Friday, June 18, 2010

Is Low-carb an Expensive Diet?

If high quality meat and cheese are upwards of $5 per pound and potatoes, bread and bananas cost a fraction of that, the low-carb meat-and-cheese diet sounds like it would be much more expensive than the high-carb diet. Does it work out that way in real life?

Since I buy almost everything with a debit card and record all the transactions on my computer, I have records for everything I've spent on food, health care and skin care. (The only serious cash I spend is for cover charges to dance clubs.) These three things--the food I eat, my skin, and overall health--have significantly changed since I started a low-carb diet back in February. I decided to analyze how the diet has affected my spending in those areas, which I believe have changed because of my low-carb diet.

Although I have data for all 2009, I have only three whole months' data for the time I've been low-carb. For 2010, I used the period March 1 through May 31. In addition, I excluded some unusual items for 2009: the doctor bill for turf toe (an accident unrelated to diet) and a flu shot (I'll probably get one later this year). Once I had totals for 2009, I divided them by four to make them the equivalent of three months (the length of the period I'm using for 2010). Results:

2009 (adjusted to three months):
Food: $1,114.16
Skin care & beauty supplies: $107.10
Health care: $251.75
Total: $1,473.01

2010 (Period March 1 through May 31):
Food: $1,153.27
Skin care & beauty supplies: $80.15
Health care: $0
Total: $1,233.42

Difference per year: $958.36 savings

It would appear I'm saving $80 per month by eating an expensive diet. How?

  • I'm saving $424 per year on acid blockers. (See posts on acid reflux.) I also quit going to my chiropractor because my aches and pains suddenly disappeared after I cut the carbs.
  • My food spending went up by only $13 per month. However, I don't eat as much as I used to. Fat (which I enjoy on my diet) has nine calories per gram; carbohydrate has four. Fat is therefore more filling--and it doesn't spike your blood sugar and make you hungry an hour later. My refrigerator and cupboards aren't as full as they used to be, and grocery shopping takes a lot less time.
  • I remarked a few months ago that I didn't know whether my skin or my priorities have changed, but I didn't feel the need for expensive skin care products anymore. (This was before I started taking extra zinc.) I believe it's my skin that's changed. It's softer and smoother and doesn't need exfoliants or balm anymore; rarely, I'll use some lotion on it. Over half of the $80 I spent on skin care products & beauty supplies during the period in 2010 was for perfume, which will last me several months. Those high-priced skin care products used to be my crack cocaine.

There's one thing I haven't taken into account: the money I'm spending going out dancing more often because I have more energy and don't have to spend nearly as much time working out. Well, every diet requires a sacrifice.


Fred Hahn said...

Excellent post Lori!

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, Fred.