my experiments with the truth | low carb eating – part 2

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parmigiana

Following on from last week where I talked about taking a break from Banting so see what would eventuate, I am sharing my observations and results of the experiment. Thank you to all who commented on the post. I always enjoy reading about your experiences and am happy to answer any questions.

Grab a cuppa and settle down, this is a long post.

There is nothing like experiencing something for yourself so you can tell whether or not you like it. You can hear everyone’s opinions but your own is really the one that counts. When I decided to pause Banting, it had been 18 months that I had been on the lifestyle. I decided to reintegrate carbs into my diet and see what would happen. I introduced them uniquely so I could tell what effect each had without muddying the waters. I (very unscientifically) kept a record of how I felt after each meal on each of the following:

  • Heart rate (using an optical heart rate monitor which I wear all day)
  • Digestion (wind, bloating, cramps, bowel movements)
  • Head health (headaches, ringing, clarity of thought)
  • Muscles and joints (cramping, soreness)
  • Hunger patterns (satiety, meal frequency, portions, cravings, thirst)

Over the longer term, I also observed:

  • Skin / hair changed (texture, appearance)
  • Weight / body changes
  • Sleep patterns
  • Proneness to illness (coughs, colds)

Before I get into the results, I’d like to point out that:

  • I was very, very strict with the Banting when I did it. I am an all or nothing person – I go hard or I go home.
  • I am neither your mother nor a scientist – this experiment was not scientific and you should not rely on the results
  • Factors such as work patterns (I work crazy hours), stress, winter bugs, travel and homesickness cannot be accounted for in this experiment
  • Mr. Meow has been incredibly patient, supportive and non-judgemental about the whole thing. For the record, the Banting is strong in this one
  • This post is my story and while I fully encourage discussion and debate on machinegunmeow, please leave any negativity and judgement at the door

Ok, with that out of the way, here are the results:

  1. I lost weight initially – Up until hitting snooze on Banting, I had been frustrated with the scales because I was back to pre-Banting weight and no matter what I tried (including intermittent fasting, dropping to 30g carbs per day and even egg fasts), it wouldn’t budge. Then I stopped Banting and in two weeks, lost 2.5 kilos.
  2. Sugar makes my heart race and my head spin – as soon as I had it (and ‘it’ was a piece of jalebi, an Indian sweet made of fried fermented batter soaked in sugar syrup), my heart rate shot to about 200 bpm and I felt light-headed nearly instantly. I actually couldn’t finish the jalebi and tossed it. It was about 2 hours before my heart rate normalised. Given it was the first bit of sugar I ate in 18 months, I repeated the test with other sweet things and found similar results (I couldn’t quite bring myself to eating anything that’s been near sugar-syrup). I don’t get quite the same extreme body reaction but I definitely get a headache after I eat anything sweetand can’t think straight.
  3. Wheat makes me sniffle – this is really weird but I noticed that whenever I ate wheat, I developed hayfever-like symptoms (minus the sneezing). I can handle about 1-2 slices of bread or a serving of ramen noodles but any more and I also start to get sore elbows – go figure!
  4. My muscle cramps disappeared almost immediately – And so, I stopped taking magnesium supplements. I still get sore joints from time to time but I think this is because I remain in the same position for long periods of time.
  5. Sourdough is fine – I think the fermentation has something to do with it but I don’t seem to experience trouble after I eat sourdough.
  6. Chickpeas are hard on the digestive system – They are so delicious but man, they give me cramps and bloating. Best enjoyed in moderation.
  7. Rice is ok, in moderation – This one is hard to pin down. If I eat more than about half a bowl of white rice, I find I get headaches. But not always.
  8. Buckwheat / kasha is fine – no effect in the general sense
  9. Tubers didn’t hurt – Other than make me very full, eating potatoes, sweet potatoes/ kumara and their friends didn’t have any adverse effects on my wellbeing.
  10. I made dal again – And it was spectacular! And I had no trouble digesting it. I felt fine.
  11. Fruit never tasted better – I wouldn’t go as far as saying I don’t like cake, I have never had a sweet tooth. But I have always loved fresh fruit. It was great to enjoy mangoes, oranges, mandarins, figs and cherries
  12. I realised how much I missed eating out as a social activity – A whole world of options suddenly were opened up to me and I could share plates with my friends without asking for modifications.
  13. The weight came back – About 5 months in, I am back to the weight I was just before I hit pause on Banting. My clothes fit the same but the weight is redistributed somewhat from my lower half to my middle. I know this is not a good thing.
  14. My skin is less dry – When I initally started Banting, my skin becamse so dry, I panicked a little. I’ve never had dry skin so it was quite strange to have flaky skin (only on the body, my face was fine).
  15. Digestion overall is a lot better – Banting tends to cause constipation for some and since I’ve stopped eating LCHF, I am more regular.
  16. I am back to eating lunch – I get hungry at lunch time now and so I eat something. A couple of months into Banting, my appetite for lunch disappeared so I stopped eating any.
  17. No noticeable difference with my hair, nails, sleep patterns or illness / ailments.

