The Simplest Health Plan: Cut Carbs, Lift Weights

I got into a bit of a debate on Twitter with Brad Schoenfeld, a fitness expert who is beyond skeptical about low-carb eating. Even though low-carb diets outperform low-fat, calorie-restricted diets every time they’re tried, Schoenfeld believes the evidence is lacking.

Because diets are not compatible with calories and protein. I thought in this post, I would show you how weight lifting and low carb are great markers of health.

lifestyle factors

I lift weights once every three days, doing a high-intensity program. I’ve been doing this for almost 7 years now, although I was also lifting weights when I was younger.

I eat low carb. A high-carb day for me is maybe 100 grams of carbs, and I do that maybe once a week. (For dinner, at a Mexican place; even if I order chicken, it comes with lots of chips, salsa, and tortillas.) The rest of the time, I eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates. I take supplements too. I also intermittently fast and cast iron.

Fasting insulin and insulin resistance

My fasting insulin is 2.9. (Normal range: 2.6–24.9.) Basically, you can’t get much better than that. Fasting insulin is one of the most important health biomarkers as it shows a lack of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance accelerates aging and disease like no other, and if there’s anything you want to avoid getting the chronic diseases of aging like cancer and heart disease, this is it. Insulin resistance is commonly measured by the HOMA-IR (Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance). The normal value for adults is <2.

My HOMA value: 0.8. Zero insulin resistance.

Triglyceride/HDL ratio

The ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol is the most important item in a lipid panel. (Also see the excellent article by George Henderson and Grant Schofield on the importance of the triglyceride/HDL ratio.)

My triglyceride/HDL ratio is 0.5. There are no normal ranges, but <2.0 is considered ideal, risky 2.0 to 4.0, above 4.0, help is needed; and above 6.0, prepare to die. (Just kidding: if it’s above 6.0, get to work.)

So my triglyceride/HDL ratio is better than ideal.

My father had heart disease for many decades. Seeing this made me decide a long time ago that I never wanted this to happen to me. Looks like it won’t.

Conclusion

Follow a low carb diet, lift weights, do intermittent fasting if you want and you’ll be golden. You will not have heart disease and you will look better than 95% of your peers.

Putting it simpler:

  • Cut anything with flour and sugar, and
  • Weightlifting.
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