What it Is
For the first time in my life, I'm on a diet. Winter is coming (I always gain a few pounds in winter), my exercise levels are very low right now while I rest up tender joints, and there are two equally important additional factors:
1. I have to fit into The Dress in April, looking my best.
2. I LOVE a science experiment. Especially where I'm the subject.
So instead of thinking to myself, over an order of fries, that I should "eat better," I'm going on a strict diet. It's a modified version of the Eco-Atkins diet, developed by David M. Jenkins, MD. This is the guy who came up with the glycemic index, if the internet tells true. You can read about his methodology (and his whole study) here: Jenkins Methodology.
Jenkins put one group of subjects onto a diet that was low (but not extremely low) in carbs and vegan, and another group on another diet- we don't care about them here. He recognized that low-carb diets are good for weight loss, but bad for the cardiovascular system, and a terrible idea ecologically (meat and hummers are in the same category, y'all- they make the bambi cry). So he put people on a diet that was calorie restricted, and gave the same calorie ratios that I used below. Processed grains were pretty out, but there were some cereals allowed, and some nice whole-grain items. The results were great. People felt very full, lost weight, and had great lipid profiles (that means their arteries were happy).
What I'm Doing
Now, Jenkins is a big fan of veganism, and I'm a big fan of cheese, so I'm using a modified version. I'm being less strict on what, exactly, I eat, but equally strict on the math. Since he's a researcher, and not a marketer, there aren't a bunch of Eco-Atkins websites, so there's some information out there on what types of ingredients he gave his subjects, but not a bunch of menus, diet books, and supporting websites. So I'm on my own to come up with food that works. Here's my plan:
-Calories: I'm doing just a smidge under normal recommended caloric intake for my activity level
-Protein: 31% of my calories come from protein- that's about 120g of protein a day
-Fat: about 46% of my calories come from fat- that's about 75g of fat daily
-Carbs: about 26% of calories come from carbs, which comes to about 102g of net carbs
The deal is, I'm trying to do mostly (almost all) vegetarian protein, and mostly plant-based fat. That said, I'm down for some cheese and eggs- I'm not a fan of completely cutting a food group out. At first, I was finding it very hard to get enough protein from plants with only 102g of carbs, until I realized that I needed to be looking at net carbs- fiber doesn't count towards caloric intake, because it outtakes, if you will. Since I'm eating so much bunny food, I actually eat about 150g of total carbs per day. After seeing that I wasn't getting enough vitamins and minerals even before the diet, I've added a once-a-day supplement. I'm also keeping an eye on amino acid composition, fiber, and water intake.
I'm only on day three, but I already have some pretty firm opinions, and interesting observations.
1. It's a VERY low glycemic index plan. I have yet to feel hungry or sugar crash. Those of you who know me well may find that hard to believe.
2. Jenkins used, essentially, a starch-free plan. I'm not being as strict, but I do find that there's just not room for the super-carby, nutritionally lacking group of foods that he cut out. No processed sugary stuff, no starchy potatoes/pasta/white bread. But LOTS of fruits and veggies- my inner hippie is very pleased.
3. I'm eating all day long. I make a plan in the morning, and am constantly impressed by the amount I still have to eat- I'm eating a lot more food, and getting a much better nutrient profile. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, treat.
4. I was NOT getting enough protein before- even meat-containing meals that I thought were protein-rich were just not.
5. Despite being sick, I feel really good. No sugar crashes, no fuzziness. That's pretty exciting. My energy level is more consistent, and higher.
6. This diet is a lot of work. Like... a lot of calculations. I'm sure I'll get faster at it, but right now it's time consuming.
7. The food Dan and I have concocted has been really delicious (homemade seitan, curry over cauliflower, chorizo burritos), and I'm trying recipes that are super new to me. Plus, I've been able to have a tasty treat each day (a beer, a peppermint mocha) without busting my diet. This is the most delicious week of eating I've done in a while!
This weekend will be my first dance weekend on this thing, and I have no idea what will happen. I'm taking some dry goods for snacking, and I'm going to try and do some calculations ahead of time while chilling at the airport. Wish me luck!
Much love, and all the noms!
ps- Yes, Mom- I'm taking Thanksgiving off. But I'll probably skip the rolls... because I feel awesome right now!