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The Low Carb Choice
Research into the nature and dangers of
chronic calorie-dense carbohydrate consumption

Other Peoples' Low-Carb Experiences

Our podcasts about this topic, our feedback page, and explicit
permission from these individuals, has allowed us to share these
revealing personal histories of others' low-carbohydrate journeys:

Hi Steve - I just now got to listen to "Sugar Hill". Thanks SO much to you and Leo for putting in the extra time to do this extra episode. I hope that Leo will further publicize the availability of this episode on the twit page, I found it eventually but it took awhile (and I knew I was looking for it already). Easy to find on your GRC page of course.

What you described with your experience at cutting out carbs was nearly identical to my own experience when I started the Atkins Diet in 2004 - the same ketosis scents, loss of hunger after awhile, elimination of the sugar highs/lows, building muscle capacity (I was already weight lifting, but it really pushed me above and beyond), lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and of course weight loss. It all worked far better than I could have possibly imagined. Sadly, I was not as wise in 2004 and didn't view this as a permanent lifestyle change and had to start over from scratch last March, 2011, this time being smarter and viewing this as a permanent change, and it has been just as successful thankfully.

Besides the “Atkins Diet Revolution” and “South Beach Diet” books I originally read, I've now read “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, am almost done with “Deadly Harvest” and now have two more good books on my list with your recommendations. It's hard for me to read for too long because I usually get angry at how political the FDA and USDA really are, something people don't really realize.

I tell anyone who will listen about all of this, and most people are either not interested, skeptical, or give me huge pushback on a diet that includes high amounts of fat (doctors, family, friends) despite the obvious health benefits I can demonstrate to them from my own experience. My primary care doctor still wants to tell me what I'm doing is wrong, but usually concedes that I must be doing something right with the test numbers that I have.

I can only imagine the frustration Dr. Atkins and others in the field have had to endure watching the American diet slowly deteriorate into its current state of un-health and knowing it's all wrong, the frustration I now feel myself.

Anyway, I am sure you are getting a ton of feedback, but I want to commend and thank you for talking about this important topic, and I hope more people will start to talk about it too.
Hi Steve, Thanks for your work in this area. I started low-carb in Feb 2011. I used to be addicted to Doritos as my favorite junk food, I craved Doritos, but after 3-days starting low-carb I lost my craving. I KNEW I was on to something! It was/is an amazing journey. I have fallen off the wagon, just as you described, the carbs creeped back in last Thanksgiving, then the holidays. I started at 205 pounds and ended up at 150 pounds at my low-point last December, but have gained back about 15 pounds and I really noticed the difference. My energy level has dropped, I'm not as clear headed, and the cravings crept back in. (I still have not had any Dorito's). I'm quite embarrassed about easy it was initially, but how hard it seems right now to regain control. Luckily, my blood work from last month was still very good with low triglycerides (43). That was a reminder to me that all was not lost.

I did cave to social pressure last year, I was able to have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, without any ill effects. At Christmas, I had two pieces of apple pie, it nearly put me in a coma. I literally had to go to bed after dessert, I could not stay awake. But the next day, I was fine, or so I thought. It has been the proverbial slippery slope ever since.

Even with as successful as I've been using low-carb to improve my health, it's been a lonely journey. It all seems so obvious that this is the correct way to eat to improve overall health, yet, it's hard to convince others to cast away all the traditional nutritional hogwash, and dive into the biochemical pathways as true proof.

Your shows have provided the needed inspiration or kick in the butt to get me going again. I, like you, found I have to go very low-carb vs. playing with maintaining a specific carb level. I have many of the books you've recommended and am back on track, re-reading them since hearing your podcast last Tuesday. Thanks again.
I just finished watching you describe your revelation about low carb metabolism. I experienced this same phenomenon 10 years ago for the first time when I decided to do Atkins. You are right-on when you explain that the key to low carb living is for your body to switch from burning carbs to burning fat. I lost 80 lbs in less than one year and I was never healthier than I was when I was on a strict low carb regimen for more than two years.

Unfortunately, our carb centric society makes it very difficult to maintain a low carb lifestyle. The medical "experts" and agribusiness tend to keep the low carb lifestyle from getting real traction.

I am now inspired to getting started again to “butter burning”. However, I know it will be an uphill battle again because of the social resistance and not because it is difficult to follow given the availability of low carb foods in this great country of ours.

Hopefully one day low carb living will be widely understood and accepted.
Hey Steve,

To my surprise one morning on my Sony Dash I heard you talking about LCHF [Low-Carb High-Fat] and your recent experiments. I thought I would share my little story since I recently (October 2011) began this endeavor as well.

I am a normal guy with no health problems and was the skinny guy in the room until I was about 25. When the metabolism took a dive I got fat. To the tune of 255lbs (I am 6'2") @ 35 years old.

