January 19, 2013 by Bob T 72 CommentsApproximately 3 months ago, I decided to try out the “Bulletproof” diet and document my experience adapting to a high (healthy) fat, low carb diet. Before beginning, I scheduled a blood panel through InsideTracker, to establish my baseline “before” biomarkers. My “before” blood results showed that while I had gotten my creatine kinase and vitamin D levels back in the “optimal zone” and added over 200 points to what was an extremely low (but was still low) testosterone level (due to, I believe, previous overtraining plus stress plus eating a very low-fat diet), there were still several biomarkers that weren’t optimal (extremely low white blood cell count, slightly elevated LDL, slightly low HDL, low hemoglobin, not “optimal” testosterone) and I was hoping the Bulletproof diet could impact. Sockeye Salmon (would pick this up frozen at Trader Joe’s, and a pretty good bargain) and Tilapia (make sure you are purchasing wild-caught fish, as most salmon, and pretty much all tilapia are farmed! While searching for local sources of grass-fed beef, I found a butcher in my neighborhood that sourced their meat from a farm in upstate New York.
I also began each day with 2 cups of “Bulletproof Coffee”, which is a mixture of high-quality, low-toxin coffee, grass-fed butter, and MCT (or coconut) oil. I also incorporated intermittent fasting, whereby you consume most of your calories during a very small window, typically 6 hours.
After not exercising at all during week 1, I worked out exactly 7 times over the remaining 23 days, for no more than 25 minutes per session, sticking to the plan as prescribed Bulletproof exercise guide, which focuses on superset of super-slow, “big five” super-slow, compound movements (read Body by Science to learn more).
For those of you familiar with Four Hour Body, this could be considered “Forty Minute Body”. While I love the premise of less-frequent, shorter-duration, higher-intensity workouts (CrossFit, anyone?), I never felt like I could push things hard enough with these workouts (since I was working out by myself so could only get things to about and 8 or 9 effort out of 10), and definitely felt there was a lack of core exercises (abs, lower back) so would end each workout with a few extra sets of sit ups and crunches… shh!). I also worked out the evening before the blood test, which I sense resulted in a slightly higher creatine kinase level.
Getting my follow-up blood results and seeing my skyrocketed cholesterol level was a bit of a shock. I was able to increase my testosterone level by 35% in 30 days, and finally get my level back into the “optimized zone”! There were some noticeable changes after just the first week, but that was mostly the loss of water weight (i.e. Mental acuity – I clearly feel more sharp and on top of things, whether it be an early morning meeting or driving my car.
Hair – after the first few weeks, I began noticing more hair than normal in my shower drain in the morning. It’s been about a month since my experiment concluded, and I’m happy to say that I’ve continued keeping with the diet. I also plan on incorporating CrossFit later this month, so can’t wait to start adding in more high-intensity exercise (will need to them work in more carbs). For a new dieter starting out on a low-carb high-fat diet, the foreign qualities of the diet can make it seem complicated. One of the most complex parts for me when I started was the proper selection of vegetables. One of the things that makes this so confusing for dieters is that some of these vegetables are also very low in calories. The rule of thumb I have come up with that makes sense when choosing vegetables is to avoid most vegetables that grow below the ground, and focus on the ones that grow above the ground. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published an article that highlighted a study that compared the effects of a low carbohydrate and low fat diet on weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk. The results of this study drew significant media attention, and once again drew attention to the “what-should-i-be-eating-for-optimal-health” debate, which, if you’ve been following dietary trends over the past 20 years, has flip-flopped multiple times. So while it may appear that the low-fat group experienced significant health benefits beyond the low-carb group, let’s take a closer look at the study to determine how to interpret these results properly.
Subjects in the low-fat group were instructed to eat more carbohydrates, although we know from previous studies that all carbohydrates are not created equal. Carbohydrates from grains, breads, cereals, pasta and artificial sweeteners promote more inflammation than do carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and legumes (1–4). Many studies have shown that high GI carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose-sweetened beverages can significantly impair these metabolic markers, whereas low GI carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains have antiinflammatory effects (1,5–8). This study is not the only study comparing low-fat and low-carb diets. There have been hundreds of previous studies comparing low-fat and low-carb diets, this study is just the recipient of significant media coverage. While some previous studies have come to similar conclusions as the current study, others have shown no difference between low-carb and low-fat diets on weight loss (9–11). More importantly, though, these studies are purely academic and do not faithfully represent conditions of free-living humans in the real world.
This study demonstrates that focusing solely on the effect of fat and carbohydrate in isolation does not provide relevant information about what most people care about most: long-term and sustainable weight loss. My recommendation is simple: forget about this debate and instead focus on eating a diet containing whole, unprocessed plants. Significantly increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and promotes significant health benefits beyond what can be described in a controlled research setting. And remember, before making changes to your own diet it is important to thoroughly investigate the pros and cons of limiting either fat or carbohydrate intake. There are benefits to restricting both carbohydrate and fat intake, and when making decisions about your own personal diet, be sure to read extensively and see the help of a nutrition expert in order to make educated decisions for your long-term health.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance. The premise is simple – eat a high (healthy!)-fat, low carb diet, getting 50-70% of calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and the rest from vegetables (with some fruits and starches). For those of you who haven’t read my previous post, basically the Bulletproof Diet could be called an “upgraded” Paleo diet.
