I’ve tried my fair share of weird weight loss strategies, none of which I wind up maintaining long-term because of the crazy restrictions. But in the summer of 2015, my parents started their own journey on the low-carb diet, and after seeing each of them successfully shed some pounds, I decided to give the diet a try for myself.
The low-carb diet goes by many names. Chances are you’ve heard people refer to it as Atkins, South Beach, or Keto (short for “ketogenic”). For the purposes of this experiment, I followed the rules laid out by Susan Kleiner, Ph.D, R.D, author of Power Eating,in this article. Since I work out moderately at least three times a week, I should consume 100 grams of carbohydrates per day on the plan—and that was the only rule. Considering cheese is naturally low in carbs (and was the hardest thing to give up during my bouts of Paleo and Whole30), I figured I’d finally met my weight-loss match. So, armed with no further restrictions than capping my carb count, I kicked off two full weeks on the diet. Here’s what I learned and how much I lost.
I’ve heard people preach about the wonders of food journals and how helpful they can be, but I always found the idea of writing down every last bite of food I consumed to be overkill. After all, I’m pretty aware of what I’m putting in my body, thankyouverymuch. But during my first day of counting carbs, I realized how helpful it really was to keep track of what I was eating. I kept my daily journal on a Google doc and updated it throughout my day. Not only did it help me keep a daily tally of how many carbs I’d eaten, but it was also a great reference for looking up the number of carbs in foods I eat regularly.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge advocate of meal prepping. And planning my low-carb meals ahead of time made sense since I wanted to reduce temptation. However, when I got tired of my meals by day three and checked out the menus of a few restaurants online, I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s easy to eat out on the low-carb diet. As a rule of thumb, I stuck to grabbing food from places I could accurately record the nutrition of my meal. And if that wasn’t available, I’d use my best judgement to order as low-carb as possible. (Read: No bun or fries with my burger, please.)
Just as not all diets are created equal, neither are your favorite happy hour drinks. I quickly got into the habit of looking up the carbs per serving of foods online before (and sometimes after) I consumed them, and when doing a quick search for drinks I learned that most red wine and spirits are actually safe options. I got into the habit of ordering a glass of Pinot Noir (3.4 grams of carbs for five ounces) or a gin and soda (no carbs!), which was a totally welcome change from Paleo, which discourages all alcohol. (These are the best wines to drink if you’re trying to lose weight.)