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I Suck at Low Carb Dieting – Week 7

Posted Apr 08 2012 12:39pm

I need to start totally fresh. Reframe the entire endeavor.

There been a psychological hurdle that has been bothering me, and it is the constant reminder in the LoseIt! app of all the crap I’ve eaten. Once you’ve added a food, there’s no way to differentiate the ‘good foods’ (however you define this) from ‘bad foods’.

So I deleted everything from my Fitbit and my LoseIt! app and am going to start again from scratch.

This might seem like extra work, and it is, but it’s also a mental clearing for me – a means of refocusing, a means of establishing new habits. And one habit I’ve gotten into is the habit of not losing weight, eating crap, and not caring because I’m maintaining.

Weight maintenance is great, but it’s not the point. The experiment has taken a different direction and yielded the interesting info that sometimes in maintenance, calories don’t matter all that much.

Great info. Well worth the exercise. Serendipitous – but not the point.

I took a detour, it was fun and now it’s done.

There’s also the notion – perhaps an impossible one – and that is the health aspect. I have been eating a lot of foods I don’t consider healthy. Unhealthy weight loss is far worse than being 20 pounds heavier than I like.

There is NO correlation between weight and health when not morbidly obese. You are way better off eating healthy and exercising – and staying fat – than you are starving yourself, or using some drug or other unhealthy means to get down to a lower weight.

Losing weight and maintaining health are goals that much occur in tandem.

I think what I would like to do this week is focus on food monotony. I find the notion that things like breath mints can stall a diet. Really – can a chemical in a breath mint stop weight loss? If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be handing them out to starving people to help them retain as much weight as possible?

This is another thing that doesn’t quite add up for me – but I’m thinking that there might be a mechanism akin to an allergic reaction that makes certain innocuous foods obesigenic – and it appears to be different for everyone.

I hope for me it isn’t dairy – I like cheese and yogurt too much.

So despite my wife’s desire for me to join her on her diary free diet excursion, I am going to continue dairy, though try to stay within the following short list of foods – as well as my explanation as to why they are on the list:

Things I will avoid

Sunday, April 1, 2012 – 207.2

Now, what I wanted to happen wasn’t what actually happened. Starting fresh and clean for a new month didn’t pan out, and while my caloric intake was about 1000 calories less than some of the days from last week, it was high in carbs. It wasn’t bad stuff – quinoa, gluten-free home-made apple pie with only a small amount of sugar, an orange – but it’s bad stuff if you’re on a low carb diet, certainly.

The calorie count might be a bit low, but it’s in the ballpark.

Decided to up the weights on the 3 machines I work out on 5 pounds, from 70 to 75. Big deal, right? I thought to myself: if it’s only 5 pounds per month, it would end up being 130 pounds in a year – a nonsense calculation as it predicts some linear growth that I don’t think is possible given my age.

Total calories for the day: 2,633. Fat: 166g, Net carbs: 175g, Protein: 69g (58/31/11%)

Monday, April 2, 2012 – 208.2

There you go – 1000 calories less and I gain a pound, though admittedly, it’s probably water weight. This is a better day to start – work days allow less access to the fridge. The goal this week is to keep the calories lower but maintain the proportion between 60 and 80% fat, eat more green veggies and salads – and see what happens.

So I started the day with cream, but half the amount – 2 tablespoons instead of 4.

Two thing notable this day was a total lack of hunger until the afternoon, and a very good mood – an almost manic good mood. It was a Monday, it was cold, and I did not win the 600 million Mega Millions Jackpot – what was I in such a good mood for?

I have little doubt that my moods are a chemical affair and if I could divine whatever chemical resultant of some complex chemical process that brings them, I’d be rich. But they are a random affair. I could attribute them to…oranges! I had an orange yesterday! Oranges make you happy! Buy the domain ‘’. Confuse correlation with causation, write about it, and have a million sad people scarf down oranges thinking it will make them happy, too.

Some months ago a notion came to mind and I wrote it on a sticky note and stuck it on my noteboard:

Too many variables make even the correct answer unprovable

I suppose I’m a stong believer in thinking there are some things we can never understand. I think nutrition might be one of them, at least in the sense that anyone could put together a set of simple rules that people follow to lose weight or improve mood. We are self-contained oceans – entire ecosystems in shirts and slacks and comfortable shoes. I think it’s a bit presumptuous to think we can unravel the knot without deceiving ourselves that things are what they appear.

