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The beginning – September 2008

November 14, 2009

What do obesity, type-2 diabetes, low energy levels and high triglyceride (blood sugar) all have in common?

For some people, they are symptoms of following the government / medical approved, low-fat, high-carb diet.

– Mick Solomons, November 2009

September 2008

I’m 31 years old, 178cms (5″10), 87.5kgs (192.5 lbs).  I’m not healthy, I don’t feel well and I look terrible.  I’m eating a “healthy” low-fat, balanced diet and regularly exercising.

My symptoms include:

  • Low blood sugar crashes, every day I crave sugar, starchy foods.
  • Chronically fatigued, especially after eating a big meal.  I feel so tired that I often have to lay down and often fall asleep.
  • During night time sleeping I often wake up in a cold sweat.  By often I mean 4-5 times per week, and it happens so much that my wife makes me sleep on a towel.
  • I have irratible bowel syndrome, something which has plagued me since I was very young.  This means that often my bowel uncontrollably contracts and If there isn’t a toilet within 50 metres of me…you get the picture.  This happens 2-3 times per month.
  • I get psoriasis on my upper arms, ears and neck during winter time.
  • I’m terribly unfit, slow and weak.  My soccer team-mates who are all older than me make fun of my lack of fitness, speed and flexibility.

My typical daily diet:

Breakfast

  • 2 pieces of wholegrain toast with Vegemite (Vegemite is an Australian spread made from yeast extract)
  • Glass of orange or fruit juice

Snack

  • Apple or banana

Lunch

  • Korean miso soup with tofu and vegetables
  • small bowl of rice
  • Kimchi (picked korean vegetable side dishes)

Afternoon snack

  • Bowl of bran flakes with soy milk

Dinner

  • Meat in korean sauce mixed with vegetables
  • Small bowl of rice
  • Kimchi and other vegetable side dishes

Late night snack

  • Chocolate or other sweets

This was a pretty typical day.  Low-fat, lots of vegies and fruit and plenty of nutritious grains and carbs and not much meat.  I didn’t eat a lot of junk food.

At this stage I’m thinking there is something genetically wrong with me.  I excercise often, I don’t have a lot of stress.  I visit the Doctor and ask for a blood-test.  The results are in:

  • Tryglicerides 173 (borderline high)
  • Total cholesterol 187
  • LDL Cholesterol 118
  • Uric Acid 7.1 (high)
  • TSH 4.86 (high)

I didn’t know what all of these things meant, and after googling them all, I realised that my blood sugar levels (tryglicerides) were extremely high.  I started reseaching because by now I’d had enough (and the doctor had no answers for me) and thanks to some information on a game development forum posted by Scott Miller (co-creator of Duke Nukem) about the paleolithic diet, I decided to do some research on that.

I bought the book The Paleo Diet written by Loren Cordain.  I also googled and found some great web resources that spoke about a diet high in fat and low in carbs, and people were successfully using that lose weight and feel great.  To me, it made absolute sense as soon as I read it.  I love meat.  My body loves meat.  I remember as a child sucking the marrow out of lambs bones and how good that was.  I’ve always loved juicy steaks, chicken, roasts more than any other food.  But I was scared to eat it.

I’d been told that meat and fat causes heart disease and can make us fat.  But I was already fat, so what did I have to lose?

The Paleo diet theory is that humans evolved over millions of years to eat a diet rich in fatty meats, moderate amounts of vegetables and fruits and little or no refined carbohydrates. Any carbohydrates that palaeolithic people did eat would have been in the form of  vegetables and fruits which have small amounts of carbohydrates and also a lot of fibre.  For example 1 slice of white bread has around 12grams of carbohydrates and less then 1 gram of fibre.  100 grams of broccoli has 6 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fibre.

To me it made perfect sense.  Refined Carbohydrates such as sugars and starch (mainly from foods made from grains) create excessive blood sugar in the body which are then stored in the fat cells for later use.   If you don’t eat them, and replace them with other, nutritionally dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, your blood sugar levels will be lower and you’ll also get the benefit of all of the vitamins and good things in them.

Refined Carbohydrates such as sugars and starch (mainly from foods made from grains) create excessive blood sugar in the body which are then stored in the fat cells for later use

So why are we told to eat grains and sugar at all?

At that time, I didn’t even really care about that question.  I was more interested in getting my health back on track.  It made sense.  Stop eating the stuff that makes you fat, and eat better food.  Simple philosophy.

Next: The first 2 months of doing the paleo diet.

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