diet, weight loss

Back… AGAIN.

Wow! Has it really been more than eleven months since my last post?!

Scary how fast the time flies.

*Sigh* Well, there are many things to update. For one thing, I haven’t lost any weight. Matter of fact, I may have actually gained a little bit since I last updated this blog. (I’m changing the theme too.)

I’ve found a couple of other workout routines which, I believe, will better benefit me and help me progress down the road to fitness faster. Problem is, I have to actually use those tools and so far…meh. So the fault isn’t the hammer, it’s the carpenter.

Also, I’ve determined to renew my efforts toward low-carb/ketogenic dieting. Many people disagree with this methodology/ideology, and I couldn’t care less about that. I want to lose weight; this will do it. It worked before, and I didn’t even do it correctly. Now, however, I intend to follow not the strict Atkins principle, but a principle I’ve more recently discovered in the past few weeks. Adding fat and limiting protein.

The addition of fat was an obvious mistake I made previously; I assumed most of the ill side effects I’d suffered as a result of being “too low carb” came from just that — being below a certain magic threshold of carbohydrate intake to maintain proper mental function (my issues were all emotional and mood imbalances). I have, however, recently been alerted to the idea of my premise being flawed. Rather that raising my carbohydrate intake, I should have upped my fat intake instead.

Fat’s a magical solution, especially saturated fats and particularly Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). I’ve found a good source of those in coconut oil and even coconut butter (with some carb intake increase for the butter), but saturated fats in general aren’t as difficult to get as you might think. The challenge, of course, came in recognizing where those fats reside and how to include them in everyday eating. It’s a simple matter to include things like olive oil in our everyday cooking, but more complicated to include things like lard and coconut oil. And all lard isn’t created equal, either. Lard used to be of fairly high quality and easy to come by; now, the off-the-shelf variety may not be suitable to all purposes.

I’m looking forward to lowering my protein in favor of fat, however, so that my diet begins to shift to a low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat ketogenic diet. Getting into — and staying in — ketosis is going to be fun, and interesting to watch.

Side note: My wife and I have maintained a lower carbohydrate level than previous years for most if not all of 2011, and because of that, we occasionally keep Keto-Stix around to measure ketosis. But whenever we’d hit ketosis, we noticed within a couple of hours, or perhaps the following day, we’d be right back out of ketosis, not showing enough ketone bodies in our urinalysis to measure a color shift on the reagent strips. It was very frustrating, and extremely demoralizing. No matter what we did, short of eliminating carbs altogether — which I wasn’t willing to do for the emotional well-being and safety of my family and having to deal with possible depression — we just couldn’t sustain ketosis.

Flashback: In 1997, I started doing the “Atkins Diet” by obtaining a list of allowed foods and trying altogether to eliminate carbohydrates from my diet. After doing this for three months I achieved 35lbs of weight loss and a divorce some months later due to factors like mood swings, depression, loss of mental clarity (I’d go months were I couldn’t remember ignoring or insulting friends, family and even co-workers), and of course an already-sick marriage. I got down to my desired weight of 150lbs, but never did break through that and finally fell off the wagon for good later. I tried controlling carbs but never did “low carb” again.

Flash forward: In 2011, my wife and I lower our carb intake, but don’t see much improvement in weight management. I assume we won’t until and unless we start working out. Over the spring, my wife decides to begin working out with T-Tapp (chosen because an online friend has had amazing results with it and it’s not hard to do). We try it, stick with it for a while, and then find it’s hard for us to do any sort of workout because we tire too easily, get injured too easily and finally have to stop before we do major damage. By the time we start up again, we are far from where we should be. And so it goes.

Now, in the last couple of days, I’ve learned weight loss — and specifically body fat loss — are not keyed to exercise levels but to diet. Many people who work out in extreme periods (upwards of three hours per day, which is simply too much for normal, everyday people) can carry high percentages of body fat. A doctor, with proof online, demonstrates with evidence and photographs how he could swim from Catalina Island to Los Angeles, and on a separate occasion back the other way, and yet have a “pooch” or “pot belly” and carry a fair amount of body fat under his skin. He didn’t understand why, however, until he researched nutrition and diet.

What he discovered is, ketogenic diets like the Atkins Diet (the most famous of them, but not the only one) and some “paleo” diets can help lower body fat percentage and, in turn, weight. He’s dropped more than 30 pounds and more than five inches from his waist, all by lowering his exercise times by a half hour to an hour, and dropping his carbohydrate intake to about 50g per day.

Not. Shabby.

For me, that 50g level may be a tad high. At least, I thought so. So I determined to try that level and see how weight loss works. Dr. Atkins, in his masterwork book, describes how every person has a Critical Carbohydrate Level for Weight Loss, or CCL. There’s another for weight maintenance. I, however, experienced that mine is somewhat higher than I expected, and so, despite realizing now I could probably dive back to that 20-25g/day level and control the mental performance issues with increased fat intake, I’d like to stick to that level and see what happens, at least for a few months.

So, lesson one: Don’t ignore fat. Salad dressings made from oil, a bit of vinegar or lemon, and seasoning packages are one way to increase fat intake. Avoiding the harmful unsaturated fats like corn oil, canola oil, etc. will make better utilization possible and speed ketosis. In addition, controlling hunger with fats instead of proteins (and maintaining the sensation of satiation longer) is going to become part of my routine.

As with any great new thing, however, there are caveats. For one, magnesium and potassium have to be increased. Hydration is key. And if this doesn’t help my back pain, I’m not sure what will short of being wheelchair bound for the rest of my life. (It’s not that bad yet, but BOY does it hurt.)

Still, all in all, with 80% of weight loss being diet related and not exercise-dependent, I have a better picture of how the two can and will work together in my future. For now, however, I have to focus on the diet and see if weight loss can get me to a level of physically being able to exercise the way I should and want to.

So, I’ll try to be more consistent with updates, and I’ll try and let everyone know (whoever “everyone may be) how I progress. Perhaps some sample menus to outline how we include things in our diet which up the fat and drop protein will prove beneficial for someone else thinking this way.

God bless you all (whoever you are).

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