Interview with Franziska Spritzler, the Low-Carb Dietician

I heard that Franziska Spritzler was not going to be on the 2017 Low-Carb Cruise, so I contacted her and asked if she would be available to do a recorded on-line chat. She agreed, and we made the arrangements to do a Zoom meeting (h2ha.com/zoom). Unfortunately, our first attempt had some technical difficulties, but Franziska very graciously agreed to try again. Our 2nd attempt was good.

I prepared a transcription, posted below the video.

Transcript

Howard: This afternoon, or evening or morning, or whatever time it is that you’re watching this, I have the pleasure of chatting with Franziska Spritzler. I did that right, right?

Franziska: Yeah, that’s kind of a tongue twister right now.

Howard: You got the Spritzler from your husband, right?

Franziska: That’s right.

Howard: Now Franziska is a low-carb dietician. In fact, she has a website at lowcarbdietitian.com which I’ll put in the show notes. And I’m looking at her About Me Page (http://www.lowcarbdietitian.com/about-me.html) right now and she’s got quite a resume there. She’s got some published works, she’s got a book on The low-carb Dietitian’s Guide to Health and Beauty, which she wrote after we did our interview back in 2014; and A Low-Carbohydrate, Whole-Foods Approach to Managing Diabetes and Prediabetes that was published in Diabetic Spectrum.

Franziska: Right. The ADA Journal. Yeah.

Howard: And then there was a Debate on “How Low Can You Go?”. I think the answer is you go all the way to zero. Your body make enough carbohydrate anyway. And she did a number of presentations and she has a bunch of videos including a link to the interview that I did with her in the Low-Carb Cruise back in 2014, three years ago. It’s been a long time. I kinda miss it. I didn’t get to go last year. And you’re not gonna get to go this year?

Franziska: That’s right. I won’t be on the cruise this year.

Howard: So will talk about that in a minute. Anyway, if you to the About Me page of the http://www.lowcarbdietitian.com/about-me.html, and I’ll put a link in that… in the show notes for that, you will see a whole bunch of very interesting links on the background on Franziska.

Now, I’d like to ask a few questions. I’m looking at this About Me Page, and I see a beautiful picture of you… I guess standing in front of your home…

Franziska: It’s actually in front of my parents’ home. That was taken on Christmas Day… this last Christmas 2016.

Howard: And you are 50 years old. And yet you don’t have that middle aged middle that Bob Hope was talking about. That age when your age starts to show around your middle. Now you don’t have a touch of that. I would not guess, and even from seeing you in person, I would not have guessed at that time that you were over your mid 30’s, even younger. That’s quite an accomplishment. Now you did not start out as a dietitian at all. You were actually a court reporter, right?

Franziska: That’s right. I was a court reporter for 10 years before I become a dietitian.

Howard: 10 years. You stayed for it for 10 years, what made you stop?

Franziska: Well, I figured after 10 years that was long enough to try something I realized I didn’t want to do for the next thirty or so years. I didn’t have a passion for it. I had friends who loved it but I didn’t. But I was very, very interested in nutrition. Just a very healthy, you know… I really thought we could do a lot with nutrition to keep older people, especially, off of medication, keep everyone as healthy and fit as possible, going forward. So that was my focus when I went back to school. And yes, I didn’t start with the low-carb approach. I started with a fairly low-fat approach… kinda semi-vegetarian… I eat some fish but primarily vegetable, proteins… I did eat healthy whole grains… I ate egg whites but not egg yolks. I didn’t use butter, I would use like a spread instead. So, you know… very, very different from the way I eat now.

Howard: So what made you make the transition from the normal mainstream nutrition into this freaky, off-the-wall, “dangerous” low-carb?

Franziska: Yeah. That’s what we all thought. As dietitians, we were taught that Atkin’s diet or any low-carb diet was unhealthy, unbalanced and possibly dangerous. So yes. If you had told me back in 2008 when I became a dietitian, that within three years I would be changing my views to low-carb diet I would’ve told you, you were crazy.

But, as it happens in 2011, I found out that I had elevated blood sugar after eating. Normal blood sugar… completely in normal in the 80’s before I ate. But after I was eating, even modern amount of carbs in a mixed meals, maybe 40 or 50 grams, my blood sugar went up to very high levels… diabetes levels… 160, 180, even 200 once. So I knew this was absolutely wrong. It is a form of prediabetes but it really wouldn’t have been caught by most doctors because my fasting blood sugar was so low. But I was obviously not tolerating carbohydrates well.

Howard: You had a fasting blood sugar down in the 80’s, right?

