The recent Hawaiian Libertarian post on red meat and my recent link about blogger Inhuman Experiment inspired me to throw out my experiences on low-carb eating.
Ulysses made an interesting comment about how a large low-carb meal did not promote a sluggish feel for him. Avoiding Postprandial sluggishness has been the primary benefit I received from low-carb eating. I can be completely full after eating a low-carb meal but still ready for work. The same level of satiety from a more “balanced” meal would leave me feeling sluggish. I certainly would not be performing any rigorous mental work for at least an hour, maybe longer.
While many people claim massive improvements in energy when shifting to a low-diet, I cannot claim such radical shifts. My peak energy is no better but I, perhaps, have fewer fluctuations. I was already lean, so had no weight to lose, which is a reason many people adopt low-carb eating. What surprised me was how easy it was to shift eating styles. Although I never went to extreme induction (less than 30g of carbs per day), I did begin at around 60g of carbs a day. That was still low enough to get me into ketosis.
I thought I would badly miss my pasta, but did not. I was hungry between meals until I adjusted the non-carb quantities up to make up for the lost carb calories (a serving of pasta is about 200Kcal). I still feel an echoic pull when I pass the cookie aisle in the supermarket or a donut shop. I am sure I will eventually have high-carb day when I indulge in French fries, but mostly the shift was easier than I imagined.
Perhaps because I am lean, and have no weight to lose, I have found I do better with a slightly higher-carb intake. Even after adding extra low-carb calories, I still found myself hungry between meals. This was worst at night and felt close to hypoglycemic. I have since increased my-carb intake, and that has improved things. I am do not really count carbs any more (I do, but very casually) but at a rough guess I am at 80 to 100 grams a day.
- Not much change in body weight. I perhaps lost a pound or two.
- I am perhaps slightly more “cut.” This is probably related to small loss of weight, as I have not done any training.
- My energy levels are more constant throughout the day although I do not have the reinvigorated feel that many claim.
- The last time I did more intense aerobic exercise (I admit it was a while ago) I felt that I had more aerobic capacity (I felt less out of breath at my existing exercise level).
- I never get carb cravings. When I am hungry it feels like hunger (a call to refuel) not a major craving.
- Foods that once provoked an addiction like response (once you start eating, it is hard to stop) such as ice-cream, no longer do so.
What I eat.
- I am certainly not paleo. I have some grains (oatmeal), dairy (cream and butter), peanuts, and other things that I am sure or not paleo.
- I mostly avoid sugar (but I do eat fruits), starches (potato, pasta), and HFCS, etc.
- I eat leafy greens without limit (practically speaking it is hard to eat huge quantities of these).
- I eat beef, chicken, fish, as well as pork and bacon.
- I eat most vegetables in moderate quantities (even decent portions can be carb light because some of those carbs are fiber).
- I eat various nuts and seeds.
- I cook in butter (mmmm!), olive oil, or coconut oil (can be very good).
- I use plenty of cream and sometimes coconut cream. Coconut cream can make nice smoothies.
- I use added protein (mostly Whey).
- I did eat chocolate (85%) but recently cut it out. I will probably add it back at some point.
Eating out or at friends is the biggest problem. Most do not serve low-carb meals. To be fully fed means allowing for more carbs. I usually eat tons of salads along with whatever is the meat. I take small portions of the starches (rice, potatoes, etc.). I always allow myself a small piece of dessert.
Sometimes I still get hungry between meals. This is surprising as satiety is the one thing such diets are supposed to avoid. This could be due to no longer having those little snacks that are not counted (cookies, etc.). Some of it could be due to not eating enough calories. Being more generous with carbs can help here.
My total total cholesterol is high. However, my triglycerides are low and my HDL is high. The total number is higher than I would like. I will at some point take the VAP test. That gives a broader picture of actual cardio-vascular risk.
I have met a few vegetarians in my life. All of them seemed to be somewhat nervous ectomorphic types. I suspect that in a strange irony, many would do well on a low carb, higher protein diet. I suspect that such a diet would actually calm their “nerves” and the extra protein would offset the catabolic effect of nervous stress.