There was a time when I would never have toyed with the idea of actually embracing carbs as the foundation of my diet. Everyone says, ‘carbs and sugar make you fat–eat more fat if you want to be lean’. I said that a lot, although my focus wasn’t usually on weight gain–but more on blood sugar. Having to negotiate with insulin in order to take in more carbs made it easy to default to a ketogenic diet which, as I’ve stated is not completely without it’s value,  but simply put, did NOT work for me once I mixed in greater athletic output. I am not on a mission to convert anyone to any type of diet–just to present my findings in hopes that it will add value as you are seeking to tackle new goals–in diabetes management and the places you bring that diabetes. Once I give these dietary guidelines below a few weeks of implementation I will discuss the experiment in a podcast episode.

So I recently shifted my diet from a low carb/high fat approach to one that can be simply described as high carb/low fat. Now before the outcry over low fat diets of the 90s giving rise to over-processed “low fat” foods that were deconstructed, zapped to reduce the fat content and then reimagined with greater sugar and foisted back over on the public as “heart-healthy”, let me make clear that this is not what I am referring to. Let me phrase it another way; “fruits, roots and leaves.”

Here is a snapshot of how I conceive the staples of this diet, which I have rigorously linked to nutritional profiles:

With sparing application of:

I’ll be predominately eating vegan as it turns out. Notably absent are meat, cheese and processed foods. Oh, did I mention I haven’t had any diet soda in a month? As I’ve started training and begun following these new dietary guidelines the cravings for Coke Zero have subsided and I just don’t really care about it any more. I tried drinking some the other week and it just was unusually gross (typically that first sip of a Coke Zero was akin to the use of substances far more illicit–in a highly addictive and pleasing way).

I have said that there are no universal truths in diet–but I may have to backpedal on that a tiny bit. I should have said that there are no “bad” macro nutrients if they are used appropriately. Carbs, fat and protein all have value. The arrangement of those components is up for debate–but universally speaking, the only position I hold to firmly is the value of eliminating processed foods from our diets wherever possible. So if you think all my ideas are horse hockey and you want to eat fat and meat in spades–great. That might be better for you. I’m not selling meal plans, so be my guest to experiment and find what works best for you. I’d just advise that you get the grass fed steak–over the regurgitated-reconstituted-beef-matter that I used to inhale in college in the name of “getting enough protein”. Quality matters. You probably pay attention to the fuel you put in your car–and wouldn’t put diesel in a regular tank just because (if it is?) it’s a few cents cheaper because it’s not good for the longevity. Same with your body and the fuel it needs.

I know that people are very sensitive to discussions of diet–because there is often judgment attached to it. For example, when I wrote last weeks blog about how the Ketogenic diet failed me in terms of athletic performance, I had a guy on Reddit tell me “you’re doing it wrong”. That’s not what I am trying to do here–I don’t want to judge YOUR diet. I want to show you how I judge my own. Save the criticism of each other and be harsh with your own habits and lots can happen. It is always important to question our methods–including the things we think are infallible. Questioning them will expose weaknesses–or it will expose greater integrity. Either way, you win!

With that general principle in mind, what you see above is how I have changed my diet. I will be honest, it has been challenging because it is uncomfortable. It feels like a diet. But even in the first few days of trying this on for size I have noticed some benefit so I am pressing forward. I am not a researcher per se, although I am proud to say that as a participant on the Glu website that what I experience and share here is going into a bigger picture of real time research, and that’s something we all can (and should, in my opinion) do. Right? I mean the micro research that I am doing and that you are doing can be macro research if you just plug it in.

Nevertheless, here are the criteria by which I am going to assess my “experiment”:

  • Energy levels (working out and during normal daily activity)
  • Sleep (quality/quantity)
  • Strength/power during climbing
  • Body composition
  • blood glucose
  • insulin sensitivity

My method is less stringent than what would be accepted by the New England Journal of Medicine; I admit that a lot of what I am presenting may seem (be?) anecdotal. Some variables could be present that I will inevitably miss and so I can’t tell anyone how they should or should not eat–other than processed foods being less desirable than whole foods, generally speaking. Do you have any suggestions for how to better assess the results of my experiment? Sound off in the comments below or email me steve@livingvertical.org!

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