Lately the interwebs have been buzzing with Jimmy Moore’s summer 2012 weight loss success after tweaking his macronutrient ratios. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to see how he did it. He is basing his new refined low carb diet on the advice from the great book The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek.
Just like Jimmy, many long time low carbers and nutrition enthusiasts have tried various methods – thyroid/adrenal protocols, parasite cleanses, homeopathy, HCG diets, colonics/enema’s, Leptin resets, green juices, bone broth diets, probiotics, meditation, EFT, positive thinking, HITT training, Slow Burn, Crossfit – you name it. We can all relate to his struggle of “doing everything right” but not losing weight. Maybe Jimmy Moore, Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek have found the missing link to the low carb weight loss puzzle: restricting protein? Jimmy’s success in losing weight has given us all hope that if he can do it, maybe we can also bust through our own personal plateaus.
Is monitoring protein and increasing fat the answer to low carb weight loss stalls? It is worth a shot and it can’t hurt to try, as long we make sure to eat the highest quality fats. Read my article about which fats are healthy to eat here: Which Fats Are Healthy at GrassFedGirl.com. Please make sure and eat the right fats or you will not succeed long term on a low carb diet.
Protein free for all:
I came into low carb and paleo in the summer of 2010, and have always eaten plenty of protein and fat without worrying about percentages. This lifestyle has kept my weight stable, tamed my autoimmune condition and helped me regulate my blood sugar but I would love to lose a few extra pounds (who wouldn’t?). I have seen Paleo and low carb work wonders in my clients as well, but some people need extra help to fine-tune their low carb results.
In their book, Phinney and Volek instruct readers to restrict protein and carbs to lose weight and become keto-adapted. Keto adaptation is where the body burns fat instead of relying on glucose (carbs) for fuel. The authors think that if we eat too much protein it will also turn to sugar, preventing the body from becoming keto-adapted andburning its own fat as fuel.
What should my protein intake be?
What does limiting protein mean in practical terms and how much do we actually need daily to get into nutritional ketosis? This chart should from A New Atkins for a New You, should help:
Recommended Daily Protein Intake For Nutritional Ketosis
(In shoes, 1-inch heels)
Recommended Protein Range in Grams
(Grams per day)
Typical Protein Food Intake in Ounces
(Ounces per day)
Recommended Protein Range in Grams
(Grams per day)
Typical Protein Intake in Ounces
(Ounces per day)
|*Chart from A New Atkins for a New You by Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Stephen Phinney Formatted by Caitlin Weeks, NC at grassfedgirl.com|
Don’t forget to keep counting those carbs:
Another tip Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney give readers in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance is to keep carbs very low — 50 grams or less.
Getting into the optimal Ketone Zone:
It is my understanding that optimal levels for nutritional ketosis and fat burning are (1.5 – 3 mmol/L) mode. This can be measured with a blood ketone meter. It can take a week or so to get into this zone, so keep checking and don’t give up.
Now that you know how much protein you need we can help you fill in the gaps. Are you wondering how to get enough food while limiting protein and carbs? It will be smooth sailing into ketosis if you incorporate a few simple changes.
How to increase your fat:
If someone is limiting protein and carbs, they need to increase fat to be full after meals. Fat is very satiating. But who wants to eat plain butter? I wanted to give you some interesting ways to lower protein intake but still feel fulfilled without resorting to drinking olive oil.
Filling protein reduction solutions:
Fatten up your meats:
Unfortunately lean meats have 7 grams of protein per ounce, which can add up fast. Look for cuts of meat with more fat and use smaller portions to stay in the weight loss zone.
Examples of Higher Fat Proteins
Grams of Protein
6 slices/1 oz
Beef Short Ribs
Sardines in Olive Oil
4 oz can
Hard Cheese (Cheddar)
Soft Cheese (Brie)
Sour Cream (full fat)
|*100% grass fed beef, pastured pork/poultry and wild fish will increase resultsand satiety.|
Bring on the broth
Making broth is a great way to get more filling fats and veggies without adding to protein counts. Many times chronic dieters need major gut healing. The minerals and amino acids in broth that are helpful in renewing intestinal integrity. It is important to heal gut inflammation; doing so helps lower cortisol and improves weight loss efforts. Try my healing broth recipe and my creamy cauliflower soup topped with grass fed butter or ghee.
