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I Suck At Low Carb Dieting – Week 5

Posted Mar 25 2012 7:24am

You can find these posts here , if you’re interested.

With the exception of the exercise and the calorie-counting, last week was really how I spent a good amount of time keeping weight off on all my years of low carb.

Problem is: I still want to take those extra pounds off.

So what to make of last week in that light? Well, if you look at the total calories I took in, it was below the 2,500 that somebody thinks the average adult male needs to maintain weight. I averaged 2,250. The calorie believers would say “If you kept at the 1,600 calories you are supposed to be doing, stupid, you’d lose the weight.”


But then I wonder about those days of eating more calories – and Lindt chocolates – and losing weight.

This makes me wonder if I shouldn’t try – just for a week – to UP the calories by eating more fat. See where it brings me.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can do this for a week. Maybe I’ll give it a try. I’m still on the fence with this one, however – I picture myself eating sticks of butter. For now, let’s pretend I am going to do it, and see where it leads me.

So the first thing I should nail down is how much protein I need. I had a vague number in my head, but I used a calculator at this site and it gave me 108 grams. I think this is pretty important because protein is used by your body to produce the necessary glucose. I also checked the The New Atkins for a New You and got a range: 86-178 grams. I’m going to try to shoot for the lower end of that range.

Sunday, March 18, 2012 – 206.6

Got up before 6am and reset the LoseIt! app on my iPhone so that, by its reckoning, I would ‘maintain’ my weight. The caloric allotment gives me 2,609 calories a day. Again – I’m counting just as a data point in my experiment this week – it’s not a goal. for breakfast I made 3 fried eggs with butter. Exercised early, and while out, got a jar of 1000mg vitamin D and heavy cream. As I infused myself with weak coffee through the day, I spiked it with cream and butter, melting 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave for 1 minute. No, it isn’t gross, and I believe that some culture (Turks?) does this regularly – it’s certainly not as gross as putting canned haggis in your coffee , that’s for sure.

I next ate mid afternoon – roast beef and butter – maybe 2 ounces of roast beef to 2 tablespoons of butter. A bit later the family went to Joe’s Crab Shack – there was a birthday in the family and my wife got some steamer pots and an appetizer tray of fried crap for the table to share. Joe’s isn’t a bad place – I’m able to have steamer pots with lobster, crawfish, shrimp mussels, clams – and butter to dip it in. The dishes also come with corn, potatoes and sausage – the corn and potatoes I leave for the others, of course.

Back from the festivities, there was cake. I went upstairs to avoid it, but by daughter helpfully brought me a slice. I brought it back to the kitchen and instead ate 2 ‘red hots’ – sausages that stump my LoseIt! app. I searched on the Internet and did find a nutrition listing – and their grade of ‘D-’ for the food . I also dipped these in a parmesan salad dressing my wife bought. Yum.

I know you won’t believe it – I was full by this time. My butter tally for the day was an entire stick. Woah. I also cut back on the Altoid Smalls – I’m counting them now – and only had about 5.

Total calories for the day (rough estimate): 2422. Fat: 214g, Net carbs: 7g, Protein: 114g (80/1/19%)

Monday, March 19, 2012 – 204.4

I actually found it hard to eat the total amount of calories I was supposed to consume yesterday. I kept my carbs below 20g and had ample protein.

Woke up at 4:30 and had coffee with the 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of heavy cream.

At work I had my shake maybe 10am, then some more coffee with butter. The afternoon was about 4 ounces of roast beef and butter – a LOT of butter (I like – no - love butter, so don’t think I’m not enjoying this). I also had maybe 3/4 cup of the mexican spinach I made over the weekend.

By now I was feeling weird. It’s tough to put a finger on it. I was clear mentally, but a little shaky – like the coffee was having an extra-strong effect on me. My head felt weird. I felt weird driving home, and I went to exercise and almost decided to give up after the first set. I finished it, though. I had an idea I knew what was going on. When I went home I tested for it – yep. Ketosis – deep ketosis.

Eating as much fat as I have for only 2 days appears to have brought on powerful ketosis quick. This was much quicker than I ever remember getting into ketosis – it’s usually 3-5 days for me.

But then again, I never tried eating entire sticks of butter.

I wasn’t hungry, nor tired, really. Maybe a word needs to be coined for the feeling: ketosy. Yeah – was feeling that feeling when you make the crossover from carb-burning to ketone-burning – ketosy.

Later in the evening I had 2 hot dogs with more of that salad dressing from the day before, and some American cheese as my dinner, then went to bed.

I kept the Altoid Smalls to 3 or 4 - way down from my normal usage. If they were the culprit in anything, they shouldn’t be now.

Total calories for the day: 2642.  Fat: 224g, Net carbs: 24g, Protein: 118g (77/5/18%)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 – 203.4

I still felt weird. acclimating to running on ketones takes a little time – every time. Today I introduced turkey breast and mayonnaise to mix things up, having about 5 tablespoons of may0 with 5 ounces turkey breast. There was coffee and butter in the am, roast beef and butter in the afternoon, an Atkins shake on the way home, and maybe too much of the mexican spinach – maybe 2 cups, covered in cheese, and 2 tablespoons of cream before bed.

