Instead of multiple posts, I’ll just edit this one daily, all Morgan Spurlock-style.
Like most people, I tend to start “diets” or implement lifestyle changes around the first of the year. I have no philosophical “new year/new me” feelings. It just happens to be the time when holiday / social activity dies and the weather pushes me inside and forces me to be more sedentary. For some crazy reason, when I am alone and suicidal and freezing through bleak winter months, no one wants to hang out unless it’s at a restaurant. Then all summer long, every Saturday I have to make a choice between three or five different invitations. Clearly my friends are just trying to give me ulcers and drive me to an early grave. So I hang out at the gym when I can.
This is an Ohio problem. In New Orleans, Carnival starts on epiphany and runs until our livers explode on Mardi Gras. They start baking King Cakes on Jan 6th. Truth be told I never really get involved with Mardi Gras stuff. It was awesome when I were a college-age neophyte. It was a hindrance when I lived in New Orleans and had to fight the crowds to live my life. Then, last year, at 40, I got to thoroughly enjoy it as an adult. I attended parades and marched in parades and met wonderful people and many artists with only one earth-shattering, humiliating, can’t-live-it-down drunken episode. Still, I gained 40 lbs in 5 months. Can’t do that year after year, either!
This year, I have no work-related pot-lucks or bar outings to attend, so my last scheduled bacchanal was today. I got to enjoy lots of Champagne, several refills of Scotch, at least four beers (though I tend to set them down while talking and lose track of them) and fist-fulls of food, including stuff I don’t even like, like mini-eclairs. And we’re going to call that a season!
My personal choice for fat loss is a Ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting which I induce with a multi-day fast.
This may seem harsh and restrictive to some, but I thrive on it. I am fully keto-adapted (explained later) and have tons of energy on this diet once I get through the carb flu. Insulin apparently makes me sluggish and miserable (this is conjecture based on experience-I have no way to know). This isn’t for everyone and it takes a long time to become keto-adapted so don’t expect similar results if you do what I do. I can get to ketosis in a couple of days. It may take you over a week the first few times you try this. But you can become as keto-adapted as I am if you would like to be. Just keep doing it and your genes will make the enzymes.
Time to get on the scale. I normally don’t get on the scale until a week into this, but for the sake of writing this for you…HOLY JESUS CRAP! 207 pounds! And 40% Body fat! 1: 40% fat is not possible. 2: I was just telling someone at the party last night that I was under 200lbs. At least I was before the party started! My yearly weight swing in my 20s was between 205-235 lbs. The past 10 years, it’s been it’s 175-205lbs. OK. I am focused now.
I am not hungry today, still quite bloated from the party, so it will be easy to fast. Whenever I say fast- that means water + coffee + heavy cream. I will die before I give up the coffee.
Today’s Food: Coffee + Heavy cream, 2 Tbsp Psyllium husk, for an awesome bowel movement. Remember “The Cleaner” from Labyrinth?
203.6 lbs! Must have been an awesome bowel movement! The scale lies and don’t forget that a cup of water weighs over 8 ounces. This is why you want to shoot for a target fat%, not a target weight. Part of the weight you lose may be loss of muscle mass when your body turns your protein into sugar via gluconeogenesis. Ignore the scale for at least a week when you start a diet.
Today’s food: Coffee + Heavy cream. I made a second pot, shared some with the wiff.
200.4 lbs. 21% body fat
The biometric scale was absolutely off for body fat. I changed the batteries, reprogrammed my age, sex, height, etc. and got a more realistic reading of 21%. That’s still 40lbs of fat. I have arbitrarily decided that I don’t need more than 20lbs of fat in my body and that’s only if I can add significant amounts of muscle. My target fat% is 11-15%. My target weight is still 180lbs (still arbitrary), but I don’t actually have enough muscle mass, which is a whole separate problem.I only have about 150lbs of lean weight.
I woke up with headache which is normal. This could be for several reasons, most likely mineral loss. I was OK after coffee
Coffee + Whipping cream. I also had some Bone Broth with a big pinch of pink salt and took two Potassium Glutamate pills. One thing I suffer from while ketotic is charlie horses. So I have to supplement. At least I know things are happening metabolically.
