The Predator Program

Intro

While researching diet and nutrition I often look to nature to analyze how animals eat because animals live relatively free from obesity and chronic diseases.  Since humans are still an animal I believe natural eating patterns can give us clues about what matters with our diet.  A good example is how chimpanzees stuff their face with fruits.  Some nutritionists have cautioned against eating too much fruit because of the sugar content; however, if we look to nature we see they can do it without issue.  If they can do it why can’t we?  If you dig into studies on fruit consumption it confirms that fruit consumption actually has an inverse relationship with incidence of diabetes yet contributions of insulin spikes is a big part of why fruit consumption is recommended to be restricted.  It is clear evidence that natural sugar consumption shouldn’t be demonized or grouped with added sugar consumption.

So if animals eat in healthy ways what animals can we most closely mimic in diet?  Contrary to many vegetarian proponents we cannot mimic vegetarian diets very well.  Most vegetarians are grazers and literally spend the entire day eating.  The pure volume of food they eat and time it takes to eat it is not feasible for a modern diet.  Additionally many grazers eat grasses and other foods that the human digestive system cannot break down properly.  We actually eat closer to a predator’s diet which is based on large, infrequent meals which is an eating pattern that is possible to accomplish.

I propose that if we mimic activity and diet close to a predator’s activity and diet that there may be some significant health and strength benefits.

Diet

Most predators are carnivores so they eat meat and only meat.  Part of the problem with our current eating habits is when we do eat meat we’re eating a small amount usually with a variety of other foods to include carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates actually speed up the digestion of the meal by helping push the food out.  This is why fiber is associated with decreased cholesterol levels as it’s inhibiting fat absorption; however, this is also doing things like inhibiting the uptake of fat soluble vitamins.  It is a rarity to find a food in nature that has both significant quantities of fat and carbohydrates.  Perhaps these are all indications we shouldn’t be consuming fat and carbohydrates together in the same meal?

They also eat it raw and consume everything.  Cooking meat helps breakdown fats and connective tissue, but cooking meat makes the protein tougher to digest.  While it may be speculated that cooking is what led to our current brain development, this is merely speculation.  Ancient tribes focused on consuming the organ meat as the organ meat is nutritionally superior to muscle meat.  In fact the Indians used to give the muscle meat (steak) to the dogs.  Additionally wild animals have far less fat than the modern cow, so it’s not like the prevalence of fat and fatty connective tissue in modern meat is close to what ancient tribes were consuming.  I do believe in consuming all the fat with meat though – any predator in the wild would not let this go to waste.  Fats have a lot of good properties like hormone precursors.

When a lion makes a kill it gorges 2 – 3 times eating upwards of 75 lbs of meat each time.  It then will not eat for a couple days.  I regularly discuss in health forums the impact of 24 hour eating patterns which is a very little impact no matter how you eat.  The body stores enough glycogen for up to 3 days and digestion takes 30+ hours.  Due to these two facts little will change with different eating patterns over 24 hours; however, if you go on a longer pattern that depletes glycogen levels physiological differences may occur.  Predators are on eating patterns that are greater than 24 hours so perhaps there is benefit to eating similarly.

So the diet is going to be consuming raw, untrimmed beef to include organ meat each day.  I will eat around at least 3 lbs of beef in each sitting consuming at least 6 lbs of beef each day.  I will subsequently fast for 2 days after an eating day.

Exercise

Exercise causes physiological changes as a means of adaption for survival.  One of the wonderful things about exercise is the body cannot tell if you’re running from a cheetah for survival or on a treadmill for fun – it will adapt either way.  What happens though if we start signaling to the body that we’re physically conditioned enough already?  Would it stagnate and no longer try to adapt?  What do you think you’re signaling to your body if you quit when it gets tough?  I believe part of the reasons why animals in the wild are so much stronger than humans is that our bodies have learned they do not need to change to survive.  I believe we can change that by implementing a balls-to-the-wall workout strategy that mimics real world survival situations.

In the wild there is no warm up.  When a predator has an opportunity for a kill or a prey has to evade a predator there is no stretching, pyramid progression, or other warm up.  It is act now, do now, or die.  While warm ups are still a common piece of many routines there is little scientific evidence to suggest they have any benefit.  Warming up does allow you to perform better, but performance does not necessarily equate to grow or physiological change.

In the wild there aren’t multiple sets.  If a prey fails to evade a predator it’s dead.  When a predator goes for a kill if it fails it doesn’t try again on the same herd at the same time.  One set.  One balls-to-the-wall set.  Do or die.  Besides, if the purpose of lifting weights is to exhaust your muscles there is no better way to do so then an all out set.  By only completing sets like this I believe it’s also signaling to the body there will be no easy physical demands which could cause greater physiological response.

In the wild there isn’t a set routine.  Every single time a predator makes a kill the physical exertion will be at least a little different.

The exercise routine is going to consist of singular sets for each group of muscles.  Each set will be a breathing set.  A breathing set is a technique where you complete as many reps as possible, catch your breath, and repeat until you can no longer perform a single repetition.  There will be no warm up, cool down, or supporting work.

Weight Loss

I did a test run of this program for two weeks and had great results although the diet was the toughest diet I have ever done.  The hunger I felt after fasting days was the deepest, most intense huger I have ever felt and I’ve done a water fast for a week.  I felt like a beast in the gym and had weight loss results that were on par with diets that were around 1,000 calories per day which is about half of the average caloric intake on the diet.  In fact the reason why I started this was to test theories on weight loss.

I’ve often discussed nutrient timing and intermittent fasting.  Since most implementations have a 24 hour cycle there are no physiological differences in energy usage over 24 hours as glycogen depletion is likely not to occur.  The body stores enough glycogen for 3 days and complete digestion takes 30+ hours.  Recent research on nutrient timing is showing this concept has less and less scientific credence and I agree.

What this all implies though is that nutrient timing and intermittent fasting on scales larger than 24 hours can have physiological impact.  I theorized that if the eating pattern could induce ketosis within a cycle that the pattern can have physiological differences.  Additionally on the eating days the intake was large enough that entropy (inefficiency) could increase causing a net reduction in available calories.  As a third impact it’s possible that my overall BMR will be higher, as compared to a diet creating a consistent caloric deficit, which increases expenditure.

The behavior of BMR in my prior health experiments shows that after gorging my BMR increases the very next day.  I also found that whether on a low calorie diet or a fasting diet my BMR was consistently the same which means a consistent low calorie diet won’t have any BMR advantages.

The three of these factors means less efficient energy utilization, less efficient energy absorption, and more energy expended compared to diets with consistent, low calorie intakes.  The theory and initial results are in agreement.  While this is a very tough eating pattern to maintain I believe it could be the most effective eating pattern for weight loss that still allows high overall nutrient and protein intake.

Putting it all together

Since the first meal is consumed after a kill this means that the first meal will come after exercise.  It also means that all exercise will be in a fasted state.

