Going for an EGD in the next hour or so. Woke up at 4:30AM without an alarm (the time I wake up every day for work) and decided to write. I can’t workout or eat at the moment, so let’s delve into some things I’ve been up to the past few weeks.
Before any of you go much further, I wanted to share a recent photo I took before work and put it against a picture at my heaviest. So – most of the bullshit you see below I’m pretty versed with.
Welcome keto followers – it is the new year, and many of you are dipping your toes into the keto “fad” to see if it’s for you. I’m putting on my recruiter hat for a moment, if you don’t mind. I want you to join our movement. I also want you to take this opportunity to logically understand what it is you are embarking on, and WHY it’s a good choice.
You may have heard Jillian Michaels trash the keto diet recently. She more or less got most of the facts wrong, but she is a bona fide fitness start – and I’d make note she knows very little about keto, actually.
What is keto?
Keto is a diet that is low carb, moderate protein, and high fat. The main goal is to use fat as a fuel source by driving down the number of carbohydrates you eat in a day. After a few days of little carbs, you deplete your liver and muscle glycogen stores. This then forces your body to break down fats to create energy called ketones. Your body can run on ketones just fine.
- No such thing as “essential carb” – this might blow your mind, but we need to eat fats and protein to live. There is no biological need to eat carbs. Our body can produce all of the energy it needs from fats and proteins. In fact, many ultra marathon runners are switching to low carb because it is terrific for endurance sports. There is a place for carbs with certain high level athletes for the type of exercise they are doing – and these athletes also may do excessive workouts for 2-4 hours a day. For 99.9% of the rest of the population, you need ZERO carbs per day.
- Evolution – I want you to understand that supermarkets are an invention of the last 80 years or so. Throughout human evolution, carbs have not necessarily been abundant. Your body LOVES carbs. Your brain lights up on them. Just like cocaine or any other drugs. Your brain loves glucose, and can mostly run on ketones. The glucose your brain needs that it doesn’t get from your food table, it gets from your body. For hundreds of thousands of years, evidence suggests that humans ate the fats off of animals for sustenance while also eating the meats sparingly. Carbs were not really abundant, and people got them through berries and eating leafy greens. Agriculture is relatively recent to man, and we weren’t eating loaves of bread. If we did happen to have a decent amount of carbs, we were also probably running/walking/working outside for 12-16 hours a day burning it off. Today, we sit in offices and eat 400 grams of carbs per day.
- Metabolic disorder – Having extra weight on you creates a metabolic disorder. When you want to fatten farm animals, you take them off of their natural diet of grasses, bugs, and worms and give them grains. Look in the mirror. The food pyramid suggests we have 6-11 servings of grains/pastas/breads per day. This might surprise you, but the food pyramid was not based on any kind of legitimate science or studies. Think about that for a minute, then look at the obesity epidemic the last 30+ years. People are getting fatter and fatter simply eating how the government is telling them to eat. I would eat lots of these foods as part of my “diet” and I’d be hungry ALL THE DAMN TIME. This metabolic disorder then leads to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and most of the ills of western society. Get this. About 120 years ago (around the time sugars became cheap and everywhere), cancer hit 1 in 30 people and diabetes was a rare disease affecting one in 5,000. Today, those numbers are 1 in 3 and 1 in 7, respectively. This should make you shit yourselves. 85% of all products in the supermarket all have “added sugar” to help flavors.
- Weight loss – you lose weight, silly! Yes, there are studies out there that say there’s no difference in weight loss between keto and a standard American diet. So, I’m going to call horse shit on those studies. Mostly, after about 3 weeks on keto, your appetite simply disappears. You can do all of the studies you want. I can tell you it’s so much easier to lose weight when you are rarely hungry. Take it from someone who has dieted before dozens of times and had some success losing, but would ultimately fail and gain it back. With keto, you actually regain control of all of your bells, whistles, and dials which tell you when to eat or not.
- Taste – Fat and proteins are delicious! The first thing people think of with keto or atkins is eating plates of bacon and cheese. Your first month on keto, I’d tell you to pretty much eat whatever the hell you want that is low or no carb. This allows you to do your sugar detox. After that, your hunger will decline significantly and you will finally be able to re-wire your taste buds. You will taste the sweetness in things like green beans. I will add a bunch of pictures below of things I eat regularly. I can tell you I’m not suffering at all, and I now prefer a lot of the substitutes. Foods I’d crave, I now try and nothing lights up in my brain like it used to. We have all essentially been drugs addicts of processed foods and have been wired to crave them. I now crave foods you’d consider “healthy” – like chicken and cabbage. I PREFER this over pizza. Yeah. Holy shit, huh?
