Losing weight: one of the best measures to protect you from the virus

I am very happy to report that in the last six months I have lost 22 pounds. How did I do it? I completely changed to a sustainable low carb diet. I have avoided cookies, donuts, soft drinks, break fast cereals, bread, rice, pasta, white flour and potatoes. I keep track of everything I eat and try to ingest one-third carbs, one-third fat and one-third protein. Before I started this diet, I was eating 60 percent carbs, 20 percent fat and 20 percent protein. This is a pretty big change. But I am now at my goal weight.

This is not a fad diet. This is a change I plan on keeping the rest of my life. Bottom line: a lot less sugar and simple carbohydrates and a lot more meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables and fruit.

Why did I do it? Because I saw a picture of myself over the holidays and I did not like how I looked. Yes, my primary motivation was vanity. But guess what: my knee pain that caused me to limp for months has disappeared. I am in my late-50s and in great shape now. And of course there is an ancillary benefit: I am much less likely to have a severe reaction to COVID.

For some reason, we as a society have completely forgotten the basics of health. Let’s face it: most of us are overweight and too sedentary. And then the evil lockdowns came, and billions of people worldwide convinced themselves the healthiest thing they could do was to cower inside their homes and watch screens. The police in super health-conscious Boulder County near where I live staged armed police at trailheads during the pandemic so people would NOT GO HIKING OUTSIDE. Talk about fear porn.

But even if the rest of the world is living in a crazy upside-down universe, where good is evil and evil is good, you do not have to. You can take the advice of this peer-reviewed article from June 2021 and lose some weight. I quote:

Unhealthy lifestyle characteristics (i.e., sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition) often lead to excess body mass and adiposity, commonly defined as a body mass index (BMI) at the overweight (i.e., 25.0–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (i.e., ≥30.0 kg/m2) level. Previous research has demonstrated that obesity is a clear risk factor for poor outcomes in those with COVID-19.3

According to this study, 95 percent of the people hospitalized for COVID had underlying conditions, and 33 percent of those people were obese. Obesity was the highest risk factor for death.

This study points out that “adopting simple lifestyle changes could lower the risk of severe infection” from COVID.

So, at a time when the mainstream media’s business model is completely dependent on scaring you and making you outraged so you continue to click on their fake news, maybe you can take control of your lives and do something healthy. Change the way you eat, go outside and get some natural vitamin D and go for a walk or a hike. Just don’t go to left-wing hot spots like Boulder County: you may be arrested for trying to be healthy.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

21 thoughts on “Losing weight: one of the best measures to protect you from the virus

  1. ” I keep track of everything I eat and try to ingest one-third carbs, one-third fat and one-third protein. Before I started this diet, I was eating 60 percent carbs, 20 percent fat and 20 percent protein. ”

    Is that by grams or by calories?

  2. Book, sorry, but grams. I try to have about 150 grams of each per day. I weigh just under 200 pounds and am 6 feet. For most people, that is very low carb and very high fat and protein (especially fat). But all of the evidence I have seen indicates that the “low fat diet” is not necessarily good for you and is impossible to keep up long term because fat keeps you feeling full, and carbs do not. Anyway, it has been working for me and is sustainable long term.

  3. Good job, Geoff. I have been doing a Keto diet for years now, off and on and have lost over 70 pounds from where I started. It’s much easier to do than the traditional low fat, high carb diet most people do. Both require a calorie deficit, but, like you said, the higher fat intake helps you stay feeling full. I combine the keto diet with intermittent fasting and most days go all day long before consuming a meal. I keep my carbs below 20g a day (5%). Not only have I lost weight, but I have also noticed other physical maladies disappearing.

  4. In my experience, High Carbs, especially simple sugars, are a menace to my health. Increasing fiber is a good idea as well. So whole grains are my carb of choice.

    FYI, I lost 15 pounds in three months. Never hungry.

  5. Le’see… 150×4 + 150×4 + 150×9 = 2550 calories.

    In your late 50’s 200 lbs, 6′, your base daily metabolic rate without exercoise, I’m guessing without going to the online calculator, might be 2000 to 2100 cal/day.

    So if you’re losing weight, or even staying steady, at 2550, you must have a heckuva exercise regimen going on.

    When I hit my goal weight, I had to up my carb intake on exercise days (or long bike commute days, 20+ miles) because my exercise/commute was depleting my glycogen (carb store) levels to the level where my body started burning muscle, and that was causing excess soreness and cramps.

    So I figured out I needed o pre-load some carbs before those 20-milers, put a little malto-dextrin in my home-made sports drink, and nibble on carbs during the ride.

