Instant Pot L. Reuteri Yogurt – The Exact Instructions

(Note: this post contains links to products I used. I DO NOT make any money off these links. Buy ’em – don’t buy ’em – I don’t care.)

UPDATED 08/13/19 with a few more tips.

The big first tip: It’s really easy to make once you get the hang of it! I make it sound awful but when you take the time to get it right the first time, it’s easy after that.

I have read Dr. William Davis’ Undoctored and decided to finally take the plunge and go the full monte. In a nutshell, he recommends a ketogenic-ish diet and specific supplementation so it’s not far from my usual attempt. It’s a ‘clean keto’ where grains are prohibited as well as artificial stuff. I think it is well thought out and I like how he presents it: as a cardiologist, he sticks to science and where he prescribes a certain course of action that might not be accepted science, he notes that his approach is experimental and as new information comes in he will refine his approach.

That’s the kind of scientific thinking I like to see. I don’t take is as he’s pushing snake oil as much as he’s saying: “Try this. It might work for you and it’s unlikely to harm you. Let me know your results and I’ll continue to refine my protocol.”

Alas, it is a fussy diet in that the doc states it must be followed in full to get the synergistic benefits – doing it only halfway gets you far less than half the benefits.

One of the trickier aspects – at least to me – is you have to make what I call his ‘magic yogurt’. Even Dr. Davis refers to this as ‘wacky’ in one of his videos. I’d even say it sounds ‘quacky’ given all the benefits he attributes to it (you can read them here). I have no idea if the stuff actually does anything or if Dr. Davis is full of shit, but I don’t think so – at least I believe *he* sincerely believes it helps – and I’m up for a new experiment.

This was the one part of the diet that I waited until now to try. I started the  diet 15 days ago and have been dialing in all the different parts. The yogurt is the last piece, I think.

To me, the instructions to make the stuff I found on the Internet were vague and a lot of people were spending a lot of time to fail at the attempt and throw out batch after batch. I did a lot of Google searches, came across recipes that didn’t provide me the details I wanted, and even did a chat with Instant Pot which yielded little help.

The problems with the instructions are that they try to cover too many different scenarios. I found it confusing (maybe I’m stupid).

This week I took the plunge and made the yogurt. I’m detailing here the EXACT steps I took for my own records and thought I’d share.

Continue reading “Instant Pot L. Reuteri Yogurt – The Exact Instructions”

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My Work is Done Here…

The chart above is from Google Trends, a nifty tool where anyone can go in and compare how popular search terms are. There are plenty of people typing stuff into Google all the time, so this is a pretty good reflection of how popular something is.

The red line is the search term ‘low carb’. Notice how the chart descends in 2004? That’s the last gasp of the ‘Atkins Craze’ – and right around the time I first went on a low carb diet. Low carb died just as I started losing weight. I used to go to the Vitamin Shoppe and get my Atkins shakes – they had a whole wall devoted to low carb products. For a while Costco was selling huge cartons of them and I bought my supply there, but then they stopped selling them.

I went back to The Vitamin Shoppe after some time and the shelves of low carb stuff were gone! I remember asking the guy behind the counter and he told me: “Yeah, that’s not popular anymore. The big thing now is the Perricone Prescription.”

Wait…wut? I’m not looking for another diet. The one I’m on is working fine. The Atkins Nutritionals – the company that manufactured low carb products after Dr. Atkins died – produced wonderful bread and bagels I could buy in my local supermarket. The price was unreasonable – but the stuff was good. About the same time all these baked goods suddenly had ‘Manager’s Special’ stickers and deep discounts.

I knew what that meant. I bought and freezed what I could.

They were soon gone.

In August of 2005, Atkins Nutritionals declared bankruptcy. I had also lost about 60 pounds on the diet and had no intention of chasing the next big thing. It worked for me, my bloodwork was better, and I felt great.

Meanwhile, I read somewhere that the unsold Atkins Shakes I could no longer find were being donated to food pantries.

It was dark times for Atkins dieters. There’s always people who revel in Schadenfreude when something that becomes big explodes – I’m one of them – but I had no intention of changing what was working for me. Atkins dieters went underground.

