How a higher-fat diet made me healthier

In the past, I have followed a traditional “carbo-loading” type approach to diet – high carbs, very low fat, getting a lot of my protein from milk and beans vs. meat.  I viewed bagels, pasta, and pancakes as good things.  This seemed to work with me as long as I was rowing 100 miles a week, however over the years (since 2000) I have steadily, gradually, increased what I consider my “base weight” from something like 195 to more like 215.

A couple of years ago, after a Joe Dillon seminar organized through my work and after reading Laird Hamilton’s book, I started gradually experimenting with the glycemic index approach – reduce carbs, substitute low-glycemic foods, increase healthy fats.  Upon trying Crossfit this approach fit right in.

I am now eating a much higher-fat diet (coconut milk, nuts, fish oil) and getting more protein from lean meat and very little from milk.  I am not on any strict “paleo” regimen, but have made subtle changes over time that have stuck.  I am back down to 194 lbs., which I haven’t been at since 1998.  My cholesterol was recently tested and is great on all measures.  I am stronger than ever and got lifetime PRs on deadlifts and squats this week.  My spring allergies are so mild that I was able to stick with a quercetin supplement instead of a systemic drug.

The biggest change overall is replacing carbs with fats as a higher % of my caloric intake.  I never would have anticipated this result in a million years.  A year ago, the thought of pouring 2 tablespoons of fish oil into a smoothie would have made me gag.  I am a convert not based on ideology, but because it works for me.

I will be passing on the pancake breakfast offered by my rowing club for National Learn to Row Day June 5…maybe I’ll bring a bowl of steel cut oats with chia seeds instead!

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