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I Suck At Low Carb Dieting – Week 3

Posted Mar 11 2012 7:06am

I have been having a bit of a problem with, ahem, compliance – the ongoing process of actually keeping the promises I’ve made myself as to this 12-week experiment in full-bore low carb, ketogenics, exercise, and calorie-monitoring. I can’t test a set of variables if I don’t stick to them, so at the start of week 3, I’m trying yet again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012 – 211.0

On this day I had my Atkins shake in the AM, then a Greek yogurt around 1pm. Convenience does help. I just haven’t been in the mood to cook as of late. I also exercised – just the weights 3 circuits on 3 machines for the arms and chest like last week. Weekends, where I usually have more flexibility in my time, is a good opportunity to get in exercise 2 days in a row, though I do want to be careful not to hurt a body that considers exercise something done while bringing fork to mouth.

I do enjoy it, especially when not in a rush, though I run the risk of having developed arms with everything else flabby.

I suppose I’ll take that chance.

Evening eating was some roast beef and butter, some pork rinds and salsa, a slice of bacon and a few slices of American cheese. I was satisfied at the amount and didn’t continue eating to meet some caloric ideal – a problem I think I had the last week.

Total calories for the day: 1207. Fat: 85g, Net carbs: 16g, Protein: 90g (64/7/30%)

Monday, March 5, 2012 – 208.8

I suppose the theme for the week so far goes back to the one of the many answers to the question ‘What is Zen?’

One answer is: “When hungry eat, when tired, sleep.” Not bad advice no matter what your beliefs are, actually.

I threw out the ‘scientists say eat breakfast because blah blah blah..’ and had my Atkins shake when I was hungry – maybe 9am – 4 hours after I woke. While my resolution of coffee seems to have gone out the window, I am living on a weaker brew which I sip during the day. Black, of course. Late afternoon was a yogurt, then the evening was a trip to the gym for the usual routine. Home was dinner, which was roast beef and butter, and cheese and lettuce. Later in the evening, still hungry, I had some of the family’s leftovers from TGI Fridays (chicken and ketchup). Yeah, my compliance slipped a bit here, but I think the damage was minimal – not in the ‘frozen Walmart pizza’ category.

Total calories for the day: 1514.  Fat: 103g, Net carbs: 31g, Protein: 91g (65/10/25%)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 – 206.2

While losing 5 pounds in 3 days is awesome, it must be remembered that I GAINED 7 lbs in ONE DAY.

That, my friends, is the awesome power of low carb – and what happens when you abandon it and drink a liter of Orangina and have Walmart frozen pizza. I suppose I can look on these events as further justification for living the way I do. Why do I low carb? Why live like this when there are people out there who I respect (Matt Stone, Anthony Colpo) that believe there’s evidence that low carb might not be all that great?

The answer is because it has proven itself to work for me above all the other things I’ve tried, and while in my ninth year of it the pounds don’t exactly melt away, they sure do rush back in when I eat high carb crap, and I can prove this over and over.

I should also mention how sick I felt after the crapfest. I felt physically ill. To think as a young adult I ate like this daily - and many people do – and think nothing of the fact they feel awful all the time because they are totally used to feeling awful and being incapable of staying awake through the afternoon blood sugar plunge brought about by their crappy diet.

On another topic, mood is a strange thing. I found myself wanting to exercise yesterday. Thinking about it during the day – even looking forward to it. I also had a mood of well-being, though outside circumstances (my crazy job) should have made me feel otherwise. This could be temporary – a form of inebriation that I will simply become used to – and immune to. I am so good at being lazy – it’s a shame to leave a vast body of work in sloth behind.

As for eats, It was an Atkins shake maybe 10am, then a yogurt at maybe 2pm? A little later I had a can of tuna, and before leaving work near 6pm I had 2 tablespoons of butter with 4oz of roast beef.

On the way home I stopped – 4th day in a row – to work with the weights. It doesn’t take long  - maybe 15 minutes – and I find myself looking forward to it. I am also not sore – not like when I started. It also seemed that the weights I started with that once felt heavy seem, well, lighter.

When I went home, I decided to try something different – I had an Atkins shake instead of dinner. They do satisfy. They are a friggin’ shake, not a steak – don’t get me wrong: when I say ‘satisfy’ I mean ‘I am not hungry after I have one.

