“TAKE THAT, EXCESSIVE WEIGHT …
IN YOUR FACE, FAT CELLS!
Try as you might, to cling to that fatty tissue … I’ve outsmarted you! I’ve stayed true to my proposed way of eating. I picked a plan and stuck with it, even when I didn’t want to. I win!!!!”
When I first started my 30-Day “Zero Carb” way of eating (meaning, a diet consisting of almost purely meat, eggs and dairy), I weighed 218 lbs.(down from a peak of 352 lbs.). Almost immediately, I lost 4 lbs, dropping me to 214. From there, I teetered between 214 lbs. and 215 lbs. Up a day … down a day … for weeks … never breaking through 214. Tuesday, I woke up and was at … 213.5 lbs. WHOO HOO!!!! It would seem I finally broke through the wall. Wednesday morning, I woke up at … 210 lbs. WHOOOOOOOSH!!!!!
It would seem I dropped 4 lbs. within about 24 hours. That 4 lbs took me over 2 frustrating weeks to knock off, but … it’s clear to me, now … those 4 lbs. have gone the way of the Betamax!
I was becoming EXTREMELY frustrated with zero carb, because it didn’t appear to be working. All the usual rationalizations came crawling out of my mental basement, suggesting I go back to lettuce, berries and sugar free ice cream, but … I chose to stick to my 30 day experiment. With only 3 days left to go, I got a second big whoosh and a renewed faith in the idea that … low carb is AWESOME!
I also think it needs said that … two hundred and ten pounds is officially my lowest weight, since I’ve started this journey. It’s also likely the lowest my weight has been in well over 15 years. WHOO HOO!!!!!
All total, I’ve lost more than 8 lbs, within 30 days. That’s actually a VERY quick pace. MANY of you reading this are very possibly stuck, losing much more slowly than this, or potentially even gaining! All I want to say to you is … I feel your pain. I know it’s difficult and I fully expect to get stuck at some point within the next year. Then, you’ll REALLY see the sparks fly!
(I really hope not, though)
My Thoughts on Zero Carb
After having eaten nothing but meat, fish, seafood, eggs, cream and cheese for 30 days, I feel … nothing. I feel fine. Normal. Neither up nor down. I have almost no opinion, whatsoever. Actually … that’s not true. I probably lean slightly towards the side of not liking it. I didn’t hate it and I do feel it was successful for me, but … I also believe a clean induction would be just as successful and … with that … I get to eat cauliflower!
My thinking is a bit divided on this one. While I definitely stayed on the very very low end of the low carb spectrum and created a varied and delicious menu. For me … it just somehow wasn’t enough. I ate well! Everything I cooked and ate was completely delicious, but … I always felt limited and wanting for more. Not because of cravings or hunger, but … because of a more cerebral and knowing desire for ingredients that I also feel are good for me. It felt silly to avoid peppers, when … I feel peppers are both good for me AND delicious! I always felt limited, without any clear logical reason to support why I shouldn’t eat some green leafy spinach.. I was never able to distance myself from that idea.
A low carb way of eating is also somewhat restrictive, but I feel that there is more than enough variety to keep me content for life. I did not feel this way with zero carb.
Before I get into why I still feel so conflicted about this way of eating … let me show you photos of a few of the dishes I ate this week! You’ll see that … it’s really not so bad. I DID eat well!
Orange Scented Whole Roasted Duck
Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Citrus Butter and Rosemary Skewers
Poached Shrimp Stuffed Tilapia with Bearnaise Sauce (Kind if a silly dish that I doubt anyone will prepare, but I wanted to stretch zero carb … to see how far I could go!.)
Here’s why I’m divided …
To really truly totally commit to a zero carb lifestyle, I should’ve just eaten meat; a consistent diet of unseasoned, barely cooked fatty steaks. This would’ve been a more honest and pure experiment in terms of strict rules, but it also may have forced me to see food as fuel, rather than some form of entertainment. I enjoy variety, which … on some level … implies that it entertains me. A big rare ribeye with my morning coffee, followed by a ginormous double-cut porterhouse for dinner … sounds mind numbing to me, if I had to do it … daily. Every day. All days. Each of them. Steak with steak and a side of fat. It would start to lose its charm … quickly. It would literally be as much fun as putting gas into my automobile. It would be a chore. Doing it this way may have taught me more about the true merits of zero carb. Alas, I did not do it this way … nor am I particularly willing to. That just sounds like a terrible way to live!
