Keto Diet Lessons

Lessons learned from a Ketogenic diet

  1. There’s an app for that There are two competing weight loss apps that I hear about over and over again, MyFitnessPal and Loseit. I’ve tried them both, and I’m a fan of Loseit. I was also lucky enough to be one of the first to use the app so I get some ‘premium’ features that a new user would have to pay for already included, like the scale uploading to the account. Both apps work basically the same way, and offer tracking and logging and scanning. They keep a running count of what you’ve eaten and provide macro and calorie tracking. It’s a very big help to have your phone keeping tabs on how many calories or carbs you have left for the day. I find the scanning to be particularly helpful because I hate the logistics of looking up the specific food that’s going to be hitting my plate. Usually, one scan is all that’s required. I’ve learned to keep the box or bag around to be sure that I have the barcode available until all the food that’s hooked to it is gone. Still, the apps are not perfect and sometimes the info that is loaded when you scan doesn’t match the label exactly. Be aware and adapt. There’s also social functions and social hooks in both apps – I’m basically an introvert to begin with and hate social networking, but I don’t mind if you want to friend me on Loseit. Loseit also has a fairly active forum community and I spend more time reading that than I would readily admit. When you give the apps all the information you’re willing to let go of – they will give you a target calorie count. I never paid much attention to it, until quite recently when my ‘lazy’ habits caused a long stall. The short version is – use keto/low carb principles to choose your foods and hit the macros, and use the calories as a guide of how much to eat of those foods. I hate the idea of having to count calories again after not bothering for so long, but that’s life. The combination of low carb and low cal is very potent when used correctly. I’m learning how many calories I can cut and still not be hungry, that’s the sweet spot.
  2. Weighing and logging – body and fatI have a scale (one of the earlier Withings models with wi-fi) that syncs up with my Loseit account. I also use the Withings app on my phone to keep track of my progress -over time- I can’t stress the -over time- part enough. The Withings app provides a trend line on the graphing display that smooths out the normal day-to-day fluctuations in weight (did I poop today or was that yesterday) and shows the more useful trend line that helps to make longer-term decisions. I weigh in after I wake up and pee or maybe poop if that’s going to happen in the ‘morning’. I work a crazy schedule of 7-on 7-off night shift, so my ‘morning’ can be around 0700 one week and 1500 the next. I just weigh in after my long sleep, whichever shift that is. I wear just a pair of boxers on the scale.
  3. Carbs are evil and invasive.I have learned, the hard way, that carbs have been added to practically everything. Restaurants are the biggest offenders. If you can’t read the label or be given an ingredient list, then it’s probably carby. Taco bell puts carbs in its taco meat. IHOP puts them in the scrambled egg batter. Don’t get me started about nicer restaurants where every dish comes with a sauce with ingredients that resemble pancake syrup. I don’t eat out much, and when I do, it’s somewhere that I can count on to help out by leaving off the carbs. It may not seem like it sometimes, but you’re not the only one in the world on a diet. Be very nice and ask for their help. If they don’t help, then find another place to go eat. Eating out is also a triple drain on willpower, because the whole idea is that you ask for food and then it appears in front of you, unweighed, with unknown carb counts, drenched in sugary sauce, and a side of fries. It’s harder, more trouble, and more expensive to keep to a keto/low carb diet in a restaurant. The person who doesn’t want to make the special request is the one who winds up with a plate full of carbs that he can’t eat and has to sit there and not eat them.
