I have been telling you that I have modified my NutriSystem diet to make it lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat in order to prevent falling cholesterol levels. My modified plan would be considered a low-carb diet by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek as defined in their book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable. I thought I would share with you what a typical day on my modified NutriSystem diet looks like. It could possibly be improved a bit by adding some additional low-carb vegetables at lunch, but it is performing well as is.
NUTRISYSTEM Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bar 2012 (1 bar)
Egg (1 ea)
Butter (2 tsp)
NUTRISYSTEM Wedding Soup 2012 (1 x 1 container)
FAGE Total 0% All Natural Nonfat Greek Strained Yogurt (1 x 1 container)
Nuts, mixed nuts, without peanuts, raw (1 oz)
NUTRISYSTEM Lasagna with Meat Sauce 2012 (1 package)
Mixed greens (2 oz)
Red bell peppers (1/2 ea)
Salad dressing, GOOD SEASONS ITALIAN, prepared (1 Tbs)
NUTRISYSTEM Pretzels 2012 (1 package)
Calories From Fat (41%) 500.71
Calories From Protein (23%) 284.35
Calories From Carbs (35%) 431.18
Total Fat 55.87g 86%
Carbohydrates 110.77g 37%
Dietary Fiber 16.55g 66%
Net Carbohydrates 94.22g
Protein 71.82g 144%
Cholesterol results are in. As you all know too well, I’d been very concerned that my levels might drop too low due to the dieting. I have made modifications to my NutriSystem plan with the intention of preventing this. I have decreased the carbohydrateI am pleased to report that what I am doing is working. The total was 180, which is right where I want it. HDL was 71, which is high on the lab’s scale. I believe this is a good thing. LDL was 100, and VLDL was 9. Total to HDL ratio was 2.54, which is low on the lab’s reference range. I believe this is also a good thing. Triglycerides were 46, which is toward the low end of the scale. I would say that my diet modifications have been successful. I’ve been able to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and that was my goal. Glucose was 88, which is acceptable.
I bought The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek for my Kindle. These two have done a lot of primary research into low-carb dieting. They were also coauthors on the most recent Atkins book, The New Atkins for a New You.
So far, I’ve learned that they would consider the way I’m doing NutriSystem to be a low-carb diet because I’m eating less than 125g of carbohydrate a day. I average about 100g, according to my tracking. I would like to be eating less carbohydrate than that, but that’s about as low as I can get it on the NutriSystem foods.
Another thing I learned is that those on low-carb diets need more salt. Low-carbers retain less fluids, and thus they pass more of their sodium through their kidneys. A lot of the problems low-carb dieters run into have to do with lack of salt. This morning’s egg tasted better with some salt on it.
According to the authors, none of my ancestors (mostly northern Europeans and some Native Americans) would have been eating dense carbohydrates earlier than about 2,000 years ago when the Romans introduced grains to northern Europe, so I would have little genetic accommodation for it. That would explain why I thrive so much better with little or no grains.
It’s important to do the best we can with the plan we’ve invested in. That’s certainly my goal. My big issue with the NutriSystem plan is making sure that my cholesterol level doesn’t tank, and I’m not entirely sure how to do that or even if it can be done. One of my lowest cholesterol readings ever was 125. This was measured following a round of NutriSystem back around 1990, and this also happened to be when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was suffering with major depression at the time. Somehow, I still managed to function. It’s critical that I don’t let my cholesterol get that low again this time because low cholesterol is a risk factor, and I’ve already seen that my mood dips with my cholesterol readings. My cholesterol readings went down when I was vegan, and I was also beginning to develop depression, so there’s a hint. My intake was very high in fiber while I was vegan, and I know that can lower cholesterol. My guess for this round is that I need to lean my intake toward more fat while, of course, staying in calorie range. I will have blood tests done to make sure that my cholesterol levels stay where they need to be. My mood is good at present at least, so that’s a good sign.
Given the unexpected challenges I have had with my own health, I would advise anyone contemplating making a major dietary change to do so with the assistance of their physician, no matter what your age or how good you think your health is. At minimum, get a lipid panel done before the change and again a month or two into it.