Having had enough of that nonsense I decided to heed my mother's advice and adopt LCHF. I honestly thought she was crazy - she was always preaching about the diet - trying to push books on me, but I wasn't listening. But I was willing to try anything. Excercise wasn't working as it was only making me stronger and more hungry.

I just came back from a normal check-up and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health and I now weigh 195lbs. I have not weighed 195 since high school.

I admire you taking a controversial stance in a very public form. My mother has been trying to spread the word with a vocal minority for years. I encourage you to visit and see her story and that of my step-father.
Hi Steve,

Thank you for your Live Special with Leo.

I would like to confirm that I too have noticed the lack of being winded during exercise. And also that my cravings for food are practically gone. I do usually keep a bowl of almonds near by, but I think this is due to my past habits of wanting to snack all the time. I'm sure given some additional experience without carbs this will be eliminated.

One significant --and unexpected-- experience from my low carb eating is how it affected my ability to focus. For a long time I was on medication for ADHD to help me get through school since concentration was nearly impossible. But the medication had some side effects, usually stomach irritation and frequently feeling like I need to urinate.

But low carb changed all that. Although my focus isn't up to same level as the medication, I roughly feel like it's around 75%. And making up that extra 25% with discipline isn't all that difficult, especially since I don't get those nasty side effects from eating low carb.

The other thing I wanted to share was how difficult the transition was for me initially.

For most of my life (I'm 26 as of May 8th, 6'4" and nearly 300lbs... I want to get to 200), fast food was how I consumed a majority of my meals. So when I made the decision to switch to low carb, I was not prepared for the level of withdrawals I had.

In the first 2 or 3 days I had to practically confine myself to my room. No matter how much low carb food I ate I was never full. The cravings to eat were overwhelming and I did whatever I could to stay distracted. My body would twitch and shake when passing fast food places and I had to correct my thinking that 'a little bit would be ok, wouldn't it? common, you know you want it...'

I knew that this was temporary but it still took an extreme amount of will power to keep me from running out and gorging myself on whatever sugar-laced substance I could find.

But once I was over this hurdle I was fine. Like a switch, I was just all of a sudden no longer hungry.

The other cool thing is my new definition of full. Instead of the sick feeling I used to get after eating, it's now a physical feeling. I'm finally getting the message that there's no more room! How convenient!

Anyway, just wanted to share these little tidbits and I'm looking forward to next Sunday's show.
Steve, You have discovered what I found a year ago. Five years ago at age 55, after years of exercise, maintaining my weight, eating “healthy whole grains”, vegetable oils, and lean meat I had a heart attack.

What went wrong? I stumbled around the internet and last year landed on Robb Wolf's podcast “The Paleo Solution” and found the answer. I learned more from Chris Kresser (“Revolution Health Radio”), Jimmy Moore, Gary Taubes, and others.

I started eating low carb a year ago and completely eliminated grains and vegetable oils about six months ago. My blood profile now shows high HDL, low trigs, excellent CRP [C-Reactive protein, a measure of systemic inflammation] and A1C Hemoglobin [a measure of the “glycation” (aberrant bonding) of blood glucose and our body's proteins] numbers, my blood pressure is 115/75, and I have stopped taking all meds. I only take vitamin D and fish oil. I have unbounded energy all day long, and restarted bodybuilding and sprinting. Thanks for telling the world, people need to hear the message from us to reverse the damage the government, FDA, and medical community has done to us.
Steve, I am about a year ahead of you in my progression to paleo lifestyle. After being diagnosed as type 2 diabetic, I started reading books and listening to podcasts. You might like "Carbohydrates can kill" by Dr. Robert Su, it covers his multi year experiences of changing to low carb.

In the last year I lost 70 lbs, got my glucose and blood lipids under control and greatly improved my health. My skin is much improved, the keritosis growths disappeared and the brown age spots on my hands are fading. I also noticed improvements in breathing and gum health.
5 years ago I attempted the Low-Carb diet. I loved it. I have never felt better and didn't feel like i was on a diet. Food variety was a minor issue but I became more creative cooking.

About 90 days into it my wife started sneaking carbs into my diet because, like you, i felt i didn't need to purposely eat any since I felt they sneak in through a variety of ways. At that point I was down from 235 to 201 lbs. @ 5'10" I was very impressed and never felt better

About that time the cramps started. In the middle of the night my calves would decide they didn't want to be part of my body and seize/cramp severely. I tried various supplements including potassium but nothing helped. It was so sever I was forced to stop the diet.

Your discussions about salt and the diet got me thinking that could be the issue. Do you have any other suggestions? I have since learned I am diabetic and am going to try this diet again, not to loose weight but to control my blood sugars without medicine.

Thank you for your fascinating insight and analysis. You are a true hero to all the curious of the world.

