I have decided to change the name of the blog. Please update your details to www.civilizedforager.com.
I have decided to change the name of the blog. Please update your details to www.civilizedforager.com.
Two weeks ago when I started this diet I weighed 298 pounds….far too close to 300 for my own comfort. It has now been two weeks of eating less than 20g of carbs a day, following the advice of Gary Taubes, and I find myself at 285 pounds!!!!! So thats a 13 pound loss or around 6 kg. I do believe this diet is having some very bizarre side effects, which I will outline here.
1. I am eating as much as I want and losing weight
2. I am eating when I feel physiologically hungry (i.e stomach rumbling)
3. I find myself putting a meal aside and having it the next day because I am full
4. I am skipping meals at night because I don’t feel hungry.
5. I can put off eating for a bit if it is inconvenient, even if I feel hungry
6. My energy levels have risen
7. I have become a bit of a fanboy of Gary Taubes
I don’t know I mean these low carb diets really make people do some weird things!!!!!
The question now is do I stay ketogenic? Given that it’s not hard at the moment, and things are going swimmingly well, Im likely to stay ketogenic until I get my weight under control where I will review it again. But I am wondering what other low carbers may think about doing this? I need to start looking into whether this is healthy long-term, I suspect it is, but if anyone has any studies that they can link please feel free.
The old calories in/calories out model states that if you expend more energy (i.e exercise) this will increase your energy out and help to lose weight (obviously if your energy out is lower than energy in). Gary Taubes argues that this is flawed because it is based on the assumption that our bodies will not increase our appetite or decrease our metabolism to compensate, and numerous studies show that our bodies do this. Therefore, these two factors are not independent of each other, and by that I mean you can’t increase your energy out component without directly influencing your energy in (more hunger, metabolic rate reduces).
Gary Taubes argues that rather than exercising to lose weight, thin people tend to exercise because they have access to more energy. That is their bodies are not hoarding all the fat into fat cells and therefore hijacking energy from the food we eat. Now that I am on low carb (< 20g a day) theoretically my body is now, finally, accessing my fatty reserves, and trust me that would be similar to when they first struck oil in Texas – it’s a bonanza of untapped energy.
Regardless, I have found that my energy levels may have increased as a result. I say may because I don’t notice that I have more energy, what I have noticed is that tasks that involved a lot of mental persuasion to do are now been done with little thought. For example, washing the car, cleaning the house, walking to work etc. All of these I would have tried to avoid before because it seemed like too much work (yes I know how sad that sounds), but now I am able to do them without any mental blockages. Additionally, I am able to do more of them for longer before I become tired.
Now this could easily be attributed to the placebo effect – my diet is working and so I feel more uplifted and so more energetic. I would not be confident enough to argue this isn’t the case. So I blog about this with that caveat in mind. The good news is I am dropping weight like no bodies business. Just last night I dropped another 0.9 pounds giving me a grand total of 11.2 pounds lost since last Saturday. I am still very dumbfounded at how easy this is.
I guess it has been the first week since I started my low carb diet. It’s hard to tell as I started on Saturday in Canada and its now Sunday in New Zealand, anyway that’s close enough to a week for me. The great thing I have noticed about this low carb diet is that it is so easy to stick with, and as they say the proof is in the pudding. Well I can’t eat pudding, but here is my proof. I have been in transit since Tuesday with two full days trapped in aeroplanes (14 hr flights) who do not serve low carb foods. I could have so easily come up with an excuse to ‘just eat carbs’ but I didn’t. The first flight I simply didn’t eat a thing because there literally was no low carb options, and the second flight I was able to somewhat pick out the meat and cheese parts and that tied me over. The remaining time I was in a hotel. Again it could have been so easy for me to just slip up but it was so easy not too……I didn’t feel hungry. Actually that is not true. I DID feel hungry at times but it was real stomach hunger not this anxiety hunger I feel when I have eaten carbs. Because it was a physical hunger I could ignore it, however uncomfortable, until I could get my hands on some proper low carb food. This would, and could, never have happened if I was on a low fat/low calorie diet. I would have literally been so hungry that I would have been driven to eat something, thus breaking my diet, and then shattering my self esteem. The fact that I did not fall into this negative pattern simply astounds me. The end result for me was a loss of 9 pounds – I now weigh 289. I am proud of myself because I really doubt I could have pulled this off on anything but a low carb diet. It still feels amazing that I can eat all this food and lose weight.
