Day 40 on my new approach to a keto diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what am I doing differently this time?

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

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

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

And I am planning to try experimenting with adding:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy oh boy, did this suck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calories:     1200 – 1892

Carbs:        20

Protein:    94-124 (104 is ideal)

Fat:        77-155

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

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

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

That was the last thing I ever expected to say.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I lost 80 pounds without one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll leave that discussion for another post.

I Lost 10 Lbs. While Sucking at My Low Carb Diet – Day 23

You though I packed it in, didn’t you? No such luck – at least not yet.

Day 17 – Sunday, January 10, 2016 – Wt: ?? Blood Glucose ?? – ?? pounds to go – ?? lbs. lost – no Ketosis

As I write this Sunday was a few days ago and I don’t remember. It’s probably accurate to say that the day was low carb-ish and the volume of food moderate – no binging on a quart of Hagen Daz or anything like that – I’d remember an escapade like that.

Day 18 – Monday, January 11, 2016 – Wt: ?? Blood Glucose ?? – ?? pounds to go – ?? lbs. lost – no Ketosis

I brought a cup of yogurt to work and that was it for food during the day – except for coffee and cream in the AM, of course. An issue at work kept me there until 7:30pm. I was starving and stopped at Mc Donald’s and got 3 double cheeseburger, ate them on the way home, and exhausted, went to bed.

To put a smily face on a bad day, my calories were probably under 1,500 and my carbs around 100g.

Day 19 – Tuesday, January 12, 2016 – Wt: 267.4 

I’m holding on to shreds of my diet, inspired by a comment left on one of my previous posts: every low carb meal is a victory. I’m paraphrasing, but it was the general point of the post. I stopped the cocktail habit a few days back – it was an unremarkable and unconscious change. Through my life there have been times when I drank – and years where I didn’t. What I’ve learned is that I can’t pick the day to stop drinking – the days pick me. When I stopped this time for this go at a diet I wasn’t ready. I suppose a few days ago I was ready – and just stopped.

I made 4 eggs with cheese and butter and brought that to work. I also stopped to get American cheese at the supermarket and saw they had my favorite bologna pre-sliced and waiting. I couldn’t help myself: I bought a roll and the bologna and made a sandwich I ate in the car while finishing the drive to work

I ate half the egg and cheese late in the day, had black coffee and an Atkins shake, and when I left work I went to Jersey Mike’s Subs and got 2 giant subs for the family. I had 2 quarters of the Italian sub, some ice water, and went to bed the usual time.

Day 20 – Wednesday, January 13, 2016 – Wt: 267.4 

I haven’t been able to measure my blood glucose the past few days (long story) – hope to get back to that soon.

Coffee and cream – as usual in the AM, an Atkins shake and the remainder of the egg and cheese from the day before at work.

At home I just had a glass of milk while listening to a podcast, then fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up I was hungry and had some of that bologna on a hot dog roll, then went to bed.

Day 21 – Thursday, January 14, 2016 – Wt: 265.4 

End of week 3. As is usual with me, the diet is all over the place.

I’m not sure what to attribute the weight loss to. Maybe a natural fluctuation or perhaps just a little water weight – let’s see where it goes from here.

It is the lowest morning weight so far – down 8.2 lbs. – which – if we look back at my 2 lbs. / week goal – means I’m still on track – even ahead of the game – despite doing a pretty shitty job so far.

The normal coffee and cream in the AM. I had defrosted some chili and brought 2 cups (in separate containers) to work.

I didn’t eat it. I ate nothing all day. Don’t think I intentionally starved myself – I just wasn’t hungry.

At home I had the last quarter of the Italian sub with added bologna and American cheese. I also had a lot of water – and that’s all, folks.

Day 22  – Friday, January 15, 2016 – Wt: 266.0

A slight gain – probably from all the water I drank.

I had the obligatory coffee and cream for breakfast, and a cup of chili in the afternoon. I know some of you can’t conceive how I can survive 14-15 hours subsisting on so little, but I find it works for me. I feel fine – and eating earlier in the day – no matter what it is – tends to spark more eating overall – but again: I am not fighting hunger. I eat when hungry.

