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Live, Lose, and Learn Gets Going

Live, Lose, and Learn, part 1 of 6

I’m still riding high from the first session of my six-week course, Live, Lose, and Learn, offered through our local Parks and Recreation Department. The plan is to work with a group on a new eating plan that you can LIVE with so that you can LOSE pounds, inches, or inflammation, which does involve that we all LEARN some new ways of looking at what we eat. The folks who signed up make up a class that is dynamic and engaged, and I look forward to learning a lot about what needs to be included in the class to make the information useful. 


I’ll include the outline from each class session here, as well as a few clarifying points stimulated by the discussion in the class.  

I started off with a brief discussion of my own clinical success over the last few years working with patients and a well-formulated low carbohydrate diet, a phrase coined by Steve Phinney, author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Eating. Low carb has been around for decades, and everyone has heard success and failure stories. The key to a successful experience is not just wiping out carbs, but doing it in a sensible and sustainable way.

Safe, scientific, sustainable and successful. I promised everyone we would get to the scientific basis of low-carbohydrate eating over the course of the next five weeks, and that it would be both safe and sustainable. I do want people to have measurable success, so we started with practical steps.

First I encouraged everyone to know their starting point. Just as your weight isn’t very reliable (it matters where you carry it, and whether it’s fat or muscle), neither is a simple BMI. For an easier and more reliable assessment of how your weight affects your health, I suggest getting a flexible fabric tape measurer, no need for a fancy scale. Measure your waist (either your obvious waist or two inches above your pelvic bones). Divide it by your height, both in inches, and multiply by 100. Check out where you are on this table:



Weight category



Abnormally slim – underweight



Extremely slim



Slender and healthy









Extremely overweight, obese



Highly obese


Another good measure is to drag out some small clothes, and see how tight they are right now. Try them on every couple of weeks!

Every time you eat, plan to eat protein and fat. Vegetables and broth are helpful. That’s the simple rule, but we teased out a little bit more detail on each part of it. It’s a simple summary of the guidelines in the Weight Loss Eating Plan (/weight-loss-eating-plan ) converted into a friendly reminder that the logic of low-carb eating applies equally well to all meals as it does to snacks.

PROTEIN:  I emphasized that especially at the beginning, people should make sure they get enough protein. Animal protein is the best form of protein for a low-carb diet, as meats are relatively free of carbohydrates, so meat, fish, fowl, and eggs. This handy table gives some approximate protein needs for normally active people. Very active athletes will need up to half again as much protein.



Small Frame women

Large frame women

Small frame men

Large frame men


100 lbs

110 lbs

105 lbs

115 lbs





















A REALLY important clarification is that it’s not the weight of a food but really the grams of protein it contains.  So a “deck of cards” sized portion of meat, fish, poultry or eggs contains 21 grams of protein. A large egg, or 1/3 cup of nuts or 1 cup of homemade broth offers 7 grams of protein.

FAT:  Eat some fat with that protein. YOU MUST EAT THE FAT. Low carb only works in the setting of adequate fat. The fat in grass fed meat (or wild meat, or wild-caught salmon) is quite good for you and offers valuable nutrition. Fats to add safely and deliciously include butter, sour cream, avocado and coconut oil. 

VEGETABLES: Vegetables can help, though they are technically not necessary, quite different from our instruction to consume 7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables! So I encourage you to eat two or more cups a day of leafy greens (cooked, raw, or fermented into sauerkraut) and 1 to 1-1/2 cups of “above the ground” vegetables. Measure them raw and chopped, cook them if you’d like to. Even though they grow below the ground, you can eat all the onions, ginger and garlic you want. and they're all good for you.

HOMEMADE BROTH, or something from the store if need be. A cup or two a day, salted to taste, provides lots of helpful minerals. 

AS MUCH AS YOU WANT of coffee, tea, unsweetened waters. You can put cream, better than milk or half and half, and xylitol or Stevia in your drinks.

YES on a FEW TREATS: Most people do fine if they do allow themselves ½ cup of berries, and an ounce of dark (85% +) chocolate.  No alcohol to start with, though some will be okay later. 

GOODBYE to breads, grain, pasta, rice, cereal, soy, yogurt, milk, other fruits, all juices, and sweetened drinks

Sometimes supplements can be helpful, if this is a big change for your digestion! Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and magnesium can help keep things running smoothly. 

Stay tuned for more information after week two!