198.4 lbs. 20% fat
To quote Sleazy P. Martini:”We’re rockin’ now!” Right? No.
Again, weight is deceiving. There is no way that I have lost nine pounds since Sunday. How many times have you seen a friend make an announcement on Facebook similar to: “Wow! I ran a 5K and lost 7 pounds!” or “I’ve lost 8 pounds since joining the gym last week! I must be doing something right!” Then 3 days later, they don’t want to talk about it.
This is because water is heavy, and your stored glucose is stored “hydrated”. Each molecule of glucose is stored with several molecules of water. All your friend did was burn up his or her glucose stores which was replaced as soon as they ate. This is “water weight”. They lost no fat and neither have I at this point. But wait- I have!
Today is a good day to check for ketones. I like ketosis because you can test for it. No other weight loss program can be tested for at home that I know of. If you are pissing beta-Hydroxybuterate and your breath smells like acetone, it can only come from fat, scale reading be damned. The fat is going away, verified.
This is just a journal, so I’m not going to explain Ketosis Biochem right now, but I need you to know that Ketosis is a normal part of your metabolism, as is fat-burning through metabolism of fatty acids, as is dietary glucose & fructose and even ethanol. The Atkins Diet simply tries to induce Ketosis and argue it’s safety and normalcy. When you see someone call Atkins a “fad diet” or disregard it as “ultimately, a calorie-restricting diet” or claim “all you lose is water weight” -that person knows nothing about metabolic biochemistry. And I can show you M.D.s who think this way. In the absence of dietary glucose, your body will use up its stores. Then, for a brief time it tears down muscle (proteolysis) and turns it into glucose (gluconeogenesis) while your Ketosis metabolism is ramping up.
Ketones are just fat made water-soluble, since your brain needs ~600 calories a day and can only use Glucose or Ketones because fatty acids can not cross the blood/brain barrier. Once your ketosis metabolism is going strong (when your body senses high circulating ketone levels) your body stops “calling” for glucose (and stops ripping apart your muscles) and burns ketones preferentially.
But not until your hormone system makes you pay Hell for it. Insulin does not go away quietly. It can take days to over a week to get your ketotic metabolism up and running and one muffin can make you start over. You may experience headaches, extreme cravings and other miseries. This is known science, not a fad. Atkins can’t not work. If it failed you, unless you have a metabolic disease, you just didn’t do it correctly.
So I peed on one of those Ketostix (very affordable from your pharmacist) and I was at the top of the chart.
So then I tested my blood Glucose & Ketones with a meter used by diabetics (Precision Xtra by Abbot labs). My circulating blood glucose is 43mg/dl (quite low) and Ketones are 2.6 mmol/L (quite high). Those ketones came from body fat, nowhere else.
These meters are cheap to buy but quite expensive to use, so I don’t do it every day. It is really cool because you can actually watch your blood glucose drop, then rise and stabilize without dietary glucose. This is the proteolysis. Life sciences are freaking beautiful to see! We are poetry in chemistry. Mammals, and even more so, Humans are really the most incredible thing on the planet. Why we gotta screw it up?
Philosophical musings are inevitable, but more importantly I am free to start eating now. But I’m really not hungry, even now. Why?
The hormone Leptin was only discovered in the 90’s. 1996, I think. It is released by your fat cells and tells your hypothalamus that you don’t need food. The more fat you have, the stronger the signal to your brain. However, insulin receptors co-localize with Leptin receptors and insulin blocks leptin. Make this your mantra: INSULIN BLOCKS LEPTIN. This is why, even if you have 60lbs of fat and just took in 300 calories of sugary beverage, your brain thinks you are starving. You are not leptin deficient, you are leptin resistant.