With some fearfulness I find myself on a diet…..again. If someone had told me two weeks ago that I would be on another diet I would have thought they were crazy. But here I am. The reason I am surprised to find myself in this position, and the reason I have such apprehension, is because after years of dieting I have come to believe that diets simply don’t work. I rarely can lose more than 10 kg on a diet, and on the few occasions that I have it involved some seriously disordered behaviour. For example, my two most successful diets involved either, smoking cigarettes along with a cup of coffee whenever I felt hungry, or consuming only diet shakes so that my calorie intake was below 1000 per day, and then exercising until I had burned off those calories. The later diet was probably the closest I have come to anorexia, and although I doubt it was that serious, no one could argue that this was a healthy way to live. Of course I have also been on many more diets that seemed at the surface to be more health conscious, but they never resulted in much weight loss. The one common denominator between the hundreds of diets I have been on was I would always gain my weight back plus a little. In the end I came to the conclusion that diets simply didn’t work and gave up.
Once I had started to doubt the current diet paradigm I began stumbling upon books and research articles that further compounded these beliefs, such as ‘Rethinking Thin’ by Gina Kolata. By looking at all the current scientific literature her conclusion was that diets simply didn’t work. Reading these books was a double-edged sword been both incredibly freeing, and depressing at the same time. I felt vindicated that the conclusions I had drawn (diets don’t work) were actually backed up by scientific studies, which went in the face of the claims made by obesity scientists. The irony was that although these obesity scientists liked to claim that eating less, and eating low fat, would make us all lose weight the data from their very own studies told a different story with very little weight loss achieved in their subjects, and any weight lost nearly always gained back. Sadly, the depressing part was I didn’t want to be fat. But it seemed I had a set point, and no matter what I did to fight it my biology would fight me right back. Although on the outside I was vehemently against diets, deep down I became depressed knowing that I would never lose the weight.
This state of being lasted until about two weeks ago when I happened to watch a lecture by Gary Taubes at google on why we get fat. I’m a scientist, and my philosophy on any ‘claims’ that people make is that it needs to be backed by rigorous scientific studies. For the first time in my life I was looking at a person who thoroughly and carefully argued why low calorie/low fat diets didn’t work, and did so from numerous angles with each point backed by a plethora of solid scientific research. I am not new to Gary Taubes and have previously read his book Good Calories Bad Calories but at the time I read it I was on the paleo diet, and interpreted his arguments through that lense (i.e yes of course carbs are bad but only if they are processed, but Ill be fine). What shocked me was that he was telling me (and you) to eat less than 20g of carbs a day, a proportion much lower than I had ever consumed before. He explained (which I will post about later) how hormones are the driving force behind weight gain and how insulin was the granddaddy of these hormones. Insulin was largely responsible for locking fat inside fat cells and promoting fat storage. And of course insulin was increased in our blood stream by carbohydrates and logically it was carbohydrates that needed to be limited if we wanted to release the fat. I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I BELIEVED a diet theory. I finally could see how it wasn’t diets that had failed all those years but simply this low calorie/low fat model. I can honestly say that Gary Taubes ripped apart my whole diet belief system and handed me something back that I felt could work.
So five days ago I started a low carbohydrate diet (< 20g a day). I am incredibly nervous because I do have concerns such as whether I am been a sucker again. I also am aware that many people have failed on low carb diets and this concerns me . But I believe Gary Taubes, and I believe his arguments, and for the first time I’m going into a diet thinking that it can work, or at least that it makes sense scientifically. The most important thing I have noticed thus far is that I no longer feel hungry. I no longer want to eat continuously at night whereas before I did. Furthermore, I have been in transit the last three days flying on planes and staying in hotels. During this time I have not once been compelled to break my diet, and this despite a period of not eating for 14 hrs because flight delays led me to be in a plane for that entire period, and no carbohydrate free foods were available. Never in my life have I ever felt my appetite was under my control. To me this is no insignificant finding!!! So with some trepidation I move forward with this diet, and I thought why not share my experiences and thoughts in a blog. In the end I remind myself I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain doing this. Last week my heart would beat extremely rapidly whenever I had a carbohydrate heavy meal, I weighed 298 pounds , and I had trouble tying my shoelaces. Today, although my shoelaces are still a problem, I have already dropped to 290 pounds, and my heart has become quiet again.