As I re-approach (LOL) a 180-pound weight loss and my goal weight of 195 pounds, I’m again giving serious thought to how I am going to maintain that weight. Truth be told, most people who lose a lot don’t maintain it. So, how am I going to do it this time? Ironically, this is a problem I never thought I’d have. Who among the morbidly obese ever achieves their goal weight? Well, after 17 years, and many “misadventures,” I’m nearly there.
Over the years I’ve read lots of bad advice on the subject of “low carb.” Then one day I read something that made sense to me. The advice was in Volek and Phinney’s, The Art and Science of Low Carb Living. A few years later, when I met Stephen Phinney – at Banff in 2016 at the 5th Global Symposium on Ketogenic Diet Therapies – I told him, “Yours was the first time I had read a prescription for weight maintenance that made sense to me.” He replied, “That’s because we told the truth.” He then added, “Our publisher told us, “If you say that in your book, it won’t sell.” We replied, “We don’t care. It’s the truth.” That’s another reason why it is one of my favorite books.
Excerpt from Chapter 16, “The Importance of Dietary Fat on Long-Term Maintenance,” page 206: “(T)he purpose of this chapter [is] to address the need for added dietary fat while keeping carbohydrates within an acceptable level of tolerance in the long-term maintenance phase of carbohydrate restriction.” Then, another excerpt from page 210: “There’s no metabolic reason why increasing [protein] would be beneficial,” and “too much protein…has a modest insulin stimulating effect that reduces ketone production.”
From Chapter 18, “10 Clinical Pearls,” page 238, relating to the Induction Phase of Very Low Carb dieting: “the weight loss occurs because you are eating much less energy that your body is burning.” “Typically, early on up to half of your daily energy needs are coming out of your love handles. However, one’s protein needs (expressed as grams per day) are about the same across all phases of carbohydrate restriction, whether it’s your first week in Induction on your second year in weight maintenance.” Then, the coup de grace, this excerpt is from page 239:
“Simply put, there is no option for weight maintenance that is simultaneously low in carbohydrates and low in fat. Your energy has to come from somewhere, and for people with carbohydrate intolerance, their best (and long-term) energy source is dietary fat. Practically speaking, that means purposefully seeking out enjoyable sources of fat and routinely including them in your diet.” “You must get comfortable eating fat as your primary source of dietary energy if you want to succeed in low carb maintenance.” Let that sink in. It’s carbs or fat. It’s pretty clear.
Now that day, for me, is near. I will soon be at my maintenance weight, again. I will then continue to eat the same Very Low Carb way I have striven for over the years. I will still have one cup of coffee at “breakfast” with a dollop of heavy cream and a pinch of pure stevia extract. For lunch, if I eat lunch, I will still eat a small tin of kippered herring snacks in brine, or one or two hard boiled eggs, or a can of Brisling sardines in water or EVOO, or occasionally a Haas avocado with vinaigrette dressing in the cavity. To drink: cold-brew iced tea with liquid stevia.
For supper, I will eat the same small meal of a moderate protein portion and a low-carb vegetable tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil. On occasion, before supper, I will snack on radishes with butter and salt, or celery with anchovy paste, or olives. I will also have two 5-oz. glasses of red wine, usually as a spritzer (topped off with seltzer).
I will continue to weigh myself every day. When I rise to the top of my target range (195-199), I will “fast” for a day. My “fast” will consist of my morning coffee (with cream and stevia) and just one red wine spritzer for supper.
I find that my weight varies more due to water retention, from carb cheats, than from too many calories. Weight lost during a one-day “fast,” due to the diuretic effect, usually returns me to the bottom of my range.
I like what I eat on my VLC diet, and I feel great. I mean pumped! The older and leaner I get, the better I feel! And people tell me I look good in my new wardrobe. It’s actually fun being almost “half the man I once was.”