Today we are continuing with our Healthy lifestyle posts. If you missed out on the previous posts you can check out Part 1: Your Why or Part 2: Overcoming the Keto Flu. From there we have also covered topics like What is the role of a health coach? and 6 Ways to see if you are fat adapted. We have covered a lot of good topics so far, and I hope to keep up the content. Speaking of content, I have also been posting the podcast episodes in separate posts. We will not be having a Monday episode this week, because life got the best of me, and I have not been able to dedicate the time needed to get it ready.
So, we have built a lot of foundation, however, aside from an early post I wrote that outlined my food philosophy, or when we talked about me going through the Primal Health Coach Certification, I don’t dive into just diet. I skate around it, but I shy away from anything too prescriptive. Mostly because I don’t want to come off too preachy, and what will work for you may not work for me, which goes for many of us. With that being said, there are some broad guidelines that we can all benefit from, and we will be diving into three of those such strategies today.
Any approach to a well-formulated low-carb diet will overlap significantly. Especially since being healthy is about eating real food. Even if you cannot get grass fed or organic meat and veggies because a home-cooked meal will leave you more satiated, satisfied and energized than fast food ever would.
Another thing I cannot stress enough about these eating strategies is that I am giving general principles. No diet can be a one-size-fits-all thing. Take these principles and fit them to you and your lifestyle. The only bad diet is one that does not work for you. Finding the food that works for you may take some tweaking, but you can customize this lifestyle so you can look, feel and perform like a rock-star!
If you are finding that these guidelines are not working for you I do offer coaching, but hopefully, these guidelines can at least get you started.
Before we continue, a quick note on Carbohydrate Tolerance:
No two people will have the same carbohydrate tolerance. For example, one person may do fine eating a serving of sweet potatoes, but rice might cause me to gain weight and feel bloated, meanwhile, person two may go through the inverse. This is why I will say over and over, there is no one size fits all diet, just guidelines that keep you inline, so-to-speak.
Now that we have a general idea where we are going with these posts, let’s get started with formulating a well-formulated low-carb diet. Since it seems like there is a limit as to how much protein you can take in at any given time. This limit is different for everyone and will change depending on your current goals[1,2].
There is some contention as to how easily this happens, however, when you eat more protein than your body needs, the amino acids in the protein can be turned into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis[3, 4] which literally means “creating/making new sugar.” In some severe cases, this can be a stressor on your body. The key takeaway is to find your protein threshold.
Even Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney often emphasize that a well-formulated low-carb diet restricts carbohydrate, is moderate in protein and is high in fat . Okay, so what does all of this hemming and hawing means?!?
Basically, keep the carbs at or under your tolerance and a good rule of thumb is to start around 10-50 grams, protein requirements are based upon on a few factors like height, gender, and/or weight (A good range to aim for is 1.5 – 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.7 – 0.9 grams per pound), and the rest of your diet is full of good fats until you feel satiated. Here is a good online calculator to help guide you into figuring out the ideal protein for you: Doc Muscles – Ideal Protein Calculation. Keep in mind these are a starting point if this amount of protein does not work for you go up or down accordingly to find what works for you.
Now that we have a general idea of how we construct a well-formed LCHF lifestyle, let’s dive into two possible ones: Atkins and NSNG®. NSNG® is the low-carb lifestyle that Vinnie Tortorich advocates, and it stands for No Sugars, No Grains. Atkins is probably the most well known low-carb lifestyle out there. These two approaches are great because they are on either side of the spectrum, one is more structured with different phases to help you along your journey, while the other is an intuitive approach to fueling your body. Let’s take NSNG® first.
NSNG® has the easiest guidelines: No sugars, no grains. Alright, we know what to stay away from, the rest is smooth sailing, right? I wish!
The difficulty comes from knowing that names for sugar and the types of grains there are. For example, there are over 60 different names for sugar that range from the obvious, cane sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup to the less known muscovado. This is why Vinnie advocates eating whole food, so you don’t need to keep an app open on your phone browser cross-referencing ingredients on a food label.
