Lose 20 Pounds on a Keto Diet – But You’re Probably Not Going to Like This Post – Part 2

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Note: for those of you that didn’t read part 1, read part 1 – ‘k?

Sorry for the cliffhanger. I’m nearing 10 weeks in ketosis and have written 84 pages journaling my experience. Dumping that on you would be a bit much – but trying to summarize has been a bear. This is my second shot at it.

I’ve been doing (at least trying) to do a low carb / keto diet since 2003. In this go-round I have done a number of things radically different than in the past.

I made health – not weight loss – my goal. I have spent 15 years reading and researching this diet. I truly believe it to be the best diet for me. As I am focused on the health aspects, the moving of the scale is a nice perk – not the main goal. If the scale doesn’t move it might frustrate me – but it is not a failure. Eating off-plan is the failure.

I immersed myself in everything I could about the ketogenic diet. There are way more books, audiobooks, and podcasts with new information. Keto has become a ‘craze’ again and there’s a lot of new and interesting information and many people in Facebook groups discussing it. I personally don’t completely agree with *any* of the approaches I have seen, but have borrowed things from many of the approaches to forge my own version. I did a lot of experimenting and learning – and while I have been in ketosis for nearly 10 weeks now, how I stayed there has radically changed from the way I did it in 2003 – and the way I did it in April 2018.

I have started taking supplements again. When I looked I back to 2003 and asked myself what was different from when I first lost 80 pounds and now,  one big difference was I didn’t take supplements anymore. Back in the day I had taken a plastic film canister’s worth each day. I became disillusioned with vitamins (read ‘Do You Believe in Magic?‘ like I did to understand why) and had cut back to just a multivitamin – and only a few days a week. I began taking it every day and began to try to figure out what other supplements might improve health and am building up a ‘stack’ of supplements to see what impact it might have. I’m still experimenting here but will discuss this further below.

I fast 16 hours per day. I do what’s called a 16:8 intermittent fast daily. I skip breakfast – only having black coffee. This used to bother my stomach but I’ve apparently healed whatever the reason was for that and now it’s not a problem. I then have my lunch around 1pm and my dinner between 8-9pm. I don’t have hunger issues nor do I have food fantasies. Being in ketosis this long simply removes constant hunger from the equation.

I don’t snack. Here’s a really interesting notion I am experimenting with. While removing carbs reduces blood glucose, it’s not really blood glucose that is at the heart of the problem – it’s insulin resistance. Insulin is an energy storage hormone. When you eat carbs, your pancreas squirts out insulin to get the excess glucose out of your system, driving it into your fat stores mostly. After decades of abusing this system, your cells no longer respond to insulin and your pancreas has to squirt out more and more to get the same effect. So you can check your blood glucose levels and everything looks fine – but your insulin is through the roof.

So you give up carbs and your blood glucose goes down. That’s great, but you still have this insulin floating around. Know why? Because protein also stimulates an insulin response, you are STILL promoting insulin resistance.

So here’s an idea that seems to make sense: what if you were able to give your body an ‘insulin holiday’ – would being able to allow your body to not have insulin constantly in your bloodstream give your cells a rest and allow them to increase their insulin sensitivity?

Some people think it does, so I’ve decided to experiment with this. I’ve read that an insulin response can last up to 8 hours after a meal. This would mean that doing a 16 hour fast – with no calories coming in – gives me at least 8 hours per day where there is no insulin in my system.

The notion of snacking means you NEVER stop producing insulin. So the notion of a ‘snack’ is not part of my life.

There’s a second part to this which I will go into next.

I make sure my meals contain enough protein. What I read was that a particular amino acid – leucene – in adequate amounts – produces ‘Muscle Protein Synthesis’ or MPS. From what I read you need at least 3 grams of leucene in a meal to produce this effect – and leucene is approximately 10% of the amino acids in a piece of meat. From what I’ve read this will prevent muscle loss during weight loss even is you sit on your ass. A 16:8 fasting schedule provides me with 2 doses of this effect per day and maximizes the efficiency of the protein I take in per day. Remember that a properly formulated ketogenic diet is supposed to be an ‘adequate protein’ diet. If I have between 40-50 grams per meal I am well within the ‘adequate range’ but making every ounce of protein count.

