How I radically altered my body for the better – Part 3.

In the last post, I discussed insulin control.

Now it’s time for the general philosophy of these eating plans.

At root, all of these plans begin with:

“Humanity evolved over the course of roughly 100,000 years from our Neanderthal ancestors. Agriculture is a new invention from just the past 10,000 years. The human genome was not designed to cope with the huge amounts of sugar, detrimental amino acids and toxins inherent in most commercially produced crops (corn, wheat, potatoes, rice, beans, pasta). Instead, the basis of our diet should be based upon meats, vegetables, fats, and moderate amounts of fruit. This would be more in tune with our evolution derived adaptations.”

A heavy reduction in carbohydrates ->drop in blood sugar ->less insulin ->less fat storage -> weight loss

Now, the problem with this, is that we also need calories to fuel ourselves. Meats and vegetables have nowhere near the calorie density of grains and beans. When I hard swapped over, I effectively halved my calorie intake. I was slowly starving, which caused serious muscle loss as well as fat loss. It is not possible to eat enough broccoli, spinach and kale to replace a single potato.

A medium potato is roughly 160 calories, rice is 210 calories, pasta at 390….

a cup of spinach is 7. A serving of broccoli is 50.

Do the math. But if you have a budget…

A ribeye steak is 847 calories! But steak isn’t cheap.

Chicken is 300 calories for a cup, making it very economical, but you’re still eating a lot of it.

The slow carb diet takes this basic premise and adds back in some beans (lentils, black beans and pinto beans) to serve as a source of protein, dietary fiber and calories. I discovered this much later in my pursuit of health. Adding beans back into the equation, we get 41 calories… per tablespoon. Holy Moses!

Eat your beans!

They are also economical with regards to cost. Now, not just any beans. Lentils, black beans, kidney beans and chick peas pinto beans contain the least amount of sugar with a Glycemic Load under 10.

I found this approach to be a wonderful balance. My weight loss stopped.

At that point, I started eating and exercising for muscle gain. I was lifting heavy weights for single sets to failure and eating huge meals full of brown rice, pinto beans and meat.

After 3 months, I had put on 20 lbs of lean muscle. I had put on an additional 15lbs that wasn’t muscle. Sticking to the slow carb plan… the first 5 lbs came off in 2 weeks. Dropping the last 10 and getting to 12% bodyfat… that required a bit more work. I worked harder to shed that final 10 that I had worked to drop that first 20.

All of the easy weight gains were gone. Now I was going to have to work for it.

If I was going to do it all over again… Here is what I would do differently.

Follow the slow carb plan.

Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains. If you have to ask, don’t eat it.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you’re just picking new default meals.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose –> glycerol phosphate –> more bodyfat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.
Rule #5: Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday.

But… tweak as follows.

Rule #4: Fruit. If you’re going to eat it, have it in the evening. The body is much less sensitive to insulin spikes in the evening, thereby reducing the potential for fat storage. I am currently experimenting with fibrous fruit (like apples) and cholesterol balancing. When I first went onto the Primal Blueprint.. my cholesterol dropped from 230 to 147. As I moved more and more fruit off the list… my cholesterol levels jumped back above 200 and up to 270. Fibrous fruits and onions have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Both of which, I had been imbibing in large amounts. I will update once I get my cholesterol retested.

Rule #5: Cheat day… no. Make it a cheat meal. For me, it’s generally Saturday dinner. If I know I have a big event coming up or a party… I will postpone til that time.  I was never able to do a full cheat day. It always made me feel sick to my stomach. But a big, happy cheat meal… was something to be savored.


Next up.. exercising.



How I radically altered my body for the better – part 2

Ok, some more education …

When it’s all said and done, it comes down to insulin control. The relevant issue is that insulin promotes the absorption of glucose from the blood and into fat tissue. When the body senses a spike in blood sugar, the liver releases insulin to mop it all up. The body begins running on the preferred sugar vs the body’s stored fat. The remaining sugar gets shunted off to fat storage.

It’s not the fat in our food, it’s the sugar. The constant, unending barrage of sugar that we’ve been convinced to eat in constant dosages for all our lives. From breakfast cereal first thing in the morning, to the High Fructose Corn Syrup in our evening glass of Coke.