Since in the wild everything is a little different each time, I’m going to vary the weight and stance/grip every time.  The weight may cause a decrease in reps, but I’m going to try to do small enough changes that I can still get around the same number of reps.  After working on breathing sets I may be able to increase reps even with increases in weights.  Even if the same number of repetitions are done the total time and “chunks” of repetitions will likely be different.  By “chunk” I mean the number of reps between breathing breaks.

All breathing sets will be done to the point that I cannot complete a single repetition with a 10 – 15 second breathing break.

There will be three different routines.

Group A Group B Group C
Lower Squats Deadlift Clean & Press
Back Pull-ups Horizontal BB Row Reverse DB Flys
Chest/tris Military press Bench press Cable Flys

 

Squats will be done without racking the weight to box depth or at least parallel.  Pull-ups will be done starting with a slightly wider than shoulder width pronated grip moving to a neutral grip when I can’t do a chunk of three.  Deadlift will be done with a pronated grip moving to a mixed grip if my grip strength starts failing.  The BB row will be done with a supinated grip.  Cable flys will be done from a decline to neutral position.  All other exercises will be done according to standard methods and techniques varying by the prescribed methods.

The diet will start with fasting.  On fasting days I’ll be trying to keep activity to a minimum.  Only water will be consumed.

I will embark on this program for 90 days.

Prior to this program I have been having a relatively low rate of training (2 hours a week) and consider myself well recovered.  I have also been consuming a very nutrient rich, diverse diet and do not consider myself at risk for any nutritional deficiency during this time.

Summary

While the Predator Diet is well backed with scientific evidence that it will help induce weight loss, I acknowledge the Predator Program is not something that I have significant evidence will cause increases in mass and/or strength.  Nature has developed in ways we can’t always understand, but has produced marvels.  It is common for engineering to look to nature to solve problems and I believe this program has the potential to illicit major physiological changes.  If you are interested in trying this program with me I would love to hear about it or your end results.  Please feel free to contact me at bryan@healthsatori.org.

References

  1. Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q.  Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies.  BMJ 2013;347:f5001
  2. Ruff JS, Suchy AK, Hugentobler SA, Sosa MM, Schwartz BL, Morrison LC, Gieng SH, Shigenaga MK, Potts WK.  Human-relevant levels of added sugar consumption increase female mortality and lower male fitness in mice.  Nature Communications. (2013)
  3. Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct.  Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.  (2013)
  4. Price, Weston A. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects.  Paul B. Hoeber, Inc; Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers.  1939.
  5. Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Anantharaman K, Flatt JP, Jéquier E.  Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Aug;48(2):240-7.
  6. Tente, Bryan.  The Health Satori Project.  Kindle Direct Publishing.  2014.
  7. Lipton B.  The Biology of Belief – Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles.  Hay House.  2005.
  8. Shrier. Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of local muscle injury: a critical review of the clinical and basic science literatureClinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 1999.

 

How limited of a diet can you have?

Many people wonder how limited of a diet you can have and still be healthy.  I think it’s only natural for many people to ask this question because many of us find dieting to be complicated, cumbersome, and tedious.  Many want something simple that we can repeat.  Now there are those who want variety and taste, but those who ask this question aren’t that type.  The people who ask this question are those who favor simplicity and results over novelties and zest.  So for those who want to get the biggest bang for the least effort, how limited of a diet can you really have and still achieve good results?

The truth is the whole “eat the rainbow” message is a relatively new, scientifically unproven theory.  There are two main thoughts to this message:  1) this ensures variety of fruit and vegetable consumption which promotes a diet with variety of vitamins and minerals; 2) the phytochemicals that control vegetation’s color have positive chemical properties.

So let’s dissect these two principles…  A diet rich in vitamins and minerals can come from any diet whether or not fruits and vegetables are included.  There is not a single vitamin and mineral we consider to be essential (meaning required from diet that our body cannot synthesize) that comes from fruits and vegetables we cannot get from animal products.  Now there are vitamins in animal products that cannot be found in any vegetation  - most notably Vitamin B12.

Okay so #1 is bunk how about phytochemicals?  There’s no phytochemical that is deemed to be essential.  While phytochemicals may have positive health impacts there is no study that compares a healthy omnivore or meat based diet against a healthy vegetarian diet.  Typically speaking people who eat more fruits and vegetables eat less processed foods and refined sugars and studies do not discern the effects of increased vegetable intake from reduced junk intake.  There are plenty of studies comparing vegetarian diets to the average unhealthy Western diet, but even in these studies there are comparable rates of chronic diseases and mortality.  So the notion that more fruits and vegetables in a diet means better health is scientifically unfounded.

Historically in ancient times and up the the 1900′s, diet has been limited mostly to what’s available regionally.  It’s only been recently that culturally diverse vegetation is available almost year round.  Now don’t get me wrong I think fruit and vegetable intake is healthy, but there was a lot less diabetes and obesity before the diverse availability of fruits and vegetables.

Take the Irish for example…  From the 1590′s to the 1900′s about one third of the population survived off the potato.  The majority of the rest ate potatoes, oats, and milk.  Neither of these two diets is diverse, yet the country of Ireland survived.  The Irish weren’t obese or plagued with chronic illnesses.  So what gives?  A carb based diet without variety that didn’t produce a decrepit population?  Obviously it’s the eat the rainbow message that fails to uphold here not some genetic gift the Irish have.

The reason why I find this message important is that many people are looking for diets that are healthy but easy.  To some of us this means preparing big batches of food or eating the same thing over and over again.  If we’re telling people they must incorporate a large variety of expensive fruits and vegetables this can make it really hard on some people.  Instead of fearing death or illness from some crazy nutritional issue realize that almost any natural diet is going to be rich in nutrients that can sustain a healthy life.

I hope this makes it easier for those seeking a healthy diet to make positive changes in their health without worry or concern.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tbsp flax seed
  • dash of salt
  • 4 oz pumpkin puree (unseasoned)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (add more or less depending on how thick you want your batter)

Directions

  1. Preheat a skillet to a medium-low heat.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, flax seed, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the pumpkin, egg, and milk to the batter and mix well.
  4. Add butter or oil to pan to prevent sticking.
  5. Pour small circles of batter and flip when bubbles start to appear.
  6. Let cook for 1 – 2 minutes on other side or until browned.

Notes

On top of the outstanding flavor, one of the reasons why I love these pancakes is they taste great cold and/or reheated.  Make a few extra and have the next morning if you’re low on time, or just make them in advance.

Pancakes 101 – Healthy, Gluten-Free, Vegan optional

There are several tricks to making a wide variety of healthy, gluten-free pancakes.  These pancakes are something that I would eat (and let my kids eat) every single day if they wanted to.  These pancakes aren’t going to be as fluffy and light as normal pancakes, but they are filling, delicious, and healthy.  I’ll personally take that trade-off any day.

Buckwheat

The first ingredient is the flour and I use buckwheat.  Buckwheat is not a wheat and is gluten-free.  It is also denser though so it is the main reason why the pancakes won’t be as light and fluffy.  If you’re making the non-vegan variety you can use a 3:1 ratio of buckwheat flour to white rice flour if you want to make it a little bit lighter.  I do not recommend white rice flour in vegan pancakes because it doesn’t not bind as well as the buckwheat.

