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Success Story: Really!? Who Loses Weight and Gets Healthier by Eating Fat and Getting Rid of Whole Grain!?

Published on September 19, 2013,

Tucker’s early story is one many will relate to: he was fit and active in school but then moved into an office job, married his sweetheart and started to pile on the pounds. He tried to manage this through the normal recommended advice (low fat diet, going to the gym) and had temporary periods of marginal success but his health was not good. Eventually he discovered the low carb paleo diet and the Crossfit exercise program. You can see the details below but just checkout the before and after photos to see the impact! This is from Ancestral Weight Loss Registry…

Old Tucker

Old Tucker

…One night on my way home from work I started to feel light headed, but passed it off as having “low blood sugar.” After getting home and nearly fainting, I decided that I was going to go to the doctor the next day to have him take a look at me. Doc recommended for me to have a lipid profile completed, which I did. The results aren’t all that shocking now, but to a 22 year old who had relatively good health before, this was quite depressing. My cholesterol was sky high (320) and my triglycerides were just as bad (390). HDL was 36 and LDL was out of this world. He immediately put me on a statin, which I begrudgingly took over a 5 month period of time.

At that point in time, I was 5’6”, 208 lbs, but my cholesterol #’s were coming down…life was good. Well, it actually wasn’t good. Around this time, I never had any energy, we continued to eat incredibly bad, and we then found out that my wife was pregnant (not exactly planned). Immediately, I was determined to lose weight and get fit. My mindset was: there is no way that I want my child to see me this fat.

To get in shape and lose weight, I got a membership to the YMCA and went to the gym 4-5 times per week; all the while, not paying much attention to my diet. After 2-3 months and a small amount of success (losing 5-7 lbs), I started researching ways to eat “healthy”. I started eating “healthy” cereal (whole grains are great for you, right?), cut almost all of the fat out of my diet (turkey bacon, turkey burgers, etc), and loaded up on protein. 2 months into this eating style and I was feeling just as bad as I did before, but I was starting lose pounds, which was all that mattered to me. Before our son was born, I stepped on the scale and felt pretty good about myself, I was 20 pounds lighter and looking good.

To me, losing 20 pounds was awesome, but I still weighed 185 pounds and my triglycerides & LDL were way too high. Shortly after my son’s birth I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. My weight over the next few years yo-yo’d up and down. I had a very basic mentality about fitness…your total health = total weight. So, losing 15 pounds meant getting that much more healthy! Or at least I thought. At a point during my last semester of school, I was again weighing 170-175 and thought I was on top of the world. For some reason, though, I couldn’t maintain very well and it was very easy to shoot back up to 185. And that’s exactly what happened.

I was fortunate enough to have a job lined up immediately following school. Again, this was an office job, but I convinced myself that if I watched my calories and went to the gym then there wouldn’t be any problems. A year and a half into my job (July 2011) and I was hovering around 195 pounds. Once again we received the good news that my wife was expecting. And again, I told myself that I’m going to lose weight so my soon to arrive daughter would never see her father look so bad.

To cut weight, I setup an elaborate workout and meal plan (standard American diet low in fat and high in carbs) to keep me on track and provide structure. Most mornings I would get to the gym around 5a, run for 15-30 minutes, and lift weights for 30 – 45 minutes. This seemed to be working for me (remember, I believed weight loss was paramount). From July 2011 – November 2011, I shed 20-25 pounds and improved my lipid profile.

Something strange happened around November, however. I came down with a sinus infection that started just after Halloween. As is typical for me, I didn’t go to the doctor for it because I thought it would go away. During this time, I continued to exercise and eat normal. Mid-December rolled around and I continued on with the sinus infection. Thinking that there could be more to my illness than originally thought, I broke down and went to the doctor. He prescribed azithromycin (z-pack), which I took until gone, but the pesky cold wouldn’t stay away. Basically, from November 2011 until mid-January 2012, I had some form of cold and/or sinus infection. Even though I had been overweight for much of the past 8 years, I rarely got sick, and if I did it would clear up fairly quickly.

