A Semi Carnivore Kinda Life – Part 1 – Eating Intuitively For Weight Maintenance

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With an abundance of information available about how to lose weight, I noticed there is a severe lack of information regarding how to maintain that weight loss once you are at a healthy bodyweight. 

While some may not mind track and measuring out there food forever, many like myself would like to be able to eat intuitively and still maintain a healthy bodyweight.

This series of posts will follow me and my decision making as I strip my diet back to an almost carnivore style of eating for a short period of time, at which point I will slowly reintroduce various low carb foods to determine their impact on me and my goal of finding a method of intuitive eating that naturally allows me to maintain and healthy bodyweight. 

My hope is that my experience will aid you through the process of determining what to eat and how to eat after reaching your weight loss goals. 

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Seriously do it.
Before I get to far, this post is not going to be tips and tricks for losing weight, a discussion on the merits of low carb/keto/carnivore methods of eating, nor is it going to be a very useful guide to anyone that would like to adopt a strict long term carnivore diet. 
 
As discussed above this is more of a shared experience as I try to learn to eat intuitively. 
 
For information about adopting a strict carnivore diet or for information about losing weight with ketogenic or low carb eating, see the links below. 

A Semi-Carnivore Kinda Life

Part 1: Setting Goals and making a plan

Use this table of contents to skip all the annoying pre-amble

Intro

A 1, 2, A, 1, 2, 3, Go! Doo doo doo, doo doo-doo doo, Doo doo doo, …Get it? Like the song!?

 
I want something else to get me through this
Semi-charmed kinda life, baby, baby
I want something else.
 
It’s actually quite appropriate, especially that last line because well, it’s happened.. again, I’m a dough ball. Not like before, I’m not obese again or anything. But over the last year I have put on an unwanted 20 pounds, and I am sure I am not the only one. 
 
So I do want something else, or rather, I need something else because although gaining 20 pounds on it’s own isn’t the end of the world, the trajectory this puts me on is troublesome. If this trend continues without intervention, I will end up worse off than I ever was to begin with in a few years time. 
 
Like many, I have tried a variety of different diets and methods of weight loss with little to no long term success. When I adopted a very low carb ketogenic method of eating a few years ago I thought I had found the golden ticket. 
 
In a way that was true, but I forgot one thing. These tickets aren’t free. You still need to put in the effort. 

What Makes Weight Maintenance Difficult?

So you have lost the weight you are at a healthy bodyweight, and now you just want to kind of keep going at that weight right? You want to maintain the current weight so you don’t get either to skinny, or gain all that weight back again.
 
Opponents of low carb and keto eating will often state that these methods of eating are not effective because as soon as you stop eating that way and go back to “normal”, you will regain any weight you lost and then some.
 
Well, I don’t know the scientific term for this but, no duh. 
 
If you go back to eating the same way you were when you gained all the weight in the first place, you are likely to regain the weight. Why would things magically be different this time?
 
If you want to maintain your weight, you need to maintain your diet as well.
 
You need to make permanent adjustments to your old eating habits in order to make and maintain changes in your weight. Or you risk slipping right back into your old ways, into your old habits, and into your old you. 
 
But where do you start? What do you eat? How do you figure out what foods to eat and what foods not to eat? How do you figure this stuff out for yourself?
 
How do you loosen the reins so you don’t have to be so rigid and strict with your eating forever, without falling right back into your old habits? 
 
How do you maintain that delicate balance? How do you eat intuitively? 
 
Well that is what we are going to figure out throughout this series of posts.

Let start with why I feel I need to make a change, where I am now, and where I hope to end up by eating this way.  

Why I Need To Change My Eating Habits

Everything was going really well, I had lost about 100 pounds over the last few years by following a low carb and at times ketogenic method of eating. On top of that I had maintained the weight loss for a full year by sticking to a simple low carb plan, eat low carb foods, avoid high carbs foods, don’t gain weight. What could go wrong with a bulletproof plan like that?
 
Then, the 2020 pandemic hit and it forced me to gain all this weight…….Just kidding.
 
Yes there is a global pandemic but lets not pretend that it is the reason I am starting to look like a bag of milk. This Endgame Thor Dad bod I have grown in 2020 is a result of my carelessness. I got to lax, I dropped the ball when I should have dropped the fork.
 
Mindless snacking is not a side effect of the virus.
 

Why Did Low Carb Eating Stop Working?

Low carb eating stopped working, because I stopped working at it. 

It’s not the principle of low carb keto eating that is the problem, it’ is my ill thought out approach to maintaining my weight that isn’t working. 

After successfully losing the weight, like many I wasn’t sure what to do next. I wanted to loosen the reins so that I didn’t have to live my life eating meals off a food scale and using a food tracker as a menu. 

My hope was that I could intuitively eat in a way that allows me to maintain a healthy appetite, and therefore, a healthy weight. But that is a delicate balance, and at the end of the day,eating too much low carb food, is still too much food.

