Why Your Diet Should Be Personalized

We are individuals consisting of a specific genetic profile. While we are genetically similar, we are also still genetically unique at the same time. Twin studies looking at a variety of health related items like diet and exercise clearly have shown that while twin pairs have very similar responses; between twin pairs, the responses are extremely unique. Thus, twin study findings illustrate the response to a health intervention in one individual can be completely different in another. Then the question arises why do most main stream health professionals believe that the best approach to diet recommendations is a one size fits all approach like eat a low fat, high quality carbohydrate diet is best for all individuals to optimize a person's over-all health and wellness.

Recently, data suggests that there are some individuals that consuming 50-65% of their daily food intake in carbohydrates promotes an increase in fasting triglycerides and an increase in oxidized LDL concentrations. In contrast, these individuals see a decreased concentration in oxidized LDL concentration when they follow a high protein, quality mono-unsaturated fat, and low carbohydrate diet. On a personal level, I have spent a majority of my life living the high quality, high percent carbohydrate lifestyle following primarily a vegetarian and vegan diet pattern. As an ultra-endurance cyclist and researcher, we are taught and I have read numerous studies about the importance of carbohydrates in regards to my cycling success. Yet, as I get older, despite a very high quality diet of natural primarily unprocessed CHO, low fat, and moderate protein, I found my triglyceride and cholesterol levels rising to dangerous levels. Thus, I began to seriously question whether or not I reached an age where following what is considered for many an extremely healthy diet pattern was not only wrong for my metabolic profile but extremely harmful.

After spend additional time looking into various diet alternative literature like Atkin based diets or other low carbohydrate alternative diets. I decided a diet make over was needed for own personal dietary intake. Thus, over the last 2 months, I decided to do something in my diet I would have never, ever imagined. I decided to try a high protein, high fat (primarily high quality fat like avocados), very low CHO diet. At first like all diet changes, it was not something I was comfortable with at first. After years of preaching the benefits of vegetarian based diets on health, I am suddenly eating a diet that went against everything I believed in. But, I was in a desperate place with total cholesterol levels 325 mg/dL, triglycerides over 225 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol over 125 mg/dL, and fasted resting blood glucose hovering around 100 mg/dl. My lipid sub fractional profile showed although I was very active and fit, had excellent aerobic capacity and strength values, and was only 18.0 % body fat for a 58 year old man, I was still just a few points away from a full blown metabolic syndrome profile.

Initially, cutting back on my CHO intake was a little difficult. But, as I began to cut out most CHOs except quality ones like those found in vegetables, nuts, or seeds, and then increase my protein and fat intake, I noticed that my constant need to eat 24/7 disappeared. I found a breakfast of avocado mixed in with two whole eggs plus extra egg whites plus a cup of morning coffee was enough to keep out of the kitchen for several hours. When I did get hungry I would snack on a few oz of raw cashews or almonds with an apple cooked in cinnamon, butter, lemon juice and splenda kept my sugar cravings away. Evening meals of a tuna or salmon in a steamer bowl with vegetables and flavored avocado sauce or spiced with home made hot curry sauce was all I needed for dinner. Amazingly, I felt very satisfied from a hunger perspective. But, more amazingly, after the third or fourth day of following my new diet, I was energetic and felt great. I suddenly had no indigestion, no CHO bloating or gas, no reflux events (which happen pretty much daily the last year or so), no post exercise cramps following my high intensity workouts. In fact, despite research showing the importance of CHO in maintaining exercise intensity, after about 10 days of the new diet, I found little effect on my over all cycling output on any type of training ride. I also noticed that my resting blood glucose in the morning was now finally below 95 mg/dL and my body weight was coming down. Since beginning my diet content change, I have lost currently 14 lbs, causing my body fat to decrease 2.1% without any attempt to limit calorie intake.

Last week, I complete a comprehensive hormonal profile, an advanced lipid profile including particle size, a thyroid profile, and all of the standard blood work. While 10 weeks is usually not a very long period of time to observe large changes in blood profiles, I am anxiously awaiting the test this week and next!