It’s not easy to be patient with a low-carb lifestyle. (I’m through calling this a “diet.” It’s not.)
I’ve recently learned how some folks have plateaus of three weeks up to seven months or even a year. Once they hit a plateau, they get discouraged, angry and contemplate giving up. But by sticking with it, they finally crash through the wall and continue their progress. Those stories are good to hear, but…
Others tell stories of going well and then losing their steam. They dropped their carbs near zero, and ate a lot of protein and fat, but nothing happened. (Can you say “gluconeogenesis”, kiddies? I knew y’could.) So they’ve decided LCHF diets don’t work and buy farther into the whole “eat grains and toxic sugar and avoid fat!” doctrine. Which is, of course, a lie.
But the problem lies in being patient with this. For me, this is the third time doing a low-carb diet. The first time, my “golden shot” or “golden time,” as it’s sometimes called, my body took to the new foods like a duck to water and I shed weight quickly. In just under three months, I lost 35lbs. I could have stood to drop another ten, I think, but that’s irrelevant now. I started going back to old patterns of eating, old patterns of living, and before long, guess what? Back to fat.
I’ve come to believe there are a few things going on with me:
- I think I eat too many grams of protein per day. I have to find a way to replace those with fats…somehow.
- I think trying to keep my fat up has meant I don’t focus as much as I should on carbohydrates. (See below for more detail.)
- I think not paying enough attention to my protein may be causing issues with getting into, and staying into, ketosis.
Let me address those top two, which directly trigger the third.
First, I don’t normally pay attention to how much protein I eat. I look for high fat foods, and let’s face it, a lot of fat comes from protein. So I eat a fair amount of protein. While I try to keep protein intake to around 25% or less of my total caloric intake, I really haven’t been sweating it too much. So I watch the fat figures and try to keep them above 65% of dietary energy consumption, but doggone, that means sometimes I eat a lot of protein.
Depending on who you ask, that’s okay. But I’ve found information which says excess protein is converted to glucose and that will take one right out of ketosis, and will also stop the weight loss process (because, well, you have a ton of sugar in your system). Hm. True? In my experience it seems to be. So a question arises…but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Next, I made a broad-sweeping assumption which says something like, “If I keep my fat up to 65% or more of my caloric intake, and my protein is at about 20-25%, then the balance of less than 15% (and most often under 10%) of intake is carbohydrates, which are necessarily acceptable levels.”
But the premise is flawed. I do always keep the fat around 65% but try for as high as 80% when I can find ways to do that. Assume the highest protein levels of about 25% of caloric intake, too. Now, with a 1600 calorie daily consumption which can range up to about 2000 (and has drifted as high as 2800+!), that’s about 1040 fat calories, or about 115g of fat, more or less. That also means I’m taking in about 400 protein calories, and that pans out to a whopping 100g of protein per day. (I think I’m supposed to be at something like 0.8g for every pound of ideal body weight, according to my loving wife.)
But the big one is this; that leaves a paltry 160 calories of carbohydrates. About 10% of my daily intake, right? Pretty good, right?
160 calories is a staggering 40 grams of carbohydrates per day. I’m supposedly shooting for ketotic state, which would mean my ketosis level should be low, and it is. Oh, is it ever.
Well…it fluctuates, actually. I’m not out of ketosis, but it’s not burning a hole through my fat stores, either. And maybe — just maybe — this is why.
I thought, when I set out to get this lifestyle started, that 50g of carbohydrates per day would be enough to trigger slow, steady weight loss. I was wrong. I think that may be too high for me. I have to find a way to drop that down somehow, keep it at or below 30g per day, methinks.
I based my initial thoughts on past experience with low-carb eating. But, that was before. Let’s face it, the ol’ gray horse, he ain’t what he used to be. Things don’t respond as well as they did before, as quickly as before, recuperation is a longer, slower process than before. As I approach my fifth decade, things are slowing down, getting more curmudgeonly as time goes on.
My fat cells don’t seem to be any more eager to relinquish their stores now than the rest of me is to play like I used to. And with my back problem, exercise is out. (Not to mention how much evidence exists for the theory that exercise contributes to weight problems, and doesn’t solve them.)
So the issue at hand, readily addressed, is the amount of protein and carbohydrates. I can lower the carb count somewhat, but I’d have to spend quality time with my food tracker to find out where they’re coming in. I’m certainly not wantonly eating carb-laden foods, though I do insist on my salsa with my egg casserole every morning. So, first track them down; then, perhaps, eliminate a few more.
But, the harder question to answer is: What do I do about the protein intake? If I lower it, then the difference will come from fat, right?
And this is the question I have no answer to. Without resorting to spooning mayonnaise or coconut oil right out of the jar, how am I supposed to replace protein? Simply eat less? But aren’t we supposed to stop counting calories when we do ketogenic lifestyles? (No diet, remember.) If excess protein is the bigger culprit, where does the difference come in? I can’t raise carbohydrate intake, I have to lower protein intake, and God of Heaven help me, there are only three macro nutrients, so…where does the difference come from?
I can’t eat sticks of butter. I can eat some whole yogurt, I suppose, but just spoonfuls of sour cream, coconut oil, olive oil, and sticks of butter really don’t sound appealing. And this lifestyle is supposed to be satisfying and appealing, so…
Where do I get the excess fat? Where and how do I add fat (more still) to my intake of calories? In what form? From what source?
Anyone know of some good, low-protein, high-fat foods (hot dogs seem okay, but they tend to be higher in carbs than you’d like on a ketogenic menu). Cream cheese? Okay, but that’s got protein too, and some carbs. And let’s face it, I can’t face eating cream cheese every single day for the rest of my life. Ugh.
So, if you’re willing, please let me know what sources of fat are low-carb AND low-protein so I can add them to my repertoire of delicacies.