I have a crush on the Cronometer food tracking app

While I hate tracking, I find it necessary as I fine-tune my routine and get to a place where it might not be necessary. I have tried a lot of nutrition calculators and most of them ranged from passible to useless. I spent a lot of time with LoseIt! but it was always a one-sided relationship where I had to accommodate the app instead of it accommodating me.

I deleted it.

MyFitnessPal. Apparently beloved by millions – but not by me. Deleted.

KetoDiet was another. Minimalistic. Simple – but perhap too simple. Also, their units were quirky and to put in some foods I had to do tortured math in my head to come up with equivalents – and relationships that require me to do math in my head are doomed to fail.

There were others. One-night-stands that got deleted within a day. Frankly, most diet apps that even take keto into account only seem to pay it lip service.

Net carbs, for example, can be a nightmare. Scans of the barcode can be so off as to be laughable – or most of the foods I eat aren’t on the list.

Then came along Cronometer.

We’re early on in or relationship, but adding food is easy with many options for measuring – one will typically work without pulling out a calculator. Recipes are a breeze to manage, and the scanning works well and seems pretty accurate so far.

The secret sauce – what make it stand out to me? It elegantly shows me my micronutrients. This quickly showed me I was deficient in calcium and magnesium – I would have never know in other apps – or maybe it was just hidden. This allowed me to alter my supplements to make sure I wasn’t deficient. You can also put in your own target ranges as opposed to the app calculating the macros for you.

Now with any relationship, there is always a downside. With Cronometer, it is ads. Not only banner ads, but full-screen overlays that prompt me to play a mini golf game while all I wanted to do was enter that I ate an avocado.

There’s also some features I don’t have but I don’t miss them because I don’t have them. Can’t miss what you never had.

While I might consider paying for the ad-free experience, I have not been crippled by the interruptions.

While tracking sucks, I find Cronometer sucks less than all the others I’ve used.

Give it a whirl and see what you think. A month from now I might write another post explaining why I hate it, but right now it’s my new BFF.

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PF Chang’s Menu Sorted by Net Carb Count for May 2018

Let’s be honest – you don’t go to PF Chang’s for their low carb items – you go there because there’s a friend having an event you can’t miss, or some other social necessity. It’s nobody’s fault except yours that you are on some weird diet where you count ‘net carbs’ – whatever that is. Your goal is to go and participate in as normal a fashion as possible while maintaining your diet.

Below is the current PF Chang menu from their website as of May 2018. They have almost 180 different items you can order – and they really go overboard in giving you all the detail on every menu item – check out the page yourself and be prepared for the wall of noise as they overshare information on every item.

I like PF Chang’s – and I like that they provide so much info – but here’s the situation: I’m on a low carb diet and I have to meet a friend there tonight! What do I pick?

No fear. Let’s keep this simple to avoid panic attacks – OK?

Go past the kid’s sides and you’ll see the  Wok’d Spinach with Garlic, the Egg Drop Soup Cup, and the Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed from the kid’s menu. Smile sweetly and tell the server you’re a kid at heart. You can do this.

If you can handle a few more carbs there are more options that aren’t bad a little further down.

As has been the same for a dozen years, I do not recommend scrolling all the way down to the bottom where ‘The Great Wall of Chocolate’ resides at 245 grams of net carbs. That’s more than 12 DAYS of carbs for those of us going for 20 grams or less. I’ve had it – and it’s great – but I wasn’t on a low carb diet at the time.

