My LCHF story
This is my story that was published in the May 2015 issue of the Lose It magazine. I have adapted it slightly for this blog post.
My early child hood:
For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to lose weight. Even though I was very sporty as a child, I was chubby. My mom prepared home-cooked meals, and we consumed very little sugary junk. Back then I could never understand why I was overweight. I remember feeling like I was perpetually aware of eating healthy food and trying to lose weight – but never getting anywhere with my attempts. The problem was that I was carbohydrate intolerant, yet consuming a diet full of “healthy” whole grains, starchy veggies, fruit, and sweetened fat-free dairy. Everything someone with an intolerance to carbs should NOT be eating.
The teenage years:
So I transitioned from a chubby kid to a plump teenager. All my friends were thin, and I wanted to be able to wear all the hip clothes they were able to wear. But I just looked like a lumpy marshmallow in anything that was remotely figure hugging. In high school, I remember starving myself and losing quite a bit of weight. But I was hungry all the time. I started eating again, and put all the weight back on. Being “HANGRY” was not cool for a hormonal teenager who was already moody at the best of times.
In my late twenties I got very into running. I was about 12 kilos overweight then, and was hopeful that the extra exercise would help me shed them. I trained for half marathons, ran them, and yet didn’t lose a single kilogram. The more I ran, the hungrier I got. No one can endure constant hunger, so I ate more to feel satisfied. For me running was not an effective weight loss tool at all.
When I was in my early thirties, we decided to start a family. That didn’t happen as easily as we expected. We had to resort to numerous fertility treatments to conceive. Even though my body took a serious beating from all the hormones over the years, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if I had to. After two pregnancies, I was 30 kilos overweight, and desperate. I looked and felt awful. I had no energy, and struggled to get through the day with two small children. Even though I was trying so hard to lose the weight – it stubbornly wouldn’t budge. In fact my weight was slowly creeping upwards each year that went by. I knew I had to find a solution, so that I could be the mom and wife I wanted to be. I hit my all time low after seeing photos of myself on a family holiday in 2010. That marked the beginning of my journey into low carb eating.
I had some success with Atkins, but ate too much protein, which stalled my weight loss soon after starting. I was also still including low carb shakes and bars (full of soya and artificial sweeteners), and there was still some grains left in my diet. I then read the Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. His ancestral eating principles just made so much sense to me. Interestingly enough, when I adopted a cleaner ‘primal diet’, I didn’t really lose much more weight, but I felt fantastic. My energy levels, skin and mood all improved, and my chronic hay fever disappeared.
I knew that a real food, low carb diet was the right one for me, but I also knew I didn’t have all the answers yet. Despite 2 years of primal/paleo eating, I wasn’t losing any more weight, and I was getting frustrated. By that time Prof. Noakes had became vocal about his experience with LCHF in the media. I saw LCHF as a little tweak to my already very healthy diet. I did however have to increase the fat slowly, as I have had my gallbladder removed. Supplementing with digestive enzymes (containing lipase), helped me to transition to a higher fat diet without feeling nauseous. I lost a little more weight, and then plateaued again.
Never one to give up, I started to explore the very low carb ketogenic diet, after reading The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek. I wanted to give ketosis a try. I purchased a ketone blood metre, and got going with dropping my carbs to around 25 grams per day. The weight started coming off again. My weight loss is still excruciatingly slow, and I find that I cycle in and out of ketosis, i.e., my body struggles to maintain a consistent ketogenic state. Any little cheat, or just 1 glass of wine on the weekend kicks me out of ketosis. I am sure it doesn’t help that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), a hormonal disorder which brings with it poor glucose control, insulin resistance, and difficulty losing weight. I still want to lose another 15 kilos, and I have accepted that it is going to be a slow process. The good thing is that the food is delicious, I don’t feel hungry or deprived, and I have never felt healthier or more energetic. Those are all excellent reasons to persevere and keep going.
