Two weeks ago, I weighed in at 220. 6 days ago, I hit 230. Today, I’m 218. What gives?
Unlike vegans, the keto folks can have some cheat meals from time to time. My “religion” focuses on minimizing carbohydrates to maximize usage of stored body fat. It doesn’t mean every now and then I can’t indulge. The last 2 weeks have been a roller coaster of sorts, and the last 2 months have been more “low carb” rather than “keto”. So – what happened? What did I do that you can learn from?
First – there’s a principle most of us do when eating, and we usually don’t know it. “What can we get away with and still achieve our goals?”. For some of you, this might mean tracking every calorie and realizing you have 50 calories left before bed and having a snack. For others, like me, this might mean taking carbs to the max and still monitor weight loss.
My last weigh in, I was not really strict with keto leading up to it. The next 3 weeks, I’m going to be really dialed in. More on that below.
3/22 – weigh in at 220.
3/23 – I saw Miss Saigon in Philly with my brother. For dinner, I had some chicken parm eggrolls, a drink of scotch, some bread, and split a piece of cake with the wife. I probably had 100g of carbs that day and “felt” being kicked out of ketosis. Suddenly, I get thirsty, and all of that water I drink gets stored on me. Most of that week, I was carrying around my “street weight” at 226 or so. I also had my kedough pizza on 3/21 and 3/26 – massive, massive quantities of cheese. Nothing was “moving”.
3/30 – Had my kid’s birthday party. In the morning, I was still 226 and that day, I had a LOT of blueberries, strawberries, and a piece of cake. I had also found low carb hamburger and hot dog rolls – 15 net carbs each, and had been eating them for a few days. I had meatballs with the low carb hot dog rolls. I had a piece of birthday cake.
4/1 – woke up at 230 in the morning. Felt like crap. Bloated. Holding tons of water. Things not moving.
To top it off, the last 2 months or so I was having more and more chocolate after dinner.
What I was having was probably 60g of carbs per day, maybe up to 75-80.
I wasn’t spiraling out of control or anything, but what I had found was a nice “diet” I could eat day to day when I hit my goal weight. The problem was, I wasn’t at my goal weight yet.
And this is what I needed to re-focus on. This summer – there will be a day I eat blueberries. Another day I eat fresh strawberries or peaches. But I don’t project hitting my goal weight until September/October. Until then, it’s ok once in awhile to up the carbs to 75 if I’m biking 20 miles, but I plan on being dialed back in for quite some time.
4/2 – I had the last of the blueberries in 2 cups of 5% greek yogurt with swerve. WOW. But it was probably 30g of carbs. I knew I was about to do a 3 day fast to get back into a deep ketosis state and shed all of the water I’ve been holding.
4/3-4/5 – I did a 72 hour fast. I broke it Friday evening with beef broth, then waited an hour and had a giant pile of eggs.
The next 3 weeks, I plan on being pretty strict keto. At my next weigh in, I’m hoping to hit 214-215. At 218 now, it seems in the ballpark of reasonable.
“Pretty strict keto”?
Most of what I do is probably 3-3.5 weeks of 30-75 carbs per day, and then 3-5 days before weigh in, I will go strict keto with maybe 30 or less carbs per day to get into a keto state and release a lot of the glycogen in my liver and muscles. I walk around most of the month 4-5 pounds heavier than my weigh in.
So am I keto?
Yes and no. I may have some days where I’m eating nothing for breakfast or lunch and have eggs for dinner and might hit 20 for the day. This will dip me more into ketosis. Then, I may have another day where I’m eating my cabbage/chicken for lunch and have a loaded cauliflower and chocolate for dinner and all of those carbs might add up to 75 and drop me out of ketosis – or at least keep me in a very low level of it. I don’t care.
What I care about is each month I’m lowering my body fat percent. If I’m having too many days at 75g of carbs and my weight loss is slowing, I will maybe take a week and dial them back to 30-50 per day to lean out. This is usually what I do before my weigh ins.
What I’m doing now is pretty strict for the next 3 weeks. I need to hit my 214 goal. This will take me under the 26% for the military testing, get me at 39″ with the waist. From here – everything I lose in May/June/July prior to my triathlon in early August is icing on the cake.
What I can tell you is WOW – I am much sharper when in a ketosis state. I mean SHARP.