Maybe if I get stuck … and can’t think of anything better, I’ll try it, but … for now … it’s up a rung to Induction. Next week … I get salads back!
However, before I jump into my next phase of eating, I wanted to talk a bit about too much protein.
What happens if you eat too much protein?
I was asked this question in two different ways. The first way was most basic. Can you eat too much protein, and … what happens, if you do? A second formation of the same basic question was … doesn’t too much protein eventually get converted to glucose, thus rendering the whole point of a zero carb diet … moot?
Before I proceed into this topic, it should be said that I’m not a dietician, nutritionist or a doctor. Take anything I say, related to nutrition, with a grain of salt. I have a college degree in COOKING steak, but not in what makes a steak a steak, or how steak reacts to the body. For me, beef is something that tastes good. It can be cut, cooked and seasoned in a million ways. As a semi-professional blender and heater of ingredients, it’s important to me what it tastes like, and how it feels in the mouth. What happens once it slips beyond the tongue is … no longer any my business. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just not what I was trained for.
I am very much still learning and expect my blog to become more accurately informed with time, but … today … right now … I’m just some new low carb food dude with a baby burgeoning blog … who likes to cook (with bacon!).
Looking around the internet, I found some potential problems related to eating too much protein. Keep in mind that too much protein is nowhere NEAR as bad as … not enough. Not enough will cause your body to eat from your own muscles … within a day or two. Yikes!
You’d need to eat A LOT of protein, to really have a problem. Like … almost silly amounts. There are also many people that have eaten a zero carb diet for years. My last post highlighted a man who’d eaten nothing but rare steak for 50 years. He seemed to be in excellent health. You’d need roughly double the protein your body needs … for a long time … before any of the negative issues would occur. It should also be said that too much of anything, even water, can kill you. Any kind of excess or imbalance can be detrimental. So … don’t do it! However, in the event that you do! … A diet consisting of too much protein can potentially cause …
- Low Calcium
- Digestive Issues and Intestinal Irritation
- Kidney Problems
- Weight Gain
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease
- Inhibits Ketosis
- Increase in Liver Enzymes
- Increased Risk of Cancer
- May Cause Gout
- Bad Breath
We, the people, are made up of near 20% protein. Our muscles, skin and hair are made of mostly protein. We need consistent protein, in order to live. General wisdom states we should eat around .4 grams of protein, per pound of body weight. For me, at 210 lbs. this implies about 84 grams, per day. This is the equivalent of a 12 oz. hamburger patty, or 12 scrambled eggs. This is the low end. For active people, weight lifters and extreme sport enthusiasts, the number goes up, as the extra protein forms the building blocks for more muscle and body repair. If I were physically active (which I am), I would probably want to eat closer to .8 grams of protein per pound of weight (more if I work out aggressively!). This implies I should eat about 12 oz. worth of steak AND 12 eggs, a day. This is almost certainly more than what I’ve been eating, recently. This reinforces to me how difficult it would really be to eat too much protein (without supplementing with protein bars, drinks and powders, for example).
In looking at the list above, my simplistic reactions and comments are …
Constipation did occur, slightly. I solved it with a fiber supplement, but I suspect the issue would’ve eventually gone away as my resilient body adjusted itself to the lack of fiber. Obviously, I did not gain weight. I lost weight and … quickly, too. Over-eating protein may cause weight gain, but … I ate within my limits, while also taking in quite a lot of healthy fats. Zero carb does cause water to slip through you. I visit the restroom more often than my lovely grandmother. I also drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and I take a great multi-vitamin … to make sure I’m getting my nutrients. I do have bad breath, which … as I understand it … are the ketones coming out in my breath, as the result of being in ketosis. My breath smells like paint thinner, and … not in a good way. I do brush my teeth and take care of them. However, I’m also famous for my endless collection of sugar free breath mints and candies. I have a little tin with an endless assortment of flavors. I’m never without them!