I don’t add fat to my food. What kind of screwed up keto diet is it where you don’t add fat? Here the idea is that if you want your body to burn fat, you want it to burn your CURRENT BODY FAT – not the fat you ingest. I calculated my macros (carbs, protein, and fat using one of the many ‘keto calculators’ out there. This one at https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator is adequate – and instead of aiming for an exact target I came up with my own ranges – these are mine:

Calories:     1200 – 1892
Carbs:        20
Protein:    94-124 (104 is ideal)
Fat:        77-155

This give me a wide latitude to play in and not have to worry about being so damned exact about things. I typically meet my minimums at lunch and have a larger meal in the evening. I tend to be at the low-end on fat – which comes from the meat. I very rarely add fats to my cooking – maybe olive oil to a salad though I don’t eat salad as often as maybe I should. And this leads to another interconnected point.

I have a very limited and simple diet. OK – this is where you stop reading. I get it. But if you are interested in how my relationship to food has changed, keep reading.

If you join the keto groups on Facebook, you will frequently be exposed to keto food porn on some of them. The inventiveness in these groups is boundless and you can find bread recipes, pizza, ‘fat bombs’, all sorts of snacks, and could happily avoid most carbs and still have your favorite indulgent foods. The problem is two-fold for me: these recipes take a lot of time to prep, and sometimes the calories are through the roof.

I don’t do this. I’ve stopped frequenting these groups that post the food porn. Instead, I’ve chosen to follow a very simple diet dominated by the following foods:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Chicken breasts
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Hot Italian sausages
  • Grass-fed, nitrate-free hot dogs
  • Nitrate-free bacon
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage)
  • Avocados
  • Arugula
  • Olive oil
  • Ghee (also called ‘clarified butter’)
  • Less than 4 oz. of cheese per day.
  • Salt
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute

I’ve certainly had other keto-friendly foods (pickles, tomatoes, eggs, cauliflower, a little pasta sauce, salsa, among others), but the above list predominates.

You might be thinking: what a restrictive diet!

that is exactly what I thought as well – until I tried it.

I find it LIBERATING.

Nearly everything I cook is baked. I cook enough meat and veggies for 2-3 days. I measure out my portions into sandwich bags on a scale for lunch, then weigh out my dinner. Since I don’t snack, I have what I would call a natural and normal hunger response when I do eat – and I enjoy my food. I even find my portions to be almost too large at times – though my total calories for the day can sometimes be as low as 1200 calories. While you might think this is a rather bland set of flavors, my response to flavor has changed since I removed what I some call ‘hedonic’ foods with complex layering of flavors. I thought I never could wean myself off of my Orange-Tangerine artificial sweetener, but after a few miserable days, I didn’t miss it anymore. My palate has adjusted, I love my meals, shopping is a breeze, cooking is a breeze, lunch is a breeze – and now I know what it feels like to ‘eat to live’ rather than ‘live to eat’.

“I don’t eat that.” I’ve given up a lot of things – all grains, nuts (portion control problem), sweeteners, a lot of dairy (portion control problem), and so many other things I can’t count. I don’t have willpower nor do I believe in willpower as something that can be sustained over a lifetime against something as primal as hunger – and there is a bit of a mind trick I use to deal with this.

I have a lot of respect for ethical Vegans. They have made a decision that eating animal products is wrong and they do not eat them. They simply say: “I don’t eat that.”

there’s no negotiation here. Ethical Vegans don’t have a ‘cheat day’. It is black and white for them. I’ve decided to do this on my diet. I have foods I eat – and a very long list of foods I don’t. If offered, I say: “I don’t eat that for health reasons – and I can’t even have a taste.” If a further explanation is needed, I am eating this way to avoid getting full-blown diabetes and the best way for me to do that is not having the smallest cheat. As soon as you open the door to a small cheat, a larger one can easily creep in, and BAM! There goes all your hard work. This has happened to me too many times to count.

