Recipe – The Cream Spinach Fat Bomb

Quick and easy to make – and quite good.

I’d better be right about fat being harmless though or I might be in a body bag after this one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 box of cream cheese
  • parm cheese (the stuff in the cardboard can)

Directions

Thaw the spinach in the microwave for 10 minutes. It will leak so place the boxes on a plate to catch the leakage.

Once thawed, let stand for 15 minutes at least – it will be too hot to handle the next step.

Now that it’s cooled, use a strainer to squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible – but don’t kill yourself over this – good enough is good enough

In a microwave-safe bowl, toss in the spinach, along with a stick of butter and the cream cheese. After about 4 minutes the butter and cream cheese should easily mix into the spinach without fuss and to my surprise got absorbed into the spinach. There were no puddles of butter as I feared.

The taste was good but a little lacking. A healthy sprinkle of the canned parm cheese made it perfect.

It *looked* like ordinary creamed spinach – but we know better. This innocent-looking creamed spinach was a Cheesecake Factory-style Fat Bomb made to look ‘lite’ and ‘healthy’. It was one of those menu items where you’d go: “Oh – I don’t know *how* they can make creamed spinach so tasty!”

Just for the heck of it I ran the numbers for the whole thing in my LoseIt! iPhone App:

  • Calories: 1,408 (1,200 of these calories come from fat)
  • Fat: 135g (81%)
  • Carbs: 37g (10%)
  • Protein: 33g (9%)

I would say that realistically this serves 4 – which means I ate 4 servings in one sitting.

Me and my body need to have a little ‘sit down’ to talk about ‘portion control’ – ya think?

This would be a splendid recipe for a pot luck – and you can look ’em in the eye and say it’s ‘diet’ – though change the subject if they start asking questions about the recipe. Based on the crowd at the New Year’s party I went to, this would have been gone in a flash.

Need I say it? This is safe for a ketogenic diet. In fact, it is *so* safe you might want to dial it back a notch – though this is ideal for people doing a ‘fat fast’ (though you don’t eat as much as I did). It is also vegetarian as long as they are the type that do dairy – there’s so many variants it’s hard to keep track.

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I Started Ketosis in Less Than Two Days With This One Weird Trick

I’m sorry – I couldn’t help myself with that ‘one weird trick’ phrase that’s used as clickbait all over the Internet – but it really *was* one little thing that helped me get into ketosis.

I’ve been doing low carb to varying degrees for a dozen years now and the one thing I noticed in myself is eating enormous amounts of butter always got me into ketosis in record time. Once I’m in ketosis I can throttle back the butter – and the ketosis itself helps with carb cravings.

It’s also motivating to see the keto sticks turn a dark red. Doing this when I come home in the evening is a great motivator to keep me away from the carb-laden ‘kid chow’ that my daughters like.

The problem is *eating* enormous amounts of butter. Don’t get me wrong – I love butter, but the amounts needed to make this trick work was kinda ‘yuck’.

I used to wrap it in roast beef but I’ve grown sick of this trick.

This past week I stumbled across a way to get the amount of butter I need to do the trick – one stick per day – that I actually look forward to having. It’s also simple and takes 5 minutes.

Here’s the trick:

Ingredients:

  • The best butter I can afford. Kerry Gold Irish butter is great, but any ‘pastured’ butter will do. If you were stupid enough to try this you could probably do this with the cheapest stuff that you can find but there’s beneficial substances in the pastured butter – and since you’re going to be getting a massive blast of calories from this, shouldn’t you go upmarket if you can?
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock with sodium. Unless you are salt-sensitive (and I question if such people should go on a ketogenic diet), a ketogenic diet will deplete you of salt. I personally see nothing wrong with salt, but I’m a little nuts and you probably shouldn’t be taking my advice anyway
  • Tamari Soy Sauce. More salt. Tamari soy sauce is gluten-free and I’m experimenting with minimizing my gluten intake just for fun.

So what I do is get a large coffee mug – 16 oz. – and put a half stick of butter in it, then cover with the chicken broth and place in the microwave on high for about 3 minutes. The stick of butter won’t be completely melted, but with a bit of stirring and a minute or two and it will.

