Friday, April 15, 2011

Am I Done Yet?

So this has been on my mind for a few weeks now. When do I know if I'm as slim as I can be given the current dietary interventions I have made? I have been plateaued between 210 and 215 pounds for a very long time. I know I can get below that below if I go on a fat fast but I don't know that that is my favorite thing. Not that I don't think it's healthy in the short run but that loss tends to be a bit fleeting.

So is this level of weight the best I can hope for unless I add exercise into the mix in a bigger way than I have been. I suspect the answer is yes. I could go much lower calorie I suppose, but I don't believe that is the healthiest option. No telling that the body won't pull as much energy from protein to make up the deficit than it would from fat.

 I've been trying to get the exercise thing going for a while now but between gout, travel, and general malaise due to the longest fucking winter ever, I haven't been able to get any momentum. I am going to try again this week.

BTW, I have pretty much stopped weighing myself too. I have a love hate (mostly hate) relationship with my scale. I love it when the weight moves lower, hate it otherwise. I don't really need the aggravation any more.

So what does that mean for my n=1 experiment. It's still on. I'll check in on my weight in a few months For now, I'll check in hopefully weekly on the blog to describe what I am doing exercise wise and how I am feeling in general (how my clothes are fitting).

Wish me luck!

Cholesterol Numbers

So I had my first encounter with the mainstream medical establishment in regards to cholesterol today. I got the results of my cholesterol tests and here they are with conversions

Serum Cholesterol: 7.07 mmol/l  = 273.3952 mg/dl
HDL: 1.95 mmol/l  = 75.40603 mg/dl 
LDL: 4.81 mmol/l  = 186.00155 mg/dl
Triglycerides 0.65 mmol/l  = 57.57307 mg/d

Cholesterol/HDL: 3.6
Triglycerides/HDL: 0.33 
LDL/HDL: 2.5

So the doctor looks at this and says my cholesterol is high and my ldl is high and I can either go on drugs or introduce lifestyle changes.

My objections: 

My ratios are great. Total cholesterol/hdl ideally should be 3.5 or less but at least less than 5.0. Check. Triglycerides/HDL should be < 0.437. My ldl/hdl should be less than 3.5:1. My triglycerides/HDL should be 0.24 or greater.

Secondly, they do not measure which pattern (A or B) the LDL is in. And I believe that if the triglycerides are low (which mine are) that it is more likely that I have LDL pattern A which is relatively benign.

So anyway, I will go on with what I am doing except for one thing. I have been ridiculously inconsistent with exercise. If in 6 months I get a similar result, I'll insist on a VAP test to check the type of LDL before I go on any drug.

My CarbSane experience

So I got into a bit of a 'discussion' on the Weighty Matters site with a woman who calls herself CarbSane. It was essentially a lesson in arguing with a zealot. Now I will admit, I'm low carb biased. But CS, is a strange one to deal with. Argue a different interpretation of a study and she will sidestep, or berate.

My point in commenting in the first place was to say that the initial commenter was wrong in calling Gary Taubes a snake oil salesman. He is not trying to sell anything other than his book and frankly he could have made more money writing a diet book based on some stupid premise (eat a grapefruit and mars bar at every meal and you'll lose weight) and made more money. Instead, he researched a wide-ranging topic for 5 or more years and came up with a very intelligent book.

Argue if you want with his conclusions, that's fine. But the commenter's insistence that he is a con man makes little sense. A con man tells people what they want to hear. Sure the low carb community wanted to hear what Taubes said but it's a far smaller community than the mainstream.

Personally, I think Taubes makes a fairly compelling case that carbohydrates, especially refined grains and sugars are more important to watch if you want to lose weight than calories. And my own experience of losing 30 pounds WITHOUT counting calories convinces me that he is correct. Also, the studies that I have looked at show that not only does the low carb calorie unrestricted diet result in as good or better weight loss than other diets, it also seems to improve a lot of other health markers (hdl cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure) again as well or better than other diets.

Do I think that means someone could eat a 5000 calorie diet a day and not gain weight as long as the carb count is very low? I don't know, but I think there is reason to believe that IF you could get someone to eat that much without raising increasing the absolute amount of carbs, it may be possible. The point that Taubes is making is not that you can eat 5,000 calories a day, it's that you can eat as much as you want (ie. to satiety) and not gain weight and possibly lose weight if you restrict the carbs. My personal experience has shown that to be the case.