If you have been on this blog for a while, you have probably been paying more attention to the articles about carbs, sugars, and fats. Hopefully you have noticed a little different narrative than what were reading in the 90's and early 2000's when we (myself included) were almost obsessed with no fat products. Unfortunately for our bodies, almost all these no fat products were packed with added sugar to make them edible. But sugar is so bad for us, how did fat get replaced by sugar? It appears the answer is the same as many other issues in our society that don't quite make sense, it is all about the money. Not that long ago, we all learned how the tobacco industry paid millions of dollars to keep the fact that it caused cancer secret. Guess what....the sugar industry did the same thing to keep the fact that it's product can be a danger to the health of our society if over-consumed. Now I could go on about this for hours, but I'm going to try and get to the point as I have a big, hot rack waiting for me right now!
The good news is that the tide has begun to turn. The same government agency that added "calories from fat" to nutrition labels to warn us about all that 'dangerous' fat we were eating has made some changes to the nutrition labels. Although, calories from fat helped me choose the foods I wanted to eat, it probably wasn't viewed in that light by 99.9% of the population (since people still associate the word 'fat' in food with the fat that is on their bodies; when they have very little or negative correlation to each other). So I'd say that is a win for the health of 99.9% of the population. And the most drastic change, I feel, is a win for 100% of the population. They created an entire row that lists added sugar. This is a HUGE change since the only sugars previously listed were natural sugars and the added sugars were simply rolled into the total carbohydrates. Now you can actually better judge the processed foods that you consume. *Although if the majority of what you eat still has nutrition labels, you need to read the rest of these blogs!
More good news is that it's not only the FDA getting on board. Mainstream, well known Dr's, are starting to get on board (kind of). The great parts of the video below: 1) All carbs, no matter what form they come in (soda pop, fruits, starches) are all treated as sugar once they enter your body. 2) A diet low in fat and high in carbs can be bad for you. 3) Sugar (carbs) cause an insulin reaction which turns excess sugar into body fat. 4) The Standard American Diet really is SAD.
But then he took some really wrong turns: 1) We all need carbs to provide energy. Not really, I have a growing list of friends that intake little or no carbs and have more energy than any 'standard' American. 2) The foods used in the examples drives me insane. Putting fruit, vegetables and candy as the prime examples of simple carbs sends the wrong message to the general public. "Fruits, veggies and candy are equally bad for me." Fruits in general, are high in simple sugar and very low in fiber. Take the banana in the video (27g of carbs, 14g listed as sugar and 3.1g fiber), that's a pretty good chunk of sugar. Then let's look at the lettuce that was in the same cut-away, it has 1g of carbs, half of which is fiber. And I personally wouldn't put either of these in the same category as candy (straight refined sugar). Points for saying a sugary drink is bad and showing a big mac as bad, but why not show a greasy double patty cheese burger, with bacon and no bun as something that is good for you?? Sorry, I just drifted off into OFM dream land for a moment.
In the coming weeks we are going to have some friends new to OFM share their experiences on here. Every single person that calls, emails, texts, or messages with their success stories on OFM makes me just as happy as the very first person I heard from. We are chipping away at the low fat ignorance. You all are well ahead of the Tsunami that is about to wipe added sugar off the map. Hopefully for all those not reading this blog, our health care system, and our society it happens sooner rather than later. It's not going to solve every problem, but I'd stake everything I have that the our nation would be healthier overall if people simply cut the sugar out of their diets and stopped eating so many processed foods. Now off to get my hands on that hot rack!
Want your own hot rack like mine? It's really pretty easy!
1) Go to the store and buy a rack of ribs. This one happens to be 'spare' meaning that the cartilage etc has not been trimmed off the bottom half. If you get 'St Louis' they will be more trimmed and 'baby back' will be trimmed all the way up to the big bones you see. For each step of trimming you decide to purchase, decrease the amount of cook time.
2) Throw some seasoning on these bad boys, your choice. Today I used Jim Baldridge's Secret Seasoning straight out of Nebraska (http://baldridgeseasoning.com/). Rub it in, especially on the meaty side, and let it set out for a while. If you are really thinking ahead, do this the night before and refrigerate it over night.
3) Preheat your oven to 250 and throw them in on a rack to keep them out of the drippings, for 1.5 hours uncovered. Then cover them and put them in for another 1.5 hours.
4) Pull them out and start your grill. Once your grill is nice and hot, throw them on there for about 3-5 min on each side, just to firm up the outside and give them a nice color.
5) Eat them. I like dry rub but used a little mustard, butter, and bacon fat sauce today with them which was pretty tasty. Remember that most bbq sauces are filled with sugar.
Now these are not going to be as good as those ribs smoked for hours by skilled bbq masters, but for a guy without a smoker and a lot of work to get done while they cook- they are super easy and hit the spot.
Now go get your own hot rack while I enjoy mine!
UPDATE: July 21, 2020
Since I have been at this low carb thing for over 7 years, I thought it was a good time to share an update on my lipid (cholesterol) panels as it is one of the more asked questions. I charted all my lipid panels since 2012. Once they were relatively stable in 2017, my Dr was no longer ordering them every year. For 2012 I was on a high carb diet, the rest I have been varying degrees on low carb/keto/OFM.
For an in-depth explanation of all these terms, please read the entire post. Enjoy!
UPDATE; Nov 26, 2016
This is one of the most shared blogs I have done, because cholesterol is a huge concern for people when I start talking about eating bacon, eggs, cheese and all these other foods that were vilified for so long by the 'low-fat' police.