I then add the Tamari soy sauce to taste. I like salt so for me that’s at least a teaspoon if not more.

This – to me – tastes pretty darn good. It tastes like a creamy, buttery, chicken soup where the butter does not overpower the chicken and soy sauce flavor.

On day one of my upteenth time tried to restart my low carb diet I had this twice daily. I typically skip breakfast and just have coffee and cream, then have this at lunch time and right before leaving work to help me get past the dozen or so fast food places I pass on my way home that have been my downfall as of late.

To say this is ‘filling’ is an understatement.

By the evening of the second day the keto strips showed I was in full-blown ketosis – and there’s certainly a number of other physical symptoms of starting ketosis that I was feeling that backed up the strips.

My plan at the moment is to stay on a ketogenic diet for as long as I can. I’d like to do 3 months and go back to my doctor and get my bloodwork done. I might mix in intermittent fasting as well. Once your body is used to burning ketones for fuel – and this ‘keto-adaptation’ can take weeks if not months to fully adapt, fasting is way easier because you are not going to be dealing with hypoglycemia like you might coming off a high-carb diet. Your body knows how to mobilize fat as fuel and it just won’t be as much of a struggle.

I *do* feel compelled to state that this is awfully extreme and I don’t recommend ANYONE be as daredevil as I am. I think I’ve become quite the kook and super-duper low carb, high fat diets are not for everyone and have their hazards. Perhaps each post from now on should have a variation of the disclaimer you see on car commercials when you see them do high-speed maneuvers to convince guys in mid-life crisis to buy overpriced sports cars:

Professional stunt dieter – do not attempt this at home. 

The Un-Diet and the Full-Immersion Fat Bast

On October 8th I wrote an introduction to what I felt would be a reset of my diet. On that day I was 234 pounds.

The odd thing is that this weight gain has been accompanied by a sudden and severe bout of not giving a shit. It’s hard to find the motivation when you don’t give a shit – self-loathing, fear, embarrassment, anger – even despair, though to a lesser extent – can be a motivator.

Indifference is *not* a motivator.

In fact, after I wrote my October 8th missive it appeared as if I was trying to win some competition for how many fast food meals I could tuck in. If there was an actual competition, the judges would have been impressed. Every mealtime a voice inside of me said: ‘screw this diet shit – maybe next time.’

It was the truth. Like a tiger in India that acquired a taste for human blood, I had flim-flammed myself into thinking that I could ‘moderate’ my carb intake. Instead, I had artfully bullshitted myself again. I fell for my own bullshit and had abandoned low carb like I never had before. The villagers would have to kill the carb-loving tiger before *any* semblance of order would return.

I tried being less obsessive about my diet. For the first time in a decade I gave myself the latitude to not think about dieting in an intense, personal fashion. I banished this extra housemate, this dietary burden on myself and my family – and it did nobody good. Thinner and obsessive, I was annoying and eccentric. Now I’m fatter, crankier, and still annoying and eccentric.

It wasn’t a good tradeoff.

Perhaps my lot in life is to be an obsessive, compulsive dieter. Perhaps I can never be ‘normal’. I think I’ll keep more of it to myself, however: no one wants to hear about ‘your diet’ – excepting perhaps present company, of course.

Every single freakin’ day since then I tried to start my diet only to have it crumple like a cheap suit from the smallest of excuses. What IS hunger?!? I asked myself. Intellectually, you know you’ve taken in adequate nutrition, then hunger appears, you tell it to go pound sand, feel good about yourself – and find yourself moments later midway through a McDonald’s Double-Cheeseburger wondering: what the hell happened in between the onset of hunger and a gullet being filled with McCrap? Surely some higher-level cognitive functions were operating to navigate the car to the drive thru, place the order, pay, and start eating – but what some psychologists call the ‘Executive Function’ – that force within us that causes smart people not to do dumb things – had checked out completely.

Hunger won out and I was up to 236.6.

I decided I needed to pull out a weapon against hunger I only use sparingly because it comes off as so bat-shit crazy that even I take pause before I reach for it: the full-immersion fat blast.

