I used to think that eating a lo-carb diet would be terrible. But I've realized that the more I do it, the easier it is. When I don't have too much sugar (and sugar in the form of refined carbohydrates), I'm generally less hungry, I don't get insane cravings, and when I do get the "I want to eat because I'm bored/emotional" feeling, I'm able to fend it off because I'm not starving.
Using MyFitnessPal to figure out how many calories I should consume, I try to stay within my calorie limit even though every lo-carb book tells you that you can eat more when you are on a lo-carb diet and still lose weight (usually about 100-200 calories more per day). I never really stay within my calorie limit, but I try, and that's the point. Also, I can set goals for how much of each nutrient I want to consume, like carbohydrates, protein and fat. I set my goals for 20% carbohydrates, 40% fat and 40% protein. I have a very hard time hitting 40% protein, and I always have too much fat. My calorie limit is 1280, but when I exercise it goes up.
This is what a lo-carb day might look like for me (what I ate yesterday). I went to the gym in the morning and did the elliptical trainer and walking on hills via the treadmill for a total of 45 minutes. I wore my heart rate monitor so I could see more accurately how many calories I burned. The Garmin said 487, but I logged it as 450. Remember - I'm a big girl so I burn more calories than the "average" often used in magazines.
Big Breakfast (I knew I was going to be on campus and have a not so big lunch):
4 Brown'n'Serve Maple Sausages (usually I have 3 which is the serving size but there were only 4 left in the package so I threw caution to the wind and ate the last one, too)
1 Cup Mushrooms
3 Cups Fresh Spinach
1/4 Cup Shredded Cheese
1 1/2 tsp Olive Oil
(566 Calories) - This could easily become a vegetarian meal by using Morning Star Sausages instead of Brown'n'Serve Sausages. I cook the veggies and then add in the eggs, scramble and top with cheese. Sausages go on the side or can be cut up and thrown into the mix.
Pure Protein Chocolate Deluxe Bar
Second lunch (I had this at 4 PM when I got home from teaching):
1 Emi Yogurt
7 Strawberries sliced up
2 tbsp granola on top
(Total Lunch Calories: 467)
I had a snack before dinner, 1.5 oz of cheddar cheese (165 calories)
Dinner at Chipotle:
Salad with Carnitas, Fajita Vegetables, Salsa and 1/2 a portion of each of the following: salad dressing, sour cream and cheese. Boyfriend and I split a guacamole, and I had about 5 chips.
(665 Calories) - Subbing more veggies/sour cream/cheese for the carnitas turns this into a vegetarian meal. I guess some beans would be OK, but then you'd probably want to forgo the granola/sweetened yogurt for your snack/second lunch so you could stay in the lower carbohydrate range.
My total calories for the day were 1863, so I went over my calorie limit by 133 calories. The breakdown was 20% carbs, 54% fat and 26% protein. Not that bad for a cookie, cake and bread lover! I think because there is less sugar in my blood (I think I've had days where I ate 60% carbohydrate), I'm much more calm when it comes to food and cravings. What I really have to work on is increasing the protein and fiber. Suggestions please!
I hope this helps for anyone who is considering moving towards a lo-carb diet and how you might plan your day. As per the book Living Low Carb, there is a misconception that lo-carb means no carb. That's not true at all. It means eating less of the sugar stuff and more of the protein/fat stuff. A typical American eats 300g of carbohydrate per day - the list of foods above comes is at about 95 grams of carbohydrate.
As of this morning, I've lost 4.5 lbs since 2/5. Pretty good! And that's WITH some terrible eating days as I've gotten back to full-on lo-carb mode. I wonder what I can do if I really set my mind to it. We will find out!