Low-Carb Weight Loss
Note: I’m not a weight loss professional, just someone who struggles with their weight. This is my experience and my opinion.
I have lost about 50 pounds, 40 of which I attribute to following a low-carb diet. The other 10 I lost in the 6 months leading up to the diet, mostly from stress I think.
I didn’t follow an Atkins-type program, because I still ate fruits and vegetables. I just avoided processed stuff, and certain fruits and veggies that are high in sugar or carbs (bananas, white potatoes, cooked carrots, etc.). I admit that the first week or two I thought I’d fail because of the cravings. I am a sugar junkie!
The way I understand it, carbs are broken down into simple sugars which are easy for your body to digest. These sugars flood your bloodstream, making you feel great! But because they are burned off so quickly, they lead to “crashing” which causes the cravings. If this is constantly going on in your body – super highs followed by super lows – it can’t be good. Think about the pancreas that has to make all that insulin. Plus, carbohydrates do not make you feel full for long because, again, they are broken down so quickly. So eating this kind of food leads to eating more and more frequently, and the cravings might make you eat more in one setting than you normally would want.
This makes sense to me. Protein is more satisfying and filling because it takes longer to break down, but it gives a more sustained-type of energy that isn’t spikey. Foods high in fiber are filling, too, but they can lead to cravings because of the sugar issue. Plus, they cause gas. Ever eat a Fiber One bar? Still have any friends?
Like any diet, though, it only matters in the long run if you adopt the routines as part of your lifestyle and don’t view it as a temporary way of eating. This is especially hard to do when you try low-carb dieting. I think weight comes off quickly, but how many people can see themselves never eating anything made with flour or sugar again? Um, yeah, me neither.
This is a problem.
I’m trying to transition from the dieting mentality to the living mentality. But when it comes to reintroducing carbs, it’s like playing with heroin after getting out of rehab. I fell off the wagon. HARD. I started buying CANDY. Ice cream. Donuts. Then I started baking sweets. The whole time I was doing this, by the way, I had this battle going on in my head:
“Uh, what are you doing?”
“Listen, this donut/candy/cookie doesn’t matter because when you were talking about avoiding carbs, you meant LATER you would do that. Right now, you want the cookie. What does that hurt? Don’t you deserve a cookie?”
“Well, sure, it’s just a cookie, but I think I’m going to feel like crap after eating it.”
“Sure, sure, you might, but then you can not eat any more cookies and you’ll feel better. But you really, really want to eat this one now.”
I crave sugar crap like some people crave salty crap. I wonder if that is related to metabolic differences? Interesting. I don’t get excited over potato chips or french fries, but pretty cupcakes or bags of licorice will make me get in the car with Charles Manson.
Name a diet and I have tried it: starving myself, herbal supplements to suppress my appetite, slim fast, weight watchers. This time when I did the low-carb plan I went through a weight loss clinic that offered hcg injections, vitamin supplement injections, and prescription appetite suppressant. I tried them all. The hcg shots messed up my periods. The vitamin injections didn’t do much but the needle itself hurt like hell. The appetite suppressant I used off and on (phentermine) and it did kill my appetite. I didn’t notice any other side effects, it didn’t make me jittery and I didn’t feel “addicted” or anything like that. What I did feel was guilty – wasn’t this cheating? I mean, it’s fine to drink a shitload of coffee or take metabolife to kill your appetite, but when you take an actual drug that has been FDA-approved and safety tested – that is not ok? I felt like a dirt bag. So I stopped taking it.
Now I am trying to regain a sense of normalcy by eating some “carb-ish” foods without losing my mind. After dealing with stressful circumstances that began in May and ended in June, I am now 12 pounds higher than I was in December. This scares me. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life nervously eyeing the scale, battling guilt over my food choices and never just enjoying my life.
I don’t think it gets any easier.