Thursday, November 5, 2009

This week's BIG NUMBER: 5.4

My Hemoglobin A1c, taken this week, is 5.4. Throughout 2008, it was 6.6, 6.3, 6.5, when I used to eat grains & added sugar, and this inordinately concerned my primary care physician. But thanks to the low carb theory proposed by my buddies Ron & Steve, and validated by my long term drinking buddy Matt and my friend Slam (after reading Ron's blog, each began practicing it, and each then lost 40 lbs) this stubborn Polack, transplanted from the land-of-pollen-and-moisture-into the low-humidity-working-from-home-on-a-flex-scheduled-you've-got-no-excuse-to-NOT-try-the-same-experiment, embraced the methodology and has kicked high blood sugar's proverbial butt.

Of course my physician was "concerned" about my HDL only being 46 (LDL 117) and she did not like the fact that the protein I am eating is not "usually lean". I reassured her I am avoiding ketosis - verified by smell, not by test strips - and eating moderate amounts of fruits and veggies along with my protein. Dr Desert Flower has helped out chez nos a great deal as well, ceasing her preparations of pasta, rice and other starches, and not bread making over the last several months. (If it's there, it'll be eaten).

Diamondback stationary bike riding and free weights are up to 5X a week, and now that the pool deck is not a roasting pan outdoor yoga is up to 4X a week. Breakfast has been replaced by stevia laden coffee. Ravenous hunger - and the annoying adrenalin spiked aggression that used to go with it - has been eliminated by avoiding the evil carbs. I'm on my last belt notch, 16 lbs lighter than my last doctor visit. My order of the engineer ring flew off last Sunday while clapping for a Bear's touchdown at Glendale's Old Chicago - wedding ring is extremely loose too. My energy level has not been higher, since becoming a father.

Had it not been for my friends setting multiple good examples & providing scientific facts (here, here, here, and here - Ron!), and my wife's culinary collaboration, and my personal determination to eliminate the confounding artificial sugar substitutes from my diet, I'd still be among the 17% of adult Americans embracing mellitus.

Thanks for all the help guys!


  1. Awesome! That is fantastic improvement on the a1c!

    Curious why you're so concerned about avoiding ketosis? Unless you get up to snack, you go into mild ketosis every night. Longer ketosis is nothing to be afraid of. Not sure why your doctor would worry about that. HDL should continue to go up with animal fat intake and the exercise you're doing. Have your trigs gone down?

    In short, Bravo!

  2. In honor of your HbA1c, I give you this lovely graph. Yes, it correlates better than cholesterol (in that cholesterol doesn't, a1c does)

    And a great old hyperlipid post as a bonus.

  3. My Primary Care Physician is the epitome of "defensive medicine" practicing. She's an internal medicine specialist, who I took up as PCP since Trac was going to her, and it's less than 2KMs from my home, and we had the same insurance, etc. She's also at most, 3 or 4 years out of her residency. As a "specialist" my employer based insurance next year will be MUCH more expensive (thanks US private health care system!).

    She asked me a leading question about fruits & veg after I said high protein, no grains, and I assured her "fruits and veggies, making sure I am avoiding ketosis" and she then immediately said "...with the test strips?" and I clarified, "no strips, by scent". She's a very 'intuitive' PCP, typing on her laptop taking notes during the entire 15 minute visit, when she's not repeatedly checking my thyroid (why else lose a doz lbs?), stethoscope-ing me, pressing around on abdomen, checking for moles, etc.

    Triglycerides have actually gone from 142 mg/dl to 102 in 6 months, 1/2 of those months being low carb. Total Cholesterol was 184, so I told her "whew, not too low!" and she looked at me In Horror (of course) and recommended "as a diabetic, you need a statin, which I know you don't want and I'm assuming you won't take, right?" I corrected her, and said with a A1c under 6, I am no longer diabetic (aha!) and she points to the 122 mg/dl fasting glucose and reiterates it needs to be "under 100". Ok, ok.

    I'd ALWAYS been skeptical of high protein "fads", and enjoyed copious amounts of bread... and considered your weight loss and wellness an anomaly. Then Matt T and Slam repeated the SAME results, and you continued to repeatedly present Over Whelming, well documented medical evidence. So after a year of trying just prescribed metformin and exercise and having Very Little progress towards reaching goals, I abandoned my bread, cereal, rice, pasta, chips, noodles & pizza crust, moderated my beer, and wellness has improved tremendously.

    Thank you Ron. Could not have done it without you!

  4. "So I'll stick with my six eggs for breakfast and pass on the toast and marmalade. " =)

    ...I do 3 eggs, and a BUNCH of bacon bits or 3 or 4 applewood smoked bacon strips, sometimes around 11am, if I have eaten too many carbs the night before and my hunger begins to spike mid-morning. Six, I'd be stuffed!

    Thanks for the links!

  5. You're giving me far too much credit, but you're welcome!

    I still don't understand why your doctor is scared of ketosis. I don't think there's anything magical about ketosis, but nor is there anything to be feared. Then again, many doctors don't understand the difference between ketosis and ketoACIDosis, nor the fact that the latter is nearly impossible for anyone with a functioning pancreas (might be a risk if you were incapable of producing insulin, but it's more likely that overproducing insulin was the more realistic risk for you). In any case, if my doctor panicked and said, "avoid ketosis! avoid ketosis!" I'd ask, "why, exactly?"

  6. that's great, Joe! for more fun, get an NMR lipo profile so you can track improvements of your particle sizes.

  7. PCP was so happy with me, she recommended I don't need to come back for a year. That, combined with my employer provided health care becoming VERY expensive next year (equivalent to a $2000 pay cut) I won't be doing too much monitoring - but I will keep it under advisement.

    I am honestly, seriously feeling healthier now, than any time in the last 3 presidential administrations.

  8. I think for most people the lipid analysis is overkill. For a single number, especially in your situation/family history, HbA1c is a much more important measure. (And, as a bonus, it correlates better with CV outcomes than do most "cholesterol" numbers, although most doctors are unaware of that fact.)


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