While I have spent the last 16 years honing my practice of low-carb high-fat (LCHF) and keto, I don’t think that it’s the right way-of-eating (WOE) for everyone.
Over the years I’ve watched people online and in real life stumble and falter at this WOE. Sometimes it’s after an initial success, but often they just can’t get traction with LCHF eating. It doesn’t feel right to them and/or they can’t lose. Their bodies don’t respond to LCHF and that’s okay. We all need to find the path that we can follow forever.
But for those of us who thrive on this WOE it’s truly magical. I am 117 pounds lighter than my high and in the best shape of my life at 54. Over the years I’ve learned more and continue to improve my understanding and practice.
I decided to try Atkins after years of failure on low-fat diets. While I had some successes on low-fat, ultimately I was hungry and miserable and wasn’t able to maintain any losses that I achieved. It wasn’t a WOE that I could thrive on and be successful. I had to think outside the box and find a new path.
In 2001 I went to the library and cleared the shelves of diet books. I read through them all and found that they fell into several categories: low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, and vegan. I thought hard about my personality and my dietary preferences. I realized that I needed to make a long-term change and whatever diet I chose would need to be something I could live with forever. It came down to a choice between salad and steak or rice cakes, tofu and chicken breast. I knew that I could eat salad and steak forever, but I cringed at the thought of rice cakes, tofu and chicken breast.
The problem was, I didn’t think that a high-fat diet of steak and salad would work. Everything I had been taught up to that point told me that low-fat was the only way to lose weight. But my desperation for a long-term solution got me to try Atkins.
I read the entire 1992 version of Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution and I was inspired, but still not convinced that it would work. I hunkered down for the first two weeks of Induction. If it worked it would be amazing, but I didn’t get my hopes up.
The Atkins Induction plan was simple, but not easy. All the meat and fat you wanted and 3 cups of salad vegetables or 1 cup of “allowed” vegetables and 2 cups of salad vegetables. It was a radical shift in thinking about food, meal planning, and weight-loss.
The hardest part was getting over the fear of eating fat. Fat had been the enemy for so long and I had a retinue of recipes that I had tweaked to lower the fat. Now I had to find recipes that had no sugar or starch. I combed the library and internet for recipes that fit my new WOE.
I was also used to filler foods like rice, potatoes, and bread that were low-fat and filling. The food on my plate looked so alone and bare. How was I going to feel sated without the sugar and starches?
After two weeks of Atkins induction I got on the scale and was amazed to see that I was 9 pounds lighter! At that point a switch flipped in my head and I knew that if I could stick with this I could lose the weight and get healthy once and for all.
At that point I decided to stick with what was working and stay on induction until I felt comfortable moving up the carb ladder. This simple plan was easy to follow and I wanted to keep losing at this pace. While I would go on to expand my repertoire, I always had the goal of 20 grams of carbs in the back of my mind and would start back with the simplest form of induction when my weight-loss faltered.
I am comfortable 16 years later and 117 pounds lighter with the understanding that this is the right WOE for me and that I will eat this way for the rest of my life. While I have had some small setbacks, I’ve always been able to stick with the tenets of this lifestyle and have never gained back any significant amount of weight. In fact, I’ve been able to level up several times to improve my practice and reach new low weights and higher levels of fitness by incorporating new research and information.
It’s an exciting time as the science begins to confirm what I’ve learned in my own 16 year n=1 experiment. Low-carb is a viable alternative to the low-fat lifestyle and for many people it is the easiest and healthiest way to maintain weight-loss long-term.