Low carb disappeared from the general discussion, was dismissed as a fad, and mostly forgotten – except for a small band of bloggers that kept persisting in the belief that this stupid diet still had merit.

And here’s a necessary shout-out to Jimmy Moore. While I have my issues with the gentleman, and he still remains controversial among many, he was the loudest voice in low carb circles for many years. (I found his KetoTalk podcast to be pretty good and listened to a lot of episodes last year.)

Gary Taubes also published Good Calories, Bad Calories in 2007. This was the type of book needed to reignite interest in low carb – but this wasn’t the book. It was not a good read at all. It was a struggle. I’ve listened to Gary talk and he’s quite interesting (you can listen here) – but this book was a slog.

I also started this blog with the original purpose to have a place to store recipes so I can get ingredient lists at work so I could pick up stuff to cook when I got home.

The same year I posted to this blog a post: Am I the Last Person on Atkins?

It sure felt like it.

So because I liked to write I just wrote – not caring if anyone read it, but I found that more people than I ever expected came and read and commented.

I liked the feedback and thoughtful comments and kept doing it – steadily – for most of a decade.

for the Internet, that’s almost unheard of.

Now let’s look at a second chart:

This is a chart showing my website traffic by month. I can take pride in the fact that – me – dumb little me – was able to get over one million views. I didn’t have to expose body parts, or actually do anything that interesting except share some mediocre recipes I invented or discuss something about low carb diets.

Not bad.

But you can see that it’s coming to an end.

With the rise of ‘keto’, there are now so many sources for recipes that my pathetic selection is a waste of your time.

And my commentary is old. So much has been spoken and written about the diet that much of what is here isn’t worth very much. There’s 500+ posts and I’m not sure more than a few dozen are worth reading today.

These days, the place I go to most for info on keto diets is Impulsive Keto. I don’t know who this guy is, but I like his thinking. (While his site is not that impressive, he really shines on Facebook – check him out there – join his Impulsive Keto Facebook group.)

I also have a tendency to ramble on. It’s not cool anymore. I am a TL;DR blogger to be sure.

I also *also* have little new to say because…well…there’s so many people talking about this subject that, well, what’s *left* to say?!?

I still follow a low carb/ketogenic diet and do not plan to change any time soon. I don’t always meet my goals but my target is always under 20 grams of carbs per day.

But the reality is that this blog is a bit of an anachronism. When nobody talked about low carb/keto diets, I was, and people came. Now everybody talks about it and my blog gets lost in the noise – and perhaps rightly so – because there are better sources of information than me.

So going back to the 2 charts above, you can see that people coming to my website dropped like a stone as ‘keto’ took off. That’s probably as it should be. There’s people way better at packaging this sort of information who get the search engine hits I used to get.

I’m OK with that. This was never about me trying to make a buck doing this. I was passionate about low carb when it seemed no one else was, I liked to write, and and it seemed other lost souls seemed to respond to the fact that someone else felt the same way they did about the diet. At best, I’ve had a tiny walk-on part in the history of low carb – and the money I got from the ads on this site over a decade where I wrote over 1,000 posts would pay for maybe a half-dozen casual dining restaurant meals (no bar tab) for my family.

I think I can say my mission is done. I helped keep the lights on for low carb. It’s come roaring back as keto and there’s some really good science that didn’t exist when I started.

I don’t plan on going anywhere, and might continue to post as the mood strikes, but I’d say my tour of duty is done.

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.

 

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

On April 2, 2018, I was 269.8 and my blood glucose, which had more or less behaved by staying in the 120s, had begin rising into the 140s in the morning and staying there all day.

Not good.

My cocky, thin doc, who I am sure thought me just another fat slob, had told me years ago that, considering my family history, there was no way I *wasn’t* getting diabetes. “It’s going to happen sooner or later.” He said, seeming to enjoy saying it.

I swore I would bury this doctor at that moment.

