I Am Living Proof – Low Carb Diets Are Good For You

Mmmm, butter. And this is homemade – I will tell you how sometime soon!

After my first child was born, my husband and I decided it was high time we applied for life insurance.  We met with a life insurance rep who gave us a quote based on our presumed good health.  We then had a nurse come by to do a number of medical tests before we could get our final quote.  About a week later, the rep came over to our house again to read the results (keep in mind that this was some years before diabetes had surfaced for me).  He told my husband that his results were good, although not spectacular.  His cholesterol was a little on the high side, but other than that, all was well, and that they would stick with the quote they originally gave him.  Then came my turn.    I’d always been in very good health, but according to the life insurance rep, I was “wonderwoman” (his words).  Good numbers all around in cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, etc.  I received an even lower life insurance rate than they’d offered in their first quote.  I believe I might have celebrated by eating some potato chips.

That was about 7 years ago now.  Since then, a lot has changed.  I now have three children.  I became a runner.  I also have diabetes.  My diet, which was “healthy” according to the accepted wisdom at the time (whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, healthy fats), has undergone a severe overhaul.  And in some people’s eyes, it might not be considered all that healthy.  I think most people would be horrified by the amount of fat that I consume.  I simply don’t believe in “low fat”…because low fat usually means lots of sugar and carbs to make up for the lack of flavor.

“But Carolyn”, I hear you say, “surely the fats you eat are healthy fats, right”?  You bet they are.  Olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, butter, cream, eggs, cheese, fatty meats, fatty fish.  Saturated or unsaturated, it’s all healthy.  The only unhealthy fats are the awful man-made fats, like trans fats and hydrogenated oil.  I love butter and I slather it on just about everything.  I eat full-fat Greek yogurt, two egg omelets with cheese, and berries drowned in heavy cream.  I drizzle  my steamed veggies in copious amounts of walnut oil.  I snack on avocado and nuts  When I eat a steak or ribs or any kind of meat, I eat all the fat on it with relish.

I have come round to the idea that fat is good for me, it’s what my body was meant to consume, it’s the fuel I need for living my active life.  Along with a good amount of protein, lots of vegetables and some fruits, fat makes up a significant portion of my diet.  And yet, I was a bit nervous the other day when I asked my doctor to run a lipids profile on me.  Like everyone else, I’ve been conditioned to believe that saturated fats will clog my arteries, raise my cholesterol, and inevitably lead to heart disease.  Could my high-fat diet really be that good for me?

I am thrilled to definitively confirm that it IS good for me!  My bloodwork results came back with phenomenal numbers and I am too happy about it not to share.  I know many of my readers follow a low carb diet, and what we do flies in the face of conventional wisdom about nutrition.  So it’s always good to have vindication about just how healthy low carb is!

  • My A1c, which is a measure of glucose levels over the past 3 months, came in at a very normal 5.4.
  • My overall cholesteral was 177 (normal ranges are 130-200).
  • My HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio is 3.2 to 1 (a good range is anything under 3.5 to 1).
  • My blood pressure is always on the low side, and I often joke that I could eat a salt lick and still have low blood pressure.  This time it was 98/60.
  • My resting heart rate is 52 (normal range of non-athletes is 60 to 100, athletes are often below that).  I knew all that running was good for something!

I think I will go celebrate by eating a stick of butter.

Are you a low carber?  Have you ever had a lipids profile done?  If so, please share!  The more the merrier…

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Comments

  1. That is excellent! Shout it from the rooftops, because there are still a shocking number of people in the health blogosphere who think we’re killing ourselves one butter pat at a time. Oy.

    • In less than 3 weeks after beginnings to eat between 20 and 35 carbs/day, my total cholesterol decreased from 209 to 158. My LDL had been too high, and my triglycerides had been not right, either. The LDL and the HDL and the tryglycerides became “perfect” the doctor said. And my fasting blood sugar decreased from 109 to 90.

      This seems miraculous. Makes me so happy to take good care of my body this way. I have lost weight, too, but that wasn’t why I started eating low carb. I wanted to lower levels of circulating insulin because high levels have an adverse impact on cardiovascular health and are implicated in cancer. I have been treated for stage II breast cancer. I have been doing low carb for 7 months now. You website has helped me tremendously—I learned about Swerve and almond flour. And general inspiration. Also, almond milk really makes the low carb thing very doable—I love my lattes!. And I think that decreasing gluten, although not purposefully, has helped me, too—but I don’t know for sure.

      Thanks! Could you explore oat fiber, please? Not oat bran…

      Maria

      • Carolyn says:

        Hi Maria…what a fabulous reduction in cholesterol! Wish I could get my fasting blood sugar down, but I seem to be one of those people who struggles with that, no matter how “good” I am. It’s typically between 100 and 105.
        I do use oat fiber in some of my recipes, but I find it’s not that great tasting on it’s own (rather like sawdust, IMO!). So I typically use it in combination with almond flour, as a way to “firm up” a bread-like recipe. It’s good for that, I find. But I do need to experiment with it a bit more in different combinations.