Category Menu Item Net Carbs (g)
SALADS addon – Salmon* 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Broccoli 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Snap Peas 1
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Carrots 2
SALADS addon – Shrimp 4
SALADS addon – Chicken 4
MARKET SIDES Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
KIDS SIDES Kids Fruit Cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed 7
KIDS MENU GF Steamed Baby Buddha’s Feast 7
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
STREET FARE Edamame 13
SOUPS Wonton Soup Cup 13
SALADS Asian Caesar Salad 17
MARKET SIDES Wok-Charred Brussels Sprouts 17
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
GLUTEN-FREE SEAFOOD ENTRÉES GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried 18
KIDS DRINKS Kids Milk 2% 18
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (4) 20
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (4) 20
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 22
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Steamed 23
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Vegetable Spring Roll 23
STREET FARE Shishito Peppers** 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Pan Fried (4) 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (4) 24
MARKET SIDES Sichuan Style Asparagus 24
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Shishito Steak** 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Pork 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Chicken 24
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Pepper Steak 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Kung Pao Shrimp 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Oolong Chilean Sea Bass* 25
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Vanilla Ice Cream 25
DESSERTS Good Fortune Cheesecake – Mini Dessert 26
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (2) 27
DESSERTS Miso Butterscotch Pudding – Mini Dessert 27
MARKET SIDES Sauce Trio 28
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Miso Glazed Salmon* 28
MARKET SIDES Chili Garlic Green Beans 29
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 30
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (6) 30
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Mandarin Crunch Side Salad 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Strawberry Lemonade 30
DESSERTS Triple Chocolate Happiness – Mini Dessert 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Lemonade 31
STREET FARE Dynamite Shrimp 32
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream 32
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Salt & Pepper Prawns 33
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (2) 34
KIDS MENU Kids Sweet & Sour Chicken 34
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 34
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Mongolian Beef 34
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 35
DESSERTS Strawberry & Coconut Cream Cake – Mini Dessert 35
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Beef with Broccoli 36
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Beef with Broccoli 36
MARKET SIDES Brown Rice – individual serving 37
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (4) 38
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Mongolian Beef 38
KIDS DRINKS Kids Orange Juice 38
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 39
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (6) 39
SUSHI Lobster Avocado Roll* 39
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Kung Pao Chicken 39
KIDS MENU Kids Honey Chicken 39
STREET FARE Northern Style Spare Ribs 40
GLUTEN-FREE STREET FARE GF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 40
SUSHI Spicy Tuna Roll* 41
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Bowl 41
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef with Broccoli 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Ma Po Tofu 41
KIDS DRINKS Kids Apple Juice 41
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup bowl 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Stir-Fried 44
STREET FARE Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps 46
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(2) 48
SUSHI California Roll* 48
MARKET SIDES White Rice – individual serving 48
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Stir-Fried Eggplant 48
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (2) 50
SOUPS Wonton Soup Bowl 50
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef A La Sichuan 50
DIM SUM Mongolian Potstickers** 52
SUSHI Ahi Poke Bowl* 52
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Surf & Turf* 53
SUSHI Kung Pao Dragon Roll* 55
STREET FARE Tempura Calamari & Vegetables 56
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Lo Mein 56
DESSERTS Chocolate Dome 56
GLUTEN-FREE DESSERTS GF Chocolate Dome 56
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Walnut Shrimp with Melon 57
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Orange Peel Shrimp 57
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Pork 58
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Shrimp 58
STREET FARE Cauliflower Tempura 59
STREET FARE Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 60
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Bowl 60
STREET FARE Crispy Green Beans 61
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry 61
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Chicken 62
SALADS Mandarin Crunch Salad 63
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (6) 65
SUSHI Shrimp Tempura Roll* 65
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (4) 66
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Wok-Fired Filet Mignon* 66
STREET FARE Changs BBQ Spare Ribs 67
SOUPS Chang’s Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup 69
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sesame Chicken 70
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls Small 70
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
KIDS MENU GF Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
STREET FARE Eggplant Katsu** 74
MARKET SIDES Fried Rice (Side) 74
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Fried Rice 75
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
DESSERTS New York-Style Cheesecake 76
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Orange Peel Chicken 77
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Shrimp 78
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(4) 83
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sweet & Sour Chicken 83
DESSERTS Vietnamese Chocolate Lava Cake 83
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Chiang Mai Noodle Bowl 85
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (4) 86
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Chicken 86
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Mongolian Beef Bowl 87
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Korean Fried Chicken** 89
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Mongolian Beef Bowl 92
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Tempura Bowl 94
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Steak 99
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Steak 100
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Chicken 101
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Chang’s Lobster & Shrimp Rice* 102
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Chicken 103
MARKET SIDES Long Life Noodles (Side) 110
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Beef 120
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Chicken 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Shrimp 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Vegetables 124
NOODLES & RICE Long Life Noodles & Prawns 124
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Combo 125
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Pork 126
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Honey Chicken Bowl 134
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls 147
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Beef 150
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Beef 151
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Shrimp 152
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Chicken 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Shrimp 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Chicken 153
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice Combo 154
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Vegetables 154
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice Combo 155
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Pork 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Vegetables 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Pork 157
SALADS Vietnamese Noodle Salad 160
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Combo 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Chicken 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Shrimp 169
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Combo 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Chicken 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Shrimp 174
NOODLES & RICE Hokkien Street Noodles 219
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Hokkien Street Noodles 219
DESSERTS The Great Wall of Chocolate 245

