Background: I am a active 39 year old female, in the high end of the "normal" weight range but a little chubbier than I'd like. I have Meniere's disease, and I initially started eating paleo because it helped me stick to a low sodium diet. (Yes, I know there is controversy about conventional recommendations for sodium in paleo circles, but believe me when I say that low sodium is a reasonable recommendation for my condition, and in my case keeps me off medications 95% of the time.) I've experimented with a few eating approaches but until recently stayed with a moderate carbohydrate version of paleo (+some dairy) both because it seemed to help my athletic performance and because I was miserable on Atkins in the past every time I tried it.
However, I've decided I want to get in really awesome shape by my 40th birthday. Almost 100% vanity, although I do a lot of bodyweight exercise and losing a few pounds would certainly help. A friend of mine introduced me to the book The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, and I decided to try it out. My assumption was that I would be miserable for a month and I could cross that off my list of options and try something else. Instead, it's been working remarkably well... not only am I losing weight steadilly without being hungry, I'm also not nauseated and headachey all the time. I feel good. Stable. I seem to be doing well athletically, even despite eating significantly less sodium than the book advises. No "carb flu" whatsoever. I have not been using a blood ketone monitor, but I'm spilling substantial ketones in my urine.
So in the interest of getting some thoughts out there and helping other people who don't feel well on a typical VLC diet, I figure I'd throw this up and elicit some thoughts about why this is clearly working better for me than a more conventional Atkins approach.
1) I started out on 50g of carbs a day. Atkins induction (20g) was miserable, and I figured if I was going to stick this out for at least a month, I was willing to put up with a few more days before my body used up all it's stored carbs. I was peeing out substantial ketones in 3 days even on the higher level of carbs. Possibly my body just doesn't process VLC eating very well, but is perfectly happy to function in ketosis with a few more carbs?
2) I no longer consume any artificial sweeteners whatsoever (they aggravate my vertigo attacks). When I had done Atkins before I was heavily dependent on diet soda and using lots of sweeteners in low carb "treats". Now I simply don't eat sweet things, aside from an occasional small dish of raspberries if I have a few carbs to spare. Even aside from sweeteners I eat very little processed foods.
3) I'm tracking my nutrition WAY better, since I have to track sodium & carbs anyway. That means that I'm not randomly having days where I'm getting in excessive protein, but am lower on fat than I need to be. Tracking also reminds me that I need to eat a well rounded set of low carb veggies, which probably also helps.. and it prevents me from having days where I mistakenly end up with too little sodium (also a risk).
4) In the process of adapting to having a chronic disease I pretty much decided that life is too short to eat food I don't like. So while I don't eat much in the way of treats and goodies, my everyday meals are pleasant, colorful and satisfying. In fact, most of my meals are pretty much what I ate doing moderate carb paleo, just without the fruit, sweet potatoes and plantains... and more veggies, nuts and moderate amounts of cheese in their place.
Any thoughts? I would love for this to keep going smoothly for a few months.
I hit athletic recovery problems in month 2 of VLC.
My advice would be let the athletic performance slip if it needs to so you can maintain the diet and hit your short term weight goal. Sounds like you're in a good groove and compliance is tougher once it breaks.