My Work is Done Here…

The chart above is from Google Trends, a nifty tool where anyone can go in and compare how popular search terms are. There are plenty of people typing stuff into Google all the time, so this is a pretty good reflection of how popular something is.

The red line is the search term ‘low carb’. Notice how the chart descends in 2004? That’s the last gasp of the ‘Atkins Craze’ – and right around the time I first went on a low carb diet. Low carb died just as I started losing weight. I used to go to the Vitamin Shoppe and get my Atkins shakes – they had a whole wall devoted to low carb products. For a while Costco was selling huge cartons of them and I bought my supply there, but then they stopped selling them.

I went back to The Vitamin Shoppe after some time and the shelves of low carb stuff were gone! I remember asking the guy behind the counter and he told me: “Yeah, that’s not popular anymore. The big thing now is the Perricone Prescription.”

Wait…wut? I’m not looking for another diet. The one I’m on is working fine. The Atkins Nutritionals – the company that manufactured low carb products after Dr. Atkins died – produced wonderful bread and bagels I could buy in my local supermarket. The price was unreasonable – but the stuff was good. About the same time all these baked goods suddenly had ‘Manager’s Special’ stickers and deep discounts.

I knew what that meant. I bought and freezed what I could.

They were soon gone.

In August of 2005, Atkins Nutritionals declared bankruptcy. I had also lost about 60 pounds on the diet and had no intention of chasing the next big thing. It worked for me, my bloodwork was better, and I felt great.

Meanwhile, I read somewhere that the unsold Atkins Shakes I could no longer find were being donated to food pantries.

It was dark times for Atkins dieters. There’s always people who revel in Schadenfreude when something that becomes big explodes – I’m one of them – but I had no intention of changing what was working for me. Atkins dieters went underground.

Low carb disappeared from the general discussion, was dismissed as a fad, and mostly forgotten – except for a small band of bloggers that kept persisting in the belief that this stupid diet still had merit.

And here’s a necessary shout-out to Jimmy Moore. While I have my issues with the gentleman, and he still remains controversial among many, he was the loudest voice in low carb circles for many years. (I found his KetoTalk podcast to be pretty good and listened to a lot of episodes last year.)

Gary Taubes also published Good Calories, Bad Calories in 2007. This was the type of book needed to reignite interest in low carb – but this wasn’t the book. It was not a good read at all. It was a struggle. I’ve listened to Gary talk and he’s quite interesting (you can listen here) – but this book was a slog.

I also started this blog with the original purpose to have a place to store recipes so I can get ingredient lists at work so I could pick up stuff to cook when I got home.

The same year I posted to this blog a post: Am I the Last Person on Atkins?

It sure felt like it.

So because I liked to write I just wrote – not caring if anyone read it, but I found that more people than I ever expected came and read and commented.

I liked the feedback and thoughtful comments and kept doing it – steadily – for most of a decade.

for the Internet, that’s almost unheard of.

Now let’s look at a second chart:

This is a chart showing my website traffic by month. I can take pride in the fact that – me – dumb little me – was able to get over one million views. I didn’t have to expose body parts, or actually do anything that interesting except share some mediocre recipes I invented or discuss something about low carb diets.

Not bad.

But you can see that it’s coming to an end.

With the rise of ‘keto’, there are now so many sources for recipes that my pathetic selection is a waste of your time.

And my commentary is old. So much has been spoken and written about the diet that much of what is here isn’t worth very much. There’s 500+ posts and I’m not sure more than a few dozen are worth reading today.

These days, the place I go to most for info on keto diets is Impulsive Keto. I don’t know who this guy is, but I like his thinking. (While his site is not that impressive, he really shines on Facebook – check him out there – join his Impulsive Keto Facebook group.)

I also have a tendency to ramble on. It’s not cool anymore. I am a TL;DR blogger to be sure.

I also *also* have little new to say because…well…there’s so many people talking about this subject that, well, what’s *left* to say?!?

I still follow a low carb/ketogenic diet and do not plan to change any time soon. I don’t always meet my goals but my target is always under 20 grams of carbs per day.

But the reality is that this blog is a bit of an anachronism. When nobody talked about low carb/keto diets, I was, and people came. Now everybody talks about it and my blog gets lost in the noise – and perhaps rightly so – because there are better sources of information than me.

So going back to the 2 charts above, you can see that people coming to my website dropped like a stone as ‘keto’ took off. That’s probably as it should be. There’s people way better at packaging this sort of information who get the search engine hits I used to get.