 

The Keto Dream

I had ‘the dream’.

I’ve had these dreams only a few times in my life. They occured when I had made a change so profound and that I had internalized so deeply that my brain seemed to squirt out these dreams – perhaps as a cautionary tale – or as a confirmation I was doing the right thing.

A previous time I had a similar dream I had changed careers, changed jobs, had a crazy boss, worked in a new, high-stress environment, got married, and was buying a house that was a ‘fixer-upper’ (though I was no handyman) that I wasn’t sure we could afford.

I had a dream that they had rehired me at my old, comfortable, zero-growth-potential job. They walked me back to my old desk and I settled in – then a lightning bolt of terror went down my spine that woke me up with that: “Thank GOD it’s a dream!” feeling.

I took that as: as tough as what you’re doing, you’re better off – hang in there.

Last night, on Day 46 of my current diet, where I am still experimenting – trying to hack together a list of foods I eat and don’t eat, as well as when I eat – both for health as well as for fitting into my lifestyle and simple pleasure, I had the first dream I remember in a while.

In it I was given some sort of chocolate/peanut butter candy. Something with a crunch. I remember little about the dream in particular except that I was offered the stuff and took a big bite. I felt the sweetness in my mouth and a sudden terror came over me as I asked myself: Why are you eating this?!? YOU. DON’T. EAT. THIS!

It was real fright and panic.  

Like the previous dream I had over 20 years ago, whatever part of the mind that is in charge of dreams seems to think, in my estimation: what you’re doing is the the right thing – hang in there.

I told my adult daughter last night: You know what sucks? I gave up bread, McDonald’s, pizza, deli sandwiches, cake, dairy, artificial sweeteners – and you know what? I feel way better. I had so much energy today – I went to work and zipped through a number of different tasks, my brain felt sparkly and sharp, I was full of ideas, rolled with the punches, was in a good mood, and the day flew by.

It seems like there’s a connection: eat like shit – feel like shit. Duh – right?

It’s different to know something in an academic fashion and feeling it in every cell of your body as you live it.

I think I am nearing a point where I’ll have a steady path. There’s still tweaking to do, but I am beginning to lose weight again after giving up dairy and artificial sweeteners, but I am still learning, taking a very different approach to keto than I would have done in the past – and wading through some contradictory information to determine what works for me. No dairy and artificial sweeteners was tough for a few days – and I could not have this at the start of the diet as it would have been too overwhelming to do everything all at once – but now I’m grudgingly OK with it – I do miss the cheese WAY more than the artificial sweeteners, though.

Everything points to: I think I’m on the right path for me. Keep going.

Spicy Italian Pork Sausage Keto Meatballs – Dairy-Free, Cheese-Free, Nut Flour-Free

I try to cook new things on the weekend to increase the variety. It’s gotta be pretty simple though because while I like to experiment, I don’t like it to take that long.

