Low Carb Meets Chinese Medicine – and Eats, December 13

We went out Xmas shopping and there was a health fair at the mall. There was an acupuncture table there offering a free ‘pulse diagnosis’ – they would have you take a test to measure your meridians – this was done by you holding a metal bar connected to a computer in your right hand, while the tester taps another probe also connected to the computer at various points on both hands and both feet. 

This (somehow) measures your energy fields, analyzes them, and spits out a printed result with a chart corresponding to various organs and their balance, along with a sheet that looks a bit like a blood test.

Briefly, acupuncture believes that you have these ‘pathways’ of energy that flow through your body which they refer to as meridians. In their thinking, these can be blocked, causing imbalance.

By using very fine needles, inserted into your skin along the proper meridian line, these blockages can be eliminated and balance restored.

I personally don’t have a prior experience with acupuncture myself, but I accept that there might be something there.

You can read more about it here, but regarding the science on this – there really isn’t much. 

But it’s the same with hypnotism – western scientists have studied this for years and concluded little, except that there might be something going on here, but they don’t know what it is.

Michael Shermer, in his book: The Borderlands of Science, calls hypnosis a ‘borderland science’. It’s not complete quackery, but it’s not a solid body of proven knowledge either, like, say, physics. 

I’d say that acupuncture falls in about the same place. As the article on acupuncture states:

“emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions.”

So anyway, I took the test, figuring it might be fun. 

Let’s see how low carb stands up to Chinese medicine.

My wife took the test, and the chart that got spit out had several red bars, indicating imbalances. The doctor then did the pulse diagnosis by laying 4 fingers on the pulse-points of both arms. 

I didn’t hear the exact diagnosis as I was having my own test done at the time.

When my test was done and it started to print out, the tester smiled and said: “This is the best result anyone has gotten all day!”

I took it to my wife and the Chinese doctor and told them what the tester said. The doctor grabbed the results from me, and looked them over carefully.

“This is very good. You should be very happy.”

He then did my pulse diagnosis. The form you fill out asks you what major health complaints you have – I left it blank: I wanted him to tell me what they were.

He asked me: “You left this blank – you have nothing wrong with you?”

I said, “Well, I’d like to lose some weight and exercise.” 

“Well, that is a matter of proper diet – stay away from fat – greasy stuff, you know?”

“Oh no, not for me – I live low carb, and eat a lot of fat and meat.”

He looked at me like he didn’t quite understand. “Well, that’s why you can’t lose weight – your diet.”

“No, actually I lost 80 lbs. The reason I’m overweight now is because I am not doing low carb strict enough.”

His eyes widened. “You lost 80 lbs.? It must have been the exercise you were doing.”

“But I didn’t exercise – I lost 80 lbs. without exercise.”

His eyes stayed wide as he attempted to process this information. He looked at my wife and daughter: “Do they eat like you?”


He looked at them, and scrunched his eyes, “Good, don’t eat like he does. You need vegetables in your diet.”

“But I do have vegetables – I just stay away from sugars and other refined carbohydrates.”

He asked. “What diet was this?”

“Low carb – Atkins.”

He repeated the name: “Atkins” under his breath as he continued the pulse diagnosis for a few minutes.

There were 23 bars on the chart, and only one was in the red – just slightly out of range. It had to do with my urinary tract. 

He asked. “Do you have problems urinating?”

“Yeah – I think it’s called BPH – benign prostatic hypertrophy. It’s been like this since I was in my 20s. When I told my doctor and gave him my own diagnosis, he seemed to agree with me and didn’t seem to be worried about it.”

“When were you last at the doctor?”

“In the summer. For a checkup.”

“What were the results?”

“Well, I have diabetes in my family, and my blood sugar was a bit high. My cholesterol was slightly high as well, but nothing he felt was worth medicating.”

The doctor saw an in: “Well of course your cholesterol is high – it’s because of all the meat and fat you eat.”

