I keep meaning to do a robust write-up on the little diet experiment I’ve been doing over the last two months or so. But it’s becoming clear that I’m either too lazy, busy or inept (or all three) to do that, so instead I’m just going to throw this blog post together and hope it’s useful to someone. Before I get into any specifics, I’ll just go ahead and bold my conclusions: Low-carb diets work and they are not hard.
I’m a very logical, data-oriented person, so I wanted to track all of this for myself. I am floored by the clarity of my results and have impressed those I’ve shown these charts, so I’m going to put them here on my decidedly not-diet-related blog. First, we have a chart showing my daily calorie and carbohydrate intake. There’s a crazy, surreal spike on the left side of the chart because I was trying this whacky Tim Ferris Four Hour Body thing. It required one massive binging day and I really, really went for it. I also did not lose any weight on that diet, as you will see. The last week I haven’t been very good about tracking and that’s why everything is so low there on the last dot.
On this chart here, we’ve got green is calories. The point being that I made an effort to keep my calories high over the course of my low-carb experimentation. You’ll notice the green line stays pretty high throughout the chart. Blue, however, is my carb intake and that is around normal in the left half of the chart and then sometime in late April, I cut my carbs. I didn’t even cut them a crazy amount, as you can tell.
Now check what happens to my weight. Remember how I cut carbs at the end of April? Well gee, that’s about the time this chart goes from pretty level to precipitous dropoff. It’s starting to get a little less dramatic towards the end of the chart, there, but that’s probably my own fault because I haven’t been watching the carbs as much as previously, as you can see in the first chart.
That is to say, I’m convinced that low-carb works.
What I eat and what I don’t
I eat everything, really. I read plenty of stuff online and off that said you’re not supposed to touch white bread, whole wheat bread, sugar, fruit, starchy vegetables, not-as-starchy vegetables, peanut butter, etc. etc. etc. into infinity. But I found that if you just watch it and try to eat just a little bit of carbs, everything just works out great. Of all the “cheating” foods I eat, french fries probably top the list in terms of quantity. It’s easy for me to skip bread, cereal, pasta but I love fries. Sugar cravings are way down since I started this. Not eating as much sugar causes me to want it less. I also feel satisfied with smaller amounts of desserts.
This diet does require a hefty meat consumption and that is hard to square with ethical and environmental considerations. I figure I will go back to a more plant-based diet when I have hit my goal (you can see it down at the bottom of the weight chart – the yellow dotted line of you-can-do-it).
Is it hard?
No, it’s really not. When fat became good and carbs bad, things kinda got flipped for me. Now it was the bread I was using to scoop the spinach dip that I should avoid, not the spinach dip itself. Yes, on this diet I have eaten spinach dip with a spoon. All these things are good to eat and won’t make you fat: cheese, nuts, oils, red meat, pepperoni, hot dogs, burgers without the bun, artichoke dip. I cannot believe the things I have been eating and still losing weight. I literally went to Rally’s one day and ordered a bacon double cheeseburger and a chili cheesedog and ate both without their buns, guilt-free.
The book that started me down this road was Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Body, but that’s certainly not where I stopped. Why we get fat and what to do about it is where the real gold is. Gary Taubes examines a lot of the science we rely on to understand nutrition and finds it incredibly lacking. He said fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs do, so I set out to see if that’s true. And for me and my body, I’m having a hell of a good time finding out that he’s right.