Then I decided to celebrate the weekend by buying some wine. I also bought burgers, cooked these up, and made my own double-cheeseburger. I had this on 2 slices of white bread and – somewhat more than a bottle of the wine.

I chanced across a free copy of Dan Brown’s book ‘Inferno’ and read that while I drank my wine. Dan Brown is a good ‘bad’ author. He’s no Hemingway nor Steinbeck, but he can craft a good thriller. I fell asleep in the chair reading, my younger daughter across from me asleep on the couch.

Day 23  – Saturday, January 16, 2016 – Wt: 263.0

Cool – on day 23 I’ve lost over 10 pounds – 10.6 to be exact. Remarkable, actually, considering just how crappy my diet has been – or has it? It’s been pretty low carb – though certainly not ketogenic. The major changes probably come down to: eating less overall, eating fewer carbs, and drinking less – though still drinking.

I’m not sure that the recent past will be sufficient roadmap for the future, however. The first 10 pounds are the easy weight – probably a good portion of it water-weight and some fat loss. I’ve probably gotten enough protein to avoid muscle loss – but you can’t really know.

Speaking of muscles – OF COURSE I haven’t exercised. I *did* download an exercise app for my iPhone that has a 7-minute workout. I haven’t opened it yet – 7 minutes is a long time, but I am firmly committed to looking at it eventually – that’s an ironclad promise to myself.

I can also note that I don’t feel as tired. I’ve unconsciously cut back on the energy drinks. I allow myself 2 per day but I think I’ve had maybe 2 this past week.

Am I going to do anything different going forward? I dunno – does anything here look like a plan!?! Does anything I’ve written since beginning this go at a diet lead you to believe I can even stick to a plan?

I’m guessing I’ll bumble on – I do feel better and my clothes are less tight by a teensy bit. Maybe some real motivation will come along – or maybe not.

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 15 & 16

Friday, January 8, 2016 – Wt: 267.0 Blood Glucose 129 – 72.0 pounds to go – 6.6 lbs. lost – no Ketosis

Another decent day followed by a not-so-decent evening. Nothing much remarkable or different.

Saturday, January 9, 2016 – Wt: 267.6 Blood Glucose ? – 72.6 pounds to go – 6.0 lbs. lost – no Ketosis

Again, little remarkable. I did have some Wallaby Organic Greek yogurt with sucralose – and went to the movies with my wife – and I was oblivious of the popcorn she had – just zero interest. The evening followed the pattern of ‘treading water’ of the past few days: cocktails, lowish carb intake, and overall, eating a lot less in general than I had before I started the diet – but that first week’s level of focus – is not there.

I really need to cook more and focus more. Perhaps tomorrow I can do some cooking and reset my diet.

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 14

Day 14 – Thursday, January 7, 2016 – Wt: 267.0 Blood Glucose 133 – 72.0 pounds to go – 6.6 lbs. lost – in Ketosis

Despite the bumps, bruises, and other non-linear detours I have managed to lose 6.6 pounds in 2 weeks. This is above the 2 lb./week goal I set for myself so I can safely say this is the best that I’ve done at attempting weight loss in a while.

Now I’ve been no angel while doing this: New Year’s Eve party, pasta, cheesecake, vodka – all no-no’s – played guest appearances. Still, the carbs have been in portion sizes that don’t necessarily kick me out of ketosis – though they do prevent me from getting deeply into it.

Let’s say I’m ‘easing’ into the diet, bumbling my way toward healthier eating. I’m in no way there yet – to be sure – but it seems I am bumbling in the right direction.

That blood glucose number is pretty awful, for example. I need to get that down by eating less carbs. I need to cook more – a lot of the carb eating is more due to a lack of goto meals in the house combined with a lack of discipline.

There’s a reason why my blog’s tagline is ‘The world’s worst low carb dieter’. It’s not hyperbole.