I’m OK with that. This was never about me trying to make a buck doing this. I was passionate about low carb when it seemed no one else was, I liked to write, and and it seemed other lost souls seemed to respond to the fact that someone else felt the same way they did about the diet. At best, I’ve had a tiny walk-on part in the history of low carb – and the money I got from the ads on this site over a decade where I wrote over 1,000 posts would pay for maybe a half-dozen casual dining restaurant meals (no bar tab) for my family.

I think I can say my mission is done. I helped keep the lights on for low carb. It’s come roaring back as keto and there’s some really good science that didn’t exist when I started.

I don’t plan on going anywhere, and might continue to post as the mood strikes, but I’d say my tour of duty is done.

9 thoughts on “My Work is Done Here…

  1. You know, I’m one of the silent faithful. I like what you have to say!! I sure wish you wouldn’t stop!! I’ve actually saved quite a bit of your info and was trying to eat like you. What IS Keto, really, rather than a newer hipper way to say Atkins?? Don’t stop. There are more quiet folks out here like me, still looking for the easy recipes and thoughtful posts you deliver to our inboxes.

  2. Would you like another useful topic to write about? I suggest arachidonic acid. I’ve been perusing arachidonic acid research for going on three years now. For readers not familiar with arachidonic acid, I recommend this video.

    In wedding ceremonies one often hears a minister say, “…no man hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” I take that to mean that we all aspire to be healthy. What prevents us from attaining sound health? Usually, a combination of ignorance, carelessness, and unfavorable circumstances. The sort of unfavorable circumstances I refer to has to do with the essential fatty acid profile of the food supply. This excerpt from a 2016 BMJ article explains what I’m talking about.

    We now know that major changes have taken place in the food supply over the last 100 years, when food technology and modern agriculture led to enormous production of vegetable oils high in ω-6 fatty acids, and changed animal feeds from grass to grains, thus increasing the amount of ω-6 fatty acids at the level of LA (from oils) and arachidonic acid (AA) (from meat, eggs, dairy). This led to very high amounts of ω-6 fatty acids in the food supply for the first time in the history of human beings. Traditionally, animals grazed. Grass contains ALA (ω-3), whereas grains, corn and soya (which are now fed to animals) are high in LA (ω-6). This imbalance in the amount of ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids is a new phenomenon that was never a part of human evolution.

    After reading the above paragraph I decided to cut back on my own arachidonic acid intake. I reduced the 99% fat-free Hillshire Farms thin sliced turkey from 3 or 4 slices per sandwich to one. Six months later my shoulder pains had subsided so I switched to cheese thereafter. I am now 20 pounds lighter than I normally am in winter when I’m sedentary. Moreover, my blood pressure has normalized and I no longer develop a chronic cough during the cold months.

    A 2007 paper by Philip Calder contained this comment: “Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that, just because there is little biological impact of an increase in arachidonic acid intake or status, there may still be significant benefit from a decrease in its intake or status.”

    Currently, there’s a lot of excitement about the benefits of supplementing with marine omega-3s. To my knowledge, there have been no human trials that involve reduced arachidonic or linoleic acid intake. Here is what happens with animal experiments:

    “Bourre et al. published a key study supporting a synergistic rather than antagonistic role of a low intake of LNA in protecting against n-6 PUFA depletion. They showed in rats that reproduction, gestation, lactation and subsequent growth of the second generation were supported by as little as 0.02 energy % LA but only in the presence of 0.5 energy % LNA. Their detailed tissue analysis showed that the physiological requirement for LA to sustain normal reproduction, pregnancy and growth of the subsequent generation was much lower than was needed to achieve a plateau in tissue n-6 PUFA, whether in brain, liver or elsewhere.”

    This last item is about vegetarian genetics and linoleic acid. “Populations who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be far more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation. Scientists in the U.S. believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. But it has the knock-on effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is linked to inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils – such as sunflower oil – the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.”

    To summarize, the therapeutic effects of omega-3 supplementation can likely be realized at less expense simply by dialing back on the meat intake. Pork, chicken, and turkey are rich in arachidonic acid because the animals are fed corn and soy during the entire production. Beef and lamb have less arachidonic acid because they graze on forage for most of the production cycle. In addition, being ruminants, much of the linoleic acid they ingest is converted to other kinds of fat. Google – biohydrogenation of linoleic acid

    1. Hi Dave!

      Let’s go down the rabbit hole, shall we? The details here could fill 5 blog posts, but what it boils down to is ‘systemic inflammation’. I’d like to reduce mine for a number of reasons. Inflammation is a good thing – when it is performing it’s normal and necessary role of protecting us from infections. What’s bad is chronic inflammation – which seems to be the way most people live these days – as you pointed out in detail.

