Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are you Cold?

If you're like me and work in a climate-controlled office, a lot of your female coworkers say, "It's freezing in here!" I used to chill easily, but now I wonder what they're talking about. (No, I'm not in menopause.) I'm not running the heater in my car nearly as much as I used to, either, even when it's nighttime and in the 30s and 40s. I usually don't feel the need to.

Where is credit due here? The type of clothes I wear hasn't changed: usually slacks, a cotton shirt and a wool blazer for the office and a coat and alpaca hat and gloves outdoors. I did buy a long down coat, being inspired by my new style icon Mello (on the right) from Death Note, but it just replaced my slightly shorter down coat. I've even worn sandals and short skirts recently. Not together, though: if I'm bundled up in pants and a coat, I can wear sandals; if I'm wearing a coat and tall boots, I can wear a short skirt and save the tights for work.

What changed last winter was my diet. I'd been on Body for Life, a low-fat diet, for six years. Then I started eating a low-carb, high fat diet and soon wondered if springtime had come to Denver in February: I'd started feeling warmer. On Body for Life (the previous diet), I ate a lot of skinless, boneless chicken breast, turkey, tuna, lean ham, cottage cheese and lean beef. I had enough lean, tough meat to last me the rest of my life. On the low-carb, high fat diet, though, I started eating bacon, lamb burgers, pork chops, bacon, full-fat cheese, sour cream, bacon, chicken thighs and wings, and an occasional fish fillet or salmon patty. I believe that eating a high-fat diet made me feel warmer.

I'm not alone in thinking this. Tom Naughton recently reviewed a book called Kabloona: Among the Inuit by Gontran de Poncins, a French explorer who lived and traveled with a group of Inuit who lived a traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle in the Arctic. Naughton describes what we would today call Poncin's diet and exercise regime:

Poncins recounts running along trails with Eskimos for hours – he was fatigued and panting, while they barely seemed to notice the effort. After a year in the Arctic, Poncins finds he is beginning to prefer their diet, even though he had supplies of “white man” food on the sled carrying his belongings. As he explains in one passage, boiled rice could warm him up temporarily, but then he’d feel colder an hour or two later. By contrast, raw meat or raw fish was cold going down, but then he felt warmer for the rest of the day.

I may not be eating raw fish or raw meat, but I think I'm getting the same benefit from my high-fat diet. I've read that saturated fat raises LDL (bad cholesterol) in some people, but my lipid tests from before and after starting my new diet showed an increase in HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in calculated LDL. So if saturated fat doesn't increase LDL for you personally, it's as Mark Sisson says: there's no such thing as too much bacon.

Bacon: it keeps you from shakin'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that the body produces (more) heat when converting protein to energy calorie for calorie than when converting carbohydrates or fat.

I don't think that is the whole truth, but it may be an aspect of it. Mayhap the satiating value of fat also means somethig.

Most of us that moves from (the Norwegian equivalent of) SAD to low-carb increase the consumption of both fat and protein.