  4. Weighing and logging – the foodWhen I got started, just cutting down on carbs got it done. Over time, though, as I lost more weight, I had to start to take calories into account. This meant weighing and logging, which I hate. It got me through a hellacious stall, but I still hate it. I can’t argue with the results, though. It’s worth it to see a steady loss every day rather than a one step forward, two steps back sort of thing. The logistics of weighing and logging are annoying, but it really could be worse. I have a scale with a tare function. I set up in the Loseit app on my phone what I’m going to be eating, then actually weigh the foods, one at a time, using the tare function, as they go on my plate, and change the weights in the app to match up. By having the weights pre-entered into the app, I can both have some sort of goal in mind of what I’m going to be eating for that meal or snack, and make decisions based on macros and calories before I’m putting weight on the plate. This is one of the most important willpower steps, you have to be honest with yourself and weigh and log what actually goes on your plate. If your’re going to go to the trouble to willfully decide what you’re going to eat and in what amounts, then don’t throw all that away by lying to yourself about what went on your plate. Don’t forget even lower-carb sauces – the little carbs add up too. No food added to the plate after it comes off the scale, and your plate contains all that you’re going to eat. Period.
  5. The weight is coming off in strange places.I never would have thought that I had fat arms, or ankles, or wrists. Evidently I did, because I no longer recognize parts of my own body. Even my eyeglasses, which once dug into the sides of my head, no longer do so. I guess keeping the spare tire is my body’s biggest priority, it just isn’t shrinking. I read one article earlier that compared weight loss to a roll of paper towels. When you’re way overweight, just removing one towel from a full roll doesn’t make much difference in looks. But, as you lose more and more, the one towel does make more difference by itself.
  6. The lack of hunger makes dieting easy. Willpower is a finite resource, and being hungry burns it out much faster. Keto solves the hunger problem, because the high fat macro is so filling. When you’re not sitting around, watching the clock, waiting to have your next meal or snack, that’s when dieting becomes much easier. This is the only diet I’ve tried that I’ve been able to stick with over the long term because of this feature.
  7. Ketosis has other helpful effects.There are several things that ketosis has done for me, from making easier and less frequent pooping, to my skin drying up where it was an oil field worthy of drilling rights. Even my hair is no longer oily. It’s such little things that remind me that I’m doing right not only by my weight, but by the rest of my body, too. They’re so little, and I never would have thought that they would be affected by diet, but it’s another psychological boost.
  8. Awesome doctor visits.There are two main things for me that no longer make me dread the doctor’s office. First, my blood pressure is normal now. At my last trip to the doctor, I was hurt, had been up since three a.m., and had walked through three airports before making it home and seeing the doctor. I was tired, hurt, pissed, and unwilling to be there. Blood pressure: normal. My last blood work also included awesome cholesterol numbers, which defy the conventional wisdom that a high-fat diet is harmful to your cholesterol.
  9. Social issues As I’m shrinking, I seem to exist in the eyes of the opposite sex in a way that I haven’t before. This has been both good and bad, it can be a real confidence boost but my introverted personality sometimes just wants to be left alone in the way that I always was before I got skinnier. I blamed this for a psychological barrier that I had, but I finally worked through it.
  10. Nothing succeeds like success. Finally figuring out how my body is wired up, and how to lose weight while eating some of my favorite foods that I grew up with, has been a real confidence boost for other problem areas in my life. With success in such a hard area, other problems seem much easier by comparison. And, those other areas create synergies that spill over into dieting.
  11. So much pee. I’ve always been fat, and I’ve always been a high-volume pee kind of guy. That’s been taken to a completely new level. I never would have thought that I could produce so much pee. It’s frightening at times, I almost seem dehydrated. I have to work at it to stay hydrated, I’m rarely without a cup of something in front of me.
  12. I’ve lost my taste for sugar. Every so often, my request for unsweetened tea falls on deaf ears, and I’m served sweet tea. At the first sip, I want to spit it out violently. The amount of sweetness is just overwhelming now. I don’t eat regular candy bars, even as a cheat or a treat, they’re not what I want. The more ‘diet’ sort of candy bars, with the artificial sweeteners and lower overall carb content, are more than sweet enough, now. One of my favorite things is high-fat cool whip with a teaspoon or so of semi-sweet chocolate chips. That combination is more than enough, sweet-wise, for my new tolerance level. I can’t imagine pure sugar treats like divinity or pixy stix now. Ugh.

Compliments from  user miatachris on Reddit