At one time or another, most dieters get caught up in the desire of wanting to lose weight fast. That actually worked to my advantage because Lyle McDonald originally created his Rapid Fat Loss Plan (a whole foods PSMF Diet) to deal with crash diets safely. While McDonald’s focus is on bodybuilding, muscle retention, and metabolism, maintaining muscle mass during dieting is to everyone’s benefit – quick weight loss or not.
The Kimkins fiasco brought the protein content of a low carb diet into the limelight. Dr. Eades’ did have recommendations for low carbers to shoot for. He talked about large, medium, and small servings of protein (five, four or three ounces) at each meal depending upon how much you currently weigh, getting 35 grams of carbohydrates per day, and keeping your fat intake under control until you reached goal weight – which most people ignored.
Contrary to all of the controversy going on about protein intake, Lyle McDonald uses a more individualized approach. His diet bases protein content on the amount of lean muscle mass you have, plus the amount of activity you plan to do during the diet phase of the program, as well as the type of activity. Weight lifters needed more protein than those doing just aerobics, and both of those categories need more protein than those not exercising at all.
This made much more sense to me, rather than a blanket type of protein intake that was set according to your current body weight because even though I’m only five feet tall, I have a large build. That means I’m carrying around at least 10 to 15 pounds more muscle and bone than the average person. So McDonald’s diet interested me for its individuality as well as its unique angle.
Now, if you just looked at the diet itself, it is very similar to Kimkins. Very lean meat and poultry, fibrous vegetables and little else. However, Lyle McDonald built safety precautions into the diet to keep adequate protein and essential fatty acids in front of each person. The more muscle mass you have, the more very lean protein you eat. The more lean meat you eat, the more calories your diet will have. There is no set calorie limit for Lyle’s plan.
He also drastically cut carbohydrates, allowing only vegetable carbs. Limiting yourself to just vegetable carbs keeps the diet as low in calories as is save for each individual because added fats were also not allowed. Essential fatty acids come from 10 grams of fish oil capsules per day. In addition, two servings of non-fat or low-fat dairy for calcium content is also recommended. We were also cautioned to heavily use what’s known as light salt due to low carb’s tendency towards dehydration. That’s a potassium and salt combination to season your food; but, herbs and spices are also okay. Some people step over the line a little bit and use things like soy sauce as well.
At that time, I still didn’t know I was a celiac. So I was still eating gluten, dairy and corn. That fact is important to the results because Lyle’s diet also incorporates free meals and refeeds. For my size, I wasn’t supposed to do refeeds. I was still too fat. I was supposed to do two free meals a week instead, but I’d been on a low carb diet for so long and was struggling with extreme hunger and mental issues in regards to food, that I KNEW my Leptin levels had crashed.
After reading everything on Lyle’s forum, and three of his books several times, I decided to take the plunge. However, looking back now, I can see that was a mistake. Initially, I totally missed the part about crashed Leptin and HOW to fix it.
I was coming to this new table from a low carb diet point of view – the point of view that believes a diet is a lifestyle – and that totally skewed my thought process and understanding of the principles behind dieting. I hate to say that, but it’s true. We low carbers have a particular mindset when it comes to dieting and switching gears is difficult.
So it took two weeks of following The Rapid Fat Loss Diet before I accepted defeat. Now, I don’t mean defeat in terms of giving up on dieting. What I mean is that by going from Atkins 92 to The Protein Power Lifeplan, to Atkins 72, to Kimkins, to Atkins 2002, to Dr. Eades' liquid protein shake diet, to Lyle’s Rapid Fat Loss program with no diet break in between any of that, I was setting myself up to fail. Why? Because a low carb diet lowers thyroid output for many individuals. A low carb diet can lower your metabolism. A low carb diet can also cause your Leptin levels to crash.
A low carb diet can essentially stop working if you don’t take a break from dieting long enough to reset your hormone levels. That’s the truth that few low carb dieters are willing to face. What hardly anyone ever sees is that Dr. Atkins himself KNEW that. He would personally place his patients on thyroid medication temporarily to get them the rest of the way to goal. Since we don't have that luxury, we have to tweak our low carb diets to make them continue working for us.
I admit, that before I started that two-week diet session, I did take a weekend off from low carb dieting, and I indulged in a weekend-long refeed. I went out for pizza. I ate brownies and homemade bread. I ate things I’d been missing over the prior two years. I did that because I wanted to test Lyle McDonald’s theories. They were different from what I’m been hearing within the low carb community because the low carb folks believe carbohydrates is ALL that matters. Lyle believes calories are all that matters.
Even though Lyle’s ideas sounded logical to me (low carb was failing me, afterall), I didn’t know if what Lyle and his friends believed would hold true for me. So I dove into the deep end of the refeed pool, and I suddenly discovered I could swim -- easily, in fact. So easily, that water weight gain from returning to carbohydrates didn’t even show up on the scale until Monday morning. Plus, I actually felt good for the first time in months!
My downfall was moving from that single weekend refeed into the Rapid Fat Loss Diet on Monday morning because my body had not had enough time to reset my hormone levels. Leptin needs a minimum of a two-week diet break to reset. That means two weeks and sometimes more of eating over 100 carbohydrates per day. During those first two weeks, eating one free meal and refeeding for a five hour period on the weekends, I lost a total of four additional pounds (not counting the water weight I gained from that weekend refeed, which came back off quickly).
So it was enough to know that the diet worked. It was enough to know that something was wrong with a typical low carb diet as written. It was enough to convince me that I needed to take a two-week diet break before returning to the Rapid Fat Loss Plan. So that is what I did. I returned carbohydrates to my diet all at once and ate anything I wanted for a two-week period.