There are many good reasons to adopt a very low carb diet. A major one for me is the lack of hunger. There’s no hunger on the keto diet!
When I started experiencing issues with processing carbs, I was one of those who remained slim, while suffering frequent hypoglycemia episodes. I was not the only one – there’s a subset of people who do not gain weight on a high-carb diet. These are the “metabolically unhealthy nonobese” and eventually, they too go on to develop diabetes.
My experience was that once I became carb intolerant, a high-carb diet caused me intense hunger, and a reliance on eating every 2 hours. I couldn’t even go three hours between meals! I would become shaky and suffer migraine-like headaches.
The more I persisted with a high-carb diet, the worse it became, until at some point I remember thinking to myself, “I’m constantly ravenous. This is not sustainable.”
Being a health-conscious person, I tried to control the urge to eat so often. I started counting calories, to make sure I wasn’t eating too much. I allowed myself tiny meals every 2 hours. It was miserable.
When I finally realized what was going on, and started lowering carbs, things gradually improved. I was still experiencing hunger, but it wasn’t as bad as before, and I could eat every 3-4 hours. At that point I was eating 50-100 grams of carbs per day.
I was interested to see what a truly low carb diet – a ketogenic diet – would do for me, so for a period of about one year, I followed a very low carb diet, up to 20 grams of carbs per day.
After a few months on the very low carb diet, I completely lost my sense of hunger. Here’s what I wrote in my diary during that time:
Apparently, there’s no hunger on a keto diet! My blood sugar is extremely stable. I don’t have any hypoglycemia episodes. No shaking, no brain fog, no urgent need to eat. I wake up not really hungry. I eat breakfast (usually eggs and bacon) around 8am, more out of habit than out of need.
I go about my day, and around 2pm I wonder if maybe I should have lunch? So I have lunch – usually a steak or a burger with a salad.
When we sit down to eat dinner around 6pm, needless to say I’m still stuffed from lunch, so I usually eat a small portion of fish or chicken with some veggies. No late night snack for me – I am perfectly fine fasting from 6pm until 8am the next day.
Many low carbers find that they only need to eat twice a day, and I’m certainly at the point where it looks like I should try that. Perhaps a later breakfast around 10am and a big dinner at 6pm.”
Eventually, I did go back to a moderate (or even liberal) low carb diet (50-80 grams per day), mostly because I discovered that I’m a hyper-responder, one of those who develop high LDL cholesterol on a ketogenic diet (and we don’t know whether that’s dangerous or not in the context of a ketogenic diet). I also wanted more variation in my diet, and I really wanted to be able to actually eat (not just taste) the yummy recipes I make for this blog. 🙂
As you can see, I’m still playing with things and adjusting. But even on a moderate low carb diet, I can easily wait 5-6 hours between meals. For someone who used to be weak and miserable unless she ate every two hours, the sheer freedom of not relying on constant feeding is just amazing. I can go hours without food, feeling strong and energetic. My brain is sharp. No more brain fog, no more afternoon slump.
This did not happen for me until I drastically lowered my carbs. So I was likely very insulin resistant. But after about a year on the ketogenic diet, I was able to gradually up my carbs and still keep most of the benefits.
Your experience might be different – you could see the same benefits at a higher carb consumption. We’re all different, so each of us should find the level of carbs that works for them.
But the bottom line: after the initial adjustment period, for most people, there’s no hunger on the keto diet. A low carb diet drastically reduces hunger, or even eliminates it. So while the high carb world around us frantically feeds every 2-3 hours, we are free to live our lives and get things done, only eating 2-3 times per day.