talk to me about low carb diets

(Disclaimer: I’m skeptical. I have a friend who’s lost 50 lbs. on such since last year. She claims it’s a “lifestyle” change. I’m skeptical because I think it’s very difficult to maintain any kind of strict diet over the long term…well, put it this way: I can’t picture myself doing such over the long term).

OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way:

My husband has gained back, and then some, the 20+ lbs. he lost last fall. It’s like he gains weight from work stress because he doesn’t eat any more or less than he usually does, and he generally tends to watch what he eats, takeout not withstanding (we’ve had a few brushes with it because both our schedules can be quite crazy). He didn’t realize how much he’d gained until he was picking out clothes to wear to a work event.

(btw, he’s an IT guy who’s locked at a desk for a good 10 hrs/day. He also has a mild case of COPD which means he can’t walk our dogs for very long nor very far but he tries.)

He has two coworkers who’ve lost maybe 30 lbs. eating low carb. Now he wants to try it, which, of course, negates almost everything that’s in our pantry/fridge, including the low fat chicken noodle casserole I made over the weekend :dubious:

My understanding – and this is mostly from the friend I mentioned at the beginning – is that low carb tends to be high protein, full fat, nonstarchy veggies, no sugar. Basically your meals would consist of a slab of meat (or eggs) and a leafy veggie. This is what my husband wants to start eating.

I tell him 1) we have a budget; 2) have you seen the price of beef lately?; 3) how can you be sated on just protein/fiber? NO BREAD?!?!?!? NO CARROTS?!?!? WTF do you eat for breakfast? What about sweetener in your coffee?

I realize I may be overreacting but let’s face it, I’m a carb whore. They fill me up more so than a piece of steak. I also don’t have the weight-from-stress issue he has – if anything, I tend to stop eating and I lose weight when I’m stressed, which is a good deal of the time.

Anyway, tell me something – have you tried low carb eating? How did it go? How big of a change was it? More important, do you still eat that way?


Yes, they do work imo. No doubt some of the weight loss is due to low carbs, some of it due to lower allround calorie intake. My diet can be pretty weird at times so there really is no point in me giving you breakfast ideas etc. Just rest assured low carbs does work.

I found the initial stage a bit difficult. This was the stage where I really did cut out virtually all carbs. Since losing weight my carb intake has increased slightly. I have yet to put much of my weight back on, but am also doing cardio which helps. Once your husband has lost weight it’s probably not too bad if he eats some more carbs, but just keep them to a minimum. He really doesn’t *need *to eat potatoes at his evening meal or that sandwich for lunch.

Low carb is not high protein, if it’s done right. Low carb is high fat, moderate protein.

For me, eating a high fat diet means I feel fuller longer, meaning I need less overall calories in a day.

I’ve lost and maintained a loss of 50 pounds, I’ve been low carb for four years now. My blood pressure was pre-hypertensive and now it’s totally normal. My cholesterol is also awesome. I used to have diarrhea every morning, I no longer have that.

I do feel like this is a lifestyle change for me, I can’t imagine going back to my old high carb, low fat diet. is probably a good starting point - their FAQ is very good for giving an overview of the ketogenic diet - you might not want to go that drastic (typically <50g carbs per day) but you might find it an interesting resource.

My breakfast is two eggs, three rashers of bacon.
My typical lunch is cold meat, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onion, cheese, pinenuts, walnuts (I mix the ingredients up across the week of lunches) with balsamic vineagrette.
Dinner is meat with vegetables and some sort of buttery or creamy sauce.

Happy to answer any other questions you may have!

I do reduced carbs, which includes fruit and vegetables, beans and nuts, in addition to meat, poultry, fish and dairy. I basically dropped all baked goods and anything with added sugar. No pizza, no doughnuts, no muffins, no bagels, no sandwiches, no chips, no crackers, no rice, no soda, no candy, no ice cream.

I eat fruit because it has a lot of fiber, and beans & nuts because they have a lot of fiber and protein. Plus, they are satisfying, and help me stick to my diet. A ketogenic diet doesn’t work if you can’t stay on it.

I lost 20lbs last year.

I’ve been low-carbing for about four years. It has me 100% convinced that this is the right diet for most people to drop weight and keep it off. I don’t get much exercise myself and maintain a BMI around 24. It does go a little higher in the winter and a 8-10 pound/half BMI point swing is typical.