It had been 5 months since my previous round of bloodwork, during which time I attempted to correct several problematic areas and reset my metabolism by stopping going to the gym 2 months prior and supplementing calcium and vitamin D (my elevated Creatine kinase level was an indication I was overtraining!). If I ran out of ground beef from the butcher during the week, I would pick up some frozen 1lb packages from Trader Joe’s, then throw in some extra Kerrygold butter or MCT oil to increase the saturated fat content. While not the cheapest solution (versus ordering directly from a farm and having it freeze-shipped), it was definitely the most convenient. While it may sound nasty, I can assure you that if you blend it with a hand held frother, what you end up with tastes like a really good latte. But that pain in my chest wasn’t my arteries hardening, but rather the stress I was feeling dealing with the news. While it may sound surprising, the reality is you need cholesterol to manufacture testosterone, so the correlation with switching from a low-fat diet and my increased cholesterol (54%) levels makes sense. It turns out that it’s common to experience some excessive shedding whens switching to a high-fat diet.
I provide information about self-tracking, biohacking, n=1 experiments, and Quantified Self tools and resources.
After a lifetime of being told to eat a certain way, and avoid certain types of foods, the selection of permitted and prohibited foods on the low-carb high-fat diet can feel almost arbitrary.
Every diet I’ve been on, including the low-carb high-fat diet, emphasizes the importance of eating vegetables as a large proportion of your overall food intake. One of the facts that you have to get used to on a low-carb high-fat diet is that calories aren’t the point. While this is not a hard and fast rule, it does cover the vast majority of cases, and can make choosing a little bit easier when you’re starting out.
Not only are beets very sweet to the tongue, they’re actually used as a source of sugar when refined.
But one of the most surprising vegetables to avoid on a low-carb high-fat diet is the carrot. For example, celery root and jicama are generally considered acceptable on a low-carb high-fat diet. That includes everything in the crucifer family, whether it’s green or purple cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.
What we do know from previous studies is that long-term sustainable weight loss is achieved by balancing energy in vs.
By restricting carbohydrates, your body goes into ketosis, and starts to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of glucose. You get to “cheat” intermittent fasting by having a few cups of Bulletproof coffee in the morning – a combination of high-quality, single-origin, mold-free coffee beans with grass-fed butter and coconut or MCT oil, which does wonders to stave off hunger while increasing cognitive function over the final few hours of your fast. The premise is simple – eat a high (healthy!)-fat, low carb diet, getting 50-60% of calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and the rest from vegetables. By restricting carbohydrates, your body goes into ketosis, and will eventually adapt to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of glucose. So, overall I was happy with the physical changes in just 30 days, but I’ve still got a ways to go!
I will be seeing a doctor to review some of my odd biomarker readings (low white blood cell count and hemoglobin) and to keep an eye on my cholesterol levels (seeing if my ratios continue to improve and my total cholesterol goes down over time as my body continues to adapt). While we want to benefit from the vitamins and roughage that come from eating vegetables, along with the high water content and other possibly unknown qualities from their natural combination of nutrients, we do want to avoid spiking our blood sugar. Although some diets would say that it’s the butter and salt you have to put on a potato to make it palatable that is the problem, we know that for low-carb high-fat dieting, the problem is the high starch content.
As a kid, I remember discovering beets at the salad bar of one of my favorite family restaurants. Carrots are very low in calories, and the typical portion may be relatively small, but if you think about the sweetness of a cooked carrot, you’ll realize just how much sugar and starch there actually is in one of these. Spinach and lettuces are also excellent, and provide a lot of vitamins along with the bulk and fresh taste to support your diet.
Your personal paleo code: the 3-step plan to lose weight, reverse disease, and stay fit and healthy for life. Mechanisms of disease: the role of intestinal barrier function in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases. Tight Junctions, Intestinal Permeability, and Autoimmunity Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes Paradigms. Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. Dietary pattern analysis and biomarkers of low-grade inflammation: a systematic literature review. Consumption of Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup Increase Postprandial Triglycerides, LDL-Cholesterol, and Apolipoprotein-B in Young Men and Women. The Ratio of Macronutrients, Not Caloric Intake, Dictates Cardiometabolic Health, Aging, and Longevity in Ad Libitum-Fed Mice. A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Persons successful at long-term weight loss and maintenance continue to consume a low-energy, low-fat diet. A major difference between Bulletproof and Paleo is the attempt to minimize toxins from the diet which are thought to play a major factor in inflammation.
Unfortunately, both beer and red wine reside on the “red” end of the Bulletproof spectrum (because of fermentation, being unfiltered, mycotoxins, yada yada). Although a lot of these vegetables may be considered unlimited foods on many other diets, they’re strictly limited or outright prohibited on a low-carb high-fat diet. The starch is obvious in a potato, and starches are immediately converted to sugar in the body.
Especially with modern agricultural techniques, industrial farms in the United States have developed monocultured strains of carrots to meet customer demand that are incredibly high in sugar. All of these exhibits the crunchiness that we like to associate with a root vegetable, but without the cloying sweetness. Additionally, some more exotic greens such as kale and mustard greens are becoming popular.
The glycemic index of the potato is also very high, as is the glycemic load of a typical serving of potatoes. I used to love mixing canned beets with cottage cheese, and watching how it turned a beautiful huckleberry purple.
Unless you understand the logic behind some of these rules, it can be very confusing trying to figure out what you can and cannot eat. But of course, at that time I had no idea what the impact of so much sugar was on my system.
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