I’ve seen sausage balls – meatballs, essentially – but all of them had ingredients I didn’t want – so I invented my own:

In a mixing bowl, I added:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
14 oz. mild Italian pork sausage (Whole Foods 365 Brand) 900 60 6 78
2 jumbo eggs 180 14 2 16
1/2 cup coconut flour 240 8 12 8
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 60 0.5 2 8
2 tsp cayenne pepper 12 0 2 0
2 tsp baking powder 10 0 4.6
1/2 tsp salt 0 0 0 0
Total for the entire recipe 1402 82.5 28.6 110
Total Per serving (1/21) 67 4 1 5

I mixed all this together with a fork, then rolled them into cocktail-size meatballs, and put on a baking sheet into an oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

The Verdict: pretty damn good. It tasted like an Italian meatball. No one would know there’s coconut flour in it. It was maybe a tad spicy for some folks but I like spice. You might want to eliminate that if you’re not into too much spice.

This was my first time using nutritional yeast. I don’t know if it really added anything to the flavor but they do taste good – and nutritional yeast has a lot of, well, nutrition in it. If you don’t want to use that, it would probably taste OK, but I really don’t know.

As to the effort: not bad. One mixing bowl to wash. One piece of parchment paper to throw away. Rolling up the meatballs was probably the longest part but prep time total couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes.

Might be nice with a little low carb pasta sauce.

I asked my younger daughter to try one. she looked at them suspiciously: “What’s in them?”

“Pork sausage meat.” Is all I said.

She tried one. There was a pause and then: “Woah! that’s a good meatball.” Of course if I had told her they contained nutritional yeast and coconut flour she never would have tried them.

Sneaky.

After having a few more I noticed that some were a little salty in spots. Perhaps that’s a warning to mix better or cut back on the salt.

Day 40 on my new approach to a keto diet

There is no one ‘keto diet’. It has many variants that appear more or less the same to the outsider but are very different to someone deep in the thick of it – like Protestantism.

And like Protestantism, each of these variants interpret the same documents that underlie the practice, apply them differently, then follow, or try to follow a certain high-level dogma that results.

Like any set of competing belief systems, there is a necessary infighting between the variants about details. Just one of the many differences is the use of ‘exogenous ketones’. This is a product that most often contains beta-hydroxybutyric acid, which is the ketone fuel your body creates and runs on when on a keto diet. Some people have put this into a supplement and sell it.

Some variants of the keto diet think this is fine. Others will remove your post from their Facebook group if you even mention them.

Another controversy is: how much protein? Some groups recommend a lot less than others – and both scoff at the other’s interpretations of the documents that support their position.

The same goes for fat. All the groups want you to moderate it, but some make this central to their belief system – others seem to pay lip-service.

Lastly (though by no means the last), there is what I would call the position on what I would call ‘Keto food porn’. To me, this is the intricate and tortured attempt to create keto meals that resemble their high-carb inspiration, or inventions like a bacon-weave taco shell, or a round meatloaf with cheese in the center, wrapped in bacon.

Keto is very trendy right now (which will probably pass as it did before) and people are bringing enormous creativity to foods and recipes.

Some people love this. Some people think this encourages consuming extra calories, and the first group replies: who cares about calories? Just eat to satiety.

On this 2018 version of a keto diet, as usual, I came up with my own road to follow. While this time I have immersed myself in the most current thinking, joining over a half-dozen Facebook groups and listening to at least 50 hours of keto podcasts to learn what the current state of keto is.

One thing it does NOT seem to be is ‘Atkins’. While I believe that none of these people would be talking about keto if it wasn’t for Dr. Robert Atkins, who died in 2003, few people discuss him, and the current products the company he started are not held in high regard.

While you might be forgiven for using these products, you would not be applauded.

Another worrisome thing is just how dangerous this diet can be if you do it wrong – and most of these people climbing aboard the keto bandwagon do not understand the seriousness involved in altering your body fuel source and the serious medical problems it can cause. I will leave the authoritative research to others – and to you to dig up – again, I have nothing to sell and nothing to convince you to believe. These are the things I’m concerned might happen to people who achieve nutritional ketosis but are ill-informed about the pact with the devil you sign:

