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Advice needed on a weight loss strategy

Synopsis: I'm a vegan considering going Atkins for a short time in order to lose the last bit of very, very stubborn weight. About 50lbs of it.

Confession: I've been fat all my life. Most of it I've not just been fat, but obese. in 7th grade I hit 220lbs. In high school I was at 285lbs. 5 years ago I hit 320lbs.

Of course, the progression hasn't been that linear. During college I once dropped to 240, and after that spent my time bouncing between 260 and 285. After suffering through a job I didn't like, I hit 324lbs. Through work, will power, and serendipity, I've since been able to drop to 230lbs.

And now I'm stuck.

For the past year I've been bouncing between 226 and 240 lbs, and no matter what I do I can't seem to escape this.

Currently, I'm a vegan. A low-fat vegan. No meat. No dairy (I'm lactose intolerant anyway). No eggs. And fat intake at about 12% of my total calories. Sugars come mostly from fruits. This actually helped me lose some weight at first (10 lbs total), as well as drop my blood pressure and (already low) cholesterol, but I still hit my wall. I also walk/run at least 15 miles a week, though usually I hit over 20, plus regular weight lifting. By my favorite, by far, is walking and hiking.

A short while back--before I went vegan, and after gaining 20 lbs in 2 months, going from 226lbs to 246lbs--I considered medical weight loss. There I was told that I could, at most, expect to drop to 200. (My body fat percentage was about 26.6% then.) My goal was 180, but no matter: all I want is to be healthier. Besides, I already have this not-so-nifty skin hanging around which may need to be snipped.

Anyway, their plan included hunger suppression medication (surprisingly, that's not a huge issue for me. I currently eat between 1800-2000 calories per day, tracked) and going on a very strict Atkins diet for a few weeks to induce ketosis. During their tests, however, they discovered I had a right bundle branch block (heart disease), so I didn't go through with it, mostly because the meds mess around with your heart. Well, turns out my RBBB is a "normal variant" and nothing to concern myself over. Still, this is when I decided to go vegan, which worked great until I stopped losing weight, no matter what I did. (As a side note, I used to have some chest pain when running. I was told it might be heartburn, but it went away when I went vegan)

I love being a vegan. I usually feel pretty great eating like this (unless I'm eating all grains, then I just feel all heartburny). However, I need to lose weight: I'm a flat-line hypoglycemic with a very strong family history of diabetes. My biggest enemy is tummy fat. So here's my plan:

Do the Atkins diet WITHOUT medical weight loss supplements (except maybe Alli) until I've lost the necessary weight (32 lbs), then switch back to vegan at that point. Yes, it does go against my ethical considerations to eat animal meat, and yes, I realize the almost absurdity of going to such extremes, but this belly fat is costing me life and putting me at risk of too many conditions, so I need to rid myself of it. In college I did Atkins successfully, dropping from almost 300 to 240. True, I did gain it all back, but unlike then, now I'm not so quick to run back to pizzas and fried chicken wings. I actually appreciate the texture and taste of a great salad.

I'm wondering if I could get someone's opinion on this plan, or my situation overall. Yes, I know I've come a long way, but not nearly long enough. The last time I wasn't considered "fat" was when I was 4. I'm now 31. I'm tired of it.

Current stats:
=========
Weight: 232lbs
Height: 6'1
Sex: Male
Background: Hispanic
Fasting blood sugar: 79 (GTT showed no rise above 81, and a drop to 71 after 2 hours, before normalization)
Triglycerides: 50
Cholesterol: 113 total (HDL 42, LDL 65) (This was pre-vegan. Increasing anxiety for a short time was a sign that the total cholesterol was dropping, likely the LDL)
Medical history:
-> Right Bundle Branch Block (idiopathic)
-> Gastroparesis (idiopathic, intermittent now)
-> GERD (which gets worse with increasing weight)
-> General Anxiety Disorder (It's gotten better)
-> No gallbladder (removed in 2009)

Thanks in advance.
4 Responses
Avatar universal
Have you had your thyroid checked? It will cause you to gain weight no matter what you eat., look into it, affects a big part of your problems- fatigue too.
1638074 tn?1300566438
Hi, I'm a vegan too and loving it

The Atkins diet is one of the most horrendous things you can do to your body,

Most fruit-natures superfoods-are banned, and instead your body has to attempt to deal with pounds and pounds of rotting flesh.