        • Yes—like sawdust or flavorless corn meal. But no fat—so when i make scones with it (half almond flour and half oat fiber, and other ingredients of course) i have the joy of enjoying buttering them!

          For me sometimes the low carb recipes are just too rich for me to enjoy eating more than a bite or two. I am not anti- fat by any means, though. Healthy fats, hooray!

          Thanks again

          Maria

          • Carolyn says:

            Yes, I find it’s a good offset for the moisture/fat content for certain low carb baked goods. I have a big bag downstairs that i need to play with more.

    • Just found your site, love it. Low carb is amazing! I am “insulin resistant” and have had great results since January. I have dropped my A1C from 7.7 to 6.4 WITHOUT any medications… my cholesterol is fantastic at 160 and my triglycerides went from 123 to 77. I have also lost 50 pounds. In addition, I FEEL FANTASTIC!!!!!! All from eating FAT!!!

  2. Lisa Hiatt says:

    I just started this low carb way of eating in April. Also diabetic. I went to my doctor in June and was excited to see my numbers were better as well. He was ready for me to go back on a statin which I pretty much refused as I got severe joint pain when on it. I’ll be going back in August and hopefully It’ll be even better! When I went in April my A1c was an 8.3. In June it was a 7. So I’m on my way! I love your blog! And I can’t tell you how much I love this low carb/high fat way of eating. It’s the best “DIET” (Not a diet) I have ever been on!!! Here’s to you as I hold up a stick of butter to toast your successes!!! :D

  3. This post was timed perfectly! My husband was just talking about going low-carb and I’m more of an “everything in moderation” kinda gal so it was making me a little nervous. Heck, if chocolate mug cake can be low-carb I think I’m all for it, LOL!

  4. Carolyn, I am very happy to hear that you are doing sooooo well!!! Bravo! I miss you my friend! ♥

  5. Carolyn, this is fascinating. I just stumbled across your blog today, so I still have much to read. But I also follow a high fat, low carb diet, which helped me a ton when I was in treatment for three infectious diseases I got from a tick bite. I am under weight even two years after I was healed, but sometimes I’ll worry when people comment about how much fat I eat. I just feel so much better with yogurt, avocado, free range beef, almonds, olive oil, etc in my diet! So glad to hear that your results showed the same!

  6. Love this post! I am a low carb eater :) Not due to diabetes, but simply because I have learned what works for me. I felt a little wash of relief run over me when you said most people would be horrified over the amount of fat you consume. I’m certain I rival you :) Oh…and even in the third trimester of each o my pregnancies (when elevated blood pressure is expected), my blood pressure is still on the really low side. Yay for this post!

  7. Hooray! I’m so happy you’re in great health!!

  8. Melanie E. says:

    Congrats on the vindication! Love to hear it! By the way, your blood pressure looks backwards…I’m guessing it was 98/60.

    • Carolyn says:

      Yup, you’re right, I got that backwards. I honestly have zero idea what those numbers actually mean, beyond mine always being low!

  9. First off I want to say how much I love your site! I made your low carb cinnamon rolls for breakfast and they were delicious! Its so nice to have all these choices. I too am diabetic eating a low carb /higher fat diet. I eat eggs everyday, butter, full fat dressings, yogurt, etc and my cholesterol went from 220 to 140!! My doctor said ” whatever you’re doing, don’t change a thing” ;0)

  10. Hey Carolyn, by all means, I love to find out about other people’s results! I left you a comment last November about getting type 2 after having gestational diabetes. I am happy to report that I’m doing really well! I just had my first checkup in a year since starting low carb, and my HbA1c is 4.8%. I don’t have the other values at hand, but the doctor said everything else is fine. She even asked me if I might not be diabetic after all (I am…). Again, everything you said in this post is so true for me too. The copious amounts of fat I have included in my diet such as butter, cream, coconut oil, eggs, avocados and lots more have had a beneficial effect on my health and lipids profile. Like you, I don’t need to watch my salt intake so I just enjoy. And of course I have great control over my blood sugar on this diet. I look forward to your recipe posts all the time. Your blog has given me a lot of inspiration for everyday cooking and baking. It’s made the transition so much easier and I truly enjoy my way of life now. There’s still loads I want to try and not enough meals in the day! Experimenting with food is a completely new adventure now.

    Sometimes I wonder if we are just another variation of normal. I mean, there are millions of diabetics now. What if our symptoms simply went unnoticed in the old days, because no one was eating high-carb, processed foods all the time? Or maybe we made it just past reproductive age and mother nature didn’t care how long we lived after we reproduced. Anyway – thanks again for sharing your results and for all the great inspiration!

