Paleo Diet: The Proof Is In The Blood Tests

11 Nov
Time For My Annual Physical

Time For My Annual Physical

Because I love my wife and want to spend many more years with her I go to my doctor every November for my annual physical. About a week before the physical I go to a lab to get blood drawn (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, and Hemogram). The health care group I use is fairly sophisticated so I can see the results of the blood work less than 24 hours after the blood was drawn. If you ever wondered how a Paleo Diet would impact your health I can sum it up in one word: fantastic!

You’ve probably read articles or blog posts from people who claimed that the Paleo Diet caused them to lose weight, gain energy and give them a general feeling of awesomeness—but this is just anecdotal evidence and it doesn’t do much for me. I live in a world of facts. Many diet programs lead to weight loss, but often at the expense of overall health. The placebo effect easily explains the “increased energy” that many people claim comes for their new diet plan. I’ve been on the Paleo Diet for a little over three months and, yes, I have experienced weight loss, increased energy and a significant decrease in recovery time after strenuous exercise—but what impresses me the most are the results of my blood tests!

Before I explain the results I need to set the stage first. Thirteen years ago I was a morbidly obese workaholic and was experiencing more health problems than time would allow me explain here. The doctor I had at the time was a nice guy, but he was content to load me up with prescription drugs and send me on my way. Somehow I came across of copy of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution and it changed my life! I took up cycling, weight lifting and kayaking—and in just a few months I dropped most of my excess weight (and also dropped most of the prescriptions). As I became an endurance athlete I started eating healthier foods and have basically followed the Atkins’ Diet until three months ago.

Switching from the Atkins’ Diet to the Paleo Diet was not a problem at all—basically I just had to give up dairy products and cereal grains. The surgeon who repaired my esophagus back in June had already told me I needed to give up dairy products, and I’ve always felt uncomfortable after eating cereal grains anyway. So, switching to the Paleo Diet was easy.

In the past few months on the Paleo Diet I’ve eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with red meat, fish, turkey, chicken, sausage and bacon (mmm…bacon). In fact, about one-third of my calories now come from fats and protein. So, you have to wonder, what did eating all that meat do to my blood work? Drum roll please… not only did my cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop, but so did my fasting blood sugar level! None of these things were a problem with me before, but the point is that the numbers got even better on the Paleo Diet!

In the spirit of full disclosure I believe that the testing of cholesterol levels is probably the most worthless thing your doctor does (well, except for hanging up that stupid “Food Pyramid” chart in the waiting room). As a group physicians are among the brightest people in the country—but, in general, what they don’t know about nutrition could fill volumes! If your doctor wants to measure something that really impacts your health have them check your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a common amino acid—high homocysteine levels lead to vascular inflammation and is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, and folate (more about this in a future article).


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28 responses to “Paleo Diet: The Proof Is In The Blood Tests

  1. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    November 11, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    1) I did buy the book to read at my leisure about homocysteine that you mentioned to me. 2) Congratulations on your health. 3) I’m sorry about your esophagus.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      I can’t wait to hear what you think about that book! (Really want to know). As for my esophagus — a long journey to find a simple problem. Last spring I started having chest pain and difficulty breathing and assumed it was my asthma acting up (even though it has been very well controlled for years). I finally went to my family practice doctor, then an internist, a cardiologist, pulmonologist, allergist, and finally a gastroenterologist (thank goodness Obamacare wasn’t in full force then). Turns out I had small growth on the lower esophageal sphincter which was removed in surgery. However, the growth had allowed the lower esophageal sphincter to stay open and the effect was about the same as GERD. I am not sure what they told you in medical school about this, but aspiration of the stomach contents into the lungs is not nearly as much fun as you might think it would be.

      My problem was compounded by the fact I use to abuse caffeine (I drank strong tea with extra lemon from the time I got up till bedtime). I am now caffeine-free and I’ve had a full recovery.

      • Lisa Shaw

        November 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        I remember that you were struggling with a mysterious ailment awhile back. I’m so glad to hear you found the solution for it. Your story is inspiring! Good health is our greatest (perhaps only) wealth.

      • thehomeschoolingdoctor

        November 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        You must have been very tired of doctors after that experience. So sorry. I assume the growth was benigh? — I cannot wait to read the book. It’s fun treating all of this like a puzzle.—Aspiration of gastric contents=BAD. Did learn that!—Is your GERD all gone? My husband has had severe GERD (I sure do hope not a nodule on his LES–he wouldn’t go get an EGD), but with our new eating, he is tapering slowly off of any reflux meds. I will be happy when I can say our changes “cured” his GERD (and I won’t sit around wondering if he still needs an EGD). –Take care.

        • All Seasons Cyclist

          November 12, 2013 at 5:39 PM

          I really didn’t mind seeing all the doctors — they were all very nice and professional. In fact, I was happy to see each of them! It had been many years since my last cardiac stress test and the cardiologist said my heart looks like that of a college athlete (thanks to thousands of miles of cycling). A couple of the other doctors ordered tests to rule out autoimmune diseases — this was fine as well since a lot of my relatives suffer from some rather rather AI disorders — the tests were all negative and thus they answered a few questions I’ve had over the years! The trip to the allergist was also worthwhile (even though I hate needles). Come to find out I do not have allergies — even though I’ve been treated for them for 20 years! As for the GERD: I apparently have recovered, but still have an appointment with the gastroenterologist to confirm it. Changing to the Paleo Diet has helped a lot.