Bananas

Bananas are particularly helpful when making the pancakes vegan because it’s a binder, but they also add a lot of moisture and nutrition to the pancakes as well.  To use bananas in pancakes you want to use about 1 banana per cup of flour.  Mash the banana with a fork in a small bowl then add to the batter.  Do not put the banana in a blender because it will lose some of it’s binding effects if pureed.

Flax Seed

Flax seed is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.  It also is an oil substitute that goes really well in pancakes.  Flax seed helps bind vegan pancakes as well, but I mainly use it for the nutritional boost over the oil.  Use as much as you want, but flax seed is usually substituted with 3 tbsp per 1 tbsp of oil.

Pasture Raised Eggs

Eggs are more common in waffle batter, but I like to use at least 2 eggs per cup of flour.  On top of another great nutritional boost, eggs also help bind the pancakes.  Use local, pasture raised eggs.  If you can’t or won’t buy them I’d just leave them out.

Basic Pancake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 3 tbsp flax seed
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup milk (use more or less to thin/thicken as desired)
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat a skillet to a medium-low heat.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, flax seed, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the banana in a small bowl with a fork.
  4. Add the banana, egg, and milk to the batter and mix well.
  5. Add butter or oil to pan to prevent sticking.
  6. Pour small circles of batter and flip when bubbles start to appear.
  7. Let cook for 1 – 2 minutes on other side or until browned.

Vegan Pancake Recipe

For the vegan version don’t use the egg and replace the milk with almond milk.  If you have any problems with the batter being too loose you can add extra flax seed and/or decrease the amount of almond milk.  I’d recommend starting with 1/2 cup of almond milk.

Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • Handful of ice
  • Optional sweetener – dates or honey
  • Optional nutritional boost – 2 raw eggs
Directions
  1. Blend bananas (if adding dates blend the dates with the bananas).
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Blend until ice is smooth.
Notes
This is a great base smoothie.  You can add in whatever other fruits or spices you want to flavor it up more.

 

Peanut butter smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 4 dates
  • 8 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • handful of ice

Directions

  1. Warm the dates in hot water.
  2. Add dates, peanut butter, and about 1/2 cup of milk to blender.
  3. Blend until dates have been thoroughly blended.
  4. Add remaining ingredients.
  5. Blend until ice is finished.

Notes

All the ingredients are to taste.  If you want a thinner smoothie use more milk.  If you want a more subtle peanut butter taste use less peanut butter.  Pretty much any variation is delicious.

Smoothies 101

I’m a huge fan of healthy smoothies.  They are relatively easy to make, can be very nutritious, and can be taken on the go.  Additionally they can be very tasty…  I wanted to cover the basics of smoothie making so that you can play around with your own smoothie recipes and flavors.

Base Liquids

The base liquids you’re going to use is mostly likely going to be water, milk, or almond milk.  I prefer water in my citrus and berry drinks and milk in my more savory drinks.  If you’re vegan or avoid dairy almond milk is a decent substitute.

Bananas

Bananas are the base of many of my smoothies.  They have a light flavor that can be easily masked by other ingredients.  They are also cheap and available anywhere year round.  If you use frozen bananas it will give the smoothie a rich, ice cream like texture.  There’s no special instructions to freeze the banana – just throw a bunch in the freezer.  To thaw them out just soak them in some warm/hot water until the peel gets soft and mushy.  Once this happens the peel should slide right off.  This also gives a great usage for those overripe bananas you might throw away.

Dates

If you want to add sweetness to a smoothie dates are a must.  Now the trick with dates is getting them to blend right.  Dates are a bit chunky and if you don’t blend them right they can muck up a good smoothie.  You’ll have small chewy chunks instead of a sweet, smooth drink.

In order to blend them well you want to first warm the dates up in warm/hot water then blend them as a first ingredient with a small amount of liquid.  Doing this will help whatever blender you’re using chop them up fine.  If you’re adding ice or frozen items to your smoothie make sure they’re not included before you blend the dates.

Raw Eggs

Raw eggs not only add a lot of nutrition to a smoothie, but they also give smoothies a richer texture and taste.  I do recommend that only local, pasture raised eggs are consumed raw.  I actually only recommend people consume local, pasture raised eggs period but consuming raw foods adds a little more risk.  That being said I’ve consumed up to 3 dozen raw eggs in a single day with no issue.

I love adding raw eggs to most of my milk/banana based smoothie, but I have found they can help tone down tart smoothies as well.  Don’t worry you can’t taste anything you would think tastes like raw egg in the smoothie, just enjoy the richness and nutritional benefit.

A non-medicated, vaginal twin delivery experience from the husband’s perspective

This is my story about my wife and I’s birthing experience at OU Physician’s and OU Children’s Hospital.  My wife and I were having twins and as a vegetarian and nutrition author we both opted to go drug and intervention free.  We enrolled in a Bradley method class because it aligned closest with our beliefs and intentions.  As we know and the Bradley method reminded us, sometimes interventions are needed but there are many that are not necessary.  My wife did need some interventions which is just fine, but the way the doctors and staff treated non-medicated routes for low-risk consequences was completely unacceptable.  Lack of proper nutrition in the hospital setting and the prevalence of drug offerings was deplorable.

At 32 weeks my wife had an ultrasound scheduled and it was discovered her cervix was 75% effaced and she was 4cm dilated.  At this point we were admitted to the hospital.  They wanted to administer a steroid shot to help the baby’s lung development.  While Madeline was 4 lbs and 12 oz Mabel was only 3 lbs and 11 oz.  Mabel was not showing signs of moving her diaphragm at the time.  Their age and weight made them susceptible to issues and with signs of labor it was a precautionary measure.  In both of our opinions it was a good choice to make.

When admitted to the hospital the first thing they did after getting us situated in the room and her hooked to monitors was swab for Group B Strep (GBS).  Immediately after the swap they wanted to administer the antibiotic just in case she had it.  Outside of our desire to limit drugs and my issues with pre-emptive antibiotics the logic centers of my brain were kicking off because they were conducting a test just to prescribe the same measure if it came back positive.  If they wanted to prescribe the antibiotic just in case then why the hell do the test?  The test causes discomfort, takes resources, and costs money and is 100% utterly useless in the case they automatically administer the antibiotics.

If you didn’t notice I didn’t mention antibiotic anywhere in initial intervention discussion.  In fact it’s not even related to the steroid shot.  So why was this part left out?  The antibiotic was a precautionary measure in the event of active labor and my wife was not close to active labor.  Part of the related medications to the steroid shot was drugs to inhibit labor so in my mind there was a low risk of suddenly hitting active labor.  After asking questions the nurse could not provide answers to we decided to forgo the antibiotic.

The only question we got an answer to was how long it took the test to come back and the answer was days.  The next question we asked how long it would take for the antibiotics to take effect.  Later the nurse returned with an answer of 4 hours.  Since the process of labor normally takes much longer than 4 hours and my wife was given medications to reduce contractions the answer was really easy for me…  Do not administer the antibiotic unless the wife comes back positive or labor begins.