That digression aside, let’s move on to another digression of sorts: all the darn things I am tracking. Here’s a list:

That’s a lot, admittedly, and not the way I want to – or intend to – live the rest of my life. It *is* interesting in a nerd way as an experiment for a few weeks, and if it helps me break the stall, and/or establish healthier habits, then it was worth it.

I’m digging the Fitbit, actually. I found myself walking at lunch just to get that number up on the little display. Strange motivation, but, whatever.

Eats for the rest of the day was much like the previous 2 weeks, but I brought the total calories down. I’m wondering: if my body can adapt to 3,000 plus calories and not gain weight, what happens if I suddenly half that caloric intake? Anything? What would the sudden deficit do?

I had cream in my coffee when I woke up but half of what I was consuming in previous weeks. I already mentioned a lack of hunger and only had a greek yogurt early afternoon. I munched on a raw zucchini as the afternoon progressed and had  5 tablespoons of butter with 3-1/2 ounces of roast beef.

In the evening I had a salad with tomatoes and some caesar dressing, 2 hot dogs, mustard, romaine lettuce, a dill pickle and a few sips of the kid’s homemade smoothie.

Now that the Fitbit is integrated with the LoseIt! app, it tells me I earned the right to eat 484 more calories. I don’t buy it. There’s no direct correlation like that. I ignore it.

Exercise seemed tough today. The extra 5 pounds felt like 50 for some reason. My wife unexpectedly met me at the gym, and came in to watch me. I think partly because she didn’t believe that I would actually be exercising with such dedication and that their must be some other reason – perhaps she imagined the place overrun with bikini-clad models working out there. Her supposed ulterior motive blown when she saw what the rest of the gym rats really looked like, she spent a few minutes laughing at my workout, calling it ‘wimpy’.

That’s my girl.

Total calories for the day: 1,509.  Fat: 125g, Net carbs: 24g, Protein: 61g (76/8/61%)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 – 207.2

A good day mood-wise. I exercised. I like the Fitbit. I want to get than damn number up in the display. Get it higher. I’m frustrated in what it doesn’t track, though in all practicality I think where I’d have to put it to track more stuff might be a bit off-putting.

A not so good day on the food front. Perhaps, as one commenter noted, I didn’t get enough calories yesterday and it hit me today. 1/2 of a blueberry donut started it, and when I got home, a ravenousness hit and I had quinoa with cheese, 2 baked potatoes with an obscene amount of butter, and chinese dumplings. Oh yeah – there’s still some of those Lindt chocolate balls from Xmas hiding out – though not as many now.

Total calories for the day: 3089.  Fat: 346g, Net carbs: 215, Protein: 98g (71/21/9%)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 – 206.4

So after yesterday – yesterday! – I lose nearly a pound and my blood glucose is 104. I figured the bolus of 200 grams of carbs near bed would push the blood glucose higher than it typically is – and doubling the calories alongside it would increase weight – but no.

I’m beginning to wonder what’s really going on here.

If I look back to the time last year when I lost weight (25-30 pounds), I ate carbs. It was the way I did it that mattered, I think. First off – really sad face here for all you drinkers – I stopped drinking. While suspect of all science at the moment, the explanation here is that alcohol gets top priority for getting burned by your body and if it’s getting burned, the other stuff ain’t. There might be more – who knows? Second, like I said, I ate carbs.

I’m sure if you’ve been hanging around the low carb joints like this one on the web, you’ve heard of ‘carb cycling’. This is where you have a weekly carb blowout. Low carb 6 days, high carb 1 day – wash, rinse, repeat.

I never tried it myself – or maybe I do it all the time, though I call them ‘mishaps’ and the timing is off.

Anyway, what I did during this weight loss period was do my carb cycling daily - very low carb during the day, and in the evening I had carbs, and tried to make sure I had plenty of fat to go along with it. I indulged, but tried not to overindulge. I didn’t go hungry, didn’t feel deprived – and lost weight.

