April 20, 2016

My Low-Carb Weight Loss Plan

First things first… This is my plan... meaning this is what has worked for me. I am not a licensed dietitian. I am not a weight loss expert. I am not telling you that if you eat the food listed below that you will lose weight. I am simply sharing with you what I have been eating in the last four months that has led to my losing 35 pounds (35!! SQUEEEEE!!!)

My 'secret"? There's no secret. I simply do these four things:
  1. Limit my carb intake. I follow the Atkins "net carb" counting method when looking at carbs which means you subtract the amount of fiber from the amount of carbs to arrive at your "net-carb" count. This is what makes it possible for me to enjoy all the soups and chili below!
  2. Eat breakfast and don't skip meals.
  3. Drink lots and lots and lots of water.
  4. Stay active.
I try to stay between 20-40 net carbs per day (20 on a good day, 40 if I'm eating Sunday dinner at Mama's). My intention is to continue eating this way until I reach my goal weight and then slowly start introducing more carbs back into my diet. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating many though because, I’ll tell you, I can’t believe how fantastic I feel when I limit my carb intake. Even after eating a huge meal, I don’t feel sluggish or weighed down. I always have energy and I never have cravings.

Note that all text IN BLUE is a link to a recipe or other source.

I lost 35 pounds in 4 months and this is how I did it! Find low carb recipes, tips for eating out and my favorite low carb fast-food choices.

I never used to eat breakfast – at all – but when I hit a weight loss wall a few weeks ago (barely lost 5 pounds over a 6-week period after having lost 20 pounds quickly) I decided to try to “reset” my metabolism by eating breakfast as soon as I woke up every morning and not skip any meals. If you follow my Facebook page then you would have seen this post where I shared how I lost 10 pounds in 9 days simply by adding breakfast to my schedule. Can you believe that?! So, I’m a bona fide believer in eating breakfast now!

I hope this section doesn’t disappoint but I do not – repeat: DO NOT – have enough time in the mornings to cook anything special. I already get up at 5AM… I’m not getting up earlier than that for gourmet breakfasts!

I work across town so I’m not home at lunch time. I either pack my lunch with leftovers from supper or eat out, choosing some of the following.

Note: Eating beans and legumes that are higher in carbs but also super high in fiber and protein has worked great for me but it might not work for you. Try things out and see what works for you and what doesn't.
Cauliflower Shrimp Fried "Rice"
8 slices bacon
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Black pepper
3 tablespoon butter
1 onion, halved then sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced on a bias
1 head of cauliflower, shredded
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
3 eggs, beaten
Cut bacon into small strips then cook in a large skillet until crispy. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon then add shrimp to skillet to cook in the bacon drippings.Season with pepper then sauté until cooked through. Remove shrimp from pan with a slotted spoon.
Add butter, onion and celery to pan then sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add cauliflower, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce to pan and continue sautéing until cauliflower is al dente (about 5 minutes). Season with black pepper and additional soy sauce to taste.
Clear a spot on the side of the skillet, pour eggs in and scramble. Add cooked bacon and shrimp to skillet and mix everything well.
Another thing I do is cook up batches of the vegetables I love most over the weekend so that I can eat on them throughout the week. If Husband and the kids are having pork chops and mashed potatoes, I have pork chops and whatever yummy vegetables I have on the ready. It makes everything easier so you don’t feel like you have to cook two entirely separate meals. My favorites are:

Restaurant Choices:

Chicken Wings with Celery and Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing
Yes, I’m serious! I’m doing the low-carb thing so as long as I get a dry rub or wing sauce that isn’t sweet, I’m good to go.

Pork Egg Foo Young from your favorite Chinese Restaurant
Just don’t get the rice and also skip (or skimp on) the gravy

‘Meat & Three’ at any diner
Choose any meat that isn’t breaded and avoid potatoes and pasta side dishes. I usually get green beans, broccoli, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, cabbage, collard greens, sliced tomatoes or zucchini.

Most any Burger at Red Robbin wrapped in lettuce (instead of in a bun)
Red Robin (and lots of other places too) will wrap any burger in lettuce instead of putting it in a bun. Order steamed broccoli instead of fries – the broccoli is ‘bottomless’ just like the fries!

Chori Pollo with a Guacamole Salad at your favorite Mexican restaurant
This is chorizo and chicken that’s seasoned and sautéed then topped with cheese sauce. Note to self: figure out how to make this.

