My food rules haven’t changed much since I began eating Very Low Carb in September 2002. The “program” I followed then, at the
my doctor’s suggestion (to lose weight) was Atkins
Induction: 20 grams of carbs a day. It worked in the way my doctor intended. I
lost 60 pounds in 9 months. It also worked in another way that was unintended
or at least not anticipated. In the 1st
week I had to come off nearly all my
diabetes meds I was on.
As best I remember, Atkins
only addressed carbohydrates at the time . That’s worth
noting. It’s only – okay, well largely
– only carbs that matter. To
lose weight (lots of it – I eventually lost 170+ pounds), you only need to
restrict – severely, I’ll admit – carbohydrates.
So, if all you need to know is to severely limit the carbs you eat, the first thing you need to learn is: what foods contain carbs. Today, there are many ways to go about doing this: 1) You can “count carbs.” That’s what I did. From the start, I estimated portion sizes, used on-line sources for carb counts and recorded everything I ate in an Excel chart I created; or 2) You can use an on-line service to do the work for you, but be careful; many of these sources are way too lenient in their allowed foods. They think you “can’t” or won’t want to eat in a way that severely limits your carb intake. They’re way too friendly to the weak-willed or insufficiently motivated. Whichever way you choose, once you learn about carbs, remember: you just have to stick with Very Low Carb.
I learned what I needed to know, and then I ate (mostly) in compliance with my new knowledge. The foods I ate, were primarily protein and fat – saturated fat that is an inherent component of animal protein. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you will have a tough row to hoe. Vegetable oils are inherently unhealthy, and you mus
eat fat with protein. Protein has primarily cellular and
hormonal functions. And you need healthy
saturated fats to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
As I lost weight, I discovered I needed less food to feel full. I wasn’t hungry most of the time. My body was slightly in ketosis, just ketotic enough to burn body fat as an energy source. Fat and carbs are the only two sources of energy. I didn’t need to eat carbs for energy balance. My body fat provided the needed energy.
That’s when I started to ask myself: If I’m not hungry, why am I eating 3 meals a day. My body runs well on its own fat (and ketones), so why eat just because it’s a certain time of day. I started
having just coffee with heavy cream for
“breakfast,” and skipping lunch or just being sure it was only protein with
some fat so I could stay mildly ketotic and not be hungry. At supper, just
eating a small meal of animal protein (with saturated fat) and a portion of
low-carb vegetables tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil, was always
enough for me.
But I sometimes snacked. My snacking was always just before supper. When I was on anti-diabetes meds (sulfonylureas) that was always the time of day when my blood sugar was lowest. My snacking may be cultural as well. I have always enjoyed a glass of wine, or two. (I only have spirits in a restaurant or when we have guests for dinner.) And with wine I might have radishes with butter or celery with anchovy paste, or olives.
My cheats are 1) once in a while I’ll steal some of my wife’s ice cream from the freezer, or 2) in a restaurant, eat a roll or two with butter or olive oil. Rarely, I’ll share a dessert. These are indulgences. Simple pleasures, from a life almost forgotten. The best part of eating Very Low Carb almost all the time is how well I feel. I am often “pumped,” almost euphoric. The mood difference is palpable. It’s not just knowing I am no longer fat!
Oh, and did I mention
... I have saved a lot of money on drugs and food. And my
blood pressure is lower. And my HDL doubled and my triglycerides dropped by
2/3rds. And I don’t have to take a statin. And my chronic systemic
inflammation is way lower. And I did it without exercise
(and saved lots of time and gym costs). And all it requires is that I eat Very Low Carb most of the time. That’s
Low Carb. It’s all you have to do.