Editor's note: Larry Diamond is a 48-year-old Texas man who lost 110 pounds in 14 months by following a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, Larry describes his weight-loss transformation in his own words.
Read our story about Larry here.
My LCHF Weight Loss by Larry Diamond
The jacket wouldn’t fit. It fell a few inches short around my belly. It was a jacket I wear to a work event once a year and here was undeniable proof that my weight and waistline was getting worse not better. It was a wakeup call. One of many that I’d had over the years, decades really, and ignored. But this time things were different. This wakeup call changed everything.
This wakeup call occurred a few months after me and my wife had become the caregivers for my uncle. My uncle had diabetes and had developed dementia. I was heartbroken for him and scared for me. My grandmother also had diabetes and died of its complications.
My wife and I had also adopted our daughter from foster care two years previously after a very long journey to start a family. I was 47, she was 2 at the time. I’d be 60 when she turned 15. If I made even that. I was motivated like never before to put everything I had into changing my health around. And I recall thinking, unlike any previous attempt, that this time there was no chance I was not going to succeed.
I made two changes right away. I started using a recumbent bicycle, the only piece of cardio equipment we had in our house. I am 5’9” and I was 285 pounds at that point in May 2013. A few days after the jacket not fitting, I got on the bicycle for 15 minutes.
A couple of days later, I was at 30 minutes and I would not allow a day to go by without getting 30 minutes in. I also stopped going to fast food restaurants which I had gone to one to three times a week for many years.
But arguably most importantly, I took to the Internet to learn all I could about nutrition and people who had successfully lost weight. I wanted to harness the power of people relating what had worked for them. I started my search by typing in ‘Why am I so hungry after a large fast food meal’.
Obviously I had heard about insulin and blood sugar. But I really wanted to nail down what exactly was happening to my body when I had a large fast food meal. I recognized I was hungry all of the time. It wasn’t psychological. I felt especially hungry much too soon after a large fast food given all the calories I knew I must be consuming.
This led me to articles on how too many carbs too frequently could raise insulin levels on an almost around the clock basis. And that when insulin was present, the body would store calories and not burn its stored fat. And given my belly and waistline I needed to burn fat.
So I decided to eliminate bread and pasta as my next food change. At first it was no longer buying store bought bread and pasta and then it was at restaurants which I still went to one to three times per week.
The combination of lowering my carb intake and more exercise was starting to work. I felt better and less hungry. I decided to cut out all my junk food snacks and to finally listen to the advice I had heard for years: eat whole food, eat real food. I also started to become aware of terms like Paleo, and Primal. Of course, I had heard about Atkins and thought at the time it was a fringe approach that would lead to heart attacks.
I had also started along with finding out nutritional info, to research success stories on the Internet. The best source I found was at the Huffington Post. There were about 700 success stories and one weekend I went through a couple of hundred to find commonalities.
The most common items were lowering carbs and incorporating more exercise. Many people mentioned couch to 5K programs, or C25K. By the end of August I was around 265 to 270 pounds and much less hungry. I was feeling better and although I had never run, I was in this journey for health and I knew I had to get my heart stronger. So I embarked on a C25K program.
At first I could not run for 30 seconds and it was also the middle of another hot and humid summer in Central Texas. But I was determined to succeed as many other people had reported barely being able to run and that they were now running 5K to 10Ks or more. So I stuck it out with some time off because of a calf injury. I did invest in a very good pair of running shoes that was a very wise decision.
My journey into nutritional knowledge was ongoing and about to shift into high gear when I came across an interview on YouTube of Professor Tim Noakes. He was talking about someone I had never heard of, Ancel Keys, the seven country study, and the lipid hypothesis.
The lipid hypothesis was something I had heard so often I took it for fact: the number one cause of obesity and heart disease was fat consumption. I was astonished when Professor Noakes mentioned that Ancel Keys had data for 22 countries but cherry picked only 7 to support this idea. This is called confirmation bias. He choose only the countries that seemed to support his pre-determined conclusion and ignored the rest.
I then started researching Paleo and Primal approaches to what I have come to think of as my Way of Eating (WOE). This is to distinguish it from diets because from day one I felt my changes were lifestyle changes not anything temporary.
I was intrigued by the emphasis on whole foods and vegetables as the basis of a good WOE and was open-minded about grains not being good for you. Although there were many additional things I found out I will summarize the main points that now guide my WOE.
Don't fear fat. This was eye opening. When people eat grass fed butter, coconut oil, lard, and tallow there was very little obesity, cancer, and heart disease. All three of these have soared when these fats were drastically reduced and replaced with vegetable oils. So ‘conventional wisdom’ on fats seemed very wrong to me.
