Low-Carb Weight Loss For Women ~ Especially if Petite, Older & Active

If you have been hitting a plateau with weight loss while following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, or if you have yet to lose any weight after 2-3 months of eating low-carbohydrate, you may want to try the following tweaks.

Body builders tend to lead the way in manifesting successful ~ and even sustained ~ fat loss while achieving an ideal body composition.  Okay, the body composition of some body builders may seem either out of reach for the average person, or in some cases, unattractive.  But, I'm primarily referring to those who train sans steroids.

In this post, I will share some tweaks I've made to my dietary routine.  It's still low-carb, keeping my total carbohydrate consumption to about 50g/day, or no more than 20% of my total calories.

Read on to learn what changes I have made to my protein and fat intake, and number of meals per day.  Be sure to read the captions under the photos to see what my meals have been for the last couple days, including a list of the ingredients for each meal shown.  It's a newer variation, with just a few changes, so still a work in progress.

Up first, my new favorite high protein drink that works wonders post workout!

Sunday's Meals

Meal #1 (Monday):  A body builder classic post workout, high-protein drink, especially before the days of protein powders:  raw eggs!  I was dubious at first, but I quite enjoy it.  And it works great.  Raw egg yolks are loaded w/ nutrients
and antioxidants.  (Think eggnog!)

I blended this one w/ 2 Tbs. half and half, and about .5c apple juice, 2 raw eggs, 2c fresh strawberries & a pinch of stevia.   It's quite good!  Plenty sweet.  Next time, I'd use less juice.  Then it's thicker, w/ a more vivid pink-red color, and full-on strawberry flavor.  

As Don has often said, to lose weight, one must eat very nutrient-dense foods.  Well, of course.  The more we can pack in the main nutrients the body requires ~ and is looking for ~ the more readily the hormones in our brain (like leptin) that shut down our appetite will get triggered.

Women ~ especially smaller women ~ or anyone desiring to improve their body composition, or who may be struggling to lose weight, and reaching plateaus, may find it beneficial  to really focus on the most nutrient-dense foods.  The most nutrient-dense foods will help trigger hormones in the brain that recognize having had adequate intake of the essential nutrients ~ and total calories ~ and therefore send the signal to shut down the appetite.  The most essential nutrients (amino acids, certain vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids) are best supplied by animal protein-rich foods which contain adequate amounts of bioavailable amino acids, and the right types of fats which contain fatty acids.  There is no actual requirement for carbohydrates from a dietary source as the body can convert what it needs of carbohydrates for the brain from proteins.

When you focus first on those foods that supply the essential nutrients the body needs, it will trigger the hormones in the brain, such as leptin, that will help shut down the appetite once registering adequate intake has been consumed.  When I say focus first, I mean it may actually be helpful to eat the protein-rich part of the meal (prepared in or with some fat) first.  Eat your vegetables afterwards.  More or less.  I eat the majority of my burger, steak, chicken, fish, or whatever while nibbling on the salad or sautéed vegetables, finishing the protein first, then the rest.  Then I don't over eat, and fell satisfied quicker.

Contrary to my old way of thinking where I would focus on filling up on lower calorie fiber-rich greens and vegetables first, I now consider these foods more of a garnish, not the main dish.  I love greens, vegetables and fruits.  But my body is still not responding well to eating too many of them at a time.  I still feel my best when I eat just enough, not too much of those foods.

Whether you desire to lose weight or perhaps just amass more muscular/lean body mass, this strategy could be worth a try.

So here is my formula:

Essentially, my goal is to consume as close to 1200 calories per day as I can in order to lose body fat.  I will need to choose the right foods and meal timing to feel good, not hungry or deprived.  In other words, if I am only consuming around 1200 calories per day, I really need to make every bite count! 

I also want to remain ever mindful to what my body is craving, without getting too caught up in a strict plan that appeases my mind more than my body.  Living your true nature is all about trusting Who You ARE, so this is just part of the training!

Previously, I was tending to consume between 1500-1600 calories per day, getting 65% of that from fat.  (While eating a plant-based diet, I tended to eat closer to 1800/day, sometimes more!) However, in order to lose weight, and reduce my percentage of body fat down from 27-28% to closer to 20-21%, then I need to reduce my total calories.  And, I need to burn more fat than I am consuming.

Since I am already eating very low carbohydrate, then it's clear that the reduction in calories should come from reducing dietary fat.  As long as I consume less fat from an exogenous source than I burn in a day,  all the physical exercise I am doing should begin to pay off.  Providing I eat (just slightly) less total calories ~ with less dietary fat ~ than my body will use for energy, I should begin to burn endogenous fat for energy, which is the goal.  Burn. Body fat.  Burn.

