Back in 2015, I was overweight, tired and depressed. I craved sleep throughout the day. I tried to exercise, but couldn’t keep it up. I was absent-minded. I had lost my libido. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I was stuck.
I’m not someone who reaches out for help easily. But I went to see my doctor a couple of times that year. He deemed me physically healthy, a little heavy. Next step: mental health.
I saw a psychologist for a while. Went back to being tired. Tried more exercise. Tried more sleep. Saw another psychologist. No help. Nothing changed. Was I deemed to live that life, and just accept that this was the state of things?
Now, almost four years later, I feel truly great. Energized. Happy. Rested (if I don’t spend too much time on Medium before bed). I actually get up at 6:10 AM, and when I’m in the shower, I look forward to my day. That, to me, was unthinkable four years ago.
What did I change? I started eating fat. A lot of it. Actually, I eat so much fat that I have eaten more than twice my own bodyweight in fat over the last three years.
165 kg of fat in total. That’s almost a full pack of butter each day.
Conventional wisdom (and parents, friends and random people you meet at the bar) say this can’t be good. So here are my lab results.
ESR stands for erythrocyte sedimentation rate and basically is the rate at which your red blood cells settle at the bottom of a test tube, measured in millimeters per hour.
Higher values indicate inflammation or infections. So, lower values are better. My score of 2.0 is very low. Conclusion: not dying.
Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that is responsible for oxygen transportation. In endurance sports, blood doping is aimed at increasing this value so that the athlete’s blood can carry more oxygen to the muscles and lungs.
Very high hemoglobin levels are usually a bad thing because they’re often caused by low oxygen levels, which are in turn caused by heavy smoking, COPD or dehydration. I don’t smoke and drink enough water.
Hematocrit levels show how many red blood cells there are relative to the total volume of blood. Values above 0.5 are most likely to indicate dehydration.
Within the safe range, higher values indicate greater fitness. So, 0.48 is pretty high, indicating I am quite fit. Hooray.
Glucose levels are tightly coupled to cholesterol. The higher your glucose levels, the more chance you have that the glucose molecules will stick to the cholesterol molecules, making it harder for your liver to dispose of the latter.
At 5.0, I’m safe.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance the body needs for many processes, including building cells and certain hormones. Science is not out exactly on cholesterol yet — much research is being conducted and needed to further understand how cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides cooperate. Also, high cholesterol is only a cause of concern when your RSE rates are high as well, which in my case, were very low.
The next two values, LDL and HDL, are actually not types of cholesterol but are transporters of cholesterol.
LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoprotein and is quite often vilified as being the cause of cardiovascular disease, however, research shows that this might not be the complete truth. Nevertheless, LDL is a slow-moving molecule that is more vulnerable to oxidization by free radicals than HDL is.
HDL stands for High-Density Lipoprotein. In addition to transporting cholesterol around the body, it collects cholesterol that is not being used by cells and brings them back to the liver to be recycled or destroyed.
My values of HDL and LDL are just in the safe zone, however, I should try to lower my LDL levels by incorporating more healthy fats, and less mechanically processed (heated) vegetable oils in my diet.
Triglycerides are basically fat particles in the blood. Lower is better. It’s ironic that, while eating so much fat, the amount of actual fat in the blood is low.
Ironic, but scientifically completely logical, by the way.
My values of 1.3 are pretty good, but as I should try to eat less mechanically processed vegetable oils and more healthy fats like cold pressed oils, grass-fed beef, raw nuts, certain cheeses and certain types of wild-caught fatty fish.
Natrium (or sodium) is important in maintaining proper hydration throughout the body. My value of 142 micromoles per liter is perfectly fine.
When you eat a lot of fat and very little carbohydrates as I do, your muscles retain less water. This water loss means you also lose some of your sodium stores. I take occasional electrolyte supplements to compensate for this.
Potassium is an important electrolyte, essential to good hydration. High levels can indicate kidney problems, low levels are often caused by malnourishment.
My value of 4.3 is right in the middle of the safe zone. The electrolyte supplement mentioned earlier also contains potassium.
Creatinine is a waste molecule created by muscle metabolism. It is transported by the blood to the kidneys, where it is broken down. Higher levels indicate impaired kidney function. Lower levels might indicate some types of muscle disease.
ALAT levels in international units per liter每升国际单位的ALAT水平
Alanine Transaminase is an enzyme that is mainly present in the liver, but also in the kidneys, heart, and muscles. Higher levels can indicate leakage from the liver caused by diseases or alcohol abuse.
At 20, my liver is doing fine.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone is an indicator for, well, your thyroid function. Nothing to worry about here.
Mean Corpuscular Volume is the average size of your red blood cells. This value can help determine the cause of anemia, which can, for instance, be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency, alcohol abuse or iron deficiency.
I am healthy. In fact, my health is quite a bit above average.
How can this be? How can I eat over 70% of my daily caloric intake from fat, and still be healthier than most people who don’t?
I don’t exercise excessively. I have a sedentary job. I don’t use any drugs. I am not a former athlete, Navy SEAL or whatnot. I’m just a 32-year-old guy.
And what does this say about the saying “You are what you eat”? I literally ate twice my own bodyweight in fat in just under three years. Am I fat? Not at all. My current weight is 78.5 kg at 180cm in length (173 lb at 5"11).
Turns out, conventional wisdom on diet is outdated and just plain wrong. But that’s the thing about conventional wisdom: it sticks. So our doctors tell us things that are not true.
They tell us that we should eat more whole grains. Eat six small meals a day. Don’t eat high-fat foods. And not only doctors — many, many dieticians, too, spread old, outdated knowledge.
Some call it lies. I call it ignorance. Whichever the case, the fact remains — many people can identify with how I felt three years ago. Overweight, tired and depressed. And most of them can change this, simply by changing what they eat.
Step one? Read, and reach out to the people actively talking and writing about this change.
Anything to add?
I am no doctor 🥼. Nor am I a dietician or a scientist 🧪🔬. If you are, I’d love to hear your professional opinion!
If you’re not, I’d still love to hear what you think. Can you relate to how I felt before changing my diet? Or do you have any other questions or remarks? Let me know below ⬇️
I took the test through a Dutch website called testjegezondheid.nl, which appears to be a (sub)brand of Check-U.
Yes, my diet is called a ketogenic diet. This is not new. However, this story is about what eating all of that fat did to my body, not about discussing diets and diet trends. I therefore consciously chose not to emphasize the ketogenic diet in this story.