Advice on Diet

updated 2/24/2017

I just deleted the old article I had here as it was from a time when I didn't know as much as I thought (a disease which plagues all young people).  This is advice based on my own experience and research.  I'm no expert and have no credientials, so take it with a grain of salt and please do your own research.  Trust me, just when you think you know all about a subject, time and experience will show you to be wrong.

I've learned a fair bit in the last 15 years since I picked up low carb as a lifestyle/diet.  I've been on and off it a few times, usually due to temptation rich environments and giving up on weight loss. 

I learned that while you can get used to eating a particular way, it doesn't make you immune to set backs.  The important thing to know is that you can get right back on track. 

I've also learned that calories do matter, carbs are not the be all end all of weight loss.  People have been losing weight using many methods for a long time.  The first time I lost weight was through a basic 1200 calorie diet and plenty of exercise.  

A low carb diet, at least I believe, is healthier than high carb and low fat diets.  It has it's advantages: you eat more real foods, avoid refined carbs, control blood sugar and insulin, reduce glycation, control appetite/cravings, etc.

I no longer believe you must strictly adhere to a low carb plan religiously.  A more flexible approach I think is best. No one diet fits all, no matter how supposedly pure and perfect it's said to be.  Experiment and find what works for you. 

Currently I'm trying to control carbs most of the time with the occasional starch with dinner and indulgences.  This gives me a physiological and well as psychological break.  You don't have to live the rest of your life never having the things you enjoy.  Balance is key here.   I also employ intermittent fasting for the health benefits as well as weight loss.  This is a powerful tool for weight control I will no doubt utilize for the rest of my life. 

When embarking on a weight loss plan, be sure to have a maintenance plan to follow it up with.    This is where reverse dieting will come in handy.  I did this for about 2 months after eating low calorie (around 1000 or less a day), increasing my calories by 100 each week.  Amazingly enough, I got to the point where I was maintaining at 2000 calories, which was rather unprecedented for me.  So don't worry too much that you've done permanent damage to your metabolism, I've yo-yo dieted for years and repaired mine. 

I also try to keep my metabolism from dropping too much by not going more than 2 or 3 days at a deficit over 10%  and then eat around maintenance for a day (or two if you prefer). 

I find it's helpful to be able to change up your plan rather than trying to strictly adhere to the same thing all the time.  You could do one plan one week, and another the next.  For example calorie zig zag one week, ADF the next.  If you start getting dieters fatigue (sick of dieting, feeling deprived), then take a day or two off, maybe even do a week of regular, but controlled eating. 

It's also extremely useful to watch your calories, measure things correctly (no heaping tablespoons of peanut butter) and count damn near everything.  A lot of times people don't lose weight because they underestimate calories.  If you're like me, you like keeping track of things, however, some people hate this and in that case a different approach will be needed.  The important thing is that you find a plan that works for your needs that you can stick to.

If only I knew then the things I know now, I likely would have reached my goal years and years ago. 

To summarize:

Learn to balance discipline and restriction with flexibility.  There are many ways to lose weight and you don't have to stick to just one.  Plan properly: plan meals ahead of time, and plan your maintenance using a reverse diet to get up to a decent amount of calories (use this calculator to determine your total daily energy expenditure). 

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