I feel like I need to share my experience with others, as I wish someone would have shared the same with me years ago.
My weight loss started over 20 years ago, never stopped since, culminating with a gastric sleeve in 2017 (SW 360, CW 250, GW<200). After the WLS I've lost about 70 lbs and hit the plateau which lasted a few months. I tried breaking it with intensive gym, calories counting, but no real impact. As a result, I've lost motivation, and over the next 2 years gained about 30 lb back (late night snacks, sugary treats), which was a huge frustration. Having a sleeve - the best WL tool one may ever have - I felt like being a "regain" statistics, not an individual with life and willpower. I still had my "pouch" restriction, but after 30-40 minutes after having a meal I was ready to eat again.
It lasted till last November, when I hit 290 lbs. The frustration turned into anger. I spent days to research diets and practices. As a result, I'm back on track, losing rapidly about 3-4 lbs a week, full of energy. Here are my 3 key pillars, which brought me back:
1. Low carb diet. After researching multiple trendy diets, KETO seemed to be the most promising one. But I didn't like the idea to consume lots of fats, and avoid vegetables. I'm an old-fashioned guy. So I adjusted the KETO idea by adding a decent daily portion of green veggies (zucchinis, asparagus, green pepper, kale - those which have nearly no sugars, but lots of fibers), and limited my fats to avocados, brazil nuts, eggs and fatty fish (salmon) - no huge amounts of bacon, butter, cheese and oils. For protein those above also provided enough, plus I have some lean pork, beef or chicken. That type of diet keeps my in permanent ketosis, while I still have a decent amount of fibers and healthy protein. My nutrients are around 50-60% of fats, 25-30% of proteins and 10-15% of carbs.
2. Intermittent fasting (IF), 18:6. It means my eating "window" is 1pm - 7pm, during which I have 3 meals. Personally I believe that low carbs diet and IF are made for each other. Being in ketosis I feel no hunger at all, as my insulin is very low. That makes IF a simple task. Also once a week I do a 42 hours fast by skipping meals on Sundays - right before my weight check on Monday morning! ). IF is also a solution to plateaus. I adjust the fasting time to 12:12 for a few days and do a long fast after (48+ hours) to reset.
3. CICO (calories in, calories out) is the 3rd pillar. Keeping everything written down is not just a good habit, but also makes me feel I control the process better. My daily intake is around 1,100-1,300 calories, which creates a huge weekly calories deficit for weight loss. One may consider it's a bit too low, and I would rather agree. I'll certainly increase my calories after hitting my goal.
A few more tips from my experience:
- After 40+ gym can't be the only solution. Keeping yourself active (especially with this pandemic) is important for general health, but unless I'm a professional athlete, 1-1.5 hour walk every day (outside or a treadmill) is good enough.
- Staying hydrated is a must, healthy weight loss won't work without it. Tracking water was always a pain for me, I was forgetting to do that. Now I have 6 magnets next to my water cooler. Each time I refill my bottle, I move one magnet to the other side, which helps me to see how many refills left. No fuss with writing down, takes a fraction of a second to move the magnet - while keeps me fully informed. Helps a lot!
- Supplements!!! Lots of them! Since I'm restricted and have rather a distorted diet, I need to fill the gap of minerals and nutrients. Multivitamins, husk fiber, omega-3, collagen, cumin, ox bile, Vitamin D, electrolytes etc. It's 18 pills per day, in 2 batches! My latest blood work returned perfect results - no deficiencies, and the lowest sugar level I ever had in my life.
As a conclusion - no hunger, no frustration, no cravings, energetic, clear mind, active, positive - and still losing weight! I even think that it would be very doable without my WLS, but in fact a restricted stomach makes everything much easier. So much easier, then it feels sometimes I'm actually cheating in this weight-loss game!
I do hope someone will find it helpful. I wish I knew that years ago, but better late than never.