|Many Dieters Don't Know What Normal Eating Is|
Are You in This For Life?
Are you chasing after a weight-loss fantasy? Do you have false expectations and misunderstandings about low-carb diets?
Or, are you making carbohydrate restriction a lifestyle?
Most dieters see carb restriction as a temporary solution to their problems, a way to get a certain number of pounds off quickly.
So, I was surprised to see that a Low Carb Friends forum member had approached these questions with a healthy, honest perspective:
"Honest answer . . . I don't know. I will never look at food the same way though."
Me either. How about you?
I signed into Low-Carb Friends that morning, thinking I might want to say something, but by the time I waded through the misconceptions, a cat-and-dog fight, and all of the typical replies:
- "I have no other choice."
- "There is no other healthier way to eat."
- "I don't want to get diabetes."
- "This isn't a diet - it's a lifestyle."
When you're at the start of your low-carb journey, your enthusiasm and determination to succeed is high. The weight falling off convinces you that a low-carb eating style is the only way to go.
Initially, you are not ready to hear anything different.
- blinders go on
- walls get thrown up
- belief systems get defended
|Kick Your LOW Carb Fantasies|
to the Curb
What is Normal Eating?
One of the major themes running throughout the various replies I read that morning was a misunderstanding of what normal eating is.
These people had learned through trial-and-error that returning to their old ways of eating, which was obviously not normal, would cause the pounds of unwanted body fat to return.
As a result, they had vowed to stay at an extremely low carbohydrate level for a lifetime, claiming that level of carbohydrate restriction was the only safe and sane approach to the problem of obesity.
For some people, I agree. Very low carb is the only alternative.
But what disturbed me (and what always disturbs me):
A large portion of participants began preaching that their solution to the problem of obesity was the only viable one for everyone.
Many said very low carb was the only healthy way to eat because it helped them control their distorted view of what normal eating was. It slashed their cravings for what they believed were unhealthy foods, so normal for them was very low carb.
To them, a well-balanced diet was not normal.
And yet, most of them had never truly looked at what a normal portion size was. They were eating low-carb foods to appetite.
Next time you're feeding your family rice or mashed potatoes, measure out 1/2 cup of those starchy carbs and plop it on a regular-sized dinner plate - you might be surprised at how little a serving of starchy carbs actually is.
Your Energy Needs Change as Your Weight Does
Truth is . . . you can't.
And you can't do it even if you only eat low-carb foods. If you have more than 50 or 60 pounds to lose, equilibrium will probably catch up with you before you reach goal. At some point, you will stall partway to your goal, as many of us have learned.
The amount of calories and dietary fats you could eat when you started your low-carb journey, and lose body fat effortlessly, is not the same amount of calories and dietary fats you will be able to eat after you've completed the weight-loss phase. To keep losing and maintain your losses, you have to do something different.
One Solution to the Dreaded Weight-Loss Plateau
For some, the solution to the problem of equilibrium is simply to give up. Content to maintain where you are, you continue to eat a low-carb diet because you are grateful for what you have accomplished. You don't want to change what you're doing, so you accept your fate.
Nothing wrong with that solution.
The adversity arises when people who have made that choice for themselves project that solution onto others. They tell you that you are free to go and do what you want, but then in the next breath, they are telling you:
"I do not believe that anyone can go on a diet. This has to be a commitment for life. There is no such thing as a diet."
Well . . . I am living proof that is not true, so who does low-carb work best for?
Who Does Low Carb Work Best For?
The poster was right about one thing:
You can't return to the way you used to eat and maintain what you have accomplished. How you ate before was an unnatural and probably unbalanced eating style.
However, the choice, when you reach equilibrium, isn't between a low-carb diet for life and gluttony.
What most miss is this:
There is more than just two paths.
Science shows and proves individuality. Science doesn't prove that a low-carb diet is better than any other alternative. It's a matter of context.
Low carb works best for those with insulin resistance, but everyone doesn't have insulin resistance.
Many overweight individuals are insulin sensitive, so they may or may not do well restricting carbs. Others might have trouble digesting fats or using fats for energy. You also might feel terrible if your basal insulin level drops too low.
Problem with Falling Leptin Levels
In the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I was like all the rest. I fell hook, line, and sinker for what Dr. Atkins believed. I walked right on by the fact that a lot of what he taught was theory instead of fact. He took his best guess as to why low carb works, but some of this beliefs haven't been supported by science.
It wasn't long before I came to realize that Dumbo's magic feather wasn't real, especially when my Leptin levels began to crash about 1-1/2 years into the weight-loss process.