    It seems like there is a sweet-spot in the glycogen stores. (carbs break down to glucose, and insulin allows the body to assemble glucose molecules into glycogen for storage). If a high enough level of glycogen is stored up, your body burns glycogen (ie, the carbs you eat) and little/no fat. If you’re at a certain “semi-low but not too-low” “sweet spot” of glucogen level, then your body taps into and burns fat. But if your glycogen level is too low, the body sees “starvation mode” and goes straight to burning muscle.

    The above relationship/equation of where the body takes “calories” from (glycogen/glucose versus fat versus muscle) is also complicated by the intensity of exercise, and I think the proportion of the body’s brown fat to white fat.

    On electrolytes, if I may. IMO, the best sports drink and balance of electrolytes is Vitalyte. (just add .com) formerly known as Gookinaid/Gookinade, or ERG. Way better than Gatorade.

    I got the electrolyte numbers from their web site (68 mg sodium and 92 mg potassium per 8 fl oz) , and figured out you can approximate the sodium and potassium with 1/4 tsp of Morton Lite Salt per 1 liter (not one quart). Lots cheaper. Just flavor it yourself and add table sugar, or dextrose or maltodextrin to meet your expected calorie needs. (Dextrose and maltodextrin is waaay cheaper at home brewing supply stores than at sports or nutrition stores.)

    Or use regular table salt (or baking soda), and some juice, such as orange juice or coconut water, for potassium. Read the labels to get sodium and potassium content and do the math to calculate the right amount of water.
    (Or just buy Vitalyte for those who don’t like doing math or measuring things.)


  6. Book, I am quite fortunate in that I can do no exercise and eat 2400 calories a day and still lose weight, even at my current weight of 198 pounds. I normally exercise two hours a day with an hour of intense martial arts workouts and an hour of stretching/walking/light yoga/hiking/bike riding. But sometimes I have to take a week off to let myself heal and I still lose weight with a 2400 calorie diet, as long as it one-third, one-third, one-third. I know a lot of people my size who need to keep their calories under 2100 a day or they don’t lose weight. I can’t do that. For those who are wondering about 150 grams of fat a day, I eat a lot of nuts and cheese and special keto snacks that are high fat and low carb., in addition to the obvious servings of meat, bacon, eggs, etc. I am almost never hungry eating about 2400 calories a day and exercising as I describe above. If I get a craving at 9 p.m., I just eat a handful of cashews and the craving usually goes away.

  7. A snarky commenter left a comment (which I deleted) regarding Olympic athletes contracting COVID, thereby implying I guess that somehow the multiple scientific studies showing links between COVID deaths and obesity are somehow false? Snarky people often put forward logical fallacies, so his point is really not relevant, but I will address the issue of young, healthy people getting COVID. Yes, young, healthy people sometimes DO contract COVID, and there have even been a few examples of young, healthy people who are high level athletes having severely adverse reactions to the virus. Keep in mind that high level athletes are putting extreme stress on their bodies for many hours nearly every day, and many studies have shown that very high level athletes can sometimes be more vulnerable to viruses because of this. So, yup, Olympic athletes who are not obese may 1)contract COVID and 2)suffer from the virus rather than recovering quickly. This does not mean that being obese is not a risk factor with COVID, which it is.

  8. Aaron Sellers, question for you: fewer than 20 grams of carbs a day? That is very, very low. The advantage is that your body enters ketosis, and you lose weight very fast. But I cannot imagine sustaining that long-term. The people I know on the keto diet end up yo-yo-ing back and forth: lose 10 pounds in a week, gain it back the next week, etc. Just to give an idea to readers: 20 grams of carbs means no fruit, almost no veggies, and very few keto snacks, which have some carbs. Even most beef jerky has carbs. This is the reason I did not do the keto diet: I want a diet that I can adopt the rest of my life, not something that I try here and there. On the other hand, losing 70 pounds is quite an achievement, so you have made it work for you, which is awesome.

  9. Geoff, yeah, Keto is hard for some. My wife couldn’t handle it. Mainly because she would get to where the carb cravings were so bad. I have been able to do it fairly easily for some reason. I will allow myself a cheat meal every so often once I get past the initial 3 months or so of strict keto in order to get fat adapted. That seems to help some because it gives me motivation.