Fast Food and Quick Service:

Blackened Blue Zalad with Lite Ranch Dressing at Zaxby’s
Just ask them to leave off the Texas Toast. They’ll look at you funny but if you’re like me, you can’t stare down a buttery, perfectly crispy hunk of bread without losing your religion and shoving the whole thing in your face.

Chicken Finger Plate from Zaxby’s
Ask for a side salad instead of fries, celery sticks instead of coleslaw and ask them to hold the Texas toast.

Roasted Chicken Bites Combo from Bojangles
Order green beans and pintos instead of fries and a biscuit! It's hard to say no to a Bojangles biscuit but if I can do it, so can you :)

Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing from Chick-fil-A
This is, hands-down, my favorite fast food salad of all!

Roast Turkey & Swiss Wrap Combo from Arby's
The carbs on this are a little higher than the other choices but you can only eat so many salads, right?? I order this WITHOUT the spicy brown honey mustard because it's terribly, syrupy sweet. I don't know the carb count on the mustard but it's got to be pretty high so ordering it without reduces the carb count. I also rip off as much of the wrap as I can and still manage to hold the thing together (which is usually quite a bit). Order with a side salad instead of fries.

Double Chicken Chopped Salad from Subway
Just say ‘No thanks!’ to the crackers they offer you and stay away from the fat-free dressing because it’s full of carbs.

Philly Cheesesteak Omelet with a side of Sliced Tomatoes from Waffle House (no link available)
You can get fresh sliced tomatoes instead of grits or hash browns at any WH!

Chicken or Steak Cantina Power Bowl from Taco Bell
Just order this without the rice. The cool thing is every Taco Bell I've gotten this from seems to add extra everything else to make up for the missing rice. Score!!

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad from Wendy’s
I always ask for this without the sweet barbeque glaze drizzle because a) I don’t like it – I think it makes the salad super sweet and overpowers all the other flavors but also because b) it knocks off 11 grams of carbs when you leave it off!

I had a hard time switching from my favorite dark beers to the low carb varieties (like, really hard) but I got used to it eventually. I got a GREAT TIP from my friend Stuart who said to add a chunk of fresh ginger to the beer (if you have your beer in a glass you can just keep using the same knob of ginger for a while). This totally transforms the beer into something worth drinking! It reminds me of, well, ginger beer! Thanks, Stu!

If these recipes and selections don't fit your definition of "low-carb' then please, do call the Carb Police. I think the number is 888-WORKSFORME.

This collection was featured at the Weekend Potluck!

I lost 35 pounds in 4 months and this is how I did it! Find low carb recipes, tips for eating out and my favorite low carb fast-food choices.

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  1. I need to do this. I have to do this. It's scary!! Thank you and congrats on your weight loss!


  2. I follow the same plan, and I agree with how energized I feel. I used to head to bed around 8:00, now I have to force myself to bed at 10:00. I am at 11 pounds down. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thank you so very much for sharing. I'm going to give it the good try.

  4. So happy for you! I eat breakfast, but it is the hardest meal for me cuz I don't like breakfast foods that much. I eat alot of leftovers. This morning I had Buffalo Chicken Chili :o) So I really appreciate the breakfast ideas!

  5. Mandy,
    I am so happy for you. Thanks for this post. I really needed it. The humor you add keeps me smiling and encouraged.

  6. Congrats on weight loss, 35 pounds is awesome :) How do you eat the recipes with beans though? Beans are very high in carbs? No judging, just wondering. I know you subtract fiber, but still any recipe with beans would put you out of the 20-30 carbs a day very quickly. Just curious?

    1. None of the beans and lentils I've cooked with have had too many based on a 1/2 cup serving size (of beans alone - that 1/2 cup stretches far and wide into soup or stew).

    2. Meaning 1/2 cup would stretch into several bowls, not to mean I only use 1/2 cup in the entire recipe. Each of these recipes makes tons of soup. Hope that helps!

  7. not really low-carb, but thanks anyway.
    there are some good ideas here that could be easily tweaked to become truly low-carb. Don't think Zaxby's chicken fingers have a place on the table though!

    1. Low enough for me to lose 35 pounds. 5 Zaxby's chicken fingers have 11 net carbs which is well within my daily limit, but thanks anyway.

