Friday, June 25, 2004

Eating Low Carb

Okay, time for a year-and-a-half update. I'm still eating low-carb, consistently since 1/1/03. When I pay close attention, and limit my calories, I lose weight, and fairly easily. The rest of the time, I maintain my weight quite nicely, with little effort needed to not gain back. The only exception is when I cheat; ice cream is my only sizeable problem. Exercise certainly helps, but I've been doing Taekwondo 3x/week for 3 months, and by itself that hasn't caused a drop in weight. I'm starting to understand the LC idea that nutrition is 70% of weight loss.

At present, I'm at 194#, down an even 20# since I started, and at last measurement (as of 6/1), I was down at 30% body fat, from a start of 35% at the start. Exercise, IMO, is really helping this along, and I can see myself staying put, weight-wise, while I build muscle. I'm certainly doing that via karate.

Now the benefits.

Weight loss. As mentioned, down 20#, and I'm able to maintain any current weight virtually without trying. This, compared to my gaining an average of 4 pounds per year since I got married, despite my best efforts to the contrary, and 2-3 diet attempts per year.

Depression. I had mentioned last year that I had gone off anti-depressants. I've stayed off them, and continue to feel wonderful, unless I go on a carb binge. I still feel better off meds and on LC than I did before on meds and HC. Big, big win.

Cholesterol. At my last blood donation, (maybe a month ago), I had a total number that was down under 200 for the first time since I started having it checked. I had a complete profile done last summer, and after eating this way for 6-7 months, my total number was down to 220 from 250, and my LDL/HDL ratio went down to 3.1 from 4.8. All of this, while eating real butter (which I hadn't done in any quantity since childhood), many, many more eggs (6-12/week now, versus 2-3/month before), considerably more red meat (probably twice as much, possibly more, although I never really tracked that), and considerably more cheese. (As a side note, my BP has pretty much always been 120/70, and hasn't changed from that since I started LCing.)

Heartburn. When Daughter was an infant (2001), I would do the 4am feedings. The routine was this: get up, start to heat up her milk, take 2 Tums, go feed her, go back to bed. Every time. If I didn't get woke up for other reasons, heartburn wouldn't wake me up, but if I did awake, it was there. The only time I've had heartburn since is when I eat a burger with both top and bottom buns. So I don't. No more heartburn.

Acne. Yeah, I was a perpetual teenager. Never as bad as when I was a teen, but I could expect several zits a week. On LC, no acne. Maybe one or two per month, which probably correlates with cheating; not sure about that, but at the very least, LCing has greatly helped.

Sleeping. Before, I would wake several times a night, and not feel particularly rested in the morning. I now sleep much more soundly, and the sleep I get is better.

Waking. Tied to sleeping, to be sure, but previously, it would take 30-60 minutes for me to really wake up. I don't do coffee (or any other caffeine), so I just muddled through it, often grumpily. I now wake up ready to get up, and in moments (not even minutes), I'm ready and moving.

Energy. Again, possibly tied to the sleep thing, but I noticed a marked difference in my exercising very soon after starting the low-carb thing. I would warm up faster, exercise better, and cool down faster. Let me be clear: my exercising up to this year consisted of walking and light bike riding, nothing "athletic", nothing competitive. I lead a sedentary, desk-jockey lifestyle. For the last 3 months, I've been taking Taekwondo, and feeling definite gains in strength and CV fitness from that, but I have nothing to compare those gains to, so YMMV.

Allergies. I get hay fever every spring, and I have since at least my teen years. Last spring, I watched my allergies carefully, hoping LCing would help. I still had hay fever, and if it was lighter, it wasn't by much. This year, nothing. Barely a few sneezes, no congestion, no burning eyes, nothing. In Lutz's book, he says nothing (that I recall) about allergies, but does say that switching to a LC way of eating won't see it full benefits in all areas for up to 2 years, so I'm merely hopeful on this one, but so far I'm batting 50%, and I've never had an allergy-free year since, oh, age 16. Until now.

Cravings. On 1/1/03, Wife said "We're trying low-carb". I thought "okay, that'll last a week (just like all the other diet attempts we've made)." I was willing to try, (I always was), but I couldn't see for the life of my how I'd give up pizza, pasta, mashed potatoes and ice cream for any real length of time. But after two weeks, I almost completely lost my taste for all of them, except ice cream. It's no longer any challenge having a pizza in front of me at work, (although I do take a piece, eat the toppings, and pitch the crust, if nobody's looking), and pasta and potatoes are now in the "did I really love that stuff" category. Now, if I was saying this at week 2 or 3, I'd say it was "willpower" that was about to crumble, but this is 18 months later, and I'm solid on this, with no "willpower" involved. My taste buds have changed, did so quickly, and have staying that way. (Yeah, except for ice cream. And maybe chocolate, except there are really good LC chocolates out there, and LC ice cream is getting much better, so I'm doing okay there, too.)

In short, I'm way beyond doing this as a "diet". This is a way of life now, and I see no reason whatsoever to go back.

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