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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You might be thinking: what a restrictive diet!

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

I find it LIBERATING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Keto Dream

I had ‘the dream’.

I’ve had these dreams only a few times in my life. They occured when I had made a change so profound and that I had internalized so deeply that my brain seemed to squirt out these dreams – perhaps as a cautionary tale – or as a confirmation I was doing the right thing.

A previous time I had a similar dream I had changed careers, changed jobs, had a crazy boss, worked in a new, high-stress environment, got married, and was buying a house that was a ‘fixer-upper’ (though I was no handyman) that I wasn’t sure we could afford.

I had a dream that they had rehired me at my old, comfortable, zero-growth-potential job. They walked me back to my old desk and I settled in – then a lightning bolt of terror went down my spine that woke me up with that: “Thank GOD it’s a dream!” feeling.

I took that as: as tough as what you’re doing, you’re better off – hang in there.

Last night, on Day 46 of my current diet, where I am still experimenting – trying to hack together a list of foods I eat and don’t eat, as well as when I eat – both for health as well as for fitting into my lifestyle and simple pleasure, I had the first dream I remember in a while.

In it I was given some sort of chocolate/peanut butter candy. Something with a crunch. I remember little about the dream in particular except that I was offered the stuff and took a big bite. I felt the sweetness in my mouth and a sudden terror came over me as I asked myself: Why are you eating this?!? YOU. DON’T. EAT. THIS!

It was real fright and panic.  

Like the previous dream I had over 20 years ago, whatever part of the mind that is in charge of dreams seems to think, in my estimation: what you’re doing is the the right thing – hang in there.

I told my adult daughter last night: You know what sucks? I gave up bread, McDonald’s, pizza, deli sandwiches, cake, dairy, artificial sweeteners – and you know what? I feel way better. I had so much energy today – I went to work and zipped through a number of different tasks, my brain felt sparkly and sharp, I was full of ideas, rolled with the punches, was in a good mood, and the day flew by.

It seems like there’s a connection: eat like shit – feel like shit. Duh – right?

It’s different to know something in an academic fashion and feeling it in every cell of your body as you live it.

I think I am nearing a point where I’ll have a steady path. There’s still tweaking to do, but I am beginning to lose weight again after giving up dairy and artificial sweeteners, but I am still learning, taking a very different approach to keto than I would have done in the past – and wading through some contradictory information to determine what works for me. No dairy and artificial sweeteners was tough for a few days – and I could not have this at the start of the diet as it would have been too overwhelming to do everything all at once – but now I’m grudgingly OK with it – I do miss the cheese WAY more than the artificial sweeteners, though.

Everything points to: I think I’m on the right path for me. Keep going.

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.

 

 

 

Short Update

I decided to stop by my site to look up some recipes and thought I’d take a moment to write an update – if there’s anybody out there.

First of all: I’m still alive, obviously. The other day I visited the blog of someone who I used to read all the time and the guy had DIED.

Second: the last recorded weight in a blog post here was 278 lbs. Through hard work and perseverance I was able to get that number up to 283.0 on January 23rd of 2017, but since then I have been ever so slowly losing weight.

Today I am 260.4. 23 Lbs. is not insignificant, though as has always been the case I am bumbling my way to weight loss without much in the way of a real plan. There’s been a bit of a plan I have been following – as always – I’m reporting – not recommending.

My morning always starts with between 1-2 mugs of coffee with heavy cream. I almost never eat breakfast.

My work days pass with me drinking coffee laced with Atkins Chocolate Shakes. They are currently very affordable on Amazon – something like $15 for a 12-pack.

I also have a large glass of water with 4 teaspoons of psyllium husks.

Late in the afternoon I have 3 hard-boiled eggs. I do this in an attempt to feel full as I drive home past at least 50 fast food joints. (No, I haven’t counted, but it is probably close to that if you include supermarkets with takeout food, Chinese takeout, and Sushi places.)

This fails a lot and I typically get a meatball sandwich at Wawa (a local convenience chain with a cult following) or 3 double cheeseburgers at McDonald’s.

Evenings are random chaos. Sometimes I eat whatever is around. Sometimes I don’t eat because I ate on the way home.

What I typically DO regularly is drink about a liter of seltzer water from my Sodastream – I’d say I’ve had that thing for nearly a decade and it’s seen use most of that time. I guess that was one kitchen gadget that was worth the purchase.

I usually drink it with a lot of ice and lately I have been in love with the Target store brand version of MiO. They have an ‘Orange-Tangerine’ flavor. that has become my favorite (until I get sick of it).

I did give up drinking alcohol. Usually it was red wine. I stopped on July 4th. I have never lost weight while drinking alcohol despite numerous tries so I decided to ditch it. I’ve lost maybe 13 Lbs. since.