Fortunately I have the support of my family who also enjoy eating this way. Greg is a long-distance trail runner, and he has found that his performance has improved significantly since going LCHF. Last month he ran the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Cortina D’Ampezzo , Italy. This involved running 120 km over the Dolomites with 6 km of elevation. He ran for 24.5 hours in a keto-adapted state, and never “hit the wall” once. He fuelled his body with real food. No sports drinks or energy gels. The next day he was walking normally, indicating that he had almost no inflammation in his body from such a gruelling race.
Our 2 girls eat the same way we do, and they have also benefitted greatly. They are strong, lean and rarely get sick. Their favourite breakfast is a high fat chocolate shake or an omelette with cheese. Lunch boxes consist of salad veggies, a little fruit, some form of protein such as tuna/chicken mayo, ham and cheese roll-ups, boiled eggs, biltong, pork sausages or bacon. Now that the weather is colder, I am making big pots of bone broth for them to have as an after school snack. We eat supper together as a family and they eat whatever Banting meal I have prepared. I buy pastured, grass-fed meat as much as possible, as well as free-range eggs and chicken direct from a farm. Even our little dog has been changed over to a raw meat diet and is thriving.
What I have learned over the years of changing our family’s eating habits is that it is a process, and not something that happens overnight. Take baby steps, and before you know it, you will be eating better and feeling healthier. I started with eliminating fruit juice from our home. I replaced it with flavoured rooibos iced tea, sweetened with xylitol. I then stopped buying breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, and found substitutes that the kids were happy to eat – like zoodles (noodles made from zucchinni). I purged the pantry of all junk and we only keep good quality dark chocolate in the house. Removing temptation really helps. When it comes to birthday parties, I fill the children up with healthy food before they go. I then let them decide what they are going to eat. I have taught them about healthy food, and why sugar is bad for them, and I leave them to hopefully make good choices. They don’t always get it right, but at least the foundations are being laid.
Now that I am in my forties, I know that I am finally on the road to success. Having lost around 18 kilos thus far, I am half way to my goal and feel confident of achieving it one day. Ketosis works for me, so I try my best to maintain that state. My struggles have taught me so much about myself, my body, and about nutrition. I have been liberated from my sugar cravings. I am in control of what goes into my mouth, and I don’t feel deprived at all. Being a busy working mom, I cope by keeping meals simple, planning ahead and being organised. I have also recently started CrossFit. The strength training, and high intensity interval training aspect of CrossFit is improving my blood glucose control, and staying in ketosis is becoming a little bit easier. It is also getting me fit and strong .. and it feels fantastic. Moving from a place of desperation a few short years ago, to a place of power and strength, has been completely life-changing for me. If you were to ask me what the key to my success has been, its one word – PERSEVERANCE. If you want something badly enough, you will make the changes required to get it.
I have decided to follow my passion, and am studying to be a Nutritional Therapist. I started my www.primalperks.com blog 2 years ago, which provides a platform to share what I have learned with others. I have also had the incredible opportunity to start a business called Banting Buddies with Sally-Ann Creed, which offers personal and group coaching to people who want to lose weight the LCHF way. We currently have coaches all over South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and even Dubai. LCHF has not only given me my health back, and helped me lose weight – it has given me a fulfilling career.
My top 10 tips to anyone struggling to lose weight is:
- Give LCHF a good and honest try.
- Don’t give up too soon.
- Experiment to find what works for you.
- Be wary of dairy, especially if you are a woman.
- Alcohol is best avoided or kept to a minimum.
- Only eat when hungry, and stop snacking.
- Eat enough fat, but not too much.
- Make it a lifestyle and get your whole family on board.
- Be patient with your body.
- Keep focused on your goal and believe that you can do it.
Posted on July 26, 2015, in Primal 101 and tagged my banting story, my LCHF story, my road to health, Nicky Perks. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.
Thank you for the inspiration. I have lost 25 kgs over the last 9 months. The first 17 happened in 12 weeks, it just fell off me. The following 8kg has been a slow and staedy loss over 5 months. I still hhave 25 kgs to go!
