A diet most doctors and even the government frowns upon helped Jimmy Moore lose 180 pounds in one year and keep it off for the last nine years.
Success stories like Moore’s are why this diet is gaining in popularity among doctors who can’t argue with the positive results.
Moore grew up an overweight child and put on even more pounds in college. After marrying, he ballooned to 410 pounds.
‘I Was a Mess’
“I was wearing size 62-inch waist pants, I was wearing 5XL shirts, I was on three prescription medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, breathing problems,” he confesses. “I was a mess.”
His wife, Christine, was concerned that Moore’s weight would send him to an early grave. But she was powerless to stop his poor eating habits.
So she gave it to God.
“I was scared because I didn’t want to be without him, and I loved him so much. So it took God taking control of the situation, and it’s been wonderful,” she says.
Moore said God led him to give up carbohydrates—and the pounds melted away.
“And the big thing," he adds, "[I] came off the cholesterol lowering medication, came off the blood pressure medication, came off the breathing medication, all within six or eight months.”
Moore is not alone.
Dr. Eric Westman, a nationally renowned obesity expert, heads up the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic. When his patients follow Moore’s diet, they lose weight and don’t need their medicine any longer.
For example, Lynne Daniel Ivey lost 185 pounds following Dr. Westman’s advice. Ivey outlines her life-long struggle with weight and how she ultimately found victory on her website.
“Here at Duke, we use mainly the low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat diabetes and obesity,” Westman explains. “And all the other problems that come with obesity—hypertension gets better, heartburn gets better, fatty liver, the list goes on and on.”
Key to Burning Fat
Carbohydrates give us energy. When we eat more carbohydrates than our body’s energy requirements demand, those extra carbs are turned into body fat.
Body fat is simply fat that is being stored for later use. When we eat fewer carbohydrates than our energy needs require, such as in times of famine, our body gets its energy by burning the stored body fat.
Westman points out that Americans are good at storing the fat. The only problem is, there is such an abundance of food that we never have the need to use that fat.
“I went to the mall, and there was a gentleman,” he says. “I calculated he could live for a year without eating, he was carrying around so much extra energy. We look at that, it’s fat, but it’s just extra energy.”
The good news is we don’t have to go without food to burn the stored body fat. We just have to go without carbohydrates.
Westman recommends keeping carbs down to about 20 grams a day. That’s not much. A cupcake is already too high; it has 26 grams of carbohydrates.
But carbohydrates aren’t just desserts. They include whole grains and fruit. For example, a piece of whole wheat bread has 20 grams of carbohydrates, and one banana has 27.
“I separate out fruits and vegetables,” Westman explains. “I’ll never say them in the same sentence. Fruits are high in sugar. Vegetables have much less sugar.”
“So we want people to have vegetables,” he says. “Fruits are an 'every now and again' treat, like candy or something that you wouldn’t have every day.”
Curing the Carb Craving
The key to giving up carbohydrates is replacing them with some protein and a lot of fat. That includes monounsaturated fats like nuts, avocados, salmon and olive oil.
It also includes saturated fats like eggs, cheese, butter, coconut oil and bacon. However, stay away from vegetable oils, also known as omega-6 fats, and steer clear of trans fats, both of which cause inflammation.
Moore says that like many Americans, he couldn’t imagine living without carbohydrates. But he says eating fat cured those carb cravings.
“Before I started, I was a carbohydrate addict,” he recalls. “I was eating two boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes a day, 16 cans of Coca-Cola a day.”
“When you feed your body those really healthy fats, you don’t get those cravings for those foods any more. I know it’s hard to believe,” he says.
Don’t Fear the Fat
Many doctors, and even the government, tell us to avoid saturated fat because they say it causes heart disease. But Westman joins a growing number of physicians who say saturated fat is good for you.
“I tell my patients not to fear the fat. Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There’s no problem with fat,” he says. “In fact, saturated fat, the fat that we’ve been taught not to eat, raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat.”
Not only is saturated fat the optimal fuel for your brain, but it also provides building blocks for cell membranes, hormones and hormone-like substances.
- It acts as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
- It is required for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A and for mineral absorption.
- It acts as an antiviral agent.
- It modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer.
In their new book, Cholesterol Clarity, Westman and Moore explain why we need to rethink what we’ve learned about fat and carbs. They point to new scientific evidence showing inflammation as the main cause of heart disease and other problems.
Inflammation comes from eating too many carbohydrates, not from high cholesterol.
“Knowing your total cholesterol is like knowing the end of a baseball game is 25,” Moore says.
The book goes further, explaining that some cholesterol can be good for you. HDL cholesterol is good, as well as some LDL cholesterol, but only the large, fluffy particles, known as Pattern A.
On the other hand, the small, dense LDL cholesterol, known as Pattern B, does indeed cause heart disease. Those small, dense LDL particles come from eating a diet that’s high in not saturated fat but carbohydrates.
Most people get blood work at their doctor’s office that reveals their HDL and their LDL cholesterol levels. The problem with that is that knowing your total LDL number is not helpful. You need to know the number of your small, dense particles.
Fortunately, you can know, and it’s easy. You just have to ask.
Tell your doctor you would like to have the NMR lipoprofile test. That test gives you the total LDL number and also how many small particles you have.
You want the small particles to be 20 percent or less of the total LDL. It’s easy to get, and all major labs offer it, including LabCorp and Quest.
Most insurance policies cover the test as well. Best of all, even if your doctor were to refuse to order it, you can order it yourself via a third-party like Direct Labs, or you can order the test online and get blood drawn locally.
The Right Tests
What if your number of small, dense LDL particles is greater than 20 percent of your total LDL number? You need to make changes in your diet.
Remember, those small dense particles are caused by eating too many carbohydrates, trans fats, and industrialized omega-6 fats, found in cooking oils like vegetable oil, soybean oil and corn oil. So eliminate those harmful fats, drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake, and watch those small, dense LDL particles disappear.
You will be amazed how fast it happens.
While we are on the subject of tests your doctor runs, make a note of your triglycerides and your HDL. According to recent research, a high triglycerides number combined with a low HDL number is a predictor for a very high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Your triglycerides should ideally be under 100 and optimally under 70. Your HDL cholesterol should ideally be over 50 and optimally over 70.
Consume less carbohydrates in your diet to drop your triglycerides enough and eat more fat, especially saturated fat, to raise HDL.
High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP for short) is a simple blood test any doctor can have run to measure for inflammation. Your target for this one is under 1.0.
If you feel your doctor is not right for you because he or she is against a low-carb diet, here is a list of 300 doctors who are in favor of such an approach: List of Low-Carb Doctors.
Moore is living proof that a diet low in carbs but high in saturated fat is good for the heart.
“I had a heart scan score, where they just do a CT of your heart to see if there’s any calcified plaque in there. Zero. None. Eighty-five percent fat in my diet and no clogged arteries,” he says.
A low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is controversial among doctors and goes against conventional wisdom. But a growing number of doctors say success stories like Moore’s are making them take a closer look at how a low-carb, high-fat diet might help their obese patients.
Jimmy sums it up by saying, “All those years that I was dealing with the obesity, I knew God was hearing my prayer and that some day I was going to find the answer that was right for me. And I have. And now I’m trying to share that with other people and be an encouragement to them.”