I have been eating OFM for 3 years and 8 months. Last week I had my cholesterol measured again, almost exactly 3 years after the most recent numbers in the original blog and the results were not that surprising to me. But those who are worried about the long-term effects of OFM might find them interesting.
Total Cholesterol; 217 (no change)
Triglycerides; 79 (+6)
HDL: 73 (+3 improvement in 'good cholesterol')
LDL; 128 (-4 decrease in 'bad cholesterol')
VLDL: 16 (+1)
These results, combined with the fact that I have been able to keep my weight in check for over 3 years- despite greatly reduced physical activity- only makes me want to share this lifestyle with more people.
ORIGINAL POST: Cholesterol might be one of the most misunderstood of all things you hear about on your annual Dr's visit. This is a complex subject so there are going to be a lot of words and not many pictures (don't worry, the next post is on my Greece trip and has lots of pics).
When I got my first checkup after starting OFM the following were my cholesterol numbers were as follows.
The first number was on my normal high carb diet; the second number is 8 months into OFM. (My numbers have remained relatively close to the second numbers since)
Total Cholesterol: 196-217
Of course I wanted to know what the heck all these numbers meant, and most importantly, was I going to die from high cholesterol that day. I don't want to ruin the suspense....but clearly I didn't. Anyway, I did a little research and asked some health professionals.
The basic cholesterol equation is below, The Friedewald Equation . Using this we can solve for any missing variable if we have the other variables- or at least that is what my HS math teacher taught me. If you are not good at math there is a Friedewald calculator on the internet!
Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + (Triglycerides/5)
Here is what the Mayo Clinic Website has to say about each cholesterol number:
Triglycerides: A type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn't need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), often called "good cholesterol". They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it's broken down.
Men, At risk=Less than 40 mg/dL; Desirable=60 mg/dL or above.
Women, At risk=less than 50 mg/dL; Desirable=60 mg/dL or above
Mine went up from 61 to 70. Another "not going to die" tick.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein), often called "bad cholesterol". These lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body, delivering it to different organs and tissues. But if your body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess keeps circulating in your blood. Over time, circulating LDL cholesterol can enter your blood vessel walls and start to build up under the vessel lining. Deposits of LDL cholesterol particles within the vessel walls are called plaques, and they begin to narrow your blood vessels.
VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein), at present there is no simple, direct way of measuring VLDL cholesterol. It is usually estimated as a percentage of your triglyceride value. An elevated VLDL cholesterol level is more than 30 milligrams per deciliter (.77 millimole/liter).
Mine went down from 27 to 15. Feeling better about this....
Simple right? No. I still had no idea what was going on with my numbers or how they were measured. I find out they probably only really measure a few things, total cholesterol, HDL and triglycerides and then use formulas for the rest. But my 'bad cholesterol', LDL, was over the recommended level and my total was over 200! Am I totally #@%#^#$^ed?!?! I panicked, then emailed some actual Dr's. One who knew what diet I was on and the other who did not.
Dr. with no prior knowledge of my diet when I sent my numbers:
Dr. with in-depth knowledge of diet and the fact that I was on it:
"You experienced the classic TG [Dr talk for Triglycerides] lowering and HDL boost. The total cholesterol and LDL-C response is more variable but a small increase as you experienced is not uncommon. Given the drop in TG it is almost certain the increase was due to larger LDL particles, which are not as atherogenic [I googled this, it means:tending to promote the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries] as the smaller one. Those likely went down."
The good news- I wasn't going to die that day from cholesterol. Bad news- this is some complex shit! Now we are talking about the size of LDL particles....and atherogenic particles. (I just had to use that word again to sound smart). So I emailed Dr. Volek to get some more info, since he is one of the world's experts in this area. Here is what I found in his response that might help us understand a small portion of this.
So that was a lot of words and you probably stopped reading right after the Friedewald Equation....I know I would have. Every person's body is going to react differently to a OFM type, low carb diet. The key is to know what your baseline was before you started the diet and then get another test after several months (over 6) on the diet. Then you can use the information above to decipher all those numbers.
If you are dying for more cholesterol talk (I mean, really, who isn't!?!). Just click here to see a lot of videos by Dr. Volek discussing the subject.
Normally I would try to write on these subjects myself. But in the article sampled here and linked at the bottom, Peter Defty (the man who coached me through my transition to using fat as fuel), breaks down some flaws seen in resent articles highlighted by the national press. Why are these articles highlights? Because companies like Pepsi, Coke and Gatorade, who push drinks loaded with sugar, have a combined advertising budget over half a BILLION dollars! What pays for media?....Advertising.
Sample from Peter's article: Ms. Clark questions the sustainability of a fat-adapted diet by saying: “No pasta, no potato, no birthday cake, no fun…..” How fun are metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance/diabetes, heart disease, Celiacs/IBS/Crohn’s, GI issues, bonking or cancer relative to giving up some pasta, bread, potatoes and birthday cake?
Clearly Peter and I are big believers in OFM and not huge fans of pasta, potatoes and birthday cake. Why? Because we have seen OFM work over and over again for a wide variety of people. Is it the perfect diet for everyone? No. But Peter sums it all up well at the end of his article.
OFM is not a “fad”. OFM is a holistic program to getting the body back to using fat as the principal fuel source for aerobic metabolism, the way evolution shaped humans. This approach is based upon science and real world results athletes who have adopted OFM are achieving. We won’t “tell” you our system is better but do invite you to investigate for yourself how getting your body back to burning “fat as fuel” will make you a better, stronger and healthier athlete not to mention when you do use carbohydrates they will work much better than they do in the world advocated by the high carb “experts”.