90 Day “Healthy Choices” Low Carb Challenge

Are you tired of guessing if you are getting enough nutrients each day?  Are you tired of trying to figure out how to loose weight?  Are you tired of feeling like you are starving when you try to keep that New Years Resolution to go on a diet to loose weight?  I can tell you with certainty that I am tired of listening to false dietary advice from folks who really don’t know what they are doing, and tired of failing at getting fit and trim.  Instead of guessing, I want real answers.  I want to know the science of how it works, why it works, and how to repeat it with success.  Don’t try to sell me a pill, or some fancy weight loss program that costs hundreds of dollars!  I want the real change and it should be free because it should be about understanding some facts rather than buying products that may or may not work.

Next week I will be joining up with the 90 Day “Healthy Choices” Low Carb Challenge.  The upcoming challenge runs from July 16, 2014 through October 13th, 2014.

The goal of the challenge is to help you get healthy by making wise food choices, and eat around 20 NET Carbs a day.  The majority of your nutrients should come from healthy fats, healthy proteins, and low carb / high fiber vegetables and low carb / high fiber fruits.  The goal of a low carb meal plan is to maintain an over all low glycemic index, maintain ketosis, and help the body use fat as its main fuel instead of glucose.

All sugars in their various forms, and all starches, and even proteins are broken down into glucose in the body.  You might be asking “What is glucose?  What is glycemic, or low glycemic?”  Glucose is the form of sugar the body uses for fuel, and it breaks down all other sources of sugar into this chemical structure for use.  Glycemic ratio is a method of computing how fast foods are broken down into glucose.  It measures the impact breaking down carbs such as sugars and starches has on the blood stream.  The higher the glycemic load on the body, the higher the glucose in the bloodstream and the harder the liver and pancreas has to work to regulate blood sugar.  High glycemic load results in high blood sugar and eventually leads to diseases like Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes II, etc, and also feeds various fungus and cancers.  But a low carb lifestyle that maintains a low glycemic load on the body, and tends to support ultimate health and longevity.

I have always studied nutrition since my highschool days.  In college I spent countless hours studying dietary information.  I also allowed a dietary student to follow my food journals to help them and myself learn.  After college I became a medical social worker and observed first hand the impact of food and medications on mood and behavior as well as weight loss or gain and overall quality of life in my clients.  When I was in my late 20’s I learned about a better way of food preparation based on traditional diets of our ancestors instead of highly processed foods.  I joined the Weston A Price Foundation as a student and lover of learning and kept up with all the latest research about the health impact of various foods and how foods should be prepared to maximize their nutritional value.  Following the WAPF methods of food prep and eating traditional foods helped me overcome infertility and restored my reproductive health.  I finally had my first child at age 30 and now have a total of six living children and two in heaven.  During this time, I also opened a healthy foods store to sell natural traditional foods and supplements to my local community.  We eventually closed the store when I was 38 years old, to take a job opportunity for my husband in another state.  But I will never forget all the lives that were forever impacted for the better including my own.  I give all the glory to God, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn about real nutrient dense food.

Fast forward and I am now 44 years old.   With my last child born two years ago, I had an emergency C-section that seems to have caused some damage to my metabolism and immune system.  My body did not recover as fast as I had expected it to from the trauma of emergency surgery and the effects of anesthesia.  I also gained weight after the surgery and I could not seem to maintain my weight.  So last year I began a new journey of learning about the endocrine system (mainly the thyroid and adrenal glands) and how to heal.

Over the past year I have learned a lot about using carbs and fats as fuel for the body and how to separate them in various meal plans so the body only has to uses one fuel source provided instead of having to use one and store one when they are both provided at the same time.  Last spring I dug right in and learned about The Fast Metabolism Diet.  This book provided an introduction to manipulating meals and causing healing of the thyroid with nutrition.  FMD helped me loose 18lbs by eating 5 meals / snacks a day, starting within the first 30 minutes of waking.  They also encouraged mild exercise every other day and have a helpful Facebook group for support.  Then this past winter I dug in and read a huge book and learned about another method of food combining and fuel switching called Trim Healthy Mama.  I finally tried it out in February and by April I had lost 14lbs following this method.  I really liked THM because it allowed dairy (cream, cheese, butter, etc.) and because it is Christian based and it supports the whole person, not just menu planning, and there is tons of support through a forum and various online Facebook groups.

Both programs, FMD and THM control the kind of fuel being used by the body and give the body a rest between eating a different fuel source.  The FMD switches fuel sources every two to three days.  So it has two days of moderate carbs and protein, two days of no carbs (or very little) and  lean protein, and three days of moderate carbs, protein sources that contain higher fat, and healthy plant-based fats.  The THM switches fuel sources as often as every other meal.  Both programs space meals and snacks three hours apart and with both you eat about 5 times a day.  Both programs are seeing wonderful successes and I have learned a lot about how to meal plan and when to switch fuel sources.

I am wanting to take my nutritional goals a step further, as I am learning about auto immune reactions to foods, and I want to eliminate most legumes (eat only occasionally or not at all), and eliminate most grains (though I would still enjoy some soaked or sprouted gluten-free low carb grains), and bring the over all carb counts from plant foods down in the meals.  This is very exciting as I learn more about the body and how various foods and nutrients impact the body differently.

I have been creating some recipes, and doing meal planning before starting the challenge.  On my trial run, I tried to reach a goal of 20 or less net carbs (total carbs – fiber carbs = net carbs) on a few different days over the past few weeks to see if I could actually eat this way.  It is one thing to read about it.  It is a whole different thing to actually try to live it 24/7.  Most of the time, by the end of the day, my overall total carbs were between 35 to 90, and my net carbs (carb count after subtracting fiber) were usually between 19 carbs and 30 carbs with a few days over 40.  So I am feeling hopeful that with a few more tweaks, and learning how to actually keep up with keeping track of net carbs while still getting all the macro and micro nutrients, I will be able to do this.  It boils down to a learning curve and following through with a plan.

On this challenge, I plan to make lots of low carb meals and snacks, many from my own original creations with dietary knowledge I have gained from learning different methods.  I think my recipes will combine ideas from Trim Healthy Mama, Weston A Price Foundation, The Fast Metabolism Diet, Keto, Paleo, Glutenfree, and Sugarfree  variations.  I plan to track not only my carbs, but understand the various nutrients in the meals I eat and what nutrients are in excess and what nutrients are lacking and need increased for a more balanced nutritional approach.

I am personally at a point in my life where guessing about my health and nutrition is not a healthy option for me.  Don’t just tell me this or that is healthy.  I want to understand the macros and micros of what I am eating and know with confidence that I am doing the right thing for my body.  I have been tracking the nutrients on each recipe I create and also on the menu for the whole day.  The results have been eye-opening.  I can see what days I need more protein, or more thiamine, or B12 for example.  This mix of research and recipes should be a fun exploration, delicious I hope, and a very interesting learning journey as I track my changes over a 90 day period.

I hope you will check back for my progress updates.

If you would like to join the 90 Day Low Carb Challenge, check out the information over at Traveling Lowcarb and register with your email for updates and encouragement.  It’s free!

Be blessed!

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