A Year of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
In January of 2019 I began a low-carb, high-fat weight loss diet. Actually, I did a two week keto reset and then launched into an LCHF diet. I had no idea when I started what the year would hold for me and my family. I didn’t know about the challenges we’d face or the amazing times we’d experience. But that didn’t stop them from showing up – both good and bad – and testing my will to feed myself well instead of turning to sugar to soothe myself.
I started the year determined to finally be in control of my weight and my health. I succeeded and I failed, but I never quit. I ended the year so proud of myself for my effort, my weight loss, and – most of all – the unconditional love I finally felt for my body.
In this post I’ll go month by month and talk about what I did right and what I could have done better.
Low Carb, High Fat Weight Loss – How Much Weight Did I Lose in a Year?
You probably just want to know how much weight I lost in a year on a low-carb, high-fat diet, so here ya go: I lost 22.8 pounds in 2019 on a LCHF diet.
Wait! That’s not exactly true. I actually lost 22.8 pounds in about seven-a-half months. After July 19th, I stopped losing weight because I increased my calories and decreased my activity. I’ll talk more about that in a bit when I do an overview of each month.
Then, as planned, I went off of the diet completely after my birthday in mid-September. By the end of the year – eating a mostly clean, but normal carb diet, I’d gained 8.2 pounds. I’d expected to put on five pounds, so I was a little shocked to have gained three additional pounds.
I Lost More Than My Goal
My goal last year was to lose twenty pounds. I accomplished my goal in just over half the year. I feel better in my own skin. I’ve had fun buying new clothes in my smaller size. (I went from a size sixteen pants to a size fourteen and an extra-large shirt size to a large.)
I’m Not Upset About the Weight Gain
As I’ve already said, I planned to go off the low-carb, high-fat diet around my birthday. I wanted to enjoy special foods on my birthday and throughout the fall. I especially looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas food traditions and treats.
I expected to gain weight and I expected it to fall off over the winter when I planned to get back on the LCHF diet. (That hasn’t happened yet due to unexpected circumstances, but I’m still working on it.)
The extra weight hasn’t increased my clothing size, so I’m still comfortable.
I will lose the added pounds this year with no problem.
A Low-Carb, High-Fat Weight Loss Year in Review
Here’s a quick review of each month. I included how much weight I lost each month, my primary diet type, my physical activity, and what was going on in my life that helped my weight loss or made it more difficult.
Here’s a picture of me at my starting weight. It was taken about 18 months before I started my LCHF diet, but I was the same weight then as I was in January of 2019.
I was NOT happy to have my picture taken, but it’s important for us moms to be in the front of the camera sometimes, so I did it for my boys.
My starting weight was 181.4 pounds. I’m 5’2.
January – Low Carb High Fat Weight Loss Diet Perfection
I started January strong with the two-week keto reset. I lost 4.8 pounds over two weeks and got off to a great start.
I switched to low-carb, high fat for the remainder of January, but I continued to practice 18/6 intermittent fasting. By January 31st, I’d lost a total of 8.2 pounds.
I wanted to slow my weight loss because my total weight loss goal for the year was only twenty pounds. I didn’t want to risk losing too quickly or stirring up my former disordered eating habits. (You can read about those in my weight loss story.)
Nothing out of the ordinary happened in my life in January. I felt happy, healthy, and well-fed.
January Starting Weight: 181.4
January Ending Weight: 173.2
January Total +/- : -8.2
February – Perfection is NOT the Goal
In February, my intention to lose less than a pound a week fell through, but I got really close to my goal. This level of weight loss felt sustainable.
Of course, I felt happy that the weight fell off more quickly than I planned. Still, I remained cautious about stirring up old disordered eating habits. I gave myself a weekly cheat day of clean, high carb foods to slow my weight loss down a bit.
I continued 18/6 intermittent fasting.
February Starting Weight: 173.2
February Ending Weight: 168.4
February Total +/- : -4.8
March – Hurray for Clean Cheat Days
In March, my physical activity slowed a bit. Work stress ramped up, too.