I agree with getting your thyroid checked, as vegans are very very rarely overweight or find it hard to lose weight. Also with the risk of diabetes I would be careful and get medical advice first
Avatar universal
(also to katcrazy)

Thyroid function is fine. I used to have gastroparesis, so that was checked often, as it was a possible cause (turned out is was post viral, hence the curing after some time). I think it was just me not eating enough. It might actually have also been insulin levels: I noticed that I would get tired after eating most of the time (sometimes when I ate grains--which were limited to whole grains--but especially standalone fruit), so I abandoned the "low-fat" portion of it for a week, where I subsisted mostly off salads and nuts. For that week my "tiredness" problems went somewhat away, but I was left with a few different problems stemming from too much fat, a lot of fiber, and not enough gallbladder. (I don't have one.) On the bright side, I got caught up on a lot of reading :-D

All this time my weight remained steady at ~232 lbs. I was also walking between 3 and 8 miles per day.

Basically I came to the conclusion that this was a symptom of insulin resistance. (This is where my test results of a year and a half back, where a glucose tolerance test showed flat-line hypoglycemia, made sense.) The week after (that would be this week), I decided to go vegetarian, instead, and eat mostly eggs, soy-based low-carb/high protein foods, and green, leafy vegetables. Like with the previous test, the tiredness after meals has subsided. This time, however, my fat consumption is far lower (for which my non-gallbladder thanks me). Given that, I think I'll be going the high-protein/low-carb route.

But not Atkins.

Just for the record, as for the Atkins diet, actually, the "meat only" stage is very short -- one week, two at most -- after that it begins to encourage vegetables and increasing amounts of fruits based on your goal. In fact, an Atkins-style diet could be done in a vegan manner, but you'd be eating a LOT of TVP! (All protein, no carbs? Sure, but it's also a lot of soy. A lot. And I have to avoid large amounts of soy for fertility reasons.)

But as I said, I'm not doing the Atkins diet. Instead I've decided on one of its ilk, "Protein Power". I chose this one because even in the corrective phase I can remain mostly vegetarian. I still do, by doctor recommendation, eat fish once in a while, in the form of sashimi, but my protein intake is mostly texturized vegetable proteins, eggs, and very limited amounts of dairy. This is in addition to lots of low-carb veggies, like lettuces and spinach, some mid-carb veggies, like pretty much all the others except carrots and corn, and small servings of certain fruits. At the moment I've cut out all grains because I'm also designing this as a hypoglycemic/candida diet, although I may introduce blackberries, since they're allowed in the high-protein and hypoglycemic diets, though I'm not sure about the candida. Anyway, this method also allows far lower fat content than would otherwise be part of this type of diet.

Regarding the diabetes risk, I've spoken with doctors about this. Basically they're not fans of veganism, nor are they fans of "meat only". They prefer a more tempered approach, and I think what I've decided on here meet those qualifications. We'll see. My number one goal is responsible weight loss that preserves muscle mass. (I've had the other kind, and I don't care to repeat it.) Their biggest concern was increasing the insulin sensitivity, getting enough fiber, and getting the nutrients I need. I believe this approach meets those requirements, but to anyone reading this, I wouldn't mind your input.

Thank you for your time.
Avatar universal
Clarifications:

1) The tiredness and lack of weight loss were NOT due to thyroid function. I don't know what it was due to, but it may have been lack of calories causing my body to hit starvation mode, combined with high carbs from fruits and grains, and combined with insulin issues.

2) I can't say this enough: I loved veganism. For me, it was a great weight maintenance diet, although next time around I'll be reducing the numbers of fruits and grains and increasing the numbers of veggies. This is where my biggest challenge will be, I'm sure. And yes, there will be a next time around. I can't see a way for there not to be. But I have to focus on one thing now and that is reducing the markers of Metabolic Syndrome (namely fat around the waistline and insulin resistance symptoms, plus I want to increase my HDL), for which studies have shown a low-carb diet is best, in a short-term basis. (Interestingly, a low-fat vegan diet was shown best for diabetes. This probably has to do with protein load on the kidneys.)

3) My wife, though, had a problem with veganism: mostly, she didn't want to be a vegan, and although all the food we kept at home was vegan, I knew this was taking a bit of a toll on her, since it encouraged her to eat out while at work. (And please don't get me started on issues of strength of will. Yes, I have it, but starting something as drastic and new as this then surrounding yourself with temptation is a sure recipe for failure.) She was also recently recommended a high-protein diet because she DOES have thyroid issues (borderline hypo, though they're not wanting to medicate just yet) and her doctor recommended she doesn't have soy at all. Plus she's also interested in a candida diet, which is high-protein/low-carb anyway.
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