I did have maybe a quarter cup of peanuts before bed, and that was my day.

Total calories for the day: 1393.  Fat: 94g, Net carbs: 10g, Protein: 117g (62/4/34%)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 – 204.0

7 pounds in 4 days? Fabulous. Remember again, though – it was Orangina and frozen pizza that made me gain the 7 lbs in 1 day. That’s how fine-tuned (or fucked up) my metabolism is. And now comes the hard part – getting below 200 lbs. I doubt the weight is going to continue to roll of from here, but I am trying to internalize one commenter’s notion of thinking this a ‘cleansing’. A temporary one, not a lifestyle change – I know how to keep the weight off and enjoy my food (I think) – I just need to get to my target weight first. Apparently, that requires some extra effort.

The day has become a routine of Atkins shake, greek yogurt and roast beef and butter. Hitting the gym has also become daily – a quick 15-20 minutes after work. I did have a second Atkins shake on the way home, worked out and weighed myself – just for kicks – 202.8. OK – this is serious territory now.

I also tested for ketones – yep – I’m in ketosis now. I did notice that my weight workout seemed a wee bit harder than yesterday. Perhaps that’s the ketosis kicking in.

This is *USUALLY* about the time I go off the rails…but this night I don’t. Out with the kids to a school event and then home at 9pm when I had some cheese and iceberg lettuce.

First mention from the wife that she’s noticed my nascent muscles. I’m beginning to get a little muscle tone in my arms.

Total calories for the day: 1367.  Fat: 97g, Net carbs: 16g, Protein: 96g (66/6/29%)

Thursday, March 8, 2012 – 203.0

8 pounds down in 5 days. I feel OK. I could even go so far as to say I feel a heightened sense of well-being. That could be because we’ve finally had a sunny day that went above 60 degrees, and I love spring as much as I hate winter. Still in ketosis, though light. That could be that I am not ‘spilling’ ketones in my urine, but rather using them all. This could be because I am doing a low-calorie diet – let’s face it – this is a low-calorie diet first and foremost – I am using the low carb aspect to reduce hunger. Fat is more satisfying than carbs (at least to me – I’ve seen some claim otherwise and people are different) and ketosis suppresses appetite.

This day was a bit different in terms of how I felt. The coffee I usually drank made me a bit more jittery than usual. I was a little more intense – sometimes to the delight or chagrin of my coworkers. My mood was OK. I did stick to the shake / yogurt / roast beef / butter routine, but I ate more butter and roast beef than usual. I felt a heaviness and an unsteadiness late afternoon. Maybe a little headachy (I don’t take anything for headaches, I just tough ‘em out).

I’ve felt this before. This is hard-core ketosis kicking in. I thought about skipping exercise, but went anyway. As it’s sunny and warm in the east and I was wearing a polo shirt, I decided to skip changing for the gym and did my usual 3 sets of 10 on the 3 upper body machines. This was tough. I remembered how light these weights felt the other day – they felt a lot heavier now. I got through these and went home. Jeez, I am actually developing muscles with this workout and without changing, it probably took me less than 10 minutes.

At home I checked my weight – 202.4. Nice. I also checked for ketosis – a very dark red. This explains how I feel. Ketosis – this hard-core ketosis by having essentially zilch in terms of carbs does a number on you while your body acclimates to it. The trick here is to make it through the acclimation. What lies on the other side is a ‘keto-adapted metabolism’ where your body runs off ketones as well as a good part of your brain. The small amount of sugar your brain does need is produced by creating it from protein. Once you adapt, which takes a week or two, some people can run in this mode indefinitely.

This is super controversial. Some of you folks in the know would think this smart to say – others believe it to be stupid and dangerous. I’ve come down on the side that it is harmless in general and beneficial for weight loss, because ketosis reduces hunger.

The latest research on this can be found in  The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Phinney, Stephen; Volek, Jeff  (2011-07-08). I’m basing my current experiment in extreme low carbing on some of the info presented in this book – well worth the read if you can read a very sciencey book written for physicians.

Anywho, one thing they note is that the weirdness one feels getting into ketosis can be countered by salt. Salt is supposedly a very different thing when you are on a ketogenic diet and you can easily become salt-depleted. Hungry at home, I had some Claussen pickles in the fridge and figured I’d have some with cheese, but I overdid it, eating 4 pickles and 8 slices of cheese (4oz). I also has a tomato with slices of cheese, and a few slices of prosciutto. I was also ravenously thirsty, which is unusual for me, and drank a liter of seltzer in about 10 minutes.

