I can’t believe I’m about to blog my diet story, but since I’m going at it again for a second time and have had a number of people ask me for details, I might as well.
Long story short, two years after having Inch, I was still carrying an extra 20lbs. DH and I took the low carb approach and I lost 10 lbs in the first month and a total of 20 lbs by the end of 5 months. I kept that weight off for a year and only gained much of it back because I quit smoking and just went crazy over the holidays. This go round, I’m on day 24 and have lost 8-10 lbs. (I like to weigh myself in jeans and a sweater first and then lighter weight clothing thereafter to get a much-needed mental boost.)
I’ll break down the specifics in a moment, but what I have found to be most important is the need to become aware of what you are eating. I am still stunned when I check the carb count on foods that, previously, I would have wolfed down without a second thought.
First, let me define how I count carbs: Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols. Note that this formula, as my grandfather has informed me, is not the same for people who monitor carbs for diabetic purposes.
Though we only loosely followed it, the Atkins plan starts off with an induction phase that limits daily consumption to 20 net carbs per day for the first 2 weeks. We targeted 30-40 net carbs per day for the first 2 weeks and then 70-100 per day for an indefinite maintenance phase.
To put these numbers in perspective, my average daily intake was between 300-400 net carbs, but on extreme days could exceed 500. For example, a single holiday meal could be over 600 carbs when you include dessert.
There are essentially 5 things you must all but eliminate from your diet if you want to reduce your carb intake enough to affect your weight. They are sugar, pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread (and most flour/wheat based products). I didn’t think that sounded so hard until I realized that 75% of my daily diet was derived from these 5 things!
Before & After Menus
For years, I ate high fiber cereal every morning for breakfast and sweetened my coffee with sugar and flavored creamers. This meant starting my day off with over 60 carbs. The rest of a typical day might include lunch from Subway, a banana, dinner with at least a hearty serving of pasta, rice or potatoes and rolls, and a late evening snack to meet my sweet tooth needs. Throw in a single coke or sweet tea, and I’ve easily surpassed the 300 mark!
To achieve my new daily goal of 70-100 carbs, breakfast is less than 3 carbs with 2 eggs and coffee sweetened with Splenda and sugar free creamer. Lunch might be a burrito, a sandwich or leftovers from dinner the night before (see secret weapons below). Dinner is more heavily weighted in veggies with much smaller portions of carbs. Snacks are low-to-no sugar candies or ice creams or an occasional yogurt (not low-carb, but not as bad as say a Little Debbie).
One of the things I’ve noticed on this diet is that carbs are highly addictive. The less I eat, the less I want. But if I get back into old habits, the more I eat, the more I really want. I still indulge every so often (like once or twice a week), but for the most part, I’ve made this work by planning meals and making better choices when I get tempted. Today, for example, I thought about treating myself with an individual-sized pecan pie.
I quickly changed my mind when I read that it was 60 carbs! I’ll conclude with some lists of foods that have really helped both DH and I survive the tougher days. I’ll happily share some specific recipes if you’d like…just let me know and I’ll send them to you.
One final note of importance – the downside to this diet (DH frequently points out that Atkins actually died from a heart attack) is the risk of increased cholesterol levels. I checked mine 6 months into it and was fine, though my levels were slightly higher than what they were previously. So, like anything, take care and be responsible about having such matters monitored.
Low-to-No Carb Foods
Meats, seafood, poultry
Almonds, sunflower seeds, some other nuts (NOT cashews!)
Pinto beans/refried beans
Secret Weapons (stuff that actually doesn’t taste bad!)
They are only 3 carbs and are an excellent source of potassium and many other nutrients. I eat them as often as I possibly can on sandwiches, burritos, burgers, with chicken and anywhere else I can think of.
Breyers & Blue Bunny Low Carb Ice Cream Treats
4-10 carbs per serving and you won’t believe how good they taste!
Nature’s Own Wheat’nFiber Bread
@ 7 per slice, it’s nearly ½ the carbs of most breads; they also make 10 net carb hamburger buns and hot dog buns
Fifty 50 Sugar Free Strawberry Spread
I don’t care for their other flavors, but this makes for a great snack on a piece of NO Wn’F toast with real butter
Ole Extreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortillas
I’ve tried them all and can’t believe that as good as these taste that they are only 5 carbs! Watch out for their low-fat versions, though – they are much higher in carbs
Russell Stover & Dove Sugar Free Chocolates
Practically no carbs, but you shouldn’t eat more than 2-3 per day unless you want digestive problems
Cary’s Sugar Free Syrup
Scrambled, fried or boiled eggs
Toast (NO Wn’F bread)
Bacon, Sausage, Ham
French Toast (using NO Wn’F bread & Cary’s syrup and/or with a cream cheese/splenda/sour cream filling)
Bacon-wrapped baked shrimp and/or scallops
Elegant Chicken Avocado w/o rice
Turkey & gravy
Gumbo w/o rice
Bean Burritos (lower carb count than canned beans if you make your own) Fajitas
Salads (we love using the chicken & avocado from the chicken avocado recipe)
Mashed Turnips w/ cheddar & butter (much better than I would have thought!)
Green Beans w/ bacon grease and garlic
Zucchini/garlic cream sauce
Carrots w/ cinnamon & splenda