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Sorting Out Truths and Alternative Hypotheses About Nutrition

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Starting Atkins has been very odd for me. This way of eating has gone against what I thought were the fundamentals of healthy eating and I was afraid of how it would effect my health in both the long and short term. The most successful diet I have ever been on prior to Atkins was South Beach, but I remember I doubled my grocery bill. It was more low-fat and somewhat low-carb and incorporated "healthy fats". This diet allows unlimited fats in the form of butter, olive oil, coconut oil, meat and eggs. Cholesterol and saturated fat!!!! OMG I am eating my way to a heart attack. And seriously, whole wheat bread is good for you! Fiber!

A little digging and I feel like I am trapped in some bizarre nutritional information conspiracy. The cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis was never proven. Cholesterol is more complicated than just a number (currently a ratio of HDL to LDL) and it is produced by the body and plays a key role in repairing cells, especially where there is inflammation. There are a variety of saturated fats, many of them raise HDL (the good stuff) and the rest of them raise both HDL and LDL, so it sort of cancels itself out. Higher cholesterol in women may actually be protective. The only proven risk correlation for cholesterol is in middle age men who are already at risk of heart disease. And, of course, whole wheat bread raises blood sugar levels more quickly than table sugar, which increases insulin, which regulates when your body decides to store energy as fat. Without insulin, my body is actually regulating this fat-storage thing much better. Honestly, its all been mind-bending and I don't have a firm grasp of it.

I have a lot of nutrition-savvy friends in my life who are not a bit pleased with my eating habits. My mother, a WW-loving lifer (she lost 10 pounds on it, therefore it is the way) is actually super supportive because I am finally losing weight. When I come to visit, she stocks up on my favorite staple foods (bacon, eggs, cabbage, cauliflower) and brings me Costco packs of meat when she visits. But my coworkers and friends kind of keep quiet, and will occasionally say something that shows they clearly disagree with how I'm eating. For example, I brought in Chicken Paprikash this week for my lunch, and my coworker sniffed it and looked interested, asking how I made it. I told her the ingredients, and when she heard butter, she made a face and turned away. "Butter...gross." Both she and my friend have mentioned cholesterol. When my coworker said it, I kind of ended up in a rant that made no sense and immediately wished I had kept quiet. Something about cholesterol is made by the body for a purpose, and the cholesterol and fat we eat are not going straight from our food into our blood stream or belly. It does not cause heart attacks. I wasn't articulate and nobody really responded when I finished. I could hear them silently saying to themselves "Cray-cray. Well, its her funeral." When my friend said something last weekend, I pretty much said that it shouldn't hurt my cholesterol and I'll send her an article. She doesn't really care, so I'm not sending her anything right now.

BUT...I need to learn to talk about this without sounding like a crazy person. So I am compiling a list of websites and articles here to read and re-read and refer people to.


Gary Taubes:

Weston A. Price Foundation:



More links later. In a few months, I will go get some full blood work and share them here and on some other boards. Sadly, I have no "before" numbers, so if my numbers sucked before but suck less now...le sigh. Well, then I'll get them re-tested in another 6 months.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SHHH...
    Thanks ladies! Woubbie - exactly! I think my best plan is just not to talk about it, because lot of people are so sure of their truth that I really sound like a tinfoil-head. I'll let my visible progress serve as my voice for now.

    EweFluffy - so glad to hear it! My health insurance changed and I have let to find a new doctor, but I think I need to have the numbers to show. Yes, I remember the first week I couldn't get myself to eat dinner. SO MUCH FAT! But now I've adapted well. The higher the percentage of fat in my diet (60%), the more I lose.

    Amyabell - Yes, my appetite is generally under control (unless my carb numbers get too high). Had a carb binge last weekend while with some of these friends and it took a few days for my appetite to settle when I got back on board the next morning. Butter is awesome. So is coconut oil.
    1954 days ago
    You have taken "the red pill" and are now finding just how deep the rabbit hole goes!
    You'll never be able to un-see this either. Every time I walk through my corporate office all the obesity I see makes me think "WheatBelly" !

    I can't wait to get my test results in a couple of months. I'm planning to post them in my cubicle and carry a copy in my wallet!

    When people question your nutritional choices you can only lead by example: having more energy, showing demonstrably better health "numbers", becoming more fit, having fewer cravings and hunger, etc. Weight loss eventually becomes a side benefit!

    1954 days ago
    I've been doing the ketogenic thing for awhile and I just had blood work done last week. All of my numbers improved considerably since a year ago. I'm convinced!!

    I had trouble at first eating so much fat stuff, but as i've gotten used to it, I like it more and more all of the time, even though I'm not losing very fast, but I think age has a lot to do with that. But... it's a work in progress...
    1955 days ago
    I think you are doing great. Do you notice you aren't as hungry on the low carb diet? I am doing it too. You should tell your friends that butter is way better for you than margarine, which is one molecule away from plastic! It tastes better too!

    1955 days ago
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