I've been on low carb for a little over 5 months now. I started out at 235lb and am now at 176lb. In total, I've lost 59 pounds. I started with around a 43-44 inch waist and I now have a 34 inch waist. Here are some of the ridiculous things I've done and eaten on this "diet" (I'd consider my plan a rough guide on what to eat rather than a strict plan):
- Went to a tech conference and drank for four nights in a row and ate a stacked breakfast buffet and gained no weight
- Continue to have drinks on the weekends
- Eat lots of cheese, my favorite food
- Eat lots of meat, my second favorite food
- Made delicious fudge
- Ate hard candy and chocolate (low carb versions from Netrition)
- Eat ice cream (CarbSmart from Breyers sold in most stores)
Here are some of the key changes I made. I did roughly the same workout before this diet but I didn't lose weight. It's essentially 30 minutes of intense DDR (cardio) in which I burn 500 calories. Any kind of cardio would work. I hate running.
- Fixed breakfast. Too many carbs in this meal. Low Carb Alternatives: Protein shake/drink with low carbs (I use Isopure for vitamins), eggs, meat, low carb pancakes, sugar free oatmeal, diet Ocean Spray juice
- Make healthy lunches for most days of the week. Low Carb Alternatives: Flatout Light wraps (6 net carbs each), celery, sugar free Jello
- Fixed dinner. Dinner can vary widely, but I follow these general guidelines: Eat fish. Eat a vegatable, I like them steamed. Asparagus and Broccoli are low carb safe. Potatoes are not. Avoid buns, bread, crackers, chips, any kind of potatoes, syrups, spaghetti, unknown sauces (the sweeter they are from a restaurant the worse it will be) If in a restaurant, order unbreaded seafood, caesar salads (don't get croutons) or steak if possible. If it's something like Friday's, check the nutrition facts before you go. It's scary.
- Find suitable snack foods. Popcorn is good (check nutrition on the bagged stuff from the chip aisle though). Eden Pumpkin seeds are carb free. This fudge is very low carb and amazing. Just browse Netrition for low carb stuff. It's a great site. If it's on Amazon and you get Prime, get free shipping. It's hard to find some of these things in real stores. A lot of these are hit or miss, but if you find the good ones then you're golden.
I weigh myself once a day usually just to see where I'm at. I've noticed a distinct trend in that I'll gain 3 or 4 pounds by the end of a weekend and then I'll be at a net loss by the time Thursday or Friday rolls around. After a month I'll (hopefully) be at my goal of 170lb with a steady 1-2 pound loss each week.
Benefits of Using Your Brain Instead of a Diet Plan
I hate traditional diets because they feel too restrictive. That's why I did my own thing. I can decide for myself what's low carb enough to eat and I can cheat when I need to. Some people need the meal plans and everything, but I like having freedom to choose for myself. As long as you do a little research on foods you like to eat and know what's what you'll be fine.
Gotchas on Low Carb
- "Effective" carbs are what you look for. That means you subtract Fiber and Sugar Alcohols because they aren't metabolized the same as a real carb. Malitol as a sugar alcohol is worse than the others, though, so I'd avoid the foods that use it.
- Sauces. Go to Netrition/Amazon and order your low carb versions of these. Regular syrup has something like 52 carbs in it! Get low carb syrup, cocktail sauce, ketchup (they sell reduced sugar in stores), and use lower carb dressing like ranch. Other things are pleasantly low carb such as butter, mayo, and mustard.
- Shoot for 50-75 carbs a day if you're starting out to try the lifestyle. Atkins makes you do Induction where you go down to 20-30 carbs a day which is really hard. I feel like just cutting some is a great start. My diet was easily 150-200 a day before my loss.
- Bread. The only low carb breads are the ones you make yourself pretty much. You can order some online, but they're expensive. I got a bread machine and use this recipe when I need it. There are low carb tortillas on Netrition. Avoid the La Tortilla ones, they're gross. I use the tortillas folded for hamburger buns.
- Some people will tell you alcohol, coffee, and diet soda are bad. I consume these regularly while on this diet and I still feel amazing. It's the things that you eat with them that are bad for you, so fix those. And use a low / no carb sweetener in coffee.
I hope this post helps someone! This has been a fun experience. I don't know if I'll keep up all of these habits, but I definitely did this diet with the idea of finding food I like in mind so I can continue eating good things in the future.