Living room sofa; overcast, 30.1 F, 0437
My health is very important to me. For the last 10 months or so, I have been on a Low Carb, High Fat diet. Also know as a Keto or Ketogenic diet. How I came to this point is an interesting story, but I will save that for later. I did not start this diet to lose weight, but rather to lower my serum triglycerides, which were high.
Cells in the body can use three things for energy; Glucose, Ketones and Ethanol. The basic idea of this diet is to switch from using Glucose (sugars) to Ketones (fat) as the primary energy source. The reason is that excessive intake of carbohydrates causes insulin resistance, which in turn causes excessive levels of insulin to control blood glucose levels, which creates a host of problems known as “Metabolic Disorder.” Some features of Metabolic Disorder include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, high serum triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dementia, poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and others.
The dietary recommendations by the USDA are generally confusing. In previous years, the recommendation was for 55-75% total carbohydrate, 10-15% Protein and 15-30% total fat. My feeling is that this is a combination of initial ignorance on human physiology and ongoing bureaucratic intransigence. There is absolutely no dietary requirement for carbohydrates in human beings. A person can survive on a zero carb diet and do just fine. However, fat is required and cholesterol is vital. If a person is not taking in enough cholesterol, then the liver will synthesize it. The current set of USDA recommendations lists calorie intake recommendations then lists types of food by volume, but does not really break down the food groups by ratios.
My theory is that diet should be tailored to the genetic makeup of an individual. One size fits all does not take into account many thousands of years of environmental adaptation. My ancestors are mostly from north northern Europe. As such, they likely ate very few carbohydrates. Instead, they ate mostly oily fish and fatty meats. A few years ago, I had a piece of salmon for dinner. After that, I was craving salmon. I had if for dinner at least 2-3 times per week for almost a year. Clearly, there was something in that fish that I needed.
What is not to love about fresh, homemade food? Highly processed foods and prepared foods almost always have a lot of added sugar. They also tend to use dodgy ingredients like vegetable oils and have artificial flavors and colors.
I cannot make any dietary recommendations for others. For myself, I can say that since starting this diet; everything got better. I feel better now than I have in decades. I lost 20 pounds without even trying. My blood pressure returned to normal and I have discontinued taking BP medication. I no longer feel achy every morning when I wake up. My lower back pain has gone away. My mental processing has sped up. I sleep much better. All of this is likely due to reduced insulin in my system and it likely means that I had hyperinsulinemia which was driving inflammation.
I am not going to get into theories on why the USDA recommends a high carb low fat diet. That is for other people to work on. What I will say is, if you have any of the features of metabolic syndrome, then you owe it to yourself to look into it. There are many resources available but to get started, you can search for Ivor Cummins, Dr. Ken Berry, and/or Low carb down under.