New Tucker

New Tucker

In mid-January 2012, I decided I’d had enough of the job that I was in and went to a different company. My 3 month long cold now gone, I felt rejuvenated, and ready for a fresh start. During this time, I stumbled across some “crazy” people doing Crossfit and eating this weird (and dumb) “Paleo” diet. Really!? Who loses weight and gets healthier by eating fat and getting rid of whole grain!?

After researching the eating habit for a month or so and stumbling across MDA (ask my wife, Mark and I are on a first name basis ;) ), I dove right into the paleo diet and haven’t looked back. Unlike my previous bout with getting health (aka – losing weight), I actually felt good this time around. And, FINALLY, I figured out that there is much more to being healthy than that number that pops up on the scale.

Recently, I had my blood work done and I am happy with the results:

TC: 249

HDL: 60

LDL: 148

Triglycerides: 123

Of course there is room for improvement in those results, but I have never previously had HDL above 40 and triglycerides under 200. In 5 months, I’ve made great strides and feel tremendous doing it!

Now for a few numbers:

July 2011

Height: 66 inches

Weight: 195 lbs

BF%: +20%

Waist: 35.25 inches

July 2012

Height: 66 inches (damn, I still haven’t grown!)

Weight: 145 lbs

BF%: 10-11%

Waist: 29.5 inches

Although my wife is absolutely sick and tired of me talking about my diet (she’s still holding on to bread), she is proud of me for changes I’ve made. And, yes, I still have people look at me like I have 7 eyes whenever they ask me how I lost weight, “…you eat bacon!?…are you now a caveman!?…I could never give up pastas,etc!….”

While I understand that we’re facing an uphill battle in our fight against a terrible American diet, littered with disease, progress is being made.

More at:  Really!? Who loses weight and gets healthier by eating fat and getting rid of whole grain!?

5 Health Markers That Matter More Than Total Cholesterol And LDL-C

Published on September 3, 2013,

Jimmy Moore’s  book Cholesterol Clarity challenges the approach of most physicians who, when analysing a patient’s cholesterol results, zero in their focus on two specific numbers to determine the state of heart health risk and treatment—total cholesterol and LDL-C. Instead, he says, there are 5 other numbers that matter more. This is from CarbSmart…

Cholesterol Clarity1. Triglycerides

This is one of two numbers that I describe in my book as the “forgotten and ignored” part of your cholesterol panel. This is critically important to not just your cardiovascular health, but your overall health as well. Although my own doctor quickly dismissed my low triglycerides as a positive sign of my state of health, virtually every single one of the 29 experts I interviewed and featured inCholesterol Clarity agreed that lower triglycerides are a much more relevant marker than total cholesterol and LDL-C. The goal to shoot for with your triglycerides is under 100 (mainstream medicine says it should be 150 or below, but you can show signs of metabolic health issues at this level), and optimally under 70. The best way to do that is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming to suit your own personal tolerance level. I have to personally stay around 30g total carbohydrates in my diet or I’ll see my triglycerides go back up again. You’ll need to tinker and tweak your intake to see what level is best for you. Your triglyceride number will precipitously rise above 100 if you’re consuming too many carbs, so use this marker to your advantage.

2. HDL-C: High-Density Lipoprotein

The second leg in that “forgotten and ignored” part of your standard cholesterol panel is your HDL-C. Sometimes referred to as the “good” cholesterol, it’s definitely a healthy thing to have this number above 50 at the very least, and optimally above 70. There are many ways to get your HDL cholesterol higher, but the best way is to eat more fat in your diet, especially saturated fat. While things like butter, coconut oil, full-fat meats and cheeses, and other delicious fat-rich foods have been vilified as being “artery-clogging” in our culture for decades, the reality is these are the very foods that can help you become heart-healthy by raising your HDL-C. When you reduce your triglycerides by cutting the carbohydrates in your diet, while consuming more fat to increase your HDL, it’s a fantastic one-two punch that gives you a distinct advantage in your pursuit of optimal health. Higher HDL and lower triglycerides are much more indicative of robust heart health than whatever your total and LDL cholesterol numbers are.

