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Need help constructing a low-carb variant

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Old 06-17-2007, 10:39 PM   #1
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Default Need help constructing a low-carb variant

Hello,
I'm hoping some experienced folk who've tried many different low-carb
approaches can help me.

I'm trying to customize a low-carb plan for myself that will minimize my
side-effects and maximize my low-carb benefits.
I have classic carb-addiction and I love the appetite suppression
I get from a low-carb diet. The problem is that if I do a
true low-carb diet, it gives me the side effect of being unable to
sleep. Yes, I've tried drinking tons and TONS of water. After a
few days without sleep, I'm too sick and miserable to continue,
and I refuse to push myself beyond that point (4.5 days max).

I'm pretty sure I can't cut my carbs out completely. If I add a bit
more carb to my diet, like drinking milk in place of all my cheeses,
then the insomnia decreases enough to be acceptable, although
the appetite suppression decreases too.

One of my main questions is, should I add tiny amounts of carbs
throughout the day, or just in the evening, or some combination?

For a long time I've added bits throughout the day. I feel hungry
all the time, like I'm on a traditional diet, except I lose weight a
bit faster than a traditional high-carb diet, so maybe that's the
best compromise.

I'm not content with this compromise in part because there's no
exit strategy I can think of. When I'm done losing and need to
work on maintenance, what would I eat? I can't live the rest of
my life feeling hungry all the time. Small bits of carbs all day
will leave me hungry all day, no matter how much meat and
cheese I add. The will-power won't last forever. Any ideas?

I've recently tried adding a burst of carbs in the evening and
sticking to zero-carb at other times. It's basically the Carbohydrate
Addicts' Diet. Anybody out there ever done it?
I'm sleeping soundly when the post-carb hunger hits, so that's fine.
The problem is, my body now expects ALL meals to have a
burst of carbs in them. I get low-blood-sugar shortly after
Breakfast and Lunch (non-carb meals) and I suddenly feel really
exhausted and hungry and miserable, like too exhausted to drive
a car safely, but it only lasts about 60 minutes. When the sleepy
fit is over, I'm myself again and not feeling the cravings.

My question about this is DO YOU THINK MY BODY WILL LEARN
WHICH TIME OF DAY TO EXPECT CARBS? Is it possible to "train"
my body to stop making insulin for breakfast and lunch only,
and then to secrete it for dinner only? Is it possible that my
body will learn to quit over-reacting to breakfast and lunch,
even if I'm stimulating it at dinner?

If this approach would improve with time, I'll keep trying. Otherwise
I think I should look for a different diet.

Lisa
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Old 06-17-2007, 11:17 PM   #2
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I'm not sure about training your body to expect carbs at certain times during the day, although it doesn't seem impossible. But on constructing a diet .. There are plenty of plans out there that offer more carbs than say Atkins or Protein Power, but still restrict carbs on some level. Think Sugarbusters, Somersize, Glycemic Load (by Rob Thompson), Four Corners. Or more along the lines of what you were saying, you could experiment and find out at what carb level you are most comfortable with and avoid insomnia and still continue to lose weight (maybe 50-70 grams?). What about just eliminating the white and junky stuff and stick with proteins, fruits, veggies, yogurt, nuts, etc. That way you still get some healthy carbs, but you're not bottoming out. Good luck!
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Old 06-18-2007, 01:24 AM   #3
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I'm kind of in the same place you are. I've found that I usually have good hunger control with a moderate amount of carbs, if those carbs come from (in order of proportions) veggies, fruits, whole grains and a very small amount of nuts. I modeled this after South Beach, and count actual carbs, aiming for the lower end of a range between 100 - 150 g.

If I eat nonwhole grain starchy foods, or even too large a portion of whole grain carbs, I still have portion control and hunger problems. Also, even when I do great 3 weeks out of the month, I am still having severe problems with carbs during the week around my period (3 or 4 days before and 3 - 4 days in). I have humongous cravings for carbs and red meat, and have problems with portion control in general. For the next two months, I'm trying an adjustment to my birth control and try going lower carb during the RedZone week. If that doesn't go well, the doctor who recommended the bc change, suggested I consider a meal replacement program for just that week (that's not really related to your question, just got off on a tangent).

Another tip I've found in picking whole grains, is choosing grains with higher water and fiber content (steamed wheat berries over whole wheat bread for example).
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Old 06-18-2007, 09:02 AM   #4
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try eating something carby a couple hours before bed.

I get like this too.....as a matter of fact I was up until 4 this morning because I hadnt really had anything carby before going to bed.

My thoughts on carbs before bed........you eat it, you go to sleep, and you sleep right thru any issues your body might have with it, and any cravings it may cause. Ive found it has worked pretty good for me.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:01 AM   #5
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I would recommend trying backwards Atkins (my own invented phrase). Try limiting carbs to a higher level per day - check for wt loss - if none - lower the count until wt begines to drop. I know folks that started with 100 per day (lots more than most folks eat and way too high I think - but I think they used total not net carbs).

Also, maybe try a higher low limit like 40 or 50 and include some healthier carbs like fruits.

I think the insomnia is probably from the escalating energy most people have or your body's difficulty adjusting to life without carbs. Maybe cut caffeine or try to get more exercise in the day to burn off extra energy.
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Old 06-18-2007, 01:29 PM   #6
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honestly, cutting caffeine and upping the exercise didnt work for me. I tried it.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:20 AM   #7
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Thanks, everybody, for all the great help!

I really appreciate the suggestions for possible target levels of carbs,
suggested choices of carbs, and names of other reduced carb diets
to look into.

I'm going to try a bit more with limiting carbs to bedtime, but with
more care towards choosing the best kinds of carbs.

Robin, my low-carb insomnia was after zero caffeine and plenty of
exercise during the afternoon, so I'm with you on that. I guess it's
just something our bodies do when we're in ketosis.

I'm still getting some after effects from my evening carbs the next day,
not just during my sleep, but it's not so bad if the carbs are "good,"
so I think I'll just live with it for another week.
Meanwhile I can read up on some of the reduced-carb diets and
use this week to decide what feels best.

I can't imagine staying low-carb for breakfast for the rest of my life,
but I also can't imagine being able to maintain my weight if I eat
my regular cheerios and start the carb cycle devouring me every day.
Lots to think about for long-term maintenance, but for now I just
need to take it one day at a time.

Lisa
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:57 PM   #8
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The Low-Carb Bible by Elizabeth M. Ward is great for comparing several low carb plans. If compares and/or gives overviews of Atkins, carbohydrate addicts, neanderthin, protein power, schwarzbein principle, south beach,
sugar busters, Suzanne Somers, and the zone.

You might consider trying oatmeal for breakfast as an experiment. I found that I can eat wheat berries or oatmeal (if it's not the overly sweetened instant packets) for breakfast, and it has enough fiber to keep me full for at least a couple hours without bringing on cravings. I did find a unsweetend instant oatmeal (in a box, in the health food section of the grocery), and that isn't as bad as the packets, but isn't as filling as the old fashioned round box. The problem with wheat berries is that they take over an hour, sometimes almost 2 to cook. So, if I make them, I make them in the evening and make enough for several meals and refrigerate. (You cook them like rice, but use a little extra water. You can actually boil them with a lot of extra water and just drain them, like pasta. They're chewy and nutty, and really good.)
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Old 06-19-2007, 04:38 PM   #9
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"Living the low carb life" by johny bowden, also gives a overveiw of quite a few different low carb diets. I thought it was a realy helpfull book to read. I'm sure you'll find a plan that works for you.
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