If I needed salt on this day – I got it. The LoseIt app says it was 7,300mg. Depending on who you believe, I should either go to the emergency room right away, or it’s not a big deal.

Oh, yeah – I also got back my blood results from the endocrinologist. Thyroid and testosterone levels are normal. Blood sugar is a little high – and she recommended losing weight and exercise. I’m on it, doc.

Total calories for the day: 1869.  Fat: 125g, Net carbs: 34g, Protein: 142g (61/8/31%)

Friday, March 9, 2012 – 204.4 

Still in a deep ketosis. The weight gain is explained by the salt and liquid that, if the past is any indication, will be flushed from my body in a day or so. Did I notice that I am using a new belt notch this morning when getting dressed? I think so. Ate relatively light throughout the day. The am shake didn’t happen until late am, then I had a can of smoked oysters and a small raw zucchini I found lonely and abandoned in the veggie drawer in the morning. Around 5pm I had my yogurt.

Stopped on the way home to exercise. Same routine. I don’t time myself, but it can’t take more than 10 minutes. Seemed a bit easier than yesterday, but not by much.

At home there was Sicilian pizza. I ate the pepperoni off one piece and asked myself – can I really resist the yummy goodness of a real Italian pizza made my real Italians that watch Italian TV in their Italian pizza joint? This ain’t the chain stuff – this is the real deal.

Despite my own estimate of a massive fail here, I didn’t have any. I grabbed a shake and went to bed instead.

I was pretty light on the calories – but if you recall, I mentioned I didn’t want to live by the numbers but how I felt – and I wasn’t hungry.

Total calories for the day: 852.  Fat: 53g, Net carbs: 20g, Protein: 63g (58/12/30%)

Saturday, March 10, 2012 – 202.4

7 days ago I was 9 pounds heavier. If I wanted to be intellectually dishonest about this, I would tout this as some great success – but the point of me writing this is to be honest. It’s not that big a deal. I was 200.8 on February 9th – and I was eating way more food in terms of calories and not exercising. I just checked my unpublished stuff from about that time and I ate a boatload of Girl Scout cookies 2 days prior and was certainly not in ketosis.

So, really – what’s the point?

I think the answer lies in that I am better prepared for the last 20 pounds to come off. I also thing being at this weight eating good and exercising is better than being at this weight sedentary and eating cookies. I am exercising. I am quite frankly shocked at the muscle definition I have gotten from my lame-o 10-minute daily workout. I see the other jokers at the gym huffing and puffing and straining, with looks of agony on their faces. My workout is relatively mild compared to this. I still hold contempt for these hyperkinetic gym rats, though I am attempting to turn into one of them.

I also look at this diet analogous to meditation practice. I don’t meditate, but I have read about the practice of meditation. ‘Practice’ needs to be understood as not counting the failures – really, the practice of meditation is not to be good at it – the practice of meditation is to practice meditation. It is an end in itself.

This 12-Week experiment is similar to that. If I learn to enjoy exercise and eat austerely when it doesn’t matter yet be able to eat what I want in moderation when it does matter – and my weight stays in its current range, the scale might not tell me what I’d like to hear, but my health would be much improved because of it.

Even if I don’t lose – I can’t lose.

I had an Atkins shake early, some cheese and pepperoni off last night’s cold pizza (couldn’t resist). Around 11am I had an avocado with chopped zucchini and salsa. It was great, but I was real hungry after the avocado. I recall this happening the last time I had avocados as well. Maybe I need to avoid avocados. If they don’t satisfy, they gotta go.

Hungry as I was I had some pork rinds with salsa and some hard cheese. This put me at 1,200 calories rather early in the day, but considering I exercised and only ate 800 yesterday, I’d call it even.

I made my recipe for kale soup and had 2 cups and 1/2 of a sausage on the side. I also calculated the nutrition info – it’s in the comments for the post. Still peckish, I had another Atkins shake before bed.

Total calories for the day: 2122.  Fat: 139g, Net carbs: 55g, Protein: 144g (59/14/27%)

To be continued…

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