I just wanted to pop in to do a quick post today to see what your thoughts are on low-carb diets. I know there are a lot of opinions out there on diets like Atkins. Some think they are the only way to lose fat and build muscle, while others think they are not only unsustainable, but unhealthy.
So here I am – a dietary vegan – trying out my first low-carb plan.
I know – it sounds impossible right? All you hear about Atkins is that you can eat eggs and bacon all day long without counting calories! No thank you. While that might work for some people, I have no question in my mind that MY BODY feels best on a plant based diet. This might not be true for everyone, but I know what works for me!
So why am I on a low-carb plan?
Well, as you might have seen in a recent post, I decided to get an online trainer to write a meal and workout plan for me. I have been hanging right around the same weight and body fat percentage for about 3 months now.
That, my friends, is what we call a PLATEAU.
No, contrary to popular belief, a plateau is NOT when you decide to eat 1,000 calories per day for a week and don’t lose the 5 lbs. you wanted to.
People like to rant and rave about how extreme they have taken their diets and workouts and still see no change. That’s not a plateau. A TRUE PLATEAU is when you’ve been doing it all right – food journaling, consistently working out both cardio and strength training 5-6x/week, eating the right foods at the right times, drinking plenty of water, and getting lots of sleep – BUT your body just wants to hang onto what it’s got – FOR 3 MONTHS….3 MONTHS!
This can often mean you’ve been doing the same thing for too long and it’s time to switch it up.
Although I’m still seeing some physical changes in the shape of my body, I want to get serious about reaching my goals! I want to keep getting stronger, Stronger, STRONGER and be the best I can! I decided it was time to get help from a professional to tell me exactly what to do to get there.
But…still…why low carb when your body needs energy from carbs to fuel your killer workouts?
Because I am trying to train my body to burn fat for fuel rather than carbs. If I can train my body to become efficient at burning fat for fuel, this means my body is more likely to burn it’s own fat for fuel rather than carbohydrate stores BOTH when I’m resting and working out. This means I am on a low-carb, high-fat diet for the time being.
[In all honesty, it's probably not a high fat diet as compared to the standard American diet, but it's high for me, meaning that I make up my lost carbohydrate calories with mostly fat calories.]
Sorry…didn’t you say you were vegan? What do you even eat?
Well, for the first two weeks, I’ll be on a very strict plan with not much variance. I don’t mind this because the food is actually really good! It might start to get old after a while, but it’s only for a time, and then I can tweak it if need be.
My diet right now allows only minimal oatmeal, brown rice, and legumes. The rest of my diet consists of SOLELY protein shakes made with ice/water, coconut oil, kale/collard greens/spinach, tofu, tempeh, and almonds.
Oatmeal and brown rice? That’s not low-carb…
Yes, what I’m doing isn’t a strict Atkins style low-carb plan, but it is still considered a low-carb diet. Here’s what about.com has to say about carb intake:
” . . . [I]t seems likely that most people can still receive the benefits by starting at a higher carb level, and avoiding some of the problems. While Atkins starts people at 20 grams of daily carbohydrate, the Eades of Protein Power say 30 grams, Diana Schwarzbein of The Schwarzbein Principle says at least 60, the Zone says 100 to 150, and Sugar Busters would probably be around 140 to 200 grams. All of these are considerably under standard nutritional advice, which is generally around 250 to 300 grams of carbohydrate daily (depending upon calories and other factors), and certainly you hear people on all these plans who are saying essentially the same thing about the positive effects –- decreased cravings, increased energy, etc.
Right now, I’m eating 150-170 grams of carbs per day. This is certainly on the higher end of low-carb diets, but it’s a huge adjustment for me and a big shock to my body!
I was used to eating 3-4 servings of fruit, tons of higher carb veggies, lots of grains, and protein sources that also contain lots of carbs. My favorite meals looked like this:
These meals are no more. For now…
So, how’s it going?
Well, I’m only 4 days in, but so far it’s AMAZING! I can’t even begin to explain. I’m NEVER hungry, have no snack cravings, and feel full after every meal. I have plenty of energy for my workouts, which I keep short but intense, sometimes twice a day. I don’t feel at all like I’m on a “diet.” I feel satisfied, I rarely think about eating anything else, I feel lean and strong even at the very end of the day, and I can already see changes.
After just 3 days, I was down 2.5 lbs despite eating the same number of calories that I had been for months.
Does this mean I’m a low-carb preacher now?
NOT AT ALL.
I see people like Happy Herbivore, Fully Raw Kristina, and even Blogilates thriving on a plan that is higher carb than this, and they look awesome and feel healthy! That’s what it’s all about – finding what works for you.
If you’ve plateaued, however, then I might recommend starting to count those macronutrients to get to the next level. Also, if you have serious strength goals, but want to stay plant-based, give this some thought. If you are thinking about trying it, check out this link to avoid some pitfalls.
I’m gonna keep you guys updated in the coming weeks with how everything goes for me – progress pics and all! So you’ll get to see whether or not it’s sustainable.
What do YOU think about low-carb diets? Ever tried one? Thinking of trying one? Would you try a plant-based one?
Cheers to DOING.WHAT.IT.TAKES to reach your goals,