As I worked with my oldest son to complete his final year of homeschooling, I felt the urge to “eat” my emotions. I mostly refrained, but I kept my weekly clean, high-carb cheat day. I looked forward to it each week. Shamelessly.
The changes in my body were undeniable. My clothes fit loosely and I needed new pants for the spring and summer.
Here’s a picture of me after about ten pounds of weight loss.
March Starting Weight: 168.0
March Ending Weight: 164.4
March Total +/- : -3.6
April – Potatoes Make Me Happy
In April, my weight began to fluctuate one or two pounds throughout my menstrual cycle. I figured I’d hit a pretty comfortable place where my weight loss would slow or stop. I felt fine with that, but worried a little about maintaining my weight loss for the rest of the year. I didn’t want to be more restrictive with my eating, but I wanted to make my twenty-pound weight loss goal for the year.
April brought more work stress and I began to regularly consume potatoes. Potatoes make me happy. I definitely made excuses for myself and why I needed crispy, perfectly seasoned, diced potatoes with my eggs three or four days each week.
So, I gave myself potatoes plus a weekly cheat day. I also allowed myself to have 82% dark chocolate instead of 90% bittersweet chocolate.
April Starting Weight: 164.6
April Ending Weight: 163.5
April Total +/- : -1.1
May – My Baby is All Grown Up
I began the month of May up .6 pounds from my lowest weight in April. Over the course of the month I lost two more pounds, which made a total weight loss of twenty-one pounds.
As the weather heated up so did my frustrations with work. I began to allow sugary foods on my cheat days. Instead of sweet potatoes with goat cheese, I’d eat brownies.
My son graduated from high school and I celebrated/soothed my emotions with food.
May Starting Weight: 163.0
May Ending Weight: 162
May Total +/- : -1
June – Goodbye Dirty Cheat Days
I cut out the sugary cheat day foods in June. I lost another .8 pounds by mid-June, but I began and ended the month at the same weight. My total weight loss was now 21.8 pounds.
Since I’d achieved my goal weight for the year, I considered adding more carbs back to my diet. I quickly realized I was giving myself excuses to indulge because I felt frustrated by work and emotional over my oldest son graduating.
Here’s a photo of me after twenty pounds of weight loss.
June Starting Weight: 161.4
June Ending Weight: 161.4
June Total +/- : 0
July – Long, Hot, Miserable, Southern July
In July I lost another .6 pounds, which made my total weight loss 22.4 pounds.
And then I hit a wall.
I continued to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet. I continued to do intermittent fasting.
I got over my need for a regular cheat day. I no longer looked forward to it.
I was a little surprised when my weight loss didn’t reflect my “straight-and-narrow” diet.
At some point in July I discovered something that explained why a significant relationship in my life had been incredibly difficult for the past twenty years. In some ways it felt like a weight had been lifted. In other ways the relationship felt doomed. The fallout from that discovery still continues into 2020.
July felt hard. The weather was miserably hot. Even though I’d gotten to my goal weight for the year, I worried that I’d never be able to reach my final goal weight. I was doing everything by the book, but the scale barely moved.
July Starting Weight: 161.0
July Ending Weight: 160.4
July Total +/- : -.6
August – I Can Handle This. I Think.
I woke up on August 1st to nearly a one pound weight loss. How on earth?
My weight loss was neutral in August. My weight fluctuated, but I ended the month at the same weight I began it.
And then I got a phone call from my parents that the family needed to get together to discuss my brother’s health. As it turns out, my mother wasn’t in tip-top shape, either.
I stopped thinking so much about my diet after that. I kept low-carb, high-fat foods on hand. I continued to do intermittent fasting.
August Starting Weight: 159.6
August Ending Weight: 159.2
August Total +/- : -.4
September – Nope. I Can’t Handle This.
In September I began driving an hour every Friday to visit my brother. When my parents wanted to celebrate my birthday with pizza and brownies, I didn’t object.