      So what can you do to reduce chronic inflammation? You’ll agree this is a multi-headed Hydra as a lot of things can cause inflammation. Let’s start with:

      -Arachidonic acid (AA) – yep – it is pro-inflammatory.
      -Omega-6 fatty acids – same.
      -Plants with seeds – this one is a little more ‘out there’. Google ‘Plant Paradox’. There are a slew of plants – nightshades like tomatoes and peppers included (sob!) as well as others – that might produce pro-inflammatory response in certain individuals.
      -Other stuff that I am as yet unaware of.

      So what reduces inflammation?
      -Reducing Omega-6 intake – so no seed oils for example
      -A ketogenic diet – overall, the diet is anti-inflammatory.
      -Statins – Some people believe that the benefit of statins is not cholesterol-lowering as much as its anti-inflammatory effects.
      -Metformin – Not only does this reduce blood glucose, but it has anti-inflammatory effects – and maybe anti-cancer – and anti-aging effects as well.
      -Aspirin – Google ‘Arachidonic acid aspirin’ and you see that aspirin blocks AA from converting into pro-inflammatory compounds.
      -Keeping pro-inflammatory plants out of my diet. Keto mostly does that (no potatoes) but I have a hard time giving up tomatoes.

      So I look at ‘inflammation’ (perhaps incorrectly) as a single issue with multiple causes and multiple ways to approach – and there’s no reason why multiple approaches can be taken – and the ones that are too high a price to pay can be compensated by addressing the others.

      So take me: I strive for staying on a ketogenic diet. Anti-inflammatory (mostly). I take metformin. I have reduced my omega-6 intake considerably compared to a decade ago (because of you – thanks). I do not take a statin but am considering asking my doc for a low dose – more for the anti-inflammatory effects than any concern over cholesterol. I am also considering taking aspirin – not for heart-health but as a way to reduce systemic inflammation – and ameoreliate the impact of AA.

      You’re different. You’re not a keto guy (you do you), I don’t think you take metformin nor statins, so your diet might be more pro-inflammatory than mine. Reducing AA could produce the effects you mention – but one slice of turkey on your sandwich seems kind of sad. What if you tried taking aspirin and living a little and piling that turkey on your sandwich? Here’s a quote from Ketopia:

      What is the significance of COX-2 inhibition? As will be explained in Chapter Nine, COX-2 is the enzyme that causes pain by transforming arachidonic acid into proinflammatory eicosanoids. It was discovered several decades ago that aspirin exerted its analgesic effects by preventing the COX-2 enzyme from making proinflammatory eicosanoids from arachidonic acid (94). Pharmaceutical science assumed this meant that aspirin prevented pain by inhibiting (inactivating) the COX-2 enzyme and stopping its action.
      Serhan’s eicosanoid research has now revealed that aspirin does not inhibit COX-2 enzyme but rather changes it chemically and makes it operate in a contradictory manner; instead of metabolizing arachidonic acid to proinflammatory, pain-producing eicosanoids, the aspirin-modified COX-2 enzyme metabolizes arachidonic acid to anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.

        1. Thanks for the marksdailyapple link. Goog discussion.

          I think the take home lesson from what Mark wrote and what I wrote is that it is important to balance the omega-3/6 ratio in cell membranes. A constant influx of AA from meat of all sorts makes it difficult for sedentary people to achieve this goal. The physiologic requirement for AA is actually tiny but there appears to be a constant need for replenishment in cell membranes. Same holds for the omega-3s. I suspect both kinds of essential fatty acid get used up faster in active people so they can eat more meat AND carbs.

          For those who want to lose weight and sustain that weight loss, the name of the game is to do it without discomfort. It takes a properly operating endocannabinoid system to get the job done.

          I’m pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished thus far. However, I suspect there’s still room for improvement. My next self experiment is going to involve eating green leafy vegetables three times a day. I did this about two decades ago with rather amazing results in terms of how my legs functioned when I went huckleberry picking. It was like they were 10 years younger.

          As for taking aspirin; I’m OK with that if I’ve injured myself. Otherwise, I prefer to tweak my food intake to achieve the effect I’m after.

          Incidentally, when I was 20 pounds heavier, I tried to consciously reduce my food intake to lose weight. Didn’t work. These days, I just eat however much I feel like.

  3. One of your quiet fans here. Have been enjoying your posts for quite some time now. Glad to know you still occasionally post as I will read whatever you choose to share with us. Take care.

  4. No way don’t stop posting! This is still the best low carb blog on the internet. I always re-read all your posts when I ‘re-boot’ my low carb diet. There may better “resources” out there but this is the go to blog when you want the motivation to keep the ship steady when your diet hits that proverbial bump in the road!

  5. I really enjoy your writing and hope you continue to occasionally share your thoughts. Our journeys with weight are quite similar, and it gives me comfort to know my experiences are not unique. Keep it up.

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