Weight Loss

On January 3rd, as has been mentioned on this blog before, I began a diet.  I call it a modified Atkins, mostly because I took basic concepts used in Atkins, and modified them to meet my own research and study on the matter.

When I started, on January 3rd, I was at 450lbs.  I said 435 several times, mostly out of this weird shame mixed with a belief that the 15 lbs I had subtracted would equate to the year a woman takes off her age when she reports she is 29.  Of course, looking back I see how ludicrous it was.  Time is a great teacher, and experience even greater.

Today I weigh 298 lbs.  That is a weight loss total of 152 lbs this year.  And I have not exercised.  I get asked a lot “What are your secrets.”  I tell them I have none, and they insist.  Yet, when I tell them what it is I do, they suddenly lose interest and just kind of trail off.

Regardless, here is what I have done, and will do for the foreseeable future (until I need to ensure weight gain, anyway).  But first, a few critical points that MUST be followed no matter what.

1.  NEVER any alcohol.  No booze of any kind.  It is empty carbs, needless and fattening.

2.  No pasta, bread, rice, potato, any derivative thereof, corn, corn starch, sugar, carrots, artichokes, or peas.  The only bean you should have is black bean, and look for a “net” carb of 6 g or less (more on that later).

3.  No fruits or fruit juices, except strawberries.

4.  Take a multivitamin daily

5.  Drink lots of water, or iced tea.  No sugar.  If you use Splenda, it has to be the one with fiber.  Otherwise, you get hidden carbs with maltodextrine.  Fiber has carbs, but is passed through the body undigested.  So you don’t absorb the carbs.  If you don’t drink water, you can cause problems with your kidneys as you will likely eat a little more protein.  If you have a lot of weight loss, you will want to make sure you keep your body flushed anyway.

6.   Don’t go hungry.  Meat has zero carbs, and you can eat as much as you can.  Yes, that means bacon, on this diet, is on the “good” list.

7.  No milk.  Ever.  If you need calcium, do cheese. Monterrey Jack has 0.6g per 1 oz serving.  That is so negligible that I have never even bothered to count it into what I eat (more on THAT later, too).

8.  Forget everything you thought you knew about dieting.  Calories don’t matter at all.  Carbs are the only thing you are counting, and limiting.  If you can’t get this mental change under control, you will struggle with this dietary concept.  FORGET CALORIES, THEY ARE 100% IRRELEVANT.  I think this is THE major folly of the medical professionals.  Ever since the “experts” came up with the idea of a low calorie, low fat diet, the American waistline has expanded greatly.  When you look at the results of the approach, you see a sea of fat Americans shoveling carbs into their face.

9.  Veggies, veggies, veggies.  They are full of nutrients, will help with any possible wear on the kidneys due to the added protein.  Good veggies to stick to:  cabbage, lettuce, green beans, and spinach.

Having gone over the major “no no’s”, I would like to go into the basic premise of my method:

Your body uses 1 of 2 energy sources:  fats and carbs.  Carbs are preferred, because your body wants to use the easiest and most efficient energy source.  When there are no carbs for energy, the body will convert to burning fat instead.  So you take in fats (lots of fats early on to get the metabolic change going, then meter them down so you start to rely on bodily reserves instead).   The idea being, when you don’t have enough dietary fats to meet energy needs, you start burning body fat reserves to meet this energy need.

My blood cholesterol has gone from 197 to 185.  So my high fat diet is not affecting my blood fat levels (cholesterol).  Which makes sense, as the fats that end up in your blood stream generally tend to be produced by the body when you are eating a high carb diet.  And my carb restricted diet has equalized by blood sugar.  Even more, I immediately started sweating less.

This last point is worthy of additional discussion as well.  When my wife went to nursing school, the mantra taught is “water follows salt”.  This is a well known:  when you eat salt, you ahve to take in water to move it through the body.  It will make you thirsty.  Sugar is the exact same way (when i say “sugar”, i mean not just cane sugar, but also other sugars like potatoe, rice, bread, wheat, flour…any grain food or anything that you make bread from or that contains starch).

Consequently, when you start this diet you will pee.  A LOT.  Your initial weight loss will be VERY rapid, all because of this loss of water.  You no longer take in sugars, you no longer need all that water to carry it through your body.  This is why when you quit the low carb lifestyle, you put on weight quickly.  When you start to ingest sugars, you also have to ingest water to carry the sugars through the body.  The first 3 weeks i lost almost 2 lbs per day because of this water loss via urination.  During my average 4 day gorge cycle I may gain 10 lbs at most, mostly in water weight.

For a good start, use this as a guide for carb counts on foods:

Atkins Carb Counter Chart

And remember this one key element:  when you calculate carbs use the following formula:

Carbs – Carbs from fiber = Net Carbs.

Net carbs are all the matters.  Fiber carbs pass through the body, and actually will help you keep your bowels moving properly (key when you increase your protein and reduce your sugars, which bring all that water with them).

And it is important to cycle.  By cycle I mean, shock your body, let up gradually, go hog wild, then start over.  To do this I follow this strategy:

First 2 weeks eating 20g or less per day.  Unlike Atkins, I don’t avoid any food items during this Induction phase.  I just hold to the “less than 20g carbs per day” idea and leave it at that.

