My 7 day low-carb diet…things I discovered
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As a reader of GreenNote Fitness Reflections, you know that I am constantly looking for ways to improve. I enjoy experimenting, sometimes with success and other times more error than trial. There in lies the beauty of the journey. My latest experiment? Eating a low-carb diet for 7 days.
During these 7 days, I lost 4.4 pounds and decreased my body fat percentage by half a percent.
I believe there are lessons in the process. This 7 day experiment was no exception - I learned a ton and will be making some conscience decisions in food choices going forward.
In the words of Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, let’s start at the beginning, it’s a very good place to start…
Why did I consume a low-carb diet for 7 days?
You may recall in the previous GreenNote Fitness Reflections - One woman’s health journey…loosing weight and feeling great…, “Sarah” embarked on a low-carb diet and greatly altered her body composition. Curious about her discovery of carbohydrates in unsuspecting places, I thought it would be a really good experiment for me to incorporate for a brief time.
How many carbohydrates was I consuming?
The first few days I was consuming between 30 and 50 grams of net carbohydrate and then more in the 50 to 75 net grams of carbohydrate per day. This is more than Sarah’s - she was around 20-25 net carbs per day for about two months!
To provide further perspective, a Keto Diet, could be around less than 50 net carbs per day; a Cyclical Keto Diet could be around 50 net carbs per day with a re-feed day of up to 150 net carbs; while a Moderate Keto would be more in the 100-150 grams of net carbs per day. Women who experience problems with other forms of keto sometimes do better with a Moderate Keto Diet— restricting carbs can sometimes mess with hormonal function.
Note I was not doing a Keto diet - I was focusing on reducing net carbohydrates per day. Looking at a Keto diet does provide some perspective to net carbs with it’s focus more on a higher fat and protein intake.
The term "net carbs" simply refers to carbs that are absorbed by the body. To calculate the net carbs in whole foods, subtract the fiber from the total number of carbs. To calculate the net carbs in processed foods, subtract the fiber and a portion of the sugar alcohols.
Did I still do intermittent fasting during these 7 days of low-carbs?
Yes. As I have written about before, I have been doing intermittent fasting consistently for over three years. It is a fantastic tool for burning fat, cellular health, and longevity. I kept doing it while I was consuming a low amount of carbohydrates.
What type of foods did I include? Avoid?
Breakfast (when I was not intermittent fasting)
I made sure to include a small amount of raspberries and blue berries (good source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals) in plain, higher-fat yogurt. At times included that mixture as a dessert with the addition of the very nutritious Cacao Nibs.
Kept my big-ass salad: spinach, celery, olives, hemp seeds, a few blue berries, and an avocado. Kept carrots out or very limited
Salmon, asparagus, tiny bit of sweet potato. Basically dinners would include a protein source, vegetable, and very little carbohydrate. One night had fish tacos - thus came the realization of 25 g of carbs in a single Mission flour tortilla!
Did you make any changes to your fitness routine?
This was actually scaled back a little bit due to an injury. Focused more on upper body strength training, walking in the sunshine, and finding stretches, and exercises too help my injury.
Pros of eating a low-carbohydrate diet
Tracking my carbohydrates brought a bigger awareness to just how much can be not only in packaged foods i.e. Mission flour tortilla with 25 grams, but also healthy foods i.e. medium sized apple has 20 net carbs
Shows you that you can consume less and still feel energetic and satiated. Generally when I have eggs, I usually have two at a time. More out of habit than anything. Felt just as good to have one.
Consumed more water. Too help with satiety and to help flush toxins, I increased my water consumption.
Felt great. Although I consume a pretty healthy diet generally, it felt good to reduce some of the carbohydrates for a while and clothes fit a little bit better
Lost four and a half pounds and a half a percent of body fat
Cons of eating a low-carbohydrate diet
Taking a low-carb approach can have the “wrong” things rewarded. For example, you may be near your carbohydrate limit for the day. Eating a carrot would put you over the allotted amount but having alcohol like a tequila on the rocks (nothing added with it) would be of no consequence for carb count
With much focus on macronutrients i.e. fat, protein, carbohydrates, we can loose sight of the importance of micronutrients, which I have written about here.
As alluded to earlier, women may have difficulty with a low-carb diet due to the impact on hormones
Tips when eating a low-carbohydrate diet
Track it. Before embarking on a low-calorie diet, track the number of carbohydrates you consume in a regular week. This will help you to prepare to reduce intake in a particular area. For example, you may be snacking between meals; figure out how many carbs come from your snacks. This would be an area that you could easily remove to help you get to a lower carb count
Prep your meals. I’ve talked about my Sunday meal prep for my lunches. Take this a bit further to know without as many carbohydrates, your macronutrients will need to come from healthy fats and proteins
Move it. If weight loss is your goal, remember - while a formal workout at the beginning or end of the day is not necessary for weight loss, low-level physical activity throughout the day is. Get up and move at least every 50 minutes.
Be patient! It may take longer than a couple of weeks on a low-carb diet to adapt to this change so you may not see fat loss for a while. Particularly so if your primary fuel source was carbohydrates. It takes the body a while to adjust to being more fat-adapted
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It may take a little tweaking to change up the types of food you have been automatically consuming. This can feel new and uncomfortable. Back to previous tip; be patient!
Ultimately it isn’t just about quantity. It’s also not about counting carbohydrates, fat or protein grams, and it’s not about calorie counting — instead, it’s about the quality of the food you eat. It can be really easy to fall into a routine or pattern of going to the grocery store, stocking up on packaged foods to fill our pantries.
More awareness can be brought to eating real, whole foods, that provide not only macronutrients but micronutrients. This is where being healthy resides. The links in this article provide examples of healthy foods, burning fat, and what a week would like incorporating movement, intermittent fasting, and nutritious eating.
Often we want the least amount of a challenge to show the greatest results. Truth is it may be more challenging than that…at first perhaps but with consistency comes results. This is a journey. As with all journeys, it begins with one step.
To our reflection,
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See my last newsletter One woman’s health journey…loosing weight and feeling great…?