Computer guru now a proselytizer for low-carb diet
Diets have been around longer than the scales people use for weighing themselves.
From the time of early primates plucking fruits off of trees or scooping nuts off the ground, even chewing on leaves, the search for the ideal diet that might provide better health, weight control and energy has been an ongoing quest.
Dating back to the 1960s, a dietary pioneer named Euell Gibbons ventured a return to our earliest roots. His renowned publications like “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” and “Stalking the Healthful Herbs” were prominent in his advocacy for an edible plant based diet. The 1990s saw the introduction of another nutritional revolution, the Atkins Diet, based on the intake of low-carbohydrate foods, which provoked controversy in its premise that “eating more fat increases metabolism, thus burning more calories in the process.”
Other formulas for dietary success came and went as science and health professionals sought agreement on the proper mix of nutrients.
The ketogenic diet most recently has gained a solid following by those who practice it and feel they have the science and the results to back it up. A recent ketogenic festival in New London, coordinated by software developer and musician Carl Franklin of Quaker Hill, demonstrated the growing number of supporters this diet has amassed.
“I’ve struggled with weight control my entire life,” Franklin said in a recent interview at Washington Street Coffee House in New London, a two-minute walk from his combined office space and music studio on State Street. He admits to a sedentary life and that he had previously tried other diets, including the Atkins plan, but never to completion or success.
“In all fairness I have to say I made only a half-hearted attempt at the Atkins Diet,” he admitted, “because like most people I didn’t adhere to it with the necessary discipline.” Just under 6 feet and jolly, both in personality and appearance, Franklin hated the dietary restrictions.
“Like anyone else I dreaded the notion of giving up things like sweets and bread, and having to do without sugar and starch,” he said. “I figured I could follow just part of the plan while still eating whatever I wanted at times. But that’s not going to work, as I found out, and soon enough the weight came back on.”
And then, in June 2015, Franklin was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I went on the Metformin drug that suppresses the liver’s production of glucose from dietary protein,” he said. “I felt with that medication, I could keep on with my usual fast-food diet and get by OK.”
But his diabetes just got worse until a friend of Franklin’s, Mark Miller, who had developed prostate cancer, researched how a ketogenic diet could shrink cancerous tumors.
The proof, Miller explained, was in the results. Miller’s wife had also adopted the ketogenic dietary plan, but for weight loss, and found gratifying results.
“The diet accomplishes what medication cannot,” Franklin explained. “If you study the science behind the low-carb diets, you learn how to regulate what you’re eating.”
He said the initial phase is difficult as the body adapts to the slow conversion from a glucose-based food system to a fat-based food system.
“If you follow it properly, with the right amount of discipline, after roughly a five-week period, your body adapts to a process of fat-based burning of fuels,” Franklin said. “Those old cravings for what you used to eat go away as your body accepts attractive substitutes.”
Franklin explains that this process is thoroughly and credibly documented in a 1990s publication, “The Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living,” by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney.
“My own doctor said she has never before seen anyone make a low-carb diet work till me,” he said proudly. “I did the research — skeptically, I might add — to discover whatever pitfalls I might find, and no one has yet been able to show me anything adverse at all about a ketogenic diet.”
Franklin, once weighing in at 366 pounds, has dropped nearly 80 of his former bulk and flaunts a newly found energy and comfort evident even in his gait that has gone from a shuffle to a veritable strut. His diabetes, as verified by his regular physician, is now under control and he feels more energetic throughout the day, which he attributes to his new diet.
Not giving medical advice
Franklin and his friend Richard Morris have put together a podcast on the ketogenic diet, which he said has developed a solid following.
“Richard and I are not trying to give anything at all regarding medical advice,” he said. “We’re simply letting others know what we’ve experienced, and it’s all been healthy.”
The podcast (2ketodudes) run by the two men became so popular it led to the “Ketofest” held in downtown New London this past summer which drew a vast number of people, many rom out of town.
Franklin admits the biggest struggle has been the reactions of close friends and family.
“Those closest to you seem to be the last ones willing to recognize that you might actually know something they don’t,” he said. “But one of the great triumphs in all this was learning how being fat actually provides my body with an unlimited store of energy in the form of body fats. I don’t have to refuel via the intake of high carbs. My body already contains them.”
With diabetes, high levels of insulin are the culprit, storing sugar as fat in the body. Lowering insulin levels activates this fat for energy, thus burning calories.
“The only way is to limit your sugar intake,” Franklin said. “Limiting carbohydrates to 20 grams or less a day is sufficient for your body to activate fat for fuel — so long as your protein intake isn’t too high.”
Learning about low-carb diets has brought Franklin a good deal of comfort, and now a desire to share what he knows with others.
“It’s very refreshing watching the world waking up to a new awareness of how nutrition works,” he said. “In essence, you are what you don’t eat.”
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