Eva Pohler’s Low-Carb Diet Hacks
Published by Green Press
Copyright 2017 Eva Pohler
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Table of Contents
ONE: The Science Behind the Diet
I first learned about the science of low-carb dieting from Dr. Atkins’s book and have since read articles written by other doctors and nutritionists that have furthered the research on what is also known as the ketogenic diet. In a nutshell, the body metabolizes carbohydrates first. If you consume more carbohydrates than you expel in energy, they become fat. The fat you consume then has no chance to become anything other than fat.
One way to get around that problem is to eat low-fat foods and to exercise frequently. That’s the traditional way people have dieted in the past. But on the ketogenic diet, exercise isn’t necessary for weight loss, though it’s still important for good health.
On the ketogenic diet, you cut out most carbs, consuming primarily protein and fat. This turns your body from a carb-burning machine into a fat-burning machine. Not only do the fats and proteins you consume get metabolized, but so do the stored fats.
Good sources of proteins and fat include meats, cheeses, nuts, avocados, and cream. You can pair these with most green vegetables or with berries. Other vegetable and fruits tend to be higher in carbohydrates, so I avoid them while trying to lose weight. I also avoid all breads, pastas, rice, potatoes, and beans (except for green beans). It goes without saying that I also cut out sweets and sugar.
TWO: The First Week
The first week is always the most difficult, because the body prefers the status quo and is resistant to change. Turning your body from a carb-burning machine into a fat burning machine will make you feel tired at first, and some people lose their momentum. The best way I have found to beat the first-week challenges is to consume as much fat and protein as I want. Believe me, the bingeing won’t last on a low-carb diet, because fats and proteins make you feel full.
So, for the first week, I fry a lot of bacon. I eat it with every kind of egg and on top of salads. I also eat steaks, ribs, and other high-fat meats, usually with a salad and a green vegetable, such as asparagus. The first week doesn’t feel too much like a diet when you eat like that. And it’s crazy, but you will find yourself able to lose weight because you can’t consume the high number of calories in fat and protein as you can in carbohydrates.
But because you’re still transitioning from a carb-burning machine to a fat-burning machine, you will want to eat a lot. Go ahead and eat whenever you want. Grab a cheese stick, a bowl of cottage cheese with blueberries, or a boiled egg in between meals. Just don’t eat any carbs. And anytime you go off the diet for an extended period of time, you can go back to this first-week strategy to get back on track again.
THREE: Scaling Back
After the first week of eating whenever you want, you will enter a phase where your appetite is diminished and you can begin to scale back on calories. The most important thing I’ve learned is that frequent eating is not helpful. So many articles have said the opposite, touting breakfast as the most important meal of the day. I don’t believe it. And I’ve read more recent articles by doctors and nutritionists that are finally supporting my theory. Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast, or any other meal, for that matter, just because you’ve been taught that frequent eating and regular meals are important.
I have found that if I eat at the same times every day, I can train my body to not be hungry during the other times of the day; however, if I vary my meal times from one day to another, I’m hungry all the time. We must train our bodies to be hungry at mealtime and at no other times of the day.
To do this, you need to choose a schedule that works for you and stick with it, even on weekends. If you’re hungry in the morning, try to eat your breakfast at the same time every day. If you eat at seven one day and at ten on another, your body will be hungry at seven and ten every day.
I have trained my body to be hungry at one o’clock and at seven o’clock, but it took a couple of weeks to get there. First, I ate three times: one o’clock, four o’clock, and seven or eight o’clock. Then I gradually stopped eating at four, though I sometimes have a small snack at that time. Also, I should mention that I’m a night owl and don’t start my day until ten in the morning and don’t end my day until usually one or two in the morning. If you get up early, you might eat at ten o’clock and six o’clock, with a snack at two or three o’clock. Experiment during the second and third week until you find what’s right for you.
I have found that I can vary within an hour of my schedule and still be okay—so sometimes I’ll eat at two and nine, or noon and six, and not suffer the next day.
