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.

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The Drinking Man’s Diet

Oh, I’m on the Drinking Man’s Diet,
It came from a book I was loaned.
It’s really terrific and quite scientific
And I’m half stoned.

For breakfast some cornflakes and vodka,
But cornflakes have carbohydrate;
So I don’t eat those fattening cornflakes,
I eat the vodka straight.

The lyrics are from Allan Sherman. For those of us not exposed to this fellow, he was a writer and singer of novelty songs, and the original voice of The Cat in The Cat In The Hat cartoon. He would like to harpoon the current topics of his day (in the 60s), and something that had some media currency at the time was a book: The Drinking Man’s Diet.

It was the 60s, man. It was a less careful time. I was brought home as an infant held by my mother in the front seat of a car with a metal dashboard – not strapped in a car seat in the back with more fasteners and belts than a jet pilot. There were no seat belts, either. The playground of my elementary school was not cushioned in 12 inches of wood chips, but was hard-packed dirt. The playground had a wooden gate that you could get on and swing in a circle – great for falling off of, or smacking some other kid full in the face with a big can of wooden-gate whoop-ass. The swings were also wooden, and great for whacking kids in the side of the head – either unintentionally or otherwise.

For grown-ups, it was even more carefree – or careless, depending on how you look at it. Everybody smoked, or at least it seemed like it, and drinking too much was more of a joke than anything else – cops would stop you as you wove across three lanes and tell you paternally to go home and sleep it off. Near my home was a department store that had a bar attached to it – it was essentially the Drinking Department. I imagine the thinking was: when the family wants to go to a store, Dad will want to come to this one so he can get hammered while Mom buys shoes and maybe some clothes for the kids.

And if he gets stopped by the police on the way home? We’ll he was going to go home to sleep it off anyway, so he and the cop would be in agreement.

It was a time of less rules, I suppose – and if there were more needless traffic deaths than was necessary, it was just a consequence of the American Way of Life – amen.

Only in this sort of time could a book like The Drinking Man’s Diet gain popularity. In a time where most of us believe it is not only right, but somehow just, to banish smokers to stand outside their office and smoke in weather that we would not allow our pets out in, there would be no market for such a politically incorrect little book.

Drink, drink, everyone drink;
It’s not as bad as we used to think.
With every Manhattan your stomach will flatten,
So drink, drink, drink.

The book did well – it sold 2.4 MILLION copies – and the man who wrote it, Robert Cameron, was still kicking at 93, and trim as well, when he reissued the book in 2004. See this article in Forbes. Here’s a sample menu – if this is what he’d been eating (and drinking) since 1964, God bless his soul:

Breakfast

1/4 cantaloupe or 4 ounces of tomato juice (5 carbs)
Ham or bacon, 2 slices (0
carbs)
Egg, fried, boiled or poached (trace
carbs)
Coffee or tea (0
carbs)

Lunch

Dry martini or whiskey and soda, if desired (trace carbs)
Broiled fish or steak or roast chicken (0
carbs)
2 glasses dry wine, if you wish (trace
carbs)
Green beans or asparagus (1
carbs)
Lettuce and tomato salad with French or Roquefort dressing (4
carbs)
Coffee or tea (0
carbs)

Dinner

Martinis or highballs, if you desire (trace carbs)
Hors d’oeuvres of 2 stalks of celery stuffed with pâté (5
carbs)
Shrimp cocktail (4
carbs)
Beef, pork, lamb, veal chicken or turkey (0
carbs)
Green beans, 1 cup, brussels sprouts, 1/2 cup, or cauliflower, 1 cup (6
carbs)
2 glasses dry wine (trace
carbs)
1/2 avocado with French dressing (8
carbs)
Cheese: Roquefort, Camembert, Swiss or cheddar (trace
carbs)
Coffee or tea (0
carbs)
Brandy (trace
carbs)

Total grams of carbohydrate: 33

(Note that he refrains from alcohol for breakfast – you have to admire his willpower to make it all the way to noon without a drink.)

As this was published in 1964, this was before Dr. Atkins, so it could be concluded that this was the first popular low carb diet of the modern era – not Atkins.

Maybe it’s been forgotten because it’s just too out there.

Would I lose weight on this diet? I bet not. I think it would end up like the last stanza in Allan Sherman’s song:

Drink (hic!), drink (hic!),
booze everywhere (hic!);
Pass that decanter of bourbon there.
I’m fatter than ever,
but here’s what’s so clever:I don’t care!