My Low-Carb Experience: Week 1


As I posted a couple weeks ago, I decided to make some changes to my diet and fitness routine in the hopes of breaking some bad habits and teaching my body to use its fat stores as fuel versus carbs.  Like I said in that post, I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian or anything of the sort – this is just my experience with trying out a low-carb diet.  Before you embark on any diet or fitness programs, we always recommend you speak with an expert.

So, how did my first week go?  Honestly, it was a lot better than I expected.  I started my low-carb diet (for the first 2 weeks, I’m shooting for around 20 net carbs – yes, this is very low which is why it’s only for 2 weeks) last week Monday.  I spent the weekend prior running my goal race for the year (a 25k) and then eating foods I wasn’t going to see for awhile – pizza, beer, you get the idea.  Also during the weekend I made a meal plan and grocery shopped for lots of fresh veggies and protein.  (I wrote a post on my personal blog last week about a few of the meals I’d had.)  Here are some of my insights and highs and lows from the first week of eating very low-carb:

  • My energy level is way down.  I didn’t work out until Saturday, when I did my first run after my race.  Saturday’s run was AMAZING.  I only ran 3 miles but 2 miles in, I could tell I was wiped out.  Mentally I still had the strength to push through and I had a great run.  Then Monday’s run sucked big time.  I’ve been a runner long enough to know bad runs happen, but on this run I had ZERO energy and I was walking before I even hit 1/2 a mile. I lifted on Tuesday and that wiped me out, too.  I was told to expect this and once my body figures out there is plenty of fat to convert to fuel, this will get better.
  • Headaches.  I’ve had them.  I think this time it was worse than Paleo because with that diet, I could still eat carbs (sweet potatoes and veggies higher in carbs).  This time, I’ve really had to restrict what I’ve eaten.  Extra water and Advil have been my friends.
  • Weight loss:  Yes, I lost weight this week. 5.2 pounds of water are gone.  I didn’t do full measurements prior to starting this, but I had some measurements from a month or so ago.  According to those, I also lost about an inch in my waist and another inch in my hips.  This is the water/bloat loss as well.  Interestingly, (TMI alert) Aunt Flo showed up on Sunday and instead of gaining a couple pounds like usual, I only popped up 2/10 of a pound.  I know my weight loss is going to fluctuate a lot from here on out and I’m expecting week 2 to not go well because that’s how my body responds to any diet changes. Awesome week 1 and a crappy week 2. The goal though is a downward trend overall.
  • Keeping under 20 net carbs is REALLY HARD.  Frankly, it’s downright boring.  I’ve eaten a lot of the same meals over and over and I’ve had to cut out a lot of vegetables.  I was shocked at how many carbs are in tomatoes and red peppers.  Don’t even think about eating carrots either.  Yep, lots of (natural) sugar in those puppies. I know this seems counterproductive but they will get phased back in.  Most of the days, I’ve been able to hover around 25 net carbs, which is still really good.
  • Wine is an ok substitute for beer.  Most typical red wines clock in at about 2 to 3.5 grams of carbs in a 5 oz glass.  White wines are about the same or even a little less if they aren’t a sweeter variety.  A typical 12 oz beer can clock in between 10 and 20 grams of carbs with the sweeter styles like barley wine hitting as much as 25 grams per 12 oz pour.  If you drink your beer by the pint (16 oz) you can add another 2 to 5 grams of carbs to that total.  This is HUGE when you are trying to stay under that amount for the entire day.  So yes, I had a couple glasses of Merlot this week and they were lovely treats.

My plan for this week is to keep things similar to the first week while trying to add in some more exercise.  Hopefully, I’ll continue to see this downward trend.

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