Franziska: I did. So it was really going up almost a hundred points after eating. Even if it was a moderate carb meal, which is very dangerous. You shouldn’t have that kind of excursion after eating. You know, maybe if you went out and ate a burger, fries and shake… but I wasn’t eating that way. I was eating exactly the way I was telling my patients to eat – a very balanced diet with you know, little bit of whole grains, and maybe some fruit, and vegetables and meat… but, you know, overall, was just still too many carbs for my body to handle. And too many carbs for many people’s bodies to handle. Though I didn’t know it at that time. So I started cutting back on carbs and found that I could keep up my blood sugar from going up, you know, above 120 very easily once I have my carb intake down to less than 20 grams per meal.

Howard: So you’re gonna handle about 60 grams a day?

Franziska: I can… I probably do a little less than that on most days. But yeah, I can go up that I high. I’m usually somewhere between about 30 and 50. I feel really good. Yeah.

Howard: That’s really interesting. You had really nice levels of blood sugar post-prandial, er rather, actually not post-prandial… but fasting.

Franziska: Right.

Howard: What caused you to be curious about what was happening after meals?

Franziska: When I got my blood, I’m sorry, when I got my A1C results from a life insurance lab, my husband and I had done, they tested my A1C because another lab came back – fructosamine came back elevated, almost like a diabetes level. And that’s a more recent indicator of blood sugar control. Most doctors don’t run it, but if that level is elevated, they will run an A1C. My A1C was 5.6% which isn’t terribly high but for somebody with a low fasting blood sugar, I thought there’s just no way that I would… my blood sugar… that’s an average, and that usually 5.6 means that your average blood sugar is maybe in the 110’s or 120’s and I thought if it was already in the 80’s when I’m fasting then after eating it must be going up a lot. So I started testing it at home. And that’s how I found It went so high. But yes, if I hadn’t had those labs done, I may have never known. My fasting is still good, but now we’re several years later, I don’t know if it would gone up. It wouldn’t be a long time before a doctor thought to check my A1C, I think.

Howard: I think your experience just basically goes to show that by the time your fasting blood sugar reaches abnormally high levels, that you’ve been in danger or you’ve had a problem for a long time.

Franziska: Absolutely. Fasting Blood Sugar is the last indicator to change. A1C will change, your post-prandial blood sugar will change, you may have a very normal fasting blood sugar… it doesn’t happen that way with everyone. It really depends. But in my case, and in many other people’s case… I would say in lean people’s case… because I was basically the same weight that I am now… I didn’t carry around anything in my middle back then either. I think sometimes, with insulin resistance you have a higher fasting blood sugar a little bit earlier but at any rate, I found that I can control my blood sugar by following a very low-carb diet. And I have been doing that ever since. 2011, early 2011 to know so more than 6 years.

Howard: Now you mentioned that you didn’t have a weight problem that caused this but I recall from previous conversations that you had a little bit of a weight problem when you were a teenager.

Franziska: I did. You know I wasn’t terribly overweight. But probably 30, 35, 40 pounds more than I am now. And I think it was more of an out of control food intake. I was eating a lot, I have to say. I was kinda driven to eat. But I think a lot of it was hormonal. Very thin as a child, puberty hit and everything changed for several years. And once I got through that, once I was an adult, closer to 20, I really didn’t have a weight problem anymore, but I wasn’t overeating anymore either. So, it was surprising to me to know that my blood sugar was going up after meals. I didn’t think that I was overeating or I thought the foods that I ate were very healthy, because I ate a lot of fiber. Whole grains have a lot of fiber; beans have a lot of fiber…

Howard: Healthy whole grains?

Franziska: (10:22) Healthy… I always forget to put that modifier. (chuckle)

Howard: Now, you mentioned that you feel better now than you did in your thirties.

Franziska: I do.

Howard: 20 years ago, what’s different?

Franziska: I just have a lot more energy. And I want to exercise. I’m never been athletic. I never enjoyed. My sister’s very athletic, so is my mother. But I just never really enjoyed doing sports and I’m still not athletic but I love walking, I love doing aerobics, I even like lifting weights. I have the energy to do that… I didn’t really have before. I also, don’t get hungry in between meals. I can go a long time without eating. I think that’s one of the biggest benefits is that your hunger is controlled and I think a lot of that has to do with having your blood sugar on a very even keel. You’re not going up and down all day. Yes. That’s the huge, huge difference.

Howard: I noticed I could go about 4 days before I start getting hungry. At least that was the last time I tried the extended fast. After 4 days… yeah, this is getting old… I want to eat something. That is — back when I was on a Low Fat Diet, long about middle of the morning, any small child crossing my path would’ve been in serious danger.