Note that this sort of cramping can occur on a low-carb diet. Drs. Volek and Phinney, in both of their “Art & Science of Low-Carb...” books, recommend drinking salty bouillon to replace the sodium that's lost once our kidneys are no longer retaining it, and water. This page on Dr. Michael Eades site thoroughly discusses the causes and cures for this.
Steve, First, the GRC bona fides... the first .wav file I ever downloaded to play was the 'Click of Death', yeah, I've been loving your stuff for a while. I'll send my definitive SpinRite/TrueCrypt story at a later date.

Now, I'm sure you've gotten reams (if you can use a paper word for email) of feedback similar to what I have to say but I just have to engage. I thoroughly enjoyed both of the Twit "Carb Hill' Specials. I would add one comment that I'd like you to make to those embarking on the journey: Find the right doctor if your current doctor won't listen!

Several years ago, I was up to 280 pounds and went on a low fat, restricted calorie diet. Yes , I lost weight; yes I was MISERABLE the whole time; yes I gained the weight back.

After I got back up to 280 pounds again, my mother went to see Dr. Atkins in New York for reasons other than weight. Part of his discussion with her was a low carb lifestyle. She came back fired up and wanted me to do low carb. I read the book and came away with the idea that "conservation of mass and energy, it's not just a good idea, it's the law'. In other words, a calories in-calories out model. My belief was that a low carb diet just lead to satiety more easily and made the calorie restriction easier to live with. I decided to try it, and true to your advice, I went to my doctor to have blood work done before I went on a diet that would be more fat inclusive.

I didn't explain to the doctor what I was about to do, I just wanted the numbers. I was at 278 pounds. My total cholesterol was 208; HDL 73; fasting triglycerides 135. Not horrible, but I wanted a baseline.

The low-carb started. In 6 months, my weight went to 212; total cholesterol 124; HDL 91!; fasting triglycerides 58. The doctor was ecstatic! "Congratulations!" "Long life!" "Very low cardiac risk!" "How did you do it?"

I answered, "Atkins."

He FREAKED. I use that term advisedly. He absolutely FREAKED OUT! "NO! NO! NO! Not Atkins! It will mess up your liver and kidneys. It does not follow the American Heart Association Guidelines. It is completely opposite from the Dietary Recommendations of the U.S. Government", etc., etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum.

So started the following: Me: "How is my total cholesterol and the HDL fraction of the lipid profile?"

Doctor:"Excellent, but I can't recommend it because it will mess up your liver and kidneys. It does not follow the American Heart Association Guidelines. It is completely opposite from the Dietary Recommendations of the U.S. Government", etc., etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum.

Me: "How do my liver enzymes look on the blood panel we just did?"

Doctor: "Great, but I can't recommend it because it will mess up your liver and kidneys. It does not follow the American Heart Association Guidelines. It is completely opposite from the Dietary Recommendations of the U.S. Government", etc., etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum.

Me: "The urinalysis we just did, do my kidneys show any signs of stress or issues?"

Doctor: "Not really, but I can't recommend it because it will mess up your liver and kidneys. It does not follow the American Heart Association Guidelines. It is completely opposite from the Dietary Recommendations of the U.S. Government", etc., etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum.

So, with that sterling support in tow, I left questioning my success and the way I felt. At the time, I was riding my bike 100+ miles a week. With a heart rate monitor in place, I could maintain 75% of max heart rate effectively indefinitely, as in, given the amount of time available to ride given marriage, job and children.

In the intervening years, by weight went up and down, never below about 240. My blood pressure and blood work got gradually and steadily worse. Over Christmas, I read Taube's _Good Calories Bad Calories_ and starting in March, I went low carb. As of this writing, for these 76 days, fat has accounted for 64% of my caloric intake; protein and carbs 27% and 9%, respectively. I have lost 35 pounds. I feel great. I have NOT spoken to a doctor and if I do and get the same reaction as before, I will change doctors.

While being so concerned about hardening of the arteries, the medical community has suffered from a hardening of the opinions. I would expect; no, I do expect better from "Men of Science".

Malpractice lawsuits may be the cause of the medical community's reluctance to shift gears, as I'm sure our litigious culture informed yours and Leo's vociferous "consult your doctor' caveats on the TwiT specials.

There, I've said it. The low fat/high carb orthodoxy will kill you. If your doctor doesn't work with you to follow a high fat/low carb lifestyle, tell him to pound sand. Then find another doctor.

BTW (look, internet speak), I have been supplementing the dickens out of vitamin D since your SecurityNow! Episode. You have been my computer savior for years. You became my vitamin savior with SN-209. Now you have given me new readings and courage to do what is right for my long term health.

Thank you.

As this is already so long as to make it unlikely you'll have the time to read it, I'll skip the paragraphs of effusive praise I'd like to include for you, Leo, SpinRite and Keep charging and eating lots of fat.

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Last Edit: May 15, 2012 at 17:45 (4,411.65 days ago)Viewed 4 times per day