I kinda freaked out about getting my blood work done.
Contrary to what Fox News said at the conclusion of their segment about my zero carb diet, I actually hadn’t been to see my doctor in about eight years. That’s right: Eight years. The news commentators completely made that part up when they said that I’ve been under “close doctor supervision” for the past several years while eating a low/no carb diet. They also made up the part about me being the one to “invent this diet.” (I’m sure this is all a crushing blow to your faith in the media, right?)
Regardless, it’s not that I was avoiding my doctor, but I truly had no reason to go. I am generally quite healthy and (other than seeing my OB/Gyn) didn’t really have a need to see a physician.
So I called up Dr. Dunlap. This is the same doctor who originally told me to lose 100 pounds and put me on a very carb-restricted diet, which in turn led me to a zero carb diet nearly six years ago. He saw me as a patient after I lost all of that weight, but that was several years ago. In fact, I hadn’t been in so long that the office had archived my entire file and had to re-enroll me as a new patient, as I found out when I called Dr. Dunlap’s office a few months ago. I decided that I was due for a check-up and that perhaps it was time to have some blood work done. I made the appointment.
And then, I began to worry.
It’s one thing to believe in your head that eating a VERY high fat, all-meat diet is good for you. I know that it makes me feel energetic. I know that I followed this diet through two pregnancies and birthed two beautiful babies. I know that my weight went down and my quality of life improved. I’ve read a multitude of articles about animal fat not being bad for the heart, as long as there are no carbs in the diet.
I knew all of that.
But when it came down to getting my blood drawn, I started to have doubts.
I mean, how is it possible to eat burger patties, bacon, and half a cup of bacon grease per day and NOT have high cholesterol? (Especially when high cholesterol runs in my family. Mine was always on the high side, even as a young girl.)
I figured I ought to prepare myself for this.
Prior to my appointment, I started doing more reading and studying about which blood work numbers actually mean something anyway when it comes to predicting heart disease and health issues. As it turns out, your “total cholesterol” number seems to have only marginal value when it comes to making those predictions. People with high total cholesterol numbers aren’t any more likely to have a heart attack than those with low total cholesterol. It’s been researched and studied and proven. Seriously, Google it.
And if you’re wondering why so many people are on statin drugs to lower their cholesterol, if after all it is indeed a meaningless number, you should know that statins are a $29 B-B-B-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. There is CRAZY money to be lost if people stop believing that cholesterol is bad for you. And, in case you haven’t noticed, business people don’t like to lose money. (Here’s a very helpful article about the great cholesterol myth: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/01/29-billion-reasons-to-lie-about-cholesterol.aspx )
In my research, I found article after article stating that I really need to know only a few things when it comes to my bloodwork, and none of them include the “total cholesterol” number.
1) Blood sugar. Blood sugar numbers should remain steady throughout the day. Steady, level, not-high, not-low blood sugar numbers allow the body to lose weight and are a very good sign for overall health. Somewhere around 80-100 is where most people end up if they eat a diet that is free from carbs and sugars.
2) The Triglyceride/HDL Ratio. THIS IS A BIG ONE. Your triglyceride number divided by your HDL number is the absolute greatest indicator of your risk for heart disease. Here is an article explaining why: http://www.docsopinion.com/2014/07/17/triglyceride-hdl-ratio/ If you want to focus on any one number when you have blood work done, make it this one. The goal is to get that ratio number as low as you possibly can. To do that, you want your triglycerides low and your HDL (deemed “good cholesterol”) to be high. A ratio of less than two is desirable. Anything above four is statistically a very bad sign that you may be at risk for heart disease. (For further reading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664115/)
Now, knowing ALL of this, I felt prepared to have my bloodwork done. Or at least prepared to see the results.
I requested for all my numbers to be available online and checked it about 700 times per day until they finally came in. Here’s what showed up:
I will fully admit that I took a HUGE sigh of relief when my “total cholesterol” was only 168, despite the fact that I think the number is meaningless. Why? Because it’s still what EVERYONE wants to know. How’s your cholesterol? I get asked constantly. Like, every day, everywhere I go. So, even if it doesn’t matter to me, I was happy to have a lovely little number to share. It makes people feel good about your health to see that nice, low number, so I was relieved to have one that the general public would find quite acceptable.
My fasting blood sugar was 77, which is about what my blood sugar is anytime I check it. Without eating carbs (AND I DON’T), my blood sugar never goes above 100. It’s around 80, no matter the time of day. Before a meal, after a meal, during a meal, 12 hours after a meal…doesn’t matter. It’s always about 80. Why? Because meat and eggs have almost NO impact on blood sugar numbers. I can eat as much high-fat meat as I want, and still have steady, even blood sugar.
My triglycerides came in at 60, which is terrific! The lower, the better, and 60 is great.
My HDL (“good cholesterol”) was 62, which is awesome! Eating high-fat foods and avoiding all carbs will give you lots of very healthy cholesterol, so that was no surprise.
Therefore, my tri/HDL ratio (the really important one, you recall!!) is only .9!!! POINT NINE!! Remember that anything under two is optimal. And anything over four is a strong indicator of future heart disease. So .9 is pretty freaking awesome!
My doctor was kind of speechless when he saw my numbers
My doctor looked at my numbers and asked me again to very specifically tell him what I eat each day. I slowly said, “I eat burgers, bacon, bacon grease, steak, and eggs. All day, every day. As much as I want. And nothing else.”
He checked my blood pressure. 100/60.
He gave me a full check-up, listening to my lungs and looking me over from head to toe.
He sat down silently and looked at my bloodwork numbers again. He asked me how I feel on a daily basis. I told him the truth: I feel fantastic, stay healthy, have lots of energy, and have no complaints at all. None.
He said, “It’s very unusual to see such a happy customer and to see blood work numbers like these. I would absolutely keep doing what you’re doing.”
KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
And that, friends, is exactly what I will do.
After nearly six years of eating a diet high in fatty protein but absent of carbs, I have never felt better. My doctor can’t find ONE THING wrong with me. Every single level (including calcium, sodium, protein, potassium, alkaline phosphates, EVERYTHING) was perfectly in a healthy range.
So, to answer the question that I hear on a nearly daily basis, “Yeah, but how’s your cholesterol?” I have to say, “Quite good, thank you!”