At my height and weight, 27-28% body fat is too high.  And pictures from my previous posts showed, I certainly have some fat stores on my body, even if it is not so visible clothed.

I will still aim to consume all of my meals within an eight hour window of time, but will adjust as per my hunger.  Considering it is still a higher protein and fat diet, I don't believe the insulin spikes will be the same as when consuming many carbohydrate meals throughout the day.  Insulin is released when we consume protein, but not when we consume dietary fat.

I am still adhere to macrobiotic principles (as much as able) and consume what would actually be grown seasonally, and within my local, or as local / similar bioregion as possible.  Consuming foods shipped from all over the world is detrimental to the environment and valuable resources.  I'll discuss this more in future posts.

I'll fill in my calories with however much produce I feel comfortable eating. I am balancing eating the fresh, juicy berries & fruits of the season with smaller amounts of salad greens and summer vegetables than I once used to consume, especially while plant-based.  If I feel more inclined to have fruit in a day, I may eat less of the seasonal summer lettuce greens and vegetables.  

As a result, I have upped my protein intake to around 100g of protein per day, and possibly more.  I plan to eat four meals (or at least three meals with a possible snack) per day to see if that works better for me than just two main meals.   I've read that not all women respond to intermittent fasting (IF) as well as men because of our biological adaptation for needing the right 'energy balance' to bear children.  You can read more about it in the article, Intermittent Fasting For Women on Nutrition Precision, by Helen Kollias.

While I enjoy the simplicity of just preparing two meals for the day, with a possible simple appetizer/snack, I have found the multiple meals per day  improves my digestion and absorption of food.

People often say, "you are what you eat."  I think it is more "you are what you absorb" ~ in more ways than one!  Make sure you remain mindful of what you are taking in ~ of all forms of food!

So here is my target of nutrients, beginning with consuming 100g of protein per day, divided among 4 meals.  Each meal would have roughly 25g of protein, or 100 calories (25g x 4 cals/g) of protein per meal x 4 meals = 400 calories per day of protein.  400 calories is about 35% of 1200 calories.

Next, I can divide up the remaining calories between fat and carbs.  I want to eat less fat than I burn, so I need to eat less than 60% of my calories as fat.  If I consume around 40% of my calories as each protein and fat, that leaves 20% coming from carbohydrates, which is just about perfect.  I want to keep my total carbohydrate consumption low, topping off at around 50 grams/day, most days less, some maybe a tad more.

This is not an exact science.  If on some days, it just works better to eat all of my protein in three meals, or I am just simply craving more fat, I'll adjust as needed.

I suggest if you are desiring weight loss that you also keep total carbohydrates to somewhere between 5-20% of total calories, or  50-75g/day at most.  I am consuming between 25-50g most days.  A bigger, more active, and possibly younger guy can consume up to 100, or even 150g of carbs/day, however I recommend on average for most people to keep total carbs below 75g/day, or the 72g/day as recommended by the authors of Life Without Bread.

I began this approach last weekend.  I applied this strategy for the bulk of the week, but over the weekend adjusted.  It was Don's birthday on Thursday.  We enjoyed a great day of meals that day, and treated ourselves to breakfast out over the weekend ~ our first meal out since prior to beginning our 30-Day Low-Carb/Ketogenic Challenge!

Breakfast out at First Watch celebrating Don's birthday.
We both ordered an omelette.  Mine had chicken, herbed goat cheese, sautéed onion, mushrooms
& a bit of chorizo.  Don had a flavorful Italian sausage w/ mozzarella cheese & veg.
Both were great. 

We did have some other goodies over the weekend.  I made him some Keto brownies following
a recipe from an e-book that was available at no charge on Amazon.  (I'll have to check the name.)

One of the symptoms women may experience when practicing IF is not sleeping well through the night.  I often do not sleep great throughout the night, for possibly a variety of reasons ~ noisy neighbors, a cat that insists on cuddling, among other factors.  However,  I have now been sleeping better than I had been in a while.

I don't mind eating smaller meals as I 'know' I can eat again within a few hours, or as the urge strikes.  My knowing this is like sending a signal to my nervous system saying, "don't worry, there's more coming shortly."  Rather than, "load up, no saying when you'll be getting more."

