My Journey to Low Carb Part 3: From Low Carb to Primal

To learn about what led me to a low carb lifestyle, please read my introductory article, My Journey to Low Carb: Part 1: Did I have PCOS? and Part 2: Committing and Recommitting to Low Carb Eating.

Tara Grant Primal GirlMany things happened when I switched from a low carb approach to a Primal lifestyle, but perhaps the biggest change was my attitude. I started questioning things. I no longer ate something simply because it was low carb; I now needed to know everything that was in my food, where it came from, and how it was made. Since a Primal diet didn’t allow for legumes, grains or processed foods, a lot of the foods I had eaten in the past – Atkins bars, low carb tortillas, and tofu to name a few – were off the list. I could no longer delude myself into thinking that just because something was high protein, or low carb, meant that it was good to eat.

I made the leap from reading the macronutrient content on packages, to scouring the ingredient list. I didn’t care how many carbs were in products anymore; I cared about the food itself. Was it good for me? Was it Primal?

Making that change made me realize how much crap I had really been eating, all while thinking I was being super healthy: mayonnaise made from soybean oil loaded with sugar, low carb bars made with soy protein isolate loaded with chemicals, baked goods made with soy flour loaded with Splenda. It became very obvious why I hadn’t had success with a low carb approach: I had been consuming chemicals, grains, and legumes on a daily basis, in the form of “foods” that my body didn’t recognize.

Many people struggle with adopting a Primal or Paleo lifestyle, but I didn’t. The change was very easy for me. If I wanted a protein bar, I learned how to make them myself. When I wanted mayonnaise, I made it myself with olive oil and eggs. I started making my own pickles, sauces, and condiments; I even made ketchup. I stopped buying into the industrial food complex and found that I had a lot of extra money every month – money that had previously gone into flashy packaging and marketing campaigns that I could now spend on quality, whole foods.

One reason I hadn’t had great success with a low carb approach was I had been eating too much protein. Another was that I wasn’t eating enough of the right kinds of fat. Rendering my own lard and tallow, and cooking liberally with it, was perhaps the change that made the most impact on my health. Before that, I had been limited in my choices, as supermarket shelves are loaded with industrial seed oils, and it’s too expensive to deep fry in butter or coconut oil all the time. Adding massive amounts of quality fat into my diet had an immediate impact – I had sustained energy, my hair became silky and thick, I started losing weight, and I wasn’t hungry much anymore. I could go almost an entire day without eating – my hypoglycemia had vanished.

Sometime during the first four months of eating a Primal diet, most of the medical conditions I had been suffering from disappeared. Along with the hypoglycemia went the PCOS, endometriosis, arthritis, Hidradenitis suppurativa, depression, IBS, and insulin resistance. My weight loss was steady at first. When I hit my first plateau, I didn’t throw my hands up in defeat. Instead, I tweaked my diet, cutting down on the amount of fruit and nuts I had been eating and just keep moving along. I actually didn’t care how much I weighed, since I was feeling so good all the time.

Eventually, I realized I had lost a hundred pounds and didn’t have a reason to visit doctors anymore. All of my syndromes, diseases, and conditions were gone.

I have now been Primal for almost four years. I still eat fairly low carb, but it isn’t something I consciously do; the food choices that are available to me are naturally low carb and my body thrives upon them. This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle – one that has given me back my health, vitality and power.

If you are struggling with losing weight on a low carb diet, look at the amount of fat you’re eating. Increasing my fat intake gave me the biggest return on investment out of any of the dietary changes I made. Luckily, Dana Carpender and the CarbSmart staff have just released a new book to help you do just that: CarbSmart’s Fat Fast Cookbook. Check it out today!

Comments

  1. BawdyWench says

    You say you found you were eating “too much protein.” What is your definition of “too much” and “adequate”? How much do you eat now? This is an ongoing debate all over the web, and I’m just curious what worked for you. Thanks!

    • says

      I don’t know exactly how much protein I was eating, but at the height of my low-carb phase, I was eating nothing BUT protein. I would eat ham for breakfast, chicken for lunch, steak for dinner, nothing else. :)

  2. Sue says

    I’m with you in your process. I am just learning about Primal from being a low-carber for quite a while. And, looking at the label is KEY. The crap they put in food is unbelievable..including low-carb! I stay to the outside circle at the grocery store as much as possible. The issue is bringing the rest of the family on board, eh? Although as the chief, cook and bottle washer, if they want to eat, they’ll eat what I make or make it themselves……well, that’s not happening. But, if you don’t bring the junk in, they don’t have it. I still have trouble and hear grief from friends trying to convert me back but I’m not going back there. Those sabotagers probaby don’t want me to be healthy alone! Misery loves company I guess but like you, I have so much energy and love the way I look. It’s like life….you can’t take a step back…you need to keep moving forward in your progression. I’m proud of me and you! Keep going forward everyone! Thanks!

    • says

      It’s funny, isn’t it, the degree of discomfort other people can have at our dietary choices? It reminds me of the alcoholic pressuring people to have a drink, or to have another drink — “What, you too good to drink with me?”

    • says

      Thanks for this! It really can be hard to get family and friends on board. At first, I tried to FORCE everyone into it but that had the opposite effect of what I wanted — they put up walls, closed themselves off and didn’t listen to a word I said.
      For a while, my husband would eat whatever he wanted when he went out, but he found that he started to get sick. Since he was eating so ‘clean’ at home, it became clear that the intermittent gluten-dosing he was getting in restaurants was responsible. He came around in his own time and on his own. I’m really lucky that he is so supportive. My kids are only 4, so they eat what I give them. :)

  3. Susan says

    I began with low-carb then moved to incorporate Primal/MDA into my life. I still do low-carb because if I don’t I gain weight. I don’t eat much protein, about 4 oz’s of meat, but the meat is grass fed and the chicken is Coleman’s Natural’s. I’m not able to eat potatoes or honey or maple syrup as suggested by the Paleo community or Weston Price. I do what works for me and am glad there are so many options presented by all the people in the low-carb/Paleo/Primal communities.

    • says

      I think the enthusiasm for sweet potatoes, fruit, honey, and the like in the Paleo community is a reflection of the fact that the movement started among athletes — aka people who were blessed with robust carbohydrate metabolisms. The ranks of the low carbers, however, are drawn heavily from those of us who have had problems with our weight — and also with fatigue caused by poor fuel partitioning — for years, often starting in childhood.

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