  1. Alcohol. If you are deep in ketosis, too much alcohol can lower that threshold for alcohol poisoning. Having a ready supply of carbs in your body can help mitigate a bout of binge drinking that ketones cannot, apparently.
  2. Pancreatitis. If you are unknowingly predisposed to this, a massive cheat can push you into this condition
  3. Gallstones. I had read that fat is necessary for the prevention of gallstones. Fat-phobic people predisposed to gallstones who try a high protein and lower fat version of keto might set themselves up for this. There could be other reasons as well.
  4. You can get dehydrated easily and your relationship to water needs to be watched. Too little OR too much can be bad
  5. Electrolytes. One thing normies eating a standard diet don’t tend to worry about is their electrolytes. People doing a keto diet do need to be careful about this because your need for sodium, magnesium, and potassium change. This can screw up the electrical system in your body – and you know what your electrical system does? It controls the beating of your heart! OK they say, I’ll just take supplements. Not so fast. TOO MUCH can be as bad as TOO LITTLE. People are messing with system not only they don’t understand, but that their doctors don’t understand.

It is for these reasons I DO NOT RECOMMEND A KETO DIET! The science surrounding this diet has been my primary hobby for more than a dozen years. To the regular person who comes along with no interest in learning the intricate details, I would not recommend this to them unless they had medical supervision by a doctor who knew the ins and outs of a ketogenic diet – and good luck finding one!

Stop reading yet? No? Ok – the rest of you left, let’s continue.

So what am I doing differently this time?

The first thing is that I have simplified my diet considerably. I have given up almost all artificial sweeteners (except sugar-free ketchup – not ready yet), dairy, nuts, cheese – and of course all grains and carby foods like potatoes. I now drink black coffee and plain water.

A partial list of what I’ve been eating for the most part?

  • Ground beef (moving toward New Zealand raised grass-fed beef)
  • Chicken thighs (moving toward organic – and I’d love to find pastured but haven’t yet)
  • Steak
  • Pork belly
  • Fire-roasted tomatoes and green chilies (for my chili)
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Organic chicken broth
  • Lettuce (iceberg for now until people stop getting sick off of romaine which is a ‘thing’ as I write this)
  • Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Acocados
  • Asparagus
  • Organic celery
  • Eggs (organic and pasture-raised when possible)
  • Bacon
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut flour
  • Mushrooms
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Organic hot dogs from grass-fed cows
  • Sauerkraut
  • Psyllium husks

And I am planning to try experimenting with adding:

  • Ghee (aka clarified butter – considered OK in a dairy-free diet by people not eliminating dairy for religious or ethical reasons)
  • Broccoli florets
  • Nutritional yeast (a powder that sorta kinda of tastes cheesy, is full of nutrients, and might be good sprinkled on my broccoli)
  • Cabbage

I did not start here 40 day ago. It took a while to convert from my diet prior to April 2 where my primary food group was McDonald’s. What prompted the change was a sudden, worrisome trend in my blood glucose. I was seeing numbers up to 140 in the AM and they would stay elevated – even with taking metformin.

In less than 2 weeks I was able to get that number down by 20-40 points. In the mid afternoons I can see numbers in the low 80s – and this is with my stopping the metformin over 2 weeks ago.

Carb withdrawal at first was miserable. I comforted myself with an abundance of American cheese – God, I love the stuff! I also guzzled down seltzer loaded with Orange-Tangerine artificial sweetener in the evenings.

I also had Greek yogurt in work and Kerry Gold butter in my coffee. That was after the coffee and heavy cream I had in my coffee at home. I usually didn’t eat solid foods, though I would grab an Atkins shake and have some chicken broth with extra salt at lunchtime. This seemed to help with the mild headachy feeling I would get – but otherwise I felt good. Here and there was 2 squares of dark chocolate.

I gave up on the Greek yogurt because it seemed to trigger hunger during the first week.

There were some trashy, though low carb choices, along the way. Oscar Mayer bologna as well as bologna’s more refined cousin, Mortadella. Kielbasa. Pork rinds. These didn’t impact my blood ketones, which I measured obsessively. I got as high as 3.5.

