4.17.2012

Low Carb Diet Experiment

Pizza is my favorite food in the whole wide world, I'm a calorie tracker, I have a sweet tooth and I rarely taste a bread I don't like.  I watch my calories and fat so as long as I stay where I want there I don't worry about the rest of it so much.  I have pretty much accepted that I am powerless when it comes to carbs. Being a fat and calorie counting carbohydrate junkie is totally at odds with a low carb diet.  Which is why I never ever considered in a million years ever ever trying it.  EVER.  You want me to give up carbs for even one single day?  I simply can't do it.  My daily breakfast alone has about 30 and I like it that way.  I'm very stubborn about what I like to eat and Carbs are in darn near everything so it didn't seem possible.  Mj decided to try the low carb thing last week and at first I didn't even think about it but I changed my mind.  I always wondered what the heck I was supposed to eat on a low carb diet so for three days I found out.

Day 1 Breakfast:  Egg Beaters with Jack Cheese and Bacon (0 carbs)

Day 1 Lunch:  Almonds (6 carbs), Cheese (0)


Day 1 Dinner:  Lo Sodium Ham (1 carb) , lettuce (8), Cabbage (1) and Cheese (0)

What I Ate
When some people think of cutting carbs they think about cutting out bread and pasta.  But on an extreme low carb diet of 50 grams per day you quickly realize that actually won't cut it because just about everything has carbs.   Even a nice low calorie healthy Yoplait yogurt or an Apple might not really be an option because 23 carbs is a lot when you can only have 50 in a day.  Incidentally, that yogurt is more then my double fiber bread which is 19.  Go figure.  For breakfast I did egg beaters or a hard boiled egg.  I microwaved the egg beaters in a mug at work and with a slice of bacon mixed in it was really good.  For the eggs I'd eat one whole hard boiled and only the egg whites of the second to avoid all that cholesterol.  I still wanted my morning coffee and I need my creamer so I had to give up 5 precious carbs for that.  For lunch it was string cheese, almonds or a pickle.  Dinner was lunch meat (ham), cheese and lettuce wraps and roasted cabbage and snack time was more cheese.   And another slice of ham if I felt my stomach grumbling.  It was cool to realize that I really didn't miss the bread all that much when I ate the lettuce wraps.  I never ever thought I'd say that.  We have a bi weekly meeting that we order cookies for and I have never ever NOT eaten one, or two, or three.  But on day two I simply couldn't spend 19 calories on a cookie so as delicious as they looked and smelled I had to pass.  On Day 3 I managed to limit my carbs to just 8 during the work day so I could come home and eat two Carne Asada Tacos from one of our favorite Mexican Food Restaurants. The very thought of those tacos is what literally kept me going all day. 
Day 3 Breakfast:  Hard Boiled Eggs (1 carb)


[Not Pictured because I was so darn hungry I forgot to take a pic]
Day 3 Lunch:  Pickle (2 carbs), string cheese (0)

Day 3 Dinner:  Carne Asada Tacos with Corn Tortilla (46 carbs)
Pros and Cons
The best thing about eating low carbs is that it lowered my Sugar intake.  I just couldn't waste carbs on sweets at 19-20 carbs a pop.   If  I can't eat sweets then I gotta have something and that something was cheese which I love just about as much as I love carbs.  Eating cheese with abandon was the second best part.  The bad part about the diet is that it raised my Calories, Fat, Sodium and Cholesterol intake which is definitely not good for the long term.  Anything high in protein is typically going to be low in carbs so I could eat it but high protein often means high sodium and high cholesterol.  I can't believe how much sodium cheese has.  I kind of did this on the fly but if I'd been more prepared and not too lazy to cook I would have eaten chicken breast to add variety and beef up my skimpy lunches.  It would also keep my sodium intake down because even the low sodium lunch meat is higher then regular meat.  Fiber intake suffers too because you can't eat breads or grains.  On Day 1 I tried to still get my usual 1/2 cup of Fiber 1 cereal in and it used up 25 carbs which didn't seem worth it when I could eat cheese instead for 0 so I ditched it on day 2 and 3. I also missed eating fruit.