My wife is a bit of a worrier though and the answer wasn’t that easy for her.  As a nurse my wife also has a lot more faith in medical staff and advice than I do.  To make matters worse the doctors commonly used scare tactics when talking to my wife when they wanted to convince her of choosing an intervention.  Our doctor, Dr. Kate Smith, told my wife that 25% of all women test positive for GBS.  While this may sound like a valid statistic it’s actually an irrelevant scare tactic.  The real statistic in question is how likely is it a pre-term baby will contract GBS if the mother does have GBS.

Some diseases have very high incidence rates and very low rates of transmission.  GBS is one of those…  While 25% of women have GBS only 1 in 2,000 babies in the United States actually contract GBS.  So if we look at these two statistics a mother with GBS has only a 1 in 500 chance of passing on GBS to their baby.  Pre-term babies are about 10% of all births so even if GBS transmission occurred only in pre-term babies you’re looking at maximum transmission rate of 1 in 50 or 2% if you know you have GBS.  So instead of telling my wife there’s a 2% chance your baby could contract GBS if you have GBS and you went into labor right now Dr. Kate Smith tells my wife there’s a 25% chance that she has GBS.  Additionally you have to factor in the odds of going into labor right at that moment which most likely put the risk below 1%.  It was a clear manipulation of statistics to induce fear for taking a medicated route.

The ultimate decision my wife made was to not take the antibiotics and as it turned out not only did she not go into labor but she didn’t have GBS either.  While it may seem everything turned out for the best this issue caused tension between my wife and I, and myself and the medical staff.  There’s no reason it had to be like this if they would have informed us of the desire to administer the antibiotics as part of the intervention or providing objective statistical information on the risks.

The steroid my wife was administered took 48 hours after the first injection to have full effect.  I thought this would mean we could get released around 48 hours if everything looked good, but they actually wanted to keep my wife there for a week.  Since we lived only 20 minutes from the hospital and I worked from home I saw no reason why we shouldn’t be able to go home.  If she went into labor after that point it’s why we took that intervention step.  And once again it’s not like labor was a process that instantly happens in the majority of all cases.  If you want to talk about risks the risk of her having sudden labor is minute.  Contrarily the hospital charges of $2,000 or so per night were guaranteed.

My insurance coverage is fantastic so it’s not like I was worried about having to pay the bills, but I’m still adamantly against waste particularly with medical expenditures.  I asked the doctor what the benefit of staying at the hospital past that point and it was basically “to be safe” so that we don’t have to check out then immediately get re-admitted.  While “being safe” was keeping my wife there over a false risk of a 20 minute car trip and the sub-par hospital nutrition and sleep disturbances had real, consequential effects on her and the babies.

Even though I’m a health enthusiast and nutrition author I understand people have the right to choose whatever die they want, but what I don’t understand is when organizations in health are promoting diabetes and obesity through their own nutritional offerings.  The OU Children’s hospital cafeteria was appalling.  There were absolutely no healthy meal options and even the healthiest snacks had refined sugar.  The apples and peanut butter had your normal trans-fat, sugar loaded peanut butter.  The yogurt was low-fat (which interferes with nutrient absorption) and contained either granola or fruit – both loaded with corn syrup.  Even the hummus came with white flour pretzels instead of something healthier like rice chips, multigrain crackers, etc.

The cafeteria was loaded with plenty of other horrible foods as well to include fried foods, gravy, excitotoxin laden chips, soda, energy drinks, candy, and more.  The vending machines on every floor offered more doughnuts, candies, and sodas.  In fact the only place you could purchase something decently healthy was an independently run café.  As a vegetarian their menu had limited options, but she still was able to get a grilled cheese and tomato basil soup.  Not the healthiest of meals but quite a step above the cafeteria food.

So from the first night on my wife and I brought our own food, but from the first night on my wife also got her sleep interrupted.  Even with as low risk as she was they still did their usual rounds and hourly checkups.  It was not conducive to reducing stress and getting a good night’s rest – I wanted to convince her to go badly.  After discussions the doctors and us kind of reached a compromise…  One more day past the 48 hour mark and then we’d go home.   We went home the next day and my wife was basically on bed rest.

My wife made it another eight days, but after returning for a follow-up ultrasound my wife had measured at almost 7cm dilation.  Once again they admitted her to the hospital.  Out of concern over the risk of having to have a cesarean section she was put on clear liquids only.  Remember how I just talked about how bad the nutrition was at the hospital?  Well their clear liquids aren’t much better…  From concentrate, sugar laden, GMO containing “juice”.  The literature is pretty clear that sugar sweetened beverages contribute to diabetes and obesity yet this is what they’re saying is my wife’s only option.

Now the confusing part about this decision is that liquid foods don’t carry any additional risk of aspiration if she were to consume anything else pureed like a green drink, smoothie, etc.  Even the sugar water they were giving her contains a solid form of sugar.  If the hospital is going to give juice to patients though why not give patients something that doesn’t cause obesity or diabetes like 100% real juice?

After another sleepless night at the hospital and no signs of labor a doctor we had never met before came in the room to tell us we needed an intervention.  She recommended that we break my wife’s water now to induce labor because they didn’t want her going another two or three days dilated so much.  The problem I had with this route was that Dr. Lambert said if labor didn’t start naturally 3 – 4 hours after breaking the water they would administer Pitocin and schedule a cesarean section if the Pitocin didn’t cause labor after 6 – 8 hours.  So now we were being presented with an option that leads to a medicated birth within 3 – 4 hours and the worst case scenario in 9 – 12 hours total.

I can’t say I was a fan of this so once gain I started asking questions…  I first asked what the risk was of not breaking the water until another day or two to see if labor would start naturally in that time.  The first risk I got from Dr. Lambert was my wife’s emotional state and her not being able to handle her current condition.  I lost a lot of respect for Dr. Lambert right then because not only is my wife’s resolve pretty amazing, the doctor hadn’t even asked my wife how she was feeling emotionally.  The second risk I got from Dr. Lambert was that risk of infection was really high.  Dr. Lambert said her “biggest fear” of the entire birthing process was infection.  I mean screw all the concerns and complications of anesthesia and cutting my wife open, the risk of infection to unborn children in an amniotic sac in a women on bed rest in a hospital is apparently tremendous.  When I asked Dr. Lambert what are the statistical chances my wife could get an infection in her current setting her response was, “I don’t actually have any numbers.”  You know what my biggest fear is?  Doctors who medicate and prescribe interventions without even knowing the risks and statistical outcomes…  Because Dr. Lambert used “biggest fear” without actually knowing the statistical risk of infection I can’t see her actions as anything other than scare tactics to prescribe standard medicated interventions.

My wife and I decided to wait before making any decisions.  After talking with our doula we were informed that after the water broke we had around 24 hours before a real intervention was needed.  This is a much greater timeframe than the 9 – 12 hours Dr. Lambert provided.  We decided that we would wait for a while to see if labor started naturally, proceeding to break the water if it didn’t, waiting 6 – 8 hours to start Pitocin, and another 6 – 8 hours after that to schedule a cesarean section.  While it’s essentially the same plan it gives us a much larger window to have a non-medicated birth.

