Since returning from The 3rd Annual Low-Carb Cruise to the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago and all the wonderful pictures of that glorious event have been posted on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, I’ve been getting quite a few comments and e-mails along the lines of this one:
Jimmy, I just looked at your blog to see all the fun pictures and video from your recent low-carb cruise. I was more than a little surprised seeing the pictures of you. I like to think of you as an example of how low-carb works well. After over 6 years on the program, I was expecting a different picture of you. You have often blogged about the problem you have had with periodic relapses and weight gain, but it was pretty obvious from the pictures of you that your weight is now going in the wrong direction. My initial thoughts would be that either the low-carb program is no longer working for you, or you are not following it. I realize that life can be more complex than that kind of simple analysis, so I would like to hear from you as to what is going on with you. Your initial weight loss when you started your low-carb program was truly remarkable and inspiring. But, after hearing of initial success, I think we all eventually expect a “what-have-you-done-recently” type sequel. Do you have such a story to tell?
I can certainly appreciate the way this was worded so as not to be entirely judgmental about my weight gain over the past couple of years, but longtime readers know what a struggle this has been to figure out why it has happened. And I’m gonna be dead honest with you…I was NOT at all happy with the way I looked on this year’s low-carb cruise. It was just a little embarrassing for me to weigh as much as I did, although again it should not have been a surprise to anyone since I’ve been very open and honest about dealing with this issue since December 2007 when it first began after taking creatine for six weeks and gaining 25 pounds. The weight gain from that experience has never come off and has continued to rise ever since.
That photo of me and Christine on the low-carb cruise before singing in the talent show says it all — I’ve got a gut and something needs to be done about it. If I was off bingeing on carbs, carbs, and more carbs all the time, then there would be no excuse for how I looked. But I have kept my carbohydrate intake to less than 50g carbs just about ever since I started livin’ la vida low-carb and quickly realized that’s where I needed to stay to keep weight gain from happening. Unfortunately, even that level of carbohydrates has changed for me as of late so that even the slightest bit of this particular macronutrient has an extremely detrimental metabolic effect on me. What in the world is going on?
When I was on the cruise, I presented my symptoms to Dr. Mary Vernon and Jackie Eberstein — two of the most knowledgeable low-carb experts in the world today — about what they think is going on and will help me with this issue that has plagued me for 2+ years and they both reminded me of something I hadn’t really considered with all of this. Although I’m no longer 410 pounds, I’m still metabolically hyperinsulinemic. What?! Isn’t that all supposed to just–POOF–go away? Wellllll, not exactly.
In other words, while I don’t weigh as much as I once did (thank the good Lord), the underlying condition of insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity as a result of many years of damage due to excessive sugar/carbohydrate consumption is still there as strong as it has ever been. That’s right, my body wants to act like it did when I was bigger and is fighting me tooth and nail to get back there again. Like I always tell people, this is a journey that you NEVER stop living! And if seeing me deal with this issue encourages you to never give up in your own battle, then the mission of this column today has been accomplished.
One strategy Jackie (who worked as a registered nurse with patients of the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins for three decades) suggested was for me to start consuming lots of small meals every few hours and make sure they are very high-fat, adequate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. So that got me to thinking about how to implement something like this that I could do, be consistent with, and enjoy (which is a major element of being successful on a plan as I discovered for myself in 2004). After contemplating how to do this in a way that would work for me (a philosophy I have shared over and over again), I remembered an interview I did with Drs. Mike & Mary Dan Eades in April 2008 where I talked about going on an all-egg diet for a period of time:
Ever since I did this interview with the Eades, I have been meaning to start my own “eggfest” like that senior citizen — and now I’m doing it! If you visit my “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Menus” blog since March 12, 2010, then you’ll notice I haven’t eaten anything else besides eggs, butter, and cheese — by design and with a purpose in mind. What better way to get a high fat content meal with an adequate amount of good quality protein as Dr. Mary Dan Eades shared with very few carbohydrates at an inexpensive cost? You can’t beat it!