Then it stopped working – which is why I am here right now writing this.

If you think about it, why should carb cycling be once every 7 days? 7 is a biblical time span – it’s not a biological one, like our sleep cycles or a woman’s menstrual cycle. Why not every 5 days? Or 10 days…or every day?

I don’t have much in the way of answers on this right now – all I can do is share the questions and mull it over.

Eating for the day was close to ideal – at least this week’s notion of ideal. A little cream and greek yogurt in the AM, then 2 ounces of roast beef with this most incredible Belgian butter with sea salt, then the evening was some sour cream and some pork rinds, some smoke oysters, some cheese, home-made chicken soup – and a strawberry.

I exercised as well, continuing at the new weight of 75 pounds for each machine. Either I’m getting weaker or that 5 pound bump in weight is a really big deal.

As I typically get my Fitbit to record about 8,000-9,000 steps a day, I wanted to get it over 10k, so I took an extra-long walk at work. It was sunny and warm in the Northeast, great for a walk, and something kept me in more or less a good mood throughout the day.

My blood glucose ranged from 95 to 113 during the day. I forgot the tester at work, so no evening measurements. I think I’m going to quit measuring for the time being and save the strips to see if there’s much of a change in a few weeks. With increased activity, I should have better glucose or so they say.

Total calories for the day: 1,562.  Fat: 126g, Net carbs: 29g, Protein: 71g (74/8/19%)

Thursday, April 5, 2012 – 205.6

Damn, I am sore. I’ve avoided soreness for the most part with the increased exercise, but today I feel it. I’ve been trying to avoid the canola-based Cesar salad dressing as well as the Atkins shakes, in case you haven’t noticed. I’ve been trying to move away from the higher omega-6 oils, and Dave Brown’s comment about pain possibly brought about by it made me try that much harder – but I’m achy today – I guess 2 days isn’t enough – or something else entirely is going on.

A good day for walking as I took an extra-long walk and got lost in it listening to music. It was a stressful afternoon and I did gobble up 3 zucchini with a large chunk of cheddar cheese I brought from home late afternoon. Still hungry I had an Atkins shake in a meeting – my first this week I think?

On the way home I stopped at a grocery store and eyed burgers and cheese, but was put off by the prices there., so I didn’t buy anything. When I got home, the wife and kids were out, but a container of scalloped potatoes was left on the counter, which I ate. I also had toast, and some more Lindt chocolates – and a good portion of one of those containers of Hagen Daz, which all by itself is 1,000 calories and 92 grams of carb – and considering there’s no fiber in ice cream, that’s net carbs.

Total calories for the day: 3,261.  Fat: 220g, Net carbs: 200g, Protein: 127g (59/26/15%)

Friday, April 6, 2012 – 204.0

Notice the pattern. I am repeatedly able to have days where I intake a large amount of carbs in the evening, pile on the calories as well – and the weight disappears – and takes some of its friends with it. Carbs usually make me retain water.

Oh yeah – my blood glucose, at 107 this morning, doesn’t seem very much different from if I hadn’t eaten carbs.

Saying it’s the exercise would be one conclusion to draw…but it doesn’t hold water. I’ve seen this trick occur before I began exercising.

While I can’t speculate too much on my lipid profile throughout all this, just looking at the weight and blood glucose, neither seem too negatively impacted.

I can’t help but feeling I’m missing something. I’m making an assumption that’s completely wrong.

Oddly, for me, I was in a supernaturally good mood. I had no external reason to be in any other mood than I was in yesterday. When this occurs, I usually attribute it to brain chemicals and enjoy the ride.

I had only black coffee in the AM, and brought in 3 of the uncured hot dogs made from grass-fed cows and had those, as well as a few Babybel cheeses during the day. I walked at lunch listening to music. It was a beautiful day to do it, though a jacket was required at least until I warmed myself up. The Fitbit is – without a doubt – motivating to walk more. I want to get above 10,000 steps a day now.

Where I walk has also become soothing. While the grounds around a nondescript corporate office building in central New Jersey whose architecture is only notable in that it perfectly meets the archetype of a nondescript office building circa late 20th century, the grounds around it host a pond, a small river with a wooden bridge, and enough random plants and trees – either by design or by opportunistic inclusion by the developers, that it’s a pleasant walk and easy on the eyes. There is enough green and water to allow me to pretend I am not walking around an office building.