During our stay at the hospital, both the initial admittance and the current one, we expressed to every doctor and every nurse we encountered that my wife didn’t want any drugs and wanted to do a drug free birth; however, every single nurse and every single doctor offered my wife needless medication.  My wife was offered medication for acid reflux, headache, nausea, pain, and sleep.  Pretty much every ailment expected in pregnancy a medication was offered.  She was offered vaccines and flu shots as well.  Every doctor reminded her that pain medication now and during labor was available.  In no way shape or form was the hospital respecting our desire for a drug free birth.  At the end we even asked some nurses not to offer medication and they still did.  One nurse even boasted about our decision to go drug free then offered medication within hours.

Now my biggest pet peeve with medication is that Pepcid was continually offered at almost hourly intervals.  While I understand that women have acid reflux like conditions during pregnancy the condition is caused by physical pressure on the stomach forcing the liquids up the esophagus.  This condition is much, much different than acid reflux.  In this particular case Pecid will make the condition worse and lead to poor digestion leading to poor nutritional absorption.  Less acid means slower digestion.  Slower digestion means more food and acid can be pushed up into the esophagus.  Combine the effects of Pepcid with the poor food the hospital is offering with antibiotics that kill gut flora and women are in for some serious combinatory effects.  I guess people don’t normally notice as much because they expect birthing to be awful and are mostly medicated…

After about 8 hours of continued transactions and labor not starting my wife wanted to break her water and try to induce labor.  My wife’s water was broke and contractions immediately began to increase in intensity and frequency.  After 4 hours she was in transition.  After another 30 minutes she was in active labor.  The doctor was called and the OR was prepared.  At OU Children’s they deliver all multiple births in OR with a team for every baby.  While I like the precaution it comes at a cost…

The anesthesiologist was called in and immediately began discussing the epidural without even asking if we wanted an epidural.  Even after expressing she didn’t want an epidural he continued to try to convince us to get an epidural in case we had to do a cesarean section.  I once again expressed no drugs.  The first thing the anesthesiologist tried to do when we got into the OR was give my two drugs we had not discussed.  While we went ahead and opted for the first drug we opted out of the second.  I was speaking for my wife and this point and the anesthesiologist did everything he could to try to scare me my wife was in danger if we didn’t.

While my wife had been very pleased with Dr. Katie Smith to date I was plain pissed off at the events surrounding active labor.  Throughout the entire pregnancy we informed Dr. Smith that we were using the Bradley method.  As soon as my wife needed to push with me standing by her side Dr. Smith instructed her how to push in a manner contradictory to the Bradley method.  I do believe that Dr. Smith should be familiar with the Bradley method as an OB/GYN even if she doesn’t recommend it, but she should definitely be aware of it and it’s basic principles.  It’s also referred to as husband based coaching so Dr. Smith should be well aware that I, the husband, would be coaching her on pushing.  Active labor in the OR is not the time or place my wife should be getting mixed signals.  I asked Dr. Smith to let me coach my wife how to breathe and push and Dr. Smith told me if she didn’t push well enough it would be my fault and she’d need a cesarean section.  Once again Dr. Smith is using scare tactics to try to change our birthing plan into whatever it is they want to do.

After Mabel was born I asked for the baby for skin to skin contact and feeding.  Dr. Smith straight up told me it wasn’t going to happen and unless we evolved to have three arms it was impossible.  Outside of being an idiotic statement because it flat out ignores the possibility for someone else, like you know me, to hold the baby to her chest while she continues to labor, she also flat out lied about that being our plan prior to entering the OR.  I asked to make sure it was an option and she said yes.  The Bradley method not only supports this as well, but suggests in can aid in the delivery of the second baby.

The delivery of Madeline was very smooth.  It only took 6 minutes after Mabel was born.  I can’t say I felt supported by the hospital, doctors, or staff, but the babies and mother are alive and well.  Since Mabel was 3 lbs and 12 oz and Madeline was 5 lbs and 2 oz they’re both spending time in the NICU, but the NICU staff has been amazing.  They have been supportive, informative, and as kind as anyone could expect.  While the delivery made me second guess the hospital choice there is no other place that I wanted be afterwards.  Well…  Except for a place with a decent cafeteria too…

So that was our experience with the hospital and staff from my perspective.  The lessons I learned I would recommend anyone to do are:

  • Be confrontational early on with the hospital and doctors.
    • The decisions get harder as the process continues so if you or the doctors can’t handle it it’s best to figure that out now.
    • It will expose how your doctor will handle your choices and input prior to being in a position you don’t feel you have room to argue.
  • Plan for nutrition.
    • Bring liquids and solid foods if you can.
      • Dried fruit, nuts, tea, juice, etc.
      • Anything that is nutritious, filling, and easy to store.
    • Plan out meals.
      • Figure out when the hospital food services are available.
        • We had several times we were hungry but nothing was open.
        • Find restaurants in the area you can pick up food from easily.
  • The first question should be to find out time constraints.
    • Most of the decisions we had to make were not time critical.
      • Finding out how much time you have can alleviate unnecessary worry and pressure.
    • It gives you room to ask other questions and do research yourself.

What a fasting experiment indicates about cholesterol, weight, and ketosis

Introduction

Starting on January 14th, 2013, I started a series of health experiments focusing on cholesterol.  My experiments were as follows:

  • Stabilize my cholesterol to measurements within +- 5 mg/dL over the span of a week
  • Eat a short term high saturated fat high cholesterol diet to raise my cholesterol
  • Return to the stabilization diet and observe the results
    • How it drops
    • New stabilization cholesterol

I choose bananas as my stabilization diet and my cholesterol stabilized at 142 mg/dL +- 4 mg/dL confirmed 5 times.  From the data collected it did not seem like fiber had an active role in reducing cholesterol.  In order to collect evidence on whether fiber has an active role in cholesterol reduction or not, I decided to fast for a week after increasing my cholesterol above my baseline.

In my original experiments my fasting glucose decreased whenever I ate lots of medium and high glycemic carbohydrates.  My fasting glucose rose whenever I ate zero carbohydrates.  The changes in my fasting glucose are the exact opposite of what conventional medical wisdom will tell you.  Cholesterol seemed to have the most predictability but fasting definitely revealed some facts about cholesterol I did not know.

Cholesterol

Before I decided to focus on cholesterol experiments, I conducted another series of health experiments that showed a direct correlation with dietary saturated fat and cholesterol to serum cholesterol.  A banana diet was one of the original experiment diets and bananas have virtually no saturated fat or cholesterol.  Prior to eating bananas my cholesterol was at 346 mg/dL from my 3 dozen a day egg diet and it decreased to 142 mg/dL in 23 days.  For more detailed information on the cholesterol analysis please visit my blog at http://healthsatori.org/blog/2013/03/14/the-cholesterol-picture.

