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About the Low Carb Lifestyle

Low Carb Age is a site dedicated to the dissemination of information about the low carb lifestyle.

 

My Low Carb Story

For years, I struggled with high triglycerides, and tried a popular drug to control it.  And other things too.  After two years of taking niacin, a prescription drug (tricor), increasing my activity level somewhat, and lowering the triglycerides to 344 mg/l from 462, I finally took the plunge to a low carb lifestyle on March 11, 2009.  My doctor had said that reducing carbs was often very successful in lowering triglycerides.  So I went to bookstore and purchased “Protein Power” by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades.

 

I’m a skeptical person, but I decided to try the plan.  By April 29th, the test results came back.  Triglycerides fell from 344 mg/dL to an acceptable 106 mg/dL, under the target of “150 or less”. After that initial test, they rose a bit, but remain in the acceptable range. HDL cholesterol had a slight improvement from 20 mg/dL to 29 (the healthy range starts at 40, and it has been creeping up slowly.) My test results are in the table below. As I have transitioned from ultra-low carb to 30 – 45 grams per day, my triglycerides have risen a bit. But I’m in maintenance mode now, and I’m happy with the numbers.

 

My concern about total cholesterol rising with all the fat-rich foods such as eggs and meat was validated at least in part, with a rise from 136 mg/dL to 214 (as of June, 2011). But my doctor is happy with my progress, and not concerned about the total cholesterol number.

Test Results

* LDL not calculated; triglyceride levels greater than 400 invalidate LDL results.
** Not tested

 

Other Low Carb Benefits

I didn’t start the diet to lose weight … but did.  I had a diagnosis of “metabolic syndrome”, middle-aged, overweight, with high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol, and weighed 248 pounds when I started the diet.  At just 5′ 10″ tall, that’s quite a bit of weight.  As of this writing, I’m at 220 pounds 200 pounds, closer to my goal of 195 than I am to my former weight.

 

There have been some other unexpected benefits. I had acid reflux (GERD) for 10 years, and had been taking Prilosec since before it was over the counter. I have also had persistent bleeding from hemorrhoids, even with a high fiber (and high carb) diet. The bleeding stopped first, and stopped taking Prilosec three weeks after starting low carb. Interestingly, I find that cheating with bread or other foods containing wheat brings the GERD back, something noted as very common by Dr. Davis on his Wheat Belly blog. I’m sleeping much better, and don’t have the mid-afternoon lethargy that had me nibbling carb-loaded snacks to stay awake on my commute home. Needless to say, I’m low carb for life now.

 

Some Low Carb Caveats

A couple of caveats are in order. I’m doing this under a doctor’s care, and I’m being careful to follow the recommendations in Protein Power as closely as possible. The people who have had bad experiences on low carb diets with symptoms including leg cramps, constipation, fatigue, etc. didn’t follow all the recommendations. Omit the potassium or restrict sodium too much in the early stages and you could get leg cramps. Without enough fiber, you can get constipated, so pay attention to getting enough through broccoli (I like it raw in salads), and other high-fiber, low carb foods. And get enough protein so you lose only fat, not muscle (the book has an easy way to calculate your body fat percentage, your corresponding lean body mass, and the amount of protein you need).

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