loading up on fat: health update

I started in January, when I wrote this post about diets and habits. I went sugar-free and high-fat. We’re now in October, and I’m still a high-fat lover. I’m down 34 lbs. since January. What’s more, I got on a fancy scale at my doctor’s office and in that time I’ve lost exactly 0 lbs. of muscle. It was pure fat. And, it’s been easy.

Sour cream, bacon, butter, ghee, heavy cream, oozy cheese, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, lard loving bliss. “Omg, that’s so unhealthy!” Saturated fat isn’t the devil it’s made out to be. And you know what fat-free means? It means, tons of chemicals and sugar. Fat is unhealthy if you’re consuming it with sugar (think donuts) but I can healthfully enjoy all of these fatty things now without counting.

Hell, no. I never look at calories. To be fair, when I began, I tracked every single morsel to ensure that I was eating 30g of net carbs a day, or less. Net carb? Take the total carbs and subtract the fiber and you’re left with net carbs. I never look at calories.

The other night I devoured chicken thighs smothered in melted cheddar, guacamole, and sour cream. Thighs stuffed with smoked gouda and bacon. BLT “sandwiches” with basil mayonnaise. Granted, the tomato slices were thin, and I went without bread, but I was in mad crazy food love. Out to dinner? I ordered the cheeseburger with bacon, avocado, and mayo—no bun. Caesar salad, no croutons. I feel no deprivation. I just love it! Oh, and bring on the deep fried wings with parmesan garlic sauce.

When I’m craving sweets, I pour strawberries and blueberries into a saucepan, heat them with Swerve and cook them down into a bursting bowl of berry bliss. Top ’em with fresh cinnamon whipped cream I make in minutes. Holy crap I cannot believe how good life is. I don’t have to suffer! Heavy cream has no carbs. Milk, on the other hand, is a nay.

Habit: I used to look forward to dessert every night, in bed, with our shows. Phil with his Oreo’s dipped in milk. Me with cheesecake. Then I fell in love with Tea and heavy cream. New habit locked in.

“All that fat can’t be good for you.” High cholesterol runs in my family. My mother is very active and physically fit. Naturally thin, but she has high cholesterol. Her mother did, too. I was obviously concerned about what this diet would do to my cholesterol given that I eat so much saturated fat! And as it is, I have high cholesterol, and everything you see says to avoid saturated fat! I did some research and learned that a regular lipid profile, standard cholesterol test, doesn’t give you the full story.

What matters most in terms of predictors of cardiovascular disease, is the overall number of LDL particles (LDL-P) but also the particle size of your cholesterol carriers. That’s right. Size matters, boys. You can have low cholesterol, low “bad cholesterol,” think your cholesterol is normal and still have elevated LDL-P. LDL-P is the number that matters.

Within the LDL-C “bad cholesterol” category, there are nice large buoyant fluffy particles that slip and slide here, there, and everywhere, and then there are the evil, small dense particles which are bad news bears. “Studies show that people whose LDL particles are predominantly small and dense, have a threefold greater risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, the large and fluffy type of LDL may be protective.” I needed to know where I stood in the small dense particle world, so I asked my doctor for an NMR test in March.

I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on TV, not even a nurse in the bedroom. Don’t take my advice without first checking with your doctor. I’m only putting out there what has worked for me. I don’t think most traditional doctors are up to speed on this stuff. So, when my annual comes along, I’m sure to ask for what I want.

When testing your cholesterol, always ask for the NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) Lipid Profile (LabCorp) or Cardio IQ Lipoprotein Fractionation (Ion Mobility) test (Quest Diagnostics). “Bad cholesterol” numbers don’t tell you the full story.  Ask that insulin, not just blood sugar, gets measured. Hemoglobin A1c: Anything over 5.6% is high. Just measuring your fasting blood sugar is not enough to detect early problems. Mine was 5.4% (4.0-5.6 normal).

According to my lab (LabCorp), total particle number (LDL-P):

Low < 1000
Moderate 1000 – 1299
Borderline High 1300-1599
High 1600-2000
Very High > 2000

I’m presently a Madonna song, in the borderline zone, at 1498. It’s not ideal, but neither is being 40 lbs. overweight. My blood results from March to October:

LDL-P went from 2024 –> 1498
LDL-C went from 156 –> 147 (aka “Bad cholesterol” )
HDL-C went from 59 –> 59 (aka “Good cholesterol”)
Triglycerides went from 92 –> 85
NMR Total Cholesterol went from 233 –> 223
HDL-P total went from 28 –> 27.4
Small LDL-P went from 948 –> 369 mol/L These are the dangerous particles!
LP-IR Score below 25

Standard Cholesterol Test
Triglyceride went from 87 –>81
Cholesterol went from 227 –> 213
HDL went from 61 –>60
LDL went from 149 –> 137
Total/HDL Ratio: 3.6

Look at that gorgeous drop in small particles! I did nothing different. I was just dropping weight I guess. I just wanted to share this progress for my dysfunctional dieter record! I can’t believe that all my avocado olive oil eating didn’t raise my “good cholesterol.”