When you are starving (or your brain thinks you’re starving), your hormonal system wants you to take in energy and conserve energy (eat and don’t move). As Robert Lustig will tell you: Yes, you are fat and a glutton and a sloth, but being a glutton and a sloth did not make you fat. Insulin from your carb-based diet made you a glutton and a sloth which made you fat. So please stop beating yourself up and blaming yourself for not getting enough exercise and eating too much. You just ate the wrong stuff (based on USDA guidelines).
Michelle Obama thinks you just need to do some jumping jacks and grow a garden. She’s says, “It’s your fault. You conservatives like personal responsibility, right? By the way, my husband is going to keep subsidizing sugar, corn and wheat. Good luck with that insulin!”
So with insulin out of the way, my 40lbs of fat is freely telling my brain, “Don’t worry, we have months of food on board. Where’s the coffee?” And lack of sluggishness dictated by my parasympathetic nervous system triggered by lack of insulin is perceived as “extra energy”. I haven’t been to the gym since the big party. I just may go today if I can dig the car out of the snow.
Small headache again this morning and threats of charlie horses.
So I did go to the gym, but decided to eat first. I’m not going to do a full food journal, but I will share a lot of food detail this first week or two and highlight things of note.
196.4 lbs. 20% fat
Same food as yesterday + 2 eggs & cheese
No headache or charlie horse. Feel good all day.
196.8 lbs. 20% fat
OK, so now we see the slow-down. Ketone level is still up so there is no need to worry. Depending on how much I eat, my weight may even go up. No worries.
The glucose stores are depleted. The, uh, intestinal contents are depleted. Water weight is gone. Now it’s just me vs. the fat. I predict a lull for a few days, then another precipitous drop next week as the brain figures out over the weekend that it has no other choice but to tear down fat for fuel now.
Food: Coffee + Heavy cream, 3 eggs + cheese
Notice that up to this point, we have moved the scale over 10 lbs but the fat weight is constant.
194.2 lbs 20% Fat
The fact that the scale can only do whole percent numbers make for a jagged graph. But as I keep saying, you can’t obsess over day-to-day numbers. Watch the trendline.
Food: Coffee + Heavy cream, 2 eggs + cheese, Tuna salad with home-made mayo. I skipped the capers because I went over to mom’s house earlier and she was cooking down a killer corn chowder to which I could not say no. I just ate around the potatoes. but the sauce was full of flour. Social activity can scuttle this diet so quickly.
Today for food I was cooking down a bone broth (pork) and ended up just picking out of that for food. Meat that has been boiled for 24 hours is not necessarily delectable, but once you fry it up in a skillet and add some spices, it’s pretty tasty.
Went to bed feeling like I ate an entire pig.
193.0 lbs 21%
Today I made a dish that was foisted upon me by the Interweb. It’s avocado baked with egg. I was pretty underwhelmed. I love the taste of ripe raw avocado. Baking it does not make it better.
Drowned my sorrows in Coffee with Heavy cream.
I weighed in at 195.2 when I first woke up- yep, too much pork!
Almost time to start digging out old trousers!
Starting to lose track of the food. I also had some eggs, souse, cheese…
190 lbs! 21%
Had some social activity today.
Tommy’s has a sandwich called the T.N.T. It’s a giant sub full of uncountable types of hot lunch meat, slathered in cheese and topped with tomatoes & pickles. If you order it without a bun, they make a really nice presentation on lettuce or baby greens. I usually skip the tomato if trying to stay ketotic but not today. Then I shared a bottle and a half of red wine. Still ketotic according to the Ketostix when I got home. But as I have explained elsewhere, Ethanol screws up metabolism hormonally. The ethanol is metabolized first and accompanying calories are turned into fat.
I regret nothing!
But I still feel like I ate a cow yesterday. Today might be a good day for intermittent fasting. It’s called intermittent fasting because you really want to randomize it. If you fast on a schedule, your brain will figure it out and protect your fat accordingly hormonally.
191.8 lbs 20%
Kept busy today, I got a cup of coffee while picking my wife up at the airport then ate a couple of pieces of cheese when I got home, so my fast was 48 hours, after all.
190.0 lbs 20% Fat
After the dairy last night, I wake up feeling kind of full, but not quite bloated. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve only eaten ~300 calories in the past 56 hours, but that is the case. 2 eggs for breakfast.
