As we age, my husband and I are more aware of our health, like many people. So, we have been working on shedding 60 pounds or so that we acquired over the last couple decades and don’t want anymore.
At first, we tried doing it “right”. We kept food journals and consulted nutritionist. We went high fiber and low-fat. We did weight-training and cardio exercise. And, the scale would fluctuate up to five pounds or so, but that was about it.
Then, 18 months ago, we discovered by accident that if we eliminated gluten from my diet, the great majority of my multiple sclerosis symptoms went away. So, we ditched the multi-grain, high fiber bread and pasta and only splurged with gluten on occasion. When we splurge, we know it; the bloating and constipation associated with gluten come back with a vengeance.
Still we were frustrated with our weight loss. The dietitians said our food journals looked good and we must simply be consuming things we were writing down or measuring our portion sizes incorrectly to not be losing weight. Irritated by her disbelief, I stopped seeing her and remained frustrated.
It all changed when my husband saw “Fat Head” on watch it now from Netflix. My husband enjoys watching documentaries and was blown away by this answer to “Super Size Me.”
The next night we watched it together and then we started doing research into the science behind a low-carbohydrate diet. Low-carb immediately made sense to me. When we were dieting before and I wanted to cheat, it was never cookies and cakes and other desserts that called to me. It was protein, chicken or a cheeseburger, that would satisfy my cravings.
So we enlisted the aid of low-carb blogger and expert Amy Dungan, including borrowing an array of her academic-style research materials about the diet. We read about the induction flu, the problem with many people feeling sluggish or even mildly ill as they significantly reduce their carbohydrate intake. We used up the majority of the high carbohydrate foods in the house and stored the rest, for a time later in the lifestyle plan that allows for a wider variety of carbohydrates. We shopped. Then, we began what we are calling the low-carb experiment.
The experiment began on Wednesday and I felt great. I’ve been recovering from a head cold, but otherwise I was happy with the first day. We kept our induction carbs to about 11 net grams, that’s total carbohydrates minus the fiber content. Better yet, by mid-afternoon, I wasn’t even hungry despite it being time to eat.
We decided to try to make this diet work. We eat at regular intervals and have a meal plan, complete with snacks and even dessert in the evenings. The New Atkins Diet Book also recommended increasing your salt and water intake to accommodate the new digestive requirements. So I drank four 16.9 ounce bottles of water.
Day 1 was relatively easy, but only because we planned ahead. Dinner was supposed to be goulash from a recipe in the Atkins cookbook. It claimed it needed about an hour between cook time and prep time. But after an hour the meat was still tough. So we threw that in the crockpot to eat on Day 2 and made bun-less burgers with cheese and a salad for dinner. The advice to have quick and easy alternatives paid off.
At the end of Day 1, I felt great and satisfied. I think I’ve found the right eating style for me.
Drawbacks to Atkins-style diet
But there were downsides. My husband and I are both writers, working from home, which gave us more flexibility, but induction is time intensive. We spent a great deal of Day 1 in the kitchen prepping meals and snacks. We’re hoping that this will ease as we learn to prepare meals ahead of time, but it was a huge disruption the first day.
In addition, the plan is expensive. With meat and cheese being the primary food groups, along with fresh vegetables, we spent about $300 in preparation for this menu. Realistically, that should be about a month’s worth of groceries, with only some minor supplementation, but it was still a hard figure to look at.
Finally, there is a mental shift that will have to take place while we are conducting the low-carb experiment. My cupboards are virtually bare. There are canned vegetables, tuna and canned chicken and some broths, but very little else in them right now, while my fridge is packed to overflowing.
My low-carb experiment is going to be interesting.