For those of you doing keto and finding YOUR way, there is no PERFECT keto. Some days you might be on the upper end of your carbs and slightly dip out of ketosis. Your immediate result of this will be the scale going up. This is where some of you get discouraged. “Keto isn’t working. I don’t understand, I had 40g of carbs and I gained weight”. Well, when you look under the hood, you are seeing that it is having these keto snacks with tons of carbs, but they use all kinds of chemicals and weird sweeteners to tell you something is “4 net carbs”. If that is part of your 40, that is your problem.
Generally speaking, I count TOTAL carbs – with the exception of my swerve in the morning. That’s what I at least try to do. On your end, you might work with net carbs for everything.
When I did my 72 hour fast, I depleted my glycogen stores and dumped all kinds of water. The bloat disappeared. Once every 3-6 months, something like this works for me for a reset. I’m now looking forward to my eggs today followed by eating as much of a whole chicken with butter and paprika as I can tonight.
All of this week, I will be eating chicken breast and salads. Fasting Friday – then another weekend.
For YOU, you need to observe and dial in what works for you. Some days you might have the higher end of the keto spectrum and gain some water weight. Other days you may have 20 or less and drop the water. It’s about the long haul.
Low carb vs keto
When I hit my goal weight, I will be spending a good amount of time in the 75-100g range of carbs to get my body used to burning some carbs. Long term, I will be doing the primal way of living, where I can have some potatoes and fruits.
With low carb, you’re not really in ketosis, but you’re in a state where your body is trained to burn fats primarily, but you also have enough carbs to sustain some explosive workouts. THIS is the zone I want to be in for triathlon training – about 100-150g per day, mostly on the low end of the glycemic index of carbs that I do have.
Of most interest – WOW, I’m really sharp when in ketosis. When I’m in the gray zone outside of keto, I do feel sometimes a little bit of fog or memory issues.
You also have to find what works for you and what doesn’t. Get this – those pictures of zucchini I post? LOVE it. It does, however, kick me out of ketosis. I might have it on a Sat/Sun when I bike a ton, but I might be 3-4 pounds heavier when Monday comes. By Thursday, that weight is gone and I’m under my start. As long as you know how foods work with you, and you realize you didn’t just accidentally eat 14,000 calories more (4 pounds), then it’s reasonable to know you dipped out of ketosis and you added water.
Work the system. Dip back into keto for 4-5 days before a monthly weigh in.
April 6, 2019 at 1:02 pm
I experience this to a lesser degree, as I have not really gained any weight in the last three weeks, just have not lost any. I now sit at 181 with a goal of 160, but have been 181 for quite some time. As I got closer to my target weight, I started to slowly increase my carbs so that once I hit my target, I do not shock my body all at once (looking for that happy stabilized diet). I may have found that happy median too early. That happy median seems to be about 70 grams a day. So, I have to dial back a little to see a slower, but consistent weight loss. Of course, my motivation is more than just weight loss and cosmetics, having been diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. The Keto did drop my A1C from 6.9 to 5.9 with no medication, and to be honest, my A1C is even more important than the number on the scale. Anyway, I hope you finally reach your goal without cuasing any body schock!
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April 6, 2019 at 7:40 pm
Thanks for the comment! I did Atkins twice before, mostly 15-20 years ago or so. The one time I lost like 65 pounds and kept it off for years – maybe close to 5 years. When I exited Atkins, I remembered how in his book he talked about ‘maintenance’. Essentially, Atkins says ‘get into ketosis’ then walk up your carbs week by week until you find the ‘sweet spot’ where you continue to lose weight. When exiting into ‘maintenance’, the concept is finding your carbs where you don’t lose/gain weight.
Now – carbs aren’t everything. Low carb helps me by reducing my hunger, which is ultimately helping me create a caloric deficit. My guess is my bmr is around 2100 and my tdee (total daily energy expenditure) is 2500-3000 depending on how much activity I do that day.
Keep in mind that your bmr is probably about 10* your body weight, give it take – about 1800. Your tdee could be 2200-2800 based on your activity levels.
I know my problem for many years was severely restricting my calories. Like, I’d go down to 1200 for months. That ruins your metabolism. My trainer told me once, ‘hit your bmr with calories and we’ll create the deficit in the gym’. Adding resistance training will help increase your bmr and tdee. It will also help you with insulin sensitivity. So – dialing back carbs can help, but maybe also look into resistance training, intermittent fasting, and keeping calories around 1800. I stopped counting calories about 9 months ago due to knowing I’m never really approaching 2500. I’ve mostly just used carbs as my gauge – but sometimes when I have higher carbs, the calories creep up.