I read about “battle Brew MCP’ in the latest Lose it magazine. Having researched further on their website, I see it is made from palm oil. I thought that this was wrong for Banting. Should I or shouldn’t I use it for my morning coffee? Currently I have dairy butter and coconut cream in my coffee.
Hi Belinda, well done on your fantastic weight loss thus far. Palm oil is allowed on Banting. You can definitely use the Battle Brew MCT oil for your morning bullet coffee. It will help your body to produce ketones. Start slowly with 1 teaspoon though and build up from there to about 1 tablespoon.
Fantastic achievement Nicky. Kudos to you.
Great article and by the way you rock the 40’s!!
Sent from my iPhone
Ps do you still take orders for Sally Anna’s stock?
Need to get some stuff
Sent from my iPhone
Hi D, yes I can order for you, what do you need? She has some new vanilla and chocolate muffin mixes which are really nice too.
it is days like today that I feel like quitting. 2.5kg loss in a month. Last week lost nothing. Thanks for your story. I will just go on battling m body.
Hi Elsebi, it is days like today, when you make the decision to keep going despite disappointment, that you can be confident that you will get to your goal at the end of the day. For many, many people LCHF is not a quick fix, but it can be life-changing as one gets back their health and vitality. The hardest lesson for me to learn on my journey was patience. But there will be rewards if you choose to stick with it. I sometimes went months without losing anything. I know that it can be soul destroying. Choose to not let those feelings deter you from your goals. You are losing at a good and steady pace, so celebrate the victory of losing 2.5 kilos. That is equal to 5 bricks of butter!
Thx Nicky you are so inspiring.
Thanks Nicky for the prompt response and positive advice on Battle Brew!
Could I ask your opinion on drinking a Bullet proof coffee every morning instead of a breakfast. I find it so convenient and I am full for hours after drinking one that I thought it was a perfect solution to my busy morning. But someone said this week on another forum that I subscribe too that I should do this everyday, but rather eat “real” food. I do eat a good cooked breakfast on the weekends, but do BPC most weekday mornings. Some mornings I have your smoothie receipt from your blog, but only if I have had time to make my own almond milk before hand which doesn’t always happen. Please let me know your thoughts. I drink it with 2 tablespoons of Battle Brew MCT and roughly 2 -3 tablespoons of butter.
Hi Cheryl, the BPC is not going to be as nutritious as a real food breakfast, but I do understand the convenience factor. You don’t mention if you eat a light lunch at all? If you do, then having a BPC should be no problem as you will get adequate nutrition from the other two meals of the day containing some protein and fats and greens too. If you are losing weight and feeling good, then the BPC during week mornings should be fine. If you are struggling to lose, then I would recommend that you limit the BPC to a couple of times a week and rather have real food.
Hi there. Are you consulting? Can I come see you to help tweak my diet a bit? I have been LCHF for about 2 years now and easily lost 12 kgs (whilst only aiming to lose 5kgs) but lately its starting to creep back. I think I may be having too many BPCs? – I do love them! One in the morning at 10am (I put an egg, butter and MCT oil in), Then lunch is dinner left overs and another BPC at 4pm and then supper… I have cut out all baked goods so no more nut flours. No dairy other than butter. Ive stopped coconut cream. And Im even barely eating a block of Caring Candies sugar free chocolate every other day which takes immense willpower to stop at one block!!! Maybe I need to start counting my carbs and fat grams per day? This is where I think I need help… Thanks for the article. Xxx
Hi Caghrey, I would definitely advise cutting back on the BPC coffee and only have 1 a day. It should be viewed as a meal replacement as it is quite high in calories. Therefore having one instead of breakfast is fine, but cut out the afternoon one. Well done for cutting out the nut flours and baked goods. They are often the culprit to stalled weight loss or even gaining weight back. Watch the portion sizes of your meals. Especially portions of protein. They should be no bigger than the size and thickness of your palm (no fingers) for each meal. You contact me privately using the Contact Me tab.