When I first started keto, it was to be for a 12 week challenge. I’m 8 weeks in now of my 12 week challenge, and I can’t really believe how my relationship with food has changed. First, with progress, I’m now at 94 pounds of weight loss, so I’m 6 pounds out from my 100. I have a feeling I’m holding a lot of water, as I had three massive bowls of chicken thighs/cabbage/chicken broth this week. We shall see, I still feel amazing!
Early days in keto, my energy with lifting/running was non-existent. 2 months in, and I feel I can run a lot faster for longer, and my lifting has not suffered at all. I feel like early on, your glycogen stores are being depleted and over time, you are replenishing those stores with your 30g of carbs per day prior to your body burning fat as a primary fuel.
This past week, I ran a mile on Monday and was interrupted by life, then walked 1.2. Tuesday it was GORGEOUS and I biked 7 miles and walked 1.2. The featured picture was not taken this past Tuesday, but that’s the kind of scenery you get on the rail trails in Pennsylvania. Absolutely breath taking scenery which is sooo relaxing!! Thursday, in the brisk cold around here, I ran 2 miles outside. One thing of interest, I’ve lost a ton of weight and can now buy under armour items for cold weather. What a difference!! There’s a saying something like, “it’s never too cold to run, but you can have the wrong clothing that make it feel colder”. I wore multiple thin layers of space age fabric and shit…it did the job!
But my performance while biking and running – keto is apparently geared towards helping the aerobic athlete – like biking, running, and walking. You are using your fat stores and doing it effectively. I found it very interesting that when I was gulping for air at times – my body was responding with energy. Where other times I might hit failure, I was now able to continue on as if given some sort of medic bag in a video game. I was able to push through biking hills with much less difficulty, and running outdoors with hills presented challenges, but not anything I could not overcome – FAR easier than 3 months ago. One thing of interest to note, is that all of the videos tell you to load up on the sodium prior to doing this – and I heeded their words, except with the biking. The biking I did while fasting for 23 hours. That was not an issue. AFTER biking, I went to bend down to hook the leash on the dog for a walk, and when I popped up, I was light headed and almost passed out. So – when I ran on Thursday, I had the chicken thighs/cabbage/chicken broth and ran through walls – with zero issues afterwards.
Lesson? For long distance running/biking, you can do it while fasted, but it seems better to listen to the gurus and have your chicken broth/sodium beforehand.
With lifting weights, an anaerobic item, I don’t have the endurance I did. They talk about how the 6-10 rep range might be best for those on normal carb diets – that it might be best to focus on 3-4 heavy lifts or perhaps dial back the weight and do 15 or more of the lighter reps. You are still going to challenge your muscles, but you don’t have the same glycogen stores you used to, so you have to possibly adjust. You will still get great results, but if you’re going for 10 reps to failure, you might only hit 6 on keto. Your first 2-3 reps of a heavy weight will be identical, however. The power really trails off due to conservation of glycogen stores where your body is trying to use fats – and ineffectively. With the lighter weights for higher reps, your body can use the fat for fuel.
What is mostly of interest here is I’ve been doing a “version” of intermittent fasting which at times really is IF, at other times, it’s just calorie restriction. At times, it’s the black coffee and I’m doing 23:1 IF. I get a little hungry over lunch, but I have hot tea I make up at work and drink plain, and I have little issues then. Other times, I have my keto coffee(as breakfast) and skip lunch. Those days I also have my tea, as I still get a little hungry during lunch.
But on the way home, I feel “trim”. I feel light to moderate hunger, but NOTHING like 2 years ago. I feel gentle hunger pangs which tells me to eat something. This is WELCOME. 2 years ago, I would have ravenous hunger directing me towards one of 5-10 horrible quick foods. I’d have ridiculous, out of control cravings. Those days are gone – and I feel like I kicked true addictions. Many of you who have never been overweight don’t understand, it’s not like some gentle hunger – it’s pure addiction followed by compulsion. There’s a mechanism there that is different in me now. That mechanism is what I’ve been researching a ton lately. More on that later.
My most recent problem with eating once a day is calories. I feel I “calorie up” on the weekends. When I started IF, I’d have these meals in the evening where I would stuff my face. I’d still get 300 or so calories less in a day than my 2200, but it was just chaos. I was so worried about dipping too low and breaking my metabolism.
What is of interest is many foods we eat, whether it’s the sugars or the MSG’s, but they seem to suppress the hormone leptin. Meaning, the “off” switch seems to be broken, and I can just EAT these things. With the keto diet, I’m eating 95% whole foods at home, and I can tell you this. You feel every calorie, and your body sure as hell knows to tell you enough. THIS mechanism has also been missing most of my life. More on that below as well.
So last night I was running late at work and exhausted, so I did take the wife out to the local diner for dinner. I got a 5 egg cheese omelette (with 2TBSP of real ketchup) with 3 strips of bacon and a side of ham. I normally would drink my diet coke once every 2-3 weeks out, but skipped it last night and just went with water. I drink nothing but water, coffee in the morning, and 1-2 unsweetened teas during the day. I had keto coffee yesterday for breakfast. Myfitnesspal put me at under by 1,042 calories yesterday. So – part of me is interested that I have ZERO problem with surviving/thriving on 1200-1600 calories a day, and with 23:1, find it near impossible to get over 2,000 calories in a day, even with the keto coffee. This also presents challenges to hit a bare number of protein, which if I’m not careful, could lead to other issues. So, on the weekends, I will tend to up my protein and calories.