Second 2 weeks, intake of 25g carbs or less per day.

Third 2 week period, intake 30g carbs or less per day.

Fourth 2 week period, intake 40 grams or less per day, until the last 4 days of this period.  This is when you go hog wild.  It is when i allow a relapse in my severe Reese’s addiction.  I eat pasta, and if i am going to have a burger this is when i do it.  I still avoid all sugary drinks, sticking to diet soda or Splenda Tea.  This is mostly because I don’t want to lose my taste for them after taking 3 months to get to where I could even tolerate Diet Dr Pepper (I am a former 8 bottle a day Dr Pepper drinker, the 16.9 oz bottles)

The reason for this “gorge” period is that most dieters begin to plateau and need a fresh kickstart.  So you eat enough carbs that you turn off your fat burning metabolism in favor of a carb burning metabolism.  This allows you to reenter the Induction phase and experience a more rapid weight loss.  By the way, you will not increase your weight too greatly from the intake of water with a 4 day binge.  But you will put on a little weight during the Gorge period.  Never fear, as it will come off quickly once you re-enter induction.

Now, the big question is, what would you eat while on low carb?  I have LOTS of oustanding dishes that I would have eaten before the low carb diet (and often did).  I am a really good cook.  Of course, I can’t share it all here at one time, but will commit to making a series of ideas (mostly because the 3 readers here might like it, as well as family members that I can just link to this article).  But before I get started, to address the sweet tooth.  Atkins bars are a Godsend.  Especially the peanut butter cups, as I am a recovering Reese’s addict.

Another option that I like:  purchase the Skippy Natural peanut butter.  It is only 6g per 2 tblsp.  And heavy cream is negligible on a 2 tblsp serving.  So I mix 4 tblsp heavy cream into 2 tblsp peanut butter, sweeten with Splenda, and whip it as best I can.  What your generally end up with is a peanut butter, butter cream frosting.  Talk about very, very delicious.

Or a strawberry milkshake.  In a blender, fill about 2/3 full of frozen strawberries (still frozen).  add in heavy cream till it is right at the top of the strawberries, and then top it off with water and Splenda to taste.  Blend until thick and semifrozen.  By putting in the fiber carbs of the Strawberry, you end up providing enough carbs to keep it from freezing into ice.  But be caution:  blending it too long makes it start to clump into butter granules.  So only blend until actually blended.  And if you really want a change, use the Skippy Natural peanut butter mentioned above instead of strawberries.

Another big “tip” is a gravy.  Its not really gravy, but rather cheese sauce.  Just put some butter in a pan, and melt it into heavy cream (this it he base, so add as much as the gravy you will want).  Stir constantly until it starts to steam, then add in cheese a handful at a time, stirring into a homogeneous sauce.  Repeat until it is the desired consistency.  If you use Monterrey Jack it is mild enough to be almost undetectable.  But if you like bolder flavors, use Parmesan (an Alfredo sauce.  I make this for everything from meat to veggies.  Or maybe I will throw in some gorgonzola and kick up a sauce for some brussels sprouts, or spinach  Or use chedder, and chop in some chipotles, and use it on eggs and bacon (eggs are only 0.6g apiece, so eat up).  Any cheese can be used, and if you experiment you will discover what works best with what, according to your own tastes.

Over the coming days, or weeks (or however long I can maintain a focus on providing the information) I will post recipes for interested parties.  But to give you an idea of typical meals, I will list 3 favorites (without actual recipes, just ingredients).  You can rest assured that none in my family have had a hungry moment while on this diet (a major problem for people trying to lose weight: being hungry).

A typical meal in our house would consist of a meat, a vegetable, a cheese, and maybe a second meat.  The second meat would usually be a sausage, like Kiolbassa Beef (it is the only one I have found with 0 carbs, and is an outstanding sausage).  For example, I would serve something like grilled chicken thigh (boneless, skinless…cheaper and tastier than breast), asparagus, a cheese sauce, and some refried black beans for my son (who won’t eat any veggies).

Or maybe a cabbage stir fry (with cabbage, onion, asparagus, and bean sprouts) served with a korean style barbque meat (sans the brown sugar, using Splenda instead).

A family favorite is bacon wrapped parmesan coated chicken.  We cube 1″ chicken chunks, roll in parm, wrap with 1/3 slice bacon, and bake at 350 until they are done.

No matter what we eat, we ensure we are eating foods that do not really require a lot of portion control (except the refried black beans…they are “iffy” but represent a good chance for other nutrients for my finicky son).   And this has been a major key for us, as being hungry drives snacking, and snacks are always high carb foods (chips, popcorn, etc).  The trick is, we are able to eat as much as we want because we have used our bodys chemistry to work in our favor.  We allow our body to do the work for us, so that we can minimize our hunger and maximize our weight loss.

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3 Responses to “Weight Loss”

  1. Good info Michael…thanks for sharing, i will be trying this soon.

    Carlene aka snooks from the forum

    • One of the finest people I ever met. Thanks for coming by. You know a couple ways to reach me if you need recipe ideas. I have lots, and they are good. Ask my mother….she is “suffering” along with us now. 🙂

  2. Some great info and a good informative read! congratulations on changing your lifestyle.

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