3. LDL-P: LDL Particle number

You might be wondering what in the world this is since you won’t find it on a standard cholesterol panel. That’s true, you won’t. But it is important to know your LDL-P number. This can be obtained by asking your doctor to run what’s called an NMR Lipoprofile test. Many people erroneously believe LDL is just one number because all they’ve ever seen on their cholesterol test results is LDL-C. But the reality is there are many subfractions of LDL particles that can be measured directly through the use of some pretty sophisticated technology, like the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) testing. Getting this run by your doctor (who may push back at you when you request it claiming it is unnecessary) will begin to give you a much clearer picture about what is actually going on inside your body. The more LDL particles you have floating around in your blood, the greater the risk of those particles penetrating the arterial wall. There’s still some debate amongst the cholesterol experts about whether it is the total number of particles or the size of the particles that matters most. Since the science isn’t settled on this, we present both sides of that argument in Cholesterol Clarity and let the reader decide for themselves which side they choose to believe.

4. Small LDL-P: Small LDL Particle number

As I just shared, when you get an NMR Lipoprofile test run by your doctor, it will let you see exactly how many LDL particles there are in your blood (this comprises your LDL-P number). But it also will show you the size difference between those LDL particle subfractions. This is an important marker that you really need to know about, especially if you have a high LDL-C number that your doctor wants to lower by use of stains. When you have mostly the small, dense, and dangerous LDL particles in your blood, that’s what is known as Pattern B. Conversely, when the majority of your LDL particles are the large, fluffy, and buoyant kind, that’s referred to as Pattern A. The Small LDL-P begins to become much more problematic when this number comprises more than 20 percent of your total LDL particles. For example, if your LDL-P is 1000, then your Small LDL-P needs to be 200 or less. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you consume less carbohydrates to your own personal tolerance level, and eat more healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet, then your Small LDL-P will go down. Incidentally, that statin drug your doctor is trying to push on you will indeed lower your LDL cholesterol, but it will do so by eliminating the large, fluffy kind first, leaving you with a higher percentage of small LDL particles that put you at a greater risk for having a heart attack. It’s something to consider the next time your physician pulls out his prescription pad because of your “high cholesterol.”

5. hsCRP: high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein

Technically, this blood test is not a part of your “cholesterol panel.” But it is perhaps the most indicative test you could have run to see if actual heart disease is beginning to manifest itself in your body. The high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) is the marker that shows you the level of systemic chronic inflammation in your body. Without inflammation, there is no risk for heart disease. Period, end of story. So wouldn’t you want to test to see what your level of inflammation actually is? Absolutely. That’s why everyone needs to know what their hsCRP is, sometimes referred to simply as CRP. I’ve seen ranges of CRP between 0-10 being touted as healthy, but the ideal number should be below 1.0. Mine is currently at .55 which means I have minimal inflammation in my body and a very low risk for heart disease despite having a total cholesterol level of 306. Eliminating stress, cutting carbohydrates, and ditching those so-called “healthy” vegetable oils are all pro-active ways to greatly reduce your inflammation and make yourself healthier than you ever thought possible.

More at: 5 Health Markers That Matter More Than Total Cholesterol And LDL-C

The Diet-Heart Myth: Why Everyone Should Know Their LDL Particle Number

Published on May 9, 2013,

We recently featured an article by Chris Kresser which set out to bust a common diet and heart myth that suggests eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood. Chris has now produced a second article in the series busting the follow-up myth – that high cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. This is from…

English: Love heart

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part of the confusion about cholesterol and its role in heart disease is caused by imprecise terminology. So, before I explain why high cholesterol is not the underlying cause of heart disease, we have to cover some basics.

