This is a guest post by Leslie Johnson of masters in health administration
Saint Augustine once stated “complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” Whether or not he was talking about food, his words can be applied to eating and fad diets. Any diet initially forcing you to give up a whole food group may actually be much easier than finding a balance between eating your favourite foods and foods necessary for your health (if both groups are mutually exclusive, which they often are).
However, if you do choose to take the abstinence route, such as giving up all carbohydrates for a short time, the hard part comes after the initial weight loss. The second and third parts of diets like South Beach and Zone try to get you back to moderation—incorporating necessary foods back into your daily meals.
Once you do choose to give up a whole food group, such as carbohydrates, why do you reach a plateau after a few weeks? Why does your diet stop working once you start eating fruits or whole grain bread in small amounts?
I did the South Beach diet a few years ago. I lost about 12 pounds in the first two week phase, when no carbohydrates are permitted. Afterwards, when I still tried to limit my carbohydrate intake (in line with the diet) and kept my protein intake higher than usual, I ended up gaining weight or staying the same on the scale. I couldn’t believe my weighing scale or my eyes, or my thighs! What was happening? I hadn’t eaten bread for a month!
It was then that I decided to count my calories. Although the South Beach diet tells dieters they don’t have to count calories, you still have to use your common sense when you cut out a whole food group! When I evaluated my calories, I realized I was incorporating fruits, oats, and initial carbohydrates I had cut out.
However, I was still eating as much protein as I wanted. For example, I was eating oatmeal, fruits, meats, and cheeses, and nuts. That sounds pretty healthy, right? It may be healthy, but my calorie intake was WAY higher than it should have been. I was overeating proteins, which are not calorie-less by any means.
If you are on a low-carb diet, remember that portion control still applies after you lose the weight! When you reincorporate carbohydrates into your daily intake, you CANNOT eat limitless amounts of proteins! Here are some foods that may increase your calorie intake. Remember to eat them in moderation, and count out/ apportion how much you eat!
Nuts provide incredible health benefits. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are high in protein, fiber, vitamin E and vitamin B. They also have minerals such as magnesium and potassium. The downside: they are high in calories. This was my biggest vice. When I started to incorporate carbohydrates back into my diet, I didn’t monitor how many nuts I was eating. I easily was eating up to 500-600 calories of nuts a day! That is easily equivalent to one meal. Make sure you account for calories when you snack!
Avocado is also high in protein, but about one cup of avocado has 384 calories! I was eating this in large amounts as well. Remember, it is ok for a spread on your sandwich or a side condiment, but don’t put it on everything. It could be adding inches to your waist line!
Lean meats are not particularly high in calories, but when you start eating carbohydrates again, the calories can definitely add up! For example, a 3 oz. top sirloin has 158 calories. Remember if you eat a much larger steak, you are doubling or tripling the calories. Including bread, fruit, or even brown rice increases calories of the meal. You have to still practice portion control and be careful! Too much of a good thing can still show up on the weighing scale!
Not all cheese is created equally, and that affects its calorie content. Once you incorporate carbs back into your diet, go for non-fat cheese or really small portions of the good (high fat) cheeses! Too much cheese on your sandwich or meat can easily turn into empty calories! Try non-fat cottage cheese, non-fat Swiss slices, or non-fat cheese sticks to satisfy your cravings!
This guest post is contributed by Leslie Johnson, who writes about health, green living, parenting related articles at masters in health administration.