My daytime has become routine – coffee and cream in the morning, a cup of chili during the day, and black coffee through the day.

The cracks are appearing in the evening – as they always do. It’s tough to have a routine when you literally have little more than 2 hours per day of free time in the evenings during the week – and kids sometimes have evening activities that can cut into that short window. It’s at these times that I tend to grab less than optimal foods just due to the fatigue of the day – up around 5am for an hour of so of solitude, coffee, writing and reading, then get myself and the kids out the door, drop the kids at school and then an hour’s drive to work – and not back home until 7:15pm. Weekends are the time to cook – but a lot of errands get left for the weekends.

You might have noticed a gradual disintegration of the diet. Hopefully I can keep it together until the weekend, get some cooking in, and have low carb choices for the week.

What I ate

Coffee and cream at home – and black coffee at work. A cup of chili at work. At home there was no pretense of a low carb diet as I ate bread as I dashed out to pick up my teenager, then came back and had some Chinese takeout, 2 vodka cocktails, then some chocolate cake.

Low carb diet?!? What low carb diet?!?

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 13

Day 13 – Wednesday, January 6, 2016 – Wt: 267.4 Blood Glucose 108 – 72.4 pounds to go – 6.2 lbs. lost – Ketosis ?

I woke before the alarm and was able to get up – that a big improvement over yesterday, though I didn’t think I’m ready to take on the world just yet. I functioned OK, felt well and was in good spirits despite having to do an immensely tedious job that required a lot of concentration while also being long and boring.

Being able to do it seems proof my brain is functioning fine.

The operant feeling for the day was an unusual lack of hunger. Unusual because carbs late at night usually make me hungry the next day. Possibly because I ate only a small amount yesterday? Though it was pasta and garlic bread, there’s a good chance the whole thing was under 50 grams of net carbs since it was a small portion.

There was also no stomach discomfort even though I had my coffee and cream in the AM.

I ate a cup of chili at about 5pm. A cup is small, but it does the job these days. I’ve also noticed the unnoticed: the McDonald’s that used to be a regular stop on the way home doesn’t seem to even get a thought these days. That’s a big win.

I had an evil idea – or at least one of those ideas that gets you into trouble. When I go home I was 265.4 and in ketosis – and thought that I might have just ONE drink of vodka before eating. Nothing wrong with one – right? Well, it turned into two, which again is not necessarily a big deal – alcohol is not a carb, a protein, nor a fat – it’s in its own category. You CAN drink on a low carb diet but it will slow weight loss.

I think the vodka (on the rocks with lemon juice, BTW) was more of an issue in messing up my food choices. Cheese, mayo, and lettuce? That was fine. The leftover tuna salad? Fine, if I skipped the bread I had it on. And the tortellini? No excuse there, but the excuse I gave was ‘just a little bit’.

Let’s be honest: my diet still sucks but it sucks less than it did compared to before I started. I’m getting better but there’s room for improvement. All this needs to be balanced with a way to sustain sanity: would I have given up and made NO progress if I had been more strict?

I feel quite sane at this point – so maybe half-assed is all the ass I can put into the game for now and I must be patient, persistent and forgiving to myself as I bumble my way toward my goal.

That sounds a lot like me.

 

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 12

Day 12 – Tuesday, January 5, 2016 – Wt: 267.4 Blood Glucose ? – 72.4 pounds to go – 6.2 lbs. lost – Ketosis ?

Kind of a lost day.

All I did was sleep. I couldn’t drink coffee and my stomach was doing loop-de-loops. I drove my kids to school, hoping I would feel good enough that when I got home I could shower and get to work.

Uh-uh.

I came home, went straight to bed and slept almost 8 hours straight. Then I fell back to sleep and slept until 7:30.

I really wasn’t hungry, but I was dehydrated and had a lot of water. The kids had tortellini with garlic bread. I had a small bowl of that with some of the bread. That was the only thing I ate and drank for the whole day.

I then went back to bed around 9:30 and had no problem falling asleep.