Like Vegans, people will think you’re odd – even odder than Vegans because their way of eating is better known. My diet is for health reasons first. I have my reasons for eating this particular way that most people won’t care about – and I won’t bore them.

I can easily sit and watch people eat all this stuff in front of me and I don’t care. My older daughter tried tempting me with bread at the steakhouse but my reaction to the bread was like a rabbit reacting to a slab of beef: utter indifference – because I don’t eat that. If I allowed cheats I would exhaust myself with the ‘how much can I have’? then having even a little taste will turn on cravings in the brain I don’t have anymore for 72 hours after the cheat, according to one doctor. So even one bite will at least make me miserable for 3 days – and at the worst, completely derail 10 weeks of hard work.

If I eat the way I do now, I don’t have diabetes. If I eat like a normie – I do.

I watch my salt, magnesium, and potassium. When you start a low carb / keto diet you lose a lot of water weight quickly as the carbs in your system bind to water molecules. No carbs and you lose that extra water – good – but as you lose the extra water you begin to mess with electrical pathways in your body and have the potential for problems if you don’t watch your electrolytes. This is how you get the ‘Atkins Flu’ as it was called years ago, or the ‘keto flu’. You get a headache, you get shaky, you get a head rush. This is your body’s electrolytes going screwy.

With salt, I make sure to salt all my food. Then I will have a glass of salted water if I feel weird – or just because I haven’t eaten in a while. I also take a magnesium supplement daily.

From what I’ve read, I am leery of taking potassium supplements. People on these keto Facebook groups usually use a product called ‘No-Salt’ – a salt substitute, but what these online groups don’t tell you is that some people – like me – are on ‘potassium – sparing’ blood pressure medications where is says on the damn label not to use this stuff. So I don’t. Potassium also seems to be the one that can also fuck you up the most – causing your heart to beat wrong. That’s something that can kill you and I am not going through all this trouble to die! I usually get my potassium through foods – an avocado is a great source.

Being this deep in ketosis also means heavy exercise or being out in high heat can mess you up way faster than normies walking around with excess water weight and electrolytes. I’ve heard people say they steal salt packets from restaurants and make sure they have a couple on hand – and some water – in case they feel weird during activities like these. This electrolyte issue also calls into question the bogus medical advice of drinking 8 glasses of water a day. For regular folk – so what – it gives them something to do other than eat, makes them feel full, and makes them feel good about themselves. Folk in heavy keto lose extra electrolytes like this. I will frequently drink a liter of seltzer on ice in the evening, or water during the day – but I really don’t count and do it because I’m thirsty.

I take ‘weight loss’ naps. Sleep is real important. I know a lot of people struggle with sleep – I don’t usually have a problem. One less thing for me to worry about as poor sleep can prevent weight loss – and is certainly not good for your health.

But here’s something I noticed in me by accident. Occasionally, on a weekend, I find the opportunity to take a nap. Lazy shit that I am – I take it. What I have found more often than not is if I weigh myself after the nap, I’ve lost a pound or two. It’s the damnedest thing. I’ve seen no one else mention this, but it does happen to me.

I measure my meals using Cronometer. None of the diet tracking apps are just right. Some can’t count net carbs. Some have nutrient values that are not based in reality. Some are just not designed very well. I’ve recently started using Cronometer and while the free version has annoying advertisements that can make you wait a few seconds before entering your values on certain screens, it is my current fave. I particularly like how you can set your own macros, clearly show net carbs, and view your micronutrient counts. There’s some things I don’t like – and some things that don’t work as expected, but here’s the thing: because I eat pretty simple, it’s pretty simple to enter my macros in a minute or two. Another app called Carb Manager is also good – I just prefer Cronometer.

