Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Boring alert! Talking about my diet again. Feel free to skip.

My diet is quite simple. No more than 80 grams of carbohydrates per day, and no more than 5 grams of refined carbohydrates.

By "refined carbohydrates" I mean sugar and corn syrup and fine-milled flour: I also throw honey and molasses into this category. Any sugar. And anything that gooses your insulin levels. White rice. Potatoes. I'm also, for the moment, avoiding most fruit.

I don't bother counting and measuring most vegetables. Technically they're carbs, but in practice they're harmless when they're not sugar-delivery systems.*

In practice what this comes down to is meat, eggs, and fish, a couple slices of whole wheat bread, and a big salad every day, with all the balsamic vinaigrette I want on it. (that's where I spend my quota of refined carbs.) Some cheese and nuts. Cream and butter are fine.

If I'm hungry, I eat. It's been about two weeks, and I've lost nearly two inches from my waist. This is faster than I wanted to lose -- I'm shooting for an inch a month -- but it tallies with my experience of carb-restricted diets before. The weight goes really fast, at first. I haven't been weighing myself: too much of a bother, and either my weight fluctuates too much, or my scales are not accurate enough -- there are weird ups and downs -- that I find it more of a distraction than an encouragement. And anyway, I don't care what I weigh. I want to get rid of the belly. So I measure my waist every few days. I started at 47", and I want to get it to 32".

Here's my expectation: basically, refined carbs and sugars have to go out of my life forever. Fruit may or may not be possible -- I found last time that I could tolerate grapefruit, but not oranges; and cherries, but not bananas. If I'm lucky, when I get to 32" I'll be able to maintain just that way, and I won't have to count anything. But it may be that I'll have to restrict the carbs forever. I'll just have to experiment.

I'm expecting the weight loss -- or maybe I should call it the inch loss, since that's what I'm measuring -- to follow some kind of tail-curve. Six months of an inch a month, six months of half an inch a month, six months of a quarter-inch a month, and then years to get the last inches off. But that's wild speculation. It'll be interesting to see what the actual curve looks like. A lot steeper than that, if it's like last time, and bending more sharply to the horizontal at some point. And of course there's zero chance that I won't monkey with the parameters, in that long a time. If I can lose ten inches, in a year and half, I'll be a happy camper.

I know some of you -- very sweetly! -- are worried about my health, since there's a lot of fat, and a lot of saturated fat, in this diet. So it may or may not be reassuring to you (confession time! the delicately nurtured may wish to skip the rest of this paragraph) that I think I'm eating considerably less fat, and less saturated fat, than I was. When, for instance, I binged on toasted bagels with butter, I could easily, easily eat a whole stick of butter at a sitting. Without even blinking. Now, although I can eat all the butter I want, there's simply no way I could face eating that much. On what? On my chicken? On my salad? I could eat really staggering quantities of oil in a bag of potato chips -- what, half a cup, maybe? But even at my most prodigal slopping of salad oil, I'll never do anything like that with a salad. And of course cookies, cakes, muffins, and candies have simply disappeared. You have to understand that in a just world I would have been dead long ago: my body's capacity to withstand abuse has been remarkable. Even by the (in my opinion) misguided FDA guidelines, I'm eating better now than last month.

In any case, my doctor's watching my blood lipids every three months. If the triglycerides and LDL shoot up, I'll quit. I'm expecting them to drop, dramatically. But I'm Mr Empirical. If they don't, then it means I'm wrong, and I have to change what I'm doing. This would not be a good time to die, and I'm going to try to avoid it for the moment.

*peas and corn are the big exceptions. They pack a big carb whallop.

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