Cholesterol is not technically a fat; rather, it’s classified as a sterol, which is a combination of a steroid and alcohol. It’s crucial to understand that you don’t have a cholesterol level in your blood. Cholesterol is fat-soluble, and blood is mostly water. In order for cholesterol to be transported around the body in the blood, it has to be carried by special proteins called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are classified according to their density; two of the most important in cardiovascular disease are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

I know this can get confusing quickly, so let me use an analogy to make this more clear. Imagine your bloodstream is like a highway. The lipoproteins are like cars that carry the cholesterol and fats around your body, and the cholesterol and fats are like passengers in the cars. Scientists used to believe that the number of passengers in the car (i.e. concentration of cholesterol in the LDL particle) is the driving factor in the development of heart disease. More recent studies, however, suggest that it’s the number of cars on the road (i.e. LDL particles) that matters most.

Coronary arteries are essentially hollow tubes, and the endothelium (lining) of the artery is very thin—only one cell deep. The blood, which carries lipoproteins like LDL, is in constant contact with the endothelial lining. So why does the LDL particle leave the blood, penetrate the endothelium and enter the artery wall? The answer is that it’s a gradient-driven process. Going back to our analogy, the more cars there are on the road at one time, the more likely it is that some of them will “crash” into the fragile lining of the artery. It’s not the number of passengers (cholesterol) the cars are carrying that is the determining factor, but the number of cars on the highway.

The significance of this in terms of determining your risk of heart disease is profound. When you go to the doctor to get your cholesterol tested, chances are he or she will measure your total, LDL and HDL cholesterol. This tells you the concentration of cholesterol (passengers) inside of the lipoproteins (cars), which is not the driving factor behind plaque formation and heart disease. Instead, what should be measured is the number of LDL particles in your blood.

LDL cholesterol levels and LDL particle number are often concordant (i.e. when one is high, the other is high, and vice versa), and this is probably why there is an association between LDL cholesterol and heart disease in observational studies. The elevated LDL cholesterol was more of a proxy marker for elevated LDL particle number in these cases. But here’s the kicker: they can also be discordant. In layperson’s terms, it’s possible to have normal or even lowcholesterol, but a high number of LDL particles. If this person only has their cholesterol measured, and not their particle number, they will be falsely led to believe they’re at low risk for heart disease. Even worse, the patients that are the most likely to present with this pattern are among the highest risk patients: those with metabolic syndrome or full-fledged type 2 diabetes. The more components of the metabolic syndrome that are present—such as abdominal obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and low HDL—the more likely it is that LDL particle number will be elevated.

On the other hand, patients with high LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) and low LDL particle number (LDL-P) are not at high risk of heart disease. In fact, studies suggest they’re at even lower risk than patients with low LDL-C and low LDL-P. Yet they will often be treated with statin drugs or other cholesterol lowering medications, because the clinician only looked at LDL-C and failed to measure LDL particle number. This is a concern for two reasons. First, statin drugs aren’t harmless. (I’ll go into more detail on this in the third post of the series.) Second, studies suggest that lowcholesterol can increase the risk of death, especially in women and the elderly…

The article concludes…

Heart disease is a complex, multifactorial process. The likelihood that we’ll have a heart attack depends on numerous factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle and living environment. The purpose of this article is not to suggest that LDL-P is the only risk factor that matters, or that other risk factors shouldn’t be taken into consideration. It is simply to point out that existing evidence suggests that LDL-P is a much better predictor of heart disease risk than LDL or total cholesterol, and that it appears to be one of the better markers available to us now.

More (including references) at:  The Diet-Heart Myth: Why Everyone Should Know Their LDL Particle Number

Chris Kessler has a special follow up article here: What Causes Elevated LDL Particle Number?

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