This isn’t a “diet” blog, nor is it a “food” blog or a “fitness” blog. It’s kind of a mashup of all of these. I’m an old fat guy. But, I’m getting thinner! It’s a travel blog, because I’m inviting you to go on this journey with me, from fat to fit.
First, I’m not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist. Carb reduction worked for me, and for most everyone I know who’s tried it.
I started out trying to lose weight (I’m 6’3″, and weighed 352 pounds when I started this), by calorie reduction. I logged everything I ate, using the LoseIt! app on my phone, and kept my calories under 2000 a day for two months. No change.
Then, I added exercise to the mix. I started using Mark Rippetoe’s “4 Week Guide to Starting Strength”, and had fantastic gains in my strength. My squats went from 95 pounds to 305 pounds. My bench press went from 75 to 175. I lifted for 1 1/2 hours a day, three days a week. I gained 5 pounds, and didn’t lose any on my waist or neck.
Then I realized that all the above is part of the mix. The first week’s weight loss, restricting my carbs to 20 or less grams per day, without working out, was 13.4 pounds. After that, I’ve averaged four pounds a week. Now, how do we do it?
This is a thorny issue. I was born and raised in Missouri and have been a Texan for the last 28 years. Both places put an emphasis on sauces and condiments. When you go low-carb, that’s a problem. A tablespoon of ketchup is 6 grams of carbs. Miracle Whip? 2 grams.
But, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Regular mayonnaise has no carbs. Yellow mustard has 0.3 grams per tablespoon. Vinegar also doesn’t have any carbs.
Mayonnaise has a lot of versatility. You can make flavored mayonnaise, called aoli, out of almost any herb, or using spices, and even use things like sriracha or hot sauce. Experiment. It will be worth it.
There is a school of thought in the diet and nutrition industry that weight gain and loss is a matter of thermodynamics, specifically, to lose weight you must “burn” more calories than you consume. And, like a good machine, as long as you do that, you will be successful.
I am living proof that this school of thought, while possibly true for some, is not true for all. It’s much more complicated than that. The body is a “system of systems”, and you have to have the right diet, and some exercise, and calorie control.
As a result of this school of thought, though, many of us who have struggled with weight, through Weight Watchers and hours of exercise and eating too few calories with no success, have been told that it’s our fault, and that our weight is a result of poor self-discipline and over-indulgence. Is that true? Well, no.
Last night’s dinner with the Low Carb Daughter was so perfect for the season.
My grandson is turning three, and it’s time for him to go from having a toddler room to having a big boy room. So, while he is visiting grandparents in Wisconsin, she and I spent yesterday stripping everything out of the room and repainting. Due to the heat, humidity and the fact that we were both kind of running out of energy, dinner had to be both low carb and light.
The entire meal is a bit carb-heavy, at 4.5 grams, due to the balsamic vinegar in salad, but if you adjust your day, you will have no problem fitting this into Phase I, and it’s perfect for Phase II.
First thing to keep in mind is that sugar/carbs are quasi-addictive. Not in the clinical sense, but when you eat high-carb foods or sugars, you get this good feeling, for a bit. Your brain LOVES carbs. Then, the sugar crash happens. How many times have you heard someone say that they are being bad-tempered because of low blood sugar. Well, it’s not that simple, but there is a grain of truth in that.
First, download on your phone or tablet, or connect on your computer with a calorie and nutrient tracker. This is SO, SO, SO important. I’ve used LoseIt! and Fitness Pal. I still use LoseIt!, because I prefer the user interface, but either one has their own pro’s and con’s.
Next, for two weeks, log everything, everything, everything you eat and drink. This is also very important, because you have to have a good starting point. When I did this, I found that I was averaging about 2200 calories a day, but my carb count was a whopping 260-300 grams a day, or over 1/2 a pound of carbs and sugar a day!
The program is this:
Stop your workouts for about three weeks. When you re-start exercising, you will find that you’ve lost a lot of strength and stamina. That’s normal, because your body is still learning to burn fat rather than sugars and carbs.
Phase I, 20 grams of carbs a day or less.
You are shooting for you to get about 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein and 5% or so from carbs. It’s not that important to be strict about those percentages. I usually average 72-23-5. Just don’t go over the 20 grams of carbs.
You are going to stay on Phase I for about 6-8 weeks. You are teaching your body to burn fat for energy, instead of going for the easy energy from sugars and other carbs.
Phase II, you can up your carb count to about 30 a day (believe me, this is a big deal!). You should still be losing weight, but slowly, maybe 1-2 pounds per week.
Phase III, in which you will gradually move your carb count up, to a max of 50 a day, until you start re-gaining weight. When you do start gaining weight (more than 3 pounds), back your carb count off a bit, maybe by 5 grams a day, and that’s your maintenance level.
So, prep your kitchen and pantry.
First, make your kitchen, pantry and refrigerator low-carb friendly, to meet the requirements of Low Carb Phase I.
Go through and get rid of anything like pre-prepared food, such as pasta sauce, and packaged meals.
Get rid of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, flour, and desserts (I ditched four boxes of instant pudding).
Get rid of fruits, whether fresh or canned.
Get rid of sugars, including molasses, syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar.
Don’t skimp, or cheat. If any of your past bad foods remain in your kitchen, you WILL eat them.
I do miss bread. Unfortunately, even the “low carb” varieties have about half my daily allowance, so they are out.
It’s not bread for the sake of bread, but I miss, believe it or not, meatloaf sandwiches, and I have not solved the problem of how to hold a hamburger. The whole “wrap it in lettuce” is not all that satisfactory.