As some of you know, I was Vegan for over 12 years. I focused my exercise primarily on running and cycling – not a lot on weight training. I subscribed to all of the fitness magazines. I ate my body weight in soy products daily. I felt I was a prime example of ‘Health and Wellness’.
One day, I was sitting at the table for breakfast. My lovely wife was working on making some vegan pancakes and tofu sausage links. The jug of maple syrup sat in the middle of the table along with the tub of ‘butter’ spread (vegan of course). I was working on my second cup of coffee while poking around on the Internet.
(caution… Unpleasant details are about to come up)
I was doing some research…recently I had noticed blood in my stool. I had started to get worried about what the hell was going on back there. The Internet is not the place to look for information on this… Everything I read lead to cancer. Holy Sh*t… (no pun intended).
As I am reading horrible stories about how I am going to die, along with jacking up my adrenals with caffeine and living off a HIGH CARB/Low Fat diet, I started getting a little shaky and light headed… The next thing I knew, I was waking out of a ‘dream’ with my wife on top of me and talking on the phone… She was calling my name, trying to get me to ‘come to’ and talking with an emergency dispatcher on the other end of the line.
I had passed out.
The ambulance showed up, checked me out and suggested I go to the emergency room to get checked out. My wife and I jumped I the car and off we went.
I felt fine. I was a little scared of the whole thing. I had images of cancer running though my body. I was nervous.
We learned nothing from the emergency room other than confirming there was trace amounts of blood in my backside.
I went to my doctor on the following Monday. He signed me up for a battery of tests… From colonoscopy to nerve tests to blood work and a 24 hour heart monitoring deal. Everything came back ‘Normal’ except my blood work. I was told that I am essentially becoming pre-diabetic and that I need to lay off the cookies/cakes/chips/fried foods and I need to exercise more. I told the doctor that I had just completed a marathon 6 months prior. He looked at me and replied “that was 6 months ago. A lot changes in 6 months.”
I could not believe that I went from thinking I was at the peak of health and wellness, then suddenly at the bottom and apparently on my way to even worse conditions.
This was 8 years ago…
About 4 years later, I attended a CrossFit certification on Nutrition taught by Robb Wolf. He was presenting the Paleo diet and discussing the health benefits of this Anti Inflammatory and Insulin Controlling way of eating. He made me ask myself an important question:
Why am I eating a Vegan diet?
The blood issue was a result of inflammation.
The passing out was a result of an insulin dump because of the high blood sugar.
Both issues were because of my diet choice… Lots of grains, carbs, and little fat.
I was only eating this way because I thought it was the pinnacle of Health.
I decided to give this Paleo way a shot. I broke the news to my wife (which was harder than the changing my diet – she had been Vegan for over 20 years at this point) and began shopping for food.
It was the strangest feeling standing in front of the meat section of the grocery store. I knew nothing on how to shop for meat. I felt awkward and weird looking at the meat. Like I was ‘dirty’ or something.
Let’s fast forward 3 years… I now eat in a way that is high fat, moderate protein, and fairly low carb. A complete opposite approach to how I ate 4 years ago. I added almost 10lbs of lean muscle mass simply from changing my diet (and doing CrossFit type workouts). I hover around 14% body fat at any given point in time – without weighing and measuring my food. I focus on quality meats, eat plenty of veggies and ensure I have fat with each meal and snack.
My fat intake includes lard, beef tallow, coconut oil, GrassFed butter, olive oil and some nuts (ok, sometimes lots of nuts). I consume fish oil almost daily, unless I have a nice big piece of Salmon for dinner. Fat makes up for nearly 50% of my daily calories.
I bring all of this up because I am trying to stress the fact that FAT does not make you Fat. My health was at its worst with a Low Fat/High Carb diet. My fitness was also in a terrible state at that point.
Here is a great article where a Cardiac Surgeon speaks to a similar story about the dangers of a High Carb diet. Lowfat diet scientifically and morally indefensible
If you are interested in making a change to your diet and overall health, let me know. I love to talk about this stuff.