This is part 8 in a series summarizing and reviewing “Always Hungry” by David Ludwig, MD, PhD. It may help to start reading these posts in sequence starting with part 1.
Chapter 5: Preparing to Change Your Life
Dr. Ludwig outlines how to have a successful start with the 7-Day Countdown with activities like collecting baseline metrics, fining your “big why” to help you stay on track, strategies to get sleep, movement and reduce stress, preparing the kitchen, stocking your shelves and some recipe prep work.
Day 7: The Overview
- Phase 1: Conquer Cravings- 50% fat, 25% carbs, 25% protein for two weeks
- Phase 2: Retrain Your Fat Cells- 40% fat, 35% carbs, 25% protein for 2-4 weeks or possibly longer if you don’t tolerate carbs well. Some will need to stay on this phase indefinitely.
- Phase 3: Lose Weight Permanently- 40% fat, 40% carbs, 20% protein with the goal to find out what your body tolerates without triggering cravings or weight gain.
Pages 110- 117 have a chart with each food group and what is allowed during each phase.
Day 6: Take Your Health Snapshot– and Start Tracking
- Weigh- only weekly, listen to your body instead of numbers of calories or the scale.
- Waist and height
- Blood tests (optional)- fasting lipid profile, fasting glucose, C-reactive protein, high sensitivity
- Blood pressure
- Daily tracker and Monthly Progress Chart- copies on 310-311 and downloadable at http://www.alwayshungrybook.com. The monthly chart plots your daily carb intake vs subjective ratings of hunger, cravings, satiety, energy level and well-being. It also asks you about your stress reduction, movement, after-meal walk and pre-sleep routine.
Day 5: Movement, Sleep, and Stress Relief Strategies
All of these are interconnected (less stress helps you sleep well, which encourages physical activity ect.)
- Joyful movement- based on the Italian “passeggiata” it’s an intentional, pleasurable, easy, spandex-free walk. Three 15 minute walks each day have beneficial effect on blood sugar for 24 hours. Add a passeggiata after dinner daily and decrease your current work out regimen (if you have one) by one third during phase 1.
- Safeguarding Your Sleep- Good sleep helps us deal with stress and decreases risk of developing chronic disease. Bright light suppresses melatonin which helps us fall asleep. Routines help us transition into good quality sleep time!
- turn down the thermostat- cool rooms promote deeper sleep
- Turn off TV- drama and violence can release stress hormones
- Turn off all other screens- starting 2-3 hours before bed, use blue light app such as justgetflux.com and avoid screens as much as possible. No screens in your bedroom.
- Keep lights low- Dim lights, block out light from the street with room darkening curtains or eyemask
- Block out noise- make bedroom as quiet as possible, consider a fan or white noise machine or ear plugs
- Create a pre-sleep ritual- designate a bed time so you get 7-8 hours of sleep (or more if needed), turn off lights early as possible, do stretches, take a shower, 10 minute mineral bath, stress reduction activity, cuddling. Do the same couple activities every night in the same order.
- Stress relief habit- long term stress means cortisol (stress hormone) can be eroding bone and muscle and building up belly fat. To combat this, intentionally adopt one 5-minutes destressing activity (progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, prayer, journaling, tai chi or something else) as part of your pre-sleep ritual. In phase 2 you add another session earlier in the day. In phase 3 we build up to 30 minutes per day, but “It’s better to practice 5 minutes every day than 35 minutes once a week.” pg 127
Day 4: Your “Big Why” and “If-Then” Plans
Pick something that centers and the most important goals in your life (family, relationships, future aspirations, avoiding disease progression) and WRITE IT DOWN and add what happens when you achieve your goal and sign it. (ie I will lower my heart disease risk factors by my annual physical. I will see my physician’s happy and surprised face.) Create a “Big Why amulet” (arm band, framed picture, image) and put it somewhere you see it at least daily to remind you/ reconnect with your Big Why. Dig deeper during your meditations and think about what it will sound, smell, feel like when you meet your goal. Who is with you? How do you feel? Imagine you have already achieved your goal.
If-Then plans are planning ahead for probable tricky situations (items in the plan that you don’t normally follow). Just like fire drills, we want to have a pre-made plan so that when the time comes, you don’t have to decide, you just have to act. Think about places you are likely to be “off plan” and answer these questions. example on pg 131.
- Which new habit do you want to establish?
- When, where and how will you do it?
- What could hinder you from doing it (could be a barrier) and how can you overcome it?
Day 3: Gather Your Cooking Tools and Clean Out Your Kitchen
This program contains explanations of how to cook for yourself, what to buy and tips to complete the prep work so you can prepare weekday meals in about 20 minutes. Page 133 is a list of kitchen equipment you will need. Pages 134-138 have charts for each food category. It details which foods to toss vs save for phase 2 vs keep.
Day 2- Go Shopping. Dr. Ludwig’s website http://www.alwayshungrybook.com has the shopping lists you need (non-perishables, prep phase and days 1-3 of recipes) for your biggest shopping trip. Be prepared for the bill- remember you are restocking and many of these items you will use for many weeks. The website also has recommendations for specific products.
Day 1: Food Prep for Phase 1, Week 1. Meal prep on slow days (usually weekends) makes it easier to stay on track on busy days. The prep list on page 142 has 10 sauces and 4 roasted nuts/seeds to be used through the first two weeks and beyond.
Final thoughts: “the main reason people overeat is hunger. Ironically, conventional weight loss plans only make this problem worse by restricting the amount of food you eat….. The Always Hungry Solution turns this approach on its head by encouraging you to eat until fully satisfied and snack whenever hungry. … On this program, calories stay in the bloodstream and nourish the rest of the body longer, leading to long-lasting satiety. You will eventually eat less– and probably burn off more calories, too– but this way with your body’s active cooperation.” pg 143.
I love the idea of meditating on my Big Why and writing out my if-then statements. My family (like most families) has full days and it’s hard to think about dinner ahead of time. We eat a lot of pasta, frozen chicken and tacos.
In reading page 133, I do not have an immersion blender and do not plan to buy one. I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂
When cleaning out your kitchen, some may say to toss the food out, but with so many hungry people in America, even not-as-healthful foods make a difference. Consider donating to a food pantry or shelter. I was also sad to see Dr. Ludwig didn’t spell out in these lists to get rid of vegetable oils like canola and corn oil. They are very processed and high in Omega-6 fatty acids.
It’s interesting to me that Dr. Ludwig makes the same arguments about insulin resistance and utilizing fat cell stores that many ketogenic proponents make. I am wondering if reduction of carbs and eliminating refined sugars will produce the same results as I have seen strict nutritional ketosis do. If so, this may be a much more approachable (and varied) way to achieve health goals and maintain weight loss.
I’m excited to be trying these recipes and this eating plan. My family is ready for some new eating experiences anyway! We have been in quite a rut.
My next 6 blog posts will be quick daily check ins as I complete the prep week activities. “Day 7” was to review the plan, so we’ll call today Day 7.