I stopped negotiating with myself in the second week. I no longer thought about ordering McDonald’s and not eating the bun. I could watch people in work and at home gobble up carbs – even pizza – and it not bother me. It wasn’t willpower – it was that I had detoxed myself from carby foods and no longer had an interest. While I would not say even now that I don’t miss pizza, I don’t have this terrible craving for it, either.

Besides – I had substituted a bunch of junky keto-friendly foods to take the place of the high-carb junky foods.

To be clear: I started this particular go at the diet primarily for my health. And that worked: I lowered my blood glucose and stopped taking metformin. I also pulled off 10-12 pounds in 2 weeks. That was nice – but not the primary goal.

After the first 2 weeks the scale did not really budge, however, and while I was still committed to the diet for health reasons, I did want the weight loss to be part of it.

Finally, on day 34 I decided I might be strong enough to pull off eliminating all dairy and artificial sweeteners.

Boy oh boy, did this suck!

The cheese got replaced with more calories from meat and tomato slices with my burgers. While I still continue to use sugar-free ketchup, the amount of artificial sweetener is trivial compared with how much of the orange-tangerine stuff I would blast into glass after glass of seltzer on ice.

I started eating avocados more regularly. They can be tricky as they go bad so quickly but I’ve been able to manage. Once almost ripe, they keep in the fridge for a few days. When you take one out, eat it that day. Mostly works well.

I don’t drink the Atkins shakes. I’m drinking my morning coffee with coconut milk – and recently nothing. I no longer put butter in my coffee at work – and find that a little coffee goes way farther than it used to. I sometimes find myself not drinking any coffee at work – and when I do, it’s black. I don’t really drink fats anymore.

While not every day, on some days I find myself only eating one large meal a day. This happened quite by accident, but then I found out it was a ‘thing’ – OMAD (One Meal A DAY) or 23/1 Fasting. It seems there’s this notion called an ‘insulin holiday’. Here’s how I understand it. It is not only sugars that trigger insulin: proteins trigger them almost as well. So while your blood glucose might be low, your insulin might still be high – and as you have insulin resistance if you’re like me, eating nothing for a while gives the body a chance to not have to produce insulin as if you were snacking all day – and this might lessen insulin resistance over the long-term – at least that’s how the thinking goes.

There is a trick to this, however: eat too little and you put your body into ‘Starvation Mode’. Do this and your body can do all sorts of things – like make your hair fall out while holding on to every last calorie like a miser – and make you feel quite crappy – and there are voices on the Internet that don’t think this can be done without putting you into starvation mode.

So what I am doing is counting my macros more closely. I used a calculator I found here, and it gave me these ranges:

Calories:     1200 – 1892

Carbs:        20

Protein:    94-124 (104 is ideal)

Fat:        77-155

So the lower end is my target – and that ends up being one very satisfying meal per day. I don’t do this on all days – sometimes I have an avocado at work, and/or chicken broth. Sometimes I just have salt in water – depends on how I feel.

But you know the weirdest part of this: my narrowed food choices are liberating!

My diet seems easier. I’m not futzing around with food or thinking about food all the time. Diets can make you obsess about food more than not being on a diet. The simplicity makes things easier to track – and I hate tracking. The overhead of the diet is a lot less. I have more time for other thoughts than what I am going to eat – and amazingly enough – I don’t feel deprived.

That was the last thing I ever expected to say.

I could go on – like about what supplements I am taking – but I’ll stop here for now.

 

 

 

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe Version 2

I’ve been more strict in counting my carbs, and while the last Bacon & Beef Chili was great, there were carbs in some of the things I added and didn’t taste the difference.

Version 2 leaves out the unnecessary ingredients, really ups the bacon to the majority of two packages, and adds more flavor with an additional pepper and mushroom to add a nice texture.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
2 packages of bacon, precooked 840 42 0 56
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
1 large red bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
Trader Joe’s – Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms – 10 oz Container 72 0 10 7
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 4049 284 53 227
Total Per Portion (1/12) 337 24 4 19

(The portions last time were a guesstimate. This time I put the chili in 1 cup covered glassware. While I already ate some, I think if were using one cup of the stuff, the number are pretty correct.)

