Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Low Carb Kool Aid

I want to make one thing clear really quick before I write the rest of this post: NO AMOUNT OF PSEUDO SCIENCE WILL EVER CONVINCE ME WHEAT IS BAD FOR YOU. A lot of people who follow a low carb diet, ESPECIALLY people that follow a Paleo diet, will tell you that wheat is bad for you and point to all sorts of studies that are probably all funded by the Crossfit Society or something. Wheat is only bad for you if you have a gluten allergy. It provides quick energy, fiber, and is heart healthy.

That said, recently it made a lot of sense to me when I was reading an article about why low-carb diets work for quick weight loss and the author said, "Think about it- they use grain and corn to fatten up livestock." Good point. Short version of the science part: when you eat a lot of carbs at once, your body burns the carbs for energy first before burning fat. Protein is essentially the least efficient source of energy for you body- it burns slower and your body has to use more calories to metabolize it. Google it if you want a deeper explanation. Largely, it's psychological- carbs and sugar tend to be the things we crave and when you just eliminate them from your diet, you aren't bingeing.

All that said, I kinda drunk the Kool Aid on the whole low carb thing. I realized I just wasn't getting the results I wanted to see with my current diet. I was monitoring my calories and working out really consistently, but I just wasn't seeing the kinds of changes that I wanted. I recently joined Instagram and my new hobby (ok, obsession) is looking at pictures of women who do the bikini/fitness competitions. Their muscles= so hot. A lot of them shared their nutrition plans, and a lot of them were low carb/high protein/lotsa veggies. So I decided I would try to limit my carbs, up my protein, and start lifting heavier. Currently I try to keep my carbs around 130 g a day (lots of sources will say the true sweet spot for weight loss is between 50-100g a day but that is just too low for me) and I've been hitting the weights four times a week (1 heavy leg day, 1 heavy upper body day, 2 intense ab days, and 2 sessions of Body Pump where you lift a somewhat lighter weight but lift for a lot longer. Eg: on heavy leg day I squat 75 lbs. At Body Pump I squat 45 lbs.) I have only been doing this with serious dedication for about 3 weeks, and I'm pleased with the results. Nothing major YET but I see tiny differences. I promised myself I would stick with it for ten weeks and if I'm not pleased, I'm treating myself to a personal trainer.

The thing I like best about this low-carb diet is that I don't feel hungry and angry and depressed. I really don't feel deprived, which is a miracle. In fact, psychologically, it's given me "permission" to eat so that I can almost follow a more "intuitive eating" approach, which I would really prefer (too bad my intuition tells me to eat three cupcakes and a giant pretzel. Can't trust that bitch.) For example, though I still use MyFitnessPal to track my carbs/fat/protein, I don't stress when I go over my calories because I know that if I stay within my carbs everything will be fine. I actually added an extra 100 calories to my normal goal because hey, I'm hungry.

An anecdote: the past two weeks, I was traveling a TON for work. I always gain weight when I travel, because I try to track my calories then eventually say fuck it and just eat whatever with the promise that when I get home, I'll go to food confession and get food born again or some such bullshit. Well, I'm over that cycle because it's just not worth it, so I decided that I would just low carb it. I ate in restaurants in the Bible Belt, full of butter and crap, but I ordered burgers without buns, fajitas but skipped the tortillas, and ate eggs for breakfast instead of cinnamon rolls. When I got home, I had actually lost a pound. That is unheard of for me.

They say the best diet is one that you can follow. Well, I'm following it and (currently) very pleased. Bring on the mashed cauliflower.

Miracle mashies may be copyrighted by HungryGirl- you should google her recipe. But I don't believe in "light buttery spread" so I tweaked it. Here ya go!

1 yukon gold potato of a normal size
1 head of cauliflower
1 clove of garlic
1/4-1/3 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon low fat Philadelphia cream cheese

Fill a big pot with water and put it on the stove to boil. Meanwhile. peel and cube the potato, and cut the head of cauliflower into florets- they don't have to be small. Mine weren't.

Once the waters is boiling, toss in the potatoes and cauliflower. Make sure the water returns to a boil before you turn the heat down and put a lid on it. Let it cook for about 15 mins.

When the veggies are soft, add almond milk, cream cheese, and garlic. Mash and mash. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

It is VITAL that you add the potato. Just one potato is not gonna hurt you, and it make all the difference with the taste and texture. Enjoy!