Saturday, May 14, 2011

little to no ketosis

So I used my first ketone strip a few minutes ago, and the result isn't very promising: as far as I can tell, there's been little to no ketosis over the past five days. I also weighed myself, and noticed that I had gained weight in the past day or two: the scale said 295, a net loss of a single pound. This comes as a disappointment after what seemed to be a steady loss since Monday (OK, I admit I peeked and checked my weight earlier).

So what's been going wrong?

I know that my adherence to the diet has been scrupulous in terms of what foods to eat and what to avoid. There have been no sweets aside from those expensive Atkins bars and shakes (which are permissible on the diet, though not in great quantities). The proteins have all been of the permissible kind-- no processed meats or anything pre-sauced or pre-crusted. The vegetables have all been either leafy greens or crucifers like cauliflower and broccoli-- no carrots or tomatoes* or anything else verboten.

All I can think is that my eating schedule is a problem, and possibly the quantities I've been eating. The first night, Monday night, I sat down to two chicken breasts plus a pork rib-- all merely salted and peppered and then pan-fried-- plus a large load of broccoli and cauliflower. I was stuffed by the end of that meal, but the following morning I saw I had already lost a pound. The second night was eggs and broccoli soup; again, I woke up and discovered, to my delight, another one-pound loss. I didn't buy those Atkins bars and shakes until Wednesday, and never ate more than two bars per day (which, come to think of it, may be a violation of the rules for the induction process; it could be that the bars are there to replace meals, not act as between-meal snacks). On Wednesday night, I had ground beef done up burger-style, plus spinach. On Thursday, I had salmon and chorizo (I checked the chorizo ingredients list and nutrition facts before buying: only 1g of carbs per serving) along with my spinach. Yesterday, Friday, was shrimp plus the rest of my broccoli soup from earlier in the week.

But each night, I was eating until I was stuffed, and I also had hunks of Monterrey Jack cheese waiting for me during my non-meal hours (essentially, the hours between 11PM and bedtime, which is usually around 3:30AM).

It could be that a bad eating schedule, combined with the huge portion sizes, and possibly also the introduction of those Atkins shakes and bars, have contributed to a near-lack of ketosis. I may have to get stricter about portion control, and may also have to avoid the temptation of the Atkins products. The latter won't be hard to do: they don't taste very good, and they're far too expensive: imagine paying $7 for a four-pack of 11-ounce "chocolate" shakes. That's nearly two dollars for about two swallows of ersatz milkshake. Not worth it.

I'm doing induction for the full two-week period, and my "official" weigh-in for this week isn't until Monday morning, but right now, things aren't looking good. It may also be that my body reacts differently to Atkins than my brother's does; I vaguely remember this being the case the last time I tried Atkins, years ago. For me, the best results have typically come from huge amounts of exercise coupled with smaller portions. That's what thinned me out when I lived in Switzerland: all the hiking.

But we'll see. It's too early to jump ship. I can't do much about my eating schedule, as I mentioned before, but I can reduce portions, avoid the Atkins products, and keep eating those diet-friendly proteins and vegetables. As my brother pointed out, not everyone can see results after X amount of time; some of us just take longer.

*While allowed on Atkins, tomatoes can only be eaten in very small quantities.



Sperwer said...


Since my tweet-back, I've read this and the preceding post here at Kevin's Walk.

I think you are now are putting into effect the principle that Sonagi once reported on: the nature and quality of calories is just as if not more important than the number.

But it seems to me that such principle works best in the real world when talking about maintaining a healthy weight. When trying to lose weight, esp. fat, it's still very important to make sure that you eat (a lot) fewer calories (of the right sort) than you consume. If you eat more calories than are needed to fuel everyday activities, the body is just going to use them preferentially to make fat, whether they come from protein or not (unless you are doing something like heavy physical exercise that would result in its mobilization for muscle repair and building).

From your reports, it looks like you are eating more than I do, and I spend 3 hours in the gym 5-6 days a week, where I average 1,500-2000 calories/day in energy expenditure between lifting and cardio (the latter of which I am now doing to tackle the so-called stubborn fat remaining around my lower abdomen and lower back; I've lost 5 kilos of fat in 5 weeks). I generally have 2-3 protein shakes a day plus 2 chicken breasts and vegetables for dinner around 5-6 PM, right after working out. On weekends, I'll have some fish or beef or pork. If I cheat and have so much as 1 honey-coated croissant from Paris Baguette fat loss stops cold at least for a bit.

I think it's also a mistake to eat so late at night before bedtime. Our metabolism's generally are much slower then anyway, so even if you are eating clean the calories are likely just being shunted off to make fat since they are not needed for any immediate task. The only people who need to eat before bedtime are serious bodybuilders who want to avoid muscle loss during sleep by flooding the tissues with protein (after a hard day's workout).

While I am pontificating, I also recommend laying off the "healthy" candy bars. It takes time for the body to adjust to not getting its accustomed sugar fix and for the cravings to dissipate, but it does happen. Eating the candy bars just postpones the days of reckoning, and may prevent them from ever arriving. Also switching to some other source of protein powder that is more economical and equally if not more effective. If you go to the site, you can find literally dozens of different ones from which to choose.

Kevin Kim said...

I agree with you re: the Atkins bars and eating late. I'm planning on laying off the Atkins products, which are too damn expensive, anyway. As for eating late-- that's more of a problem. I simply can't afford to come into work with anything in my stomach. All my eating has to happen afterward. I think, meanwhile, that a reduction in the amount I'm eating will solve some of the problems I've encountered.

Hopefully, once I do start working out, that'll help move the process along; my brother Sean's weight loss had a lot to do with his combining of diet and exercise. I do tend to lose weight fast when I'm making a sustained physical effort (saw this while living in France and Switzerland thanks to farming and hiking, respectively), so I'm looking forward to leaving induction and moving into the next phase of my program.