- Vegetable oils are bad aside from a select few like olive oil which should not be used for cooking. Man-made industrial vegetable oils are very high in omega 6 and their use has gone hand and hand with the worsening health problems of the modern world.
- Fat is satiating, carbs make you hungry.
- Grains, including whole grains, contain anti-nutrients and have higher glycemic indexes than many regular sodas and candy bars. Grains also are non-essential. Every nutrient they contain can be gotten elsewhere from a better source.
- A calorie is not a calorie. How my body processes 800 calories of whole wheat pasta and a commercial spaghetti sauce is completely different than 800 calories of non-starchy vegetables cooked in coconut oil and some grass fed beef. Also how full or hungry I am afterward varies dramatically even though the calories consumed are the same.
- When you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) your body goes into carb utilization and fat storage mode. When you go low carb high fat your body has no choice but to use fat as fuel and you become ‘fat adapted’. You start burning your stored fat as fuel.
- Your appetite and food preferences are not set. This is very important. Many people find on low carb high fat their appetites decrease tremendously. This is because the body is getting what it needs and insulin levels are being kept steady. I haven’t calorie counted a single day. I don’t need to, my appetite changed as I changed what I eat.
- Mainstream contemporary nutritional advice and knowledge is based on seriously flawed studies. Not only is the basis that fat is bad based on the seriously flawed 7 country study, but the belief that meat consumption and cholesterol consumption leads to heart disease is based on equally flawed studies. Unbelievable to me is the fact that the seminal studies are based on rabbits and chickens. Yes one would expect that if you force fed meat to rabbits and chickens they would have problems. But this says nothing about human beings.
- And perhaps most infuriating: that low carb diets are the ‘fad’. This is just an absurd statement. For most of human history populations thrived on animal fats, natural oils, and low carb consumption. The ‘fad’ is clearly the low fat high carb industrial vegetable oil diets of the last 50 years. The very diets that have gone hand in hand with soaring rates of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Using this knowledge gained through Twitter searches, web searches, and YouTube videos I continued to tweak my WOE. I continued to focus on whole foods, especially vegetables and grass fed meats and wild caught fish when possible.
I added coconut oil as my main cooking oil and also as a food additive to coffee and tea or just eaten straight from the bottle. I added grass fed butter. I eliminated all vegetable oil except for olive oil and flaxseed oil on salads. I still had dairy, mostly hard cheeses, and some nuts, legumes, and limited amounts of fruits.
By January 1 I was down to the low 230s. I was also continuing to run and I did my first 5K on February 1, 2014. I am now down to around 195 having gone under 200 for the first time since high school. In May 2013 I barely fit into XXL shirts and some were too tight to wear.
I was a 48-inch waist. I now have a 35 inch waist and fit into medium shirts comfortably. I run three miles or so two to three times a week with ease. I feel better than I ever have in my life at 48. I have been able to go off my sleep apnea machine and when I gave up my last grain, corn, my back pain went away. I also no longer have to take allergy medicine as my allergies have virtually disappeared.
I have also become somewhat of a "change agent" because people are so curious about how I did it. My wife has embraced the changes when she was ready to and has lost about 25 pounds since the start of the year. Coworkers and friends have also adopted some of my changes.
Twitter has been a big part of my success by constantly helping me learn new nutrition information. Some of my favorite follows are:
- Professor Tim Noakes @ProfTimNoakes
- Mark Sisson @Mark_Sisson
- Dr. Ann Childers @AnnChildersMD
- Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt @DietDoctor1
- Jimmy Moore @livinlowcarbman
- Dr. Chris Kresser @chriskresser
- Sam Feltham @samfeltham
- I can be found @natureboyrr
The sharing of information, studies, and discoveries has been very illuminating as for the first time in my life I wasn’t blindly trying to lose weight or blindly following mainstream advice. Instead I was following advice that made the most sense to me and that was backed up by real life success stories.
In fact, governments and medical researchers, if they choose to solve our health problems, would be wise to ask why there is such a flood of success stories from people rejecting the current low-fat high-carb industrial vegetable oil fad and instead succeeding by eating in ways that humans have eaten for generations and remained healthy.
I still have some weight to lose but I have already far exceeded my expectations. And everything is better. I am no longer hungry. I love the food I eat. I have many times the energy I ever remember having. I move with ease and I am completely pain free and haven’t gotten sick in over six months. My daughter and wife have a happy, engaged father and husband, who is in the best physical and mental shape of his life.
I accomplished this without a trainer, gym, supplements of any kind, or calorie counting. I achieved a transformation of my body and health with an open mind to relearning nutrition from the beginning, motivation, the ‘wisdom of the Internet’, a pair of running shoes, and a new WOE focused on whole foods, eliminating grains and vegetable oils, and plenty of good fats. I believe anyone else can do the same.