There was more hunger today, the cause could have been the introduction of the turkey breast, the mayo, or some other random factor. I exercised and while still tough, it was easier than yesterday. Walked at lunch to soak up some sun. My mood seemed to be fine.

Total calories for the day: 2632.  Fat: 201.7g, Net carbs: 38g, Protein: 166g (69/6/25%)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 – 203.2

Isn’t it weird how I’ve upped the calories and fat yet the weight loss seems to follow the arc from previous weeks? It’s the ‘Groundhog day’ effect, it seems. It doesn’t matter how many calories – it matters what type.

Speaking of calories, I began to wonder where this magical 2,500 calories per day comes from. Or the 2,000 calories a day – I’ve seen both. Once again, it seems I shouldn’t question these ‘facts’.

Considering the experts that make pronouncements about the number of calories someone should eat must either make assumptions as to what type of calories they are – or ignore it entirely, I’m already biased against it. I DID find a BMR – a ‘basal metabolic rate’ calculator that reduces us to mere machines in its stupid simplicity: take your height and weight and age,  and like magic, this simple formula tells you how many calories to eat.

I think it’s hogwash. I did my own calculation  anyway and my BMR is 1,886.49. From this, you are supposed to be able to figure out how many calories you need to maintain your weight, based upon how much exercise you get. As I AM actually exercising, I chose the ‘If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) ‘ and using the Harris Benedict formula, I am supposed to multiply my BMR by 1.375, which give me 2,593.25 calories per day to maintain – close to 2,609 given by the LoseIt! app – I guess they use the BMR as well.

The day’s eating was more or less what I’ve had on previous days. Mood was a bit low this morning, but this time of year my mood is tied to the weather, and it was cloudy and dismal. During the day the sun had come out and my mood improved with it.

Exercise was similar to yesterday as well – on day 3 of ketosis, it’s still a bit of a struggle – but the same struggle as yesterday.

I bought the diabetes test strips, which I haven’t in a while. I’m going to introduce those to look for some patterns in my blood glucose. I measured it for the first time when I got home: 96.

I had a 700-calorie deficit in the evening so had kilbasa sausage with salad dressing, and cheese. I’ve noticed that now that I am getting ample calories – the amount that the BMR states I should be getting to maintain weight – cravings for carbs seem to be curbed.

But will I lose weight doing this? I suppose the goal of this ‘experiment of one’ is to see if I can lose weight eating a ‘weight-maintaining’ amount of calories.

Total calories for the day: 2676.  Fat: 229g, Net carbs: 19g, Protein: 139g (76/4/20%)

Thursday, March 22, 2012 – 202.2 – Blood glucose 125

I had 19 grams of net carbs yesterday and my fasting blood glucose is 125. What gives? A reader, John, sent me an email on this subject a week or so ago on a 2008 post that was perfectly timed as I’ve just got my tests back from the endocrinologist:

I saw your blog entry (nearly four years old!) where you were digging into insulin resistance. Well… I’ve just found at least one reference that suggests that some level of insulin resistance (in the muscles – so they don’t suck up all the sugar for glycogen and starve the nervous system), and higher fasting blood sugars, are *expected* in low carb diets. A fasting blood sugar of 102 – a danger of incipient diabetes for most folks – can be normal for a low-carber.

If you’re still worried about possible diabetes  here’s a suggestion: get a glucose meter. Eat a normal meal. Check your blood sugar for the next two hours – hourly, or, if you’re a numbers geek, half-hourly (or even every fifteen minutes – but test strips are expensive). (BTW: even if you’re eating food with 0 carbs, your blood sugar *will* go up, for almost all people, almost always. But, this test is best done with a normal amount of carbs – the most you’d normally eat without “cheating”  so you get an accurate picture of how your body handles your “worst” meal.)

If it never goes above 140 – don’t worry. Seriously. Stop. Right now. You don’t have any problems, and it’s probably low-carbing that’s causing your fasting sugar to be a bit higher. If you do go over 140, and don’t come back down pretty quickly (within 2 hours), you *do* want to talk to your doctor. Keep the glucose meter, run the test a few times just to be sure. Other than that, make sure your doctor always runs an A1C (sometimes called HbA1C) test as well – this tells you a kind of running average of your blood sugar. If this is low, a 102 isn’t nearly as much of a concern.

I asked for the sources and got this:

Here’s two links – I’m afraid they’re not primary source
(this one points to other links)

One other thing that’s worth noting: there’s a well-known phenomena called the “dawn effect” where a person’s rising blood sugar level might be higher than their fasting level. Technically, your fasting level is where you are after 8 hours. Pragmatically, it’s *hard* to expect people not to eat for 8 hours prior to a blood draw, so it’s easiest to take it in the morning, and call that your fasting level. But some people’s bodies think they need some extra fuel in the morning.