“Oh no, it’s because I was eating too many carbs. When I had lost the 80 lbs. and had a blood test, my blood work improved, with a total cholesterol of 186, the HDL/LDL ratios perfect, and the triglycerides were through the floor.”

His eyes did the pie-plate thing again.

“I am a vegan.” He said suddenly. 

“Oh – that’s works very good for a lot of people. Do you watch your ratio of Omega 3 fats to Omega 6 fats?”

He looked at me a bit strange, maybe almost defensively. “I know what you are talking about. I eat almonds and take flaxseed oil.”

“You might want to research the flaxseed oil. I’ve read two sources where it mentions that for men, flaxseed might be linked to prostate cancer.”

“I had not heard that.” He said. He appeared to be listening very carefully.

“Yeah – I had first learned about it reading a book by Dean Ornish.”


“He’s a very respected doctor that wrote books on reversing heart disease through a very low fat diet.”

He asked me to repeat the name.

“I am going to research this.” He said solemnly. We said our goodbyes.

Walking with my wife in the store a little later, she said: “do you believe what he was doing?”

“I don’t know – he did point out the BPH, but at the same time, if you are presented with a 46 year old guy and the chart is high corresponding to the urinary tract, it’s a pretty simple guess to think it has something to do with the prostate. Also – why didn’t he see that my back hurts a lot? Why didn’t he pick that up in his test?”

My back was hurting when I sat down with the tester, so you’d a thunk that the thing would have picked it up, right?

The Eats

First up, and hardly needing mention, was the 5am 16oz coffee with 2 tablespoons of cream. 

I was thirsty afterward, however, and had a bottle of San Pellegrino at 7am. At about noon I had a hard-boiled egg, then at about 3pm I have about a 1/3 of the remaining cup of Italian chicken.

In the evening I was hungry – maybe because I had people pushing me to eat spring rolls all day. These spring rolls were hand-made and deep-fried in peanut oil.

These things were to die for. 

Instead, I had the remaining 2/3 rds cup of the Italian chicken, a pickle, 3 slices of cheese, some leftover steak with butter, and one of my cryogenic meals frozen a few weeks ago – Italian sausage & meatballs. I washed all this down with a bottle of San Pellegrino.

I put lemon and two packets of Splenda in the San Pellegrino – the 2 packets of Splenda were the extent of my sweets for the day.

Later on in the evening, I sat down with some brie cheese and pork rinds with some wine. 

And right before bed, I had 2 leftover Swedish meatballs.

Now, while I typically don’t catalog it, I do weigh myself in the evenings. I have a theory about easy weight and hard weight.

Most days, I will notice a significant difference – maybe 2 lbs – from my morning weight and my evening weight. Then I eat dinner and this difference might disappear, or I might keep the pound or two off.

If I notice no change, or a slight increase during the day, I know that, even if I just drank water for the rest of the evening, I will probably gain weight.

So I wasn’t surprised that the scale reported a 2.6 lb. increase this morning to 206.6.

Now, if that did not happen, that would have been a pointer toward Irvingia having some impact, in my estimation. 

But instead, my body did what it usually does when it gets close to my setpoint weight of 203 – it bounces up.

No matter. It’s been little more than a week. There’s still 5 weeks to go, and nothing in the research on Irvingia indicated that there would be any impact on weight this early.

Not that it wouldn’t have been nice…

The Irvingia Weight Loss Challenge – Day 2

It was a 2 hard-boiled egg and 2 cups of Italian meatball and sausage day at work. Home in the evening was some of the Greek – inspired pork dish that I cooked the other day with some vino. 

I was in bed and half-asleep when my daughter needed a bottle of milk. I went downstairs and while waiting for the mik to warm, I noticed the dish of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni that someone had prepared for the Kid and went uneaten.

Well, the uneaten part of this story wasn’t going to last.

Now, putting this in perspective, it’s not all that bad. If you take a look at the nutrition data for the stuff, you see a total of 236 calories, and 35 grams carbs. 