Since I’ve been more or less on a low carb diet since the Atkins Craze of 2003, and although during this time there were long stretches where I didn’t follow the diet at all, overall, the past 15 years I have probably kept my carbs lower than the average person. Nearly Every. Single. Day. of these past 15 years has seen me in front of my computer, typing out the goals for my fresh start at my diet. I’d have good streaks – and bad streaks. Sometimes I didn’t get through lunch.

I’ve had this blog for a loooong time. But writing about failing all the time was getting kinda old. So I more or less stopped and wrote only when I thought I had something interesting to say or to report.

I’d been losing and gaining back the same 10 pounds for years – how dull is that? I decided that, unless I could lose 20 lbs., it was not worth my time nor your to blog about weight loss.

So today I can report that I just weighed myself and I was 248.6 lbs. Over 20 pounds lost from the start.

My blood glucose levels have also fallen by 40 points.

You’re probably not going to like how I did it – but stick with me here: there’s something weird and different this time than every other time. I am going to try and explain it the best I can, but first let me explain a little bit more about why I got to the point where I decided I needed to make a change.

So I’ve told this story before and I won’t go into detail, but I was 207 lbs. and actively following a low carb diet when I got appendicitis and had my appendix removed. Within 9 months of that surgery my weight ballooned to 287 for reasons no one can explain, then came down a bit and settled in the 260-270 range.

I had kept off maybe 50-60 lbs. of an initial weight loss of 80 lbs. When I went on Atkins in 2003 for most of a decade at that point – which is statistically impossible. The disheartening truth is – even for the folks who lose weight – most gain it all back in 5 years.

At least that *was* the thinking. Things might be changing. I certainly did.

Gaining all that weight after surgery was a real bummer. Much of that time I was doing low carb and it just didn’t seem to work. It probably has something to do with the appendix removal – but we really don’t understand the appendix that well yet, so any statement would be conjecture – we just don’t know.

My asshole doctor said: “It’s because of lack of exercise after surgery.” Idiot – I didn’t exercise BEFORE surgery!

There’s an old joke: why do people say ‘I found my wallet in the last place I looked!’? Who keeps looking for their wallet after they found it?

My 80-lb. loss on Atkins convinced me there was no other way than a low carb diet for me – but it didn’t seem to work anymore – and I had read and learned too much to just move on to some other diet.

So for a while, I gave up.

I also changed my route to work. Instead of highways with grassy edges, I took a slower but shorter route along what used to be a country road that is now dotted with at least 20 fast food places along my route.

My commute is long and my family doesn’t have regular evening meals for the most part – everyone seems to be somewhere else than the dinner table at the proper time – sadly, this is more normal than it should be these days.

So pizza might be lunch for me, and McDonald’s, usually, would be dinner if I didn’t go home and cook or eat leftovers. I also had a brief but intense love affair with bologna on Kaiser rolls as a breakfast for a while. This was pure comfort food as a kid, conjuring up my Mom and Dad and our breakfast together on Sundays after church. (OK – we didn’t have bologna sandwiches – we had eggs and bacon with the rolls  – but the Kaiser Rolls would bring me back to that table in the 1970s.)

And I didn’t think about it too much because my weight hovered in that 10-lb. range and another attempt at low carb or keto would bring me back to the low end of 260.

Then I’d fuck things up, eat more crap, and go to the top of the range again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

But this time it was the blood glucose that made me take action. I’m not a hypochondriac – imagining diseases – but I am a bit obsessive on tracking stuff – and the words of that doctor whose funeral I plan to attend still burned hot in my memory. This 20-point rise was fast – I was eating the same crap but now my pancreas apparently said: “Fuck this!” and decided to give up.

I know a lot of the science behind this – I was becoming increasingly insulin resistant to the point where my pancreas simply couldn’t keep up.

The poor thing needed a rest. So on April 2, I decided to start my diet again – but I needed to do something different – the old script wasn’t working. I was also older and what worked for me 15 years ago might not work now.

I had no doubt that a low carb / keto approach was the only way – but within those labels are a world full of different ways to approach this way of eating.

I’ve written way too much already so I’ll continue what I did differently in a part 2 of this post.

Update: here’s part 2 for those of you who care.

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.

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

 

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.