Eating 'just enough' leaves more room to digest food.  Having more room to digest is also helping me have more energy, and therefore feel more focused and productive.  Another symptom I had been experiencing was crashing post some of my meals, and increased bouts of sweating.  I believe these are both caused by over consumption of calories ~ especially fat ~ beyond what I am expending, or can comfortably digest at a meal.  Major parasympathetic nervous system response!

Practicing intermittent fasting meant I was also going for hours without food, often having a 16 hour + overnight fast.  Since insulin, and adrenaline hormones begin to surge in the early morning hours, also called 'The Dawn Phenomena', I think the long fast prior to bed (finishing my last meal around 4pm) may have been also effecting hormones which were effecting my sleep cycles.

The scale weight goes up and down within a few pound range, depending on if I had too much or too little sodium, too many carbohydrates which can cause bloating and water retention, or poor elimination for a few days.   However, I am getting stronger, and muscle tissue has a denser mass.  If you, too, are training while trying to lose weight, the scale numbers may not change much initially.  What we want first and foremost is to feel good.  We want to feel energized through the day, sleep well, and feel good in our clothing.  

When we reach our ideal weight, we feel a lightness of being.  I encourage you to trust your body to reach its ideal, beyond what you may believe that to be.  These days, I actually have met more women that seem afraid of losing 'too much weight' than I have of those that seem obsessed with losing more than they probably need.

 I like this approach so far, and figure I'll continue with higher protein and more frequent meals to see if I prefer that approach over eating less frequently.   Once I have achieved my desired body composition, I can change that ratio back to consuming higher fat and total calories for a maintenance diet.  I've been hanging out on this plateau with my 'last 5-ish pounds' to lose for long enough.  In a way it seems like it's been years, as I have yet to realize and sustain my ideal percentage of body fat, and body composition other than while sick and having little appetite.

Eating this way has forced me to plan ahead more to make sure I hit my mark, therefore upping my mindfulness with respect to all the food I am taking in.  It's a bit different than the 'just eat whatever I please, with plenty of fat on top, thank you very much' approach.  I have slept better, am  sweating less, and feel more clear and focused.

If not wanting to eat several meals, studies suggest getting bulk of calories earlier in the day for best results with weight loss.  On the days that I eat enough when I need it early on, I do manage much better the rest of the day.  Life happens, as you all know, so it doesn't always happen as planned.

Here is a look at recent meals.  I've numbered them so you can see what I was eating at which meal, and how many meals each day.  Ingredients for these simple meals are also included, in case you want to give them a try.

Meal #2 (Sunday):  I made a big batch of Spaghetti Meat Sauce yesterday.  Had a craving for some time.  This was enjoyed w/ fresh raw zucchini noodles that I quickly blanched by pouring boiling water on top for a few seconds, then
straining.  It's topped w/ 1 tsp. nutritional yeast, below, which adds more B vitamins and amino acids.

(Meal #1 on Sunday was another strawberry egg drink, like the one above, without the apple juice.)

This delicious Spaghetti Meat Sauce was made w/ 85% ground beef.  After letting
the meat cook for a bit w/ diced onion & garlic, I drained nearly 1/4c of the fat out.  I added oregano, Herbs de Provence,
red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper & 2 cups of this delicious tomato purée from a bottle.  It simmered for much of the
morning, and tasted delicious on the blanched zucchini noodles.  Topped w/ nutritional yeast provided
a parmesan cheese like flavor.

Meal #3 Sunday:  1c whole fat (4%) cottage cheese w/ strawberries.  Cottage cheese used to
be on every menu in restaurants as "the dieters special."  High in protein and calcium!

Meal #4 from Sunday:  Home made chicken bone broth w/ 2c chopped kale, diced Roma tomato,
scallion, thyme, potassium salt, and a bit of Celtic grey sea salt.  Quite good!
We had the soup w/ marinated and baked salmon.  The marinade:  a light drizzle of
toasted sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce, and rice vinegar w/ grated & squeezed ginger.
Wrapped it in foil, baked at 350º for about 25-30 min.  This is wild keta salmon.  It's considerably
lower in fat than wild Alaskan salmon.  It was on special locally recently.

Monday's Meals

Monday Meal #1:  2 Tbsp. half and half, 2-3 oz. apple juice, 2 raw eggs, ~ .5 tsp. vanilla,
1/4 tsp. cinnamon & pinch of stevia.  Pretty darn good!  I had this before a 45 min. pretty intense
strength training session, at around 7:30 or so.
Macros: ~ 225 cals, 14g protein, 10g carbs, 14g fat

I basically had 4 meals of around 300 calories per meal on each of the days shown.

