Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Low Carb Honeymoon is Over

Since February 14, 2011, I have lost 52 pounds by following a low carb way of eating (complete weight loss statistics are here in this chart), but the weight loss is beginning to slow down in the past few weeks. Perhaps it is because I have eaten too much, but there is also the possibility that I have hit the stalling point, when you lose between 17 and 20% of your original starting weight. To date, I have lost 18% of my starting weight, and I am still 30 to 40 pounds heavier than I would like. Have I stalled? I don't know, yet.

In 2005, I started Weight Watchers and lost over 100 pounds. I tracked that weight loss, too, and actually lost more weight per week on WW than on the low carb way of eating. Unfortunately, Weight Watchers is a semi-starvation diet, and when you stop starving yourself, the weight comes back on, and quickly. That happened to me, too, and it was quite embarrassing. You can see my WW weight loss statistics here.

To be clear, I vastly prefer the low carb way of life, as it has put my type II diabetes in remission and normalized my blood pressure. For that reason alone, I will continue low carbing and not go back to Weight Watchers, even though the weight loss there was more dramatic. Also, fat and protein offer greater satiety than anything on Weight Watchers; my hunger demons have been slain. I am full after eating and for me, that is the key to weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Those intrusive thoughts of food have simply vanished. Since this is a way of life for me, and not a diet (thanks to how it controls my type II diabetes), I plan on eating this way for the rest of my life.

Nevertheless, I am seeing that the low carb way of eating is not the magical silver bullet many claim it to be. Calories count. Gary Taubes, a science journalist I respect, and whose book, Why We Get Fat introduced me to low carbing, says calories do not count, only carbs. However, other people who I also respect, including Jenny Ruhl and Stargazey, tell me calories count. Most importantly, Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney tell me calories count.  I am retrenching and learning to a) eat a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb food plan and b) stay under the calorie threshold that will allow me to continue losing weight. Volek and Phinney devote a whole chapter in their recent book showing me how to do this. A very useful calorie counter, with an extensive database, is available for free at This database blows away any others I have seen and has pretty much everything I eat in it. Now it is an essential tool for my weight loss management.

So the low carb honeymoon is now over. The lifelong process of living low carb, losing weight, and getting lean has begun.