Patience and time do more than strength and passion.
–Jean de la Fontaine
Over the time I’ve spent eating high fat, moderate protein and few to no carbohydrates, I’ve noticed a lot of awesome benefits. I’ve detailed most of them here. But I noticed a couple new ones recently.
My grandmother was one of those older ladies who started slowly shaking as she aged. My mother was getting it too, till cancer took her in her early 50s. Every year you could see it a little more–a slight shake, especially when trying to do some kind of very fine motor skill work with the hands.
And I was getting it. I saw it when I tried to write with a pen for too long. No big deal there, since no one writes with pens anymore. Might as well just carve your words in blocks of stone. But it also affected me when I put anything in the kitchen into a measuring cup or spoon and tried to carry it to a bowl. With the little things, like a teaspoon, I’d end up spilling half of it before I got it to the bowl.
Just a couple days ago I realized that was gone. I tried to make it come back and it wouldn’t. Apparently…it was carbs? Or too little fat? Or not enough meat? I don’t know what, but I’m glad about it.
And then there’s the hair. I had strawberry blonde hair as a child. Over time, it began to darken. In the last 5 years you really couldn’t call it blonde anymore, unless I frosted it. Really more light brown. But since I started eating this way, it’s been lightening again. Nothing super dramatic, and I expect no return to a childhood wispy blonde, but it’s definitely more blond and less brown. The Roommate’s grey hair went away, too, and her natural dark brown grew in its place. Another friend mentioned to us that her grey had all fallen out and new non-grey grew in.
The point of all this is two-fold. First, there are a lot of other benefits to ditching unnatural grains, Frankenfats, and refined sugars while increasing your intake of healthy fats, besides just losing weight. You’ll see some of them if you simply ditch the grains, like many people report on this blog. But you’ll see more if you add back in healthy fat. Your body loves fat and needs it for nearly every process. See here, here and here for more on that, and notice the first study’s interesting statement that saturated fats seem to work quite differently in the absence of carbohydrates than in their presence.
Second, don’t be frustrated if losing weight is slow. Because everyone is different and there’s plenty else to celebrate.
I know dozens of people who are eating this way. Several of them complain that weight loss is slower and/or harder than they hoped. I know that’s frustrating for them. But not one of them is regretting their choice because they all feel better. And that, really, is the great thing. Let’s be logical now, shall we? If you’re feeling generally clearer, brighter, more energetic, your hair is in good shape, and other little things are better than they’ve been in years: who cares if weight loss is a bit slow? Honestly, did you have faster success on any diet before? And when you did lose some, did you keep it off?
And don’t you feel in your bones (if you’re really trying this) that this way of eating is actually possible for a lifetime, because it doesn’t require you to starve yourself or give up every food that has taste? And what I can’t understand is the, granted very occasional, person I meet or read about who doesn’t lose any weight after a month or two and so gives the whole thing up after acknowledging that they feel lots better. The attitude seems to be, “Well, if I’m going to be fat I might as well load up on Reese peanut butter cups anyway.” Which, if you think about, is pretty much just saying “So far it looks like my choices are to be fat and sick, or just fat. I choose fat and sick!”
The reality is that everyone is very different. As we are all humans, none of us are going to function ideally on a diet of primarily grains. But after that, there are some differences. Read any forum of people eating Paleo/Primal–which for our purposes we’ll define as fresh, real food, adequate fat and red meat, no grains or seed oils or refined sugars-and you’ll see a lot of variety in total fat, amount of vegetable and fruit carbs eaten, etc. And there are genetic things about your makeup that food choices only have a limited effect upon.
Ever see those headlines: Eating X Can Raise Metabolism. Then they proceed to tell you that if you just ate some of X every day, you could lose 5-10 pounds a year!
Give me a break. If it was that simple, no one who drinks coffee or green tea would ever be fat.
Dr. Phinney has an interesting quote in his book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living:
Here are some basic (but often ignored) facts. Fitness is primarily an inherited trait. Training can increase aerobic power by at most 10-20%, but (figuratively speaking) a different choice of parents would increase or decrease your fitness by as much as 50%.
When I was a kid, I was unstoppably active. The other girls in my class would go play jump rope, swing, or evolve elaborate, dramatic scenarios to act out, which no male could possibly understand until the advent of the role-playing video game. These activities were far too sedate for me. I only wanted to play soccer and football. Dodgeball was good too. Baseball and volleyball were both a little slow. Way too much standing around. Then I came home and played war with my siblings. Or I rode my bike till I collapsed. I liked to read, but I liked to run almost as much.
Then one day, seemingly overnight, I hit puberty and that all stopped. I still wanted to run around, but my body no longer wanted to. It wanted to pretty sit down all the time. I still enjoyed sports–I played them through college–and whenever I saw a hill I still had an urge to climb it, but the needed rest times in between these events were growing longer and longer, and I was growing fatter and fatter. Something was happening, but at the time I had no idea what.
Now I realize it was a metabolic reaction to my diet, relatively low in fat and increasingly high in grains and fruit. But nothing wonderful can come of this revelation unless you clearly understand: I didn’t get slow and lose energy because I was fat. I got fat slowly, but I changed metabolically very quickly. In fact, if anything, I actually decreased my caloric consumption while remaining relatively active.
About a month after I started eating the way I do now, yet long before I’d lost any significant weight, I noticed a sudden, almost dramatic return to childhood activity levels. I mention this because I’m always getting people who say something to the effect that, yes of course you’re more active and feel better now; you’ve lost 145 pounds. That is not it. I cannot emphasis this strongly enough. I felt amazing first. THEN I started really losing weight.
Do I actually feel like I’m 12 years old again? No, of course not. I’m almost 40. But I am completely different from the person I was less than a year ago. I constantly want to move. I always want to be doing something. I rarely sit on the couch anymore and feel tired. I can play with children, and though I might get bored, I don’t get tired. I have such an urge to move that I’ve actually hurt my knee and my foot overdoing it before I’d lost enough weight to really run about safely.
On the 4th of July, I and my family had a wonderful time. We ate lots and lots of meat. We had pork rinds instead of chips, and a beautiful fresh salad covered with bacon and cheese. We drank water and unsweetened ice tea. I ate until I was so full I could hardly move: yet I did not feel that familiar bloated, disgusting drag that I remember from years of holiday eating when lots of carbs were involved. I wasn’t tired. In fact, I really wanted to do something, and so did most everyone else. Now granted, I skipped the cake and the salad dressing and not all of them did. But as we proceeded to play croquet, I found myself sad that we weren’t really moving more. Eventually I picked up my nephew and ran him about on my shoulders, primarily because I wanted to move.
We all ate the same things. We are all different ages, heights, and body types. And we all reacted slightly differently to our meal.
So give it a little time; keep at it. If you’re feeling better, that’s the most important thing of all.
Plato says he’s hungry
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