The Atkins plan – at least the 1992 Atkins plan I started with – recommended a 2-week induction period with a slow and steady increase in carbs which, while it might slow weight loss a bit, was supposed to be much more tolerable – or so I imagine the reasoning was.
I’m going past that, baby. Now it’s ‘Nutritional Ketosis’.
There are some people who live in this state constantly. Perhaps not many, but there’s some. I think in the past I’ve gotten to 6 to 8 weeks before I flubbed it, but there’s nothing that says you can’t go right back into it.
If you’ve allowed yourself enough variety of low carb-high fat, healthy food, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with this.
When I started this I was 212 – I’ve been as low as 204. My weight has inched up a bit, but that’s to be expected when you weigh yourself daily – and nothing to be concerned with.
I find that of you have variety and keep the rules and regulations to a minimum, it can be an awfully pleasant way of living.
The simple rule I followed for the first week: eat whatever quantity I want – but try to keep the level of fat above 70% of calories – and make sure that fat comes from quality sources (see my post on fats for more on that).
Eating the quantity I wanted, though perhaps high, helped stave off carb cravings. I also allowed myself Splenda in the form of EZ-Sweetz – liquid Splenda with zero calories (the packets have carbs though they don’t have to state it on the label).
I still don’t drink soda, though I have indulged in a few zero carb energy drinks as of late.
My drink of choice is coffee (with and without cream) and water.
What did I eat?
- Heavy whipping cream
- Whipped cream (the sugar amount is so small that I think it irrelevant – I consider it low carb and high fun)
- Lindt 85 & 90% dark chocolate
- Hot Italian sausage from the supermarket
- Pastured butter
- 80% lean ground beef
- Baked pork belly
- Hard cheeses
- Sugar-free ketchup ( and the non-sugar-free – a little won’t hurt)
- Mayonnaise (store-bought and home made)
- Trader Joe’s Hake en Papillote
- Regular pasta sauce (again, a little bit won’t hurt)
- Wild Planet Skipjack Tuna
- Pork rinds
- Coconut butter or coconut manna
- Full fat Greek yogurt
- Feta Spinach spread
- Tartar sauce
- Chickpeas (yeah – not low carb – a bit doesn’t hurt)
- Romaine lettuce
- Brussels Sprouts
- Hot dogs
- Red Bull and Monster energy drinks low or zero carb
- Pasta (again – just a little doesn’t hurt me if I keep my fat intake to 70% or more)
- Olive oil
- Sour cream
- Chicken (thighs, mostly, but legs and breast meat as well)
- Roast beef
- Grapes (again, a small amount)
- Meatballs at a catered function
- Pumpkin seeds, dried and salted
- Brad’s Raw Kale Chips
- Cream cheese
- Tabasco sauce (red)
- Tabasco sauce (green)
That seems like a lot to choose from to me.
While there are a few traditional NO-NOs on the list, I find it’s the quantity that gets you. I actually focus mostly on the percentage of fat. On the day I had pasta, for example, it was pretty much my sole source of carbs and I was still above 70% fat. This – it seems to me – blunts the damage.
The second week of ketosis, the appetite-suppressing aspects of ketones begin to kick in more and I made a little more emphasis on eating until I was full rather than eating all that I wanted. Once ketosis kicks in, overeating is more a psychological habit than a blood-sugar-driven urge, and I found it quite easy to pare back my calories by maybe 400 calories daily without much in the way of effort.
All around me are temptations – the rest of my family are carb freaks, but ketosis helps a lot with that. No great willpower is needed – just awareness and making sure you don’t fall into mindless eating when you are sitting at a table where the kids are scarfing up chips and dip – I go for the pork rinds and dig right in – that’s all.
The above might not be perfect – but it’s a perfectly acceptable way to live without feeling deprived.
It also shows in my blood ketones. Testing your urine is a very inaccurate way to measure. Depending on the fluids you drink, the color varies. The blood test meter is much more accurate, though the test strips are like $2 each, so I measure this only once a week.
Last week I was at 0.5 mmol/l – that’s the starter level. Yesterday I measured and I am at 0.8 – a 60% increase.
If I know what the hell I am talking about, if I continue this should slowly rise as my body becomes ‘keto-adapted’ and could possible go up to 5.0 mmol/l – but I’m not that committed to bring my fat level higher than it is now. If I get to 2.0, I’d be amazed.
As to how I’ve felt – I’ve had my ups and downs. Keto-adaptation can be some rough going, but I find the feeling passes and then you get the occasional physical lethargy here and there – but I got that as well when I ate a lot of carbs – so what’s the difference?
I also don’t feel bad after eating. Eating a lot of carbs can make me feel physically ill afterward. I don’t get that living like this. Nor do I get indigestion – my bottle of Tums has remained untouched for a while.
My mind is clear and I am in a relatively decent mood. I am also dealing with a lot of new complex brainwork at my job and seem to be keeping up. Ketosis does not dull my mind at all – it makes it better.
It also makes me generally calmer – perhaps the lack of blood-sugar swings.
You might also be thinking about, well, the ‘plumbing’ – since I have very little in the way of fiber, am I…umm…having any ‘difficulties’?
If you aren’t obsessed with a particular time schedule for this aspect of your life and let nature call when nature is damn well ready, everything on this end of the continuum is just fine.
Oh yeah: no exercise other than the normal running around I do as a father of two kids and a wife that also works.
So let’s see if I can make it through another week – shall we?