My Experiments with Diet & Cholesterol

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

In my mid-20s, I slowly ballooned up to 210 pounds. I changed my diet to a high fat, high protein, low sugar/carbohydrate diet and lost 50 pounds. I ate a lot but didn't change my exercise routine (new research supports the theory that low carb diets affect metabolism and burn more calories at rest). In addition to losing weight, I felt better, and in particular, satisfied after meals, but my LDL (bad) cholesterol shot way up from 126 pre-diet to 317 (should be less than 130). My doctor told me that the medical consensus is that dietary cholesterol only affects LDL up to 15%, which meant the only thing I could do is to take a statin drug for the rest of my life. I did a lot of research and found some hints that this isn't true. After a lot more research, I changed my diet by adding a lot of carbohydrates back to my diet and taking a multivitamin, and got another test after 4 months. My LDL went back down to 134. My doctor was shocked, and so was I after just the first attempt! (Some scientists believe that high cholesterol is not necessarily bad and that the problem is inflammation/damage and only then does the LDL get into the arteries, but even if that's true, my research suggests it's good if it's low anyway and a huge life risk if it's not true.)

Next came the interesting part. I had started with the scattershot approach of adding both carbs and vitamins, and I guessed that it must have been one or the other that caused the change. First, I removed the carbs and left the multivitamins and continued that diet for 5 months and LDL went up to 201. So it didn't seem to be the vitamins, so it must've been the carbs. I removed the vitamins and added the carbs and continued that diet for 8 months but my LDL was still 170. Finally, I went back to the original, good test and added both carbs and multivitamins and LDL went back down to 128! My triglycerides are also better than before I started the diet.

I learned a few things:

My current diet is best described in the book Perfect Health Diet by Drs Jaminet. The basic idea is to start with our historical/evolutionary diets and conservatively add in whatever the science supports. This means a diet that is as close to nature as possible:

The book also goes over all of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Most can be found in natural sources and I plan to remove the multivitamin pills I'm taking so that I can get back to a food-only diet.

I also found using a genetics test that I'm lactose intolerant (as is much of the world), so I cut out milk, cheese, and butter (I cook with lard), although this change had no impact on my cholesterol.

Here's my diet:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Dinner:

I only drink water throughout the day (3 huge glasses, one at each meal). Sometimes I'll have a small dessert or cookie after dinner.

This is basically a French cuisine diet. And hey, what'dya know, the French have low heart disease: The French Paradox. The potatoes and yams, while likely most safe, are high on the glycemic index; however, that's probably mitigated by the rest of the diet.

Recently, I've also been convinced in a discussion with a philosophy professor that modern factory farming is immoral. As much as possible, I try to buy meat at Whole Foods that's at step 4 or above on their animal welfare rating, even if it's not the cut that I want. There's also the Certified Humane standard/label.