The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

The Numbers Are In!

June 10th, 2009 · 10 Comments · Posted in Wellness

Numbers tell the story

Numbers tell the story

The results from my latest blood work arrived yesterday.

Drum roll, please….

And the envelope:

HDL, or “good” cholesterol, is up 39 percent, from 41 to 57 (normal range: 40 – 59).

Triglicerides, a measure of fat in the blood and a key marker for insulin resistance and potential heart disease, are down 35 percent, 103 to 66 (normal range: 0 – 149)

My LDL, or bad cholesterol count, was also down 149 to 138 (7 percent). Anything under 100 is considered good. But in a simple blood test, the LDL result is not an actual reading but a calculation based on other test components. A more complicated assay would need to be performed to determine the actual composition of my low-density lipoproteins, and whether they consist of small, dense and dangerous LDL particles, or big, fluffy more benign LDL.

The important thing is that my numbers have shown vast improvement just in the last three months since I gave up eating  carbohydrates and began a diet comprised primarily of proteins and fats. Yes, even with the cheese omelet and sausage breakfasts, the steak and bearnaise sauce dinners and the whipped cream desserts my cholesterol and fat count is remarkably, stunningly, reassuringly  improved.

And in that same time–on that very same high-protein, high-fat diet–I’ve lost 20 pounds.

Even more significantly, these results do not completely reflect the improvement in my tricglycerides, since I began my diet some weeks before the earlier blood screening. Going back to previous blood tests, my triglyceride levels are actually down by nearly two-thirds.

I’ll have more to say about all this on Friday. Meanwhile, I see these results as definite confirmation–in my case, at least–that carbohydrates are not your friend, and fat is not the fiend the medical establishment would have you believe.

In other words, it’s not the burger, baby, it’s the bun.

I think I need a big, fat slice of foie gras to celebrate.

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  • FoodRenegade

    Woot! Way to go, Ed. I applaud your discipline. 🙂 You are helping not only yourself, but your kids, wife, friends, and even those of us who only know you online.

  • bedouina

    I believe this; and I’m finding for myself that when I reduce white carbs markedly, I stop putting on weight. Am on hormone treatment for advanced cancer; the medications make me gain weight.
    how do I reconcile eating all that animal protein with a low-carbon lifestyle?
    How can I eat high protein AND vegetarian? I’m eating a lot of eggs and cheese these days. Also sardines and tuna (yes, I know, tuna not very sustainable).
    And the nutritionist at my hospital believes firmly that animal products promote cancer. I don’t agree. But still. Feeling pressured to go vegan (hate vegan).

  • Ed Bruske

    Kristin, it’s not discipline so much as a re-orientation toward food. It’s pretty easy once you reconcile yourself to the fact that most carbohydrates (except green vegetables) are poison.

    Bedouina, you can reconcile yourself to eating animal proteins first by acknowledging that this is what humans were designed to eat over 2.6 million years of evolution, and by choosing products that are grown locally on pasture, rather than in the industrial agriculture setting. By supporting sustainable local agriculture, you will be helping your local economy, the environment and your health. Besides fish, you might think of free-range chicken and pastured beef or buffalo, goat and lamb. (I see from your blog that you are Arab-American, so I am assuming you don’t eat pork.) Read about Joel Salatins agricultural practices and you’ll have an idea what I’m talking about. I know protein is more expensive. But protein without lots of saturated fat and lots of green vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables) constitute a great diet. Despite what your nutritionist says, I believe that insulin is your numbe one enemy.

  • Spinachtiger

    I found you here from Culinate where I read two articles in a row. One slammed meat at the big culprit of global warming (I’m not buying that)and one proposes saturated fat (and eating meat) is a good thing. Follow the money to get at the truth and sort out the politics. There’s a lot we don’t know.
    The only way I seem to ever be able to take off any weight is cutting carbs. I’m not going to condemn carbs altogether, but the mass produced junk in the grocery store should get the condemned sign much quicker than the cow.
    I’m not giving up my rib eye anytime soon.

    America won’t eat healthy until its ready to hear the truth, but it’s not coming from the medical community which have proven to be ignorant about nutrition and health.

    Congratulations on weight loss and medical report.

