A Life Without Carbs

Most of you who are skeptical about the benefits of eating a low-carb diet or reading this blog for the first time may think I’m absolutely crazy. Who can live without bread, pasta, iced tea with sugar, cake, cookies, bagels, crackers, pizza, pies, chocolate bars, soft drinks, and all the other foods and drinks that have sugar in them? Well, I’ll tell you who can.

YOU.

Keep reading. Trust me.

If you haven’t taken a look at the video Sugar Crash or read the article in The Guardian about how a scientist discovered sugar was the root of our health problems back in 1972 and how the nutrition establishment and food industry ran him out of his job, then I recommend you do so. It’s absolutely critical that you get that information before you dismiss the information I present here as a mere fad or some untested science. Sugar isn’t the root of ALL of our health problems, but it is the root of our most serious health problems: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and many more.

edgenobeard
This is a healthy me.

I have been living a life without carbs since last September and I honestly feel the best I have in over 30 years. Heck, maybe ever. I remember having a groggy feeling every morning my entire life. I remember wanting to take naps after meals. As I grew older and heavier, I lost mobility, flexibility, and almost the ability to even tie my own shoes. When I look back on my life, during much of my younger years, I was an athlete and then an active duty Marine. I was never out of shape until I was over 30, but I still struggled with my weight for the last 8 years of my time in the Marines. Looking back at it, I know why: I ate the most horrifically bad food imaginable from a nutritional standpoint. So many burgers, fries, pizzas, breads, Taco Bell/Del Taco, and donuts. Add to that a healthy dose of alcohol at social functions which were a few times weekly and it all added up to enormous amounts of sugar. I might as well have been mainlining sugar syrup into my veins.

Since doing my Whole30 in September and then going Paleo in October (and ever since) and living a life without carbs, I’ve found the following:

  • I lose weight steadily
  • I have more energy
  • I have better flexibility
  • I have more stamina
  • My blood sugar has returned to normal after being diabetic for 6 years
  • My cholesterol levels are all normal
  • The liver enzymes in my blood that indicated non-alcoholic fatty liver are back to normal levels
  • I no longer experience acne breakouts
  • My heart rate has reduced by 15 beats per minute on average
  • I no longer have cravings between meals and only get hungry at meal times
  • The amount of food necessary to fill me up has been greatly reduced
  • The skin on my elbows, which used to be dry, is now normal
  • I taste more flavors in the foods I eat

I can’t stress enough that I am no longer craving snacks between meals and I feel full after eating the food I eat. I only get hungry at the next meal time as long as I eat enough at my meals. It does take a little time to learn, but once you do, it’s easy. Also, I’ve mentioned before that the down-side to eating Paleo is preparation and planning, but that’s a small price to pay for good health.

IMG_1939
Yes, I smoke a pipe every now and then, and no, the glasses on the right are not just bigger. Left photo 2013, right photo yesterday (2016).

I’ll be honest with you here (as I always am): It took me a long time to get to the point I’m at now with admitting that sugar is as evil as it is. I didn’t understand just how bad, nor was there any good evidence or reading material available to me that would have taught me this sooner. What I did know was that I didn’t want to exercise for hours a day more than I already was when I was a Marine. I didn’t want to have to change my life and live my spare time in a gym; I had kids to raise and hobbies to pursue. Going Paleo has freed me from having to give up my spare time by spending it in a gym, on a bike, or running. Some people love that; I wish I was one of them. I just don’t. So, this is how I stay healthy and maintain my weight loss. Also, there are some people who are too unhealthy to exercise (I was one of those when I began this Paleo journey).

Food. We all love it. We all need it (duh). We prefer foods we grew up with and that we have grown to love. Food is at the center of our cultures. Think of any culture on the planet and what sets them apart from the others. There’s language, clothing, and food. Our foods are central to who we are. That’s why it’s so difficult for people to separate themselves from certain foods, and I get that. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is how many of the foods we eat today are vastly different from the original recipes dating back to before the non-fat movement of the 1950’s took hold.

Food makers all rushed to remove fat from their recipes and found that people didn’t like the flavor or texture: the food became bland and had lost the consistency that made the food appealing. Food makers found that by replacing fat with non-fat alternatives coupled with sugar made people find foods delicious. What was even better was that people became addicted to the bad foods and soft drinks which in turn made them come back and buy more. Profits increased, and it was in the best interest of the food makers to squash any mention of sugars and carbs being bad to people.

As we are finding, going back to recipes that pre-date the ’50’s yields much better recipes with more natural ingredients. Sure, there are still those that have a lot of sugar in them, or grains/beans, but leaving those aside, recipes using butter, fat, lard, and natural ingredients are much better for us and our bodies. Just making your own food from scratch instead of buying/eating pre-made foods is so much better for you and it makes it easier to keep your food low-carb.

Paleo is not a non-carb diet. It’s not a fad that has just hit the scene. It’s a name for a way of eating that humans have practiced since the beginning of, well, humans. It’s a way of eating that cuts out foods that are known to contain an abundance of carbs as a percentage of its mass. Its a way of eating that has allowed me to lose over 93 lbs in nine months, and is keeping me healthy. It’s a lifestyle I endorse and recommend wholeheartedly. I know people who can live without avoiding carbs, and I’m happy for them. Their genetic makeup is obviously different from mine, as my body reacts negatively to excess carbs.

The food I eat is delicious, satisfying, and for the most part, the same food I grew up with. My parents are Hungarian, and the food I ate as a child was mostly Hungarian, but fortunately, my parents were gourmands and loved foods from all cultures. I got used to eating a varied menu of foods from all over the world and I gained an appreciation for them. This has allowed me to easily transition to a diet that cuts out the rice, beans, pasta, and breads. I know that not everyone has my background in eating such varied foods, but in all the cultures I’ve looked at, all have recipes that are naturally low-carb. For those foods that contain ingredients that are carb-heavy, there are alternatives available to help bridge the gap between what we love and what we must have to survive. I’ve eaten Paleo breads, pizza, thin mint cookies, and even chocolate mousse that were as good, or better than the original high-carb versions. The recipes are out there, but you have to find them and you have to know that these recipes take longer to prepare, sometimes with more ingredients. However, the payoff is healthy food that won’t kill you.

On the surface, it sounds hard. When you think about what you can no longer eat, or only have in strict moderation, it feels oppressive and you focus on what you can’t have. Instead, focus on what you can, and you will find that the variety and amount of foods you can eat will likely outnumber the foods you can’t, and many of the foods you should no longer eat have Paleo analogues.

mousse
Under the strawberries is a delicious chocolate mousse made by Sherry with avocados and dates. You’d be hard pressed to find a better mousse.

You can do this. You just have to commit. I’ve led you to water; it’s time to drink.

If you have questions or comments, please comment or message me. I am willing to help in any way that I can.

Current stats:
Weight: 196.2 lbs (Started 289.9 lbs on 9/1/15)
Body fat: 22.3% (Started 47% on 9/1/15)
BMI: 30.7 (Started 45.4 on 9/1/15)

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