After half-a-year eating the low-carb way, I have good news to report on my weight and other health factors. Last Friday I had my annual physical exam. The doctor’s scale confirmed that I was 44 pounds lighter than at my physical a year ago, and 47 pounds lighter than my all-time highest recorded weight. My doctor characterized my blood lipid numbers as “the best ever.”
“I’d prescribe a lot fewer meds if my patients just lost weight like this,” he said. He noted that my Body-Mass Index a year ago was 34 and now it is 28. BMI is problematic as an indicator of fitness, but it is what the CDC uses to define obesity. A person with a BMI of 30 or more is officially considered obese. With a BMI of 28, I am merely over-weight.
Back in May, I set a weight goal of 215 pounds by Labor Day. When I weighed myself yesterday, the scale read 215.2 pounds — almost a pound less than on Friday. So that brings my weight loss from six months of low-carb dieting to 45 pounds.
I missed my Labor Day weight goal by a whisker. You know what that means . . .
Time to set a new goal!
First, though, I’ll share the details of my blood tests. Keep in mind that for six months I have gotten about 62% of my daily calories from fat, 28% from protein, 9% from carbohydrates, and 1% from alcohol (an evening dose of red wine). Most days, I have eaten at least three eggs. While I haven’t gorged on red meat, I haven’t avoided it, either. I have made no effort to limit my consumption of saturated fats, routinely using butter and coconut oil.
According to Conventional Diet Wisdom, this way of eating is dangerous, leading to heart disease, hyper-tension and diabetes. Conventional thinking places great stock in blood lipid numbers as indicators of health. A person eating my kind of diet should have sky-rocketing total cholesterol, with LDL (bad) cholesterol up, HDL (good) cholesterol down, and triglycerides gone crazy. Certainly, the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol should be well-above the 5.0 level — that is, in the high risk zone.
Well, this year, my total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio — which has flirted with the dreaded 5.0 level for many years — was only 3.6, the best it has ever been and close to ideal. So much for conventional thinking.
My total cholesterol (for whatever that number is worth) was 128, a 50 point drop from my typical reading. I’d be concerned about a drop like that if I had no dietary/ life-style explanation for it. You need cholesterol, it does important work in the body, and a very low level can indicate underlying health problems. I’m still in the normal range, according to convention and Quest Labs, but just barely.
Perhaps I should adjust my diet to raise my total cholesterol. I’m thinking less flax meal and oatmeal. My body seems to respond to soluble fiber like it’s a powerful statin drug.
My LDL reading dropped from 95 last year to 79 this year. My HDL went up, but only slightly, from 35 last year 36 this year. My triglycerides were down to 66, another all time low for me.
My LDL and HDL numbers seem atypical for low-carb dieters. From what I’ve read, most people on a low-carb plan experience either a slight increase or no change in their LDL, and a significant increase in their HDL. Last year, my doctor was concerned about my HDL (“good” cholesterol) being below 40, and advised me to get more exercise. This year, with the big drop in my total cholesterol, he said nothing about my HDL level.
Another important ratio is triglycerides to HDL (TG/HDL). In their 2011 book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, Drs. Volek and Phinney cite evidence that a TG/ HDL ratio of 3.5 or greater is a marker of insulin-resistance and of high risk for heart disease. Last year, my TG/HDL ratio was greater than that cutoff. This year, it was 1.83.
That’s another ideal number.
But while I’m on the right track, I still have work to do. Some stubborn fat remains around my middle. I will keep on keeping on, eating 1,800 – 2,100 calories and 35-45 net grams of carbohydrates per day. My behavioral goal is to eat within those parameters for 95% of the days remaining in 2011.
My doctor says I should also consider weight training, and I will. Consider it.
My waist-line circumference is a touch over 40 inches. I want to get down to 38 inches. So that is my new body measurement goal — to fit comfortably into size-38 pants by this Christmas. That way, Santa can bring me some nice, warm, 38W x 31L corduroys for the new year.
Did you get that, Santa?