diet, weight loss

EUREKA!

Well! I’m up by almost a full pound from yesterday, but to be honest, that’s no surprise. Most of my weight loss seems to happen on the weekend — at least as far as I’ve been recording it on the website we use — and now, we’ve discovered why.

Back in February, my wife and I determined to replace my breakfast sandwiches from McDonald’s with something low in carbohydrates and just as delicious. I used to eat omelets every day when I could. I had quite a few contract assignments wherein the building had its own cafeteria. I could get freshly made omelets, bacon, sausage, and a diet soda pop and coffee. All great. I did this every day, and topped the omelet with salsa too. Not as “low carb” as it could be, but DELICIOUS and SOOOO satisfying.

In 2008, I worked at a bank. They had a cafeteria, and again, i got the fresh omelets every day, but I also bought a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin with egg, cheese and either a sausage patty or bacon. Just like a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. So I’d eat the sandwich later in the day and that was all I ate until I got to dinner after getting home. And behold! I lost a lot of weight there. So much I dropped a pants size while I stood at the sink spatchcocking a chicken to barbecue one day.

With this job, I was stopping daily at McDonald’s for breakfast. Not cheap — about $40 a week. And not good for weight loss either. So, when we decided to go low carb again, I knew it had to go. I wasn’t wild about facing left overs day in and day out, and made my opinions known. My wife sat me down and came up with this wonderful egg bake, and when we calculated the amounts for the macro nutrients in it, I recorded those on my Food Tracker Excel workbook.

But on Sunday night, my wife took the effort and time to put everything into our diet web site’s food database. The numbers she got back were dramatically different than those we were using as our basis. The protein levels, for one thing, were MUCH higher than we counted for each serving. We had something on the order of 21g per serving. The web site came up at a whopping 48g per serving. WTH?!

We took a look at where we might’ve gone wrong, and found we didn’t even come CLOSE to the protein added. We calculated it wrong somehow. But with the new numbers we had, the amount of protein I’m consuming is off the charts. Yesterday, for example, I had an (approximately) 8oz salmon steak for dinner, after having the egg bake, 2oz of cheddar cheese and 2oz of salami for my lunch. All said and done, the web site tells me I’ve eating a total of 126g of protein!

So, based on several approximations for how much protein I should be having, that’s anywhere from 30g to 50g over my daily limit. And I do this pretty much every single weekday. I don’t eat the egg bake for lunch on weekends; I preserve them for work lunches. On weekends I find other things to eat and monitor my protein by the numbers of the labels (the accuracy of which is another rant altogether). I get a much better idea of what I’m taking in and, as a direct result, I have better weight loss over the weekend than the snail’s pace I see through the week.

Well! That’s eye-opening!

Because excess carbohydrates become glucose in the blood, I’ve been essentially eating carbs on a ketogenic diet. Now, different people have different requirements for protein. The calculations I’ve been using most frequently include taking IDEAL body weight, divide by two, and that represents the correct number of grams per day to have. Also, convert your CURRENT body weight to kilograms and, if very active, eat 1g protein per kilogram of weight. If sedentary (I am), multiply body weight in kilograms by 0.8 to get the number of grams per day. OR, divide CURRENT body weight by 2.2 and THAT is the number of grams per day (this is the same as converting to kilograms. OR, take CURRENT body weight and multiply by .36 to get number of grams per day.

Except for the first formula, which yields 75g per day, the others ALL turn up 96g or so per day (give or take 1 or 2). I’ve been eating either 50g more per day (based on the 75g/day method) or 30g/day (based on the other formulas)over my daily protein requirements.

Now, why doesn’t this effect everyone, every time they try low carb dieting? Well, I think it does. In the early 2000’s, the explosion of the low carb “fad’ came so strongly into its own, food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon as fast as they could. They put out all manner of low carb products (most of which weren’t, but again, that’s another post) to get consumers to throw their money at them.

Most of those people had only limited success with low carb, and soon abandoned it. Why?

Because they ate unlimited amounts of protein. As long as it wasn’t starch or sugar, or as long as it was labeled “low carb” by the packaging, it was okay to eat. So many people had good results at first, but then the results either tapered off or stopped altogether.

Gluconeogenesis is the reason. Dr. Atkins, the most recognized name in low carb dieting, never mentioned this in his book. Or did he?

He didn’t use that term. It didn’t exist until after his death in 2003. But Dr. Atkins did, in his New Diet Revolution book, specifically state protein intake should be limited. Fat intake no, but protein yes.

Now we know why, and the process for why. The excess protein is converted to sugar and the results are similar to carbohydrate consumption. The days when I had a spike in weight a couple of weeks ago were because the protein levels I ate were WAY too high. I knew that, but didn’t realize I’d been losing weight while I had sugar running rampant in my system.

Now, the solution is to be aware of the sneaky protein and not just the sneaky carbs. To address this, my wife has dividing the egg casserole into eight parts, not six as before. This reduced the protein to an acceptable level, and leaves me a bit of room for dinner!

Also, using the basis of 96g/day as my requirement at this weight, and shooting for something like 80 or 85g/day instead, I should see good weight loss. But, as always, time will show and n=1. Maybe none of this is relevant.

Regardless, I feel good about this discovery, and it explains a lot. Now, if we can just find something like this hidden sabotage for my wife, she can start losing weight at a rate she’s pleased with, too. Fingers crossed!

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