Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cheating on Your Low Carb Diet

I cheated on Monday.

I have blogged about cheating before, but I had an insight after this episode that I hope will help anyone that's trying to switch to low carb and is having trouble with carb cravings.

I had a burger, fries, and a coke for lunch. Normally I drink tea when I eat out, but for some reason I grabbed a coke. I think I was jonesing for sugar somehow and just gave in.

And then my blood sugar crashed a couple hours later. The afternoon was horrid; I felt those cravings all afternoon. I felt weak and jittery, my concentration was wandering, and I felt hungry. I needed I had to consume something. When I drove home, I grabbed another energy drink -- this time just to settle my blood sugar. I knew what was going on, and figured that was probably the easiest way out of it.

After a great dinner and then a night sleeping, I felt much better by Tuesday. It was easy to get back on track for Tuesday lunch (soup, some bbq pork), Tuesday dinner (leftover bbq), and through Wednesday (burrito bowl minus the rice and beans, ie meat, cheese, and avocado; steak for dinner) without any of those carb cravings.

An overnight fast is the best time to break out of a carb cycle. I think the blood-sugar low a couple hours after a high-carb meal is the hardest, most challenging part of switching to low-carb. Once you make it past that, it's easier to stay low-carb. I suffered for a few hours on Monday afternoon, but the energy drink five hours after lunch settled me, dinner was relatively low-carb, and then the long fast after that was mostly while I was sleeping. So I went from carbs on Monday back to low-carb by leveraging that overnight fast. My blood sugar was more stable on Tuesday morning; I still felt like my blood sugar was a bit low, but it wasn't as distracting as it was the previous afternoon.

Some people do great quitting cold turkey but that wasn't me. Taking advantage of an overnight fast (ie what you normally do!) might be the start of a pattern for the easiest way to go from the high-carb Standard American Diet to a low-carb diet. Slowly add low-carb meals. Start with breakfast (either skip it or eat low carb) and don't cheat in the mornings. Then add in lunch, keep your afternoons on-diet, then dinner, and then you're set. If you give this a try, let me know in the comments how it goes.

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