If the word ‘diabetes’ is significant to you, I recommend you reading the 2 links. ‘Dawn effect’ and the notion that there needs to be a certain amount of insulin resistance on a very low carb diet are both new to me and I want to explore them more.

Thanks, John, for writing. You folks who take the time to comment and send me emails do help me a lot. I most decidedly don’t have it all figured out, and some of your insights and comments send me in new directions.

So my blood glucose was 125 when I first got up. I took it 40 minutes later and it was 111. 90 minutes later it was 134. Interesting…in a nerd sort of way. I decided to track my glucose during the day – numbers geek I am – and see what’s up.

My day turned out to be pretty hectic, and while I didn’t eat as much as usual, but the highest it went was 114 – measured 1 hour after a greek yogurt. I consumed perhaps 1600 calories of roast beef, butter, turkey breast, mayonnaise, a zucchini, and a yogurt, and the blood glucose numbers were:

  • 5:10am – 125
  • 5:58am – 111 (40 min after coffee and cream)
  • 6:58am – 132
  • 8:26am – 96 (in work before having my shake)
  • 10:03am – 106 20 min after shake)
  • 10:51am – 98 (70 min after shake)
  • 12:57pm – 114 (1 hr after yogurt)
  • 1:33pm – 111(10 min after roast beef and butter)
  • 2:39pm – 103(1 hr after turkey breast and mayo)
  • 5:06pm – 112 (4 hrs after turkey breast and mayo)

Friday, March 23, 2012 – 203.4 

Let’s first look back at a few things to take stock of:

  • was a tipping point of sorts in my exercising. That comment has kept me going to the gym every day. As that was March 5th, it appears I’ve been to the gym approximately 20 days in a row. If I keep it up, it’s well on the way to becoming an ingrained, unconscious habit. Once there, I can try mixing it up a bit.
  • With the additional calories this week I am much more in control of my eating. Cheating hasn’t been an issue.
  • I have been in deep ketosis for 5 days. For this experiment, I want to go at least 2 weeks.

Total calories for the day: 1,936.  Fat: 157g, Net carbs: 19g, Protein: 110g (72/6/22%)

Saturday, March 24, 2012 – 201.8

Up at 4:30, I tested my blood sugar – 96. As I understand it, with me being in deep ketosis, the blood glucose has to be created by my body through a process called gluconeogensis and is made from the protein I eat. My question is: is the level because I am eating too much protein? Or does my body need this level of glucose for some reason – or think it needs it?

Interesting nerd questions I don’t have the answer to. I have been stabbing my fingers a lot the past couple of days and it sure seems that, at least while on a ketogenic low carb diet, my blood glucose never goes over 120. As it appears that 140 is where the damage starts getting done, I think I’m safe – but this is a complex topic and any conclusions drawn about it are probably wrong.

Exercised early. Ate fried eggs for breakfast, then ran some family errands and we decided to take a ride to a charming open air shopping center in PA. There we stopped at a coffee house and I had maybe 1/4 cup of butternut squash soup. It was awesome soup, but it must have had some sugar in it. The family also had Quiche and croissant, which I abstained from.

I was hungry, though. Did the squash set me off – or was it the low calorie-count yesterday? After we were done and back at the car, I drank another shake for the trip home. Still hungry when home, I had some uncured ham and cheese and a bit of turkey breast. although I waited at least an hour, even that didn’t fill me up. I still had 600 calories to my goal…and was thinking about that squash soup. Wanting to at least capture a bit of that flavor, I took an entire can of organic pumpkin (14 grams of carbs) and added 2 packs of splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 7 tablespoons of coconut oil – which I find for me only tastes good with sweet stuff.

Not much of a recipe, but it wasn’t bad – I could see adding some eggs to this to make a Quiche of sorts – maybe some cream cheese – I’ll have to pursue this in the future.

In general I was a little ‘off’ this day – headachy. Legs sore – perhaps from all the walking the other day. It was rainy this afternoon, which literally put a damper on our open-air mall trip – especially since my umbrella turned inside out and disintegrated as we opened it leaving the car.

Right after the 14 grams of carbs, I tested the blood sugar again: 114. Not shabby. Again right before bed: 129. Higher, but not alarmingly high.

Total calories for the day: 2,881.  Fat: 236g, Net carbs: 48g, Protein: 127g (73/9/17%)

For a brief wrap-up of the week:

  • I lost 4.8 lbs – though I still have not broken through that dang 200 mark.
  • On average, with an approach that doesn’t try to limit calories, I ate approximately 250 more calories – 10% more – with little eating out of plan. It was way more pleasant. No Alien hand syndrome .
  • I have stayed in ketosis for 6 days.
  • Fat intake was approx. 75%
  • While I wanted to cut back on the shakes, it seems 2/day works out. I’ll stick with that for now.

To be continued…

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