I’m not going to sugarcoat it (because sugar is a carb), but low carb diets suck. During the detox phase, there’s a multitude of possible side effects on top of the urge… the craving… the downright waaaaaant for carbs your body insists it needs.
Once you get through the detox phase though, it’s all sunshine and rainbows!
Just kidding… if you’re a sugar addict like me, you’ll probably always have a moment here and there for cake, or the urge to just go out and buy a couple bags of Reese’s. Because those things are the bomb! Note to self – never use that phrase again.
But I promise, it does get better, and it gets easier to say no to temptation.
There are many types of low carb diets: South Beach, Atkins, keto (ketogenic), zone diet, and some paleo diets. Some people refer to these as fad diets; which surprises me. Low carb diets have been around for a long time, and more and more science has been coming out strongly supporting its benefits.
–Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Seriously? Ugh, I hate the title of research papers, but this one tells you exactly what it’s about.
–Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism – Another research paper reviewing studies that show that, under conditions of carbohydrate restriction, fuel sources shift from glucose and fatty acids to fatty acids and ketones, and that ad libitum–fed carbohydrate-restricted diets lead to appetite reduction, weight loss, and improvement in surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease.
–Reddit/ketoscience – Subreddit that has a lot of scientific research regarding a Ketogenic diet.
–The Science of Low Carb – A YouTube segment of Dr. Eric C. Westman talks about the science and the practicalities of using real low carb food for improving your weight and health.
-Anything by Gary Taubes
-In addition, if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend seeing if the movie, Fed Up, is still on Netflix. It doesn’t necessarily endorse a low carb diet, but it’s a great documentary that showcases how the government and the sugar industry has aggravated, and actively participated in, the rising obesity rates in the U.S. If you feel like you need one more reason to hate the government give it a watch!
I’m hope I’m not coming across preachy. I’m not trying to convince anyone that low carb eating is the way everyone should eat, because everybody… or every body… is different! What works for one person, won’t work for another.
You lose weight by cutting calories and exercising more? Do It! Low fat is where it’s at? Right on! Want to eat nothing but cabbage soup for the rest of your life? Go for it! But, as I’ve found out over the years, what works for you may not work for me. Or they might work, but I can’t sustain them. And I think that is the key. To find something that works for you and that you can sustain long term.
The struggle is real.
The biggest problem I had with a regular ‘eat less, exercise more diet’ (which I did have success on), was that I was always always so hungry. There’s no way I could sustain it. I’m talking a hunger so intense that there were times, if I didn’t get something to eat RIGHT NOW, I was going to either pass out… or kill someone. Also, I would eat a huge meal for dinner and still be hungry… immediately afterwards. And the hunger wouldn’t go away! Not 10 minutes later, not 20 minutes later, never! I would have trouble sleeping because I was so freaking hungry! It was insane! There was no way that I was truly hungry after just eating a meal. I felt like I was going crazy because something like that has to be in your head, right? Whether it was in my head or not though, the feeling was very real and very hard to fight.
And then there were other issues. I would get constant shakes from blood sugar fluctuations. I had horrible headaches and migraines. I felt nauseous and hungry at the same time. I had horrible mood swings and would be angry a majority of the time. I felt sick, and I had constant gastrointestinal issues. I was always tired. And at the time it was a deep, bone weary, worried about driving, tired.
And, of course, the guilt and self-hatred! Why can’t I stop eating? Why am I always so hungry! Why does everyone else seem to be able to just eat less and lose weight but I’m struggling so much! I was living a nightmare all the time.
Some of you might be aware that a few years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and “pre-lupus” autoimmune disease. Some of the symptoms that I was experiencing could be attributed to those issues. With the right meds my thyroid was finally brought back within normal levels, my fatigue got better, and mood swings leveled out. However; I was still dealing with blood sugar fluctuations, tummy issues, and the intense, incessant hunger. So, though medication has helped a bit, it wasn’t enough to lose much weight. Something that was equally important to me for my overall health.
Low carb? That’s blasphemy!
After my pre-lupus diagnosis, my doctor recommended a low carb, sugar free diet. However, that was exactly all I got from her, a recommendation. “You’re last blood test came back with high glucose levels. We want you to stop all sugars and try a low carb diet.”