Cholesterol can also be elevated in the cases of caloric deprivation.  The theory is that when the body is calorically deprived it will consume fat stores for energy.  In order to complete this process the body must be able to mobilize the fat for consumption and convert the fat into energy.  Converting the fat into energy requires ketones and can easily be detected using ketone strips.  The body’s transport system for all nutrients is blood and fat is mobilized into the bloodstream like everything else.  When the body mobilizes fat for energy consumption it will be transported via the blood therefore cholesterol tests will be elevated when fat is being mobilized for energy consumption.

During my experiments I did have measurable ketones in my urine (tested with ketone strips) and as the blood work revealed I did have elevated cholesterol compared to my previous measurement and stabilized measurements over the prior two months.

So here’s the conundrum…  Serum cholesterol is highly reflective of both dietary intake and nutrient demand.  Cholesterol tests are very volatile according to recent meals but if you fast too long or your body has high nutritional demands your body may be mobilizing fat in the absence of nutritional intake consequently raising cholesterol.  Cholesterol is emerging to me as merely a number that’s reflective of the fat being transported by your blood and does not necessarily reflect any negative risk factors.  Cholesterol  is correlated to bad foods such as fast food, desserts, and other fatty processed foods.  Eating those types of food is really the risk factor we should be paying attention because there are many healthy foods that can also raise serum cholesterol.

Ketosis

Ketosis is the state of your body producing elevated levels of ketones.  Ketogenic diets have been developed to help induce ketosis.  While ketogenic diets were originally created to help treat epilepsy in children that weren’t responding well to other treatments, many people have used them for weight loss.  Ketosis has been credited as a fat burning state and people use the diet in attempts to burn more fat that would be achievable on normal diets; however, ketogenic diets have never been scientifically shown to have any weight loss advantages over other diets.

Ketogenic diets consist of two primary factors:

  • Macronutrient ratio intakes with fat having a 65% or more caloric intake and severe carbohydrate restriction of less than 10% of caloric intake.
  • Increased intake of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

Ketosis is marked not only by elevated ketones but bad breathe, frequent urination, tiredness, headache, and more.  Due to all of the symptoms of ketosis, ketosis appears to me as an undesirable state.  Isolated tribes that eat ketogenic diets have not been reported to have any predominance of these ketosis symptoms.  If eating ketogenic diets does not induce ketosis all the time then what is it really that produces ketosis?

During my original experiments I had two phases which I went on complete carbohydrate deprivation which were eggs and beef.  Eggs have a macronutrient breakdown that follows the Atkins induction phase which many people have used to induce ketosis.

Diet Macronutrient Ratio By Calorie (carbs/protein/fat)
Atkins Induction Phase 5/30/65
Eggs 0/35/65

 

Beef has a bit higher protein intake than commonly prescribed, but neither eggs or beef caused elevated ketones or any other symptoms of ketosis.  Obviously the primary cause of ketosis is not carbohydrate deprivation, but what then is it?  I had some speculation that it could be tied to conventionally raised food and now after fasting it could be tied to starvation.

Most people who need to lose weight also have other health conditions such as pre-diabetes.  Diabetes not only affects the ability to process sugar but also digestion in general.  Also, who is to say there isn’t another condition we haven’t found yet that inhibits the ability to process fat just like diabetes affects processing sugar?  The reason why I mention all this is that if ketosis is more directly related to starvation than carbohydrate deprivation that would mean those entering ketosis while eating normal caloric intakes are still starving in some way.

Weight

When I started the cholesterol experiments I was at 172 lbs which has been relatively stable for the past 3 months.  After starting the banana experiments my weight dropped gradually to 150 lbs.  Both times I gorged on meat and eggs my weight temporarily increased by about 2 lbs.  After fasting for 6.5 days my weight dropped to 143 lbs.  After the very first day of breaking my fast I was back up to 149 lbs.  Although I wasn’t measuring body composition and just using my home scale the weight changes reflect mostly temporary changes.

Looking at my original experiment data where I was also measuring body composition my weight in the first 12 weeks dropped about 18 lbs.  After gorging on beef consuming about 4,600 calories a day I gained by 17 lbs.  The initial weight lost and weight gained back was primarily lean mass.  There was about a 1 lbs reduction in fat mass.  After 16 weeks my weight was right back where I started.  I’ve seen many discussions on weight loss talking about water weight, catabolism, and fat loss but those experiments showed everything was essentially temporary.

The temporary nature of weight loss is reflected in many other studies.  There is an unfortunate reality that the majority of weight lost is gained back.  Studies have shown that dieters who lost around 20 lbs tend to retain about 40% of their weight loss after 5 years; however, dieters that lost around 10 lbs tend to retain only about 30% of their weight loss after 5 years.  The additional problem is the weight loss continues to creep back over continuing years.  Some studies have suggested that as much as 95% of all people who lose weight dieting eventually gain the weight back.

What causes long term results and long term changes?  Where are the studies that show the majority of participants kept weight off for years?  If most people are looking for long term weight loss results why don’t we have more long term weight loss studies?

As I asked myself these questions I started to think of memory patterns.  There is a fairly well known set of curves that charts retention of information commonly referred to as the forgetting curve.  Below is an example of one of these charts:

 

What this curve shows is that the longer you reinforce your memory the longer the memory will be retained.  Eventually if you have enough reinforcement the memory just seems to stick.  Does weight loss need to be maintained for long periods of time to stick?  Is this why short term diets only produce short term results?

I’ve heard many concepts about body memory such as muscle memory and theories on how we have a “natural weight”, but there is another piece of science that can further explain memory at the cellular level and that is epigenetics.  Epigenetics has been a field of growing interest in the scientific community for some time but it has received even more attention after a published study from Duke last year.  I will try to provide enough information on epigenetics to make sense of the swirling thoughts in my head about epigenetics and weight loss, but I won’t go into too much detail into so please do some more research on your own.

The human species has about 24,000 genes and the round worm has about 19,000.  Obviously genes aren’t the answer to the complexity of our species over the round worm and some scientists believe that epigenetics may help explain the human complexity.

DNA is the building blocks of cells and required for cells to divide; however, you can rip the DNA out of a cell and it will still live.  Every single cell in our body responds to it’s environment.  Based on the environment it’s been exposed to throughout it’s lifetime it custom tailors the receptors in it’s cell membrane to best suit it’s environment and needs.  When a cell divides it also replicates the receptors it has custom tailored.  This is part of epigenetics and how cells transfer epigenetic information across our lifetimes.

The information a cell is encoding and passing on is in some ways cellular memory.  What would happen if a cell encoded into it’s memory information like, “I’m supposed to be full of fat” or “I already have too many calories.”  Although the information may not exactly look like a conscious decision to be fat, the cell could customize it’s receptors that inclines our body as a whole to be more likely to be a particular weight, or just overweight or thin.

Weight gain is very gradual as the average American gains an average of only 1 lbs per year, but weight fluctuates by several pounds throughout the day, month, and seasons.  If it takes experience and time to learn that it’s supposed to be fat don’t you suppose it will take experiences and time to learn it should be thin?

