Why didn't low-carb dieting work for me?
May 4, 2012 8:59 PM Subscribe
I tried a low-carb diet. I didn't lose much weight and my experience was different from what most other people report. Why?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
(Anonymous because I don't care to talk about my weight on the Internet.)
In the spirit of self-experimentation, and with the intention of losing some weight, I decided to see what would happen if I modified my diet to reduce carbohydrate intake. For the last month or so I've been eating a diet that gets about 15% of calories from carbs, on average about 50-75g of carbs per day. (Which is to say: substantial carb restriction, but more carbs than you would consume on something like Atkins.) I lost 2-4 pounds, all of it in the first two weeks. This is within the normal range of fluctuation of my weight.
In many ways this was not what I expected from reading other people's accounts and talking to friends. People close to me have lost between 8 and 15 pounds on a diet similar to mine with little effort. I expected to be eating fewer calories but feeling full; in fact, on the days I tracked calories, it seemed that I was eating about as many calories as usual. People reported feeling an increase in energy level or alertness; I did not. People reported "cravings" for carb-rich foods; I had none. Basically, I have spent the last month eating very differently from the way I usually eat, but feeling more or less the same, and losing weight (if at all) at a pace so slow that I'm not sure anything's really going on. Why? I can think of a few possible reasons my experience might have been different from other people's.
1. It's possible that here are large individual metabolic differences between people, so that some people will lose significant weight on low-carb diet and others (like me) won't.
2. People's "carb cravings" seemed often to be related to sugar; I don't have much of a sweet tooth and my normal diet doesn't contain a lot of added sugar.
3. I am only slightly overweight -- I started at 6'1" and about 198 (now 195), or BMI 26.
4. My normal diet contains lots of carbs, but much of this comes in the form of whole grain (e.g. large portions of whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread.) So maybe reducing these is less beneficial than cutting out soda, white bread, and candy?
6. I guess it's also possible that only extreme "Atkins-style" diets (say 20g carb per day) are effective, and what I'm doing is not substantially different from eating hundreds of grams of carbs per day.
7. I probably didn't eat as much vegetable as I should have. My diet was heavily weighted towards meat, cheese, and eggs, with some non-starchy vegetables included as an afterthought.
8. I haven't been doing serious aerobic exercise (I commute by bike about 20 mins / day and that's it.) In the scientific spirit, I didn't add exercise when I started the diet because I wasn't exercising before, and I'm curious about the effect of the diet.
Have other people here had experiences like mine? Did I do low-carb wrong, or is there a reason (one of the above, or another) that low-carb is not going to be a viable weight-loss strategy for me?