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.

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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.

 

 

 

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.

Pigs Fly – Day 17

Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

266.8 at morning weigh-in.

Not the best of days. Did all right during the day – and part of the evening as well – having my burgers and cheese – which I don’t seem to tire of.

Went off the rails while watching part of the Republican Convention, having cheese, lettuce, and mayo on a slice of bread, the moppings of the hamburger grease on a half slice of bread, and ate way too much of a Lindt chocolate bar with blackberries that I got for Father’s Day.

I went to bed before the candidate spoke. Not all that interested.

Calories: 2645
Net carbs: 83g
Protein: 119g
Fat: 200g

Pigs Fly – Day 16

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Morning weight was 266.4.

The previous day ( which I did not have time to document) showed me at 1300 calories and 45 net carbs.

I think I can attribute a lot of my nearly 12 pound loss to portion control rather than low carb as I’ve been (on the whole) better at reducing the overall amount of food I’ve eaten than at choosing low carb foods.

For example: I ate a baked yam – no butter or other flavors added – at midnight as I had to work (don’t ask).

I have a sneaking suspicion that, at least for me, a small amount of carbs might be OK as long as I rigidly adhere to portion control – and portion control is easier without carbs because carbs make me hungry.

On this particular Wednesday I did the daytime in what is becoming the norm: coffee and Atkins shakes. This isn’t proving a big deal – I’m kinda used to it.

When I got home there were 2 hot dogs and cheese on a single bun, 1/2 peanut butter(!) and jelly sandwich on a single piece of bread, a fat slice of tomato. and a slice of Margherita pizza my daughter ordered.

A few glasses of MiO-flavored water also accompanied dinner.

The guesstimate for the day was:

Calories: 1350
Net carbs: 86g
Protein: 73g
Fat: 75g

 

 

Pigs Fly – Day 14

Monday, July 18, 2016

My weight this morning was 269.4. Not quite sure why – I’ll blame it on fluid retention.

Seeing the number still under 270 is nice – I’ve been unable to hold it there for very long since February.

It’s a small victory, I guess…

I woke early – before 4am – probably because my back was sore rather than any bursts of energy from a low carb day on Sunday. It was going to be a stressful week and out of the gate it lived up to every expectation.

I wasn’t myself, however. My brain was sluggish – or perhaps things were moving too quickly for me to keep up – I wasn’t the only one who seemed to feel this.

My day ended up being a long and stressful one. I didn’t get out of work until 7:45pm and a power line down made me take a detour so even with little traffic at that time I ended up home 8;45pm.

I ate nothing all that time except for coffee, atkins shake as creamer, and psyllium with water. I wasn’t feeling particularly hurgry nor out-of-sorts, but I did feel that I needed to eat something – althouugh part of me toyed with just going straight to bed.

When I got home I had the same from the previous night – 2 burgers, each with 2 slices of cheese topped with ketchup – though I bought the reduced sugar version to cut the carbs.

Ha! like that mattered! Mentally fatigued and physically tired, there was no controlling an urge for junk – especially when right in front of me. Someone had bought pound cake and I ate 3 slices. At this point I was so spent I don’t remember what else I had – a glass of milk perhaps? I also had a half bagel with butter.

The guesstimate for the day were:

Calories: 2900
Net carbs: 201g
Protein: 140g
Fat: 168g

 

 

Pigs Fly – Day 13

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I awoke at 4am with my stomach hurting. I drank 16 ounces of whole milk, which did make me feel somewhat better…for a while.

Then a sudden rumbling in my gut made me think it prudent to make my way to the bathroom.

Boy, was I right.

Whatever got into me wanted out – and it did so without decorum.

I went back to bed with my stomach still hurting and had a fitful sleep until about 10 am.

At noon I had the psyllium husks with water.

I was content until evening when I had 2 broiled hamburgers, each with 2 slices of American cheese with ketchup on top.

As a snack I had a cup of ricotta cheese with the EZ-Sweetz pure Splenda sweetener. I used to eat this when I first started low carb. I didn’t much like it now. It had almost a gritty texture.

Maybe not this go-round.

Totals:

Calories: 1572
Total carbs: 63g
Net carbs: 53g
Fiber: 10g
Protein: 104g
Fat: 101g