If you have ever reached a point where you have lost a lot of weight and despite being on a low-carb diet:
- your hunger suddenly shoots through the roof
- you become ravenous and consistently think about food
- and have little focus on anything other than food
The body fights hard to refill its fat stores if you stay in the alternative metabolic pathway too long because it was designed to be used for temporary famine situations. At least, that's what I've learned about myself. My body will only tolerate a low-carb existence for a short amount of time.
Now, I realize that this is only true for me.
Maybe, you're luckier than I am.
Maybe your Leptin levels have never crashed. You digest dietary fats properly, can easily burn fatty acids them for fuel, and you are not sensitive to gluten. You don't have hyperthyroidism. You thrive on a very low-carb diet.
Maybe, it's your first or second time on a low-carb diet and your body hasn't completely adapted to ketosis yet, so you're still basking in the light of your One Golden Shot.
I've been there, done that, so I honestly understand where you are at. I do. In 1975, I lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks.
Science has yet to prove that living the rest of your life with partially filled glycogen stores is safe and healthy. I know that a few individuals have done this long term and are okay. But others have not.
If science one day acknowledges that ketosis is safe for the long haul, I'm completely fine with that. But it won't change my experience with a LOW carb diet. Nor, the experiences of many others who have commented on this blog.
Despite what low-carb folks want to believe, most of the time, if you want to make it to goal weight, you gotta bend the rules. Tweak the plan to fit your personal health issues and metabolism.
This is what Sherrie from the Pinch Of... blog used to tell me. Upon following her advice, and adding an additional taste of realism that I acquired from "2 Big," I found that to be true.
How I See Low Carb
Success with a low-carb diet isn't guaranteed just because you demonize carbs.
Nor is being unsuccessful always due to a lack of commitment and focus, as most participants in the Low-Carb Friends thread claimed.
Losing over 100 pounds!
A low-carb lifestyle is about having the courage to seek out your own personal truth, and then experiment with the ideas presented to discover for yourself what is useful.
A low-carb lifestyle is about not giving up and settling for less than what you could be if you maintained vital interest in achieving better health and fitness.
Health challenges demanded that I let go of the low-carb magic. I had to let go of the LOW carb dream and do something different. I had to bend a low-carb lifestyle to fit my health challenges.
So, I also believe that a low-carb lifestyle is about finding the strength to DO whatever it takes to achieve your vision, to fulfill your purpose for living, even if that means adding more carbohydrates to your diet instead of eating less.
I am an n=1.
You are an n=1.
Neither n=1 is all-inclusive, but neither is either n=1 invalid or irrelevant because we live different lifestyles. The core foundation that Dr. Atkins stood for, above all else, was personalization and individuation.
He believed in shaping your diet and lifestyle to fit your personal circumstances, health status, and inner state enabled the greater majority of low-carb folks to be successful.
Atkins Induction and Keto and even Nutritional Ketosis Phase 1 are only starting points from which to rebuild and craft your life. They are ideas to play around with and add upon, as needed. They are a different alternative than the path of the majority.
But even if LCHF doesn't work for you, like it didn't work for me, that doesn't mean you have to go face down into the cherry pie.
The choice isn't between:
1) Very LOW carb
2) HIGH carb
Healthy eating is a spectrum. You may fit anywhere on the continuum between zero carb and high carb. Promoting low carb and demanding that everyone be low carb is exclusive. It's divisive. It's like:
Building your house on a bed of sand and then keeping your front door locked with a dead-bolt.
The best method of achieving your weight-loss goal is to do what it takes to discover where you fit on the continuum, and then keep doing that for as long as it works for you.
If it stops working, like it did for me, simply make another choice. You don't have to be afraid of making the wrong choice.
There are no wrong choices.
There is only n=1 experience.
Make the best of the opportunities that come to you, and no matter how things turn out, you won't be wrong. Your choices are always perfect for your current state of being and level of understanding.
You are what you are.
So be that, and enjoy the ride.
Related Articles and ResourcesHow Many Carbs Can You Eat and Still Be Low Carb?
The Back Door Approach to Low Carb
How to Choose the BEST Low-Carb Diet for You
Need a Diet Break? Here's 5 Ways to Use Pre-Maintenance
How the Myth of Willpower Affects Your Weight Loss
If low-carb isn't for you, check out our sister blog:
Life After Low Carb: This blog focuses on healthy eating instead of specific diets, but it does contain information on the old Weight Watchers Diets, and some articles on mindful and intuitive eating, similar to what I post here.