I thought that if I simply continued eating low carb foods, I would be fine and I wouldn’t have to worry about overeating. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that just because something is low carb does not mean I should be eating it regularly. I should be self assessing whether or not eating these foods is helping me with my goal.

If you ask me, the real power of low carb and keto diets is the control that they give you over your hunger. Switching to a low carb diet gave me more control over my appetite. It was like I had both hands on the wheel for the first time ever and I could naturally stop eating when I had had enough without fighting the nagging feeling of hunger.

If my goal is to eat intuitively in a manner conducive to weight maintenance, and the low carb diet I am currently eating is not achieving that, then either I am completely ignoring my appetite and I am just stuffing my face. Or the criteria that I should be assessing food against, is not solely it’s carb content.

I believe it is a little bit of both, it seems that although I am still eating what most would consider a low carb diet, my appetite has become messed up and untrustworthy so I cannot rely on becoming satiated with the appropriate amount of food and therefore I am overeating.

That and perhaps the treats have become a little to frequent.

In an case I need to get back on track. I need to get back to the basics, back to when this was working as intended. 

I need to look beyond the just the carb content of what I am eating and really determine if that food is going to impact me in a way that will make it harder for me to achieve my goal of intuitive eating. 

For instance,

  • How do I feel after eating it? How about the day after?
  • Am I hungrier than normal?
  • Is my appetite all over the place?
  • How are my energy levels?
  • Am I snacking a lot?
  • Any other problems like mental fatigue, or heartburn?

These are some of the questions I should be asking my self, because no matter the carb content or the net carb content of the food I am eating, if it is causing issue in any of those areas, I really should limit or eliminate that food altogether. Eating it regularly is not conducive to my goal of eating intuitively for weight maintenance. 

Low carb tortillas are a perfect example. They are low in carbs, around 4g net carbs per tortilla. Based on that criteria alone, they are perfectly acceptable for low carb and even keto diets. 

However, through self observation, I noticed that when I eat low carb tortillas, my hunger is increased, especially the next day. I feel like I haven’t eaten anything and I just end up snacking and gorging to fill that void which leads to overeating. Especially since normally I can skip breakfast altogether. 

Ok so that is one item of food assessed, I know I can only enjoy low carb tortillas in moderation. But what about the rest of the foods I am eating? How can I possibly run this self assessment for every food I want to eat?

Well I have a plan, and its a plan is to strip my current low carb diet diet back to its bare bones and build it back up on a solid foundation using only the foods that I know work for me.

A plan I am calling, a semi-carnivore diet.

What is a Low Carb "Semi-Carnivore" diet?

In order to do this, I need to use the data I have at hand, I need to start with what I know already works for me. About a year ago when I would say I was performing my best all around. I felt great, I looked great, and I was a machine in the gym. Surprise surprise, I was eating an almost completely carnivore diet.

Not a strict one mind you, but the lion’s share of what I was eating was meat, eggs, and some dairy. 

I wasn’t diligently tracking my food, I wasn’t using a food scale, I was just listening to what my body was telling me about what I was eating, and it was working.  So that will be the solid foundation on which I base my new diet. 

Since I am not doing this for inflammation, chronic disease, or any kind of ailment, being absolutely strict carnivore is not essential or necessary. 

The core of all my meals for the next little while will be all kinds of meat, eggs, and some dairy such as cheese, yogurt, and heavy cream for cooking. 

I will also be using various spices, aromatics, and herbs freely. Raw spices like turmeric, cayenne, pepper, paprika, etc. and aromatics like cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves. 

Lastly a very small amount of produce, onions, garlic, ginger, some fresh herbs, and maybe even some lemon/lime juice for seasoning. 

See it’s not strict carnivore, it’s semi carnivore.

Why Not Full Carnivore?

I am including some non-carnivore ingredients because like I stated, I have no real reason to be a strict carnivore. In fact, this method if eating is not even intentionally carnivore at all.

I am just stripping back my diet to simple foods that I know work for me, and it just so happens that most of these foods are meats, eggs, and dairy while there is a very small portion that is not carnivore friendly like spices, aromatics, onions, garlic, ginger, and other limited produce.

Not being bound by the stricter “rules” of a full carnivore lifestyle allows some more freedom in the food I can enjoy. The use of spices and very limited produce like onions and garlic allow for a vast array or different flavour profiles meaning I am less likely to get boredom and more likely to stick to this plan. 

After all, the best diet is the one you stick to.

What Is The Point Of A "Semi-carnivore" diet?

By stripping my current diet back to just a few simple foods, I hope to gain a better understanding of what types of foods I can enjoy, what I need to enjoy in moderation, and what I should avoid all together, in order to achieve my goal of intuitive eating for weight maintenance.

I need to re-calibrate, and reset. Get my head back in the game, and eliminate any of the unnecessary foods I have been consuming that are not helping me, and may actually be hurting me in terms of naturally maintaining a healthy bodyweight. 

