Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Logical Dietary Goals

After a lot of reading and researching it was apparent that a diet low in sugar (i.e. carbs), high in saturated fat, and moderate protein made the most logical sense. I am not going into details here but a couple quick simple logical arguments/thoughts that support these for those repulsed by the idea of "low-carb/primal" diets:

1. We evolved without abundant sugar and carbs over tens of thousands of years - does it really make sense to make carbs the main component of our diet? Nothing evolves that fast.
2. Our body fat is saturated, our brain is approximately 2/3 saturated fat, and cholesterol is essential for cell structure and repair - why avoid these if the body runs on them (and if you critically review the studies they really do not increase heat disease/deaths)?
3. Your body can make carbs from protein - but not protein from carbs - which is essential?
4. If you were surviving in a forest or any other wild area and could only eat what grew naturally or what you could kill - what would your diet look like? Have you ever seen any overweight true hunter gatherer's?

Many more very straight forward arguments that I will save for later posts. Tom Naughton has a great one on his blog if  -check out Tom's Message for the opposing crowd.

In addition to low carb, higher fat, moderate protein I also had other dietary goals that I borrowed from various plans that also seemed logical. Going from processed foods to whole foods, mass produced whole foods to organic whole foods, eliminating artificial sweeteners, reducing caffeine consumption, and the ultimate - to feel in control of my eating.

Keeping with what I laid out in the previous entry - I broke up all these changes into the following phases in the order I have approached them:

1. High Carb ----> Low Carb

In the beginning I figures it was the biggest challenge and toughest so I would keep everything else the same (allowed sweeteners, processed lunch meats, diet sodas, mock high carb food recipes, etc..) and I only concentrated on eating as few carbs as possible down into the 20-30 range.

2. Low Carb Processed ----> Low Carb Whole Foods

After about 6 months in my "junkie" low-carb mode it had become "normal" to me and the next step was to get away from as much processed food as possible. I went from deli meats to making a turkey/ham/pork shoulder once a week and using that instead (also using the bones for broth). I stopped making mock foods that were meant to simulate carby foods, and I worked on increasing non-starchy vegetables and corresponding carbs into the 40-60 range.

3. Low Carb Whole Foods ------> Low Carb Whole Foods without artificial sweeteners

I had to give up my lifelong love of diet soda - maybe one of the tougher things I did.

4. Whole Food Low Carb without Sweeteners (a.k.a Primal)----> Primal with sense of control.

I struggle how to simply phrase this - but basically I needed to learn my body's hunger language again and also to have ultimate control over food and not the other way around. This was the most satisfying step and only came in the last 3 months or so through the more advanced practice of intermittent and alternate day fasting. I believe these to be a very powerful part of a primal lifestyle and they have given me the confidence to move forward in control. I hope to discuss the experiences here in more detailed posts later on.

This is about where I have gotten in the past 18 months - the next few I am actively working on together. I consider them the last 10% that are not holding back weight loss, but are healthier routes none the less.

5a. Mass Produced Whole foods -------> Organic whole foods

I am sourcing as much of my foods organically as possible and looking into hooking up with a local CSA. In the end organic grass fed/free range is as close to what we evolved eating verses grain fed factory meats.

5b. Caffeine Reduction

I did a lot of this when I eliminated artificial sweeteners and the diet soda and I think I will always keep a cup or two of coffee in the routine, but there are days I can polish off a pot or two by myself. This will be in a work in progress for a while :)

So there it is the dietary changes I took the last 18 months to make and for the most part I did them as laid out, as separate endeavors, and lost over 160 pounds over the same time period.

Hopefully I am an example to show my point - that you don't need to stress over it all on day 1 and you don't have to change from the worst to the ideal condition. There are stages that will allow you to progress along the way and still make progress.

I do not attribute all of the weight to dietary changes alone - as I started phasing in some physical exercise changes after the initial win getting from high carb to low carb about 6 months in. I will be detailing that progression next.

Before closing I will go back and revisit a comment I made in a prior post that at the beginning I felt nutrition/diet is essentially 100% of the recipe. I do not believe I could have progressed further and even attempted to phase in the exercise until I started shedding the excess weight and gaining self confidence. At super-super obese getting the diet down was 100% for me as failing at that would have been the end of the road in this journey.

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