Many of you have been curious to get the full story about how we naturally lowered my husband’s triglyceride numbers with diet alone since I began hinting at his weight loss and lipids numbers back at the first Monday Mission about “Can Real Food Help you Lose Weight?”
It’s been a long time since I shared DH’s numbers online, probably because they haven’t been very pleasant.
The last time I did, he had brought his triglycerides down over 100 points in the first year we had switched to “real food.” He was still 70 points over the highest recommended for good health, however. (See the numbers and what we were doing at the time here.)
My Husband’s Story
In fall 2010, we had been completely grain-free for 6-8 weeks when he had his lipids panel done in November. My husband had completed the entire P90X workout series (in 90 days, that’s 6 days/week of strenuous exercise) at the end of August, so although he had not done a ton of exercising during the immediate two months before the test, he was no stranger to fitness.
The recommendations from the doctor scribbled on the test results included “more exercise!” next to the low HDL, and “lower carbohydrate diet” next to the still-high triglycerides. In the past, doc has recommended both low carb and low fat diets for the trigs, which just screams to me that the medical establishment doesn’t know any more than I do about what will really fix high triglycerides.
When my husband went for a physical in fall 2011, they actually forgot to run the lipid panel on his blood. I’m not kidding. And yes, he fasted for it.
I can see God’s hand in that now, although it was immensely frustrating at the time, because two helpful things came out of it:
1. We’re motivated to look for a natural doctor who will actually care about their patients.
2. Since he still was curious about his numbers, we were able to get the test done at the end of Lent, when he was at his “very best I can do” in both fitness and diet.
What My Husband Did
For Lent, my husband counted calories, keeping himself to 2000-2500 per day. He did this NOT by changing his diet, but by simply reducing the amount of food he ate. We also go grain-free for the first half of Lent and gluten-free for the second half, so his grains/carbs intake was significantly different than your average Joe.
Other than simply avoiding sugary junk, he did not “cut carbs” in particular. Even on a grain-free diet, his carbs still rang in at about 35-45% of his total calories. Most of the carbs came from whole fruits and dried fruit, plus some potatoes and corn (in the form of chips and tortillas for Mexican meals).
In other words, calorie counting was simply a way to eating less food.
Breakfasts were often eggs (3 of them), sometimes with sausage added in, oatmeal a few times a week when we got grains back in (although less than usual, I think), or one of my homemade grain-free Paleo pancakes or grain-free pumpkin pancakes (above). He became a bit afraid of my grain-free granola (found in Healthy Snacks to Go, 2nd edition) once we clocked it at 750 calories and 55g of fat per cup!
His snacks were often comprised of nuts, which are very caloric, although he would have a smaller, more conscious serving than what was perhaps his normal casual handful (or two, or three).
Lunch was always one cup of plain, homemade yogurt (whole milk) with frozen fruit, a 2-cup Pyrex bowl of leftovers of some sort, and whole piece of fruit.
I didn’t change a thing about how I served dinner: He just didn’t take seconds, unless it was a high veggie meal and he had the headroom in his count.
He avoided adding cheese to his eggs, opting for veggies instead, and he would use half the salad dressing as usual and add mustard (just two little examples). But he did NOT skip salad dressing altogether, nor did we switch to low-fat dairy or products of any kind.
We still drank whole raw milk.
We still used plenty of fat to cook our vegetables.
His total fat intake ranged from 35-45% of his total calories.
Because of the calorie count, he realized he had ultimately “given up” desserts as well, since he simply rarely had calories leftover at the end of the day. He consumed very little if any refined sugar and far less natural sweeteners than usual. He used stevia to sweeten his yogurt and oatmeal.
He also did not drink any soda pop at all, which is a big change. He has decreased his pop drinking habit over the years of being married to me, but he still would have a few a week if I understand correctly (they’re only a quarter at his work, a terrible temptation!).
On the exercise front, he’s been running for a little over a year now and committed to working out 6 days a week again, combining P90X videos with training for a 10K three days a week.
He lost ten pounds in 7 weeks doing this, and then we had his lipids numbers run again a few weeks later. He did lighten up his eating habits, allowing the occasional gluten and not counting calories anymore, but by and large watching his portions now that he has trained himself to be more aware.
Want to See the Numbers?
There was some serious jumping up and down when the envelope was opened.
I nearly made a poster welcoming him home with the triglycerides number!
|Year||Total Cholesterol (goal is <200)||HDL
(good, goal is >40)
(bad, goal is <130)
|Triglycerides (goal is <150)|
- 2006 was totally a Standard American Diet.
- 2007 included cutting some pop to try to get trigs down and trying to eat more healthy fats, like avocado, to work on HDL. But we didn’t really know what we were doing, and you can see the conventional recommendations for HDL didn’t really work.
