide after the Atkin’s maintenance plan failed, to the point of complete remission. What if I had the help of a doctor? I asked for, and got, a referral from my GP to see Dr. Westman.
The Road to Damascus
On June 8th, 2017, I started LCHF, under the direction of Dr. Eric Westman. His method is both radical and simple. He flips the food pyramid upside-down, with his famous “page four” reference for his patients. He hands us patients a list of what foods to eat, and in what quantities, per day. Stick below 20 total grams of carbohydrates. Dr. Westman also spends about 45 minutes with his new initiates. He’ll discuss what one can eat, eat in limited quantity, and what to avoid. He helps those identify starchy and sugary foods people commonly confuse as healthy food.
I soon found great value in his simplified approach. He eschews macro-counting. He works with his patients to keep things simple. While there’s a lot of exciting research, analysis and testing around all this, all the details can make this wealth of information, sometimes self-conflicting, dispiriting for the neophyte.
This is the longest time I’ve remained below 225 pounds, and I’m only getting started. I have seen a lot of wrinkles, hiccups, delights, failures, along the way, and I’ll be sharing my experiences on this blog. I expect to continually update this page, refining it to reflect my evolving understanding of the science and art of LCHF.
I love this way of eating, and despise all the misinformation that have messed up an entire nation’s culture and understanding on something as essential and basic as food.
I came for the weight-loss and found a healthier way of living.
- Dr. Eric C Westman’s Scholars@Duke profile
- Dr. Westman’s Heal Clinics initiative.
- Dr. Westman’s Facebook group page.
- Adapt Your Life shares LCHF information with the public, with Dr. Westman and others in the medical or scientific community leading on various related topics. They maintain an active YouTube channel as well.
- From their website; “Our mission is to find the latest and most trustworthy science and practical knowledge about health, make it inspiring and simple to use, and accessible and free for everyone – thus empowering people everywhere to revolutionize their health.”
- The Two Keto Dudes podcast and forum.
- In their zeal to promote the Keto lifestyle and their basis towards evidence-based claims, they tend to over-complicate LCHF. Once you have a solid footing in LCHF/Keto, they are an excellent resource.
- The Ketogenic Athlete podcast. One can usually safely skip the first third of this podcast, unless you like hearing the random thoughts of two good friends. Otherwise, I like their focus on the “whole person” and not just the performance aspect of how LCHF and being active intersect.
- Diet Doctor has started a bi-weekly podcast September 1, 2018, hosted by Dr. Bret Scher, focusing on LCHF topics.
Books and Authors
- Anything by Gary Taubes.
- If you only read one work of his, make it his New York Times article “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” This article kicked off wider acknowledgement that we were dangerously down the wrong path on the science and practice of nutrition.
- Anything by Nina Teicholz
- I highly recommend her book, “THE BIG FAT SURPRISE; Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” which explains how we got here, and offers possible remedies.
- The Low Carb Down Under YouTube channel has Nina presenting a quick summary of her book here. It’s well worth watching, but the book provides far greater context and important details worth reading.