Friday, December 14, 2012

Carbs! (Perfect Health Diet Experiment)

OK, so are you SICK of all my food experiments yet? You know, the ones I start and am so excited about and then… [radio silence]. Yeah, me neither! Needless to say, the ketogenic dealio sort of petered out. First I got sick of tracking, then I got distracted by All. The. Cookies. It certainly did seem to “work”. If I kept my calories to about 1650 and under 75 carbs (I was shooting for under 50), I seemed to slowly drop weight. It really seemed to be more about the calories and less about how many carbs I ate, quite honestly. But tracking calories gets BORING and I sort of started to rebel against the idea. Then, I started baking. Need I say more?

Yes, all the baking I do is grain-free. But almond flour combined with things like maple syrup and chocolate chips? Kinda calorie-dense, as they say. The wonderful thing about this whole Paleo thing, though, is that due to how spot on everything else is, I’ve managed to stay in my current cache of pants. I call that a win! I haven’t been weighing myself but apart from noticing an ever so slightly more poochy belly, all of my clothes are fitting just fine. Whew. Bullet dodged. This is particularly remarkable because this spiral into daily cookie baking (I’m serious – it was pretty much every day) coincided with a relatively nasty back injury which kept me away from my normal level of activity for the same period. Hmmm… maybe out of the ordinary pain is correlated to cookie baking? Makes sense!

On to the real subject of this post… The Perfect Health Diet (PHD). A new version of this came out this week so the author, Paul Jaminet, was doing the Paleo podcast circuit (like the Fat Burning Man Show). I have to admit that I always dismissed the whole “safe starches” thing as completely bogus. As far as I was concerned, the fewer the carbs the better. Period. But, I decided to listen and something sort of clicked for me. The PHD is not a high carb diet, it’s just not as low as more traditional versions of Paleo, especially as it’s articulated for weight loss. Sure, athletes should eat more starch and fruit to correlate to their activity, but us fatties trying to shed a few pounds? Low carb was the way to go. And it was – I lost 50 lbs. that way. But then, I didn’t. Whether it was looser compliance or some sort of adaptation that made it stop working, I don’t know. A combination? Regardless, it just got harder. It came down to me having to count both calories and carbs explicitly in order to shed pounds. I came down with some serious diet-fatigue. This is like a part-time job that never ends!

Listening to (and then reading, after I bought the book) Paul Jaminet talk about eating things like rice, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes started to make those items swim in front of my eyes! Could I really be able to eat those things? I’m still not sure, but his argument started to resonate. Whether it’s wishful thinking or not, I’m willing to give it a shot. If, for no other reason, then to mix things up and relieve some of that diet fatigue. What really made me think was that this plan is shooting for sufficiency for all nutrients – macronutrients like Carbs, Fat, and Protein as well as Micronutrients like Vitamins and Minerals. The key, according to Jaminet’s theory, is to get just enough of everything. Not too much, not too little. Both overdoing it and underdoing it have consequences. If you are deficient in any of these variables, your appetite will be high, trying to get you to eat what you’re missing. If your diet just doesn’t contain that missing thing, overeating will result in added weight but still leave you malnourished, continuing to seek relief through eating yet more. This made perfect sense to me.

The basic idea is to shoot for 30% carbs, 15-20% protein, and 50-55% fat by calories. Jaminet does admit that to lose weight ultimately a calorie deficit must occur. He contends that for most people, it will happen spontaneously based on the satiation of this macronutrient ratio coupled by the recommended supplements which should also bring micronutrients into sufficiency as well. I haven’t started any of the supplements yet, although I already take Vitamin C and a multivitamin (not necessarily advocated with the PHD) daily as well as fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend which offers a good deal of Vitamin A, D, and K2. Even so, the last couple of days of higher carb meals have left me extremely satisfied! I used to think that any appreciable whack of carbs would automatically send me into a carb binge. This has not been the case so far. I really think it IS wheat and sugar in particular for me when it comes to trigger foods. Starchy foods and even fruit seem to be OK so far. And I must be honest – just the novelty of being able to eat these things is making me extremely happy without any desire to go crazy with them. Amazing! I also haven't baked any cookies for 4 days even though I have a ton of dough in the fridge (for our upcoming cookie themed holiday party - smart thinking, that one!)

I am plugging stuff in to My Fitness Pal again (I know, I know, the calorie counting DOES make me crazy) but just for the short term. I don’t yet feel confident in my eyeballing skills to get me to the right ratios. I’ll give it a few weeks and see how I do. It’s new and fresh again – it’s interesting to see how it all works out when I’m aiming for different goals. Hopefully, after I build my confidence a bit, I’ll be able to let go of the training wheels. The general idea is this:

  • Skip breakfast - can use Bulletproof Coffee since fat doesn’t interfere with benefits of fasting. Yes, I AM returning to this and giving caffeine another shot. It’s a great easy way to start the day and allows me to eat more later, when I really want the food anyway. I am in no way forcing this. If I am hungry before noon, I’ll eat.
  • Protein – 12-16 oz of meat/eggs/fish per day, which works out to two good 6-8 oz portions at lunch and dinner.
  • Starchy Carbs – four fist-sized servings of starch per day (potatoes, rice, etc), which works out to be 1-2 fists at lunch and dinner; it’s key to eat starch coupled with fat, non-starchy veggies, and some sort of acid like lemon juice or vinegar for blood sugar regulation reasons.
  • Sugary Carbs – up to 3-4 fruits or sugary veggies a day (probably more like 2-3 for me).
  • Non-starchy Veggies – add to meals for flavor, micronutrients, and the blood sugar modulating effects of fiber.
  • The above should work out to a plate consisting of 1/3 meat, 1/3 starch, 1/3 veggies with fat used at will to make things taste good but not be greasy.

That, in theory, should make things balance out to the intended ratios. But, I’m still new at this so I’ll dutifully measure my portions and track in My Fitness Pal for a bit to get the hang of it. So that’s it in a nutshell. I will keep you posted on how it goes (or not, and then you’ll know I’ve flaked out again). Anybody else have some good food experiments going or is just me with this particular brand of crazy?

3 comments:

Margaret@WellnessCircle said...
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Margaux said...
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Anonymous said...

I just discovered your site and am eager to see if you're still actively blogging. I seriously could've written this post (although not so eloquently, I'm sure!). I did a keto experiment (aka n=FAIL) last fall which seemed awesome until my thyroid and adrenals crashed (still digging out - good times) so I"m also taking Dr. Jaminet's much more sensible approach through PHD. Like you, I'm paranoid of the carbs but definitely feel better already. I gained about 5 pounds going off keto (not just water. trust me) so will be eager to have then energy to hit it hard in the gym again but do it without causing damage. Thanks for the post!