I mess up at pretty much all of the above. Think of all of the above as the bullseye on a target for me. I aim for that center. Sometimes I don’t hit it – but that’s what I keep aiming for. Example: after a very good meal where I had two martinis (which I should not have had!), when putting away the food I ended up having some of my kid’s leftover mashed potatoes. While this didn’t cause me to go out of ketosis, it *did* cause my blood glucose to spike – my morning fasted glucose the next morning was 138. the day after it was 40 points lower.

Lesson learned: The way I eat determines if I am a diabetic. This one cheat helps reinforce the reason I have a ‘no cheat’ rule. I still drink from time to time. Usually red wine. It does not knock me out of ketosis and doesn’t raise my blood glucose – but it does increase insulin resistance and does slow weight loss – and does make me feel crappier the next day. I’m still working to minimize, if not eliminate this.

I feel better, but think I could feel better still. I still have a lot to learn not only about a long-term ketogenic diet as so much new research and thinking has been done in the past few years, but I have to learn about Me – my personal physical and emotional makeup at the present time in the context of a ketogenic diet.

Let’s face it: I’m 55. I’m probably late to the game of optimizing health – and there is certainly no shortage of people who want to tell me the right way to do this. Dr. Jason Fung, in the book ‘The Obesity Code‘ wants me to go on extended fasts lasting days.

I don’t know about that. I’ve read that there can be positive benefits – autophagy is one example – which is a recycling and cleaning of your body’s cells when you fast. (Here’s a link to some online doc I just found that discusses why it’s good for you.) Sounds good, but I’m not sure that I can’t get some of that same benefit with my 16 hour fasts – or occasionally eating once a day (which I can pull off with little effort). Or Dr. William Davis’ book and website ‘Undoctored‘ where he suggests you add raw potato as a prebiotic to a smoothie. Not too sure about *that* one, Doc – though I *did* take his advice to NEVER take calcium supplements with vitamin D because adding calcium to the diet has never been shown to help reduce bone loss – but there’s some evidence that this calcium ends up on you artery walls. I’ve got more to learn here, though to fully understand what he is saying.

I recommend both books. Dr. Fung’s makes a strong case that the focus on health for most of us fat folk leads to minimizing insulin resistance. Dr. Davis has a grander goal and proposes an entirely new medical model where patients educate themselves to treat the underlying causes of disease, be smart enough to know when to involve a doctor, and to establish a doctor-patient relationship where they are partners in decisions because the patient might just know more about their disease state – and physicians stop acting like they know it all when the hours they work and the volume of information makes that impossible.

Right now my goal is to have my next blood work 6 months (October, 2018) from the start of my diet. It can take that long for numbers that can go out-of-whack as you begin the diet to normalize. During that time I will hopefully be able to lose more weight – which should help those numbers. I’d like to further explore supplements. Some I’m taking now I could not give you a clear explanation as to why I am taking them. For example: I’m taking 6000IU of vitamin D3 per day. Why? Because my Retinologist – a ketogenic nutrition nerd like myself except way smarter – told me that’s what he takes since he read the book ‘The Vitamin D Solution‘. I have the book, but haven’t read it yet. I am going to supplement with a small amount of iodine – 300mcg – because from what I’ve been reading from multiple sources, I have some symptoms of a sluggish thyroid – and most clinicians do not run the proper tests to determine this – and even the test they do run they misinterpret. But too much can also be bad and actually *cause* hypothyroidism. I have a lot of researching to do here. I want to study this area more closely and understand why I need a TSH test, a Free T3 test, a Free T4 test, a Reverse T3 test, a TPO antibodies test, and a TgAb test. *I* also need to understand the current thinking on how to interpret the results because docs won’t order test they can’t interpret.