Nutrients:  Typical Diet Day
Fat19g18%
Saturated Fat8g
Cholesterol17mg
Sodium1064mg
Carbohydrates172g72%
Fiber25g
Sugars85g
Protein24g10%
Nutrients:  Low Carb Diet Day
Fat72g58%
Saturated Fat23g
Cholesterol120mg
Sodium2051mg
Carbohydrates53g19%
Fiber8g
Sugars13g
Protein65g23%

This diet had me running to the bathroom all day.  When you restrict your carbs to less then 50 grams your body goes into ketosis when it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrate reserves.  This produces ketones in the body some of which are eliminated in urine.  I was just fine on Day 1-2 but by the end of the night on day 3 I did have a slight headache.  Even after the tacos I still felt hungry and there just wasn't anything else for me to snack on.  I should have gotten pork rinds.  I love those but never let myself eat them so this would have been my chance; they are 0 carbs.  I lost 3.5 lbs in 3 days.  I did gain back 1 pound of it.  They say you actually lose water weight first so I can only imagine if I'd kept it up.  I'm stubborn and tend to think that calorie count is the end all be all so I guess I really didn't want to believe it but not all calories are created equal.  Duh.  Cutting carbs really does work.  I felt like some kind of science experiment as I read about the side effects I was experiencing and why it was happening.

 Focusing on carbs totally changed what I eat.  I discovered I really like sandwiches with no bread aka lettuce wraps and I'll probably start mixing egg beaters in with my usual morning breakfast.  Turns out that I am not totally powerless when it comes to carbs; it's just so much easier to give in.  I don't see it as a long term lifestyle diet for me.  Fifty is just way to extreme to stick with and I find it way harder to eat low carb then low cal.   I'd probably get better at figuring out what to eat to keep the Fat and Sodium levels down but overall I just think it would be too hard to maintain and keep those numbers low enough to not be bad for my heart.  Plus, I'd be pretty darn miserable.  I could see limiting them to 100 if I've overindulged and want to cut back but 50 may not ever happen again.  It's interesting to see how focusing on a different number dictates a whole different diet. And that's just the thing.  You can't focus on just carbs or just calories and fat because the body actually needs it all.

9 comments :

  1. i did atkins back in the day, I did lose weight, but it was impossible to keep up. balance is the key!

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  2. i couldnt do lunch...i would just keel over and die. thats not enough food.
    overall, looks interesting and worth incorporating in certain areas.

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  3. The diabetes has me watching my carbs but I have to have a certain amount per meal. I can't just have zero for breakfast. It's definitely made me more aware of what I am eating.

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  4. wow im impressed! I've definitely tried to stay away from pasta and bread, but don't think I've ever been able to do under 50 grams!

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  5. I am on the pre-diabetic diet, so I have to watch my carbs BIG time. When I first cut back I realized that I LOVE vegetables...casseroles, mashed cauliflower, spaghetti squash, eggplant parmesan, etc. During that period I accidentally cut out carbs (other than veggie carbs)completely, which was great, but it made me feel bleh. Now I just limit myself to a certain amount a day!

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  6. Wow what a change from the regular to the low carb intake...I love my carbs but they're also why I'm not losing weight

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  7. Wow!! I don't think I could do that. I am also carb-obsessed!! =P

    :)
    Yasi @ Hello, Gorgeous!

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  8. I never used to think I could get through the day without bread. And lots of it. But then due to medical problems I realized I had to give it up...or at least a lot of it. And while I never count carbs I'm totally okay with eating potatoes instead of rice or a rice cake instead of bread. Most of the time anyway...the main reason is so that I feel better so I guess that's an incentive that most don't have.

    Anyway, you look fantastic so no need to watch your carbs! Just enjoy your pizza. :) On behalf of both of us!

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  9. I'm impressed. I'm not sure I could live without bread!

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