    2. This is a great site to explain the differences between strict, moderate and liberal low carb. It depends on how you process them and varies with individuals. http://www.dietdoctor.com/how-low-carb-is-low-carb

    3. Mandy can put whatever she wants on HER table. She didn't really ask for your opinion, but thanks anyway.

    4. wow, no need for the snark! Mandy explained this is HER diet HER way...I got the same treatment when I did a low carb diet awhile back. My plan was just eat a serving of carbs at dinner, because I wanted to eat like normal with the rest of the family. Lost 35 lbs pretty quickly. Of course the carb-police told me I was doing it all wrong, I should eat my carbs in the daytime for energy, blah blah blah. Nevermind I had more energy than ever and that I lost 35 lbs in about 3 months. If you can't add something positive to the conversation, keep silent please.

  8. Thank you for this post I really like your recipes and this is what I'm needing to do now in my life ,I'm on my way to losing 150+ pounds.

  9. This sounds do-able and I'm going to try it! Congrats on your 35pounds that is really great!

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I have been following a low carb diet too and it is super hard in the South with all our wonderful fried foods (okra season's coming, don't get me started!) I have a question? Do you think we could make "grits" or even "cheese grits" with the cauliflower? I miss shrimp & grits and for breakfast w/ overlight eggs too!!!

  11. Congrats on the weight loss! I have been missing your posts and would love for you to keep us updated on new low-carb recipes you try or new restaurant finds. I love that your food choices are REAL foods that we could all enjoy, not pre-packaged cardboard! I think even I could do this!!!!!

  12. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to give this a try....not just for the weight loss, but for the energy, too! Continued success to you. So glad to see you in my email box again.

  13. I lost 70 lbs in8 mos. no beer, a good 30+ min brisk walk merging into a walk/ jog and breakfast, everyday! Eating what I usually do but watch portions and less carbs but they are still in the diet. Like she said.
    A lot less carbs and you do feel better !

    1. Wow! That's incredible! I'm so very happy with how I'm eating. I never feel like I'm missing out (because I'm not over-the-top with it). I feel GREAT!

  14. Oh! And never deprive yourself. A bite or a taste helps .

  15. scotch eggs are a super easy, delicious, on-the-go low carb breakfast.. just make sure to soft boil the eggs or the yolks over cook while baking.

  16. Way to go Mandy!

    I was desperate a few years ago and started a truly low carb diet. It was the Dukan diet, I figured if it worked for Princess Kate it would work for me :) However it was miserable. Your body needs some carbs to function properly. I have now found that balance, thank goodness! I think what the above negative nellys don't realize is that some beans in a soup or the little bit of batter on a chicken finger is still a lot lower carb than a meal of chicken fried chicken, hashbrown casserole and two biscuits (that was an example typical meal, for me anyways!) I have to remind myself that I'm eating nothing near like I used to, and I probably never will again. I've kept 35 pounds off for over two years :) I've now allowed myself a roll here and there- say if we are on vacation and the restaurant is known for their fresh baked bread, then yes I'll have some. But I don't eat junk just to be eating it- I can't afford to switch out my wardrobe again :)

    Your meal ideas are very close to what I eat now. Thanks for the new ideas too :) Oh, and do you have any before and after pics??

    1. I agree totally! I actually had some sushi today because I've been craving it for a month! I don't have any pics though if I keep losing I'll try to post some!

  17. Congrats on the weight loss! My wife and I are following a low carb, high protein diet as part of her pre-surgery (yep, THAT surgery) doctor supervised weight loss program. I absolutely love this blog and the recipes that you've put up are amazing. Even for someone like me, who always enjoyed cooking, but has never been able to really "experiment" in the kitchen, you've helped out a lot!

    We're following pretty closely to the Keto Diet plan (low carb, high fat -good fat-). There are some exceptions along the way, but since my high water mark, I'm down 30 lbs and my wife is down 22+.

    Amazing what getting rid of Mtn Dew and carbonated beverages will do to help kick start things.

    Good luck and continued success! :)

  18. Congrats on your weight loss! Isn't that a wonderful feeling!!! Keep it up and you will never return to carbs. I've been lo-carb for over three years and have not regretted a day of it. You do feel so much better. Keep us informed at to your progess.

  19. As a diabetic, I've eaten low carb for years. I was wondering, what is the best way to shred cauliflower for fried "rice"?