In addition to eating less frequently, I’ve also scaled back in the amount I eat. A combination of things make this possible. For one, the success of losing weight motivates me and gives me the edge I need to use more self-control. I can better envision the skinny person I want to be. Second, I don’t like the feeling of being stuffed, so I’ve learned that eating with restraint until I feel satisfied is more rewarding than the short-term pleasure of the taste of the food. And finally, the ketogenic diet diminishes the appetite. You’ll find you aren’t nearly as hungry as you are when you consume a lot of carbs, which makes it easier to scale back.
When I began to scale back, I found I was losing a pound every two to three days. This made me very happy!
FOUR: Easy Meal Hacks
The most important strategy for success on the ketogenic diet is meal planning. If you find yourself hungry and without the right foods, you will be doomed to failure. Every Sunday, I sit down and plan the week’s meals. Then, I go shopping and buy what I need, so I’m ready to go and get skinny.
In the past, I’ve failed on diets because the meal preparation has been hard and time-consuming, often requiring ingredients I’d never heard of. Luckily, I have found some meal hacks that have made the ketogenic diet easy. That really has been the key to my success; if it isn’t easy, I’m bound to fail.
Hack #1: Low-Carb Tortillas. Mission and H.E.B. make low-carb flour tortillas that are soft and tasty. I take them with me to parties and to restaurants so I can stay on my diet away from home and still eat yummy things, like fajitas, tacos, and deli meats and cheeses. Many days, I eat a quesadilla made from two low-carb tortillas and a handful of cheddar cheese in a skillet. I top it with sour cream. I also make an enchilada casserole with them and have even fried them up crisp for chalupas. You can also top them with olive oil, crisp them in the oven, and add marinara, mozzarella, and pizza toppings.
Hack #2: Store-Prepared Salads. I love Caesar salad, spinach salad, and cobb salads. I buy already-prepared salad mixes and add things to them to make them better (be sure not to add the croutons!). Some weeks, I fry bacon and boil eggs to have on hand to add into the salads. To Caesar salads, I also add store-prepared shrimp cocktail—not the sauce, just the shrimp. One bag of Caesar salad will make me three meals. I tend to eat this for lunch. To spinach salads, I add strawberries, bacon, and boiled egg with balsamic vinaigrette. I also like the southwest salad mix with cilantro and cabbage. I mix it with a traditional salad mix and add chopped ham, bacon, egg, and avocado and top it with poppy seed dressing. YUM!
Hack #3: Adkins Endulge Candy. I don’t like the taste of most protein bars, including Atkins bars, but the Endulge candies are delicious. I especially like the chocolate-covered almonds and the plain and peanut M&M candy by Atkins. My hubby likes the peanut butter cups and the caramel nugget bars. I usually treat myself to one or two of these each day. During the first and second week, I ate a lot of them; but, by the third and fourth week, I only needed one or two. To keep myself on track with my eating schedule, I try to eat them within the hour of my meal or during that four o’clock snack time and not at random times throughout the day.
Hack #4: Cauliflower. Since I can’t have rice or potatoes, I substitute cauliflower in some recipes with delicious results. My favorites have been beef stew and chicken soup. You can get cauliflower already finely chopped in bags in the produce department in most grocery stores. Then just add it to your stew or chicken soup instead of potatoes or rice. It absorbs the flavor of your broth just like rice does, and it has a similar texture. It’s also healthy and very filling.
Hack #5: Marinara Sauce. If you compare spaghetti sauce with marinara, you’ll find the latter has significantly fewer carbs. I prefer the H.E.B. brand of Marinara. When I make spaghetti or lasagna for the rest of my family, I can easily convert to a low-carb version by substituting zucchini for the pasta. The secret is to cut the zucchini into very thin slices.
Hack #6: Go Bunless. One of my favorite meals is chili dogs. I make a homemade chili without beans and pour it over two beef hotdogs, topped with cheddar cheese and a squirt of mustard and ketchup. I do a similar thing with hamburgers—a juicy patty or two, layered with cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomato, and topped with mustard and ketchup. I often add slices of avocado.