  11. That’s wonderful Carolyn! Yay low carb! My numbers have been great too! The only thing is my doctor doesn’t like is that my LDL is a little too high, but the ratio is fine. I probably need to get a more in depth test to prove that I have the fluffy, happy particles that aren’t bad for me.

  12. I have been a low carber for a long time now and it is the only lifestyle that works for me. After countless health professionals telling me fat was bad I just started ignoring them and taking charge of my own life and health. I’ve never felt better :) I have the test results and the scale to prove it

  13. Val Brown says:

    I lost 86 pounds and my doctor was happy about that until I told him I was doing Atkins….as he dictated my notes he said that “patient lost a large amount of weight intentionally using atkins, and I will be very interest in seeing what her cholesterol is” Well after labs done, total cholesteral was 166 and everything else was ok too…why can’t doctors just admit that its OK to do low carbing…and I am a nurse, so I know how important lipid profiles are!!!! I still want to lose more weight, and I WILL continue Atkins/low carbing!!!

  14. Connie Bussey says:

    I am diabetic and since starting low carb 5 months ago my hgba1c went from 8.8 to 5.8 & all my labs for once are normal and I have dropped 30 lbs yay

  15. Oh yes, I am also a low-carber! My doctor never said anything about my diet, especially when she saw my numbers. I wake up in the morning and have a resting heart rate of about 45, but as the day gets going I’m up there with you! My blood sugar is no longer consistently high — it was about 4 after a 12 hr fast (I think between 3.5 – 5.0 is good?)

    I think the numbers are even more impressive for my dad. He started following a lower-carb diet, cutting out alcohol, and watching what he eats. In the last 9 months, he’s lost 34 lbs, he’s no longer prediabetic, his blood pressure went way down, and his sleep apnea is improving (the number of episodes he had was cut in half).

    • Awesome for your dad! I can’t remember what the Canadian numbers are for blood sugar, I know they do it very differently.

  16. Katharine says:

    This is definitely worth celebrating! After finding out I was pre-diabetic almost a year ago I reduced my carbs, though I’m not sure if I’m technically “low carb” yet (how do you define low carb?). I’m working to get there. A1C is currently 5.7 and I’d love to get it down more. After changing my diet to one more heavily based on protein/fat I have worried that I might be trading in one problem for another (i.e. eating so many more eggs, more meat, etc…..will I now have high cholesterol? heart disease?) so I am relieved to read about everyone’s good results. If you’re so inclined, Carolyn, I’d love to read a post about a day/week in your low-carb lifestyle…. what you eat/activity level/etc. It’d be great to see what the readers do as well. I’m finding that my best teachers are not doctors, but others dealing with these same issues. Cheers to all of you!! This calls for one of your low-carb cocktails!!

    • Hi Katherine! I have always worried a bit that I was trading one issue for the other, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Yipppeeee! I have taken to heart what you said about writing more about the low carb life style, which is part of the reason for this post. I will be doing another post on Red Faced Runners about nutrition and fueling your runs when you are low carb in a week or so and I will cross-link it on my blog. I know you asked about a typical day of food, but the trouble for me is I am the opposite of a creature of habit…I don’t eat the same thing day to day at all. I’ve been thinking about how I might still write something like that. Bear with me!

      • Hi Carolyn. Your post has come at the perfect time for me as I was getting a little disheartened by my low carb diet. I am doing it to reduce body fat and prevent diabetes, which is quite prevalent in both my husbands and my families. Could I just ask, do you eat a lot of fruit or limit your intake? Also, please say no to this one if you like, would you post a typical days eating plan for yourself, just to see if i’m on the right track? As always, thank you for your website! x

        • Carolyn says:

          Hi Sherol. I do limit high carb fruits, but I eat them as a regular part of my routine. Berries are low carb and high fiber so I usually feel pretty good about them, especially strawberries and raspberries. I adore apples, but only ever eat half of one at a time. Same with peaches and nectarines. I generally steer clear of tropical fruits, but not always. I may have half a banana before a run or a walk, if I am craving it. I love pineapple, but only eat a little at a time.
          You are the second person to ask me to post a typical eating day so I will try to do that soon!

      • Katharine says:

        Yay, thanks Carolyn!!! I can only imagine (1) how busy you are, (2) how carefully you consider all that you write on your blog, and (3) how many people you have asking you for different information which may or may not jive with your goals for your blog. So I will absorb these helpful nuggets about the low carb lifestyle as often as you are able to share them! :)

  17. LOL Celebrate with a stick of butter! Too funny! My husband loves butter. In fact, when a Pastor (of all people) questioned him about his favorite food (I’m a cookbook author sitting next to him), he answers, “Butter!” Aaargh! Everyone within hearing range cracked up! Fabulous results, Carolyn, and just such incredible vindication for your chosen WOE. Good for you and thanks so much for encouraging others as well by posting your excellent blood work results. Wow!