Over time I will reintroduce other low carb foods back into my diet such as vegetables, nuts, and maybe even some fruit to assess how I am impacted after eating them. 

  • Is my appetite still under control, or am I needlessly hungry?
  • Did eating that food make me feel crap?
  • Does eating this food align with my goal of intuitive eating?
  • Any other problems arise after eating it?
 

If everything checks out, I can start including that food in my diet periodically, continuing the self assessment to make sure that this food, or this food in conjunction with other foods I am adding isn’t derailing me from my goal of intuitive low carb eating, feeling good, maintaining a healthy weight, and maintaining a healthy appetite. 

This may take a while but there is no rush, I am after all trying to determine a way to eat forever, it’s ok if it take a while to get there.

How does this benefit you?

I am sure that I am not the only one that has tumbled down the slippery slope during the post diet days. We all like to think things will be perfect forever, that life after weight loss will be a cinch, and they just might be. 

We give a little here and there, maybe it’s just a bite. Maybe we just get careless. Maybe you really just don’t know where to start when it comes to eating for maintenance. 

The motivation to start is tough enough, but once you actually muster the strength to make a change, it can be daunting to know where to start and what is causing the problem.

Sometimes we just need a reset, we need to get back to basics, back to when things were working as we intended, back inline with our goals.

A low carb semi-carnivore elimination diet can help identify any issues caused by the foods you are eating which may be preventing you from reaching you goals, or may be causing other distress such as heartburn, fatigue, indigestion, mental fog, etc. 

This isn’t meant to be a strict meal plan or a diet you need to follow exactly. My hope is that by observing how I go about starting at square one and assessing whether or not a food will work for me or not can help you do the same for yourself. 

Help you strip back your diet and rebuild it with the proper building blocks. 

I am not saying you have to or even should eat the exact same things as I will be. Everyone is different and will react differently to ingredients and food. 

But that is what we are here to find out. 

Maybe you need to strip down your diet even further than me, maybe not. Perhaps some of the foods I decide I want to eat and that will work for me doesn’t work for you or align with your goals. That’s ok too.

There is no one size fits all diet for everyone. You need to find what works for you, not what works for someone else. 

This series of posts will follow me as I try to determine what that is for myself, and hopefully along the way, you can see that you can do this too. That naturally maintaining a proper bodyweight can be achieved through intuitive eating.

Semi-Carnivore Diet Plan Summary

To summarize, 

  1. I have identified a simple list of foods I know work for me and I intend to strip my diet back to just those foods for the initial stage.   

Food included in my semi carnivore diet:

  • All kinds of meat (beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, lamb, sausage, bacon, salami, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Some dairy (Butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, plain yogurt, hard cheese, for cooking)
  • Spices (turmeric, cumin, paprika, etc. for cooking)
  • Fresh Herbs (Cilantro, parsley, dill, etc. for cooking)
  • A very small amount of low carb produce (onions, garlic, ginger, lemon/lime juice, hot chilli peppers, for cooking)
 

Anything that doesn’t fall into those categories above will not be included regardless of their carb content. For instance even though nuts can be very low carb, they are not going to be included in the initial stages. 

Something like nuts should be slowly re-added to the diet during the later phases of food introduction, right now I just need to get back to basics and build a strong foundation. 

In addition, if I start to notice any of the above is causing problems, it will be eliminated as well.

**Note: If you intend to follow a similar protocol, it is very important to ensure that you are still eating a nutritionally complete diet, meaning you are getting the required macronutrient, micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals regularly. This can easily be assessed by using a food tracker like Cronometer to ensure you are eating properly which will be covered in detail in part 2 of this series**

How can I do this and still cook for the family?

While I am doing this low carb semi carnivore elimination diet, I will still be cooking all the meals for the household so I will need to prepare meals that can easily be enjoyed by the whole family without doing a ton of extra work. 

For the most part this will mean a main dish that is mostly carnivore or “semi-carnivore” friendly for myself, and a low carb side dish that can accompany it to create a complete meal for any non participants at the dinner table. 

How to follow along and stay up to date?

The best way to stay up to date and informed about new posts in this series is to join the gang down below and sign up for the email list. I don’t send spam, products to buy, or advertisements. I just send the best low carb content I have to offer to your inbox for your enjoyment. 

I will also leave a post gallery at the bottom of every post in this series that displays these semi carnivore recipes.

If you are interested in new recipes I will be posting, and other semi carnivore meal inspirations, or just want to interact. You can follow me on social media. I am most active on Instagram and Pinterest, and even Twitter if the mood strikes. 

Feel free to comment down below with what you think about this plan, or check out the contact page which gives you a direct route to my inbox!

I hope these series is helpful to you as it will be for me, there is so much out there about losing the weight, very few focus on what to do once it is lost. 

So with that I wish you a Happy new year, and a happy new you. 

Semi Carnivore Recipes

More In This Series

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