Slow Carb Diet

My Weight Loss Story – Part 2

My Weight Loss Story – Part 2

by Michael

 

I listen to a lot of podcasts at work and some of them had some health and fitness related guests on that were discussing the benefits of the ketosis diet. The basis of this diet is that consume about 50% of your calories from fats and forego the carbs. In doing so, you will optimize your body to burn fats as a fuel source instead of carbohydrates. This was a new concept to me but I was very curious to learn more about it. Then I found some podcasts that were either specifically about health and fitness or had regular guests on to discuss those topics. Before I continue, I want to state that I am not on a ketosis diet because I feel like it’s a little too difficult for me to strictly adhere to. There are however, a lot of things that I have taken from it that I do really like.

I remember a time in the 80s where buzz phrases like “low in fat” started to appear on the packages of products in the grocery stores. Years later, this has evolved into phrases like “an excellent source of whole grains” and “zero trans fats” which would lead you to believe that products like this are in fact, ideal for your health when in reality, a low-fat chip for example would 1 – taste terrible and 2 – is likely loaded with salt and sugar so it will actually taste like something that you would enjoy. In other words, it’s probably not good for you.

One of the shows I listened to had a guest on that was discussing the benefits of a high fat diet and specifically mentioned that cavemen were not out harvesting grains so they’d have enough energy to hunt in order to survive. They were eating animals and produce and the fats they consumed became their source of fuel.

I dug deeper into the topic and discovered that then ketosis diet was popular among the ultra-endurance athletes that were doing things like running 100-mile races. Athletic accomplishments like this, while impressive, are not something that I’m interested in yet the benefits of the diet are still compelling to me.

The guest would go on to give examples of what you should be eating via multiple choice questions. Time after time, he would suggest the highest item in fat or the item in the list that you’d consider to be the most sinful of the group. One example really stuck out to me and that was when he recommended eating a Snickers bar over some other items because of the items mentioned, it was the highest in fat content and therefore would be most likely to satisfy you for the longest period of time. He was clear to recommend this was only something that he’d recommend in a bind and this was not something that you should normally do. The thing that I took away from this was that if you were going to cheat on your diet, go for it. Don’t eat the fat-free frozen yogurt because a facsimile of the thing you’re craving won’t actually satisfy your desires. Instead, just get the ice cream that has all of the fat and sugar in it that you’re craving. Don’t eat it often and you should be fine.

Another guest on another show had uttered a few phrases that really resonated with me. Don’t count calories, make calories count. The other thing he said was something about earning or working hard enough so that you deserve to eat your carbohydrates. These phrases weren’t new to me but they really struck a nerve this time.

On to the diet. There are a few principles that I follow.

1 – Whenever possible, eat the fattiest version available. Gone are the days of tasteless boring skinless chicken breasts. Hello chicken thighs pan fried in coconut oil and kale sautéed with bacon!

2 – Snack on the fattiest snack items. My go to items are salami, cheeses, nuts, avocados, and veggies with Greek yogurt based dips.

3 – The carbs I eat most often are those that have a low-glycemic index value. This means that legumes and beans are the preferred carbohydrate.

4 – It’s OK to cheat on when I ride my bike a little because I will burn a ton of calories on those days. This is when I’ll have a slice of pizza, a bag of chips, or glass of wine.

A typical day of eating looks like this for me:

Breakfast – 2 pieces of bacon, 2 scrambled eggs cooked in the bacon grease, topped with avocado and jalapeños. Sometimes I’ll throw a fistful of sweet potatoes in if I feel sluggish. When I go running before work, I’ll eat Greek yogurt with blueberries afterward because I won’t have time to cook.

Lunch – Black beans topped with cheese and jalapeños, a spinach salad with olive oil and vinegar, a chicken thigh or two, and some avocado.

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Dinner – A steak, Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, and a side salad.

In addition, I’ll eat one or two snacks from the list I mentioned earlier.

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So what’s missing? Low-fat foods and grains – the very things that we’ve been told to consume a lot of because they’re good for us. I’m convinced now that it’s all a lie. I also don’t eat much sugar. I’ll eat some in a natural form, like what comes with fruits and veggies, but I’m fortunate that I don’t tend to have a sweet tooth. I primarily eat these foods after I exercise to help stave off an energy crash and it tends to prevent me from committing larger infractions.

I’ve been eating like this for now for a few months. The results were:

  • I have dropped 25 pounds and a pant size.
  • All of the fat I’m eating has kept me happy and I feel like this diet is very sustainable over the long haul. I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or seriously depriving myself of the foods that I love.
  • I’ve also had blood work done and all of my stats have improved – my weight is down, my cholesterol is down, and my resting heart rate is down.
  • My BMI has lowered by 3%.

I don’t necessarily have an end game for what I want to weigh. While losing weight is necessary for me to achieve my fitness goals, it’s not my primary focus which in a way, makes all of this a bit easier since I’m not constantly focusing on losing weight. Instead, I’m focused on biking, running, pull-ups, and push-ups. Anything that makes this stuff easier is good in my book.

How to Eat More Protein

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

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A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

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Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

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The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?