Also, boob apologies. I was totally taking the selfie as a record in eyebrow love.

redhead eyebrows


    1. Author

      When I started, I wanted to get the weight off STAT! And the worst part was that I was eating all this fat and the scale WOULD NOT MOVE. It took 3 weeks, and then my body finally got on board big time. But at first, it was slow going, especially without any exercise! That said, I chose not to drink then.

      Now, let’s talk adult beverages. I can now drink if I want. Everyone is different. Depending on how many carbs I’ve had that day, I can absolutely drink vodka or tequila without a problem. I also drink rum. And yes, wine. I’ve never been a beer drinker. I will also make my own berry muddled mojitos at home. But when I start a program, I start it right. Then once I know it works for me, then I figure out how to drink. Like I said, I can drink without kicking myself out of ketosis.

      I also have a cheat day once a week, or once every two weeks, where I eat whatever I want. Not joking. Like, cheesecake, key lime pie, and an ice cream sundae all in one sitting. I did this 4yth of July. Last night I made an apple pie and ate two slices. But today and all week, I will eat none. Once you learn how to be in ketosis (it takes 3 days to get into ketosis), you don’t always want to knock yourself out.

      1. I’m actually really good at going off sugar hardcore but the problem is, my body is so addicted to it that ANY cheating would send me straight back into full dizziness-craving/withdrawal-headache mode. That includes any booze, or even accidental sugar where you eat in a restaurant and you don’t realize that you’re eating something sugary. The sugar is everywhere. And I really need some occasional social drinking, it’s my last vice. Nonetheless, do share if you have any links/recos for the type of “diet” that you are following.

  1. Love this, and you! I could talk with you forever about nutrition nerdiness. I’ve had success with low-carb before, but then I entered a stressful period of my life, and it jacked with my hormones. I’m contemplating trying it again, now that life is under control, but still nervous about hormone imbalances. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you! Hope you find your way back for a TX visit one day.

    1. Author

      In all honesty, I wouldn’t know. I take estrogen (a lower dose than you’d see in birth control) and progesterone. Do I still feel like my skin is sagging and hair is thinning, yup. And I forget where I parked if I don’t try to make a mental note of it. Joy. I still don’t fall asleep easily either. Maybe I need to eat half of an avocado before bed. It doesn’t matter how hard I exercise. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. Ain’t gonna lie: Ambien is in my life. Not every night, but at least three times a week. It’s the lowest dose, 5mg. I don’t do weird shit when I’m on it.

      1. Hey Stephanie,

        Sorry this isn’t related to your new diet, but I wonder if you would mind sharing what brand of progesterone you take. I currently take Prometrium (100mg), it’s supposed to be the most natural and safe. But it’s not working for me — I think it’s too high a dose for me (100 mg is the lowest). I’d appreciate your input!

        The estradiol patch I use is Climara (0.05 mg), and that seems pretty good — no issues there.

        Oh, and by the way, BRAVO on your weight loss! :D

        1. Author

          For 10 days a month I take 1 progesterone 2oo mg capsule right before bedtime. It is stong and KNOCKS me on my ass, which I love. Cannot use if allergic to peanuts. I used to use prometrium, and it made no difference. I think the key is that it ignites a period, which sheds the lining, and copies what your body should be doing at your age.

          1. Thanks! I can’t use generic drugs, unfortunately. Just saw my ob/gyn today and contrary to what I thought, the problems I’ve been having are actually indicative of too *low* a dose of progesterone. So we’re increasing my Prometrium to the 200 mg and we’ll see what happens. {{Fingers Crossed}}

  2. Wow, 34 pounds — that’s impressive! (I’m also surprised because you always looked great, anyway!)

    Question — are there any meal plans that you followed to help you get a sense of things when you started out? Particularly ones that are aimed at people that don’t have a lot of time/energy/interest for food prep? I have two kids and a stressful, full time job, and frankly, cooking has never been something I enjoy all that much. Especially for the first few weeks, a relatively simple “plug and play” program would be awesome.

