I know that it has been a surprise to some of my long-term readers that I now use THM principles. It was a surprise to me as well! When I was first introduced to THM, I was glad that others found it helpful, but it seemed overly complicated (just being honest, here). I also didn’t really need it. I was at a healthy weight. I ate healthy food. And there was no reason to change what worked well for me.
Fast forward, and I had a huge health crisis caused by mold exposure and a mix of other health concerns and stressors. I was extremely ill and extremely inflamed. That inflammation caused weight gain, despite not changing anything about how I ate.
I had to work extremely hard to get better again, and my family had to make many sacrifices to make that possible. That’s a long story, and I’m so thankful to have regained my health. But once I had improved, I had assumed that my weight would go back to a healthy weight again, and that just wasn’t happening.
So I tried keto, and I tried intermittent fasting. I read the research and I was encouraged. But my practical experience was that it did seem to help, at least temporarily, with some of my inflammation, but I lost my energy eating that way. It also appeared to slow my metabolism even more, and crazily enough, I didn’t lose weight on it either. Others feel amazing on a keto diet or when using intermittent fasting principles, but my body seemed to just get stressed on it instead.
It was then that I remembered THM, and I thought, “Why not?” I decided to try a two-week THM trial, and see how I felt on it and how sustainable it would be for me. I noticed such a difference in just those two weeks; I knew I had to continue.
What Sets THM Apart
One of the primary principles of THM is separating your fuels. The body uses either fats or glucose for energy, but when you stack those fuels together, our bodies can’t efficiently burn through them, and you end up with weight gain.
This would be why mashed potatoes, French fries, heavily buttered bread, and rich curries over white rice can cause some of us to gain weight. They are giving you a lot of carbohydrates (glucose) with fats.
The keto diet allows you to burn primarily fat as your fuel source, so it does “separate” the fuel sources, but simply by eliminating one of them.
Keto and Healthy Carbohydrates
But for some of us, being off healthy carbohydrates long-term ends up messing with our hormones and thyroid/adrenal health, which is why many of us feel so tired when eating a low-carb diet and end up with stalled weight loss or even weight gain over time.
On THM, you eat both fuels (slow carbohydrates and fats), but not together.
While you concentrate on getting high-quality protein and vegetables in, you eat the majority of your meals with the two fuels separate from each other. This looks like having some meals look very much like a keto meal, but with more freedom with your vegetables and a concentration on protein, rather than fat (though you still eat plenty of fats with these meals). Then you switch to a meal that has slow carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, fruit, etc.), lean protein, and vegetables, with only a small amount of fat.
This switching back and forth between the fuels for the body, coupled with eating every 3-4 hours, ended up being highly effective for me.
My Experience and Results
I lost over 30 pounds, regained my energy, and my metabolism turned back on again. I also lost a lot of the premature aging in my face that had occurred while sick because of inflammation. But it wasn’t just about vanity either.
Because adding more foods back into my diet (instead of taking them out, such as when on the keto diet), along with separating my fuels, ended up being really helpful for my gut health. Instead of feeling weighed down after I ate because of my sluggish metabolism and gut, I started feeling energized by my meals again. I also was loving all of the delicious meals I could make on the plan.
Much to my surprise, I also found that I could add back in problematic foods too, such as oats, which had caused rather severe issues for me in the past. (I have a theory for why this happened, and it’s related to the impact on our gut health of getting higher amounts of fiber from a variety of sources, something I shared in the free webinar that I hope to offer again soon).
Getting off excessive weight while being able to eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods (many of which weren’t allowed on the keto diet) did also help my continued healing journey. It reduced my chronic low-grade inflammation as well. Because weight issues feed into inflammation issues, getting back to a healthy weight helped turn the vicious cycle into a positive cycle, and I’m grateful.
The THM umbrella is large, meaning that people use the THM principles, but their meals can look very different from each other. I choose to eat it with a concentration of real food, along with principles I’ve learned from other experts such as Dr. Wahls, and Julia Ross. This combination has made a huge difference in my life.
It has also helped me regain my joy in both cooking and in what I eat. I so enjoy being able to bake whole grain gluten-free bread again, as well as eat a variety of healthy carbohydrates without feeling like I’m not eating optimally for my health. (For an example of a slow-carb meal, see this Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad or the Mexican Chicken Bowl on this recipe. For an example of a fat-fueled meal, see this carnitas recipe.)
There are other dietary eating plans that essentially separate fuels in a similar way as THM, but I’ve found THM the most flexible and doable. That flexibility has allowed me to use their principles in the way that is most helpful for healing and weight loss for me personally.
I will say that, yes, there is a learning curve to eating this way. My initial reaction of thinking THM was more complicated than other dietary plans was correct. But, not only has learning how to eat THM been well worth the effort for me, but it’s also very easy for me to eat this way now.
If you put some time into learning how to eat with your fuels separated, it does become second nature over time.
All of this led to me deciding to coach others on how to use THM principles while concentrating on the healing, real foods. And I’ve loved every minute of it. You can read about that here.
To get the full scoop on THM, two books that give you a great head start are:
- Trim Healthy Mama Plan (This short book gives you just the plan, and helps you understand what principles you need to follow and why.)
- Trim Healthy Table (This cookbook gives an great overview of the plan, in short form, as well as a lot of recipes.)