Thursday, July 15, 2010
(Warning: Most of my posts are science-based, but this one comes from my own experiences, i.e., n=1. Forewarned is forearmed, so here we go.)
One of the things I noticed before I began low-carbing was that after I ate a meal, I could only go a couple of hours before I had to have a snack. Hunger would overwhelm me, and since my willpower isn't great, I would give in. Eventually I became fat and prediabetic.
Then came low-carb. I could eat and leave the table satisfied. I could eat only at meals and not feel ravenously hungry between times. But as the years went by, I noticed that my between-meal hunger started to return. It wasn't as bad as before, but my willpower hadn't improved any and I would start snacking to the point that I was eating mass quantities of low-carb food almost every day. I found Dr. Atkins' Accel diet pills, and those seemed to help. Until the Atkins company quit making them. Next, somebody introduced me to the original formulation of Leptopril and that kept the hungries at bay fairly well. Until they changed the formula. Finally, the Country Life Diet Power pills seemed to help a bit, but eventually those became unavailable, too. And after that, I couldn't find another over-the-counter diet pill that worked for me.
In the world of weight loss and weight maintenace, calories don't count as much as carbs, but they do count. My weight was increasing slowly but surely and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. I tried drinking lots of water. I tried different kinds of fiber. I tried zero-carb. I made charts of the ingredients of the diet pills that had worked to curb my hunger, and I couldn't figure out what the magic combination was.
When the between-meal hunger hit, I would look at the extra ten pounds of fat I was carrying and wonder--why, if I'm eating very low carb and if I have this stored fat available--why can't my body switch over and use some of that stored fat for energy?
A couple of weeks ago, when the hunger monster attacked about two hours after breakfast, for some reason I went to the kitchen and made a cup of regular coffee. No artificial sweetener and no whitener. Just black instant coffee in a cup. I sipped some of the coffee, put the cup on my desk and went back to work. The hunger abated for an hour or so, but then it returned. I sipped some more of the black coffee and the hunger went away again. I had lunch as usual, but sure enough, about two hours later the hunger monster came knocking. Again I sipped some coffee and it went away. I repeated this until dinner. After dinner I knew I couldn't drink caffeine or I wouldn't sleep, so I sipped on a diet soda instead and that seemed to work. I had eaten a reasonable amount of food at my three meals, and I didn't wake up hungry during the night.
The second day was easier. I knew that if the hunger monster hit, I would be able to switch my body into fat-burning mode by sipping the coffee. It worked, and it has worked ever since.
It's important to state that each day I have had a shake for breakfast, fatty meat, cheese and a few veggies for lunch and fatty meat, cheese and a few veggies for dinner. In other words, I've been careful to eat sufficient-but-not-too-much complete protein, to eat fat to provide energy, and to keep the carbs low. I don't eat until I'm full. I figure out what I need to eat and eat that. Then I stop. I have kept taking all my normal supplements and I've been drinking at least 60 ounces of water a day. The difference is that, by sipping black full-caffeine coffee whenever I start feeling between-meal hunger, I can put the hunger monster at bay. I hate the taste of the coffee, but the fact that I'm essentially using it as a drug seems to make that okay. I once again can eat three reasonable meals three times a day and be satisfied. Thoughts of food no longer rule my life.
In conclusion I'll do a little speculation. For some reason, my body seems to need a spike in epinephrine to switch from food-storage to fat-burning mode. And it seems to need several little spikes over time, rather than one big spike. That may be why certain over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills worked for me and others didn't. Most OTC diet pills contain caffeine in some form, but it may be that the three effective ones delivered the caffeine slowly enough to keep my fat burning process in motion. I've tried taking caffeine pills and those don't work for me. I've tried drinking cups of coffee and that doesn't work. There seems to be something about the slow ingestion of black coffee that makes the difference.
As I said, n=1. This may work for me and for nobody else. But I'm posting it in case somebody else is doing pure low-carb and finds it impossible to fight off between-meal hunger. Erasmus is a zero-carber who says his Satisfactometer is broken. I think my Satisfactometer is broken, too, but maybe, just maybe, I have found a way to cope with it. No guarantees, but in case this works for someone else, I thought I'd share.