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    This may be useful info. for readers, having a blood test assigned by a homeopathic Dr., told me what not to eat. I was so tired of feeling bloated after eating different foods and tired of self analyzing, I was getting no where. Turns out I shouldn’t eat rice, corn, wheat, cow dairy, white potatoes, almonds, egg whites certain beans the list goes on. Well of course I lost 10 lbs. in a month from lack of all those carbs. I have been loving the avacado on rye toast with tomato & goat cheese and not worrying about fat. I had to pay for the blood test but it is worth it to feel so much better. These weren’t allergic foods but definitely I had a sensitivity to them. Sorry to ramble on, I enjoy reading about your life all these years!

  4. Congratulations- you look healthy AND happy.
    Can you recommend a good book to get me started on the keto lifestyle/diet? Thank you!

  5. Congratulations on finding eating strategies that work so well for you! You look all-around fabulous.
    In the past, you say you’ve lost weight when you’re least happy (divorce, Boca move). I genuinely hope that doesn’t mean you’re in an unhappy place now.

    1. Author

      So, so true! In the past I have been les miserable any time I’ve been thin. I would NOT call what I am thin right now. I’m 5’4.5″ and weigh 128 lbs. I’m fine with that number on the scale. Truth is, I don’t even care what the scale says and care much more about my body composition. I’m trying to lose fat and gain the equal amount of muscle, so the scale stays the same-ish. I’m focused on overall health, not what I look like (though that is a bonus).

      You know what it really came down to this week for me? “CHOOSE YOUR HARD.” I’m gonna write about this next, actually.

  6. May I ask, as I am interested in following this diet but cook for my partner, do Phil and the twins eat the same meals? I ask because my partner is on high blood pressure meds, I am not but I have a significant amount of weight to lose.

    Just wondering if I should plan on making one meal for myself and a different one for him?

    1. Author

      I do feed the kids the same foods. I do not “feed” Phil. He’s responsible for himself, but yes, when I cook, he eats what I make. He was wonderful the other night and made a creamy clam chowder and substituted cauliflower for potatoes. The only thing he did wrong, is that he used half-and-half (which has carbs), when I would’ve used heavy cream (which has no carbs) and thinned it out with bone broth or chicken stock. So he’s very thoughtful that way. Also, when he grills, he now knows that I choose to consume nothing with added sugar, or even sugar period. This means that a lot of his pre-made marinades never make it to my food. He’ll grill chicken wings and coat his in teriyaki, while mine will be Frank’s Red Hot sauce and melted butter. This is the greatest way to eat on the planet! I am so in love. It is so incredibly easy to follow once you realize that as long as you avoid sugar and carbs, you can enjoy, not fear, fat. It’s glorious.

      Plus I hear that sugar just feeds all the bad stuff in our system. I just went to my doctor for my annual and he said, “It absolutely works for you. You’re happy, and so is your body. Now don’t lose any more weight.” I think it’s a healthy way for anyone to eat, HOWEVER, I would absolutely suggest that he speak with his doctor, even if it’s just a quick phone call to say, hey, we want to change our lifestyle to a ketogenic eating plan and I wanted to check in first. I know that diabetics MUST check with their doctors because I don’t know that it’s appropriate for those with diabetes. A call to the doctor.

  7. Any tips for how we vegetarians (I do eat fish but not really other seafood) could do this type of diet? Congrats on the loss. I also feel much better when I do low carb.

    1. Author

      Do you do dairy? I couldn’t ever do this without dairy. There are people who do, using almond milk and coconut milk, and in lieu of butter use leaf lard and duck fat. But as a purist vegetarian, I’d imagine it would be hard. I was an ovo-lacto (yes to eggs and dairy) vegetarian for 9 years. Tofu products are a big no-no in the keto world.

  8. Hi Stephanie,
    Congrats on losing 30 3LBS. Jeesh. That is awesome!

    So this way of eating high fat, no sugar, low carbs is called the Keto Diet? Do you have a favorite site that helps determine # of carbs in veggies, beans and nuts? (I’m vegan mostly vegan, but am occasionally hypnotized by cheese)

    How do I figure out my own ideal #of net carbs/day? Again, do you have a site that you recommend?

    Okay! So excited to research this new way of measuring carbs. Thanks!

  9. Hi,
    Me again.
    I checked out this site for basics:

    Then I found this for vegans:

    I wonder if it’s a reputable source? Minus the gross tofu.
    Apparently half a cup of lentils or chick peas is 15-22g of net carbs. Jeesh.
    What a bummer, if you don’t want to eat animal flesh.

    Please share your favorite Keto sauce recipes.
    I can pretty much veganize anything.
    For example:

    Thanks again for sharing your diet success. I’d never heard of this!

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