Here’s a list of my favorite meals:
Beef and Broccoli
Brisket (in low-carb tortilla with sour cream)
Steak and green beans or salad
Ribs and Asparagus
Poblano Pepper Poppers with Beanless Chili
Bunless Chili Dogs
Shrimp Caesar Salad
Spinach Salad with Bacon and Strawberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Beef Tips (cooked in crockpot with cream of chicken and sour cream) on Green Beans
Beef Stew (with cauliflower instead of potato)
Enchilada Casserole (with low-carb tortillas)
Quesadillas (with low-carb tortillas)
Tacos/Chalupas (with low-carb tortillas)
Pizza (with low-carb tortillas)
Chicken Soup (with cauliflower instead of rice)
Pork Chops or Sausage and Fried Cabbage
Chicken with Asparagus
Baked Fish in garlic butter sauce with parmesan crisped zucchini
Spinach Dip on Pork Rinds
FIVE: Cheat Days
I didn’t believe it when I first read an article by a nutritionist claiming that cheat days were important, but after experimenting for myself, I’ve found it to be true. When paired with a ketogenic diet, however, there’s a trick to using them effectively.
The idea behind the cheat day is that shocking your system with your favorite cheat foods can help you get past a weight-loss plateau. It’s like pressing a restart button, and it reinvigorates your metabolism when you go back to being strict the very next day.
People who use traditional diets can afford an entire cheat day, but I have found a full day to be difficult on the ketogenic diet, depending on your goals, because you then have to go through the entire process of transitioning from a carb-burning machine back into a fat-burning machine, and that entails the fatigue. If you don’t mind slower weight loss, you can probably get away with an entire cheat day every two weeks and still lose weight. I have found that rather than a cheat day, a cheat meal once a week can work wonders.
The once-a-week cheat meal provides a nice incentive to do good all week when you make the cheat meal on Saturday or Sunday. If you know you can have your favorite cake and pasta on Saturday, it’s easier to use self-restraint all the other days of the week. And by limiting the cheat to a meal rather than to an entire day, it’s easier and faster to get back on track to quick weight loss.
From my experience, eating everything you want during your cheat meal within one hour or one hour and thirty minutes is important. You must have a strict cut off, otherwise your cheat meal can quickly become a cheat day. Also, you will be less likely to consume enormous amounts of calories if you keep your cheat to this strict time period, because you will feel full. And, finally, the transition back to a fat-burning machine (ketosis) will be faster than it would be after a full day of carb-bingeing.
On the day I plan to have a cheat meal, I scale way back during the early part of the day so I can look forward to my amazing meal in the evening. Believe it or not, I am sometimes still down a half or full pound on the morning after a cheat meal!
Our quality of life can be severely hampered by obesity. Not only does it promote health problems, but it keeps us from doing many of the things we love. It also chips away at our self-esteem and sabotages our relationships and other areas of our lives.
Aren’t you tired of that? Aren’t you ready to reclaim your life and feel liberated from obesity? I have found these hacks to be crucial to my success, and I hope you do, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eva Pohler is a full-time novelist of mysteries and young adult novels. Her mysteries include The Mystery Box: A Soccer Mom’s Nightmare, The Mystery Tomb: An Archaeologist’s Nightmare, The Mystery Man: A College Student’s Nightmare, The Mystery House: San Antonio, and The Mystery House 2: Tulsa. Her young adult fantasy novels based on Greek mythology include The Gatekeeper’s Saga (seven books), A Gatekeeper’s Spin-Off Series (three books), and The Vampires of Athens (3 books). The Purgatorium Series (3 books) is a young adult thriller. Visit Eva’s website at for free copies of some of her other books and more information about her stories.
Our quality of life can be severely hampered by obesity. Not only does it promote health problems, but it keeps us from doing many of the things we love. It also chips away at our self-esteem and sabotages our relationships and other areas of our lives. Aren’t you tired of that? Aren’t you ready to reclaim your life and feel liberated from obesity? I have found these hacks to be crucial to my success, and I hope you do, too.