At this point my priorities were (in this order): Caring for my family (cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, getting kids to and from activities, caring for our five pets), caring for my brother, my work, my health.
I spent so little time on my work that it continues to affect me financially three months into 2020. So, you can imagine how low of a priority my health became.
In fact, I spent the last two weeks of September driving back and forth to visit my brother in rehab after his surgery. We ate out a lot during those weeks.
And somehow I lost one pound.
September Starting Weight: 159.6
September Ending Weight: 158.6
September Total +/- : 1
October – No More Low Carb High Fat Weight Loss Diet
October started much like September began. My brother came home to continue his surgery recovery. I visited at least once a week. I cleaned my brother’s home and helped my parents with chores at their place, too.
My mom always fed me – like southern mamas do. But, often we got takeout.
October happens to be one of my favorite months of the year. But I barely noticed the beautiful weather and gorgeous skies. I felt like I was on a treadmill of caregiving. I wondered how I could meet the needs of everyone who needed me.
I continued to cook keto dinners for my family, but honestly, we were getting tired of the same meals over and over. Feeding a ketogenic diet to five people (an athletic husband and three teenage boys) packs a punch to the pocketbook. Especially when most of us prefer beef (grass-fed, of course) to chicken or pork.
I gained weight in October. I honestly did not care.
October Starting Weight: 159.0
October Ending Weight: 163.8
October Total +/- : +4.8
November – Happy Thanksgiving. No Regrets.
What can I say about November? I continued to care for the people I love while neglecting my work and my health.
I gained another pound.
Most importantly, I enjoyed the heck out of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that I prepared myself. I have NO regrets.
November Starting Weight: 163.8
November Ending Weight: 165
November Total +/- : +1.2
December – Ending on a Weight Gain
December means sugar cookies – made from a traditional recipe handed down from my German grandmother. Another month of no regrets. Another month of weight gain.
I ended the year having gained back 8.2 pounds from my lowest weight in July.
December Starting Weight: 165
December Ending Weight: 166.8
December Total +/- : +1.8
What I Learned About Dieting After a Year of Low Carb High Fat
The following insights from the past year make a difference in how I’ll go forward on my weight loss journey. It’s such a great feeling to know more about what works for my body and what doesn’t.
- I’m 5’2, over forty, and female. I don’t need very many calories to maintain a healthy weight. I can’t eat like an average-size, average-aged adult woman. I’m working on being okay with that.
- I can’t lose weight without a low carb diet. When I eat more than 50 carbs per day I tend to gain weight.
- I don’t want to eat low carb every single for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I no longer have an extreme mindset toward food and wellness. I can still enjoy carb-rich foods from time to time. Not daily, but not never.
- When I eat a diet high in carbs I can maintain my current (overweight) weight with intermittent fasting.
- Intermittent fasting feels more difficult for me on a high carb diet.
- Intermittent fasting comes easily when I eat a low carb diet.
A Year of Low Carb High Fat Weight Loss – Final Thoughts
TL;DR: 2019 was a tough year. I lost over twenty pounds. I gained back 8.2 pound by the end of the year. I know where I went wrong. I have no regrets.
The longer story: I wonder if I’ll ever be able to balance stress and healthy eating. I have so many healthy ways to cope with stress: Music, bath bombs, pets, knitting, painting, reading, nature . . . It’s always easier and more satisfying to turn to carbs. More specifically, it’s easier to turn to sugar. You can’t tell me sugar isn’t a drug.
Last year wasn’t a bust. I met my goal. I’m proud of that.
Stressful life events will always happen. I have to learn how to cope without using food to soothe myself.
I want to continue my low carb high fat weight loss diet because my experience shows that it works.
It’s March of 2020 and I still hover around 166.8 – sometimes going all the way up to 168 during the luteal phase of my cycle. Soon I’ll make a new post about this year so far. Stay tuned for it.
The most important takeaways from my year on a low carb high fat weight loss diet is that it worked, I met my goal, and I haven’t given up on my final goal.
I’ll start another keto reset next week and share the results with you.