I’ve been snacking on anchovies wrapped around giant capers.
Oh and some crappy pseudo-cheese my wife bought for grilled cheese sandwiches.
191.2 lbs 19% Fat
Again, it’s hard not to panic if you live by the scale. How could I eat so little, yet weigh more than yesterday? Especially after a kick-ass gym session? It doesn’t matter. If you are spilling ketones into your urine-the fat is going away.
Something special has happened, though- my first fat % reading under 20%. I awarded myself a little glass (or two) of Vermouth.
Instead of the gym today, I shoveled the driveway and moved a rick of firewood.
191.4 lbs 19% Fat
Beginning to look like a stall.
191.2 lbs 19% Fat
Yeah, I think I’ve stalled. But that didn’t prevent me from engaging in a little social activity. Tonight I met up with some old CWRU friends and had a very lovely time reconnecting. I had 2 glasses of wine and part of a charcuterie plate, but with that little food I got just drunk enough to forget I am not drinking beer presently and ordered two giant beers at the bar a few doors down after the party mostly broke up. Whoops. It happens. Didn’t lose the ketosis, though.
185.8 lbs, Too early for Fat%
Well this is a pleasant surprise. I highly doubt that I lost 5 pounds since yesterday, but I’ll take it! Perhaps the scale wasn’t level (though it usually tells me if that’s the case). Perhaps I was standing on it incorrectly (for 3 days in a row?). Who knows. As I keep saying, the scale and it’s wily ways is merely a tool for following a larger trend. So I retrieved the “target trousers”! Sure enough, I can get them on. I can button them and zip them but not much else. So things have happened. 3 weeks ago, I couldn’t get my thigh through. Being squarely in the 180’s after reaching over 200lbs this year has a tremendous psychological effect. You get reinforcement and pep to keep going forward. Someone-anyone tell me this was water weight. And please share this with your friends who poo-poo ketogenic diets.
You may have ascertained that I’m not exactly a gym rat. I have so many injuries that I only do few basic machines and spend a lot of time on an elliptical. Then I go splash around in the pool for 25 minutes because I’m not yet a talented-enough swimmer or have the stamina to swim true laps. Body composition is 80% (at least) dietarily controlled, though exercise is compulsory.
Results are half of the game, here. I’mma a go eat a mess o’ greens.
I’m still here! I took a week off of the journal to tend to some stuff. I have had a bit of social / family activity and stayed pretty well on the diet, but not losing. I was conned into drinking a whole bunch of booze. They held me down and poured it in, I swear! Hovering around the 186-8 range. Back at it!
184.8 lbs / 19% fat
Today’s comments became a post:
In Which Jimm Becomes Trendy and Puts Butter into Coffee.
180.4 lbs / 19% fat
Well this should be a momentous occasion as this is my target weight, but celebration is brief. The caveat being: the fat/lean ratio is still off. At the 19-21% body fat, whatever it is, means I am still carrying way over 20 lbs. of fat, which I think is unnecessary. And I just checked my phone – American Apparel has not called for a photo shoot. So forward and onward.
Seriously, the butter in the coffee thing has had a profound affect on me. I’m killing it at the gym. I bought food after leaving the gym but couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I had a couple of pieces of cheese and that was enough. Last night, however, I had the charlie horse of the century. I knew it was coming after depleting myself at the gym yesterday. But like an idiot I didn’t take any supplement before bed. I haven’t had one since the last time I mentioned it in this journal, but holy cow! This was the killer-diller. I almost couldn’t get down the stairs.
Target trousers are wearable, but still a little attention-getting if you would like to make guesses as to my religion.
Today’s feast: a mess o’ smelt fried in butter!
178.6 lbs /% fat
Still moving at a good clip. I’m actually a little weak and have a minor background headache today so I’m going to take a day off from the gym. I made the butter coffee again but just couldn’t drink it. In my weak state it’s just too rich. I’m going to have to stop for a bit, though I cannot believe this weight loss. I need to get some vitamins & minerals into my body.
