My Wife’s Theory on Why Low Carb Works for Me

The past few days I have not been particularly vigilant in my record-keeping – I just haven’t felt like it, so I can’t provide even rough numbers on calorie counts or proportions of fat, protein, and carbs.

I can say I have been following my diet: mostly fat, some protein, and little in the way of carbs. I have also eaten what feels to be a lot: I walk away from the table more than full thinking I ate too much – but the scale still trends downward – at the moment I am 204.

My older daughter has come to enjoy my olive oil mayonnaise: “Daddy, that mayonnaise you make is really good.” She – like my wife – are not ones to throw complements haphazardly. Usually, she would say nothing, or perhaps utter a Spock-like: “Ummm.”

I have avoided the pizza and the donuts. The ice cream and the blueberry cornbread. I did have the cream spooned off the top of the unhomognized milk we’ve gotten as of late and had at least a half-dozen tablespoons of the stuff with some blueberries – what a flavorful dish.

There has only been the occasional vegetable – not that I have anything against them – I’m just experimenting with their necessity (perhaps to my peril, I know that).

What I have concluded this week was just how freaking FUN a low carb diet with enough variety can be. Steaks, burgers with cheese, chicken thigh meat wrapped in salami, cream skimmed from fresh milk with blueberries, blocks of raw milk cheese slathered with home-made olive oil mayonnaise – can any other diet claim such delightful decadence?

We are designed to eat. Our gut has so many neurons to control operations and uses the vast majority of the ‘brain chemical’ serotonin in the body. This is why anti-depressants cause so much stomach trouble. One researcher wrote a book called The Second Brain that details just how sophisticated this mass of neurons in our gut are.

As our ability to eat and digest evolved way before our ability to think, we can be thought of as tubes – worms of pure digestion that evolved a neuronal swelling at one end at the gut-brain’s behest to discover more clever ways to find food.

Perhaps our gut is the real boss, and puts up with its flighty servant perched atop our bodies encased in bone and it’s tendency to waste time on poetry and art and Reality TV.

As long as that cranial swelling does it’s job to feed the boss, the gut doesn’t care about all this ‘consciousness nonsense’.

Think of it: all that we hold dear in our humanness is a sideshow to our animal desire to obtain food.

And – at least for me – low carb seems to provide a rich and varied diet that I intensely enjoy and that seems to work well for me. I might not be the prefect human specimen but, at least up until this point, my body and mind seem to thrive quite nicely as an almost pure carnivore.

My diet foods are counterintuitive and almost seem morally wrong. This came out in a conversation with my wife. She was lamenting about eating a doughnut earlier that made her feel bloated.

“I’d have to run 4 hours to burn that thing off.” She said.

“You know, that whole ‘calorie-to-exercise’ notion is not quite as cut-and-dry as you are led to believe.” I said, munching on pork rinds slathered with some salted butter. “How can I eat like this, be healthy, and not exercise – and lose weight?”

She pulled the standard dismissal used by everyone who believes low carb to be dangerous: “Don’t congratulate yourself too soon about your health.” She warned.

“Oh – the ‘heart attack’ defense.” I said. “This is a standard response at this point in most conversations about low carb, but you are avoiding my question. I asked you how I can eat like this and not exercise and you respond with ‘the diet is going to kill me’. Let’s put that aside for a moment and go back to the question: if I eat like this and don’t exercise, how can the ‘calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ theory work? How can exercise be a non-negotiable necessity to losing weight if I lose weight without it?”

“I have a theory about that.” She said. “Do you want to hear it?”

“Yes.” I said, quite interested in what she was going to say.

“I think your ancestors ate a lot of grain. Your body knows how to absorb grain, but it doesn’t know what to do with all the meat and fat so a lot of it passes through you.”

I was impressed: it’s not a bad explanation. I still don’t know why low carb works at all to any degree of certainty, and I don’t know why it seems to work well for me and not so well for others.

While her explanation might be completely wrong, it isn’t entirely outlandish.

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12 thoughts on “My Wife’s Theory on Why Low Carb Works for Me

  1. Fat is a stored carbohydrate… when we limit carbohydrate intake, our body uses fat for fuel…. Simple as that. I’ve gone from over 300lbs to one-hundred-something, mostly without exercise and kept it off over 18 months… you know the drill.

