Updates after 8 months of LCHF

As shown in the plot above, I’ve been doing this practice and lifestyle for about eight months. During the past few days, I’ve attempted to update and enhance my representation and visualization of body weight data.

In the plot, the red vertical bars represent individual daily measurements. The solid black line is a 15-day centered moving average (15d-CMA), and the dashed black lines show the 15d-CMA +/- 1 standard deviation (SD). The SD is computed over the same 15 day window of the moving average itself, and provides an estimate of measurement error.

During the four month period from Mar 1 – Jun 30, we can see a net reduction in weight of approximately 30 lbs, corresponding to a sustained average decrease of about 2 lbs per week. After this point we reach a fairly stable and sustainable plateau around 182 lbs, which is right where I want to be.

The average uncertainty in the dependent variable (measured weight) over the interval is +/- 1.5 lbs. This describes the average channel width between the dashed lines in the plot. This provides an estimate of how accurate a given daily measurement is expected to be. In other words, a short term trend of +/- a couple of pounds is just as likely to be “noise” as “signal”. Therefore, there’s minimal value in taking short term fluctuations seriously.

Lessons learned:

  • Protein leverage appears to work well in appetite suppression and making daily fasting easier. This means aiming for 25+% of daily calories from protein. Supplementation (whey protein) has helped me in reaching this target.
  • OMAD works well for me as long as I eat enough food at that one meal (e.g. at least 2000+ calories, 100+ g protein).
  • The starting point suggests that my stable weight when I eat an ad-libitum standard American diet is around 215-220 lbs. Sustainable and stable weight for me following a LCHF diet, including intermittent fasting,  looks to be in the range of 180 lbs.

I’ll keep observing the data and seeing what changes in the weeks and months ahead, but I’m pleased with the current status of things.

Lipid measurements after eight months on LCHF

Lipid measurements after 8 months (242 days) on low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) eating.

  • Total Cholesterol: 242 (mg/dL)
  • Direct LDL: 191 (mg/dL)
  • TC:HDL Ratio: 4.75
  • HDL: 51 (mg/dL)
  • Triglycerides: 93 (mg/dL)
  • TG:HDL Ratio: 1.82

These numbers have come in largely where I expected them to. The main surprise was a lower-than-expected (but still good) HDL.

My guess for total cholesterol count was 230, and so the actual measurement landed within about 5% of my guess. This is a relatively useless metric for heart disease risk, but it’s still popular, and so a lot of medical guidance continues to be based on this biomarker.

My HDL was lower than I expected it to be, but I attribute that to a lack of exercise during the past month due to a persistent cough and cold. I plan to retest in several months after resuming regular high-intensity exercise to see if that raises HDL (which would incidentally improve the TC:HDL and TG:HDL ratios as well).

The most important measurements for heart health and/or disease risk are triglycerides and TG:HDL ratio, and both of these are in the optimal (low) range.

A relatively high LDL combined with a low triglyceride measurement suggests (indirectly) the occurrence of LDL Pattern A, which is large, buoyant, non-oxidized LDL. This is more desirable than Pattern B, which refers to a preponderance of small, dense, oxidized LDL.

The relatively high LDL-P number suggests that I am a hyper-responder on a keto/LCHF diet. This result calls for further research and reading on my part.

The goal going forward is to:

  • increase HDL (mainly via exercise)
  • maintain low triglycerides
  • keep an eye on any movements LDL
  • retest in a few months

Subtraction > addition

Several months before my recent weight loss (starting in February of 2019) I began the habit of eating a healthy low-carbohydrate breakfast: an omelet with egg whites, ground sausage, and spinach.

However, this new habit did not cause weight loss. Why? The answer is simple: I didn’t change my foods outside of breakfast. I was still eating high carb food and junk food, and eating it too often. Adding a “healthy breakfast” couldn’t fix things when I was still eating unhealthy lunch, dinner, and snacks.

This further reinforced for me the lesson that you can’t “add” your way to weight loss and body fat reduction. Despite the fondest wishes of dieters and supplement manufacturers everywhere, there exists no dietary supplement that you can take that will burn body fat. Instead, you need to “remove” those influences that cause accumulation of body fat.

Removing two key factors stands far above the rest in terms of their impact:

    • Fasting (not eating) during a significant fraction of the day allows blood insulin levels to fall naturally. When this happens, the body accesses stored fat and metabolizes it for energy.
    • Avoiding carbohydrates during the time you do eat, to reduce the insulin spiking activity associated with eating and metabolizing food.

To summarize, to reduce body fat accumulation (aka “lose weight”):

  1. Spike insulin less often (through fasting).
  2. Spike insulin less strongly (through carbohydrate reduction).

In the words of Professor Miles Spencer Kimball quoting Dr Jason Fung

“obesity is always and everywhere an insulin phenomenon”

When you lower your body’s insulin response, you reduce your storage of body fat and enable use of your existing body fat as energy. Carbohydrates elicit the strongest insulin response, and thus they are the macronutrient that is most responsible for obesity. (Protein causes a weaker insulin response, and fat does not cause any insulin response at all.)