Later in the afternoon, work over as well as the long commute, I stopped to exercise, which I skipped the day before from soreness. A much different response – I was much better able to get through the workout. For the first time since I upped the weight 5 pounds, it felt right. Perhaps I needed the recovery day from the weight training.

If people who weight trained spent any amount of time here, they might comment that I should be working different muscle group on subsequent days – and they’d be right. Everything I’ve read pointed to the fact that it is good to give your muscles time for recovery when doing weight training.

I’m ignoring this now because I’m not focusing on the exercise itself as much as developing the habit of exercising. For me, doing it wrong, losing no weight from it, and not doing enough of it are NOT sins.

The two important items I am focusing on right now is doing something pretty much every day, and not hurting myself.

Ans I am beginning to enjoy it. I can’t believe I’m saying this. As mentioned before, thinking about where I am going to fit in my exercise for the day has become a morning ritual. And while I have taken no steps towards it, I am wondering what   exercises I can do next. Cycling is out unfortunately (I’ll spare you the details), but I have a beautiful old canal dug in the 1800s near home that rent out kayaks as well as a big beautiful park with kayaks a 10-minute ride from here. This might be my next thing.

As to eats in the evening, I gave myself permission to indulge. My experiments so far have yielded so much seemingly contradictory evidence, I allowed myself a good-natured surrender to my desires. When I got home, I had some of these small almond cookies my wife likes, and checked my blood glucose about 10 minutes after – 140. A half-hour later – 104.

Really, for a guy pushing 50 where his father, mother, sister and brother all developed full-blown diabetes – and his siblings had it in their early 40s – that’s not that bad, really. And there are even times when it goes into the 80s, though I’ve yet to detect a pattern for this.

Anyway, back to food, I had a desire of hamburgers – the type made from hormone and antibiotic-infused cattle, accented with the complex flavor notes from the addition of pink slime , and sold at the local supermarket for $3.00 a pound.

My older daughter was also into it, and wanted to go to the local craft store near the supermarket to pick up supplies for a project she wanted to do, so we took a trip together. I picked up the hamburger, the store-brand white bread pesticide-laden GMO flour hamburger rolls then went to the deli for some cheese. While getting the cheese I got some of my favorite nitrated bologna, which I ate tooling through the store as it was nearing 8pm and I only had 3 hot dogs and 3 Babybel cheeses all day.

Back home, my daughter and I made burgers. I decided to have buns, but reduce the impact by making my hamburgers enormous, perhaps twice the size in diameter, which you math nerds know increases the volume by a bit more than 3.

I had two of these, with copious amounts of seltzer. When I drink this much liquid in the evening and eat like this, I know the scale won’t be kind, but it didn’t much matter to me at this point: I know I’ll be on a diet of some sort the rest of my life. Tonight was just about not giving a damn for a day and allowing my good mood free reign for a bit longer.

For dessert, I had more of the Lindt chocolates and some blueberry cornbread. I had made burgers and also bought fries for everyone and I offered my wife some. Still on the Ultramind – no wheat – no dairy – no sugar diet, and just having read up herself (not something told to her by her husband) on just how awful and polluted our modern food supply is, she hesitated at eating the burgers, though she was tempted.  She finally gave in and ate one with a big plate of organic veggies.

“I think I have a food phobia now.” She said while eating. “This hamburger tastes like hormones.”

“What do hormones taste like?” I asked.

“This hamburger.” She replied.

I’ll leave you that thought to ponder.

Total calories for the day: 3,502.  Fat: 367g, Net carbs: 150g, Protein: 210g (69/13/18%)

Saturday, April 7, 2012 – 209.4

I am not surprised by the scale’s mention of the weight gain. It’s all that Sodastream seltzer. A few hours after that weight, I was down to 207.

I do want to take a moment here, on Saturday, where I tend to do most of my reflection on the preceding week, to look back at the list of resolutions I made in December for the coming year and see how I’m doing so far. This beats reflection on the past week, which was nothing like I had intended.

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