Monday, March 08, 2021

The Great Protein Swap

Hi Dr P-----,

Thanks so much! I'm afraid there's nothing mysterious about my cholesterol numbers edging up this year :-)

I propose seeing what I can do with diet and exercise, first, and seeing if I can get that total chol/HDL ratio at least back down to 5 by June. I'm not dead set against taking statins, but I want to at least put up a fight. I'm pretty clear about what I need to do.

Can we plan on another lipid panel in June, and go from there?


The great protein swap begins tonight, with ground turkey (thanks Am!) instead of burger and ice cream. I reckon 150 grams of Turkey about equals the calories of 100 grams of burger, and 50 more grams would about match the ice cream. We’ll see how much I actually want, but certainly 200 grams would be a plausible place to start. 

And salt tracking started last night. I’d be very surprised if limiting salt had any effect on the cholesterol -- it really shouldn’t -- but it might have an effect on the blood pressure, which would in turn affect the results of Dr P’s risk calculator. And it’s just been hanging, for a long time, and I’m tired of it being an issue out in the offing. Anyway, this is just to get a starting read on how much I’m actually adding to my food at the moment (not counting the salt already in the lunch soups, which should be, I dunno, less than 1/3 of a teaspoon per serving, probably a lot less; also not counting the salt I throw into the oatmeal, which is about 1/4 teaspoon.) If you don’t know your starting numbers, you don’t know anything.

The other big question in the offing is fasting. I’ve got a book on hold at the library, about fasting and autophagy -- The Switch, by James Clement -- and decide how I’m going to start fasting after that.

[Evening] Well, the turkey (150 grams) was not what I expected. I doubled (at a rough guess) the olive oil, making perhaps a four inch pool rather than 2 ½ - 3 -inch, and ended up crumbling the turkey, and it drank every bit of the oil. So rather than having potatoes saturated with oil, I had very tasty turkey and dry potatoes. The combination was pleasing and I in no way felt deprived: but the turkey was so tasty that I must remember to examine its label carefully. Did they sneak some sugar into it? [ans: no. Turkey and Rosemary extract.] By the reckoning on the package, the turkey calories will have been 210, which should be less, even with the extra oil, than the 100 grams of hamburger and ¼ cup of ice cream. So I would call this part of the project a grand success. Whether it has any impact on my waistline or lipid numbers, of course, we won’t know for some time. Tomorrow will be canned fish, of one sort or another -- I bought four different sorts -- and some olive oil drizzled on the potatoes.

So far I'm not missing the ice cream at all: that's encouraging. That was the last refined sugar in my diet.

Meanwhile, I have introduced a second daily walk, which I'm gradually going to increase until it's the same length as my first daily walk. (Gradually, because last time I kicked up my walking distance rapidly my knee objected strongly.) So far so good, with that. My main exercise is still resistance training, mostly bodyweight. I have to be very prudent about how I stress my knees and my lumbar spine. I am not a big fan of cardio, either by preference or by theory, but 15 or 20 minutes a day was really not enough. And I like what having a walk on either side of my afternoon siesta does to my mental clarity. I might start tying the walks to waking from sleep, come to think of it. That's an idea.


am said...

Your ongoing process intrigues me with its combination of science, common sense, and what I perceive as intuition. Good to know that your first experiment with ground turkey worked out. Olive oil and turkey are great together, aren't they? I agree that turkey, potatoes and a generous amount of olive oil are incredibly delicious and satisfying.

Coincidentally, one of my DNA cousins on 23andMe, in his 70s, recently mentioned something he practices called 18-6 fasting, which I wouldn't have thought was fasting and had never heard of before. Oddly enough, that is what I have been doing unconsciously because if I eat outside a 6-hour window, it interferes with my ability to do my yoga practice in the afternoon. Yoga in the first hours after a meal isn't an option and, besides, I don't sleep well until hours after eating. Walking after a meal is a good option for me in the morning.

During the winter months, my time spent walking drops sharply as does my sense of well-being. March can be a rough month emotionally but April through November are great walking months here in the Pacific Northwest.

Dale said...

Interesting! Yeah, I'm doing some reading now about fasting. Lots of interesting speculation, not a lot of data, so far :-)

Sabine said...

AM is mentioning interval/intermittent fasting which got some good press re diabetes and CVD a few years ago but also no hard evidence (yet?) regarding long term weight loss.
Check here:
and here:

What I find amazing is that you seem to be happy to stick to the same food stuffs day in and out. That would drive me mad and sad! Where's the love in this approach?
Maybe it's because we grow food, not all but lots, and have both been raised in families and cultures that were at the time of our childhood dependent on seasons and farm supplies rather than stocked frozen food sections in supermarkets.
Eating seasonal vegetable/fruit is probably the one guiding rule in this household and it's what makes cooking and eating such great fun. In terms of nutrients I see no great difference whether I make a dish with celeriac and/or fennel, grown down the road from me in February or broccoli harvested in December from our garden or fresh sweet peas and tomatoes picked just before a meal in June.

Have you considered cycling as an alternative to walking?

Dale said...


I just find it SO much easier to plan and prepare food when it's the same thing every day. And so much easier to not overeat. My wife, too, says it's a huge load of anxiety off her shoulders. The question of "what are we going to eat?" no longer hangs over us.

(Cue Tina Turner: "what's love got to do, got to do with it...")

I guess our former relationship with food was so bad, that this seems good by contrast. I still love eating: I look forward to every meal.

I used to cycle to work, which I loved, but then we moved further from downtown and ride was a bit too far for me: it also began to seem riskier to me, as my eyesight, hearing, and reflexes declined. I'm increasingly averse to being in situations where one wrong split-second decision can get me killed, and every bike ride has several of those.