Franziska: (chuckle)

Howard: I was hungry ALL THE TIME!

Franziska: I do remember going to places with my husband and saying we need to stop and eat something right now or I’m going to pass out, or feel like I passed out, or you’re gonna want me to pass out because I’m getting so cranky. So we need to find something to eat right now. And you know, every dietitian I know, working with, had snacks… they had to eat every 2 hours because they were eating so low fat and so high-carb, their blood sugar was not stable and they were always snacking. I just snacked too, we all did. And I just love now that I can go many hours… I don’t do the extended fasting, thing that’s just really not for me… but I could skip a meal easily and not feel… never had that feeling that I need to eat and I think that’s one of the benefits for weight control really comes in.

Howard: Every once in a while, I notice my weight starts creeping up and what I do is I skip a day… just don’t eat for a day… and that seems to bring everything back in to focus.

Let’s see… I’ve read on your website a bunch of disclaimers. You talked about the USDA, the FDA, the NIH, the AHA and a bunch of other acronyms for federal agencies. USDA of course has nothing to do with health at all. The FDA is just a branch of the United States pharmaceutical industry. NIH I think stands for “not invented here”. And AHAas a group, MD’s are probably the second worst group in the whole world at recognizing the boundaries of their their own competence. And who’s the first group you might ask? Politicians.

Why do you think that these various federal agencies takes such a dim view of low-carb?

Franziska: I think a lot of it is, even though there has been research on low-carb benefits for a long time, some of it is quite new. I would say within the last 10-15 years there’s been a lot more research on low-carb and how healthy it is for you. But you know, part of it is… one of the reasons I put these disclaimers on is because the American Diabetes Association, or actually the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they base a lot of their recommendations on these organizations. You know, the Low Fat, Low Salt for the AHA… definitely for the USDA having the “heart healthy” whole grains there… although they aren’t… I don’t think that any of these agencies are deliberately trying to cause harm, but they’re just not accepting of something new. And I, as a registered dietitian, am bound to go by the rules of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and just not that favorable at this time to low-carb diets. So I just want to make it clear that although I am a registered dietitian, I have used views that are different than the current standard of care, which I’m hoping will change. I have more and more dietitians who are like-minded contact me, telling me – “I thought this was healthy, but now I realized that I was telling people the wrong thing,” just all the things I’ve come to realize. I’m encouraged that some of these agencies may change their views in the future but until they do, I put this disclaimer on, just so that somebody doesn’t come, you know, maybe looking for dietitians in the area and find me this is gonna be just fine with their doctor or anybody else who goes by… these federal agency guidelines.

Howard: I also noticed that you have the usual “Consult your doctor before you go on to a low-carb diet” and my experience was, I consulted my doctor he was – “Grams Fat! Grams Fat!” and that was it. I basically fired him. I decided I didn’t wanna take nutritional advice from a fat doctor anyway. Because it wasn’t working for him, why did he think it was gonna work for me? And I got into it… well, Georgene was actually to blame for that because she had problems with her blood sugar and the diabetes medicines weren’t working. And so she said, “we’ve gotta do something else.” And she came home and said, “we’re gonna do Atkin’s.” And I went along with it because I was being the supportive husband. Eventhough I knew for certain-sure… that 6 months from then we we’re gonna be in worse shape than we’re then. And it didn’t turn out that way. It was really kind of interesting. That’s the first diet that I actually tried that made me feel better, and less hungry… and things like that. In fact, the only real problem I had with low-carb in the last 17 years is the well-meaning fools who keep preaching to me how bad it is. And I was like, “compared to what?”

Anyway, but I see that you do the “Consult Your Doctor” thing. I assume that’s just a “cover your rear” type item there because you’re not a doctor and you’re not licensed to actually do that. It’s kinda too bad that the people who are licensed to do that can’t do it very well.

Franziska: True. Although as you know, having been gone to a lot of low-carb cruise, there are many doctors who actually do know something about nutrition now, compared to a number who don’t, it’s small but it’s growing. And that is encouraging. But yes, I do again… I always… I do as many disclaimers as possible because I don’t want to get in trouble. I want to continue to spread good information but I don’t want to get combative with people. I leave that to others. But I really don’t want to do it. First of all, I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I really don’t want dietitians, doctors or anybody to come after me and try to take away my credentials and cause problems for me because it has happened you know in other countries with dietitians. And it’s.. so I really say, this is a great… I think this is a healthy approach. I think everyone should have the option… you don’t have to do low-carb… nobody is forcing you to do it. But if you’ve tried other diets and it haven’t worked, why not give it a try? I have a lot of research here that supports it, besides all the anecdotal research, there’s tons. Like you and your wife and many other people. But there are clinical studies… lots of randomized control trials that show that low-carb is really very healthy. I would say especially for people with diabetes, also for people who are overweight, with fatty liver, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome… I could go on and on. So it’s people’s choice and I think that the information about how to do low-carb should be out there. And that people shouldn’t be afraid like, you know, you still get it even after doing this for 17 years, having experienced all the health benefits, people are still telling you how bad it is for you. You know, I just want people to see that there are professionals like me, and other dietitians and doctors and nurses who know that it can be a valuable tool to get help.