  10. Congrats, Geoff! I’ve been slowly (very slowly) losing weight over the last 4 years as well, because one of my parents got diagnosed with diabetes and I never, ever want to deal with that. As of this month, I’ve lost 50 pounds, which puts me just inside a normal BMI; though I never really looked super overweight, I definitely was feeling it in my knees and other joints.
    I also do martial arts, so a decent amount of my weight is in muscle; for much of the year I’m pretty active, so I usually worry less about how many calories I’m eating than whether I’m eating good things. My fatal weakness is junk food, but I do try to keep my eating within limits.
    The thing that worked best for me was intermittent fasting; I have always disliked breakfast, so skipping it (and sometimes lunch) made sense, though I make exceptions for family events.
    I got Covid, and I certainly think I had a much milder case than I would have years ago. My original impetus into martial arts a decade ago was actually trying to get into shape after a particularly difficult struggle with the flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia, so I was certainly hoping to avoid Covid, but – well – here we are.

  11. Just one point on the BMI for all readers: it is a virtually useless measurement. It takes your height and weight and then compares you to others based on your height and weight without taking account different body types. I does not account for people with any muscle. So, by the BMI scale the Rock Dwayne Johnson would be morbidly obese, which is obviously absurd. My BMI shows me as overweight at 6-0, 198 pounds, but I guarantee if you saw me, especially compared to other men my age, I would actually look quite thin. I look thinner now than when I was the same height and 180 pounds because I have more muscle now. The BMI is just another example of idiotic health authorities using fake statistics to measure things that are not important.

  12. Geoff, that’s a good point on BMI, how its boundary numbers do not apply to the outliers in terms of the very short, the very tall, and the very muscular.

    But…. please don’t fall into the same logical fallacy trap that your above snarky commenter exhibiited: Just because a general rule doesn’t apply universally and to all the outliers (ends of the bell curve) doesn’t mean it can’t be applied to the majority in the middle (the hump of bell curve.)

    I would also advise the use of “bone structure” as opposed to “body type”. “Body type” has been hijacked by those who attempt to
    inappropriately normalize obesity by labeling it a “body type.” Height and other bone dimensions are body types. A 42″ waist on a 5’8″ person is obesity, not a healthy or medically normal body type.

    The common use of BMI as opposed to more sophisticated measures is because it is cheap and easy to determine. Most (not all) health professionals have common sense and are aware of BMI’s limitations for the short, the tall, and athletes. One look, and they can mentally adjust the standard BMI boundaries for the short/thin-boned, and the tall/thick boned.

    For a thin-boned person of 5’2″, obesity might begin at BMI 25, not 30.

    For a thick-boned person of 6′, obesity might be considered at bmi 35.

    Over-eating, poor food choices, and obesity is a complicated web of inter-connected cause-and-effect that is also intimately tied to a person’s family traditions of cooking and eating, childhood trauma, genetics, gut flora and parasites, and physical/medical illnesses particulary related to the endocrine system.

    (Likely because of my family history, ) I often get an empathic sense of someone’s history when I am in the presence of survivors of childhood trauma or abuse. They don’t have to tell me. I just know. I “pick up on it” somehow. My “sensings” are this:
    – Most people at Bmi 30 just don’t understand food and nutrition, or they picked up bad eating habits as they grew up or got older.
    – When I’m around people of bmi 35, I sense childhood trauma/abuse in more than half of them. Google: CDC obesity ACE adverse childhood experiences
    It brings up a lot of hits. It’s a medically recognized thing.
    – At bmi 40, it’s about 90% childhood trauma/abuse (ACE), and 10% medical cause.
    – A few have both, ACE and medical sources/drivers (gut health, tumors, and/or endocrine system out of whack) of the over-eating.
    – Addiction to the endorphins (the “high”) that carbs/sugar cause can also come into play regardless of the original impetus/driver of over-eating. Addiction forms an additional layer that complicates the underlying factors.

    So while “sense of fullness”, from keto or semi-keto, is a real thing, and is a workable solution for many, it is a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

    My association with bariatric patients leads me to believe that most bariatric specialists are pushing surgery prior to exploring all the likely or possible underlying causes. Bariatric surgery fixes none of the underlying causes… It “forces” new habits. But what if the underlying “driver” was not just bad eating habits? Bariatric surgery can’t fix the psych or medical issues if those were the underlying problem.

  13. Thanks for this post. Like Bro. Geoff I’ve made similar changes to my diet since January and have shed 20lbs. I now weight as much as I did on my wedding day nearly two decades ago. This summer I’ve received constant comments from family and neighbors about how good I look. I feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally because of these changes. What we eat is just as important as exercise and how much we consume. I’m never going back to sugar again.