  18. Oh dear, I think I posted my question under someone elses comment! Sorry, I have too many childrens activities going on at the moment, they have frazzled my brain! Sorry to Katherine for imposing!

  19. That’s awesome! It is interesting that as I’ve researched I have found so much conventional wisdom I’ve learned over the years is totally misconstrued, or completely false. The Farmingham study, for instance, was way over generalized. Ancel keys research was also key to the saturated fat and dietary cholesterol leads to heart disease myth. I have actually started a series on cholesterol on my blog if you are interested, here is the first post http://intoxicatedonlife.com/2012/06/01/cholesterol-hypothesis-why-what-you-thought-you-knew-about-cholesterol-and-heart-disease-might-not-be-true/

  20. Kristyl says:

    I like your recipes and your blog…Gary Taubes wrote a book called Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It. The book explains why we get fat and how eating a high fat/protein /low carbohydrate diet works and helps us lose weight and have energy. He also explains how eating too many carbohydrates can make us insulin resistant. When we get high carbs, we get stuck in a loop of increasing insulin and fat storage instead of fat burn. He does advocate eliminating dairy because of the lactose (sugar) not because of the fat.

  21. I couldn’t help but laugh at the stick of butter part. Good for you girl. You amaze me. I need to get fit so bad. But then I get distracted by things. I used to work out every day and run and eat semi-well. Not sure what happened. Okay I do know what happened, IBS. After 17 years of it I found not eating all day is the only thing that works so I can be with the kids and drive them places. My body is a mess after almost 18 years of eating one meal a day. I need to follow your lead and just start somewhere. You give me hope. different illnesses but really similar approaches to getting better.

  22. Oh my, you sound like me when you say “most people would be terrified at the amount of fat I eat”. Haha that made me laugh because I get that reaction from people, especially older relatives who are still eating margarine and using canola oil. Yikes. On average I eat 50-65% fat and I have never felt better! That’s all the proof I need for myself.

  23. Heather says:

    I just found this blog and am so pleased that diabetics are having success on low carb,
    after all the numbers don’t lie. I was at the doctors today to get my results. My A1c was 6.1, my cholestral was 4.85 . She was very happy with my results.
    She checked with me to check if I was taking a statin but I’m not.
    She asked me if I was doing low fat and of course I’m not, however, when I told her how many eggs I eat a week I thought she was going to faint LOL.
    I was wondering for those who have had A1c’s in the 5’s when would they consider reducing your meds?

  24. Carolyn, thank you SO MUCH for all these amazing recipes. Before I started eating low carb, I was only 26 years old but overweight and tired. I also had triglycerides that were at almost at 300 and my cholestrol ratio was bordering on bad. Almost immediately after starting the low carb diet, my triglycerides started to plunge. Last time I checked, they were at 112. I lost almost 30 lbs (20+more to go) and my lipids look great. I won’t go back to eating all those carbs again!
    xoxox
    Nout

  25. Thanks for a great site! After losing 55 lbs in two years of eating smaller portions of everything and walking a lot, I hit a plateau and began gaining weight, and started eating things with sugar again, like frozen yogurt, etc. I found LCHF and began eating this way. Loved it, felt great, but still kept inching up in weight. Tried lowering carbs to under 20, and ate according to the LCHF rules. No weight loss, weight gain of 25 lbs.

    But…I went to a lipidologist and had the big blood test—the one that checks EVERYTHING including the particle sizes. Long story short, HDL 80 (yippee), LDL 1800 (ugh! Should be under 1000—this is the small particle LDL). Doc says the LDL is hereditary, and no kind of diet or exercise is going to change it. All other numbers are brilliantly perfect for a 59 year old woman. Puts me on generic Lipitor. 3 months later my LDL is an awesome 600, and all my other numbers have only improved. Weight is the same., not losing, even though I’m doing LCHF.

    What am I missing here? I feel better and healthier than ever, and love LCHF eating.

    • I wish I could tell you, Casey. Most people find themselves losing with LFHC. There are a lot of support boards that could probably give you some advice. I’ve never done it for weight loss so I am not the best person to ask, but some say that eating nuts and/or any kind of sweetener keeps them from losing.

  26. Thank you for all of your hard work on this blog, I found you by accident, I had just discovered almond milk, (hmmm it has only been around forever!)…. and was looking for recipes….. and joy of joys found your site “all day I dream about food”. I added you to my facebook, and now you are there amongst my family and friends the people I love most in the world….. I live in a very small village in Lincolnshire a county in England UK….. isn’t the internet fantabulous! Started lowcarbhigh fat three weeks about and have lost 10 lbs – ! Thanks Carolyn…… you are a wonder in this world…..X

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