Grains are not any easier, especially since we are constantly being told some grains are not grains. For example quinoa, it is a grain, even though it has been marketed as a healthy grain-free option. My favorite thing about this specific grain is that Vinnie has a famous saying, and I quote “F#&k quinoa.” which basically boils down to, don’t try and justify eating a grain by calling it a seed.
After you cut out all of the sugars and grains… what do I eat, easy! Get your carbs from whole food sources, like veggies and some fruits. Protein is not a free for all, and Vinnie suggests that you should start at your ideal body weight times .6 gram, so for me, it would be 130*0.6=78 grams of protein a day. The rest of the food comes from quality sources of fat, you should stay far away from trans-fats. A few examples of good fats are olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and fatty meats. The same things we have been talking about.
If you want some reading material on NSNG® Vinnie has a book Fitness Confidential and a free PDF that you can get from his website. If you are looking for a great cookbook to help with cooking his co-host Anna Vocino wrote one, it has some amazing recipes in it. I have read them both and I use the cookbook often. The links are below:
Alright, we have an idea of what NSNG® is and how we can do it, so now let’s talk about the second low carb lifestyle— Atkins.
First off, this is not the Atkins that you or I grew up on, nor is it the Atkins bars and bottled drinks you see at your local supermarket. That stuff is full of carbs and lacks any good fats. I am talking about the new Atkins book, The New Atkins For A New You.
This book is authored by the low-carb/ketosis trifecta: Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Stephen Phinney, and PhD Jeff Volek. It goes through four phases of the diet so you can keep this up as your dietary lifestyle no matter where you are on your journey.
Phase 1: Induction.
For intents and purposes, a ketogenic diet, which gives you 20 net carbs a day and 15 of them should be from green non-starchy veggies. This phase can last as few as 2 weeks, or it can last until you are at your last 30-40 pound before you get to your goal weight. While staying away from sugar, fruit juices, flours and grains (are you getting NSNG® de Ja Vue? Maybe it’s me… it’s probably just me…)
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss.
Now you can start to add in berries, nuts, seeds and if you tolerate them legumes. You can also increase your daily carb intake by 5 grams a week until you find your personal tolerance. If you start to plateau or gain weight back you need to dial back your carbs. They suggest that you stay in this phase until you are about 10 away from your goal weight.
Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance.
At this phase, you can add in whole-food carbs in the form of fruits, veggies, and even grains (if you are able to tolerate them). This is the book’s recommendation, not mine. If you have not already found your carb tolerance you can continue to increase your carbs (like in phase 2). When you reach your goal weight you can test out the level of carbs you can intake without gaining any weight back or reverse any metabolic changes you fixed (IE insulin resistance). After figuring out your carb tolerance, maintaining your weight for a month and if your food cravings are under control you can move on to the next and last phase of Atkins.
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance.
This final phase is about making this way of eating a lifestyle. You continue consuming the types of food that got you to this point while adhering to your carb tolerance, occasionally checking your weight and measurements. As we age, our dietary needs will change and you may have to revisit the first 3 phases to get things back on track, so-to-speak.
For a more in-depth conversation on a diet and a few references look at check out:
In summation, there are a plethora of low carb options to choose from. I have only outlined two of them, these approaches range from simple the NSNG® (No Sugars, No Grains) intuitive eating approach, to a more methodical Atkins phase approach, and everything in between. No matter what approach you choose, above all else, you need to make sure you customize the eating to fit your needs and goals. If you take my eating plan and affix to you, you may not see the same results. Especially since I am a 5’5” female that wants to gain a fair bit of lean muscle while training for the CrossFit open next year, I also have ADHD, gluten intolerance and possibly a dairy intolerance.
This is why customization is key, but the customizations depend upon your goals and intolerance. The best diet for you is one that is customized to fit you, you should start to look, feel, and perform better than before. If you are finding it hard to figure out what works for you then reach out to me, together we can help you get on the right path for you.
As a disclaimer, if you couldn’t already tell, I am a major advocate for a lower carb way of eating. I know that this approach may not work for everyone, but it seems like a modified LCHF approach will work for most anyone. For anyone that does not thrive on a lower carb eating approach, we just need to tweak the diet until you do see the type of results that you want.
- The New Atkins For The New You