It now comes pretty naturally but it really does take effort, especially at first. When I tell people how I eat, they insist (!) that they could neeeevvvver give up x because they would immediately and violently perish or something. And I acknowledge that some cultures make it more difficult than others to give up the rice, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, breads, tortillas, corn, sweets, pasta, beans (some low-carbers allow beans), cereals, fruits, beer, vanilla iced lattes and a thousand other delicious things I miss every day.

Low-carbing makes it really difficult to eat at restaurants or carry out. I interpret this as a good thing. Previously, I may have stopped for a hot dog & fries or a plate of tacos after a night out. Now, I wait till I get home and either decide I’m not hungry after all, fry a couple eggs or munch on some low-carb snacks I keep at home. Similarly, I prepare lunches for the workweek at home. Chicken wings and some Chinese takeout work when I need to eat out but still being strict.

“So what do you eat?”
When you’ve made the decision, there’s quite a lot out there.
Let’s start with what I brought for lunch last week at work. Last weekend, I picked up a half a dozen zucchinis, a package of white mushrooms, a package of boneless chicken thighs and two large avocados. Sliced up the zukes into planks and marinade in sesame oil and spices. Make up a batch of roadside chicken marinade for the thighs. Toss the mushrooms in a squirt of hoisin and sriracha (go easy, there’s quite a lot of sugar in these). Grill em and package to take to work. Half an avocado and a serving of chicken, zucchini and a couple mushrooms is a damned good lunch. I haven’t decided what to make for lunches this week but maybe some sausage simmered in sauerkraut.

I keep a bag of almonds and pistachios in my desk drawer and eat about an ounce of one or the other around 11am. Also in the desk drawer are a couple mini-canned hams, cans of tuna, smoked sprats and chicken, canned green beans, shelf stable packets like Trader Joe’s palak paneer for extra hungry days or those times when I was too busy to make food to bring. A bag of baby carrots can be ok, they have some sugar but not enough to worry about in normal portions. I’ve lately been on a pickle kick, too.

Other meals may be eggs, sausage, lettuce-leaf tacos, soups, stews, chili (freezes well), salads (greens and otherwise like tomato, cucumber, tuna, etc but watch the dressing for sugar content), cottage cheese with giardiniera, meatloaf, broiled salmon, stir fry. I frequently cook outside (yes, even in Chicago’s winters), either grilling or bbq which does open a lot of possibilities. I’ll be making a batch of cheese-stuffed, bacon wrapped jalapenos to the Superbowl tonight. A big pot of chicken in salsa verde is pretty satisfying. Try this chicken paprikash recipe, it is great and so simple. If I’m feeling a little wealthy, a corned beef brisket is a nice treat simmered or smoked. Aldis has some frozen mussles in sauce which are great and surprisingly inexpensive. A local grocery chain (Marianos) has racks of spare ribs fully prepared for $10 a slab on weekends, a real steal. There are loads of great veggies options. Grilled, sauteed or roasted broccoli, asparagus, brussles sprouts, cauliflower, bell peppers & chilies, mushrooms, squash. Use plenty of onions in everything.

For other snacks, consider kimchi, pork rinds/chicharrones, vinegar coleslaw, an ounce of cheese, a pinch of cold cuts. I haven’t made them lately but I went through a tuna croquette muffin phase a while back. Those freeze and reheat well. If your local grocery has loose Persian cucumbers for a reasonable price, pick up a couple pounds at a time. These are fantastic to keep on hand, an easy grab & go when fridge browsing.

My habit is to consider things with fewer than 5 grams of net carbs free. Sure that handful of carrots or bell pepper strips have some sugar but it’s barely any on a per-serving basis. Sour cream and cheese have a couple grams each, too. The superb made-in-house soups from the Polish grocery have been thickened with some flour and I do pick out the large chunks of potatoes. Sometimes a grapefruit or pomegranate falls into my grocery cart. The BBQ sauce I dabbed on my ribs before microwaving would be way too much sugar if I chugged the bottle but the half tablespoon is nothing. The coil of Italian sausage may pick up a couple grams from the red wine and tomato sauce I simmered it in but no big deal. There’s a bag of flour in my pantry that I use for tossing chunks of meat before browning for soup or stew. If I’m on the road and need to pick up some fast food, Wendy’s chili is fair game, most of the carbs come from the beans. And Miller Lite is 3.5 grams each.

