Soooo, I spent a solid three weeks documenting my progress of clean eating, and actually spent 4 weeks doing it, but one night I made taquitos (from scratch, more or less) and they’re my downfall. One turned into 6, and then my fall was complete. My inlawsish came to town and I rationalized pizza, and that night of pizza turned into a binge, and I probably cleared 5000 calories a day for five days. I’ve gained back most of the weight I’d lost and my clothes are nearly as tight as they were at the beginning of my journey. I can feel the blood sugar spikes and how it makes me foggy and irritable, and I hate it – so what is there to do?
I plan on starting Sunday again. A coworker is doing keto for the first time, and I think hopping on with them would be a good time to start. My larger concerns are things like electrolyte deficiency and vitamin deficiency. I have considered a few options and I have come to these hypotheses:
Grains are bad, probably: I think wheat, rye, barley – all of it, but especially wheat, is probably not great for us. At best, it’s a cheap, highly insulin-spurring source of blood sugar ups and downs, which causes bloating and water retention, and more often than not is presented stripped of real nutritional value. At worst, it’s part of a huge lie that perpetuates a model of eating that encourages overconsumption of carbohydrate as a solution to metabolic disorder, but is actually the culprit. Very few people eat straight grain – it’s generally crushed into flour and eaten that way, barley and oats being the main exceptions. Even modern rice isn’t nutritionally what it was even a hundred years ago.
I do think that perhaps a few outliers are possibly good – quinoa and amaranth. Both are technically grains, but they’re far more protein-and-nutrient dense than traditional grains. I think they could warrant inclusion into a healthy diet if eaten in moderation and tempered with weight lifting and other forms of activity. Along those lines –
Exercise of some sort is probably imperative: I’ve always done the best, in terms of health, mental wellbeing, and overall weight loss, when I was lifting weights 3-5 times a week. I lost about 30 pounds in high school just lifting weights and cutting my diet back a bit, and I had previously lost a lot of weight lifting and doing low carb, but now I’m strapped for time and it’s hard to find room to fit exercise in.
Except it’s not, not really. I am strapped for time, but I find myself in a lot of stretches of a half-hour or more, where I could lift or go for a job, or just do bodyweight exercises, and I don’t. I do something else – watch an episode of a show, play some Hearthstone or Pokemon, whatever. I think a big part of the American aversion to exercise is our mentality of “go,go,go – no time!” but it’s simply not true. While a lot of people maybe do have every extra minute mapped out during the day, I think most of us can realize that we do have a lot of inefficient time-usage that we could make more productive. I used to do squats at my desk, 15-30 every half-hour/hour, depending. I felt great and didn’t have the leg pain or back issues that I have now.
Based on that, I think weight lifting, 3-4 times a week on an ABA schedule with a depletion workout on Fridays would be best. I know that I will likely be eating beans and quinoa, so I would need to find a use for the carbs in that food. I don’t plan on doing carb-ups (and that’s another post entirely) but a baseline of carbs over the ideal 20g or less will need to be spent in order to facilitate the speed at which I want to lose weight. Keeping my average carbs low but spiking my carbs a little bit here and there might help build muscle. You can only realistically build muscle in a caloric surplus, so it’s not technically possible to build muscle tissue on a caloric deficit. If, however, I were eating to fill and not necessarily obeying caloric macros, and I was lifting, and I ate in excess, it’s possible that I wouldn’t gain fat and instead spur muscle synthesis. There is research to support this though it’s generally poo-pooed because it’s both difficult to prove and probably incremental compared to the gains you would get if you were eating for mass and not for cutting.
Along with quinoa, I think beans might be a good thing: I’ve always liked black beans and kidney beans, and I really don’t like chili unless it has beans, which I guess is blasphemous but whatever. I’ve tried a lot of keto chili recipes and they’re ok, but I miss beans. There’s a lot of snobbery about beans in the modern dieting world – paleo thinks they’re full of toxins that are designed to hurt animals that would eat them, and they’re full of carbs, so usually off-limits for traditional keto dieters. They’re incredibly healthy, however, nutrient-dense, fibrous, and full of protein. Not to mention, what I would like to do is cut out meat. I want to go largely pescetarian, and they’re a decent source of vegetable protein.
Again, I wouldn’t be eating them daily, but I think that on a lifting day, and a few times a week, they could fill holes in my nutrition and get me some good plant protein. Plus they’re cheap like whoa.
Fruits are healthy, too, in moderation: There’s really nothing to be said about fruit that hasn’t been said. Most people on very low carb diets deny fruit as being useless sources of sugar, but whole fruit is filled with healthy nutrition and fiber, things you don’t get out of juice. Again, not to say I want to sit down and eat a whole melon, but in moderation, I think it will be fine.
In summation, my goals here are to change my diet to be more like my grandparents’ diets – full of healthy, whole foods, fresh vegetables and fruit, and, borrowing from a more modern approach to food science, lower in carbs, devoid of processed carbs (and most processed foods in general) and allowing for some ancient-but-modern grains like quinoa. I think this strikes a good balance between a low tech, grassroots way of eating that nourished previous generations and a high tech, biohacking sort of view of getting nutrients. So much eating is now centered on how our ancestors ate (paleo, I’m looking at you) but without regard to advances made that help us in regards to further developments in food science. The whole picture is what we should be looking at – how we can incorporate new science with old world understanding of eating close to home, farm to table, and without tons of gross additives, either in the soil or in the cooking process.
I have officially started on this way of eating today, August 13th, 2015. I will weigh in and get measurements tomorrow, and see where I am at in 30 days.