While it is preferred that one obtain their daily carbohydrates from sources other than Beefaroni, my total carb count for the day, considering the other stuff I ate, must have been well below 40 grams. 

This rationalization did not impress my bathroom scale, however, and it reminded me that Beefaroni is decidedly not a diet food by returning a weight of 207.8.

As to the effects of Irvingia so far, I’ve noticed no stomach upset, nor other unpleasant gastric disturbances. No mood changes from what is usual for me. I’d say maybe – just maybe – I feel a little bit different, but I can’t quite put a finger on how.

I’d hazard a guess to say that I’ve noticed a gradual decrease in my appetite – nothing Earth-shattering, but it appears to have lessened a bit.

As one poster commented, Irvingia seems to work over a period of time – her theory is that the reduction in C- reactive protein takes time to have an impact, but as your body readjusts to the lower inflammation, it begins to accelerate the weight loss. This would explain why in the LEF study, there is an acceleration of weight loss – from week 4 to week 8, the participants lost 10 lbs. 

They lose 10 lbs. in week 8 to week 10 – twice as fast after 2 months on the stuff.

Now, I don’t necessarily believe that explanation, but it stands as a working hypothesis until something better comes along.

As Aristotle said: It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without embracing it.

The Irvingia Weight Loss Challenge – Reports From the Field

Wilbur Olin Atwater


I build things for a living. And when you build things, you need ideas so you know what to build, and how to go about building it.

I remember a long time ago, a boss of mine and myself were trying to come up with a solution to a particular problem and my boss had an idea and explained it to me.

It sounded good, and I said: “Sounds good – now what might possibly be wrong with this idea?”

He looked at me and laughed: “Why would I want to find anything wrong with my idea? It’s mine.”

I bring this up because I’ve always been suspect of ideas – any ideas – without them being tested.

In my early career I’ve had the opportunity to see my untested ideas come to life more time than I care to remember – and be a disaster.

When you build things, ideas are the fuel. You need a lot of them. They are a commodity – and they need to be tested – empirically, and carefully.

You also can’t assume ANY idea, from any source, no matter what the authority, is a given.

I’ve questioned many an assumption that was the bedrock of some idea, only to see that idea was a paper tiger.

One example is the ‘A calorie is a calorie is a calorie myth’ – much of the medical profession believes in this, but in my personal estimation, they are wrong.

When I researched this topic, I found so much guesswork in measuring calories in food and calories burned, as well as the fact that your absorbtion of calories must vary due to a number of factors, that I concluded personally counting calories was probably pointless.

Most people wouldn’t have got so far as to learn of Wilbur Olin Atwater when going on a diet – but I do. 

This can make me very irritating – people usually don’t like their assumptions questioned. 

So when I read of Irvingia, I was intrigued – and tried to figure out a way that I could somehow, to the best of my ability, ascertain if this stuff really worked – without taking as gospel every word of the Life Extension article.

Believe nothing you read and half of what you see. I heard that once, and that is my gospel.

So I did my best attempt at research, and based on what I read, and the credibility that Life Extension has in my estimation, I thought I would give it a try. Honestly, if this supplement was introduced by any other organization, I wouldn’t have tried it. 

So here I am trying this stuff – and so are at least a half-dozen of you folks out there. A lot of you have offered to post your experiences with the stuff, and I am honored.

Think of it this way: the research has been done in the lab and in medical settings. What we are doing here, together, is the first ‘real-world’ test of Irvingia. 

Irvingia ‘looks good on paper’ as they might say, but Irvinga as a means to a signifigant weight loss can only occur one person at a time, living in the real world.

We are putting it to the test. 

A bunch of folks have already sent their experiences, and they are scattered across a number of posts, making them hard to find.

To try and make it easy to find these posts, I’ve set up a page – Irvingia Field Reports. Please post any experiences about Irvinga there.

To anyone who is as adventuous as I am and had decided for themselves to try this stuff and post their experiences – welcome onboard.

Let’s see what we find.