My Sunday With The Low Carb Mafia

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (doctors specializing in weight loss) annual conference was held in Baltimore last week. Excitingly, the last two days, Saturday and Sunday, consisted of a symposium presented by the Nutrition and Metabolism Society, covering many aspects of the benefits of low carbohydrate nutrition. Some of the biggest names in the field presented talks, including Dr. Eric Westman, Jeff Volek, PhD, Dr. Stephen Phinney, Dr. Mary Vernon, Dr. Eugene Fine, Richard Feinman, PhD, and Dr. Eric Kossoff. Topics ranged from ketoadaptation and physiology, to the effects of ketogenic diets on cancer, to the use of ketogenic diets to treat metabolic disorders, and even ketogenic diets in the treatment of epilepsy.

I would not have missed this for anything less than my mother's memorial service. However, my mother's memorial service was exactly what was scheduled for Saturday. Since it was held in New Jersey, about three hours from Baltimore, we planned to drive down Saturday evening, so I could catch the second day of the symposium. I was going to see three of the presentations, plus the panel Q&A.

But, as the old saying goes, man proposes, God disposes. This was the weekend my sleep disorder decided to kick in, in high gear. I slept not at all Friday night, and got through the memorial service on emotion. I figured that we'd get to the hotel by 9 pm or so, and I'd have plenty of time to get some sleep before the first session at 8 am. Hah. Once again, wide awake. TNBIM, bless his heart, woke up around 3, realized I was near tears, and went all the way to the hotel garage for the Unisom I knew was there. I got to sleep around 4 am, and there was simply no way I was getting up for the 8 am session.

So I saw the presentation about ketogenic diets for epilepsy, which was very interesting, but not really apropos of this blog. I also saw the panel Q&A, in which some interesting points were made. In particular, one doctor asked about nausea on a ketogenic diet, and the consensus was that it was generally caused by the fat fraction of the diet coming from omega-6-rich vegetable oils.

Steve Phinney had a fascinating story about testing the various fats on himself. He actually intubated himself -- ran a nasogastric feeding tube. He then ate very lean meat for his protein, and added 1500 calories per day of fat through the tube -- either omega-6-rich soy and/or corn oil, or olive oil. He found that the soy and corn oil nauseated him, but he felt fine getting most of his calories from olive oil. He repeated the experiment without the tube, getting his fat calories by eating butter. Again, he felt fine.

Another question pertinent to us regarded plateaus. The feeling among the panel was that plateaus simply happen, that sometimes they're inexplicable, but the first place to look is at any stray carbs that may have snuck in to the diet. Too, there was agreement that often there will be a plateau while inches continue to disappear -- and then a sudden five-or-more-pound weight loss overnight. (I've seen this referred to as "the whoosh" or even "a visit from The Whoosh Fairy.")

I got to say hi to some folks I really, really like -- I hadn't seen Dr. Westman since the cruise two years ago, and he's a super nice guy. I saw Fred Hahn, Laurie Cagnassola, director of the Nutrition and Metabolism Society, Jackie Eberstein, Dr. Mary Vernon, and Dr.Andreas Eenfeldt, Sweden's super-star low carb doctor.. (You can translate his blog with any of the popular translation sites; Babelfish does fine.)

And of course, I saw Jimmy and Christine Moore -- not only saw them, but had lunch with them and a group of low carbers at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian-style steakhouse. I'll write about that tomorrow; it's time to head toward bed. But I'll say, before I head off to brush my teeth, that despite missing much of the symposium, I'm very glad I went. It's a community I cherish, full of people who are warm and kind and dedicated, and who glow with intelligence and conviction.

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