I went out the next day and bought Gary Taubes book called Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It. I recommend you do the same, and read it cover to cover. My husband, my son and I all started the diet immediately, while I read this fascinating and eye-opening book. I also spent a lot of time doing research on the internet, learning what works and doesn’t work for other people doing this diet.
The #1 thing that helped us all succeed on this diet was that everyone in the family was on board. We didn’t have to keep bread or cereal in the house for someone who wasn’t doing the diet, and if the stuff is gone, it makes it easier not to cave in to temptation, especially in the early days. Speaking of which, this questionnaire asked whether the cravings went away, and he didn’t have the option of giving the answer that applied to us – for all of us, the carb cravings disappeared after one week. We all ate pasta and bread often, it was our favorite food. The cravings for that food went away, it was very weird. When those cravings for pasta or bread or cereal come back now, it’s an excellent signal that I ate too many carbs, and to think about how that might have happened so I can avoid doing it again.
My teenage son lost 30 pounds, and has kept it off for six months now.
My husband was only about 10 pounds overweight, but high cholesterol runs in his family, and his numbers were terrible. After four months on our low carb/high fat diet, his triglycerides went from 128 to 64, and all his other numbers also improved. Right now he actually weighs less than he did thirty years ago. His sister also did the diet, and after three months her cholesterol numbers improved so much that her doctor took her off Lipitor.
Reading about low carb diets on the internet can be bewildering. Some claim you can eat potatoes and all the fruit you want; others claim you should also eat low fat (please don’t do that, it is unnecessary and you’re doomed to a much harder time of it). There are many different diet camps including paleo and primal and archevore. The bottom line is that we are all different, and you’re going to need to experiment to find out how many carbs you can eat and keep losing weight, or maintain the weight you have.
I have a few simple points that I have culled from reading and researching for the past year, and I think anyone who starts from here is going to have the fastest success with this way of eating.
1. No sugar, no fructose corn syrup. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Check out Stevia (with NO additives, just pure Stevia) and check out xylitol, and use in moderation. Not cups of it, just teaspoons of it.
2. No grains of any kind, in any form. That includes corn and oatmeal, as well as wheat, rye and barley. Later on, some people can add back oatmeal.
3. No vegetable oils. Cook with butter, ghee, coconut oil and animal fat. (Research the effects of too much omega 6 in our diet.)
4. Eat low carb, moderate protein, high fat. Eat butter, virgin coconut oil, organic lard (do not use any that is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated). Do not be afraid of fat, it will make you full longer, and your heart and arteries will love it. I promise.
5. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. Do not eat again until you are hungry again. If you do this right, you will find you go much longer between meals. Don’t worry about calories, let your body tell you when you aren't hungry.
6. Try not to snack. If you need to snack, a handful of raw nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts) is great.
7. Drink lots and lots of water.
8. Get most of your carbs from vegetables and berries, not from things like "low carb tortilla shells". Read the labels on everything, including salad dressings.
9. If you're a chocoholic like me, buy 85% dark chocolate bars, and have a couple of squares every day as a treat. If you start craving more chocolate, add more fat to your diet, and you may find that those cravings disappear.
10. Don't get discouraged if you mess up. Just start again the next day.
I am SO grateful to Gary Taubes for his life-changing work... and also to the Reader's Digest for printing the article with his interview. It kind of cracks me up, I’ve been reading Reader’s Digest since I was 8 years old, and I never dreamed it would one day change my life. Gary’s work took it from there.
I wish the best to anyone reading this, and I hope you great success if you are starting on your new life, too.
What was the biggest challenge to adopting a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet?
Social pressures, like turning down desserts at social gatherings, and people saying, "Oh, you're still doing that diet?" in a less-than-encouraging tone. Also the loss of convenience, it sure was easy to pour cereal in a bowl. Planning ahead and having easy food choices available helps a lot.
What advice (if any) would you give to someone interested in trying a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet? Were there any obstacles that you overcame that could help future dieters?
I have a whole lot of advice! Here goes: I don't believe that the "induction" phase is necessary, where you cut your carbs really low at the beginning and then increase them. I advise you to start at about 15 carbs per meal, and work up or down from there. For one thing, starting with moderately low carbs instead of almost no carbs will help decrease the negative effects during transition.
Don't be afraid to eat fat, in fact, the higher the percentage of fat in your diet (as long as you're keeping your carbs low!), the more successful you will probably be. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are not hungry. You won't feel stuffed like you do when you eat bread. Avoid vegetable oils like they are poison - read up about excess omega 6 in our diets. Going low carb automatically helps decrease omega 6, but read about it anyway. Besides other health problems, too much omega 6 seems to be able to sabotage weight loss. Cook with butter, ghee, coconut oil, animal fat. Read every label. While you're figuring out what you can eat, Google "how many carbs are in ______". Number one rule of thumb starting out: if it tastes sweet, even if you didn't expect it to taste sweet, immediately stop eating it and get something else.
Avoid artificial sweeteners. Splenda is not your friend. Learn to substitute the pleasure of eating fat for the pleasure of eating sweet, which will happen if you stick with it. Stevia without additives is a decent sweetener, but use it in moderation, like a packet in your coffee or tea. Xylitol seems to be another good possibility, but it causes some people stomach upset. Buy one of those vacuum food savers, buy lots of meat in bulk when it's on sale, then seal and freeze them. In those sealed packages, a thick steak will thaw in a bowl of water in about an hour. If you goof up and eat too many carbs and gain a few pounds in a couple of days, don't panic, it's just water weight. Eat low carb again and it will come off. One response that helps when people offer you dessert is to say, "No thank you, I have cut sugar out of my diet." Be prepared: when you have weight loss success eating FAT, you're going to get excited and try to tell people about it. Most of them will not be interested. Be true to yourself, do not cave to social pressures and eat the bread, or share the dessert. Instead, enjoy your meat slathered in butter while they eat their salads with no dressing.
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