Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wausau, WI
I too have experimented enough with low-carb and high-carb to see that I can eat more calories on low-carb than on high-carb. And I also know it's not just the difference in water weight.
My carb-intake does vary (I hesitate to call it carb-cycling, because that implies that I'm intentionally varying carb intake, which isn't always the case. Sometimes it's intentional, and sometimes it's just a slip-up), so I do understand carb-moderated water weight fluctuations. know that if I'm eating more carbs than usual, I will see a temporary gain that's just water. Likewise, if I eat fewer carbs than usual, I will see a similar temporary loss that's also just water.
Even taking into account that on low-carb eating, I will carry less water, and on high-carb eating I will carry more water, I lose faster on 1800 calories of low-carb than on 1800 of high-carb. I've watched the emerging patterns closely from months of food/symptom log monitoring.
For me, there's about a 300 calorie difference. I lose about equally on 1500 calories of high-carb as on 1800 calories of low-carb. And I'm far less hungry on low-carb, and not just because of the extra 300 calories. I'm hungrier on 4000 calories of high-carb than on 1000 calories of low-carb. If my carb level is too high, I can't eat enough to satisfy my hunger, the more I eat, the hungrier I get.
I remarked on this 300 calorie difference here on 3FC several months before a recent study came out ironically finding that low-carb diets averaged a 300 calorie advantage over higher carb plans. This was a small study and there's no indication that this is true for all people. In fact other larger studies have found no difference at all, which makes me suspect that the "advantage" isn't there for everyone. In fact, anectdotal evidence here on 3FC seems to support that conclusion. Some people report no difference, some people report losing better on a higher-carb diet, and some report losing better on low-carb. I suspect that eventually the research will move towards looking at individual differences, rather than trying to compare one plan to another (assuming it works equally well for all participants). Up until now, much of the research has been focused on "which plans work better" rather than "why do some people do better on this plan versus some other?"
Even the low-carb proponents have largely followed in the footsteps of all the other plans - trying to persuade EVERYONE that their plan is the best for EVERYONE, regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, health issues...
I suspect instead, that there are variables that make one plan work better for certain individuals, and that if the research were to explore why that is, perhaps eventually a diagnostic tool could be developed so that weight issues could be identified and addressed earlier and with more success.
Although low-carb works best for me, I have the hardest time with compliance (I suspect because I'm just fed up with dieting after 42 years of it). I definitely had a lot more "willpower" for sticking with a foodplan in the past, than I do now. If only I had discovered low-carb in my twenties, when had more passion, energy, and drive (or to put it simply, but bluntly, when I gave a rat's ***).
I'm kidding (sort of), but I now not only have to put my new knowledge into practice, I have to undo 42 years of bad habits, and 42 years of ingrained "knowledge" that I've proven to be untrue for myself.
Even though I've proven to myself over and over again in my food logs and symptom journals that all calories are not equal in my case, and that I eat processed foods, especially processed starches and sugars, I will feel ill, I still have that voice in the back of my head saying "it's just calories in, calories out. Whole grain pasta is GOOD for you, and you can budget it in."
Even knowing the 300 calorie "differential" I experience, if I want carbs, I tell myself "You can have them, you just have to decide which is more important having 1500 calories of carbs and being a little extra hungry, or getting 1800 calories and being less hungry but giving up the "treat").
And if I STUCK to the 1500 calories of high-carb for the day, that would work. And when I was younger and healthier, I think I could have gotten away with doing so. Because I was able to stick to a lot crazier plans. But what I find now is that high-carb foods, especially the lower-fiber, higher-glycemic ones, do a crazy thing to my brain. It's almost drug-like. My judgement is actually affected. It's literally like drugs or alcohol (which is ironic, because food has always been my only drug. I never found alcohol or any mind altering drug in the least bit tempting).
"Under the influence of chocolate," may seem a bit insane of a concept, but for me it's literally true. When I eat high-carb foods, my inhibitions against overeating are literally decimated. For decades, I thought I was absolutely climbing-the-walls insane in my reaction to some foods (not always realizing the carb connection, but by 8 I had the concept of "trigger food" down pat).
I didn't understand the trigger food mechanisms until I read "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler, and all the pieces of the puzzle finally came together. Food actually did act like an addictive, mind-altering drug.
I do wonder what my life would have been like if I had understood all of this at 16 rather than my mid-40's.
Still, I at least have hope now, that I can master my weight if I can just accept and commit to full abstinence from the "hard stuff" - the foods with so much sugar that they trigger the "MUST HAVE MORE" instincts/chemical reactions.
On one hand I feel bad that I struggle so hard with this, knowing what these foods do to me, and yet I also wonder how well a heroine addict would do if heroine was as socially accepted and actively PUSHED as sugar.
I think we see sugar as a harmless indulgence, and for some people it may even be, but I think there's a much darker side to sugar for many of us.
It would be nice if friends and family didn't think we were ready for the rubber room in the asylum just because we wanted to steer clear of high-glycemic carbs.