Instead of our bodies burning our fat stores, they burn sugar and store the excess sugar as fat. And then we pump in more sugar. Our bodies become sugar burning, and sugar storing machines. With all the free, preferred sugar, there’s not a reason to burn fat. We get fatter. And our bodies are forced to pump out more and more insulin to deal with more and more sugar. This is the diabetes express.

Wilford Bremley to the rescue!

I’m going to lean on this 2012 article by Dr. Dwight Lundell, heart surgeon. Dr. Lundell is a heart surgeon who has performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries over a 25 year career. It’s worth a read in its entirety, but let’s get right to it.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

In the States, that’s our venerated food pyramid that I learned in Elementary School.

USDA original food pyramid from 1992

The base of this sucker… 8-15 servings of sugar per day. That’s the grains and fruits group combined. Carbohydrates which break down to sugar, and naturally occurring fructose. I don’t care that’s its ‘naturally occurring’. It’s freakin’ sugar.

Any comment, Dr. Lundell?

[We] have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

And what are we recommended to get the least of? Fat. Meat.

Many successful eating plans have been built around turning the body into a fat devouring machine by leaning heavily on those 2  tiny groups. The much ballyhoo’d Atkins diet was probably the most famous example, but there are many variations of the paleo plans, that focus on carbohydrate elimination. The Primal Blueprint, which I used to drop my belly (and 20lbs ) in 3 months, is based upon the premise of reducing the sugar intake via carbohydrate restriction and near elimination. (I’m paraphrasing… it’s a little more complicated that that)

Now, there were difficulties. I lost a lot of mass in a short time. There was no problem with loose skin, or skin flaps. Everything was happily reabsorbed. But I lost a lot of muscle at the same time. I didn’t change my exercise in the slightest. I continued to walk my dog, and I danced with Kathy every Wednesday night.

What happened and how long did it take to see a result?

My energy levels improved by the end of the first week. By the end of week two, I was absolutely hooked. That’s how fast it happened.

I was sleeping better. I felt better when I woke. I wasn’t falling asleep after lunch. I felt active and alive. My clothes began to feel looser. After 3 months, I had lost 4 inches off of my waist. Without wearing a belt, the jeans that had recently felt snug were nearly falling off.

But I wasn’t supposed to lose strength and muscle. What had I done wrong?


I promise the details are coming..

How I radically altered my body for the better

It was 2009.  I had recently returned from a 2 month mission in Bahrain and I was feeling good about myself and my life.  I knew I was getting heavier, but I had always been skinny. I thought the extra weight would probably be good for me. Then I went to my cousins wedding, in Maryland.

It was an event of laughter, family, merriment and photography. I was not a big photographer, but I took a few pictures of the proceedings. More importantly, I appeared in a few photos. I can close my eyes and see that fateful image. I was standing to the side of the dancefloor, watching my cousin dance with his new bride. My long, glorious hair was halfway down my back. My arms were crossed.

My arms were crossed and resting on my belly. My belly.

My belly was big enough that I could rest my crossed arms on it.

But I’m the skinny one! How could my arms be resting on my gut?

That was the wakeup call that something wasn’t right. I started trying to ‘eat healthy’. I started cooking more frequently, and even baking my own bread.  I was active, though I didn’t go to the gym. I walked my dog 3 miles every evening. But I wasn’t seeing any changes. I really didn’t want to start going to the gym. Gym workouts just made me feel like crap for days and days afterwards. Sore arms, sore legs… and who wants to feel like that all the time?

Time passed.

I went on a 4 month mission to Nicaragua in early 2010. I started reading PUA literature and my co-workers, Jameson & Danielle, were more than happy to meet me in the hotel gym every afternoon for a workout. Jameson was a former bodybuilder in college, and Danielle was in a friendly competition with her husband to lose the most weight over the 4 month stretch. I resolved to put up with the soreness and give it a go. I hated it, but I did get into a rhythm which I attempted to maintain once I returned home. I failed.

A month after I was home, I wasn’t exercising anymore.

Then I met Kathy at a Sip & Paint event at a local art gallery in Biloxi. In a few weeks, she introduced me to Wednesday Night Line Dancing at a local nightclub.

Now, I quickly observed that after dancing from 7-9pm…. I was done for the night. Kathy was still up and running around. She would go home, take care of her grandfather and then come back to me. I wanted a nap. She wanted something more physical.

My inability to keep going without a nap really, really bothered me. What was I doing wrong??!!


Next post… what I learned from these sites that worked for me.