No pamphlets or instructions. Not even the suggestion of which one to go with (at the time I wasn’t even aware there were so many out there). With no direction to go in, I didn’t immediately jump on that band wagon. For one, I couldn’t find the will power to fight the hunger, so I caved a lot as it was. I seriously doubted I’d be able to give up soda, or chocolate (For the love of God!). For two, no other diet had ever really worked, why would I want to start one that sounded so horrible?
After watching the scale climb and climb though, I became more and more depressed and realized I needed to do something or I was probably going to end up in an early grave.
So I googled low carb diet, and after a couple days of research, I found that the Reddit website has a subreddit for Keto, a low carb high fat diet (LCHF). And ladies, there is also a keto subreddit specifically for women too, xxketo. What seemed to be coming up over and over in their threads was that a LCHF diet, can help control the hunger that cause most people to give up when dieting. This certainly made me perk up and pay more attention!
After doing about a month of research and comparing Keto to other low carb diets, I decided to give it a try. And you know what? It worked! I dropped 30 lbs in about 4 months and I was ecstatic! I was still overweight, but the number was going down and I was feeling good.
And then… I went on vacation.
I had the brilliant thought that I had this diet down pat. I could go on vacation for a week, eat anything and everything I wanted, and I knew I would be able to come back and get right back on the Keto train. Have you ever had a thought, that in retrospect, was probably one of the worst decisions you ever made? Yeah, that was one of those (among many others).
When I say I ate anything and everything… I mean it. I willfully ate almost nothing but carbs and sugar for 10 days straight. I was on vacation and I had worked really hard on my diet. I deserved this! One week wouldn’t do any harm!
Pancakes and donuts for almost every breakfast, burgers and fries every lunch, and loads of potatoes, fries, and carby goodness with every dinner. Not to mention, we went to Universal Studios, so of course I had about 5 Butterbeers over the course of two days, as well as 2 Butterbeer ice creams, a Simpson’s donut (at least that one was split between 4 people); and, of course, we kept refreshing ourselves with soda.
I was in sugary carby heaven.
Let’s just say, it was glorious and awful all at the same time.
Even with all my research, I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be for me to have my binge, and then try to go back to my ketogenic diet. The cravings had returned, the hunger wouldn’t leave, and my brain did not want to go back to a sugarless diet. No way. No how.
I was caught in a vicious loop of wanting/needing sugar and carbs. I couldn’t break it. I tried several times to get back into Keto and I kept failing. I watched myself gain back those 30 lbs I had worked so hard for… and then gain another 20 lbs for good measure. And still, I couldn’t break the cycle.
Low carb try #492.
I wasn’t alone in this journey, unfortunately. John and I both were gaining weight and stuck in a rut. This last Christmas John admitted to how miserable he was feeling. I don’t like seeing him depressed. He’s naturally a pessimistic guy, so seeing him even more so, concerned me deeply. It finally shook me enough to realize we needed to do something.
We agreed to get through Christmas, and all its temptations, and start a low carb diet together at the start of the year. It’s been hard going since January, but things are improving. John has lost about 10 lbs, and as of 4/11/16, I’ve lost 18 lbs. Slow going, but at least it is going.
All of our meals at home are designed around the Keto diet. John doesn’t quite do keto though, he’s just doing lower carb. He still drinks soda (though he has cut back quite a lot), and he’s not afraid to eat bread or potatoes. This is keeping his body in a constant state of craving sugar and carbs, so he’s getting hunger pangs as his body tries to convince him to eat more. He’s not very happy about that. I think when he said he’d go on a diet with me, he wasn’t quite prepared for what a lower carb diet can do to the body without a proper fuel source. I’ll go into more about what Keto is in a future post so you can get an idea of his pain.
My pain too I guess. I’ve had my rough patches for sure. Giving in to the cravings. My hunger is under control on a LCHF diet, so that helps a lot, but the cravings for sweets are still there. My sugar addiction is strong, people. I have to have absolutely nothing sweet in the house or it’s gone!
There are low carb dessert alternatives and sugar free candy that I can turn to, but sometimes eating something that tastes sweet, even without the sugar, makes me want the real thing even more. I still eat or drink something a little sweet every day (like mio in my water, or a sugar free piece of caramel), but I just wanted to throw that warning out there. Some people find it best to forego anything sweet tasting at all. Whether your vice is salty or sweet though, I definitely recommend removing all temptation from the house if you are contemplating a low carb diet.
This post has turned out so much longer than I originally planned! I will stop here for now. Look for upcoming posts on exactly what Keto is, a progress post on weight loss, and a couple new recipes I am working on!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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