Sunday, January 20, 2013

6 Week Results after Nutrition Intervention

In my previous post, I described the nutrition intervention I began in November 2012 to follow a higher fat, moderate protein and lower carbohydrate daily nutrition pattern.  In this post, I want to share with you some of the exciting and interesting results from the time period of November 6 to December 21, 2012.

The Pre- and Post-Intevention Data:  Lipid Panel

Before starting my nutrition experiment, I got a physical examination with my primary care (Western medicine) doctor in mid-October along with a standard blood draw done. When the nurse called one week later to tell me my LDL was 152 and my total cholesterol was too high, I became nervous knowing I was about to embark on some radical nutrition changes.  But then I gave a big belly laugh when she said "The doctor wants you to go on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and start 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day." Typical, standard (and old-fashioned), Western medical advice:  avoid fats and dietary cholesterol in order to improve your lipid profile.  Oh, and then the nurse threatened a statin drug if my labs didn't improve in 3 months time.  Thank you, but NO THANK YOU.

Because the standard medical office blood draw for lipid profile is not very thorough (there is way more to the story than just LDL-C, HDL-C, Triglycerides), I got a NMR LipoProfile lab draw done through EconoLabs to check particle counts and density.

Here are the changes that occurred in my lipid profile over 6 weeks, during which time I ate a higher fat diet:

If you aren't familiar with these labs, that's okay. The important thing is that all of these labs changed in a very favorable manner. This was BIG news for me.

The Pre- and Post-Intevention Data: Metabolic Efficiency

So what happened to my ability to preserve carbohydrate during exercise and use fat better as a fuel source?  Check out the "BEFORE" results on October 30, 2012:

Here are the results AFTER 6 WEEKS:

The red line is the percentage of fat I am burning at each 5-minute stage and the blue line is percentage of carbohydrate being burned.  Holy cow, what a dramatic change in such a short time!  And so interesting that my results were similar to what Bob noticed as well. I was still burning a high percentage of fat at high watts when I tested the second time (umm, yeah... those are high watts for not having trained much since September!) and was unable to reach my Metabolic Efficiency Point before stopping the test.

You must know that from November 6 to December 21, my training was indeed minimal until December 3 due to recovery from surgery I had at the beginning of November and my eye condition that prevented me from doing any training.  In all of November, I did 4 bike sessions of one hour and 3 treadmill short runs. From December 3 to the 21st, I had only logged 8 hours on the bike, 22 miles of running, and 8 hours of swimming, along with some short strength training sessions.  All exercise sessions were aerobic in nature.  Because my training was very low during these 6 weeks, this shows what an impact nutrition can have on your ability to burn fat.

I did keep a food log during this time and yes, I did the dreaded calorie counting. I wanted to be sure my carbohydrate intake was between 75-100 grams (~15-20% of total calories), protein intake was consistent (~25-30% of calories) and I was getting ample fat intake.  I increased my fat intake during these 6 weeks by consuming avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut, nuts/seeds, nut butters, fattier meats and salmon, and higher fat dairy products.

Very interesting, yes?  So, did I need to go on a low-fat, low cholesterol diet to improve my lipid profile, doc?  Yes, I know this is only 6 weeks, so I am keeping this experimental train going!

In my next post, I will write more about some of the things I noticed and felt during the 6 weeks intervention along with an update on my current training.


  1. Interesting....So..for a knucklehead like me..what does this mean? I need to lose a significant amount of weight and am just entering my base training period so my fitness is the lowest it will be all year. Do your results indicate that a decreased carb % would be beneficial to guys like me? And are the fats you are eating mostly "good" fats?

  2. Scott, we are finding there is more than one way to improve the body's ability to burn fat so this is one approach Bob and I are delving into further. Now is the perfect time of the year for you lower your intake of carbohydrates as long as you are also eating to support stable blood sugar levels. In regards to my own fat intake, I am certainly including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (namely omega-3s) fats (known as the "heart healthy" types), but I am also including a fair amount of saturated fat from coconut and some higher fat meats and dairy. An experiment so keep following!