Back on the Wagon
My wife Hailey, our baby girl Isla and myself have just returned from a holiday in the UK. We were over to allow Isla to meet her Scottish side of the family. We had an amazing time and everyone was thrilled to meet Isla.
Knowing how terrible aeroplane food is and how bad I usually feel after the flights I decided to try a fast on both legs of the journey – so effectively 24 hours. Instead of eating around the carb fillers like I usually would, I didn’t have any food and concentrated on drinking water and this worked well.
Once we landed in the UK I broke my fast with guacamole and some coconut coated chicken from the large chain retailer M & S. I was really struck by the availability of excellent whole (yet convenient) food choices. An hour later I was still a bit hungry so I got a little tin foil tear-cup of spinach with 2 boiled eggs in it for £0.99 (about $1.50) and some chopped fresh coconut same price – if this was available in NZ it would be awesome!
The other cool thing about the large shops in the UK was the prepared vegetables on offer. There were courgette spirals, pumpkin spaghetti, cauliflower rice, picked kale etc. There were also a whole range of bulk-buy style make-your-own takeaway salads or stir-fry vegetables like sliced mushrooms, sliced onions, sliced cooked chicken, boiled eggs and basically everything you can imagine that would fit into these groups. This is an incredible time-saver and smashes the barrier to adopting a whole-food lifestyle. In my opinion this would be a game-changer … I wonder if any supermarkets will be keen to try.
Inevitably (being on holiday, after all) I enjoyed more than a few home comforts and had a bit of a food splurge if I’m honest. Now I’m back in the real world I’m keen to get back on the straight and narrow. Here’s what I’ll be doing to personally achieve my goal of losing a couple of kilos around the waist and improving my nutrient intake.
1) I’m embracing Low HI (low human interference)
Being a chef this plays to my strengths. I will be preparing some food in advance for breakfast. I like a quick salad of baby spinach, tomato and boiled eggs. I will focus on eating whole foods and avoid the processed foods. Fat-wise I will focus more on eating fattier cuts of meat and I will be omitting adding additional fats to my meals, as sometimes I can be guilty of adding butter to my broccoli even though I might be having a nice piece of braised steak that clearly has enough fat accompanied by the sauce. Another example might be a tuna salad. I will be using avocado liberally, but will hold off on the olive oil or mayo as the added fats are not necessary in the context of a delicious salad that has olives and avocado in it.
2) Calories count, but I won’t be counting calories.
One great thing about eating LCHF with a focus on whole foods is your body automatically feels fuller on less calories compared with high carb diets (this study looked at obese people specifically but I still think it’s relevant). Not only that, in another study the low carb dieters had a higher resting metabolic rate after the weight-losing period, this is good as it means energy levels could feel higher and keeping weight off should be easier. So I will be aiming at a modest caloric deficit in order to lose a kg or 2 but I won’t necessarily be counting calories, I’ll simply eat when I’m hungry until I’m full and I’ll be a little more conservative with adding extra fats.
3) I’ll Keep Protein Moderate
It’s important not to overdo the protein as it can be converted to sugar in the blood so I’ll keep my intake moderate. What does that look like for me? Based on The Whole-Food Dietitian’s guidelines in What The Fat? I’m going to aim for 1.5g of protein per kg of ideal bodyweight – for me this is 1.5 x 85 = 127.5g protein per day. This amount is in the same range as one group consumed in a study that showed that this range of protein resulted in beneficial body composition changes (less fat, more muscle) compared to a lower intake and also a higher intake. Moderation in protein seems to be something to aim for, but to be clear, this is probably as much protein as I could actually stand to eat anyway. This amount of protein equates to 3 eggs, 3 rashers of bacon, a can of tuna, 200g of braising steak and a handful or 2 of peanuts. That’s also including all the small amounts in the vegetable accompaniments I will eat alongside the main items. So I don’t think I will be able to eat anymore than this and yet I’ll still be in line with the principles of LCHF. This is why it is such an effective lifestyle for achieving health goals.
4) I’ve caught up on my sleep and I’m keeping it that way!
It’s crucial that we get enough quality sleep in order for our bodies to move towards a healthier place. Alcohol negatively affects sleep quality; artificial light wrecks our natural day/night rhythms – the list goes on and on. I’m aiming to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep as well as doing something de-stressing like read a book in bed instead of screen time where I often find myself worrying about the depressing twitter feed or some other crisis I have no control over.
The above are the things I’ll be doing moving forward. I’m keeping this simple by trying to focus on a couple of things instead of becoming the most perfect LCHF-er of all time. I’ll share some handy recipes that I make for myself over the next few weeks, they might not be restaurant-standard but they might provide some ideas and templates to work from. I had fun on holiday and I had fun eating some food I usually wouldn’t but I can say hand on heart that I love eating whole foods that focus on nutrients and strip away all the processed carbs.
I’m so thankful I’ve managed to understand and embrace this lifestyle. It’s up to all of us to spread the word, as this is still considered a wacky diet by some and totally unheard of by most which is funny as it’s simply about getting back to eating fresh, whole foods on cue until we’re full, what’s wacky about that?