After going back into weight training in a gym in the summer, when I usually only do it in the winter, I began to get bigger than about half my collection of antique T-shirts and was very satisfied with my progress. I got occasional comments of, ‘You’ve lost weight’ when in fact I’d gained about 10lbs on the 180 I was before. What the commenters actually meant was, ‘You’re more triangular’. So, I was very pleased with myself when I came back to the UK and signed up to the gym here.
Throughout all this I wavered in deciding on the best diet. Low carb and my muscles were more defined and stomach flatter, but I often felt thoroughly knackered and training sessions weren’t as pleasant. This last was even more the case in the UK where the gym temperature is 5 to 10 degrees lower than on Crete. It didn’t take me long in the UK to binge on carbs in the form of stuff like crumpets and malt loaf. After an abrupt climb in weight I then pulled back to lower carbs like crisp-breads and wraps – only two meals a day. My weight kept going up but hell, my arms, chest and legs were growing thicker, so that was a good thing, right?
It was only when I stepped on a scale a month or so back and saw it clear 200lbs that I decided I was kidding myself. Okay, I’d made some gains but they’d arrived with a layer of fat. Side on views in the gym mirrors weren’t pretty and seeing my belly bulge out and wobble when doing squats made me cringe. It was time to do something about this.
Now having experience in all this I knew that the best option for shedding fat is to cut the carbs and do a bit of fasting. I’m not sure I completely characterize what I do as a ketogenic diet because generally that means replacing the carbs with fat, when I am more inclined towards replacing them with protein. However, that does lead to the body going into ketosis. To get into this I simply stopped buying anymore carbs and simply used up what I had. I also limited myself to eating only after noon to get in a dirty fast (because I was having heavy cream in coffee and milk in tea in the morning).
After instituting this protocol the over 200lbs on the scales was only a one-time event. As the carbs ran out my weight steadied at about 199 and I started to see 1.0 to 1.5mmol/L on a ketones breath meter, which is good. Then something happened a week ago that is familiar to those who go on ketogenic diets: my appetite started to diminish. With this happening and the amount I was eating declining, ketones went up to above 2.0mmol/L and at last I found the willpower to do a fast.
About a week back the will was simply there and I stopped eating and I stopped putting dairy in tea and coffee. I also started drinking some yerba mate I’d bought the year before (check out the Huberman podcast on that subject). Since my willpower had arrived I aimed to do a long fast. Also, knowing how the day seems to acquire extra hours when you’re fasting, I went off on a 7 mile walk that morning. Late afternoon I also went to the gym and weight trained. I ended the fast at 53.5 hours mainly because of low mood and feeling bored about not eating, not because I was particularly hungry.
The next day, feeling disappointed in myself I went straight into another fast – leaving that heavy cream out of my morning coffee. Despite having eaten the evening before, my ketones kept rising to 5.0mmol/L on the breath meter. That’s the point at which the screen turns red as a warning since the meters are primarily made for diabetics in whom that level of ketones is problematic. Timed from when I ate last I did a 21 hour fast. On subsequent days I did two 22 hour fasts and today as I write this am half an hour away from yet another one, if I eat. Over this period my breath ketones have been lowest to highest, 2.8 to 4.0mmol/L (and deep purple on the test strip). I’ve continued to walk 7 miles each day of this and put in another gym session too.
It’s quite weird that my appetite is practically non-existent now and it seems I’m burning mostly ketones. Meals have been just a chunk of chicken and some veg. It was nice to look at the scales this morning and see 192lbs. Yes, I know it’s mostly water weight, but then human bodies are mostly water. Certainly, factoring in that 3,500Kcals deficit = 1lb of fat, I’ve shed some of it. I’m now looking forward to getting down into the 180s.
In conclusion: Do The Work!