Low Carb Challenge Final Update
The Story So Far
On 4 February I began another behaviour challenge - this time I joined a couple of friends who were going low carb. On 14 February I realised it wasn't working for me so decided to reverse the experiment and go back to my normal diet for the next 10 days.
Here's What Happened Next?
- First I binged on carbs for a few days - bread, chips and crackers - like I’d been deprived or something.
- Then, someone gave me a packet of chocolate biscuits and I ate 5, no 6 [over 3-4 days]
- Then threw out the rest, because sugar is evil.
- I didn’t eat pasta or any ‘white’ carbs - I didn’t want to. If I was really 'reversing' rather than just 'quitting' I should have. I did eat brown rice once - it was nice - and I was drawn to beans, lentils and chickpeas a lot.
- I continued to confine wine drinking to the weekend and to drink more water during the day - outcomes from my Dry January experiment
- I gained some weight with my initial binge eating, but then lost it again when I got my act together - so am now officially 1 kilo lighter than before the low carb experiment.
- But my waist measurement is unchanged.
- I felt so much happier, brain fuzziness disappeared, mood, energy and sleeping patterns evened out.
- I continued to eat more vegetables, but less protein and fat. No hardboiled eggs passed my lips in the last ten days.
- And I decided I wasn't going back to a low carb diet with all its rules and prohibitions and measuring.
Was This A Giant Fail Then?
An experiment is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it, and I learned plenty.
I learned that the care and attention needed to achieve a daily low carb high fat [LCHF] diet is too intensive for me to want to sustain. I like simplicity and ease, so the thought of needing to fill up my brain with the carb rating of everything I eat or to buy new kitchen equipment to make vegetables into fake pasta just does not appeal to me.
Could I have kept going, pushed through the carb flu and created a new amazing fat-burned body with a right-sized waist? Maybe but I'd have needed to commit a whole lot more energy, attention and emotional weight to it if I'd wanted to successfully embed it in my life.
And honestly, I think my life would have to be incredibly dull and empty for me to want to focus on the minutiae of my diet.
But All Is Not Lost!
What has surprised me is that even though I did hate the low carb regime, quite a lot seems to have stuck. Caroline L Arnold, in her book Small Move, Big Change says it takes 4 to 6 weeks to embed a new habit. I suppose salad formation is a kind of habit. Maybe I was just refreshing it.
While there are probably no new foods in my pantry and fridge compared to January, the proportions have changed. There are more different sources of protein and more vegetables. I eat more salads and more carb-free meals. Bread and crackers are lasting longer. Nuts have become more important.
Overall I'm eating a little less but staying full longer. Breakfast is almost always a smoothie, except when there's soft avocado to spread on toast. Lunch is all about the leftovers. Dinner is less likely to involve carbs than before the challenge.
I think for me, the best way of eating is to have what I want, to limit the foods in my fridge and pantry to things that I like and are good for me and to occasionally go and buy some extra treat when nothing else will do. That fits into my life best.
As for the waist measurement, that may have to take the slow road. If i consistently eat a little less it will perhaps consistently lose a little more. But in March I'm keen to do an exercise challenge - working on establishing a regular pattern of exercise rather than my current haphazardness. So maybe that will help.
I don't know if the world really needed more confirmation that diets suck - but you have it anyway. I think that lifestyle changes have to be easy - and that it's better to go slow and make changes you can sustain rather than expect to be able to maintain a massive change in a whole lot of different aspects of your life at once.
But could I be wrong? Is it more complicated than that? Comment below, or visit the Well Made Lives Facebook page to tell us what you think.