In a nutshell the thinking goes like this: for me, a day or two of overeating as much fat as possible is the fastest way to get into ketosis and get the appetite-supressing properties of ketones in my bloodstream. I’m overeating *anyway* but this type of overeating at least leads to appetite suppression after a while. So on October 21 I ate:

  1. Coffee with cream
  2. Coffee with a dash of Atkins shake as a creamer substitute
  3. A tiny bit of roast beef wrapped around what ended up being near a half-stick of butter
  4. a cup of fatty pork belly with 2 eggs, fried, with a huge dollop of sour cream
  5. Pork rinds with a tuna salad with a big dollop of mayonnaise as well as more sour cream
  6. A dessert of a few tablespoons of sour cream with some Mio flavoring

While I didn’t track calories, I’m sure my intake was well over 2,000 calories, with lots of fat, moderate protein, and probably under 10 grams of carbs.

The next day I was down 3.2 pounds to 233.4 – nothing shocking, actually, as you shed water as you deplete the carbs in your body and I am capable of holding onto perhaps up to 8 pounds of water weight by my estimate. While I don’t miss the extra weight, it wasn’t the point – ketosis and the appetite killer that travels shotgun with it is what I’m aiming for.

I ate nothing until mid afternoon – the coffee, cream and Atkins shake as creamer kept me going until then, when I had half a package of cream cheese on two small pieces of roast beef.

Not too long after that I felt the heaviness, the tiredness without sleepiness, that signals the onset of ketone production for me.

At home I checked for ketones – yep – I was starting ketosis.

I had 2 burgers with cheese along with a bit of regular ketchup (no low carb in the house) as well as a few ounces of vodka. There was also the leftover tuna from the day before with lettuce.

There was some longing for more food, but not the kind of hunger where I find a plate of pasta half-eaten before I know what the hell was going on.

The nature of my hunger had already changed. It’s what I was looking for: when hunger comes now it is merely present – not omnipresent – that’s the biggest benefit of a ketogenic low carb diet to me.

Again, the point here is to just get into ketosis – not losing weight – but when I woke up on Saturday, October 25th, I was 229.8 – down almost 7 pounds.

Of course, its times like these where I post an impressive 2-day weight loss, and then completely screw things up moments after I hit the ‘post button’.

Frankly, the odds are against me. With Halloween around the corner with piles of leftover candy strewn in so many places as to be seen in every glance, then Thanksgiving, the official US binge-eating holiday, through a food-filled Christmas season, and coming to a Bacchanalian climax with the world-wide celebration of alcohol abuse called ‘New Years’, this is a perilous time for any dieter.

Stay tuned to see if I can beat the odds.

 

 

 

Recipe: 5-Minute Pork Belly with Egg

While I am still trying to navigate what my new approach to low carb will look like (see previous post), my diet still centers around the notion of very high fat and few carbs as possible. This recipe fits the bill in spades.

Trader Joe’s, the eccentric grocery chain in the US, sells pre-cooked pork belly. It’s slow-cooked before packaging which makes preparing it quick and convenient. I warmed it up earlier in the week for the family but there were other things at the meal and it went mostly uneaten, so now I had a half-pound of pork belly to use up.

This morning I was hungry so I whipped up the following:

  • 2 ounces cooked pork belly, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 4 shots Tabasco sauce

Prep was simple: as the pork belly is so fatty there is no need for butter or other oils. Placed in a hot frying pan, the belly releases enough oil to cook the egg. After throwing the egg in, I scrambled them together. Total time cooking was less than 5 minutes and the time from coming up with the thought to sitting down to eat was less than 10 minutes.

(I still have to clean up, but I don’t want to think about that right now.)

The verdict? This was WAY better than I imagined. I thought I was going to get an OK meal and use up some leftovers before they went bad; instead, I got this really tasty dish that I really enjoyed – enough so that I took the time to add it as a recipe to my Lose It! diet web app and post it here.

