Saturday, May 22, 2010

Randy's Dietary Experiment

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to make an exercise and diet lifestyle change. The origin of my transformation was exactly one year ago when a good friend told me about the book he was reading on nutrition. He presented the basic concept that dietary carbohydrates are quite bad and he was trying to cut way back. Then, in November that same friend decided to really commit to this lifestyle change and the results were pretty impressive. Finally, this past March we discussed it more and I decided to do more research.

The bulk of my research has been:
  • The book Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. The book provides a very detailed history on the evolution of nutrition and challenges some widely accepted ideas. The book was eye-opening and very convincing. The biggest point of the book is that carbohydrates, not fat, are the ultimate dietary evil. The book reads like a textbook so it is hard to swallow, but I highly recommend it.
  • PaNu - a website written by Dr. Kurt Harris with a rather simple set of rules for the proper diet. He provides medical answers to a lot of common questions.
  • Mark's Daily Apple - a website written by Mark Sisson a fitness and nutrition expert. He has many different opinions than PaNu, but the same main points.
I have struggled with weight my entire life. I was very heavy until 17, and after losing 50 lbs in a summer I have fluctuated +/- 15 lbs since then. I've had the discipline to lose weight the conventional way (low calorie, low fat diets) many times but my diets never gave me long term success.

Reading the book Good Calories Bad Calories completely changed my perspective on nutrition. Like most people, I was taught to avoid fat, eat fewer calories, increase fiber, reduce sodium, and try to eat whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Now I believe that the human body was designed to operate burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates and that carbohydrates in basically any form are detrimental to my health.

I understand this is a major change in philosophy and defies countless nutrition "experts" out there. But the evidence is there. If you actually look, I believe the research points to improved health when carbohydrates are removed.

So what is my plan? For one year (I started May 17), I will meticulously record every calorie I eat, my weight, my waistline, and my exercise.
  • Phase 1: Minimize carbs, shooting for less than 20g per day. Duration: 1 month
  • Phase 2: Less than 100g carbs per day (probably less than 50g). Duration: until I reach my desired weight (which I haven't decided yet, but likely less than 180)
  • Phase 3: Experiment - adjust carbs, calories, exercise, etc. as I see fit. Duration: remainder of year.
I will also compare my blood tests from May 2009, May 2010, and May 2011.

I will provide updates on this blog weekly (roughly) and try to answer questions as I learn more. Notice I don't plan to restrict calories at all. For exercise I am eliminating long cardio workouts like running. Instead, I will lift weights and play basketball a couple times a week aside from my normal levels of activity.

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Blogger Slicy said...

Randy, this is a bad idea.

Yes. You will lose weight. I do not doubt that for a second.

Also, at your age your liver and kidneys should be able to handle it.

However, you are going to be doing damage to your kidney/liver that may cause long term problems for you in the future. Lack of fruits/veggies/carbos (ie balanced diet) also greatly increases risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney/liver disease.

Here are two links about the book you just finished. They both tell about how the author Taubes essentially picked and chose from the vast quantity of data and found a few studies that supported his and ignored an enormous amount of data that disagreed with it. Also, he got 700k for writing it...

As I'm sure you know from reading the book, this diet puts your body into the state of ketosis. This is the bodies last resort starvation stage. The good news, since you go into a starvation state your appetite will decrease. Also, it initially will deplete your body of glucose stores, then protein and fat. Keeping your body in a permanent state of ketosis in the short term will give results (weight loss), but it absolutely punishes your kidneys after a while.

I don't know what your diet advocates, but I'm going to guess that it tells you to avoid fruits, since they are considered simple glucose options. All fat and protein and no fiber... how many citations would you like?

This diet IS NOT NEW. Multiple derivations of all fat/protein diets have been around since the late 1800's. It was quite popular in the 1970's as well. The diet has been around a very long time... But, according to the most recent diet survey by the National Weight Control Registry, they surveyed 2861 dieters who have maintained a 30 pound weight loss for over a year and found that only 1% of those surveyed had a diet with <24% carbos in the diet.

Furthermore... The National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious scientific body in the United States, agrees with the AMA and the ADA in opposing the Atkins Diet. So does the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association the Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins.

Not only this, but the NIH and the American Kidney Fund are all against it.

Everyone in all of those organization might be wrong, and the vast minority might have it right... but I really doubt it.

Just putting my 2 cents in.

-with love :)


7:48 PM  
Blogger Rob Holleman said...

Randy, this is a good idea. I'm behind you and am doing the same thing. Although I'm not doing it for weight loss purposes. I'm doing it to try to prevent diseases of civilization (heart disease, cancer, etc.)

These responses are exactly why I don't publicize what I eat. Good luck with the doubters. I'll be there with resources when you need them.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi Randy,
I don't want to discourage you, as it seems like you've put a lot of thought into your new diet plan, and I haven't read the specific book you refer to. However, from the information provided in your post, I would agree with a lot of what the first commenter said. How did you find and choose to follow this book and author? I think everything in moderation is much better advice. Cutting back on carbs is certainly not a bad weight loss strategy, but I certainly don't agree that carbohydrates in basically any form are detrimental to your health. Don't be mad - I'm just giving you more food for thought. But if you decide to go ahead with it, I'll be interested to read about it on your blog (and keep reading stories about Evie, of course).

3:55 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Wow when Eric told me about this I thought it was a bit crazy, but now you, Rob, Eric, and even Reuben are trying it! Sounds delicious and healthy.

I have a few questions about it:
- How much more expensive is it? I'm sure eating bacon and eggs every day is more expensive than oatmeal or something...
- Isn't a diet like this less "green" than eating more plants? Like it takes a lot more energy to get a certain number of calories of meat than the same number of calories of rice, right? I've heard that as a reason for vegetarianism. Maybe there are ways to get lots of protein in a "green" way - nuts, beans, etc...

9:14 PM  

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