The low carb experience

I've recently decided to experiment on going low carb, to see how my body feels.

I will be doing this along with intermittent fasting and calorie counting which I have already been doing. But I've never cut down my carbs before. My weeks on low carb had around 50-100g of carbs per day, so this is NOT keto, ok? My previous carb consumption was at least 150g to 200g in comparison.

Now in this experiment I haven't added a bunch of extra fat, although I have gone a little more loose with them so there may have been an extra increase of just 10-40g of fat per day. 

I also kept calorie and macro counting to compare with my previous regimen and to make sure I stay low carb.

Bear in mind that low carb is NOT keto and therefore I won't be talking about fat adaptation nor ketosis because that wasn't the purpose of my experiment and I didn't want to cut out all my carbs so drastically.

Also note that no junk food was consumed during this experiment, and no alterations to the foods I eat, just avoiding the carbs I was already consuming (like potatoes, fruits, oats, honey, rice flour pancakes).

My results

I've only been doing it for a couple of weeks, but I've already experienced enough important changes to warrant posting them here.

  • The calorie deficit was HUGE. Not going overboard with fat to replace the carbs I was eating meant a severe calorie deficit (500-900 calories less a day!!!)
  • Elevated protein intake. Despite the huge calorie deficit, protein intake was considerably big. Like I said, I'm not going for a fat-adapted body or a ketosis state, so I didn't reduce my protein intake. As a result of carb intake as low as 50g a day, I could easily hit my protein target of 150g in a 1200 calorie day, whereas in a moderate or high carb day I would hit those same numbers at 2000 calories.
  • I felt amazingly satiated. Even on my lowest day with 50g of carbs, 130g of protein and 60g of fat at roughly 1100 calories I wasn't feeling hungry at all which I really really liked. This goes to prove that even healthy carbs can make me extremely hungry, and a diet high in protein will keep you more satiated. And definitely this makes it my favorite benefit by far.
  • My training sessions suffered greatly. My fasted steady state cardio sessions were still going great. But my fasted calisthenic sessions didn't. I felt weak and tired, and couldn't push myself to the intensity I was accustomed to (and yes, even on high carb days, I was doing my calisthenics workouts fasted early in the morning, most of the times, after 20h of fast, and I was ok). After breaking the low carb diet with a main meal full of white potatoes and salmon, the next day the fasted session was absolutely amazing and full of energy. Now this can also be due to the fact that I'm not fat adapted, but the truth is, glycogen from carbohydrates will always be the most efficient source for high intensity exercises and explosiveness, even if you DO get fat adapted, especially for athletes (so for people like me and you, we're probably ok with fat adaptation). 
  • The insulin sensitivity effect. I'm not gonna lie, I believe I'm still struggling with insulin resistance. I mean, I've had PCOS for like forever, and a surgical menopause is not helping matters either (even though I kept my ovaries). AND also diabetes runs from both sides of the family. The way I can tell that I'm suffering from insulin resistance is when I overdo it with fruits, or potatoes, or adding authentic 100% maple syrup on my rice flour pancakes (and yes that's a humongous amount of carbs, even though it also has 40g of protein with egg whites). So when I went low carb, I felt much better. My mind was more at peace, I was more calm and focused, my skin was looking better, my digestion was better, and like I said I was less hungry even on an extreme calorie deficit.
  • Even more savings on groceries. I was already saving a lot of money on food by cutting out the junk and anything that gives me an IBS flare up, and cooking at home, but cutting out the healthy carbs I was eating gave more reduction to money spent on food.
  • Overdoing it made me sick. There were rare days where I had to increase my calories through fat and protein, because 1200 calories for me is starvation and I can't survive on that. So to get to my calorie goal, I had to increase a lot in healthy fats and proteins but that raised my blood pressure and brought back my IBS flare ups, with bloating, gas and indigestion. So overdoing it with ANY macronutrient to replace another is not really a good idea for me.

The verdict

I believe with some adjustments I can easily stay low carb and enjoy its benefits, but not on the extreme of just 50g a day. I'm more comfortable at 100g, I believe it balances out with the other macronutrients so I don't have to increase fats or stay on a huge calorie deficit. I didn't have issues getting enough fiber for the day, but I do love the other nutrients fruits give and I would like to enjoy those as a dessert on occasion. Oven baked potatoes are hard to resist and they're highly nutritious so I will be definitely splurging on those again too.

Overall, I don't ever see myself going on keto anytime soon, unless I get diagnosed with diabetes and low carb no longer works. But I believe low carb CAN work even with diabetes patients as long as they avoid any processed carbs (including things like rice).