Other than that, I look at the list of negatives and shrug my shoulders and think … meh. Moderation is key.
I personally feel that, unless you have some kind of kidney disease, a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates is acceptable and even beneficial, provided you’re active, drink lots of water, get a nice balance of nutrients (from organ meats, quality fats, vegetables and/or a good multi-vitamin), and don’t eat to excess. In fact, if you stay within a range of 10% to 35% of total calories coming from protein and don’t totally over do it, excess protein can actually help you lose weight, and even prevent osteoporosis!
Regarding the specific question of excess protein being converted to glucose, thus knocking you out of ketosis and causing an insulin response … continued reading has left me with the following impressions …
- The body naturally converts some protein to glucose (through a process called “gluconeogenesis“) … as needed (such as when on a low carb diet and there isn’t enough glucose in the blood) … and for energy. This is not “excessive”. It’s just enough.
- It would require a lot of protein, to the point of silliness.
- High protein, but low carb tends to mean there is very little insulin in the blood to begin with. This most likely means that the excess protein will be converted into free fatty acids and used as fuel, or processed by the liver into ketones and excreted. However, with a diet high in carbs AND high protein, there’s an excess of insulin in the blood. This may cause some of the protein to eventually convert to triglycerides and be stored. So … it’s not really going to happen, if you’re on the low end of the carb spectrum.
Now, because I don’t feel comfortable exploring this much further, here’s a link to an article that goes much deeper into the topic. It’s actually quite interesting. Check it out!
So, again, my gut check and simplistic reaction to all of this is … don’t worry about it. Eat a reasonable amount of protein and … you’re good!
This week’s recipes …
All this meat eating is making me nuts for some pasta! Thankfully, us low carbers have some tricks up our sleeve, in addition to an excellent low carb pasta! This week, I have 3 recipes, each containing some pasta. There’s also a Thai Beef Skewer recipe that reads like it’s awful, but it’s actually REALLY delicious! Then, I have a super super super duper basic broccoli recipe, which is partnered with a Thick and Goopy Alfredo Sauce. Finally, there’s kind of an out-of-placer. Oven Dried Tomatoes. There’s nothing particularly low carb about them, but I actually make them kind of a lot and they’re AWESOME tossed in a salad or with some pasta! Check it out!
Bacon is delicious!
ALL NEW Weekly Recipes!
Minestrone Soup is known just about everywhere, but it’s also known to be different, everywhere you get it. It can be roughly defined as “stuff in broth”. It’s always a combination of vegetables, occasionally with meats or sausages, sometimes with pasta or rice, occasionally with cheese, etc. It’s another one of those Italian concepts that super loose, but everyone knows what it is and what it is that makes it a minestrone, even if they can’t verbalize it (much like I’m not, right now!).
|Stir Fry Sesame Ginger Beef and Noodles
This dish feels like cheating. Pasta is a big no no, when your way of eating is low carb. However, there are low carb pastas available. They are of varying quality and impact on blood sugars. This is one where “your mileage may vary”. However, if you’ve got some low carb spaghetti lying around, and some of my sweet teriyaki in the fridge, you’re in for a real treat! This tastes something like the fried noodles you get at the local Chinese restaurant, except these are a little sweeter and total legal for this way of eating!
|Souper Sloppy Cheesy Green Lasagna
Most lasagna you’ll try is tomato based. However, tomatoes are high in carbs, in comparison to many other vegetables (bearing in mind that tomatoes are technically a fruit). This recipe eliminates the tomatoes and goes for a cheesy, saucy, soupy, schloupy, bright green lasagna, with pesto as its main flavor punch. The end result is a sloppy brick of heavy green goodness!
|Thai Grilled Beef Skewers
These flavorful skewers are AMAZING! The flavors are rich, salty, aromatic and complex, without impacting your blood sugars … almost at all! You could eat piles of these things … and they’re pretty easy to make, too!