Sure, that’s part of the fun. Now that I’m pretty stable and reasonably happy with my weight and appearance, the cheat days are really nice. You will enjoy things a lot more when they are a every couple months treat instead of just another Thursday lunch. Even the crummiest fried rice is damned good when you haven’t had it since sometime before Halloween. Holidays, out to dinner with others, parties, entertaining friends at home, a vendor bought pizza for the office, no problem. Since I’m strict for, say, 14 days in a row, that 15th day treat is fine.

This went on for longer than I expected but I don’t foresee an end to my low-carb lifestyle. At this point, it is pretty easy and the results are undeniable. Like any other change in diet, you’ll need discipline. Read labels. It is important to focus on and look forward to what you are allowed instead of mourning those thing you you aren’t. You won’t die a slow, painful death because meatball subs, hash browns and Jack & Cokes are no longer allowed, I promise.

He’s been discovering that :nodding: He’ll ask me not to make a starch as part of dinner. Instead he’ll have a low-carb wraps if he feels the need.

I’ve gotten so used to having carbs bulking up my diet that I can’t conceive of not having any. Like, I’m really not into eggs, so what do I have for breakfast? And how do I eat something “big” at 3AM, you know?

Thank you! I didn’t even consider Reddit to be a source, LOL.

I’m not really into buttery/creamy stuff, though. Neither is my husband. I don’t even use butter or margarine on bread (had that pounded out of me back when I went on a low-fat diet and lost 50 lbs).

I guess what I’m in shock over is how much I’m going to have to change MY diet to accommodate this. My husband is much easier, LOL. We’re both having sticker shock over a lot stuff, and we’re pretty strict on our food budget. Carbs ARE cheap, so no wonder why there’s an obesity problem here in the US.

I don’t eat lunch. He’s not a salad person but he’ll happily eat tuna or peanut butter or whatever deli meat is around as long as it’s on a low-carb wrap. We’re not really veggie people, but he’s willing to try more so than I am.

Gah, I’m just as picky now as I was when I was a kid :eek:

That’s wonderful!

Baked goods? Um, I’m a baker by profession…I think that’s a huge part of my issue.

jnglmassiv, Thank you SO much for all that info! It’s exactly what I needed to read :slight_smile:

Neither was I, before I went low-carb. :slight_smile: I was the poster girl for SAD (standard american diet). But over time I’ve developed a taste for high fat, low carb plates of food.

The biggest difference I find is that when I eat a high carb, low fat meal, I have this immediate feeling of fullness and sluggishness. Then about one or two hours later, I’m feeling peckish again (not hungry in terms of tummy grumbles, but just a feeling of wanting to eat again as my blood sugar reacts to the high carb input).

When I eat a high fat, low carb meal, I feel satiated. And still full of energy. And it stays that way for several hours.

Originally I was the low-carber whilst my husband ate the SAD (he’s since joined me on low-carb). But you don’t necessarily HAVE to change your diet. What meals do you eat together? Dinner, I’d assume, but do you have your own breakfasts/lunches?

Surely he could cook himself some bacon and eggs for breakfast whilst you make yourself whatever you usually have?

Do you make lunches? He might want a salad container of meat, cheese, veggies and a high fat dressing. You might put the same ingredients between bread or in a wrap, minus the high fat dressing.

For dinner, your husband can have meat, vegetables and a high fat sauce over top. You can have meat, vegetables and carbs.

We’re both having sticker shock over a lot stuff, and we’re pretty strict on our food budget. Carbs ARE cheap, so no wonder why there’s an obesity problem here in the US.


Yes, in all honesty, our grocery bill is higher now, especially now that we’ve both low carb. But there are cheaper low carb meals available. Many cheaper cuts of meat go really well in a slow cooker and can be used in a huge variety of meals. And whilst carbs are cheap, carbs on the go can be quite expensive compared to home cooked meals.

Missed the edit window:

I just want to re-iterate the fact that a low-carb diet is not a high protein diet. It’s a high fat diet.

58% of dietary protein will appear in the bloodstream as glucose so if you’re eating high protein, you’re not low-carb.

Please elaborate on this and provide a cite.


Thank you for the challenge, it looks like the research I originally got that from is now out of date:

I hear you. I enjoy baking bread and making my own pasta, so it was a bit of a sacrifice for me as well. I am hopeful that when I reach my goal (in another 25lbs), I can start adding back home made whole grain bread, pasta and brown rice. In moderation, of course.