Gelatin for your skeleton:
Gelatin has similar healing properties of broth and can helps prevent wrinkles, reduce cellulite, build muscle and improve metabolism. One tablespoon of gelatin only has 6 grams of protein. Add flavorless gelatin to high fat smoothies, soups, natural gelatin snacks, or even add gelatin to coffee with lots of cream.
Marrow for a better tomorrow:
Eat bone marrow, an extremely healing and nutrient-dense food. A 1-ounce serving of bone marrow has no protein and 28 grams of fat. Bake the bones, then spread the marrow on crudités, or just suck it down.
Offally important: organ meats
Organ meats can be great fat vehicles and they are packed with nutrients. Many people on low carb diets are nutrient-depleted; their bodies are crying out for these nourishing traditional foods. My pate recipe turns liver tasty with tons of added butter; 1/4 cup of pate only has 7 grams of protein. Liverwurst is another high fat option that will keep you humming in the ketone zone. Tongue, which is not really an organ but has that ick factor, is very high in fat and tasty like barbeque. See my easy crock pot tongue taco recipe.
Eggs have 7 grams of protein but the yolks only have 3 grams of protein so it’s better to leave the whites (that is fun to say). Pastured eggs have vitamin A and D that help improve the immune system and thyroid health. Read about how to find quality eggs here: http://www.grassfedgirl.com/why-buy-soy-free-pastured-eggs/
Hass to have avocados:
Eat plenty of avocados, they have 5 grams of net carbs and no protein. Avocados are rich in antioxidants and are great for liver detox, which aids weight loss.
Tap the tapenade:
Olive tapenade is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, for healthy young skin. Olives and high quality olive oil are low carb, high fat ways to fill up without protein.
Punch it up with Pesto:
Fresh Pesto can add a ton of flavor to boring meat meals. See my simple pesto recipe that will liven up any chicken dish.
Add a variety of cheese if tolerated, but try to get organic and/or raw milk cheese whenever possible. Hormones and antibiotics that are given to animals are concentrated in milk products. Use caution on serving sizes; in his New Diet Revolution, Dr. Atkins advised a limit of 4 oz of cheese per day. If your weight loss stalls, removing dairy may help speed up results. It is a common food sensitivity, causing intestinal stress.
Cream of the crop:
Add cream if tolerated; again go for grass-fed and organic dairy to lower the chemical burden on the liver; this will improve fat burning. Also check for the thickener carrageenan, a carcinogen and gut irritant.
Omghee: butter makes it better:
Add butter to each bite of meat. Dr. Volek and Phinney advise using Irish grass fed butter because it is more nutritious. I like to add a big bite of grass fed butter to each bite of meat to speed satiation. Don’t forget about ghee which is just butter with the casein removed. Ghee is extra delicious on top of steaks and soups. Some people who can’t tolerate butter can tolerate ghee.
Sauces like béarnaise or hollandaise add depth to dishes.
Nosh on nuts:
Eat fatty nuts like macadamias – they have just 2.2 grams of protein and 4 carbs in a 1 oz. serving. Some other nuts are higher in carbs so be sure to read the labels. Watch for sugar and rancid vegetable oil coating.
Coo-coo for Coconut
Add coconut milk, cream concentrate, or shreds to anything and everything. Coconut has no protein and is very low carb. It is a very satisfying food that will make any dish divine. Feel like a Thai chef after making my easy crock-pot curry.
Veggies as Fat Vehicles:
Use low carb veggies like kale chips, spinach, celery, endive, romaine, etc, as a fat vehicles. See my last article on CarbSmart.com about adding crunch to your low carb diet.
Mucho (homemade) Mayo:
Try this easy recipe for macadamia nut oil mayo, it will add life to chicken or ham. Beware low quality fats like soybean and canola; Volek and Phinney find they can make low carbers feel unwell.
Ensalada Por Favor:
Make your own salad dressings; bottled dressings are made with rancid oxidized vegetable oils. See my article on which fats are healthy.
Chocolate can be low in carbs if it is really dark, and it is naturally low in protein. Good quality organic chocolate has lots of magnesium and antioxidants. Try this low carb, low protein fudge recipe.
Be mindful and chew slowly during meals. If you are still hungry after your low protein meals add a tablespoon of coconut oil and/or some coconut milk to a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee to hit the spot! (Link to coconut oil/ milk)
Atkins Diet Food Lists for the Induction Phase by Laura Dolson
New Atkins for a New You, by Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, Dr. Jeff S. Volek
The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek