The first time I learned about a high fat diet was in October 2012 when I was visiting Guillaume in Madrid to work with him at ESAC. Of course, I was totally skeptical about it, because everything he told me was in complete contradiction to what we are told by doctors, and it all looked more or less like “just another diet”. Because of that, there really wasn’t much possibility to get me interested in it.
At one point he mentioned in passing that paleo-anthropologists can easily distinguish whether bones belong to members of a hunter-gatherer or a farming society, because the latter show obvious signs of degradation. The thing is, I had already read this in a very convincing book (I think it was Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies) and Guillaume told me the very same thing in the context of grain-free, low-carb, high-fat diet he had been practising for about five years at that point.
I simply had to start paying more attention to what he was saying. I started reading this blog and some of the papers referenced in the posts. The arguments against carbohydrates and for fat were very compelling… I mean, tumors disappearing when glucose is removed from diet! Come on, what more do I need, I should be ready to let go the starchy/sugary food at once, right? Nope.
Even though the stuff I had read and was reading was really convincing, and I was even quite sure that it was right, I still wasn’t ready to give up on all the pasta, potatoes, sweets, cakes, … you know, the “good” stuff. And bread! Probably the most symbolic of all foods! So, I just decided that if I ever got cancer, I’d do this no-carb thing. But until then: no diet for me. (I guess this is quite similar to smokers’ dilemma: they all know it’s bad and that it might very well kill them, but they just don’t care.)
Unfortunately, some unexpected and unpleasant events occurred in my family the next year, and this is what made me think that maybe I shouldn’t wait this long… So, when I was about go work with Guillaume in September 2013 for two weeks, and he suggested that this would be a perfect occasion for me to try his diet, my first thought was: That’s a great idea!
My next thought was: Oh no! I’ll starve to death!!
I got to Madrid, ready to be continuously hungry for two weeks. Guillaume prepared a meal plan for me for every day of my visit and reassured me that if I followed it I wouldn’t be hungry – that I would never be hungry, and I’d be much healthier when I left. So I ate eggs with butter every morning, in fact, I ate more eggs during those two weeks than I normally would have eaten in 6 months! I ate/drank coconut milk, meat, raw veggies, big salads, nuts. No carbohydrates. And I wasn’t hungry. I know that two weeks is not a long time, but I felt quite a bit lighter by the end of it.
When I returned home, I followed the plan with minor changes, e.g. in the morning I started having the thick green juice with coconut milk and oil as described in one of Guillaume’s previous posts, you know, “The True Breakfast of the Champions”, (I just call it “The Swamp”). The trick is to get the amount of each ingredient right, and even more importantly, to use really fresh vegetables. In this case it has a sweetish taste and is actually very drinkable. But beware! If you make it with not-so-fresh ingredients, then you no longer have a Drink of the Champions, but rather a Drink of the Brave.
Now I’ve been without carbs for more than 6 months. I didn’t get sick this winter, even though I’ve been in contact with many people sneezing and coughing. I feel great, I don’t get sleepy after lunch. I never get really, really hungry.
I had a minimal blood test about a month ago, but unfortunately I hadn’t had one for a long time before that, so I can only compare the results to a test that was done two years ago. (I know for sure, however, that if I had taken it just before starting the diet (in September 2013), the results of that test would have been much worse – alarming even.) So, the latest results… my cholesterol is still not so good (very high LDL, very low HDL), but my triglycerides dropped very significantly (from 250 to 140 mg/dl!!!). My blood pressure also dropped, even though I have been using more salt than before (you know, doctors always tell us not to eat salt because it increases the blood pressure).
To be honest, I expected the cholesterol to go through the roof because of all the fat I had been eating, but no, it didn’t happen. So (for now?) I’ll just attribute its persistently high and low values to all the stress that I’ve been experiencing in the last three years (and that should drop significantly this summer).
Ah, yes… I almost forgot one good side-effect of this no-carb, high-fat diet: I lost about 20 kilos in 6 months, without much exercise, none at all, actually (I know, I know, shame on me!). I had to buy smaller pants already after a month of the diet, and now I’ll have to do it again.