Conclusion

Self-experimentation has produced results contrary to conventional medical wisdom.  The health of the nation is getting worse not better.  Isn’t it time to question what we think we know?  Don’t focus too much on cholesterol, if you’re in ketosis something is wrong, and if your goal is to lose weight you have to be in it for the long haul.

References

  1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.long
  2. http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/diabetes/how-diabetes-affects-the-digestive-system1.htm
  3. Lipton, Bruce H.  “The Biology of Belief:  Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles.”  Hay House 2008.
  4. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57481348/your-diet-affects-your-grandchildrens-dna-studies-say/
  5. http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/20/3/166.full

 

The Cholesterol Picture

Preface

For those unfamiliar with my experiments I have been conducting several experiments over the last year eating limited food sources and consuming absolutely no processed foods, no seasonings or salts, and mostly raw foods to include raw beef and raw eggs.  For more information about my experiments or health thoughts other than it pertains to cholesterol please visit my facebook page or youtube channel for TheHealthSatoriProject.

Introduction

When I started my experiments my main goal was to observe.  Most scientific experiments start with a hypothesis and although I had some proving my hypotheses was not my goal.  When observing the health of the nation, the theories health experts touted, and the studies conducted nothing seemed to be harmonious or add up.  Everywhere you looked something was in conflict and there was virtually no definitive proof.

Health experiments have very little predictability and I had to accept that perhaps the complexity of health issues was beyond predictability.  Without predictability though, I didn’t feel like I could really support my experiment results.  My goal of my new round of experiments was first and foremost to prove if health experiments can be repeatable and predictable.  After all if the results aren’t repeatable and predictable and you can’t even determine if the same person will ever experience the same results how could anyone say the results would transfer to a different individual?

I hold onto a belief that as long as the right variables are controlled and examined that experiments should produce predictable results.  If results are not predictable then what’s the real point of the information from the experiments?  If I get on a plane that is going to Los Angeles I expect to land in Los Angeles just like if I was on a weight loss diet I would expect to lose weight.

A goal of diet experimentation is to be able to provide evidence to others that if they eat the diet of the experiment then they too should see similar results like the participants of the experiment experienced.  The problem is even the individuals in the experiment experience a wide range of results and there is no way to determine if an individual will be someone who experiences the best results or the least results.  These are results of probability and not predictability.

After looking at the data from my 6 months of experimentation cholesterol started to appear as a predictable number according to dietary intake.  Diets with substantial quantities of saturated fat and cholesterol clearly exhibited high cholesterol levels and diets without either clearly exhibited low cholesterol levels.  Although this observation is far from a mathematical formula predicting cholesterol it is a start at establishing what could be a highly repeatable health experiment.

During my new round of experiments I proved that cholesterol can be predicted according to dietary intake.  Evidence was also gathered to support or contradict several other theories about what affects cholesterol levels.  Some controversial theories are discussed and the results are examined.

The Experiments

My original experiments were to eat a single food source for 4 weeks and observe the results.  The first three food sources were as follows:

  • 6.75 lbs of potatoes a day
  • 36 eggs a day
  • 5.2 lbs of bananas a day

After these first three experiments cholesterol emerged as a very volatile number.  It started at 182 mg/dL, dropped to 99 mg/dL, rose to at least 346 mg/dL, and dropped back down to 142 mg/dL.  My impression of cholesterol at that point was it was a long term indicator of health and diet taking time to get high and time to lower but the data did not agree.  Many people consider cholesterol a key indicator to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and/or overall health so cholesterol definitely received my attention at this point.

The two dietary factors credited to increase cholesterol are saturated fat and cholesterol.  My next phase after bananas was raw beef in which I consumed about double the saturated fat but not nearly as much cholesterol compared to the egg phase.  It’s hard to accurately say how much saturated fat I was consuming because I consumed the beef raw – which means no fat is being cooked off – and I wasn’t trimming the beef.  For 99.9% of the population listing nutritional information for beef cooked and trimmed is the more accurate representation but not in my case.  At times I literally was eating 2” thick pieces of fat…  Below is a breakdown of approximate daily intake of saturated fat and cholesterol according to standard nutritional information:

  36   Eggs 4.5   lbs Beef (various cuts)
Saturated   Fat (% DRV) 54g (235%) 100g (434%)
Cholesterol   (%DRV) 6660mg (2220%) 1413mg (471%)

 

Consuming the beef increased my cholesterol to 324 mg/dL which was comparable to the egg diet.  I believe this to be clear evidence that both saturated fat and cholesterol from dietary intake do play significant roles in raising serum cholesterol.

When I began my experiments again the objective was to determine if any piece of blood work is reliable and predictable.  Cholesterol levels had emerged as the most reliable number following dietary trends directly correlated to my saturated fat and cholesterol intake so my intent became to focus on cholesterol.  Bananas are cheap, readily available, and my body handled them well so I choose to use a banana diet to stabilize my cholesterol.  Once my cholesterol stabilized my goal was to experiment with high saturated fat and cholesterol intake to observe how my cholesterol levels responded.

Results

  05/24/12 02/04/2013 02/12/13 02/14/13 02/20/13 03/11/13
Total 142 145 144 139 146 140
LDL 80 86 89 79 86 83
HDL 41 33 39 35 36 38
Ratio 3.5 4.4 3.7 4.0 4.1 3.7
Non   HDL 101 112 105 104 110 102
Triglycerides 106 131 78 123 93 93
Previous   Cholesterol 349 197 N/A N/A N/A 192
Previous   Cholesterol Length 28 days ~ 6 months N/A N/A N/A 4 days
Time   to Stabilize < 28 days < 21 days N/A N/A N/A < 14 days

 

Controversies

Many people address controversies in health as myths because data to prove something is missing on one side; however, I feel cholesterol is truly a controversy because data exists on both sides.  Controversy exists on both what raises cholesterol and if cholesterol is even a reliable indicator of CVD.

During my health experiments discussing cholesterol I cannot begin to count the number of times I heard that eggs don’t raise cholesterol.  I’ve also heard that how you cook eggs will determine if they end up raising cholesterol.  Several studies have been done on egg intake that have “proven” eggs don’t raise cholesterol; however, these studies were done with an intake no higher than 6 eggs per day.  I’ll be the first to admit that 36 eggs a day is well above any normal intake, but the experiments undoubtedly proved that eggs do increase cholesterol.  My first attempt to spike my cholesterol consisted of 3 lbs of beef and 20 eggs on 02/13/2013.  The results show that the mentioned one day intake did not increase my cholesterol at all.  Technically it went down 5 mg/dL (144 mg/dL to 139 mg/dL) but that’s within the test tolerance and my stabilized number (142 mg/dL +- 4 mg/dL).  I do believe that the 6 egg limit and my experiment results indicate there is potentially a quantity of cholesterol and/or saturated fat that can be consumed without impacting cholesterol.