  14. @ Geoff,
    Yes, I’m aware of the limits of the BMI – but also, it’s only one of the measurements I use. I weigh less than I did when I was 14, but back then I was all chub and now I actually have muscle. Also, I’ve developed strength, balance, and coordination, none of which I possessed as a teen. More than any number, that is the more important measurement to me personally.

  15. E.C., the BMI comment was not aimed at you — it was more just a spontaneous “speaking of BMI” comment. The overuse of the BMI measurement is one of my pet peeves. But Book and you are right to point out it has some value, so my claim that it is “virtually useless” is probably an exaggeration. It has some use.

  16. I found a lot of similar results to Geoff’s, but found them from Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code. He addresses BMI and low-fat v. low-carb etc.
    My siblings and I lost a combined 175+ lbs. In addition, my 10 years+ insulin dependent diabetic dad lost 100 lbs just himself and was able to get completely off insulin shots learning to manage insulin through carb management and fasting. Anecdotal but indeed a blessing for our family.

  17. A friend asked me what I eat on this diet, and how I exercise, so here you go:

    One hour of intense exercise a day plus at least a half-hour of stretching, yoga, walking. I do martial arts — very intense. But you could run/hike up hills, bicycle, whatever. Try to get your heart rate up.

    But this is an extremely important point: last year I exercised four hours a day on average, and I still gained weight. Yes, you read that correctly. As you get older, weight loss is 95 percent what you eat and only 5 percent how you exercise.

    Breakfast: eggs and bacon. No wheat, cereal, jam, nothing with sugar. You can buy sweet keto snacks that are low sugar. Just go to Amazon and search “keto snacks.” Bottom line: you want high fat, low sugar. Fruit. Cheese. Nuts.

    Lunch: I eat some kind of meat. I will go to Arby’s and buy two sandwiches and take off the bread. I will have a hamburger with avocado without the bun. I bought low-sugar BBQ sauce, and I will go get some ribs. Chick-Fil-A without the bread, just the chicken. Veggies. Protein shake or protein bar, low carb.

    Dinner: something low carb, ribs, steak, cooked hamburger meat without the bun, chicken, fish. Cheese, Fruit, Nuts. Veggies. Protein shake. Protein bar, low carb.

    Snacks: special keto snacks. Nuts, fruit, cheese.

    Things to avoid: cookies, candy, brownies, donuts, danishes, energy drinks, all sugary drinks, including things like lemonade. Personally, I don’t drink milk because it has carbs and I eat a lot of cheese, which does not have carbs, and I take multi-vitamins, but some people say you should have whole milk, which makes you full. I avoid all bread (the keto bread tastes like cardboard — yuck!). I avoid rice, things with flour and potatoes and, sadly, pasta. Some people like pasta made from veggies, which is low carb, but I can’t eat that.

    I have an app called “Fitness Pal,” which is free. Download the app and include everything you eat. I eat fewer than 2400 cals/day. Most of my female friends need to eat fewer than 1800 cals/day. (Sorry ladies). I aim for one-third carbs, one-third fat and one-third protein, measured in grams.

    But remember every body is different, and what works for me may not work for you. You may need to experiment. But one thing is for sure: whenever I use the app and keep track of what I eat, I lose weight. When I stop, I gain weight. It has to become a daily habit like reading the scriptures.

  18. A note on cheese:. While most cheeses are low carb, American or processed cheeses taste like a used inner tube. Eat real cheeses… Your taste buds will thank you!

    As I have reduced processed foods and limited carbs (especially sugar and hfcs) and increased fiber in my diet, anxiety and depression have declined.

  19. Old Man is correct with regards to quality cheese. And that goes for most food. Get away from the prepackaged and processed stuff and buy quality food and ingredients. It is worth it. And if you are going to eat less, you may as well enjoy what you are eating.

    Avoid low-fat and the carbs. Moderate protein and more full fats will help you eat less and the associated ketosis will burn the fats once the glucose from the carbs is missing from your bloodstream.

    Be careful with some of the keto snacks out there. Some of them have very high total carbs and significant sugar and they just show net carbs on the packaging by subtracting the fiber. You could end up getting more absorbed carbs than you expect. I try to just focus on keeping my total carbs below a certain level.

    Also there is a reason why food journals and calorie tracking apps work, just as there is a reason why we generally hate them. They make us accountable and when we are showing ourselves what we are really doing, we tend to improve our eating behaviors (mostly).

    Anyway, a very interesting thread with lots of good ideas and suggestions. I appreciate everyone who participated and commented.

  20. I find cottage cheese garnished with cashews tastes mighty fine. Just throwing that out there while we’re all getting our fit on.

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