One of the topics discussed in my hypnotherapy program is hypoglycemia. Actually, it need not necessarily be low blood sugar that causes a problem, but rather a sudden drop from a high blood sugar level. When this happens, the body wants more sugar, so it takes it out of reserves. As part of the process, adrenaline is released, causing the usual symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate. It relates to hypnotherapy because a person may take this physiological response to the blood sugar drop to mean that they are afraid of whatever situation they may be involved in at the time, and this can cause a phobia. Fears and phobias are among typical issues for hypnotherapists. NutriSystem is good for avoiding these sudden blood sugar drops because the macro nutrients have been balanced in such a way so as to prevent them. This is why we feel so good while on the plan, and this is why I would recommend the plan to my weight loss clients.
I found this image on someone’s blog.
I got uncomfortable with the “I deserve a treat” line. To me, that translates to, “I deserve a blood sugar swing.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the way those feel! I’ve been feeling so good on the NutriSystem plan that I just can’t imagine wanting to feel the way I used to. There’s definitely a socialization to the “I deserve a treat” line. I’ve talked to my skinny friends about it, and they just don’t feel that way about sugary foods. Sugary things just don’t appeal to them. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? When I told them how I was brought up with food, they said, “We feel sorry for you,” and they meant it. I’ve noticed that the instructors at the hypnotherapy school easily turn down treats when offered. Talk about positive peer pressure! I really love where I’m at, and it’s rubbing off.
I was wondering why the stats for my menus varied so much from day to day, so I decided to get the stats for the NutriSystem foods and rank them by effective carbohydrates. The stats came from the item listings in the shopping section of the NutriSystem site. NutriSystem foods are NOT created equal! From the looks of it, what you choose for the day could make the difference of a half pound or more a week. Knowing what to choose might be what you need to get past a plateau. Well, let me put it this way: the difference between the highest and lowest item (minus the ones requiring roll or crackers) on each list is about 100. This means that the difference between choosing lowest calorie items and highest calorie items is 400 calories in a day. Multiply that by 7 days and you’ve got a difference of 2,800 calories. That’s 0.8 (4/5) of a pound.
If you have Microsoft Excel, you can check out the spreadsheet version and sort the information how you want. Otherwise, you can look at the PDF version and see the stats sorted by effective carbohydrates.
[Edit: Linked files contain updated information.]
This is what my plan for the day looks like. I was rather surprised that it came out as high as 1365 calories.
NUTRISYSTEM Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar Cheese (1 x 1 container)
Strawberries (1 1/4 cups)
Nonfat plain yogurt (1 cup)
NUTRISYSTEM Italian Minestrone Soup with Beef (1 x 1 container)
Nonfat milk (1 cup)
Mixed greens (1 cup)
365 ORGANIC, Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Fat Free (2 Tbs)
Apples (1 ea)
Mozzarella (1 stick)
NUTRISYSTEM Mashed Potatoes with Meatloaf and Tomato Sauce (1 x 1 container)
Broccoli (1 x 1/2 cup, chopped)
Green snap beans (1/2 cup)
Valencia oranges (1 ea)
Sunflower seed kernels (1 Tbs)
NUTRISYSTEM Chocolate Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Biscotti (1 piece)
Calories From Fat (23%) 319.72
Calories From Protein (28%) 379.73
Calories From Carbs (49%) 666.19
Total Fat 36.81g 57%
Carbohydrates 176.22g 59%
Dietary Fiber 29.73g 119%
Protein 97.86g 196%
I got into NutriSystem because I wanted something simple. If I wanted to worry about the details, I would have done it on my own. I have found that I don’t do well on my own. The package programs work best for me. It doesn’t really matter which package program so long as I follow it. I’ve had the best history of following NutriSystem, so here I am again.
I actually started my current weight loss push a year ago on Medifast. It worked well while I was on it, but it got boring. Previous to that, I’ve done Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and NutriSystem back when they operated in store fronts. The only one on which I actually got all the way down to goal was NutriSystem, so I thought I’d give it a try again. So, I’m going in knowing that IT WORKS!