    1. I've been experimenting with cauliflower recipes that use riced or crumbled potato salad recently. I just put cut up cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it looks like rice. Pretty easy to eyeball. Also Green Giant makes cauliflower crumbles which I found at Target in the fresh food section. A little bigger than rice size, but I made a 'potato' salad with it and COULD NOT BELIEVE how good it was......I"m nonot a cauliflower fan really.

    2. riced or crumbled CAULIFLOWER....it should say above.

    3. I always just shred mine with a box grater :)

  20. Hello Mandy, First of all congratulations on your weight loss. I've been searching for recipes on low carbs and yours sounds so delish. Bur I was wandering if you have a cook book on your low carb and meal ideas that I can order from you.

    1. I'm sorry, I don't! Maybe some day!

  21. great job! I have been on again off again and now back on again with lc. I am diabetic and as soon as I started eating about 40 carbs a day my insulin need was cut in half! What I love about your recipes here is that they are all REAL food! No weird ingredients that you have to go to a specialty store to find at an outrageous price. I would like to share my favorite sweet treat- low carb cheese cake

    1 pkg cream cheese, room temp
    1 12 oz container cool whip/ Whipped cream
    1/2 - 1 pkg sugar free lemon jello

    Start with half the package jello mix and add more to your taste if you want to. mix well and spoon about 2 tablespoons into cupcake liners and store in airtight container in the fridge. It ends up being about 5 carbs per serving, but perfect when I have that sweet craving.

  22. You say "Stay Active". What do you mean? Are you following an exercise regimen or just not being a couch potato?

    1. I wish I had the time to schedule an actual exercise routine in but I simply don't. I already get up at 5AM and I'm just not willing to get up earlier ;) I mean, just keep moving! Park at the end of the parking lot and walk to the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. What I do is more housework during the week (vacuum every day, mop twice as often, etc.) and more yard work during the weekends. If I manage to eek out 30 minutes for the TV I get down on the floor and do sit-ups, etc. and lift free weights (actually started with a quart-size can of beans haha!). When I'm at work and I realize it's been a while since I moved, I walk to the mailbox or walk upstairs and back a time or two. ANYTHING is better than just sitting around ;)

  23. Love your recipes. My whole family is following the basic atkins diet which sounds very similar to this. We are keeping out carbs below 20 with the carbs we can count. We usually don't count the carbs of veggies. So we are probably between 20-30 total. The weight is not coming very fast. Do you watch fats, calories or protein grams?

    1. I don't count anything but carb grams usually, but when I find I'm not losing weight quickly, it's because of not enough water. A good rule of thumb is to take your current weight, divide in half, and that's how many ounces of water to drink, but avoid going over a hundred ounces. I still weigh a little over two hundred, but I stick to 100 ounces, no more, and that helps me to lose anywhere from 3-5 pounds a week. I've lost 50 so far. If I've been drinking enough water and I'm still not losing, I'll either do a three day egg fast (Google or search on Pinterest for ideas) or I as a last resort go off the low carb for a day or two to 're-set'. Honestly, for me, it's almost always the water. Hope that helps!

  24. thank-you so much! Im just starting low carb....I agree with you about how light and energetic I feel. The only thing I really hate is having to eat so often.. (I'm hungry about every 2 hours)....but I'm doing a shake, so that helps.
    I just love your recipes.....us low carbers have to stick together. :)

  25. Weight loss is the dream as well as the nightmare of many people, including me. I love your recipes. Wish you success

  26. I'm so happy to hear of your successful weight loss. As crazy as it sounds..I'm in my 70's and have lost over 167 lbs. My Dr.'s are scratching their heads after initially telling me that it would kill me (like I had much of a life at 388 lbs.). I found LOW CARB to be my miracle! I do the version using PLENTY of "healthy fats" such as real unsalted butter, olive oil, coconut oil, 4% fat cottage cheese, bacon, eggs, and avocado's (1/2 or whole) for breakfast can be surprisingly delicious and filling!!I've now dropped from "MORBIDLY OBESE" to OBESE. I have a LOT (probably 50-75 lbs.)of loose skin which cannot be surgically removed because my age makes me a poor candidate for surgery. But I'm still busy with family (4 grand-kids and 5 great grand-kids)as well as friends and neighbors too! By the grace of GOD I'm still healthy enough to be part of their live and not laying in a nursing home!!

  27. This is a really well thought out guideline for low-carb eating and the explanations are easy to understand. Like you say,everyone can tweak it some and make it there own,but it is a relief to know there is lots more than eggs!


Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy

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