I know by writing this that I may very well lose some of my avid keto followers or some hard core paleo followers and I'm ok with that. The whole purpose of my blog was always just a platform for me to go through the motions of this weight loss journey without driving my family crazy with information they found boring, it was also to share my ups and downs as many of you relate. It's never been about popularity and although my facebook page and this blog has become relatively popular in recent years it's never been my driving force, I am always grateful for the followers I do have and I hope that my authenticity and open mindedness is what keeps you reading.
Most of you know of my history with Primal, I've been primal for over 5 years and I've always classed myself as an 80/20 follower because I have a love affair with dairy and chocolate and lets face it I've never really been 100% compliant because I just don't want to live like that and I haven't felt the need to, I take my hat off to those that do Primal/Paleo 100%, I'm not one of them. I have had my fair share of macro-nutrient adjustments over the years, plenty of trial and error and I've learnt a great deal about myself and my relationship with food in the process, it's something that cannot be taught, it comes from experience in living it day in day out.
I lost 40 kgs back in 2008/2009 following a very low carbohydrate diet of around 30-50grams a day which I did for a year, then for the past 5 years I've mostly stayed around about 50-70gms most days with a few higher carb days thrown in for good measure and a few intermittent fast days also. Last year I played around with nutritional ketosis here and here, I dropped my carbohydrates and my protein levels a lot lower and ramped up the fat, it was fantastic for dropping weight fast but I am becoming convinced that it's not a healthy state to be in 24/7. At the time I felt amazing and had so much energy it almost felt unnatural. Fast forward to the last couple of months and I felt my body screaming at me to change something, I couldn't go on eating such a high fat, low carb diet, not because I didn't enjoy it but because I feel like it was taxing my hormones. The one important thing I have learnt from my journey with weight loss and trying to obtain perfect health is that hormones and gut health are at the core of it all.
I was noticing that my sleep was becoming very erratic, my energy was lagging big time (even while in ketosis) when previously I was bouncing off walls, my gut health started to become very bad to the point I was struggling to digest vegetables, and my menstrual cycle was becoming very out of whack and extremely painful. I made sure I had bone broths, I kept the salt, potassium and magnesium high but none of it made a difference. I thought it would all iron out but it didn't. Once I started doing the research in places like Paleo for Women, Paul Jaminet, Chris Kesser, PaNu, Free the Animal and listening to all sorts of podcasts from Balanced bites, Robb Wolf and Dave Aspery etc..I have started putting a few things together in order to untangle the web I had spun myself. I read forums, blog posts and comments, more books and taking all the information in, I found myself feeling conflicted and confused and a little bit angry, had all this keto dieting I had done recently been doing the damage, after all the studies I read on it had me convinced that Keto was amazing for long term health, the success stories alone are enough to make anyone make the change. I thought it wasn't that far of a stretch to what I normally do. I was wrong.
So in my long journey of regaining my health and maintaining my weight I gave the Perfect Health Diet another whirl, the last time I had done it I found I would binge on carbs all the time, what was different this time? I believe it was not going crazy on the fat while I was eating potatoes and rice, if you add tons of butter to starchy carbohydrates it makes it really hard to stop eating them, if you have them with only a little bit of fat and keep the meal much simpler it's much easier to only eat the amount you need. From the data I've read on the subject it has a lot to do with food reward and our ability to listen to our real hunger cues. Most of us find it hard to stop eating overly processed foods like pizza, cakes etc because it's the combination of sugar, fat and salt that keeps us gagging for more. I have always struggled with moderation and felt like I have an addiction to these kinds of foods, especially when on a very low carb diet. The most unusual and awesome side effect I have noticed since I have upped the starch in my diet is that I do not crave these foods like I used to and I can have a small amount and stop, that was unheard of for me and the reason I could never do moderation.
I still haven't formed a strong opinion about whether I think that strict nutritional ketogenic dieting is something that I agree with, I've had a pretty good stint with it and I have since changed my stance on it - hence why I'm writing this. However I cannot deny that I had wonderful results in the weight loss department, in terms of health I found myself becoming unwell. Dropping carbs below 50gms per day undoubtedly works for weight loss, it was how I got off my 40kgs relatively effortlessly so I cannot deny that. Would I recommend others do the same? I think it really depends on what kind of health you have, many people are much more resilient and can possibly handle the stress that low carb puts on our hormones, others might not be so lucky.
So what does my daily diet look like now? Well I still consider myself very much Primal, the way I always have been, I'm still 80/20 because of dairy and chocolate and while the area or "safe starches" is still very controversial I am happy to include them in my diet. I still stay away from wheat and excess sugar.
My day usually starts off with a decaf coffee with cream, at about 10am I generally have brunch which is almost always eggs 2-3 of them, I love them poached, scrambled, fried, an omelet and I'll add some cooked and cooled potato or sweet potato fried in ghee (clarified butter) and some sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), some avocado, maybe bacon if I feel like it. That meal generally keeps me going most of the day until about 4-5pm and then I'll have a small snack of fruit, say a banana or apple with some nut butter. Dinner is normally some meat, green vegetables and either some potatoes, kumara (sweet potato), rice, rice noodles and some days I just stick to zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice or mash because I like to change it up, everyday isn't the same otherwise I get bored. I find myself cooking from cookbooks lately for new ideas. My macros are probably about 100gms of carbohydrate a day, give or take, sometimes it's 150gms and other days it's 70gms, my protein is normally always around 70gms and my fat intake is roughly 70-80gms. In terms of Percentages each day I'd sit around 45% Fat / 30% Carbs / 25% Protein, all very rough estimates. My weight is fairly stable at 69-70kgs, (5'7") and I feel happy here, I could probably do with losing a few kgs but really have you ever met anyone that doesn't say that?! Mostly I'm just thankful that I have managed to maintain my weight loss while enjoying delicious food.
I personally think the following are really great websites to help get you on a good path to health and weight loss, I have no affiliation with any of these recommendations.
New Zealand Pages:
Please remember I'm not a doctor or dietitian and everything I have stated above is all from my experience, before diagnosing yourself please speak with a medical professional you trust.