I also have some nutrition information, if you track that sort of stuff:

Calories: 367
Fat: 35 grams (87% of calories)
Carbs: 0 grams (0% of calories, of course)
Protein: 11 grams (13% of calories)

It was so good that after eating I wanted to make another serving, but I restrained myself for that 15-minute window we supposedly have for satiety signals to reach the brain and by then I felt full enough that I didn’t need a second helping.

This is a perfect meal for people trying to get into induction or ketosis or whatever you like to call it, and at 87% of the calories coming from fat, a great meal if you are attempting a ‘fat fast’.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Day 3

photo (1)
A rather scary looking roast beef and cheese in romaine lettuce leaves wrapped in saran wrap

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 4pm

I made a ‘wrap’ for lunch. I’ve always found it a big problem replacing the utility of something between 2 pieces of bread that you can eat on the run. My solution was to use romaine lettuce leaves as a ‘wrap’, fill with roast beef, cheese & Mayo, then wrap it in saran wrap so it looked like a cucumber.

This worked surprisingly well for dining ‘Al Desko’ (aka eating at your desk).

Not much in the way of a headache, but the keto cutover can be bumpy as energy levels go up and down – sort of like a car backfiring, or a car with a little water in the fuel line, there’s a certain inconsistency to how you feel which I could imagine would feel scary to one doing this for the first time.

I’ve been through it at least 100 times. It’s the normal abnormal. If I continue like this, the ups and downs will diminish as my body acclimates, and there’s usually an overall energy level boost after a few days to a few weeks. Despite the physical feeling, my minds feels clearer – and I am doing a lot of brainwork. The neurons are firing like they should even if the body is balking a bit at the moment.

So the big question that looms ahead – and the reason why I am trying to chronicle this a bit more closely is: just what is going to screw me up? As I’ve probably gone into ketosis 100 times, I also went OUT of ketosis 100 times – why? Unless the 100th time’s the charm, it will happen – and I’d like to catch clearly what causes this so I can hopefully avoid it. All the goodies still surround me in the house, the work stress is still here.

In the evening I ended up at a diner with my younger daughter and had 3 eggs, bacon and a sausage. I could have eaten more but I didn’t. Home late, I went to bed after getting my younger daughter ready for bed.

March 13, 2014 – 5:30am – 220.4

Given my diet and the second day of ketosis, the one pound loss is probably indicative that I’ve lost all the water weight and the water that I’m carrying now isn’t due to carbs. Your body simply does not lose fat that quick – it is physically impossible without liposuction. It’s probably fair to say that any loss from here will be mostly fat. Studies can be found that show low carbers are less likely to lose muscle during weight loss than people on other diets. Don’t know if it’s true, nor do I know if that applies to my unique biochemistry.

That’s the problem I have with much nutrition science: it makes generalities that only *might* be true, and if true, might not apply to me because I am not a generality.

If some of you are thinking: if I did what this schmuck did, would I lose close to 9 pounds in 3 days? I have no clue.

All I know is that what I am doing has caused this weight loss. Past experience shows it will continue to slow. It will certainly stop if I eat any significant amount of carbs or start eating stuff like low carb bread and Atkins bars. I will gain if I go to The Cheesecake Factory and order a bowl of pasta.

I will make another one of my lettuce-leaf roast beef and cheese wraps and see how today goes – again watching for: what circuit do I trip that makes me screw up and cheat? If I was talking to you in person, you might try to encourage me: “Aw, don’t think like that – you’re doing fine!”. But this isn’t about positive thinking or negative thinking – it is an honest experiment in trying to identify the series of events that cause me to lose my groove – not because I want to fail, but because I want to pay close attention to how and why I fail when it happens so I can have something to work with and not give myself a vague and useless answer like: I was tired.

Everybody gets tired. If it is ‘tired’ for example, I want to be able to drill into that experience to see the exact mechanism, take it apart, and clearly note the sequence of events and feelings that led to it in the hopes that knowing more will give me clues on how to stop it from happening again – or at least lessening the time between restarts.