Howard: Unhealthy. Compared to being over 350 lbs and night blind and horrible adult acne and various other things just gone away almost immediately when I started low-carb.

Franziska: It really is such a great way to live.

Howard: Now, I’m gonna miss you on the low-carb cruise this year but I understand you’ve got lots of other things going on. You’ve been on a cruise this year already and you’ve got some conferences to do. Are you writing a book or another book?

No, but I’m possibly going to be writing a book. Maybe later this year with somebody. I’m not gonna say who or anything yet but I don’t want to say anything in front of the camera, but that’s a possibility and I am going to be speaking at low-carb USA in San Diego in early August and then I really excited… I spoke there last year and that was great. I’m really excited about November. That’s actually gonna be my birthday. So on my 51st birthday I will be in Mallorca Spain, at the low-carb Univers Conference, the first European low-carb Conference.

Howard: And they can all sing Happy Birthday to you.

Franziska: That would be fantastic. I mean, I can’t think of a better way to spend it really… in Spain and you know, among many low-carb people and maybe some low-carb goodies for me… who knows. But I’m really looking forward to that so…

Howard: There will be a low-carb Gluten-free birthday cake.

Franziska: I would definitely partake in that.

Howard: Now … so that’s gonna keep you busy for the remainder of this year… what’s your long-term career goal? You’re gonna be a dietitian until you retire? Or what?

Franziska: I am and I don’t know how long that’s going to be. You know the great thing is I’m self-employed so I can work as much or as little as I want so I’ll probably be doing it for a while. Maybe you know, kinda ramping down in terms of the amount of time spent with it. But I am still very passionate about advancing low-carb cause and helping people to get healthier. So I’m not… you know right now, doing a lot of writing… doing a lot of consulting and coaching and we’ll just see what happens. My goal is to continue to do low-carb related things and the things will change as more studies come out… as more technology comes out. I’m excited. I’m very excited about the future, and I really have to give a shoutout to my husband for you know, being very supportive of me going back to school. You know, at the age of I believe, when I started, I was in mid to late thirties and…

Howard: That seemed to be so old back then.

Franziska: It does. But to go back when everybody else was in their early twenties, I did feel old. But yes, it’s funny that I feel a lot healthier and better now than when I first went back to school.

Howard: Now, so you said you did coaching and you do various… you actually use video conferencing for your consultations, right?

Franziska: I do. And some phone. And a lot of e-mail follow ups. So all kinds of electronic things…

Howard: So you should have clients all over?

Franziska: Yes, I do. I can and I do… I spoke to someone in Germany just a couple of days ago. So, yeah.

Howard: Well… oh! And speaking of email, I need to mention for the video that you have a very educational and informative newsletter that comes out around the first of every month. And occasionally, you have a giveaway neat stuff. And I know that because I actually entered one of them and won.

Franziska: That’s right.

Howard: It was a very nice book and I enjoyed reading it. But are you still doing giveaways or you said occassional…

Franziska: I am. Check your inbox because I just sent one a few days ago and there is a giveaway for this one for May. So go ahead…

Howard: I’ll be sure to enter it.

Franziska: …I was asking you to do something though. I might ask you to tell me something or you know… it’s not just send in your name. You gotta actually answer questions for me but they are pretty easy.

Howard: So you have to be emotionally involved.

Franziska: Yes. Yes. You get to interact with me and get a chance to win.

Howard: Super. Well, it has been a real pleasure. I’ll think about you on the low-carb Cruise. You know we’re going to Alaska this year.

Franziska: I know. That sounds like so much fun. Yeah, you won’t be nearly as hot as you know… I remember walking around Key West, so you’ll have a great time I’m sure.

Howard: Alrighty. Well, thank you very much for coming to speak with me and especially for your patience.

About Mr. N=1

I am co-owner of NEquals1Health.com, along with my wife, Georgene (Mrs N=1). Read more about me on Howard’s about page.

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