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Dietary Adventures Part 3: Where I give you an update

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I haven't had time to get to the follow up for my last post, so I thought I'd give a quick update instead.

My first week was something of a wash. My wife was in the hospital for some minor surgery in the middle of the week so I was grabbing meals where I could get them and wasn't always making great choices due to general fatigue and disinterest since I was spending my time either working, or with her in the hospital for a few days. But of course, the most important thing to do when you fall of the wagon is to simply shrug and say, "oh well, time to get back to it again." Too many people fail because they have a minor setback and then figure why bother?

Last week went much better though. I've been eating almost nothing but steak, ground beef, almonds, some parmesan, a few vegetables here and there and Caesar salad dressing. I also supplement with a multi-vitamin and fish oil. I might not bother with the vitamin if I could count on my meat being grass fed and if I liked organ meat, but neither of those is the case so I'm playing it safe on that front since I get little in the way of nutrients from plants now. I'm also testing my urine for ketone bodies daily. Ketone bodies are formed from fat by the body and used as fuel in the absence of carbohydrates providing glucose, usually as a result of diets extremely low in carbs. Since I'm getting, by my estimates, less than 20 grams of carbs most days, if my body were still burning only glucose I probably wouldn't feel too well.

So last Monday I noticed the first trace amounts of ketone bodies present in my urine meaning I'd started down the path of my body using fat for fuel instead of glucose. The levels increased gradually for the first few days and seem to have leveled off now. And the good news is that a week later, I've dropped from 298 lbs. on Thursday night, to 295 lbs. this morning. I actually didn't weigh myself at the start (needed to dig out the scale) and based on how loose my clothes are feeling already I think I was probably over 300lbs. when I started this whole process. So far though, it looks like I may be losing a pound a day or a bit less, and I'd like to point out that I've been to the gym once in the last month. This is all diet. My depression is also almost non-existent now. My bad days (or at least the one bad day I had) are better called mediocre days, and most days my mood could almost be described as cheerful.

One other interesting side effect I've noticed is that I don't crave carbohydrates anymore. It used to be the case that even seeing the candy aisle in a grocery store, or smelling the bag of chips my wife just opened would get my mouth watering and have my brain screaming at me to eat some. That's actually stopped completely now. Whereas it used to take a surprising amount of willpower to turn down these cravings, and I would fail more often than I care to admit, it's now pretty trivial for me to say no and go back to eating what I usually do. It's one of the things that surprised me the most. I thought it would be difficult to avoid the foods that would kick me out of ketosis faster than an olympic sprinter finishes the 100m, but it's actually become the easiest part so far.

Now for the bad news, though it's not really bad news I suppose: there's a transition period when you go on a ketogenic diet where your body stops burning glucose for fuel and starts using ketone bodies instead. I'd read about it before, it lasts about 48 hours and most people describe it as being in a kind of fog for that period. I don't know if it just hit me harder, but I felt like trout Thursday and Friday. I had plenty of energy, wasn't hungry, but felt like I had no energy and was hungry. It's very hard to describe because I've never really felt anything like it. It was like that feeling you get when your blood sugar crashes, minus the crashing blood sugar and shakiness that usually accompanies it. Luckily, a short 18 hour fast from Friday night to Saturday afternoon seems to have set things straight and now I feel great. Better than I have in years actually.
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  1. Slothy's Avatar
    I wanted to add to this that I had my first real experience with a high intensity workout while on this diet at the gym last night. Now I mentioned in my last post that the best case scenario for the body using blood glucose is to store it as glycogen in the muscles. Since I'm eating extremely low carb, my glycogen levels are pretty much depleted at this point which is very bad for high intensity workouts.

    Basically it was like hitting a brick wall within a minute or two and still having another 8 to go. The muscles usually process glycogen for energy during these types of workouts so without it, high intensity exercise and endurance exercise don't really work at all. All my strength was their but I had nothing to keep me going.