  • Ed Bruske

    Angela, for a while lately I was leaving comments whenever I noticed bogus information about fat, protein, carbs. But I think I need to stop because people are getting the impression I’m a grumpy old man. I’m middled-aged–not old–and I’m less grumpy now that I have gotten a lot of the insulin out of my system. Not everyone has so many issues with insulin, but obviously tens of millions of people do because they are obese or diabetic or both. More than likely, they are also suffering from hypertension and onset of atherosclerosis. It’s a cluster of diseases that travel together and start with insulin, brough on by too many carbohydrates. As you say, the eating public is now deluged with cheap, highly refined carbohydrates, resulting in insulin problems with kids. It’s getting worse because our government and medical community have adopted a position of advocating less protein and fat and more carbohydrates. Now we have an environmental and food writing establishment that also wants people to eat less meat and more carbohydrates–exactly the wrong prescription. Unfortunately, the momentum is going in the wrong direction and the disastrous consequences continue to unfold. I’m just doing my little bit to speak for the opposite camp that likes its protein and fat and favors fewer carbs and less insulin.

  • espringf

    Bedouina- I have similar concerns re: environmental impact of eating meat. I know I feel better in so many ways when my diet is not based on carbs, but it’s been drilled into me for years that meat is evil. And now I find out I’m allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, and almost all legumes. I’ve been going low-carb in one form or another for about 10 months, and here’s where I’ve come down:

    * It’s about “less carb” not “more meat.” Vegetables are the missing link here.
    * I need less volume of food when I’m eating fewer carbs, which helps reduce my footprint a little. (Not a ton, but some.)
    * Not all meat is created equal. It is possible to raise livestock in an ethical, environmentally-neutral manner. I have access to such meat, so I buy that whenever possible (i.e., all the meat I buy for home use and anything I can find when eating out, which usually ends up being sustainable fish)
    * Bones and fat of non-CAFO animals are nutritious and can serve to fill out a meal. For example, the stock I make from stewing hens (old hens that have quit laying eggs) is so rich, a vegetable soup based on that stock is filling and satisfying far beyond anything made from bouillon. I’m also starting to save the fat skimmed off that stock (schmaltz) and using it for cooking.

    It’s not a perfect answer. I still don’t think 6 billion people could eat like this without horrific environmental consequences. So I’m still struggling with “what’s fair for the whole world” and “what will keep me healthy.”

  • Ed Bruske

    Emily, those are all good points, but vegetables–I take that to mean green vegetables–cannot fill the calorie gap if you cut back on meat. We really do face a quandry because people need a certain level of calories to function. The only place they can come from is either protein, fat or carbs. Cut back on one and you must increase the other, or be hungry. Our oceans could provide a bounty of protein if managed correctly. We should be increasing consumption of omega-3 fats, and lowering consumption of industrial omega-6 fats. We really need a national conversation on how protein and fat are managed, and about the absurd level of insulin coursing through our veins and how that figures into our consumption of starches. But by all means, eat more green vegetables–they are really good for you.

  • espringf

    Ed- Did you find that you missed “volume” of food? I know I need a certain amount of calories per day, and lettuce will never equal sausage in terms of calories, but I don’t seem to register “full” or “satiated” at a certain number of calories; it’s a combination of volume in my belly and calories and fat. (Like you, carbs make me feel hungrier, I find.)

    I find I end up thinking/feeling that I need to eat 6-8 oz of meat and 3/4 c of veg to “make up for” the rice and pasta. But if I eat 4 oz of meat and 1-2 c. of veg, I feel more full and am still getting enough calories. (Especially if the veggies are cooked or dressed with olive oil.)

  • Ed Bruske

    Emily, my wife used to ride me hard about the portion sizes I would give myself in the rice and pasta department. They never looked that big to me. But I think there is something to what you say, that there’s a greater sense of fullness without them. Fat, of course, is very satiating, which makes perfect sense, since it is so dense with calories. And my impression is that saturated fat is more satiating that other kinds of fats. A little bit will do ya. Overall, this months-long process of switching out of carbohydrates to more proteins and fats feels like a kind of winding down where my appetite is concerned. I just don’t feel the cravings the way I used to. I’m not thinking about food all the time. There is speculation that carbohydrates, especially grains, have an addictive quality and only encourage more eating. It wouldn’t surprise me. It certainly feels much easier to cut back without them, yet I always eat my fill.

  • onebusymama

    That’s amazing, Ed. I have been curious on how things are going 🙂 Keep it up!