I don't like promoting dieting because it is an unnecessary cycle that never works. Believe me - I've lived most of my life trying to lose weight only to become frustrated when it doesn't work. I always thing I will be successful only to find that when I stop restricting myself, the weight comes back.
There are times when we need to reevaluate how we are currently eating because our body changes every 5 to 7 years. Unfortunately, there is not an alarm that goes off telling us to make changes. The changes may be subtle. We may notice weight gain all of a sudden! Slowly we may be tired more often, not sleeping well or maybe there are changes in bowel movements (either constipation or diarrehea or both) or bloating or frequent gas.
No matter what my age, I try to be aware about changes that happen all of a sudden, then work to get it under control. Unfortunately, I do get surprised and several years later, I find I need to make a change again. I am mostly plant based which you would think would maintain a certain weight consistently. I did - for many years! But times have changed. I've noticed a slow creep of weight gain now that I am in perimenopause and I'm determined to get it under control, smartly.
Being plant based, I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, very little meat, chicken or fish. I am dairy free, corn free and gluten reduced. This is the routine I want to keep because I am happy with my energy levels and routine blood work results. Since I started gaining weight, the natural step for me was to evaluate what I was eating. The macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, are important for a balanced body. Cutting out one of these nutrients may work for a period of time, but it is not able to be followed for long periods of time.
As I started tracking how many carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and processed vegetarian foods I eat, it became clear that I had started eating mostly carbohydrates. Not only was I buying processed vegetarian foods (like frozen veggie burgers) but I was eating what appear to be "healthy, lifestyle approved" snacks. Snacks like rice crackers (gluten free but could have 22 grams of carbs in a 1/2 cup serving and no fiber) and plantain chips (again gluten free but 18 grams of carbs in 20 chips).
While I am not a fan of the Keto diet, it was time for me to seriously think about how to reduce carbohydrates and balance what I eat. I'm not talking about starting Vegetarian or Vegan Keto. Vegetarians tend to eat a lot of carbs because they are eating high carb fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and very little meat or dairy, like I do. I am talking about looking at the science of how eating fewer carbs may help me lose weight.
First a definition:
Very Low Carbohydrate Diet: 20 - 50 grams per day
Low Carbohydrate Diet: 50 - 150 grams per day
A study assessed low carb, high protein diets and found them to be effective at 6 to 12 months for lowered weight and cardiovascular disease. The authors noted that for weight maintenance, it is not appropriate to return to a high carbohydrate diet. Also, it is unclear if it was the reduced carbs or high protein or calorie restriction that comes naturally with this type of eating that helped reduce weight. (Source: Obesity Reviews)
A study that reviewed low carb diets found that carbohydrate restriction result in weight loss and have a generally beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease, even without weight loss. They also found that glycemic control and insulin resistance were favorable when following a low carbohydrate diet and may be the preferred choice for weight reduction as well as for general health. (Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
Given the above study results, I decided to track the amount of carbs I eat regularly. I used a free, digital tracker and (if I did it right) I was easily eating 200 or more grams of carbohydrates per day. How many grams of carbs per day should I eat? About 150 grams per day since I eat 1,500 calories a day. I am an active person. I work out 5 days a week and mostly stand while working (at least 4 to 5 hours a day). Even on the day's off from the gym, I take time to move my body by going on a walk or finding a YouTube yoga class or Qigong or Tai Chi.
Going very low carb (based on the definitions above) would not work for me since I do not eat a lot of meat, chicken, fish or pork. Plus, I don't want to eat soy based foods as a meat alternative. I decided to cut carbs down to 100 - 120 grams per day. That is a fairly significant cut since I was eating 200 or grams a day. Making this reduction should help me slowly lose 8 to 10 pounds and would be an appropriate daily amount to eat for the future. Once I lose my targeted weight, I plan to maintain a lower carb lifestyle and may increase to 150 grams of carbohydrates on some days.
This process may seem difficult. It was for me too!
I was tired of relying on “Dr. Google” to diagnose and figure out how to lose weight. I was frustrated too. After all, searching the internet didn't mean I was getting answers that made sense.
My weight loss journey hasn’t been an easy one. But I’m guessing neither has yours. I bet it’s been full of pain, frustration, anxiety, and confusion. And, frankly, hopelessness and desperation when you all of a sudden you discover you've gained 10 more pounds.
What if you could enjoy...
Confidence when eating at family meals, parties, or on dates?
Peace of mind that what you are eating won't result in weight gain?
Freedom to eat without worrying about every bite?
The pleasure of living a richer, more enjoyable life — one that’s NOT controlled by food…
Well, I’ve got some incredible news. I’ve developed a step-by-step process, informed by evidence-based research, that will help you manage your weight loss and end your frustration.