Meal #2 on Monday, eaten before going to our clinic at around 9:30/10am.  It's a burger made from
100g of ground beef grilled on our cast iron stove top grill pan.  I had added seasonings & chopped
fresh bell pepper, onion, a wee bit of diced jalapeño, & crushed garlic.  It's topped w/ a super delicious
home made relish given to us from one of our neighbors.

The chicken bone broth soup was made previously, then turned into a delicious soup by adding
a little thyme, turmeric, chopped kale & a Roma tomato, along w/ a little potassium salt &
Celtic grey sea salt.  Quite good! The soup + burger was one meal.
Macros: ~ 280 cals, 33g protein, 15g fat, 4g carbs

Meal #3 on Monday:  Cobb Salad w/ 2.5c romaine, egg whites from 3 hard-boiled eggs,
cucumber, scallion, shredded carrot, tomato, 40g avocado & about 20g cooked/chopped bacon.
I added some lemon & sea salt, then squeezed the salad to break it down.  Egg, bacon & avocado added afterwards.
 Macros: ~ 266 cals, 22g protein, 11g carbs, 12g fat.  I also had 11 cherries, brining total cals
up to 323, w/ 23g each protein & carbs, & 12g fat.

Meal #4 on Monday:  LO Meat Spaghetti, w/o the zucchini noodles.  1 tsp. nutritional
yeast on top tastes a little like parmesan cheese.  Later, when we got home, I had
1 cup watermelon.  Watermelon is a bit too high in fructose for me.  However, we bought one
recently and it is a darn good one, so I'm limiting how much I have at one time.  I just get that
bloat-y feeling after eating it that I don't have when I eat lower fructose fruit like strawberries.
I used 85% ground beef, then drained out about 3 tbsp. of fat.  In addition to the watermelon, I also earlier had some
super refreshing rose hip & hibiscus tea, high in Vitamin C, manganese++
Macros: (just the main dish) 312 cals, 32g protein, 8g carb, & roughly 12g fat.

Here are a couple more meals I had throughout the week.  Below that is a short, but I think helpful video I encourage you to check out by Anaerobixx.

Meal #1 on Tuesday:   The same high protein drink as above which I had
after a high-paced hour long walk, which included a few sets of jogging at a good clip for short
sections of the trail I was on, and some step work, standing up and down on a cement bench on the path.
In other words, I def. worked up a sweat!

This Meal #2 for Tuesday was created to best use  what we had on hand while making it work for
the macros I wanted.  Bone Broth Spinach & Egg Drop Soup ~ Made w/ Spinach, tomato, onion,
mushroom,  1 tsp. nutritional yeast, turmeric & thyme.  1 whole egg + 1 egg white was whisked w/ a squeeze of lemon, and added at the end of the cooking. Really really good!

A little later, I followed this up w/ some roasted green tea, & 11 almonds ~
previously soaked & re-roasted.

Meal #3 Tues:  Another squeezed salad & burger meal ~ w/ 1 125-150g burger for myself

Wed. Pre-Meal:  Pulled this espresso maker out from hiding recently.  Love coffee made this way.  I make a batch of the
great smelling blend (mostly decaf darker roast w/ a little vanilla coffee), + cinnamon, then cook it on the
stove top.  When ready, I use 1/3-1/2 at a time, adding in a little more hot water, and half and half, sometimes
w/ a little butter.  It's so good.  Sort of a pre-workout energizer.

Wed. Meal #1:  Post training day, egg breakfast, w/ chopped ham,
onion, jalapeño, spinach, and previously cooked bacon (after the coffee.)

Meal #3:  Prior to the cod, below, I used up the cottage cheese w/ 1/2 a red Anjou (possibly a red Bartlett) pear, a few chopped pecans, & cinnamon.  Really good!  A little ahead of season, commonly beginning in August.

Meal #4:  Trader Joe's wild Atlantic cod, pan-fried, topped w/ the pepper & zucchini medley, a
dash of butter & lemon.  Veggies cooked in xvoo.  This was the final meal.

We had the cod w/ a radish green salad, tossed w/ tomato, scallion, a bit of
toasted sesame oil, cider vinegar, & low-sodium soy sauce.  Great flavor blend.

 Here is another video by Anaerobixx.  I think what he says makes sense.  Check it out to learn about his 'Pure Protein' diet which is partly what inspired my own changes.

How is the low-carb, diet working for you?  Do you prefer to eat fewer meals, or several meals?  Higher protein, or fat-focused?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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