I also need to understand a great deal more about why a standard lipid panel is not adequate for someone living a keto lifestyle. I know the short answer: the LDL-C. The ‘C’ in the name means ‘calculated’. It’s not an actual count but a calculation that isn’t particularly accurate for people on a keto diet. The NMR test actually counts the different LDL subfractions and provides a lot more precision as there are only a few of the LDL subfrations that are dangerous. I have to be able to convince my doctor so when *he* gets second-guessed by the health plan as to why he is ordering a more expensive test, he doesn’t have to hear them bitch about it.  Or I have to convince him to write me a prescription for it and then pay for it out-of-pocket – and it doesn’t even appear that I am legally allowed to order my own blood test in New Jersey – I’ll have to drive to PA to be allowed to get a blood work I will pay for myself as New Jersey thinks it is too dangerous to allow me to make these decisions for myself?

There’s also potential dangers to the diet – depending on who you listen to. Of course, a normal diet will most assuredly give me a case of Diabetes with complications of kidney disease, blindness, dementia, and amputations being some of the wonderful complications I can expect from that. But still – if not done right – keto can potentially cause pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney stones, and dangerous heart rhythms. All this leads to the my last point.

Don’t follow me – I’m lost. Ever see the bumper sticker that says that? It’s probably the best advice – the wisest advice I can give you. Don’t go on a ketogenic diet. Don’t do this. Don’t try this at home. Most people just want to be told what to do – they don’t want to do all this ‘thinking’. Ketogenic diets are poorly understood – or even considered dangerous (often for the wrong reasons) by most doctors.

There are people who learned about the keto diet 2 years ago, lost weight, set themselves up as an expert, and run blogs and Facebook groups signing people up for expensive courses on how to lose weight. They sure *act* like they got it all figured out…but I’m not sure.

I see one group contradict another. how do you calculate your protein intake? One group says calculate it using your current body weight – the other say by your *ideal* body weight. Some say saturated fat is great – others say it’s OK, but any added oil should be monounsaturated olive oil. Some think seed oils like corn oil and soybean oil are OK – I avoid them like the plague. I don’t see much discussion about the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. This is important. I see some people recommend taking a ton of fish oil – but don’t mention that it is a natural blood thinner and could be dangerous to people already on blood thinners.

I could go on…is your head spinning yet? My wife just asked me “What do you do all the time on the computer?” I explain that I spend most of my waking hours reading and researching nutrition and ketogenic diets. I don’t think she believes me – or if she does she thinks I am crazy.

I spend all this time – it’s my hobby/obsession – but the more I learn the more I know I don’t know squat. That is why a long time ago I got out of the advice business. Please read my disclaimer if you even remotely even consider applying anything here to your own life.

I could go on but I’m sure you’ve had enough.

 

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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.

A List of Low Carb Ketogenic Foods I’ve Eaten – Day 8

If you’ve been following along so far you’ll have noticed that for the most part I don’t eat ‘meals’ the way normal humans do. I eat when I’m hungry, and, more times than not, improvise. The following are the foods I ate in this past week – not including the foods that are not part of the plan. Part of my point in doing this is to start a list of acceptable foods as well as expand on it. For example: there’s no fish here.

I should update this periodically as a reference for myself when my mind goes blank and I ask myself: what am I going to eat?

The Foods

Meat

  1. Eggs (Eggs are NOT dairy – they are embryonic meat – got it?)
  2. Hot Italian Sausages – from the supermarket. This is in ‘mystery meat’ category – God Know what’s in it
  3. Liverwurst – a nitrate free version
  4. Rib roast – my wife made this. I need to learn to make this myself
  5. Thumann’s hot dogs – I LUV that nitrate flavor.
  6. Roast duck – uncommon. I won’t be eating much of this
  7. Deli roast beef
  8. Pork rinds – a very strange sort of meat – but meat regardless

Dairy

  1. Heavy cream – usually high-quality grass-fed stuff I pay an arm and a leg for
  2. Butter – Same deal as the heavy cream – I try to buy the best
  3. Sour cream
  4. Cream cheese
  5. American cheese – I bought actual real cheese – Andrew & Everett – with a website this bad, their cheese must be good
  6. Cream Fraise – think of a yogurt except it’s 100% fat and 800 calories per container. Pure cultured cream
  7. Parm cheese – the dry stuff in the can