  2. Great post. I also don’t know how it works. Was discussing this with a co-worker and she informed me that Atkins followers get gangrene. I thought that was an interesting “observation” on her part (smile) and news to me.

    My ancestors WERE massive grain and carb eaters. Dumplings. And more dumplings. Meat was something you ate with your dumplings. But Gramma did make pickled pig’s feet with that gelatinous stuff my dad loved so much. And pickled herring. He loved that also. So perhaps it balanced out all the dumplings? Nearly all the men in my family are also alcoholics. Lots of carbs there also. Predisposed.

  3. LCC ~ Bought some EZ Sweetz ~ much more economical for me than Truvia (and you really do only use a few drops!) I gave up soda and am drinking Republic of Tea Acai Green Tea and Watermelon Mint Black Tea (cold teas). Dropped three pounds. How’s your week going?

    • I’m curious if you notice any difference in hunger. I have *no clue* if the amounts of stevia fed to livestock cause increase in appetite in humans. I personally don’t like stevia, so I use the splenda sparingly for any sweet tooth.

      As to me, I’ve gotten down to 200.0. I haven’t been tracking that close but I have been eating very, very high fat and low carb. I’ve lost 4 pounds since my last post. Neato.

      • Wow, excellent weight-week for you, LCC! Me, not so much ~ up the three I lost ~ but I do know why. I have a chipmunk I feed (the river is behind our house and we get lots of visiting creatures). It’s the same one every year because the poor thing is missing part of it’s tail! Must have been in some sort of “scuffle”! Anyway, she gets a handful of nuts, Mary Ellen gets a handful of nuts, etc., etc. I have a little problem with Plantar’s peanuts. I can’t tell yet if my hunger has diminished any from the lack of stevia ~ I only use the EZ Sweetz in coffee sometimes and in my Fage. I’ll give it another week and see. I do miss my diet sodas, though. Plain tea is so blah. I have never seen pork belly in our local supermarkets ~ I have never tried it. What’s it taste like?

        • Chipmunk-related overeating – that’s a new one. I’ll have to see if there’s any research on that.

          If I have seltzer, fresh-squeezed lemon and a drop or 2 of ez sweetz it’s like a lemon soda. Not bad.

          Pork belly is bacon before its sliced and cured. Much like a pork chop – but chops are dry and dull in comparison. Slow roasted, pork belly is much more flavorful in comparison and the fat is creamy and luscious ( you are making me hungry).

  4. Your ancestors ate a lot of grain so you know how to absorb it?
    If this were true, your body would not be swollen and irritated, holding on to water stores and gaining weight after consuming carbohydrates.
    Prime example: My fiance is Chinese, and he is allergic to dairy. Whenever he eats it, he feels stuffed and uncomfortable and sick. Because his body lacks the enzymes to digest the proteins in dairy.
    Prime example: I’m Finnish, and react the same way to grains. When I eat it, I feel stuffed and gassy and gain weight. Because my body lacks the enzyme to digest the proteins in wheat.

    Similarity: His ancestors lived off of grains, my ancestors lived off of meats and potatoes. When your ancestry does not consume a type of food, you are likely to lack the enzymes to break it down. So, in reality, the theory is backwards.

    *Realized this may come across brash; definitely didn’t mean it to! Just my thoughts and research.*

    • Nothing about your post offends, Kayleigh – it is articulate and direct – nothing wrong with that.

      Personally, I don’t *know* how low carb works because I’ve probably heard every theory – including ones that say it doesn’t work at all! I know it works for me, I respond well to it, and a decade in I see no reason to look for another diet but rather to better perfect the one I’m on.

      There are a few mysteries that I still ponder over: why does blood glucose go *UP* in some individuals – and is this a bad thing for them? And does long-term low carb cause thyroid issues in some people? These avoid the ‘how does low carb work’ theory entirely and instead looks for the answer to ‘how does one do a low carb diet in the most healthful way possible?’

      I’ve got to say that my decade on low carb saw me avoid the full-blown diabetes that my Mother, Father, Sister and Brother all had. I’d like to think that there is a causal relationship there but we’ll never know. Also – since I lost over 60 pounds twice in my younger years with the standard calorie-restricted diet and exercise routine but gained it all back within a year and then some – and have not done the same on 10 years of a low carb diet, I’d say I have empirical proof it works for me.

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