Tag Archives: cholesterol

The Results Are In…9 Months on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet…

It’s hard to believe it has been 9 months already since I started this whole foods, plant-based diet. I have completed an entire triathlon training season consisting of a sprint, olympic and half-ironman distance events. I ran my first marathon and am currently more than 2 months into my training for Ironman Lake Placid 2013. I am still totally grooving on this plant-based diet and have never looked back. Granted I did slightly deviate  a few times with a little Feta on a salad and that Chocolate Mousse on Valentines day, but the other 99% of the time I was die hard plant-power.

Every winter my employer provides free biometric testing for all employees. I had taken advantage of this testing last January, before going plant-based, and was a bit taken back by my results. I always thought being active would get me by, but apparently my diet of meat, sugary and over-processed foods could not be overcome by exercise alone. The exercise was also suffering because of the lack of “real food” and not feeding my body properly. When you start increasing training to the level of Ironman training, your body begins to let you know that food out of a box just doesn’t cut it. And no amount of coffee and sugar is going to help that either. If you want your car to drive like a Maserati, you are not going to put low octane gas in it.

I had done a blood test panel using SegTerra’s InsideTracker last September which showed good progress after only 3 months. Now that 9 months has passed and time for our annual biometric screening again, I was very eager to see what effect healthy eating would have. I have to admit I was a little nervous that it would not be as drastic as I wanted it to be. When I got the results I was more than ecstatic. So without further ado, here are my latest results as compared to the results a year ago and 6 months ago. Pretty drastic.

This biggest items to note are the 48 point drop in LDL, the 37 point drop in Trigylcerides and the 59 point drop in Total Cholesterol.  I was a little disappointed with my HDL’s going down, but they are still in range so I guess I can’t complain. My blood pressure, which always tends to be higher due to the “white coat syndrome”,  also dropped down. It is still at the top of the range, but when I test it at home it is usually in the normal range.

My weight was up a couple pounds since September, but the September weight was done at home which is usually a couple pounds less due to lack of clothing. The weight measurements for Jan 2012 and March 2013 were performed by the screeners with work clothes on(sans shoes and belt). The best thing about plant-based was that I maintained my weight throughout the off-season and holidays which I usually tend to gain back much of the weight lost from training.

image

 

 

The best thing about going plant-based is that I feel great. Even with the added Ironman training load, I am still improving athletically and without the afternoon crash like before. I have also given up the coffee and switched to tea which is a little less caffeine and with some added antioxidants too.

I am spending much more time in the kitchen cooking, but I really do enjoy it. It is much more satisfying than sitting in front of the “tube”. The food is so tasty and nutritious that crap out of a box just pales in comparison to it.

Thanks to my wife, Denise, whose healthy ways finally rubbed off on me. Also thanks go out to T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Rip Esselstyn whose Forks Over Knives movie and China Study book was initial the spark that lit this flame. Also special thanks go to Brendan Brazier and Rich Roll who have inspired and motivated me as well as helped me to apply this dietary change to an endurance sports lifestyle.

 

 

My Plant-Based Diet Experiment Update-Blood Test Results

As I sit here writing this post, I am 4 months into what I thought would be a 1 month experiment. I am still going strong with my whole foods, plant-based diet. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical that I would continue this after my “A” race of the year, Ironman Muskoka 70.3 was completed and a week of vacation that followed. I thought I would atleast have a couple “celebration” meals, but I never deviated. I really have no desire to go back to all crap I ate before. The food I am eating now is so tasty and nourishing, it is well worth the extra time and effort in the kitchen(and a few more trips to the bathroom too! ). The improvements I made in this years’, much more difficult, half-ironman race compared with last years are testament to the fact that this diet provides all the nutritional needs and more for endurance training and competition.

One thing I wanted to do was make sure that I was meeting those nutritional needs through a blood test analysis. I used the InsideTracker website from SegTerra. They had sent me a 30% off coupon via email so I decided to get the full panel analysis which came out to around $200. After signing up, they have you pick a local LabCorp testing facility to make an appointment for your blood draw. There was a testing facility within 10 miles which made it easy, although the girl that took my blood that day did not instil a whole lot of confidence in me. She stuck the needle in and starting making “huh?” and “hmmm?” noises when nothing came out at first. I am not a big fan of needles and have fainted before at the site of them, so when she did this I instantly starting feeling the room spinning. Eventually the blood started flowing and I filled up the 4-5 vials pretty quickly. Then it was off to the lab they go.

My last blood test was back in January 2012 and several of the standard cholesterol-levels were a bit out of range. I thought this was a good comparison since I was still eating meat and diary several times a day at that time and weighing about 25-28 more pounds. After about a week, I received an email back from InsideTracker indicating that my results were in. At first glance, I was a bit disappointed as I thought the improvement would be greater. After thinking about the fact that it was only 3 months, I soon realized that every cholesterol-related marker had made a good shift in the right direction. We are always looking for everything to be a quick fix and this was one example of me still having some of that mindset. Making a lifestyle change to eating a healthful diet is a change whose results will come gradually over time. Just like a habit does not broken overnight, neither does its affects. So without further ado…

The Results….

Results Comparison Jan 25 2012 Sep 1 2012 % Change
Total Chol (mg/dL) 239 209 -13%
HDL Chol (mg/dL) 58 72 24%
LDL Chol (mg/dL) 162 143 -12%
Triglycerides 93 67 -28%
Chol/HDL Ratio 4.1 2.9 -29%
Glucose 96 88 -8%

So as you can see from the chart above, every one of my cholesterol-related markers has moved in the right direction. The best part was that my HDL or “good” cholesterol increased and my Chol/HDL ratio has decreased substantially. My LDL’s are still a bit high, but they are moving in the right direction. I would like to see that down in the low 100’s. Even still dropping 20 points in 3 months is not too bad. Also, my triglycerides have moved from the top of the normal range to more into the center of the optimal range.

image

imageimage

One mistake I may have made was getting my blood tested immediately at the end of my training season andimage especially after my highest training volume week of the year. A couple of my markers were low, but that could very well be from the state of fatigue I was in at the time. The other nutrient markers that were out of range were Vitamin D & Potassium(see image to the right). I will probably get this checked again after the New Year.  One nutrient I was concerned about was Vitamin B12 which is the only vitamin that you are supposedly not able to get from plant sources. Atleast anymore. B12 comes from the ground. We used to absorb it by working in the dirt, but now since we are so removed from that and live in such a germa-phobe society we can only get it from the animals that absorb it.. Anyway I am pleased to  see that my Vitamin B12 is right in the “sweet spot” of the range. All of my other nutrients we all normal so looks like most things are pretty good.

image