          One other note you might find interesting: I’ve been treated for eczema for over a dozen years. My condition improved a lot when I started taking fish oil a few years ago. However, after six weeks on the Paelo Diet the eczema totally disappeared! I imagine this problem was related to cereal grains which I dropped when I started the diet.

  2. Holli

    November 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    What an amazing story you have! I haven’t been following the Paleo diet exactly but enjoy the recipes I’ve made and really like the idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Most of the Paleo recipes are fairly easy to make (though my wife has to help me with some of them). Simple ingredients can pack a lot of flavor!

  3. woolerwheel

    November 12, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    Interesting! I’ve gone over to Paleo, and love it but haven’t had any medical evidence to back up how it is working. I just know how much better I feel. It’s not an easy lifestyle sell though!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Go to you doctor and get the blood work done! Let’s face it, an annual physical can put your mind at ease.

  4. woolerwheel

    November 12, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    Reblogged this on woolerwheel.

    • Gear for Girls

      November 20, 2013 at 5:23 AM

      A staff member her @ Gear for Girls just about to embark on it.. watch this space!

  5. Charles Huss

    November 12, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    I’m glad you are doing well and I totally agree with you about doctors. That is part of the reason that did not visit a doctor for ten years. I started really learning about health over six years ago and while I did not hear the term paleo diet until a couple of years ago, I have been following the basic concept for quite some time. Whenever I hear about something that is supposedly healthy, I ask myself if our pre-historic ancestors did that.

    I currently eat raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds during the day while at work and then eat a less healthy dinner because my wife is not as willing to give up the Standard American Diet (SAD) as I am, although she has made some progress.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      The SAD diet is killing us! It appears that about 80% to 90% of our health problems are directly related to diet and lifestyle — which means we have control if we want to live longer!

      • Charles Huss

        November 12, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        I agree. My dad died at 59 and I am sure his diet was responsible.

  6. Art Brûlant

    November 12, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Interesting post. I haven’t had the blood work as you, but can attest to the energy, recovery after exercise, etc. Though I must admit I am not following a paleo diet. I just finished reading “Grain Brain” by Perlmutter and the diet he recommends is very similar. His take on cholesterol is refreshing! This type of post is encouraging. Thank you.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      The recovery after exercise is a big thing for me! Dropping cereal grains has proven to be a major improvement in my life!

  7. Otto

    November 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I’m curious about my blood work. I recently had a test done. My issue is blood pressure and while not totally out of control, I really have to watch it. I just found out that sugar causes a significant rise in blood pressure as well. So this fits the bill.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      No promises, but I imagine that the Paleo Diet would help your high blood pressure a LOT. The more I read about the impact of sugar on the human body the more I try to eliminate it from my life.

  8. Gwen Stephens

    November 12, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    I completely agree with the message in your closing paragraph — doctors are not there to advise patients on nutrition. The same could be said for exercise, I suppose. Doctors treat illness and/or disease. My cousin was a family practice physician before changing specialties, and he confessed to me that he’d taken exactly *one* class in nutrition in all his years of schooling! Incidentally, I also took a nutrition class as an undergrad elective, so I suppose by that standard we’re equally qualified to give advice on diet. My husband also had great success on the Atkins diet. He’s currently about 20 pounds over his ideal weight — definitely not obese, but likely overweight. Maybe I should ask him to look into the Paleo diet. He’d love that bacon part! 😉

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 16, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      If your cousin had one class in nutrition he was ahead of some doctors I know (and NO offense is intended towards any physician). I live in the Chicago area and am in contact with a lot of young people in Med School (there are a lot to choose from in this area). I always ask them about how much training they’ve received in nutrition, and the usual answer is “just a few hours, and that was mainly about malnutrition.”

  9. PinkieB

    November 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Hey All Seasons,

    I read a lot about miracle diets and how they help solve all of these problems that prescription drugs fail to solve. First: congrats on taking control! Second: I can’t help but wonder if the difference is perhaps no more than the difference between processed chemical warfare in your mouth, and real, actual food.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 14, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      I do believe that a lot of the improvements in my health have been due to the elimination of chemically altered foods and preservatives and artificial sweeteners. However, I don’t think those items have a great impact on cholesterol or triglycerides. Also, the elimination of caffeine helps me sleep a lot better!

  10. KB

    November 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Doctors are actually “Doctors of medicine” … which explains it all.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 16, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Medical doctors have saved my life in the past, so I have nothing bad to say about their profession! However, I go to doctors for “medical” advice, not “nutritional” advice.


    November 16, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Glad you are healthy! (No big surprise there.) And I agree – doctors know how to fix problems with medicine but not prevent those same problems by a healthy diet.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      The longer I live the more convinced I am of the simple truth that a healthy diet is the best medicine!

  12. MarathoningMom

    November 17, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    We recently moved to real food ( minimally processed) so far we r loving it. Keep up the great progress

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      Great move! As we say at our house, “If it comes in a cardboard box it’s not food meant for human consumption.”


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