Carbs, Starches, & Grains Denial

Here is an update after almost 2 months of cutting out the above mentioned nutrients (?) as I attempted to keep my insulin response under control (remember, no diabetes here) and push my fat cells to deplete their supply. First the hard part, bread and potatoes were sorely missed by my brain. My family continues to shake their collective heads that one can go without eating any type of grain, refuses dishes made with flour, laughs in the face of fresh sourdough (sigh), or can sit and watch them eat fresh cut french fries from In-N-Out Burger. That leads me to the other hard part, eating so radically different from those around me. I am not low-carbing, or doing Atkins, or eating primal (still enjoy some dairy), so folks find it hard to pigeon-hole my plan. Plus, I still count calories since I don’t care how much fat I eat and want my body to chew up its own fat stores, not live off of what I ingest.

Now the easy part. Eating this way is easy. I am never hungry. Variety is limited only by my lack of originality in cooking. Eating out is easy since most restaurants will happily leave off side dishes even if they won’t substitute fruit for potatoes or give me an extra side of veggies. Besides, we rarely eat out except for breakfast and eggs are so on my plan.

So what am I eating and how much of what? Looking back at the last month, my carb intake per day has ranged from 9 grams to 87 grams with an average of 55 grams/day. The highest day came from an intended splurge of a mocha coffee. So much for no sugars, huh? That was my only refined sugar source the entire month. Protein mainly comes from lean sources such as fish and roasted chicken breasts and eggs, although I do eat more red meat now than I did last year when I had this strange aversion to meat sources from animals with eyelashes. The can of whey protein sits languishing in the pantry for a desperation snack when I am too lazy to eat real food and need some calories. I eat no more than 2-3 servings of fruit per day – always berries except for the occasional fresh pineapple. Eggs – I love eggs! I always keep a few hard boiled ones hanging around, again so I know there is acceptable food available. But, I prefer my eggs freshly cooked and usually with some Canadian bacon and maybe a touch of Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese and mild green chiles and whatever else I can throw in to spice ’em up. Raw almonds and walnuts are other acceptable food sources as long as I measure them out. Salads, you bet – with oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. One food I have to be careful with is Greek yogurt. I buy non-fat Fage and add my own berries, but sometimes it reminds me too much of ice cream. Plus, the whole question of dairy in one’s diet is still bouncing around in my head. Although, I refuse to give up my 2 tablespoons of half-n-half with my morning coffee and the occasional bit of cheese. Veggies, I need more veggies – working on that.

Exercise… I am still on the very, very slow track of walking because of my statin-induced myopathy. Enough said or I just will start whining.

Supplements: Because of my damn myopathy and overall attempt to lower inflammation (which is unrelated to the myopathy), I am now taking Vitamin D3 5,000 mg/day, fish oil 3 gm/day, L-acetyl carnitine 500 mg/day, some multi-vitamin with a bunch of stuff in it (helpful, right?), and CoEnymeQ10 300mg/day.

I’ll end here with a fun side-effect of CoQ10 that few people experience – photosensitivity. I never, ever sunburn. But in Hawaii after 2 hours in the sun I developed a blistering burn on my chest that lasted for 3 weeks and a lovely spotted reaction on my arms and legs (where the skin wasn’t so virginal).

Oh, yeah – I lost 10 pounds.

sunburn

CoQ10 Photosensitivy Reaction

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Statins and Me

What can I say. Statins are bad drugs for my body. They do have a role in people at risk for cardiovascular disease. HOWEVER, these drugs are not without side effects (beside monetary), and I have been subjected to the very common but almost disabling muscle pain that can occur with any statin medication.

First let me say that my cholesterol and LDL have climbed as my weight has dropped (more in a few sentences). About 8 years ago after a cardiac cath for chest pain and an abnormal ECG, I was diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction (left-sided heart failure probably from being too fat), but my coronary arteries were perfectly clean. My cholesterol at the time was 200 with low HDL (the good kind), borderline high LDL, and the only risk factor for heart disease was my father’s history of MI at a young age (56). I was put on a medication that rhymes with lipitor, and about 2 weeks later experienced extreme muscle weakness in my legs. That was stopped and another statin was started. I tolerated that med well but stopped it after I started losing weight.

Enter a new doc in a new town and another cholesterol check. I was now post-menopausal, adding to increased risk of coronary artery disease, my cholesterol had climbed above 200, but my HDL was surprisingly higher, and my LDL was much higher. My weight at this time was 305 – YIKES. I was started on a medicine that rhymes with crestor – a very low dose 3 times a week. As my weight plummeted, I saw a new cardiologist who declared me free of my former diastolic dysfunction and didn’t seem too upset about my cholesterol.

Next visit to my primary care doc, she suggested increasing the dose of the statin to every day. Enter the debilitating hip pain in late October, so bad that I couldn’t sleep some nights. Figuring this was a side effect of the medication, I quit the drug but continued to walk around like a little old lady, even unable to walk around the block, barely able to grocery shop. Repeating my cholesterol showed that the LDL continued to climb (despite my excellent diet!) as did the total cholesterol. Off to a rheumatologist – a wonderful woman who took time to listen to my sob story, praise my weight loss, and do extensive history taking (family history full of autoimmune disease), physical exam, and lab work-up. Thankfully everything was normal. So, statin side-effect this is. She suggested Coenzyme Q10, which is not cheap if you buy the good stuff. One week later I am feeling better! Yay, tolerating a one-mile now.

What I have learned: Statins should be reserved for those at high risk of heart disease with cholesterol problems. Not all LDL is created equal. Regular lipid profiles only calculate LDL, they do not differentiate between dangerous (small) LDL particles and the not dangerous (“fluffy”) particles. Good LDL can increase as one’s diet improves. There is much to read on this. I suggest the Heart Scan Blog linked on my page for more info and references. I’m still learning myself. I have changed to a low carb, no wheat, no grain, no sugar diet. And, I high recommend Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It to debunk many nutritional myths about calories in/calories out paradigm.

More in later posts. This is already too long.

cholesterol cartoon