So on March 12, 2010 I officially started an all-eggs-all-the-time fast and will be on it indefinitely to see what happens with both my weight which had hit a high of 289 upon returning from the cruise as well as my lipid panel which I last highlighted in November 2009. If I stick with this plan, then I should see higher HDL cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, more of the large, fluffy kind of LDL particles — and oh yeah, my weight should plummet too! That’s the plan and we’ll see if it works.
Here are the 10 guidelines I’m following for my eggfest:
1. Must eat eggs as the primary source of fat and protein.
2. 1 tablespoon of butter (or other fat source) used per egg consumed.
3. I must eat an egg no later than 30 minutes after waking.
4. The egg meals ideally should be eaten every 3 hours, but not more than every 5 hours.
5. I will follow this schedule even if I’m not hungry (I’ll have 1 egg when that happens).
6. Cheese will be permitted up to one ounce per egg.
7. A minimum of a half-dozen eggs must be consumed daily.
8. The eggs will be local pastured eggs loaded with healthy omega-3 fats and Vitamin D.
9. Egg consumption will cease three hours before bedtime.
10. Diet soda will be allowed up to 3 cans daily with a goal of 1 or less.
So this is what I’ve been doing for a little over a week and counting and I’ll continue to do it in the foreseeable future to see what happens. I got back from the cruise weighing in at 289 pounds and I was humbled by that number — so I’m doing something about it. Wish me well in this newfound journey and I’m excited to see what will happen as a result. I’ll document everything that happens at my menus blog, so follow my progress there where I’ll be weighing in every Friday with the results from the previous week.
So, you might be wondering just how this whole “eggfest” experiment has been going for me so far in the first 10 days or so. Well I’m glad you asked–let me share with you my thoughts:
– Since I LOVE eggs, I’m still not tired of eating them yet
– The butter and cheese have made this experience enjoyable
– This has been the perfect “back-to-the-basics” plan for me
– Despite some heartburn issues, this has been very pleasurable to do
– Very economical–5 dozen eggs, 2 lbs butter, and 1 pound of cheese for $20
– Consistent meals calorically and macronutrient-wise
– Ketosis from the get-go…as expected eating high-fat, low-carb
– Feel fantastic and getting smaller in my clothes…ever-so-slightly
– My body fat percentage going down as well as weight
So how about the weight loss after one week on this eggfest, hmmm? You know wanna know. Although I’m not using weight as my primary means for judging my success on this plan, it is an interesting number to look at. When I returned from the cruise, I was at my highest weight since 2004 when I was losing the first time–289 POUNDS! Grrrrr! So after being so inspired by the speakers on the low-carb cruise to get my hyperinsulinemia under control, my plan to eat my egg meals that are high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates has yielded in just one week a total of 14.2 pounds lost. On Friday March 19, 2010 I weighed in at 274.8 pounds.
I’m somewhat excited about this, but at the same time I am still skeptical. I’ve been down this road before doing other plans over the past couple of years, but I’m loving this one immensely. I can honestly see myself continuing on this plan for an entire month or more to see what happens. I consumed over 60 eggs in that first week…don’t you know the American Heart Association would be shocked to hear someone doing something like this–ON PURPOSE! Well, I know I’m not “clogging my arteries” or causing myself harm eating this way. It’s just good old-fashioned farm-raised eggs and they taste pretty darn delicious if you ask me.
Somebody asked if I’ll be on this for life. Maybe not all day everyday, but I could see this being the basis of how I eat most of the time as a convenient, money-saving, structured way to insure I’m getting the right proportion of nutrition for my body. At some point I may include one day when I eat low-carb and then back to the eggs the rest of the week. I can see my body getting so used to eating a certain number of calories that when I go to “normal” low-carb I will be unable to overeat. All of this is an experiment and I’m happy to share the results with you.