Having been inspired by so many that went before me, I felt it’s about time I give a brief account of my experience on LCHF.
I am 172 cm (5’7″) and was 33 years old when I realized I weighed 84 kg (185 lbs). My first response was fairly standard, a reduced-calorie fruit smoothie based regimen devoid of Coca-Cola saw me lose about 2.5 kg (6 lbs) over four months.
One day, I stumbled across the blood sugar meter the hospital had given my wife for her gestational diabetes. An hour after a disgustingly large rice-based meal I tested myself. Horrified at the dangers of the 12.1 mmol/l (218 mg/dl) result it gave me, I began seeking answers. My fasting glucose numbers were in the region of 6.7 mmol/l (120 mg/dl) (“only pre-diabetic”) so I didn’t immediately go to the doctors for an formal diagnosis and whilst that may have been reckless, possibly it was for best as reading online led me to Mark’s Daily Apple and Diet Doctor.
MDA Gave me three simple rules:
- No grains.
- No vegetable oil.
- No added sugar.
Diet Doctor reassured me that:
- Fat could be consumed in place of foods I couldn’t eat.
- Calories-in, calories-out is a well marketed excuse to consume junk.
- That many very intelligent people were working “secretly” on low-carb research and had more evidence proving their wisdom than Unilever, P&G, etc ever did.
Immediately, my post-meal glucose numbers dropped into the normal range. Over the next four months I lost another 10 kg (22 lbs). I plateaued around 71 kg (157 lbs) then bounced between 70-73 kg (154-161 lbs) for a while. During these first four months, I kept a close eye on my glucose numbers.
I could’ve been happy at that weight, in fact I didn’t really care about weight anymore. I stopped weighing myself and checking my glucose levels because ingredients I used became routine and my numbers didn’t vary much. What I haven’t mentioned is that I got to this point without a single consideration of exercise. The fact I felt 15 years younger couldn’t be ignored and I wondered how far I could take this. I felt exercise might now be enjoyable, so I started riding my bike again.
By this point I’d read a lot more on associated topics such as cholesterol, fasting, how industry-led dogma nearly killed me, etc, etc. Armed with more unconventional knowledge than anyone needs and having felt it work wonders I decided to double down. I experimented with full keto (less than 20 g carbs per day) gorging myself on all manner of fat (except high PUFA “veggie” oils of course). During this time I maintained ketone levels of 4.5 mmol/l for several weeks.
I’d already been skipping meals when not hungry so I wondered how far I could push that. I decided to undertake a longer fast. I lasted 5 days, it wasn’t easy nor was it hard (except when my wife was cooking gammon steaks). I was 72 kg (159 lbs) when I started the fast and I finished 5 days later at 66 kg (146 lbs). For the last 3 days my blood sugar was a flat 3.1 mmol/l (55 mg/dl) but I felt OK. I went through a gentle re-feeding phase and quickly got back to 68 kg (150 lbs).
These days I bounce between 67-69 kg (148-152 lbs) depending on how much unnecessary food I’ve eaten that week.
On rare occasions I break a rule here or there but this weekend I ate Dim Sum and not like I usually would. I pigged out on all manner of dumplings even indulging on sweetened buns, the meal was probably the closest thing to bliss points I’ve tasted in 3 years. Of course it was delicious and I ate WAY more than I needed, breaking all 3 of my rules in one meal. Needless to say I felt bloated and tired for hours and even struggled, sleepy-eyed out of bed the next day. But here is the incredible thing, one hour after pigging out I tested my blood sugar and I was only 8.6 mmol/L (155 mg/dl) (probably the highest it’s been in 3 years). Another hour later I re-tested, 4.5 mmol/L (81 mg/dl), a further hour later, a respectable 4.4 mmol/L (79 mg/dl). Despite the fast drop between the one and two hour mark I didn’t crash out and I’m pretty sure nobody could call me diabetic anymore.
Excess weight and blood sugars began this journey but that’s not all that changed. The man in the top row of photos was hungry all the time, had dandruff, extremely poor complexion and brittle nails. He burned quickly in the sun despite wearing SPF50, was fat, slow and lazy, he struggled out of bed every day to sit at the desk where he worked, desperately needing a nap after lunch only surviving propped up by coffee all day. He was a mosquito magnet and couldn’t even tie his shoe laces from around his bloated belly without groaning, and the saddest part was that in his natural environment he wasn’t even considered particularly fat.By contrast the man in the bottom row of photos, is never hungry, doesn’t suffer from dandruff, has nails as tough as tiger claws and has somewhat improved complexion. He can go entire days in subtropical sun with minimal natural sunblock. He’s slim, fast and up for any activity. He sleeps less but has far greater vitality. He even works happily at a standing desk, often skips lunch and drinks coffee when he feels like drinking coffee, not when he’s worried he might dose off. He likes impromptu nap but they never sneak up on him, and mosquitos tend to leave him alone. These days, people that missed those couple of years during which I piled on 18 kg (40 lbs) think I have “lucky genes” when they see me eating delicious fatty food, when I explain the truth they often scoff… their low-fat donut (pun intended).
Reluctantly at first, my family got on board, they’re not quite as strict as I am but they’ve all experienced benefits and can’t refute the truth, and if anyone was wondering… pregnancy number two did not feature gestational diabetes, happy days!
I owe a debt of gratitude to Andreas Eenfeldt and his Diet Doctor Team, Mark Sisson and his team, as well as the authors that guided my journey, including but not limited to Garry Taubes, Nina Teicholz, David Perlmutter, William Davis, Jason Fung and Denise Minger.
Congratulations Dan – what a transformation!
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