- Clean eating – I eat a ridiculous amount of salad and vegetables. My skin is clear for the first time in my life – and has been for well over a year. I sleep like “coma sleep”, and this started 1-2 weeks into keto. I sleep DEEPLY. I recover more quickly from workouts. My diet is less inflammatory. I have improved ALL of my health markers over the past year, except my cholesterol went up. OH MY GOD. CHOLESTEROL. Get this – keto folks can point you to the studies in the last 10 years that show cholesterol you eat has nothing to do with heart attacks. Ever wonder why they say eggs are ok to eat these days, again? Your body NATURALLY PRODUCES OVER 10 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF CHOLESTEROL YOU EAT. EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY NEEDS CHOLESTEROL. OK – so cholesterol was linked to a hypothesis that cholesterol builds up and causes heart disease. They missed a big thing here. Why was the cholesterol building up? If your body produces 10 times the amount we eat, what’s the problem? The problem is inflammation. Cholesterol is the fire fighter, disbursed to all cells in our body. When there are tiny cracks in the arteries, cholesterol goes to fight the fire. It spackles the damage, temporarily. Vitamin C and vitamin K2 are supposed to fix it, long term. However, apparently sugar and vitamin C respond to the same receptors, and the body prefers the sugar (a drug). This is the cause of the cholesterol build up. Remove the inflammation, the cholesterol passes harmlessly by. Eat lots of veggies!
There are literally hundreds of keto personalities on YouTube these days. I invite you to take a look at some of the below:
- Dr. Peter Attia
- Dr. Robert Lustig
- Dr. Tim Noakes
- Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek
- Gary Taubes – writer of “The case against sugar”
- Dr. Dom D’Agostino
- Dr. Rhonda Patrick
- Jonathan Bailor – writer of “The Calorie Myth”
What will happen is the further you look into this, the more your jaw will drop at all of the wasted years of your life because you were eating 6 meals a day from foods they told you to eat.
Think back at where a hunter 5,000 years ago got his 400 carbs per day. And….go.
So what does all of this mean?
- Carbs – to start, eat about 20-50g of carbs per day. Start at the low end. At the start, you can subtract all of the fiber as not counting. As you go on, be careful of all of the low carb packaged products that try to advertise low net carbs. Some of these are very misleading. Eat these sparingly, not as part of your daily diet.
- Protein – eat .6g or so per pound of LEAN body mass. For example, I weigh 228 or so at the moment, but my lean body mass on the fancy scales has me at 161 pounds. This comes to 97g. I have about 100-130g of protein per day. If I was having a lot less of this, my body might then break down some of my muscles for glucose. If I have much more of it, my body might simply store it as fat.
- Fat – everything else. You can eat fat off of your plate or off of your waist, your choice. The first month or so, a lot of your weight loss is breaking down muscle and liver glycogen stores. You might drop 15-20 pounds your first month!!! After your initial loss, you can start to dial back your fat intake. You do NOT need to eat 70-80% of your calories in fat. It helps to start with that because it helps you with satiety. After your hunger disappears, you can start to eat the fat from your waist.
So – what foods do I eat?
Pictures below, but I can assure you, I go to bed with a full belly every night and rarely have hunger. Before keto, I heard about intermittent fasting and 72 hour fasts. I was like, “who the hell can do that??”. Well, after you are on keto for a month or so, it becomes pretty simple. You just stop thinking about food 24/7. Done.
Before I get into WHAT I eat, let’s delve into HOW MUCH I eat. I stopped counting calories over the summer and down 30+ pounds since then. My body has told me what to eat and when, for the first time ever. It’s soooo freeing!!!
Monday – coffee in the morning. Add heavy whipping cream and artificial sweetener erithrytol. Dinner is a giant salad with 1 pound of chicken, extra virgin olive oil, some Italian dressing, cherry tomatoes, cheese. This salad will range from 500-1000 calories. This is also a giant mixing bowl of salad. You have no concept of how BIG this is. I tried to use my instant pot for reference.
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday!!! Coffee in the morning, taco salad for dinner. Salsa, avocado, iceberg lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce, cheese, 12-16oz grass fed ground beef with taco flavoring.
Wednesday – same thing as Monday, or maybe Philly cheesesteak salad!
At my local giant, there’s these 14oz packages of shaved steak. It’s about half the calories of the steak ums. Fry it up, add some cheese, throw it on top of a salad with tomatoes, ranch, and maybe add some pickles!
Thursday – coffee…Dinner is Chicken and cabbage with a side of loaded cauliflower
I make up 3+ pounds of chicken thighs and a head of cabbage with celery and chicken broth in an instant pot and make 3 giant servings. Love this SOO much, and never ate cabbage in my life before 8 months ago. Now I crave this. The loaded cauliflower is to DIE FOR. Fry up bacon. Use drippings to pour over cauliflower, and roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Add mixture of cream cheese and cheddar to melt over it for 7 more minutes. Top with sour cream and bacon…DEAR GOD.
