I've been doing some reading over at Mark's Daily Apple, specifically regarding being a "fat burner" versus a "sugar burner" (here are the articles, part 1 and part 2). Some interesting points made:
Sugar burners cannot easily access stored fat for energy; instead, when their glucose stores are depleted, they get ravenously hungry and crave carbs.
Fat burners have a more stable blood sugar level and steady energy, even when they go a little too long between meals.
Increasing dietary fat and reducing carbs can result in your body switching to fat burning mode.
This is basically what happened with Medifast. Eating under 100g/carbs a day put me into "mild ketosis" or fat burning; I stopped being so hungry between meals and stopped craving carbs. There is nothing magic about Medifast food; any diet that's low enough in carbs would, I believe, have the same result. In order to lose weight as well, the calories also have to be sufficiently low. The article above suggests a carb level of 50g/day for sedentary folks, and 100-150g/day for the "highly active."
I was wondering what the difference is between deep ketosis, mild ketosis/keto-adapted, and Primal eating and how those carb levels relate to weight loss or maintenance. I found this Carbohydrate Curve chart interesting; it recommends 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day for weight loss and 100 to 150 grams per day for maintenance. Above 150 is listed as "insidious weight gain" and under 50 is ketosis/intermittent fasting level.
I think this is pretty accurate. I did really well losing weight at 80-100g carbs/day on Medifast. The problem came when I was doing their Transition program which adds more foods back into the daily diet. In week one, you add more vegetables BUT they can be starchy, higher carb veggies that were not eaten on the 5&1 plan, such as sweet potatoes and white potatoes. The next week you add fruit. The third week you add milk or yogurt, and the fourth week you add whole grains. So over the course of a month, my carb level skyrocketed with the addition of potatoes, corn, beans, two servings of fruit a day, milk, and one serving of whole grains per day. That is a LOT of extra carbs. In fact if you just added the recommended amounts including 1 cup of skim milk, 1 small apple, 1 small banana, 1 cup of baked sweet potato, and 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, you'd be eating and ADDITIONAL 121 grams of carbs per day! It is no wonder my cravings and hunger went out of control when I more than doubled my carb intake in just a few weeks time. Obviously, eating 200+ grams of carbs per day, even healthy carbs, was *not* a successful method for continued weight loss or even maintenance. And *that* is where my whole Medifast experience went wrong. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done things very differently when I transitioned back to whole foods. I would *not* have added any grains back into my diet. I would have limited fruits to *maybe* one serving here and there of lower carb fruits such as berries. I would *not* have reintroduced milk, but may have used yogurt on occasion. And I would have left out those potatoes of every kind, as well as corn and possibly beans, at least during active weight loss. I would have kept my carbs to 80 or less and *only* increased them when I hit my weight loss goal (and even then, would have kept them close to 100).
I get it. There are some foods we consider "healthy"... some really *are* healthy... and may be a part of a maintenance diet but are just not helpful for weight loss. I finally really believe it. I have craved and wanted fruit, beans, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and corn all this time and have argued with myself continuously because they are "healthy" so I "should" be able to eat them and lose weight. But now the argument is over. I have to keep my carb level lower, and adding too many carbs from *any* source... even healthy ones... will stall my weight loss.
I have found it difficult this week to keep my calories low enough and carbs low enough by eating whole foods. I have still been eating about 1500 calories a day, 40% fat, and too many carbs. I eat a wide variety of low carb dinners, but breakfast and lunch are still a struggle some days. I love eggs... scrambled, over easy, or hard boiled... and could eat them every day and be fine. But I am not so sure eating 5 eggs a day every day is such a grand idea. I love tuna, but that's only recommended once a week due to mercury. I use low fat string cheese as a protein snack, but there's that dairy fat. I love nuts for the protein and healthy fat but they are carby and high in calories. I eat Greek yogurt but that, too, is carby. I find it hard to stay around 80g carbs and 1200-1400 calories unless I use "fake foods" like low carb EAS shakes, Kay's Naturals high protein snacks, and Medifast packets. The more of them I sub for meals, the easier it is to stay low carb and low cal. And maybe that is okay for the short term. I won't be going out and buying Medifast foods in order to "go back" on Medifast, but I might use the leftover packets I do have to make this a little easier. Maybe a few days or weeks getting into "fat burning" again to get rid of the hunger and cravings would be beneficial. In the meantime I have to figure out what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and snacks that is low carb AND lower calories.
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