After the diner, I came home at 6:30, had some magnesium, and was tired from the week. I went to bed and passed out by 8:15. Woke up at 6:40. My fitbit has me logged at 10 hours and 13 minutes of sleep with hours on end of not moving/restless. My Friday night sleep is glorious, and on keto, I sleep much deeper and intense. I wake up on Saturdays refreshed and ready to take on any athletic challenge.
What’s interesting about this challenge has been my relationship with food is a 180. On my standard diet, which did serve me well and help me lose 80 pounds before regaining 6 pounds, I struggled to keep my calories to 2300. Some days it would hit 2500 or 2600. Every now and then it might hit 3,000. My hunger wasn’t really an issue on it, as my diet was rich with proteins, healthy fats, and fibers – but at times I did have problems stopping the eating. There’s the mechanism again.
I would therefore postulate, based on my experiences, that the following are key elements of any weight loss program:
- Mechanism to regulate hunger.
- Mechanism to feel satiety.
This past week, I listened to some amazing videos with Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig. Taubes is all over youtube with about a 1 hour lecture on “the case against sugar”. The video I linked doesn’t have graphics, but I subsequently saw he had this lecture at like 30 other places which may have the graphics. Taubes makes a compelling argument that the whole reason we are obese today is our consumption of sugars. Anyone who wants to lose a few pounds needs to consider this video as a starting point.
Then it got more interesting, where I watched a video by Robert Lustig with “the experiment and failure of processed foods”. He is also all over the place with his 1 hour lecture or so where he talks about processed foods, and how they all contain sugars.
This then gets me back to my points on the two above mechanisms. I’m starting to feel like food engineering has secrets that addict you to their foods, create special cravings, or perhaps don’t let your body know when it’s full. I did read studies where MSG does exactly that – where it suppresses leptin and you eat more, unknowingly.
The reason I’m so frantic these days with my keto and being a proponent of the “anti-sugar” movement is because it is clear to anyone that there is a national security crisis currently underway.
I am aware of all of the tree huggers that say we are going to hell with the environment and half the world will be under water by 2100 or some shit. But get this – how the math is playing out, the cost of diabetes treatment and heart disease is driving up our insurance costs and medical costs to the point where medicare/social security may bankrupt our nation in the next 10 years. As we are all aware, healthy young people pay into social security to support the elders – so one day when they are elder, younger people will pay for them. What’s been happening is “old people diseases” like diabetes are taking people out in their 30s and 40s (and even some teenagers) rather than hitting them at 75. This is taking a large portion of people out of the paying pool, and increasing the payee pool.
So these presentations are effective, and I’d encourage you to take a look at them for yourselves.
Where may I end with this? Would I do keto my whole life? Maybe. But it’s more realistic for me to eat “whole foods” as closely as possible with a higher number of carbs in the summer time and a lower number of carbs in the winter time. I will probably have one night every 3-4 weeks where I have a cheeseburger and fries or some real pizza. I feel these things occasionally are how most people eat. Those of us who were mostly bad off always ate foods that broke the control mechanisms above – which led to addiction. Would having a cheeseburger with a bun take me back to the needle? I think not, if I make it a once a month thing while I’m losing weight.
The main problem is this….
99% of the population is not aware of this, and how these foods are breaking our control mechanisms. THIS is the danger, and if we can educate ourselves on this and structure diets/controls in such ways to indulge once in a blue moon, we can then perhaps prevent the addiction in the first place.
Where this is dangerous is in poor homes. These homes do tend to gravitate towards cheap, processed foods which are rich in carbs. All of these foods essentially break the control mechanisms leading the subjects to constantly seek out more food and not be able to stop eating when they are eating.
The big issue therefore is we have a nation of food addicts that simply don’t know it. And if we try pointing out their addictions, you might get the same response as an addict – denial, anger, defensiveness. It may surprise you that sugar has the same reward center as drugs like cocaine.
It’s not just calories in/calories out. Our food today is engineered to make you want to eat more and to get you to buy it time and time again.
What is the answer to all of this?
- Getting people educated on the dangers of sugar
- Adopting diets which absolutely restrict sugar
- Adopt diets which promote mostly “whole” foods
- If you are to “indulge” make it a rare occasion and get back to your structure
- Don’t wait to treat sickness with drugs/surgery after you are sick, proactively treat yourself by eating the right foods to prevent issues in the first place
- Spread the word to others, share links. This is a national health crisis.
I feel at the end of my 3 month challenge, I’m going to have a “weekend off”, then get back to it for another 3 month challenge. From what I have seen, I may not suffer the “keto flu” if I just take a day or two off – but I know from my time with atkins that when I eat carbs, it will bind with water which will put 5-8 pounds on me in 2 days, then over the next 5 days I’ll drop the water. So I do see that in my future, just because I feel like it might be “normal” to not do this 24x7x365. I don’t want to look at is as a reward, because that is where everything goes sideways with obese people. I feel like it’s “taking a break” rather to “confuse the systems”. That’s about the only way I can spin it mentally so I’m not looking at it like a reward.
I feel like I’m going to do keto a long time, and perhaps eventually move into a modified atkins or even a form of a paleo. I don’t see myself ever eating pastas and breads like I ever did, but man…those of you who don’t live where I do have no idea what a great cheesesteak is like. I don’t want to go the rest of my life without ever eating a cheesesteak, but the idea is to have it once very 3-6 months rather than once or twice a week. The cheesesteak “insides” are ok on keto, it’s just the bread that’s a no-no. Point is, I will have breads once in a blue moon.
But with all of this, if I “take a break” for a day or two, I also need to have the discipline to get back to it. I feel these videos absolutely make a clear and convincing argument for it. So – we’ll see how it goes on my day or weekend off!