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the peppers and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  7. Add the remaining spices. I tend to go heavy on the chili powder and grind the cumin in a mortar and pestle – what a great fragrance
  8. Add salt and pepper, but remember that there’s a lot of salt in the bacon so don’t overdo it.

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: very enjoyable. As I am attempting to cut back on dairy I’ll skip the cheeses and sour cream – but you’re free to use it if you like.

Bestketonetest.com / Keto Mojo / Keto Clarity Club Blood Ketone Meter Review

If the title of this post isn’t confusing, then you are missing something.

A far as I can determine, The one-man keto juggernaut Jimmy Moore, who wrote a book ‘Keto Clarity’, has some relationship with a company that is able to sell blood ketone testing strips for a little over $1 each if you join the ‘Keto Clarity Club’. The site is https://bestketonetest.com/  and has Jimmy’s smiling face on the bottom.

There is *another* site – https://keto-mojo.com/ – that is essentially the same but doesn’t have any mention of ‘Keto Clarity’ and no Jimmy Moore. You get the same deal except that you join ‘The Founder’s Club’.

So yeah – a wee bit confusing. Jimmy Moore must get a cut from the first website and maybe nothing from the second.

Good for him. I’ve concluded that Jimmy Moore is far too valuable to the keto community to NOT wish him success in building a brand that generates enough money for him to continue doing what he does.

All of this aside, I bought the meter and joined the ‘Club’. The meter is expensive at $60, but if you really plan on testing for blood ketones, at a little over $1 a strip, you will save in the long run.

Yes – it’s pricy – but it is the most accurate way to measure ketones.

The pee strips that you can find at the drugstore are great to start and cheap, but their major flaw is the damn color change. It’s worthless in measuring how deeply you are in ketosis. They could be dark because you haven’t drunk enough water, or they can be light because you did.

The only thing the keto sticks are good for is a simple yes or no answer to: am I excreting ketone bodies? If the answer is ‘no’ you can fine-tune your diet to see what’s messing you up. Once you start seeing color, then you know you are on the right track.

The problem is that you can only use them at the beginning. If you succeed at getting into ketosis and stay there, the type of ketones excreted change and don’t show up in the urine anymore.

Important: you don’t need a meter to lose weight on a keto diet!

I lost 80 pounds without one.

But…for those of us that can afford one of these things, I think it’s a great product. To be clear: I’m not being paid in any way to write this, I have no connection to the company, and I wasn’t given anything for free. I bought and paid for this myself.

I find the device to be very well-built – perhaps the best-quality meter I’ve encountered. It is easy to use – if you don’t mind stabbing yourself and bleeding of course.

And for a numbers guy like I am, I find the ability to get precise number to be very helpful in staying keto.

You can also save money on the test strips in the long run by a simple testing routine:

  1. At the start of your keto diet, test once in the evening to get a 0.0 reading to prove you’re not in ketosis and the damn thing works.
  2. Don’t test on day 2.
  3. Start testing once in the evening on day 3. If you’re doing things right you should begin to see the numbers go up. They tend to be higher in the evening. It might take longer then 3 days so if you know you’re eating to the keto way and not filling up on processed low carb crap and you’re watching your protein intake, save your strips and wait until day 5.
  4. While you’re in ketosis if the number is above 0.5, the ‘sweet spot’ for weight loss is supposedly between 1.5 and 3.0. At the end of a week without cheats, test yourself throughout one day to measure how your body’s ketone levels fluctuate. Write these down and keep these as your reference levels. If you are not at least at 0.5 at each reading, you might want to examine your diet to see what food might be messing you up.
  5. After that, if you’re numbers are good, there’s little reason to obsessively test except to see if a new food has an impact, you cheated, or your usual routine was disrupted in some other way.
  6. After a month, do another round of testing throughout a normal day. As you become keto-adapted the numbers might change.

Following this plan you can get those 50 strips to last you 3 to 6 months and still have good, solid numbers to reference.

One last note: while I also check my blood glucose, I don’t recommend the Keto Mojo glucose test strips because they are double the price of the meter I use.

I’ll leave that discussion for another post.