I must say that I am, on the whole, much happier because despite the cons with eating a higher carb diet than Banting advocates, I feel like my enjoyment of food has returned. This isn’t to say Banting was boring. Not at all. But I think I missed some dishes that are integral to my childhood and my way of life. And I also missed eating out occasionally.

I am not completely sure where to go from here when it comes to diet apart from avoiding sugar. I’m certainly not looking to go back to pre-Banting eating when Pop-Tarts used to make a regular appearance. Whenever I eat anything that requires sweetness, I continue to use xylitol or stevia. And I still do eat lower carb incidentally as Mr Meow and I try to make meals we can both enjoy. I don’t care for sweet things other than for special occasions but I am overjoyed to have a bit more flexibility with my meals.

It might be too early to tell what longer term effects going back will have on my body. I am planning to get some bloodwork done to see whether my cholesterol and fasting glucose (among other things) have taken a hit. I’ll let you know how that goes. What I have learned though is that no matter what diet and lifestyle I follow, exercise must be a part of it. I have never enjoyed working out but I am getting more comfortable with incidental exercise such as walking and bike rides in the park. I’ll be working on this a lot more especially now that warmer weather is finally here.

For now, I think I will continue to enjoy some more freedom whilst incorporating the lessons I have learned from eating low-carb. Sustainability is a really important thing when it comes to something we do 2-3 times a day. Daily diet should not be stressful, uninteresting, a chore or harmful to health. I believe there is a balance to be struck so that we can take pleasure in our meals without sacrificing health. Banting has taught me a lot of important things about what I consume and how much damage some ‘foods’ can do. I am very glad I did it and I will continue to practice the main tenets of this wonderful lifestyle.

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I hope this post has been of some value to you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and about your personal journeys with diet and lifestyle. Drop me a line below.

my experiments with the truth | low carb eating – part 2

21 thoughts on “my experiments with the truth | low carb eating – part 2

  1. Love your food, mGm. It’s good to filter out what works and what doesn’t. I’m learning that what I want to look like and what I want to eat are not similar so I need to make adjustments. I don’t believe in deprivation but I also have a delicate digestive system. In recent weeks, I have been eating nutrient dense meals and keeping the portions small, and contents simple and predictable. My protein and fat intake have increased and my carbs have gone down naturally. I use healthy fats – hemp seed, coconut, olive, flaxseed – in combination with protein. My digestive system is still adjusting but I feel that one day I will return to a stable condition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Healthy fats are so yummy! I haven’t tried hemp seed but am now intrigued! You’re so on the money with nutrient-dense meals – that really is the key to sustainability, enjoyment and health-benefit from any diet.
      Thanks for your lovely comment SB, I love your food too. And I love your art and poetry even more – such brain food! It always makes me pause and think.
      Have a great Sunday xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You got me psyched up about seeing graphs and statistics etc…kidding.

    I love your line ‘I am neither your mother nor a scientist’ haha. I could relate to a number of your reactions – not that I have done a banting diet (had to google that!), but over periods where I have gone off stuff for a while and then jumped back on the band wagon (or maybe fell of the wagon is a better term?), I have noticed similar things with sugar and wheat for example. Also, perhaps projecting, I read so much joy in your point about fruit- I have only recently broadened the fruits I eat and it feels like such an incredible indulgence.

    Good luck with getting a balance with the exercise routine- incidental is such a good way to fit it in! and I hope you continue to find a good balance between the joy of food and shared meals and what works for your body, mind and soul 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I love your comments Mek, they are like a like a long awaited letter from a pen=pal from far far away.
      Fruits are such an indulgence and I am looking forward to some sapo and watermelon when it warms up (how un-spring-like has it been?!).
      Now, I am going to see about these graphs and charts 🙂
      So good to have your company here xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks mGm. This late reply is definitely like snail mail. I had a pen pal once but we didn’t write for long enough to actually become pals…

        Sapo? I have never heard of it! Now I feel like you might look at me just the way I looked at a guy in the supermarket recently who asked me what a zucchini looks like haha.

        Thanks for having me- you have a nice blog here- as a non makeup wearing person, I even enjoy your makeup posts! 🙂 Hope you’re having a happy sunday! I did a crazy shop at Spotlight and now have some amazing curtains #weekendbender

        Like

  3. Very very interesting read. Kudos to you for keeping such meticulous records on your observations and progress, you go hard girl, I see going home is never an option for you!
    Very pleased to see that you are carrying forward some of the positives and better practices from banting. Some of these diet programs, people end up having to abandon all together.

    Hope you had a lovely weekend!
    xox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement and non-judgement. There is a lot of trial and error with figuring out what works best for us so it’s great to have patience and support. And good recipes to fall back on like yours! 👌👍

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s it! JERF is a great philosophy to love by – Just Eat Real Food.
      Keto works no doubt, but for me the results were not sustained so I am not fully convinced (just for me).
      I’m sticking with as much wholesome and whole food as possible.
      Cans and packets are really not that hard to avoid.
      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Like

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