I have also been spending time on a number of the Facebook ‘Keto’ groups. I’ve got a few good recipes from them but there’s a lot of contradictory info – I pity the poor beginner starting there. I also have NOT been living ‘keto’ I have a higher carb count than 20 grams and don’t know yet if I want to go fully keto all the time.

I can say getting to 260 is a motivator. Let’s see if I can keep this up

Can You Get Into Ketosis While Drinking Alcohol?

As I decided to change my evil ways and give up bread and pasta, as well as all the other carbs that suck me in like a tractor beam, I knew my inner imp would not allow me to perform this feat which I haven’t been able to do for some time without *some* rascality along the way.

Because of this I decided to go through carb withdrawal while drinking copious amounts of red wine – 1 to 2 bottles a night. I didn’t track calories but would usually go through the day without much more than the fat from my coffee and cream in the morning and the use of Atkins shakes as a creamer in my coffee at work. There was a can or two of sardines in there as well.

At home, I would accompany the wine with something small. Maybe a piece of salmon the size of my hand with 2 tablespoons of butter. A chopped veggie salad with oil and vinegar. 10 breakfast sausages with ketchup. I did not count calories but aside from the alcohol (which is not a carb but does have 7 calories per gram, making it calorically dense) the amounts eaten were small and even the rare carby stuff like the ketchup and 2 mouthfuls of mac and cheese I had would not have put me out of a carb total for any given day well below 50 grams.

This worked extremely well in carb withdrawal. I seemed to lose my craving for carbs by the 2nd day in. I had 2 people at work discussing their prodigious eating over the weekend after I told them I started a diet and I said: “Thank you for telling me all this right after I told you I started a diet.”

“You’re welcome.” One said without missing a beat, and they continued.

I work with a tough crowd and certainly there was no maliciousness intended – busting chops is a sport where I work – a way of blowing off steam by busting one another. It is not for the faint of heart nor those ‘special snowflakes’ out there prone to being offended by ‘microaggression’.

We specialize in interpersonal microaggression as well as macroaggression, and striaght-ahead aggression.

It’s a game played with the unspoken rule that only people who have shown there are tough enough are allowed in the club. We’re not *trying* to make people cry – it’s to blow off steam and the easily offended are treated with the respect they desire.

The initiates do all they can to embarrass and annoy their fellow players. I’ve heard this behavior called ‘ranking’ or ‘the dozens’.

But the thing is: despite them talking about the great food they ate, and talking about ice cream runs while talking longingly of ice cream, it was as if these foods were an abstraction for me. None of this talk made me hungry or crave anything.

But I had my wine. I figured that ketosis nor weight loss would ever happen while drinking – I was just focusing on the carbs withdrawal first, which was going well.

Two surprises:

Surprise one – I got into ketosis by day 4 of this routine.

Surprise two – I lost 2 pounds by this time – and the weight keeps coming off.

Yesterday as I write I mixed things up a bit. I had cream cheese wrapped in chicken breast for breakfast, then American cheese and lettuce for dinner. I skipped the alcohol and had water with that MiO ‘water enhancer’ crap – I like the lemonade flavor.

This morning I was 270.8 – 6.6 pounds down in 6 days.

There’s much left to be desired in my eating patterns according to orthodoxy: I’m eating like a deranged person. The rules are still sketchy as I make them up as I go along, but at least encouraging patterns are emerging and evolving hopefully into something at least *somewhat* healthy (whatever that means) – though I can attest to the fact that I feel better – more energetic, clearer head, need less sleep – than when I was eating carbs like a normal person. Frankly, looking back, while my favorite carbs taste great going down, I felt poisoned afterwards.

As an aside, I have also passed the ‘pizza test’ – pizza got ordered last night and it didn’t register at all on my interest scale.

So in conclusion: can I get into ketosis AND lose weight while drinking too much?

Apparently so.

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.

You Have Less Chance of Dying if You’re Fat

Doh!

Bad news for us folks who want to lose weight and are using ‘better health’ as a motivation to lose.

From the New York Times:

the study found a 6 percent decrease in mortality risk among people classified as overweight and a 5 percent decrease in people classified as Grade 1 obese, the lowest level (most of the obese fall in this category). This means that average-height women — 5 feet 4 inches — who weigh between 108 and 145 pounds have a higher mortality risk than average-height women who weigh between 146 and 203 pounds. For average-height men — 5 feet 10 inches — those who weigh between 129 and 174 pounds have a higher mortality risk than those who weigh between 175 and 243 pounds.

Maybe it’s better to have a goal of being less fat rather than thin? Personally, I am shooting for 200 lbs. and I’m 5 foot 10 inches.

Maybe some of you might want to consider a diet that focuses on health and not so much on weight?

Maybe Meghan Trainor is right?