Vegetables 

  1. Onions
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Garlic
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Romaine lettuce
  6. Cauliflower

Other Food

  1. Extra virgin olive oil (I hope – there is a lot of counterfeit olive oil out there)
  2. Mayonnaise – The Whole Foods brand is the only one made with cold-pressed canola oil. I’d rather make my own out of olive oil but I’ve had mixed results – sometimes it comes out good, sometimes not. Cold-pressed Canola probably sucks less than any other seed oil, so I use it.
  3. Salt – I use sea salt. No iodine added. I’m waiting for my goiter
  4. Lea & Perrins Steak Sauce
  5. Mustard
  6. Coffee
  7. EZ-Sweetz – pure liquid sucralose. Those packets actually have about 0.6 grams of carbs in them
  8. Lemon juice
  9. Rock Star energy drink

Non-Food Items I stuck in my mouth

  1. Lotrel – blood pressure medication
  2. Metformin – controls blood glucose. Recommended by the ADA for the treatment of pre-diabetes – and I don’t have diabetes though both my siblings had it way before my age and both my parents had it
  3. Align – a probiotic magic potion that I am experimenting with. Does it do anything except line the pockets of the hucksters that created it? Ya got me
  4. Psyllium – a seed husk you mix with water and drink real quick before it turns to slime. It’s a fiber supplement and also a prebiotic – supposedly it’s probiotic food. I used it daily in my first go at low carb so I’m using it again. I buy the organic, coarse flakes at Whole Foods. So if you want to bitch about my diet, don’t bitch about the lack of fiber.
  5. Tums – as needed. I needed a lot when gobbling carbs. The need for them is subsiding

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. 

REPOST: Low Carb Crockpot Beef and Daikon Radish

Daikon Radish, for those of you unfamiliar with this vegetable
Daikon Radish, for those of you unfamiliar with this vegetable

04/16/15 Update – I just made this again except simpler: just the meat, fire-roasted tomatoes, daikon, an onion and Worcestershire sauce. It came out great and I thought I’d unearth it from the 2013 archives for those of you who haven’t seen this one. 

This kitchen experiment was prompted by a recipe my wife made with short ribs and daikon radish. You often find this mild radish in Japanese cuisine, julienned into fine threads and served raw with sushi. I had never considered cooking radishes, but I thought I I was eating potatoes when I tried my wife’s dish.

This gave me the idea of a beef ‘stew’ of some sort so it was time to perform an experiment and potentially waste $20 worth of food. Of course, being a hot an muggy day, I was inspired to make it a crockpot recipe (I wonder about me.)

Using just the daikon and the stew meat as the main ingredients and a large can of fire-roasted tomatoes in a supporting role, I threw in whatever else I found lying about the fridge, low carb, and reaching it’s golden years in terms of edible lifespan.

  • 2 pound stew meat
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 shakes tabasco sauce
  • 1 large can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 10 shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 daikon radishes, each as long as a forearm, diced into chunks about the size of a thumb
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano

I used the fire-roasted tomatoes in particular to save a step: browning the meat beforehand. I think this step is to introduce the flavor notes from the browning and does not change anything else about the result. I spared myself the extra time spent but getting those flavor notes from the tomatoes.

I placed the beef at the bottom, then added can of tomatoes then the cut veggies.

You will note that I did NOT use beef stock nor add water. The hope was that the liquid from the tomatoes and the juices from the meat and veggies would be enough. Crock pots are tricky in that they need enough liquid to transfer the heat to the solid pieces of food – and crock pots are s-l-o-w so you don’t know for 8 hours if you’ve created a delight or a disaster when experimenting.

I crossed my fingers and set the crock pot on low for 8 hours.

After 6 hours I had a small bowl.

The stuff was great. 6 hours proved to be enough.

The combination of vegetables made for a flavorful broth, the meat was tender, the fire-roasted tomatoes added nice flavor notes and the Worcestershire sauce and tabasco added some complexity that didn’t overwhelm the dish or make it too spicy. The chunks of daikon reminiscent of potato in texture and played their part nicely. Imagine a vegetable soup with meat and potatoes.

