Most readers know by now that I’m officially off low-carb since it really stopped working for me. It just didn’t fit me anymore and I wasn’t happy living the way I was. So sure: low carb had it’s downsides. But not everything was bad! As everything, it had it’s pros and cons.
No bloating, heartburn or gastritis.
I used to suffer from bloating and heartburn all the time. I have also had severe cases of gastritis a few times in my life. Gastritis is painful: I couldn’t eat a thing and even drinking water hurt my stomach like hell. I had no cases of gastritis and experienced heartburn only a few times when I was off low-carb. So LCHF actually did really solve my health problems. A MAJOR plus. Since going off low-carb I have had heartburn again and have taken some medication for it. I’m currently figuring out what exactly triggers it.
No cravings (initially).
For the first months of low-carbing I was actually really happy and had virtually no cravings for carbs and mainly sugar. That’s what most people on any low-carb diet (LCHF, Atkins, paleo, ketogenic diet, primal etc) experience. If you struggle with sugar addiction, cravings or a sweet tooth, I would still recommend going somewhat lower carb. No need to go very strict but choosing better quality carbs and/or timing them right might decrease your carb cravings significantly.
The fear of eating fat: gone.
I’m not afraid to eat fats anymore. Fat is a necessary part in any nutrition plan. You need good quality fats in your life. Coconut oil, full-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado etc: I now love those things and am not afraid that they will make me fat. Everything in moderation though!
The love of vegetables.
I have started to love vegetables now. I never used to know how to cook them so that they taste great. Low carbing included veggies in every main meal. That made me search for recipes and learn to cook them. Now I love veggies so much that I need and want to have some every single day.
As already mentioned, I learned to cook new dishes and learned new techniques. For example: sugar-free and gluten-free cheesecake. Gluten makes me feel bloated, sugar makes my blood sugar fluctuate. I feel so much better when I avoid them as much as possible. Now I have the knowledge to cook great food other ways beside the traditional way.
Food tastes great with some extra fat.
Add some fat to your veggies and they taste a thousand times better. Fat is an extra layer of flavour. Even the people who never loved veggies now eat them. A boring boiled carrot or roasted with olive oil and herbs: which sounds better?
When you have to eat only twice a day, it saves you a lot of time. Eating a fat-based diet keeps you full for a longer time, up to 6–8 hours. In that way it’s great for busy people.
Now that is an obvious advantage of low-carbing. You will lose weight and you will lose it fast. I lost 7,5 kilograms during my first 2 weeks (!) of LCHF. Now talk about motivation! Fast results will give you more drive and willpower to continue. Some of the weight-loss is of course water weight but still: seeing the numbers move is a great feeling (at first, at least).
I made lots of good friends via Instagram and my blog. The low-carb community is extremely supportive and friendly.
Restriction messes with your psychology –> psychological cravings.
A steady insulin level gives you no physical cravings. But a restriction on this level (eliminating almost all carbs) will make you crave things on a psychological level. You will crave things just because they are forbidden. I never liked gingerbread before but I sure craved (and binged) them last Christmas. I didn’t even like semolina porridge before and suddenly I found myself craving it. Restriction leads to craving, overeating and sometimes even binging. VERY dangerous.
Feeling guilt after eating “forbidden” foods.
… and then stressing and beating yourself up about it. The more you restrict, the more crave. The more you crave, the more likely you will give in. The more you give in, the more you beat yourself up. The more stressed you get, the more likely you will eat “forbidden” foods again. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. And you will be miserable and sad.
Becoming obsessed with food and macros.
After being on a strict diet for some time, you might become obsessed with food and/or macros and/or calories. I sure did. I thought about food all the time: what I ate, what I will eat, when will I eat, what can I eat, what can’t I eat, how to make my macros match, what should I eat, how much to eat… The list goes on. Food isn’t everything in life.
No idea what to eat after going off low-carb.
One of the main points of intuitive eating is to eat what you want when you’re hungry. Sounds easy, right? God, it isn’t. I have absolutely no idea what I want to eat now that no foods are forbidden.
Sports aren’t that much fun.
Sports are always fun and I love working out but working out on carbs feel SO much better. I know very well what the marathon wall feels like although I’ve never run a marathon. How do I know the wall? On low carb every second you run feels like the wall. Carbs are rocket fuel, I suggest you eat some carbs and you will love sports even more.
Awkward social situations.
Friends start choosing dinner locations only to match your eating preference. Grandmom offers you pie and you have to say no to her. People don’t know whether to offer you cake at a birthday party or not. You have no idea what to do when the others are eating dessert. You bring your own food everywhere. The list continues.
People don’t understand going low-carb. I had to explain my food choices and lifestyle so much that it almost made me sick. And furthermore: even after explaining your lifestyle, some people will still think that you are a freak.
A low-carb lifestyle can be pretty expensive. Substituting some meat and fresh vegetables for grains makes your weekly shopping cart (a little) cheaper. To make it simple: an average low-carb calorie will cost you more than a “normal nutrition” calorie. At least that’s my experience.
That was my low-carb experience. It wasn’t all good, it wasn’t all bad. I lost weight. I learned a lot about myself. I’m interested to see what my new future brings me.