The Nutrition Debate #214: How I Lost 125 Pounds (Part 2)
In the last column I told how I determined how much carbohydrate and protein I should eat for weight loss, blood sugar control, vastly improved blood pressure, blood lipids, inflammation markers and overall better health. You (and your doctor) would be very happy to have these results (as I and mine are), but the story doesn’t end there. There is more to tell.
I lost 60 pounds on Atkins Induction in just nine months (1½ pounds a week) by just writing down everything I ate every day and estimating carbohydrate grams. No measuring – just guessing. It gave me heightened awareness and accountability for what I decided to eat – and I learned a lot about which foods contained carbs and how they affected my blood sugar. When I started to eat Very Low Carb (VLC) in 2002, I had been a type 2 diabetic for 16 years, and up to then in complete denial. I left my health care, and my diabetes care in particular, to my doctor. Now, I rely on self-care for my diabetes health.
After 4 years of trying to stay on Atkins Induction (20g of carbohydrate a day), I started to slip and I gained 12 pounds. I then switched to Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s program (30g carbs/day) for diabetics. I wanted to lose that 12 pounds again and a lot more. That’s when I decided to count the protein I ate too and to keep a more detailed record of what I ate. After researching the protein question, I devised my own method for determining when and how much protein to eat, which I explained in #213. I started out at 90 grams of protein a day. That only left fat and total calories, to decide, and I chose an online site to do all of the calculations. All I had to do was to remember everything I ate and enter the estimated quantities. The software did all the rest.
I determined how many grams of fat to eat a day by backing into the calculation. I wanted to lose 2 pounds a week. At 3500 calories/pound that is 7000 calories/week, or 1000 calories/day. If a mostly sedentary, older male who doesn’t exercise needs 2200 calories/day to maintain his weight, then I would need to eat just 1200 calories/day to lose 2 pounds a week. And 90 grams of protein + 30 grams of carbohydrate = 120 grams, times 4 calories/gram, equals 480 calories. Subtracted from 1200, that leaves 720 calories for fat. At 9 calories/gram for fat, that means my allowance for fat was 80 grams a day.
That’s where I started on Bernstein. I didn’t care about macronutrient ratios or ketosis. I just ate VLC and what I thought was moderate protein. I lost 100 pounds in 50 weeks (2 pounds a week, as planned) starting with this regimen and lowering my protein amount as I went along. I lowered protein from 90 grams to 75 and then to 65 grams a day. Today, I strive to eat just 60 grams of protein a day, which is still 20% above the Nutrition Facts panel guidelines.
Later I became interested in macronutrient ratios. The diet that worked for me (where I lost 100 pounds) was 10% carbs (30g/day), 30% protein (90g/day) and 60% fat (80g/day). Thirty percent protein is the highest most experts recommend for protein, and then only if you have no kidney problems. Your blood markers for kidney disease should be tested by your doctor before you start and rechecked annually thereafter on any moderate or moderately high protein diet.
As I lost weight, and discovered low carb foods that I liked for breakfast and lunch, and new good fats, and small low carb/protein suppers, I lowered both my protein and carbs, and increased my fat percentages. My macronutrient ratios changed, from 7% carb (20g), 25% (75g) protein and 68% fat (90g) to 5% carb (15g), 25% protein (75g) and 70% fat (90g). At present they are 5% carb (15g), 20% protein (60g) and 75% fat (98g). All of these ratios are for 1200 calories a day.
To sum up, when I eat according to my plan, my body is happy, and I am burning two pounds of body fat a week. It’s pretty easy to do so long as “my body,” which I have come to think of as a separate entity that I am living in, is “happy.” And it is telling me that it is. I just eat small meals at mealtime. This is called non-homeostatic eating. That is, I am not eating because my body is telling me to. I am not hungry at mealtimes. I am eating because breakfast, lunch and supper (I no longer call it “dinner”) are, in our culture, mealtimes. My body decides what to do with it, to maintain muscle and burn fat.
So, what do I eat? Breakfast is 3 eggs, 1 strip of bacon and a cup of coffee with stevia powder and a little half and half. Lunch is usually a can of sardines (in olive oil!). I drink the oil. And supper is a small portion of protein, usually a fattymeat or fish, and a low-carb vegetable, either tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil. If I snack before dinner, my favorite is radish slices with salt and a dollop of butter or ghee. Sometimes I have a small (measured) portion of nuts. Macadamia nuts have the fewest Omega 6s, while hazelnuts, almonds or pecans have only moderate amounts. Pistachios and cashews are too high in carbs and walnutsmuch too high in Omega 6s. Of course, this also means I will have to have less fat with my supper.
Everything discussed in these 2 columns is addressed in more detail in the preceding 212 columns. Why not have a look?