I didn’t know what I was going to get when I started this, but these are all fine ingredients that tasted great together.

The feedback I got was it might have used a little more salt, and in retrospect I would dice the daikon a little smaller next time – I found myself breaking the daikon into smaller pieces.

Given the temperature, eating hot soup was somewhat bone-headed as it put me in a sweat, but regardless, I think I have another interesting crockpot recipe to add to my repertoire for the colder months when this would fit the bill after coming in from the cold on a winter day.

I have one of those large oval crockpots. I’m guesstimating that we have 8 servings here. If that’s the case, here’s the nutrition info:

Calories: 333
Net Carbs: 8 grams
Total fat: 20 grams
Protein: 26.5

Kitchen Experiment: Low Carb Pork Belly Chili

It didn’t start out as ‘pork belly chili’. In fact, I had no idea what I was making. There was a nearly 2 pound chunk of pork belly aging in the freezer and I needed to make something low carb for the coming week. The pork belly would be the star – but who would be the supporting characters?

I put the still frozen pork belly in the oven at 300 degrees and shook some of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute – a mix of spices that seems to work for anything – on top. I tented the thing with foil and went to Trader Joe’s to figure out what was going to be the supporting characters for our porky star – and hoping the house wouldn’t explode while I was away.

The place was crowded and my first choice – cauliflower – was nowhere to be found. Trader Joe’s is a great store, but produce is not one of their strong suits. Instead I rounded up the following:

  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 container of organic white button mushrooms

These are all good low carb ingredients, though one might quibble over minor flaws in each of them if you really tried. Eggplant is part of the ‘deadly nightshade’ family, for example.  I didn’t want to play that game of going so extreme to analyze each one to that level of detail. They might have their flaws, but they were ‘good enough’.

At home I added some things from the cupboard and some castaways:

  • 3 onions
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 box of cherry tomatoes that had not aged well after being abandoned in the vegetable drawer. I cut away the bad parts and tossed them in.
  • 1 large can of fire-roasted tomatoes

I had let the pork belly cook for 2 hours, then had taken it out to cool. Once I could cut it without getting burns I chopped it into bite-sized pieces and tossed it in to the veggies I cut while it was cooling. The beauty of pork belly is it comes with its own oil, so the vegetables cooked in delicious pork fat.

I peeled the eggplant and diced it into small chunks – going for roughly the size of the pork belly chunks – about the size of a pinky tip.

I had no idea what i was creating until it was done. When I tasted it, it had too much of an eggplant taste. Blech. I then decided to turn it into a chili by adding:

  • chili powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin

No measuring, just eyeballing. I *do* tend to be heavy-handed on the spices, if that’s any help. Lots of chili powder, half as much cumin, and half of that in cinnamon is the best guidance I can give.

When my carnivore daughter came home her nose caught a whiff of meat, chili powder and cumin. Her eyes widened: “What smells so good?”

“Chili.” I said.

What I haven’t told you is that she is not too fond of pork belly. Bacon she’s good with – in fact, any part of any animal – if prepared well – had better watch out. THIS 16-year-old girl will not be turning Vegan any time soon.

“Is it ready?” She asked.

“Yep”.

She took a bowl and tried some. She gave me the thumbs up sign as she ate. While she has a sophisticated palate for a teenager, she has been exposed to Dad’s low carb cooking for over a decade. While she would rather starve than eat anything sub par – I wish I were the same – she liked this.

I personally find that the eggplant, if diced into small pieces, can bulk up the chili – and eggplant has the wonderful ability to soak up oils which works well with pork belly. The strong flavors of the spices minimized the eggplant flavor notes – which just did not go with pork belly in my estimation – and made the texture more complex.

I’ve done similar recipes – I’ve played with the definition of ‘chili’ enough to create what some people would label ‘abominations’ – but this one got readily eaten by the members of the family who could care less about diets and low carb, so for me – it’s a keeper.

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.