I feel OK. Despite the stress of work and the usual stress of an overbooked modern life, I am eating to plan, don’t particularly have cravings that drive me crazy, and am not hungry. Mind is clear, and I will go into work with a very complicated set of tasks that I know need to be done and will probably do them pretty efficiently. My mood is certainly not ‘blissed-out grinning idiot’ – I’m at turns mentally fatigued, anxious, rushing, and trying to solve puzzles with a deadline, yet the emotions I feel about these things don’t feel as extreme as a few days ago where I felt almost as if I was suffering an existential crisis.

Let’s see how *this* day goes.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Lost 7 pounds in 36 Hours

[I thought I might try a bit of an experiment. What if I just post what I write? It’s the editing that kills me – most of my stuff ends up on the cutting room floor, unpublished. Instead, I’m going to just post what I’ve dashed off. It’s a bit of a ramble, but let’s see if it leads anywhere interesting. It’s only a blog, you know.]

Monday, March 10, 2014 – 10am

I bought the butter and the roast beef – I went for the store-cooked on the off-chance that it might be less processed. Even something like roast beef frequently has monosodium glutamate added. They also had Kerry Gold Irish Swiss cheese and as it’s entirely possible that the Kerry Gold cheese was made from grass-fed cows I bought a pound on impulse.

I am in a very odd mood that I am challenged to explain. I’m neither happy nor sad. Somewhat ‘robotic’ is perhaps one description.

I did weigh myself before leaving the house – 228.8.

Meh. Indifferent.

I wasn’t particularly hungry until mid afternoon when I had some of the roast beef with butter. Perhaps a 1/3rd stick with maybe 2-3 ounces of roast beef. I also had salt with it. I don’t add salt as a condiment normally, but I do with roast beef.

I didn’t try the swiss cheese until I got home. I had this with a leftover grass-fed hamburger and boy, was that good. I also had a glass of vanilla unsweetened almond milk while I cooked some grass-fed beef that needed to be cooked before it went bad. I also stopped at the Whole foods and bought 2 very fatty pork bellies. These will make for very ketosis-friendly meals – one I stored in the fridge, the other I froze.

Is it a placebo effect or do I already feel a little better? I think maybe it *isn’t* a placebo effect as I *have* been doing low carb for 10+ years.

Putting weight loss aside, I feel better mentally on a low carb diet. Not as indifferent – and it’s only a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 –  225.8

I woke before the alarm and felt OK. It was a big contrast from the day before when my back was hurting so much that I had a hard time getting out of bed.

While my diet might seem extreme so far, there’s a reason for it beyond calories and carbs: by narrowing it down so I have a better chance of leaving out the potential that a myriad of food ingredients – natural and man-made – might cause undetectable problems. By undetectable I mean undetectable by doctors – not that there aren’t symptoms.

Low carb bread, for me, is a prime example. Despite the fact the label states 5 grams of net carbs per slice, it seems like more than a slice impacts my weight loss. The same amount of carbs from other sources would not impact me the same.

Atkins bars are another example. When I’ve used them, I’ve found more than one or two a day can cause a slowing or stalling of weight loss.

So here’s the quandary: there is something suspect in some foods that are low carb that impact me. Unless I were to have a battery of expensive and dubious medical tests, I can’t know what they are. So what if I ‘act as if’ these substances are in a lot of what I eat and limit my eating to a few very simple items and see what happens?

There’s no ‘believing’ involved here. I don’t know what these substances are and will probably never know, but by removing as many of them as possible I can test a simple hypothesis: are there substances in my food that affect my mood and weight loss?

Yesterday I consumed 7 items: roast beef, ground beef, swiss cheese, coffee, cream, almond milk and low carb ketchup. Aside from the last two, there’s no ingredient labels – these are minimally-processed foods.

The ingredients more than double when you add in the actual ingredients from the almond milk and low carb ketchup. Together they have about 17 different ingredients (a day of eating processed foods can run into the hundreds). I cannot know if any of these chemicals have an impact on me individually, and it will be damn tough to determine if they have a threshold level below which they are innocuous and above which they cause mischief.