However, there’s some wacky stuff going on, here …
One of the primary flavorings is Fish Sauce. Fish sauce is like salt or … soy sauce … in Thailand. …
|Thick Goopy Alfredo Sauce
Alfredo Sauce is the famous sauce from a “Fettuccini Alfredo” that I’m sure we all know, love and fantasize about, from time to time (I know I do!). The original dish, popularized around 100 years ago (1914), in Rome, Italy, was incredibly simple. It contained little more than fettuccini pasta, parmesan cheese and butter. Over the years, the dish and the sauce have become common items in restaurants and grocery stores around the world. It has also more commonly evolved to a creamy sauce, very often thickened with flour, instead of cheese.
|Simple Buttery Broccoli
Food isn’t complicated. People make it complicated.
Broccoli is delicious, all on its own. It’s a little sweet, with a great texture and a bright vibrant greenness that just screams “I’M A VEGETABLE!!!”. There are so many recipes that are mixes and blends of a wide variety of vegetables, commonly known as “medleys”. Some have fruits and nuts mixed with, with heaps of spices and herbs.
|Oven Dried Tomatoes
Dried tomatoes are easy. If you have a tomato, slice it and lie it in the sun … you’ll get … A SUN DRIED TOMATO!
I’m personally a bit leery of leaving things out the sun, especially things I plan to eat. So, I use an oven. Some might use a dehydrator, or … a fan beneath a pile of stacked vents, or a blow dryer. Again, I opt for the oven, and tend to put a little extra goodness on my tomatoes, but … that’s just me.
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6 thoughts on “WHOOSH!!! … Zero Carb Conclusion & Too Much Protein?”
Do you ever eat any of the low carb bars or drinks like those Atkins produces? I travel a lot and the bars are easy to pack for eating in the hotel.
Hi Peggy! I have not personally tried the Atkins bars. I can’t find them in Mexico. However, I have tried a few other similar bars that I WAS able to find. In my experience, they stalled me. They were quite tasty and always hit the spot, but they’d stop my weight loss, dead in its tracks. Most of these bars (I can’t say all, because I really don’t know) tend to be full of sorbitol, malitol and/or vegetable glycerin, along with other sugar replacements, texturizers and bulking agents that all have a somewhat deceptive impact on blood sugars. My view is that these are ok in moderation and “in an emergency”, but that they shouldn’t really be viewed as an acceptable meal replacement or a daily replacement for candy bars. I have some in my cupboard (a box of them, actually … I was so excited when I saw them … I bought a lot!) … because of the stall they caused … the box is still there. I don’t throw them out … just in case. I do know I’ve read that others have been stalled by the Atkins bars … but others swear by them. I have no experience with them … I cannot say. Look at the ingredients for the bars. If they seem clean and clear … you might be luck! Ah, regarding drinks … again, it’s tough to find in Mexico. I did find a zero carb protein powder (Isopure, I think). When I first started, I would make all sorts of shakes with this as a base. These seemed fine and didn’t appear to stall me, but I always realized I was using them as a meal replacement, when … they weren’t intended to be used like that. The powder I was using was specifically for protein and bulking up. I believe there are some that ARE designed with a fuller nutrient profile, however. I suspect there’s a low or zero carb meal replacement powder out there that IS acceptable … I just don’t know what it is. Netrition.com has a good selection of these things. Check it out. Good luck!
Any chance you could post the recipe for Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs?
Hi Peggy. Ok, I can try and move that up in my schedule. It’s still going to be about 2 weeks, though. Soon!
I love your blog and your writing style! I am a seasoned low-carber and a member of lowcarbfriends.com and have seen you around the boards. I just have to say that you look GREAT and you have done an awesome job.
All of you photos are gorgeous.
I personally tried duck for the first time this year and I could not stop picking at the carcass.. it was insanely delicious and your duck looks wonderful.
You are doing a great job!
Hi Anna. Thanks for the kind words! Tell a friend! 😉
I’ve dried and cooked hundreds of ducks in my life, and … if I had to be completely honest, this particular duck was a bit on the tough side. I think it has to do with the duck, itself. I’m accustomed to a different duck, than the one I’d purchased. Selection is limited, so … I take what I can get! It was definitely tasty, but if I had to do it over again, I’d cook it slower and longer and really try and break down the meat more … All this said … a good duck is hard to beat. I’d pick the meat from the bones, too!