The Atkins Diet, the more advanced Ketogenic Diet and even the Paleo Diet have one major weight loss similarity. The focus on training your body to burn stored or consumed fat instead of sugars and carbohydrates that have been converted to sugar.
The key is in consumption. The major players are your metabolism, insulin response, and time.
To pull this off – to train your body from the current state of relying on sugar/carbs for energy to relying on fat – you’ll need seven full days of restraint. Not the “lock-you-in-a-room” style of restraint (although by Day 3 you might think that would be an easier solution), but the same kind of restraint it takes to quit smoking, or changing any other long-standing habit.
The first 3 days of limiting carb intake is the most difficult. Once you’ve sailed past that date, do your best to keep going and never look back!
By Day 7 your body should be in a state of ketosis. As long as you don’t have any major health issues, this is perfectly safe. Ketosis simply means your body is converting the fats you eat – as well as stored fat – for energy.
Burn Fat Not Sugar
To turn on your fat burning switch you’ll need to ensure that your body does not have access to glucose (sugar). Without sugar in the diet your metabolism will change, insulin production slowed; therefore functions need to burn protein and fat to keep you going. The process takes 7 days because your body can convert some protein to glucose and most of us have some stored for future use in our muscles and liver (as glycogen). If you’ve heard about ‘fatty liver’ disease you already know about glycogen levels in the liver.
Your difficulty during the first 4 of 7 days will be relative to your current carb dependence. You may find a loss of energy levels, headaches, carb cravings, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Push through them all. It will all pass and by Day 7 you’ll be feeling great and shouting “I did it!”, from the rooftops.
Around the third of fourth day, glycogen levels will have been used up and you’ll start burning stored fat; triglycerides. At this time you’ll also find that you’re hungry less often, you sometimes forget to eat one of your meals or you’re no longer hungry at the standard ‘brain fog’ hour between lunch and dinner. The reason for this is because fat is a longer lasting fuel for our bodies. Your body isn’t hungry, so you don’t think about food – it is that easy.
You’ll see more great signs that you’re in a state of ketosis when your cravings disappear. No longer do you believe that you MUST have that bag of chips, or 4 slices of toast while watching the evening news before retiring.
How Much Carbohydrate Can I Eat?
Here is where we start to see the difference in the popular diets.
Should I limit my carbs or cut them out completely?
How many carbs can I eat?
How many carbs will push me out of Ketosis?
While a loosely followed Paleo diet doesn’t get all worked up about carbohydrates, Atkins and Ketogenic diets do. Most will suggest that everyone keep their carb count below the 20 grams a day mark. A low carb high fat diet suggests keeping it under 20 indefinitely. Atkins suggests until you lose all the weight you want to lose. Other diets will say no longer than the first 7 days or no longer than 5 consecutive days.
The diet you follow will dictate daily carb intake. Better yet – after 7 days – let your body and how you’d like your body to look, make the decision for you. My suggestion is to abolish all carbs for 4 days, then move to under 20 a day, and stay there indefinitely.
The healthiest way to keep it under 20 is to ensure that you are taking those 20 throughout the day by eating a variety of low carb, vitamin and nutrient packed, vegetables.
What Can I Eat During the First Week?
Just about everything we Americans and Canadians eat have carbs. Don’t believe me? Start reading the labels of your favorite foods or check out the nutrition lists of your favorite restaurants. Somehow we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security thinking that sugar is the whole problem, but it isn’t. That healthy whole grain breakfast bagel you grab every morning at the drive through window has 40-60 grams of carbs in the bagel alone.
Carb-free foods are generally pure protein based foods. Beef, chicken, shrimp, fish, and eggs. Cheeses are zero-to-low carb options, as are most fats.
Speaking of fats – one of my favorite topics on low carb high fat diets – eat as much as you want. Eating fat helps you lose fat. Dietary fats aid in the training of your metabolism to burn fat as well as keeping you full, longer.
Low carb vegetables are broccoli, garlic, cabbage, celery, lettuce, spinach, onions, asparagus, radicchio, zucchini, cucumbers, mushrooms, cauliflower, etc. I have plans to post the carb count of common foods on the website, but if you’re in a hurry you’ll find that information posted on many other websites.
Eating vegetables will keep vital nutrients feeding your cells and provide the fiber you need to prevent constipation. Never shun the vegetables, no matter how much you dislike them. While a low carb high fat diet isn’t one where you’re forced to eat 3 large bowls of lettuce leaves a day, you still need the vitamins and fiber they offer you.
The good news is that you no longer have to eat your vegetables naked. Pour on the hollandaise sauce, butter, herb infused oils and your vegetables will take on new life. Stick with me and I’ll show you a ton of new ways to enjoy vegetables without making you feel like a rabbit. Delicious recipes are on the way!
What Not to Eat
Avoid all starches and sugars.
Avoid most processed or prepared foods (again, check the labels)
Avoid fruits and tomatoes.
Eat nuts sparingly.
Give me just 7 days, give your body this ‘fighting chance’, and you’ll never want to go back to the way you used to feel after a meal. Or between meals. The change is drastic to say the least. You should lose weight just in those 7 days, but more importantly I think you’ll also feel the difference in how your clothes fit, and how your body feels.
If you work the standard Monday-Friday 9-5 routine, I suggest starting on a Friday night and keep yourself busy with walks, reading books, catching up on your sleep, or anything else that distracts you from the carb cravings. By the time you return home from work on Monday evening you’ll already have the hardest three days behind you!
Leave a note below if you want to reach out, share your progress, vent a little about how hard the first few days are, or talk about anything else that is low carb, high fat diet related.