- 2008 was at the end of the summer when Leah was born. Three times a week we had meals from someone else, with lots of pasta in there.
- 2009 was the first year we were eating a traditional foods diet, at least somewhat. We were thrilled to see that all the new fats and better fats in our diet had improved the HDL considerably for the first time!
- Note that his actual cholesterol, as well as the “bad” cholesterol levels, have always been within the “normal” acceptable range.
I followed a similar diet in quality although not quantity, eating no refined sugar and the same grains/gluten sacrifice during Lent, but eating whatever else I wanted in plenty large quantities. I managed to shave off about 5 pounds of baby weight, although I do feel I have a bit more to go. That darn sweet tooth…
What was the Key?
Since we were already grain-free and he was pretty active as of 2010’s test, we are left wondering what did the trick:
- Remaining low gluten long term?
- Losing 10 pounds?
- Cutting calories?
- More activity?
- Less sugar?
- All of the above?
While I’m looking at these documents from the lab tests, it’s worth mentioning that my husband’s Vitamin D levels have been low the past two years. After last year’s result, he made more of an effort to take his fermented cod liver oil regularly, but I’m thinking he needs to take more. In capsule form, there’s just not all that much in each one, so you have to take 4-10 in order to get the recommended 2000 IUs of Vitamin D the doctor wrote on the lab test this year (up from 1000 IUs last year).
I check out the test data from Green Pasture products, and it looks like the FCLO could range from 650 IUs/mL to over 2000 IUs/mL. That’s where I got the number 4-10 capsules, since 2 capsules = 500 mg, and 1/2 teaspoon on the liquid bottle = 2.5 g = 2500 mg = 2.5 mL. Therefore, if I can still do math, 2 capsules would be 0.5 mL. Got all that? I think DH has been taking about 4-6, so hopefully if we increase that to 10 a day (phew!) he can get his D levels up.
Of course, sun exposure is the best way to make Vitamin D in the body, so we’re also trying to get him out of the office midday for a 10-minute walk in shorts and short sleeves, but that can only last a certain number of months here in Michigan!
Katie’s Weight Loss Journey?
I’ve never been truly overweight, barring perhaps mid-college when caf food was not kind to me.
But anyone who’s had a child has a weight loss story, even if it’s just, “I nursed off the pounds,” which is pretty much my tale with each of my three pregnancies.
I just tried on my shorts from two summers ago (as I was pregnant last summer), and some of them fit. Not all of them. Do I have a bit more weight to lose? I’d like to tone up my middle, for sure, even though the scale is pretty close to where I’d like to be (within a few pounds of pre-pregnancy weight, but still about 7-8 pounds shy of where I have been since baby number one).
One pair of shorts that is uncomfortably tight, although it would fasten, I know for certain was purchased when I was a waitress the summer after my freshman year of college. I’m pretty sure I weighed what I do now, or maybe even a pound or two more. So you see, weight isn’t everything. I like the idea of not even having a scale like the reader who commented in the real food weight loss keys post.
While I’m talking about pants sizes, I have to vent.
I think it’s demeaning and ultimately harmful for clothing companies to continue to lower their sizing so that people can feel good about themselves because they fit into a certain pants size. My size “6 medium” from the college waitressing job are too tight, yet the few size 4 petite and 4 regular jeans that I bought in January are literally falling off me. I don’t have to unbutton one of them to go to the bathroom! (Handy when baby is fussy, but not ideal for modesty on the backside!! And yes, I should have waited another month or two to shop for jeans, clearly.)
What’s the deal with pants sizes? At this rate, when I’m 60, I’ll be in a size zero and some rather obese people will be strutting around, happily sporting size 8 jeans so they feel better about themselves and the clothing companies’ pockets get lined!
My own goal, getting back to topic, is to get out walking more often (I biked son to school this Wednesday and walked to pick him up, logging a few miles in the process), do some 8-minute ab routines on YouTube with the hubby, and (ahem) get better at sticking to dark chocolate instead of other junk when I need a sweet tooth fix, and focusing on real food for late-night snacking instead of junk. (Yes, even the Kitchen Stewardship lady eats junk.)
I’m going to be reading along with Mandi’s Break the Sugar Habit series at Life Your Way, which will be introduced next week and kicks off formally with a “no sugar” (at all) challenge the first full week of June. She’s pulling in lots of blogger power to help you kick that sugar habit, and I think it’s going to be one to keep an eye on.
For now, the Real Food Weight Loss and Exercise series is closing down with one more post, one that will prove why this post perhaps should have been titled “The Kimball Family Stays Healthy” and forget about the “weight loss.”