And now you can use that same process to get your body “in sync” at last.
As a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Health Coach, I tell my clients the truth about their health goals.
The food you eat may be exacerbating your weight gain. Genetics may also play a role. Things like infection, a stomach bug, or trauma can make weight appear when it might not have been there before.
And there are a whole host of physical and emotional issues that can definitely impact your weight — anxiety and stress, poor sleeping habits, menstruation, and more.
Getting your health in sync is about balancing all of this knowledge. It’s about learning to eat the foods that will maintain your weight, taking some helpful supplements, and managing your emotions. Wouldn't that be nice for a change?
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session where we will talk about your health goals and how we can work together.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to achieving your health goals.
5 CARBS FOR EASY WEIGHT LOSS
Now, you may be wondering what can I eat that does not leave me hungry all day and fits a plant based lifestyle? What are good carbs for weight loss? I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the foods I eat, I can continue to eat by simply changing the amount I eat in a single meal. That was my big challenge! Reducing portion sizes. Like everyone, I was eating a larger than necessary serving of foods high in carbohydrates.
The problem is that when carbohydrates don't have a lot of fiber, they are digested fast, spike blood sugar and we feel hungry faster. Fiber is very important when reducing carbohydrates because fiber cannot be easily digested by the body which keeps us fuller longer. Foods like rice, quinoa, barley, lentils, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, blueberries, bananas, pears, apples and oats have more carbohydrates than fiber. By reducing the amount of those foods I eat, how often I eat them and finding swaps with lower carb food (or higher fiber), I was able to jumpstart weight loss without being hungry.
Below are the 5 carbs I am eating for easy weight loss.
#1 HEARTS OF PALM
I discovered Hearts of Palm when I started working on reducing the amount of carbs I was eating. I never really thought about Hearts of Palm. It looks weird and comes in a can. But the really amazing part is that 1 cup only has 3 grams of Net Carbs, 40 calories, 3.5 grams of Fiber and 3.7 grams of protein. This is the vegetable I've been looking for! It tastes like canned artichoke hearts.
I chop it for salads, sautee it with other vegetables and put it in homemade beet burgers. When I searched Google to find out more about this vegetable, I learned it can be shredded and topped with BBQ sauce for vegan sloppy joe's. Needless to say this is a great new find for me that will be part of my healthy eating routine FOREVER!
#2 DRIED BEANS
Another amazing fact I learned is that dry beans have way fewer Net Carbs than canned beans. I've purchased dried beans in the past but mostly rely on canned beans because they are easier. This is a perfect example of how convenience may not always achieve your health goals. Pinto beans in a can have 25 Net Carbs in 1 cup. Pinto beans that are dried and are cooked at home have only 4 Net Carbs in 3/4 of a cup. HUGE difference!
If beans aren't something you think of eating because you get bloated or gassy, soack them for 12 - 24 hours before eating. This reduces lectins in the beans which are responsible for the gas and bloating. One of the best tips for cooking beans fast is to use an InstaPot. Just don't forget to soak the beans to reduce the bloating and gas!
Do almonds have carbs? Yes! But they have only 3 Net Carbs when eating 24 almonds. This is a great time to discuss calories. Almonds are high in calories. While I am focusing on reducing carbohydrates to lose weight, I am not counting calories. Why? Because I am active. I work out 5 days a week and on the days I do not go to the gym, I still do something active at home.
This may not work for your situation. Our bodies are unique. Depending on your health situation and goals, only reducing carbohydrates may or may not work for you. It is important to recognize that each of us has to find a personalized plan that will work for our goals.
#4 SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Squash is a starchy vegetable but it is a great replacement for potatoes or pasta. Spaghetti squash has 5.5 Net Carbs per cup. It is a perfect low carb vegetable that can be used in a variety of ways. Below are a few recipes to try.
#5 NUT BUTTER
Since nuts are low in net carbs, so are nut butters. Sunflower butter, cashew butter, almond butter, peanut butter are all low carb friendly and are the best option to rely on when reducing carbs. They are so filling! Making any dietary change will result in some hunger pains or managing blood sugar. That is totally normal! Being prepared ahead of time by keeping natural nut butters handy will help stop hunger pains and level out blood sugar. Simply eat a tablespoon when you feel you need something but don't want to cave into a high carb snack.
Starting to eat fewer carbs can be very beneficial for your health and weight loss goals. It may seem cumbersome at first because you are learning a new skill. It's like anything new, start slow and be patient with yourself. Practice does make perfect! Since we live in a world that expects instant gratification, if we don't get results right away we get frustrated and may stop working towards the goal. But I promise you, if you keep practicing the new skill will simply become your routine.
Do you think you will try to reduce the amount of carbs you are eating? Let me know by leaving a comment below.