Friday – 2 to 4 Fridays a month, I eat zero, other than coffee in the morning. This turns out to be a 43 or so hour fast. Pretty easy to do once you’re on keto for awhile. On these days, I do not exercise a lot, I might take the dog on a long walk.
Saturday/Sunday – generally speaking, I will eat 2 meals on these days. I’ll have a brunch or so of a GIANT egg scramble or my chicken and cabbage. The eggs might be 6 pasture raised eggs, 2-3 oz of chopped ham topped with 1-2 oz cheddar cheese and I’d use Heinz low carb ketchup. Bacon also works, but I’d have maybe 2 strips.
Dinners are where you can experiment and try new recipes to incorporate. A staple might be a ribeye steak with cauliflower mash and other veggies. Maybe zoodles. Maybe zucchini lasagna? Maybe chicken parm? Baked hot wings? “KeDough” pizza is by far the best homemade pizza you can make. Look that up on youtube.
Buy some recipe books to look up things you might like.
More zone 2
I’ve done some more zone 2 workouts. I’m finding it more and more everywhere. My 80/20 triathlon book also talks about tons of different workouts. For example – maybe 3 minutes with 5 minutes zone 1-2 to start, then 1 minute zone 4 with 2 minutes of zone 2 recovery 4 times. This is then completed with zone 2 cool down.
The above graph is from “training peaks”. I’m liking this a bit more for my training analysis than the other apps. I still like my Strava for things, but this appears more accurate for me.
As the teachings have been going, they tell you that 80% of your training should be zone 2, with 20% in zone 4 or 5. You should avoid zone 3 for training, and this is probably your race pace (maybe high zone 3). When jumping up to zone 4 and dialing it back to zone 2, there’s a period of time your HR is in zone 3 – this is fine.
The idea is you are trying to improve your mitochondria count and build your engine. Occasionally, you jump into zone 4 for speed work and this will increase your zone 3 run speed and capacity as well. I remember in my 5k, I felt like the last half mile I was maxing out. What this training does is make you faster over time in zone 2, which then allows you to be faster in zone 3. Also – the lack of crushing your body also allows you to work out more in a week and recover easier.
One thing I also heard is that days where your heart rate is a bit higher might be days you want to hold back a little or take a day off. I have driven my heart rate down about 10 bpm over the last 2 years and 3 months. Take a look at this!
I setup my dumb trainer to my old bike and got a speed/cadence sensor. I’m giving my setup a 5/10. It’s a 5 because I did a LOT with only a fraction of the money the other guys use. That being said, my experience is only a fraction of what theirs is.
The problem I have is with inclines. You pedal a rate and you see your watts up, but as the hills come, your bike speed slows down to a crawl. I’m on the highest gears with 100+ RPM and going 4mph. So, would a smart trainer help this? Yup. A lot. For now, I just want to work on cadence and getting time in the saddle as one month from now I have an indoor triathlon.
The next 1-2 months is just about spinning a bit and trying to get used to it. I have found I have no natural ass padding anymore, and the bike shorts were now purchased. This was a problem I never really had before. Ouch.
When next October rolls around, I think at that point I may upgrade. This bike is also WAY too big for me, so it’s not a great fit. When I bought it at nearly 400 pounds, I needed something structurally strong. Well, it’s massive, and that was a time I didn’t understand bike fits.
Can’t wait until it’s nicer out and I can get my gravel bike back out!!!
I did one of these about 12 years ago when I was 300+ pounds. My goal was to not finish last. I finished second to last. You do 10 minutes of swimming, 30 minutes of biking indoors, then 20 minutes on the treadmill.
I remember when I did this, I barely completed it. One hour of exercise. Today, that’s silly to me. But, everyone has to start somewhere. These days, my swim can do about 2:15 or so for a 100 yd. I’m doing 2:41 in gentle swimming, and think for 10 minutes I can crank this up. My bike was also interesting, as I was trying to grind it out rather than spin. Lastly, 20 minutes on the treadmill was tough for me as I didn’t know what pace to try and hold.
This time around, I’m trying for “middle of the pack”. With another 40 pounds to lose or so by summer, I feel that getting me to 190-195 or so might get me in the middle of the pack to the 75th percentile for some sprint triathlons. I’m looking to use that as a base to then try and reach the top 25% for my age over the next 24 months. I feel that’s reasonable. I can do Olympic distances now individually, now it’s time to do sprint distances with increased speeds.