I ate a lot of collard greens and souse and a good scoop of Sauerkraut that I’ve had aging in the basement. It was DELICIOUS. I could have eaten the whole quart.
In the evening I went to a restaurant and had a chicken Caesar (no croutons) and 2 glasses of wine. Then I shared another bottle of wine with a friend. So this should slow me down a little.
178.0 lbs /% fat
29 lbs, kids! I’ll make another big hoopla on Facebook when I reach 177. That will be 30lbs since Jan 3rd and maybe time to return to a normalish diet.
Today’s entry is so awesome it had to be its own post.
You have to read the instructions. And obey them, by the way.
168.8 lbs / 12% fat
I’ve been in New Orleans since the end of February and made the decision to leave the scale at home. I lost enough weight by the end of February that it’s pointless to watch the scale daily. I haven’t been in need of a large, rapid drop in weight. The trousers all fit correctly and it’s now a fight to get rid of the spare tire, which really can’t be done with ketosis easily. You end up losing muscle, too. Subcutaneous fat is not mobilized as readily as inguinal fat. So you have to fight it off by lifting weights and sprinting. But my interest in sharing this journal with you only extends to helping you get to a healthy weight range. If you want to look like an underwear model, you’re on your own. Then you come back and tell me how to do it.
But in the mean time, I lost another ten pounds. I haven’t been to the gym since the 3rd week of February and my exercise now is comprised of walking around a New Orleans neighborhood with a cup of coffee for a couple of hours each morning or evening and a daily quick power walk around Audubon Park which takes me about half an hour. If I feel spritely, I try to run a little, but this usually doesn’t last more than several yards. As you have known all along, I’m a lousy gym rat.
I have, however been without the Spousal Unit since February, so I have been free to do wild and crazy and experimental dietary things without gentle persuasion (nagging) or cautionary advisement (bitching) one would expect to hear from one with whom you share your life (from the ball & chain). If you know my wife, you know that’s a joke, but she can talk me into going out for bruschetta, cheese nibblers and boozin’ faster than anyone, so she is ruinous nonetheless.
Experiments in calorie restriction
So I’ve basically been living on coffee and a fine selection of herbal teas down at the local coffee shop where I write this drivel. Remember the coconut oil & grass-fed butter in the coffee? I recently went for two or three 7-10 day jags eating only this once a day: 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil + 1 Tbsp Butter + 2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast all mixed together then rolled into kind of a power bar, washed down with a 20oz coffee & chicory (I actually really love this!). It has not only sustained me, but I have been very active these two months- even attempting to run a bit, which I really can’t do owing to my back problem and zero history running. I have had abundant energy to burn and no insulin-mediated false cravings.
I am fed by the sun – your red sun gives me strength.
When not on these strict jags, I fit in a second meal- I go to Rouse’s Grocery and get some crack & peel shrimp and collard greens or green beans or I hit the Whole Foods salad bar. I can not really pack in lots of food if I’m being active in warm weather. Those second meals were almost too much. My social life didn’t suffer. I went out for a few beers with friends and I went to a pig smoke (we made hog’s head cheese) and a crawfish boil. I ate many things, drank many beers, then usually fasted 24 hours afterward and returned to form. No problem or guilt or stress.
Last weekend I met up with my wife in Nashville and had her bring me the Biometric scale from home which has been giving me a range of 12-16% body fat and weight range from 168-174lbs. 16% of 174 is 27.84lbs of body fat. 12% of 168.8 is 20.25lbs. Since my stated arbitrary 1st goal of this diet was to have no more than 20lbs of body fat as indicated by body fat percentage, it would be nice to know if I still want to lose 8lbs or only 1/2lb. So I will have to do a couple of weeks of carefully-timed readings to see if I can reign in some accuracy. I have been getting some very interesting results that I will share when I am able to graph them.
Once I get a consistent reading of 10-15% body fat range with a maximum of 20lbs of fat, I will consider this project really done. Then on to the horrible task of attempting to add muscle mass.