What can be determined is very crude, and one is hard to measure. The first is my weight. A scale can be very accurate, but peoples’ weight varies from day to day based on how much water they retain. A low carb diet causes a rapid drop of water weight because the body needs water to handle carbs. Ditch the carbs and you ditch the water. But there are other body processes that occasionally need to store water and a daily weigh-in will sometimes show a weight gain when there actually was a fat loss – just because the human body is, well, unknowable on a chemical level.

Sure – researchers can do tests, produce papers, and make conclusions, but frequently their methods are suspect and their conclusions don’t match the data. You can’t know this unless you read all these papers, decipher the unnecessarily professorial language, analyze the data, then scrutinize their analytical methods to see if any monkey business went on to give them the numbers they were hoping for.

This whole topic could turn into a very big rant but I’ll stop here and cover the second item that I can measure, though this one is perceptual and even worse than the weight on the scale.

That is hunger.

I’ve already written about the different types of hunger: cellular (you are actually hungry), food-based (something you ate actually triggers hunger), and psychological (comfort food, social pressure, and scores of other things). I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my own hunger and a real, honest-to-goodness symptom of what I’ll call a ‘false hunger’ is having food fantasies even though I know I have eaten an adequate amount.

I notice the difference. Hunger is still present, of course – it’s a natural and necessary reaction to not eating. It feels different, though – it’s of a different type – one that is easier to manage – at least right now.

3/11/14 – 7:30pm

My day consisted of a few tablespoons of cream in my morning coffee, then more coffee at work. Early afternoon I finally got hungry and I started to feel the familiar weirdness that I have come to associate with a ‘high’ because I know what it means.

I had brought 2 roast beef ‘sandwiches’ – a few slices of roast beef with maybe 2 tablespoons of butter, along with salt and pepper. I position the butter carefully, slide it into a sandwich bag and squish the butter with my palm. This leaves a relatively flat sandwich-like object – sans bread – that I can eat out of the bag. I had one of the two I brought. I had a bit more coffee late afternoon with some coconut oil and along with my slight headache – another good sign.

When I got home I tested for ketones. The test strip turned a dark red.

The ol’ roast beef and butter trick works again – within 36 hours I’m in ketosis.

The next things might seem outlandish or preposterous, but I promise you it is true: I weighed myself and was 221.6. I lost slightly more than 7 pounds in 36 hours.

No wonder I feel weird – can you imagine what a profound change this must be for a human body to alter a weight that quickly? Granted – I am a ‘special case’ – I’ve been doing this stuff for years. My body has a LOT of practice with running on ketones. Most assuredly it’s primarilt water weight, but my pants still enjoy the extra room and my wedding band goes on easier.

I throw in the low carb mix tape my body knows so well and it’s ready to party with little resistance.

I was hungry when I got home so I put a few ounces of roast beef and that awesome swiss cheese on a romaine lettuce leaf heart, slathered it in mayonnaise, and topped with pepper and another leaf. I had that with a cup of plain yogurt made from grass-fed milk.

This was adequate. I went to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 221.4

Woke a few minutes before the alarm. This is another curious side-effect I’ve noticed about ketogenic low carb: I seem to need less sleep and wake refreshed.

To be continued…maybe.

The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7

THE LONESOME BREADROLLIt is usually the ‘kiss of death’ for my diet to mention these things, but the above picture is from my lunch at Legal Seafood, which is one hell of a seafood restaurant and should be visited if you ever get the chance – there’s not a lot of them around.

This was the roll for me. The three others were being consumed by my wife and kids while this one sat forlorn.

If I had any interest in appearing to have willpower and projecting upon myself some nobility of character I would tell a story of how my steely will and the dedication to my diet and my goal allowed me to refrain from this fresh roll hot out of the oven sitting in front of me.

That wasn’t the case, however. My character nor willpower played no part in it. There was no heroic struggle involved. It didn’t even appear on my radar. No neural circuits fired with conflicting eat/don’t eat messages.

As mentioned before, it is easy to miss non-events and I was completely oblivious to this thing until my younger daughter asked me to butter her roll for her. Only then did I dimly realize that: “Hey – why aren’t I drooling over this thing sitting in front of me?”

I think it was the ketones. Continue reading “The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7”