Authors such as Gary Taubes who wrote “Good Calories, Bad Calories” argue that removing saturated fat from diet is not an effective way to reduce cholesterol.  Gary Taubes starts off “Good Calories, Bad Calories” with a story about how President Dwight D. Eisenhower struggled to reduce his cholesterol after his first heart attack.  The story goes on to say that the president’s cholesterol increased from 165 mg/dL to 259 mg/dL despite being on a low fat diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.  My experiment data clearly shows that dramatic increases in cholesterol and saturated fat do increase serum cholesterol.

Although I disagree with Gary Taubes about saturated fat not raising cholesterol levels, I do agree with him and others that do not believe there is adequate scientific data to claim high cholesterol is either a cause of CVD or even a reliable predictor.  The belief that cholesterol causes CVD is often referred to as “the lipid hypothesis.”  People who believe it is false often refer to it as “The Great Cholesterol Con” or “The Great Cholesterol Myth” such as Dr. Johnny Bowden.  Dr. Bowden points out a Harvard study that has evidence triglyceride to HDL ratio is a better indicator.  Others suggest that LDL to HDL ratio is a better indicator.  Both my LDL to HDL ratio and triglyceride to HDL ratio have varied greatly throughout the experiments in short amounts of time on the same diets with the same exercise regiments.  The LDL to HDL ratio has varied from 3.5 to 4.7 which, depending on how you look at it, is a 34% difference.  Triglyceride to HDL ratio varied enough to take me from a very healthy ratio of 2 to a high risk ratio of 4.  At best these numbers need to be taken over a range of time and averaged.  My concern using these numbers is that an individual would get one measurement, calculate the ratios, and immediately make a health assumption.  My perspective of a good health indicator is a value that does not fluctuate day to day and is reflective of overall health.

Cholesterol Tests

Before getting into the analysis of the results I wanted to discuss the accuracy of cholesterol tests.  There are two kids of accuracy pertaining to cholesterol tests:  laboratory and biological.  Laboratory accuracy reflects how well the blood test measures the blood sample provided while biological accuracy reflects how representative the blood sample provided was to your actual value.

Laboratory accuracy is something that is more widely understood but I also believe people have a high degree of faith in laboratory results so accuracy is generally over estimated.  Not only are there variations in the equipment used to analyze the cholesterol, but procedures to draw the blood have also been shown to produce variations.  The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) sets lab accuracy goals at +- 8.9%.

Biological factors consist of the variations that can occur prior to testing such as fasting time, exercise, and diet.  Fasting time prior to my blood work is 8 – 12 hours.  Rigorous exercise is not conducted within the fasting period although in order to help my veins “pop” for drawing blood I have done calisthenics prior to some draws.  My experiments validate that deviations in diet can cause significant fluctuations in cholesterol levels although the purpose of the new experiments is designed to specifically observe those fluctuations.  Biological factors have been shown to cause variations in total cholesterol measurements by 6.1%, HDL by 7.4%, and LDL by 9.5%.

Both laboratory and biological factors can account for more than a 10% variation in total cholesterol by accepted test variations.  My stabilized cholesterol values on the banana only diet was 142 mg/dL +- 4 mg/dL which is a variation of +- 2.8% which exhibits a high degree of accuracy compared to accepted variations.  The results indicate that both the laboratory and biological variations were well controlled.

Analysis

While my experiments provide no data on the cause of CVD they do provide a lot of evidence towards what raises cholesterol.  Additionally I am not trying to say whether or not cholesterol is any sort of an applicable health factor you should be paying attention to in the first place.

All values from a lipid profile are very volatile and can fluctuate week to week.  During my experiments I recorded an increase of cholesterol from 99 mg/dL to 232 mg/dL in one week and a decrease in cholesterol from 346 mg/dL to 142 mg/dL in just 23 days.  Cholesterol is predictable by diet so to see dramatic changes in your cholesterol drastic changes in diet need to be made.

No matter how high or how long an elevated cholesterol was maintained it took no more than 4 weeks to reduce my cholesterol back to the stabilized value of 142 mg/dL +- 4 mg/dL on the banana only diet.  I believe this provides evidence that foods don’t remove serum cholesterol but the body is reaching a stabilization point.  If you’re driving a car at 80 mph and you let your foot off the gas the car isn’t braking it’s just reaching a stabilized speed between the old speed and the new speed.  Applying the brakes, while having the same effect, is a very different cause of the decrease.  The reason why I believe this is an important distinction is identifying the role that food plays in cholesterol.  Fiber has been credited to decrease cholesterol; however, the quantity of fiber I consumed did not appear to impact the rate of reduction.  Fiber consumption definitely did not impact the stabilization cholesterol as my intake has varied day to day throughout my new experiments and the stabilization cholesterol is within a tight range taking into account the test accuracy.  Typically speaking foods with more fiber have less saturated fat and cholesterol.  I believe this is why a correlation exists between increased fiber intake and reduced cholesterol levels.  It’s also important to note that if fiber doesn’t remove cholesterol then eating more fiber will not offset saturated fat and cholesterol intake.

It is generally accepted that unprocessed sugar in your bloodstream converts to triglycerides.  Eating more sugar than your body can process can therefore increase triglycerides.  It is possible that cholesterol follows a similar pattern in that ingesting more saturated fat and dietary cholesterol then your body can handle causes increases in serum cholesterol.  My experiment data does provide evidence for this theory.  With a stabilized cholesterol I consumed 3 lbs of beef and 20 eggs and the next day and next week my cholesterol was still stabilized.  It could also be why studies on eggs show that consuming up to 6 eggs per day does not increase cholesterol levels.  I believe that we can use this to our advantage to enjoy high saturated fat high cholesterol (HSFHC) foods without raising cholesterol levels by simply following HSFHC intake by day(s) of no saturated fat or cholesterol for the body to recover.  For example, two days eating HSFHC foods followed by 5 days off or perhaps just alternating days eating HSFHC foods and off days.

Exercise did not appear to significantly impact cholesterol.

Cholesterol   (mg/dL) Exercise   (hours per week)
142 3
145 6

 

The exercise regimen of my first three experiment phases was 3 hours of exercise over 4 workout days.  Currently in my experiments I’m working out 6 days a week averaging an hour each day.  The doubling of exercise is at least not impacting my stabilized cholesterol.  Additionally during my beef phase I was working out 12 hours a week and my cholesterol still increased from 142 mg/dL to 324 mg/dL.  Although there is not enough data to definitely say the 12 hours a week of exercise didn’t prevent my cholesterol from getting higher than 324 mg/dL, combined with other data it does not provide evidence increasing exercise will decrease cholesterol.

References

  1. https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B2EKaGRFwKnRUkp0ZGxwMzFFbU0/edit?usp=sharing
  2. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/cholesterol-facts-vs-myths?page=2
  3. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-PEMD-95-8/pdf/GAOREPORTS-PEMD-95-8.pdf
  4. Taubes, Gary (2007). Good Calories, Bad Calorie: Google Book Preview, Notes; pages 3 ff. Knopf. pp. 609. ISBN 978-1-4000-3346-1.
  5. http://examine.com/faq/will-eating-eggs-increase-my-cholesterol.html