In Retrospective #213 I told how, by just restricting carbs, and later protein, that I ate for weight loss, my blood sugar control, blood pressure, blood lipids, and inflammation markers all vastly improved. 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.
Starting at 375 pounds, I lost the first 60 pounds in nine months (1½ pounds a week) by eating just 20g of carbs a day. I wrote down everything I ate every day, estimating carb 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 Very Low Carb (VLC) in 2002, I had been a progressively worsening Type 2 diabetic for 16 years. I left my diabetes care to my doctor. Now, I rely on self-care for my diabetes health.
After 4 years, however, I began to slip and gained 12 pounds. I wanted to lose those 12 pounds and a lot more. That’s when I decided to count protein. I devised my own method for determining how much protein to eat, which I explain in Retrospective #213. I started at 90 grams of protein a day (1.1g/kg), later dropping in steps to 60 grams (0.9g/kg).
That only left fat and total calories. I chose an online site to do the calculations. All I had to do was to remember, truthfully, everything I ate and enter the estimated amounts. The software did the rest.
I determined how many grams of fat to eat by backing into the calculation. I wanted to lose 2 pounds a week. At 3,500 calories/pound that is 7,000kcal/wk., or 1,000kcal/day. If a mostly sedentary, older male who doesn’t exercise needs 2,200kcal/day to maintain his weight, then I would need to eat just 1,200 kcal/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 Richard K Bernstein’s 6-12-12 program for diabetics. I didn’t care about macronutrient ratios or ketosis. I just ate Very Low Carb and “moderate protein.” Result: I lost 100 pounds in 50 weeks (2 pounds a week, as planned), lowering my protein as I went along. I lowered protein from 90 grams to 75 and then eventually, today, just 60 grams a day, which is 20% of 1,200kcal and still 20% above the USDA’s guidelines (50g/d or 10% of 2,000kcal).
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 percent 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 on any moderately high protein diet.
As I lost weight, and discovered low carb foods that I liked for breakfast and lunch, and ate good fats, and small low carb and 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). Now, they are 5% carb (15g), 20% protein (60g) and 75% fat (98g). All of these ratios are for 1,200kcal/day.
It’s pretty easy to eat this way because “my body” is telling me that it is “happy.” I have come to think of my body as a separate entity that I am living in. I just eat small meals at mealtimes. 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 are “mealtimes.” My body decides what to do with the food, to add fat or burn fat and maintain muscle.So, what do I eat? Breakfast is 3 eggs, 1 strip of bacon and a cup of coffee with heavy cream and a little stevia powder. Lunch is usually a can of kippered herring snacks in brine or Brisling sardines (in olive oil!). And supper is a small portion of protein, usually a fatty meat or fish, and a low-carb vegetable, either tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil. If I snack (before supper only), my favorite is celery with anchovy paste. Sometimes I’ll have olives, or radishes with salt and a dollop of butter, or a small portion of nuts. Macadamia nuts have the fewest Omega 6s, while hazelnuts, almonds or pecans have moderate amounts. Cashews are too high in carbs and walnuts much too high in Omega 6s.