    Sadly, I've got to cancel my gym membership for the next month at least so experimenting will be a bit more difficult since I'll be limited to biking and body weight exercises. But I still plan to see if there's any way for me to get around this. I've read that getting a little glucose before and more during and after a workout can help. And since the muscle tissue is primed to utilize glucose more readily during and after a workout I'm not as concerned about insulin spikes then throwing me out of ketosis. I'll try getting some more sugar into me when I work out to see if it makes a difference in my energy level, and I'll continue to monitor my ketone levels. All I had after last nights workout was whole milk and it had no effect on my staying in ketosis despite half of what I drank last night being enough to cut my ketone levels in half last week. Odds are I should be able to handle a decent amount of sugar with no big negative impacts on my diet.
  2. Peegee's Avatar
    too bad about the membership. also you will not be able to pig out on carbs top get that insulin high for a while. i hope you maintain it for about 8 weeks because that's how long i recommend staying on a cut before you eat back to maintenance. that way i can see how you responded and whether you'd rather eat normally or just eat more.

    keto diet just tells me you aren't eating more than about 100 g of carbs. how many meals a day? wondering if you'd be interested in combining keto with intermittent fasting. might be interesting.

    do watch out as your lifts might take a step back without the glycogen stores giving it energy. I've found that burst strength is hindered by keto.

    keep us posted!
  3. Slothy's Avatar
    Actually to go Keto I keep it around 20-30g of carbs a day tops. The vegetables I like aren't really high in the carb count so it's pretty easy to stay there most of the time. Went a bit off the rails this weekend though. I was visiting family for a family reunion and there were quite a few times where my options were either eat what was available because I haven't been home in eight hours and I'm in the middle of nowhere or don't eat. You can only go with the don't eat option for so long before you crack. Luckily, I was reminded that butter tastes awesome on it's own.

    But smurf it, back on track now. I actually have been doing an intermittent fast once a week, usually stop eating around 7-8pm and then don't eat again until sometime between 12-2pm the next day. I find it keeps me feeling pretty good actually though the tail end of the fast is usually when the hunger starts getting to me, though it's gotten easier since the first time. I also tend to stick to 3 meals a day, maybe adding a snack in there if I get hungry enough in the evening. I dislike the process of eating, and from experience I know I hate carrying lots of containers with me to eat a meal and a snack or two through the day so I just eat more all at once. It's not usually an issue since the reasonable amount of protein and big amount of fat I eat keeps me full for hours on end most of the time. If I do get hungry before my next meal it usually means I just didn't eat enough so I eat a bit more next time.

    I'm going to try and get another post in soon. I was hoping to do it sooner, but a combination of sleeping on a troutty futon and some pizza and the like on the weekend hit me harder than I thought they would and I didn't really start to feel normal until today, even though I'm really tired right now. I'll have to hit the sack early I think.
  4. Peegee's Avatar
    restrictive diets tend to not mesh well with society. If you were doing strict IF then who cares (and you would welcome social gatherings). Keto..not so much. Meat is still rather expensive and won't be in large quantities (make friends with Filipino people - always eat BBQ pork)

    Did I read your first post right? You're close to 300 lbs? I never realized that :o If you keep it up, in about 6 months you should be down to 200s easily.
  5. Slothy's Avatar
    Yep, almost 300lbs. And I might have been that or a bit more when I started this process, I'm not really sure. I have something of a weird body type though. When I do put on fat it tends to be distributed fairly evenly, though there is a higher concentration around the mid section. Given the fact that I'm also quite tall (6'2") but have a stockier build with a good deal of muscle mass (particularly in the legs and torso) I'm an almost 300 lb. man that most people would probably guess weighs 30 lbs. less at least. Being me is very strange sometimes.

    As to restrictive diets, something I've found about going keto is that not only has it been downright easy (again, I don't seem to crave carbs at all when I do it making limiting them child's play for the first time in my life), but I'm actually not eating that much food in the run of a day because I'm not super hungry and my blood sugar is under control. Restrictive diets may not work for everyone, but it seems to be working for me.

    And despite a large portion of my meals being meat, by sticking to cheaper cuts of beef and ground beef (higher fat ground beef also being dirt cheap) I seem to be spending no more than I used to. And since I don't have vegetables and fruit I don't even want to eat going bad in the fridge it's probably a more efficient use of my money.

    I may have to compare the cost a bit more accurately sometime though because now you've got me curious.