Ketogenic Diet, day 16

To review … I’m 43yo, 6’6″. I lost 98# (345-247) from Feb 2014 to Jan 2015 on a calorie-restricted diet that was 40% protein and 30% carbs & fat with twice-weekly cheat meals – so moderately low-carb but not keto. I got tired of being hungry in maintenance, found out about keto & decided to give it a whirl, and so far I like it a lot better.

I never got this “keto flu” people talk about. But I was already eating pretty low carb, and I get plenty of sodium.

Initially I took the advice to “eat fat to satiety” literally – I tracked what I ate and kept carbs low & protein moderate but did not limit my total calories. I ended up eating 6000 kcal / day for the first 5 days. I gained around 4# of bodyfat doing that. That seemed like not a good long-term plan, so I did some additional research… I’m now limiting total calories as well – but in the 1½ weeks I’ve been doing that, I’m finding what Phinney & Volek said in “New Atkins” to be true:

“[Ketosis] can be your ally in controlling [the urge to binge, especially on carbs]. So here’s the test: if you’re at or just below your carb threshold, it’s normal to feel comfortably empty  at times without having to feel hungry. But if you’re above your carb threshold, feeling empty ALWAYS triggers hunger.”

I had previously been taking that comfortably empty feeling as a signal to eat. I now limit my eating to three meals with at least 5 hours between, and I try to eat pretty close to ⅓ of my macros at each meal. That’s 70g protein, 88g fat, and 7g net carbs (1100 kcal) per meal, for 3300 total kcal/day. I do 4000-5000 kcal/week cardio – I’ve dropped back to every other day. I’m now finding that I’m almost never uncomfortably hungry, and I appear to be losing a pound of fat a week – but it’s too soon to accurately tell – I’m going to keep this up for a month to get a better idea of my TEE (total energy expenditure).

Part of the reason I’ve dropped back to three large meals with no snacks is due to recent research on the role of Leucine (an essential amino acid our bodies can’t manufacture) in elevating MPS (muscle protein synthesis). Apparently eating more that 0.05g/kg bodyweight of Leucine at a meal, then no eating for 4+ hours has benefits described here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdLRLlusaBw

I expect that is not the final word – looks like they’re early into the research on exactly how that works. But I’m going to proceed assuming he’s right about that until I find out otherwise.

So – I started eating 3300/day (±50) on March 31, so by April 30 I should have a good idea of my real TEE. I’m happy where I am (18% bodyfat), but if I’m still slowly losing weight and not often ravenous, I may see if I can get down to 12-15%. But for sure I’m not going to fight my body over it…

Most of my metabolic syndrome symptoms are gone – in January my HDL was 46, triglycerides 59, fasting blood glucose 88 (it had been 93 initially, so I didn’t need a lot of improvement there). Resting heart rate is as low as 55b/m. Waist now 36″. My one remaining problem area is blood pressure. It creeps up to as high as 150/95 at times. Then after I do cardio it’s back down to 130/80. I’m wondering if another 10-20 pounds of fat loss would improve that.

I’ve now read Phinney & Volek’s The Art and Science of Low Carb Living (how it works and why it’s a good idea, at a pretty high level, aimed at physicians), and their New Atkins for a New You (what to do, mostly at a much lower level). Biggest things I picked up from the latter that weren’t in the former:

– that quote above.

– I need to limit total calories, at least for now.

– I should count net carbs, not total. I should eat greens and not count their fiber content. This has resulted in me eating more chia seeds and broccoli, and less nuts.

I also started reading Lyle McDonald’s The Ketogenic Diet but wasn’t impressed & quit reading it..It’s a dated book, and he was making claims about what people on keto can’t do well that have since been disproven. So … probably a good book in its time, but why waste my time on it now?

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