All my life I have struggled with my weight. Both sides of my family suffered from morbid obesity, along with metabolic syndrome, a preoccupation with food and emotional eating. Only when I reached puberty and began to individuate, did I realize that it was not written in stone that I had to be overweight like everyone else. I could change my dietary habits and maintain my body weight within a healthful range. I did this most successfully by restricting my intake of carbohydrate. This strategy worked until menopause, when something shifted.
In the past, when my weight crept up, I would eat more protein and less carbs, and the excess pounds would disappear. After menopause, this method was no longer effective. My weight began to climb, my clothes grew tighter and I felt frustrated that my sincere efforts yielded so little success.
My metabolism had changed, and eating more protein and restricting carbohydrate did not result in weight loss as it had in the past. I needed to restrict my intake of protein as well. I have altered the composition of my diet so that the majority of my calories now come from healthy fats, along with moderate protein and very low carbohydrate intake. This translates into approximately 70% of my calories from fat, 20% from protein and 10% from carbs. This is the prescription for a ketogenic diet, and at 56, it is the only way I can eat without gaining weight. I feel well when I eat this way, with steady energy, no fluid retention and sound sleep. My esteemed colleague, Georgia Ede, MD author of the blog Diagnosis Diet, described in her most recent post, how well she also feels since committing to a ketogenic diet. There is increasing scientific evidence to support the benefits of a ketogenic diet, including normalization of blood sugar and other blood chemistries, including cholesterol levels, despite the increase in dietary fat, treatment of epilepsy and certain kinds of cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
As a means of jump starting the process and overcoming my metabolic resistance, I did a Fat Fast for 4 days. The Fat Fast is a calorie restricted diet of 1000 calories a day, consisting of 4 or 5 mini meals of 200-250 calories of 90 % fat over the course of the day. It is not intended as a maintenance plan as it’s too little protein. It was conceived of by Dr. Robert Atkins as method to break weight loss stalls and to generate a state of deep ketosis, without loss of muscle mass. He recommended mini-meals consisting of 2 ounces of cream cheese or 1 ounce of macademia nuts. Here is an informative post at Carb Smart about the Fat Fast.
Fortunately, the creative and veteran low carber, Dana Carpender of the low carb blog Hold the Toast has written an e-book The Fat Fast Cookbook, which suggests a variety of 200-250 calorie mini meals which are excellent. Here is a good post she wrote about the Fat Fast. I found the Fat Fast to produce gratifyingly quick weight loss and it was not that difficult to sustain for a limited period. I did feel irritable in the beginning as well as hungry, but experienced no cravings.
There is also increasing evidence about the link between gut flora and obesity. Here is a fascinating post by Moises Velazquez Manoff in Mother Jones entitled “Are Happy Gut Bacteria a Key to Weight Loss?” Healthy gut flora is promoted by following the principles of the GAPS Healing Protocol.
I adapted this recipe from Dana Carpender for a custard that is high in fat and very delicious. I have been eating it for breakfast. It can be made with either a whole egg or just the yolk. I make it with just the yolk because of an egg white allergy. If the white is omitted, it makes the custard lower in protein and also suitable for those with histamine issues. This version is savory, but it could be made sweet by omitting the cheese and adding xylitol or stevia and berries. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, which can be low in carbohydrate restricted diets. This recipe requires some forethought because chia seeds need to be soaked for 2 hours before the dish can be prepared. If histamine is an issue, fresh cheese could be used, otherwise sharp cheddar or parmesan are good choices.
Chia Seed Custard
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds soaked for 2 hours in half a cup of water in a large ramekin
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons cheese
1 scallion finely chopped
1 Tablespoon parsley finely chopped
Mix the egg yolk and heavy cream together and stir into the soaked chia seeds. Make sure to mix this very well. Add cheese, scallions and parsley. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir well. Microwave for another minute.