Friday, August 10, 2012

Low-Carb Gravitation

If you asked someone to play the word association game with the phrase "Low-Carbohydrate", what do you think the first word would be?  I surmise most players would state "weight".  If someone who does not know much about LC, they may know it is a method to lose weight, but not much more. 

This was the level of knowledge I had attained back when I had originally started the Atkins Diet plan so long ago I don't remember.  Don't blame my memory - I was in a glucose-induced fog back then. 

I had started the Atkins diet, alongside my wife in an effort to lose weight, plain and simple.  The regiment of cutting carbohydrates significantly was simple enough after we learned via carb-counters what foods actually contained carbohydrate.  We both saw great success in limiting our carbohydrates - and at the time, Atkins was experiencing a big BOOM in popularity.  Restaurants such as TGIF were appealing to us, offering "low-carbohydrate" menu items.  LC grocery items were appearing in supermarkets...I had never seen so many flavors of pork rinds in my life!

We knew that staying LC was a life commitment in order to keep the weight off, however we did not care so much for the science behind it.  We read one of Dr. Atkins' books, but perhaps the "why" of it all had never sunk in.  

We decided to stop LC while we were trying to and after my wife became pregnant.  Only later did we find out that insulin resistance begins in utero - from the food that the mother ingests.

Regardless, we stopped and both promptly began to gain back the weight we had so triumphantly lost.  There were a few stints I made later on where I would resolve for New Years to lose weight.  I had a very easy time of doing it.  I would cut out all candy, soda, chips and dessert.  That was enough for me to lose what I desired.  I remember not linking this to cutting refined carbohydrates - but this is exactly what I was doing.

A couple of years after our last son was born, my wife mentioned one night "We should go back on low-carb".  I had thought about it a lot since the last time we'd done it - and was eager to begin again.  During the course of reading about LC again online, we heard about this book called "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes.  My wife was most interested in reading it.  Me, not so much as I have been trying to read some of the same books for years.

While my wife was making dinner one night, she was talking about the book.  At one point she said "The author states that eating this way can avoid cancer".  At this point, I was like, bullshit, give me a break.  However, I sucked it up and read the book with an open mind.  Like many reviewers of the book have stated on Amazon, Goodreads etc, the book is a mind-blowing experience.  I often equate reading it to taking the red pill from the movie The Matrix.

Why?  Reading the book and its obliteration of prior dietary hypotheses completely reverses everything I ever thought I knew about nutrition.  Everything.  I grew up believing that dietary fat was bad and should be limited, sugar could be ingested (including candy) because it was "fat-free", people grew up and got diabetes, heart attacks and cancer as a result of aging.  This was the "common knowledge".  This is what my parents told me.  I never questioned the source - I believed this was what everyone knew.  My parents wouldn't lie to me, right?

They were not lying.  They were passing on what their parents had likely told them - information they had picked up from Senate Committees, the USDA and organizations such as the American Heart Association. 

I am currently listening to the book Why We Get Fat's predecessor, Good Calories Bad Calories, by the same author, which is a more detailed account of everything from diabetes to blood pressure.  Every new chapter, there is an expansion of knowledge on nutrition, based on real science.  I have a difficult time not smacking myself repeatedly in the forehead for how ignorant I was - never questioning the source of my "knowledge". 

I used to believe that LCHF lifestyle was good for weight loss.  I honestly believe now, weight loss is one of the most minor aspects in the way it improves your overall health.  If you have not yet read the aforementioned book, I implore you to do it now.