This is my first post in this forum and I decided to contribute something of my own after reading a lot of your posts and having listened to the dudes regularly for a few months in order to throw in my own perspective and maybe motivate other people to give this way of eating a try.
This post is probably going to be a bit longer. Just to give an overview and for people who just want some quick stats and move on to the next post:
• 32 y/o male
• Height: 190cm (~6’3)
• Duration: 8 months
• Starting weight: 105.9 kg (~233.5 lbs)
• Current weight: 88.0 kg (~194 lbs) / Delta: 17.9 kg (~38.5 lbs)
• Starting waist circumference: 121 cm (~47.6 inches)
• Current waist circumference: 107.5 cm (~42.3 inches) / Delta: 13.5 cm (~5.3 inches)
I do not have any blood tests to share because, apart from a skin condition which I currently have firmly under control, I believe I am otherwise healthy unlike other people in this forum who are battling type 2 diabetes. My own motivation to do this is solely to lose unwanted pounds of body fat on my body.
How I got here:
I have tried a few different things in my 20’s to gain control over my weight and I enjoy reading about different ways of thinking about how to tackle this task. This includes:
• Calorie counting
• Vegan lifestyle
• Carb cycling
• Intermittent fasting (16/8, 23/1)
• Master Cleanse
I found that, after reading about the concepts, all of them in itself made sense to me and in each and every case I was motivated to try them out. To be perfectly honest though: I did not stick with any of them for more than a few months and then fell back into my regular way of eating. My weight has fluctuated between about 85 kg and above 100 kg within the past few years and the only way for me to remain stable at 85 kg for a few months was by doing weight training (e.g. Starting Strength) or high intensity interval training for 45 minutes daily (P90X/Insanity) combined with some irregular intermittent fasting.
The biggest issue I see with a lot of those concepts is long-term sustainability and this was shown to me after I moved to a different city and ‘fell of the daily HIIT routine horse’ back in 2013. I gained 21kg over the next three years and was at my lifetime high of 106 kg in December 2016. Luckily, I met a colleague at the supermarket and saw what he was buying. I saw him buying avocado, sausages and mayonnaise and thought to myself: ‘Well, this looks like some low carbohydrate diet right there but what is up with all the fat?’. I asked him about it and he told me to look up the ketogenic diet and so I did. I started playing around with some ketogenic recipes over the rest of the month because I love cooking and wanted to see, if I can create meals I really enjoy. I simply wouldn’t enjoy eating sausage, eggs and bacon every day and I believe a long-term way of eating needs to allow for variety and creativity in food choices. Long story short: In my opinion, the ketogenic diet does not constrict you so much that is doesn’t allow for variety and creativity and with adjusted recipes for pizza, noodles etc. there isn’t a lot out there you couldn’t turn ketogenic.
I made a new year’s resolution on January 1st 2017 to try out the ketogenic diet and to cut out alcohol completely for one month. I did not count calories and always ate to satiety. My biggest hurdle in the beginning was to stop going to lunch with my co-workers with whom I had enjoyed my daily treats of pizza, döner/lahmacun or schnitzel. If you didn’t realize this by now: I am German and this is what you’d usually have here for fast food.
My weight came down by 6kg within 4 weeks. I ‘cheated’ twice because of my father’s 65th birthday and a business lunch with my boss but otherwise I managed to stay on track. The wonderful thing I noticed was that this weight loss was completely effortless. To me this means that I wasn’t bored with my food and could try out different kinds of ketogenically adjusted recipes like casseroles, Inidian and Chinese recipes, different soups or simply Fat Hat pizza. Having all of this variety whilst losing weight and not being hungry for a single second of the day convinced me to keep going.
I am an engineer and so I like gathering data and throwing it into an Excel spreadsheet. I tracked my progress by measuring my weight daily, measuring my waist circumference regularly and taking pictures of myself in the mirror about once a month. These simple tasks helped me to keep my motivation up and find out what works for me. You can see my data below:
There are daily fluctuations of up to 2 kg depending on what I ate the day before or how my body felt about holding on to water. These fluctuations don’t really bother me because it’s just noise. I basically go through the week measuring my weight daily and whenever I hit a new low I keep that in mind knowing I am making progress. I only take more time looking at the data whenever there’s a week without progress and then try to reflect on what might be the cause.
In the second diagram I calculated the weekly averages. In February I started adding alcohol back into my diet. I had purposefully isolated myself a bit in January to concentrate on getting everything right and then started to meet friends again on the weekends. The drinks I added were wine or preferably some sort of spirit (rum, gin, wodka, whisky) mixed with diet soda. I didn’t really change anything until April when I felt like my weight was stalling.
With my previous experience of intermittent fasting and even extended fasting I decided to give this a try and see what happens. Adding a couple of 3 day fasts definitely helped getting things rolling again. Then at the beginning of May I either read or heard on the dudes podcast something about wine not having a large impact on insulin. This is what I describe as ‘Dirty keto’ in the diagram. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise but throwing in a few extra hundred kcal by adding in wine throughout the week doesn’t really work even if it were true that wine doesn’t really influence insulin much.
After some more fasting and a vacation my weight loss was stalling for about 2 months and even though this isn’t progress on paper it is to me. What I learned in these 2 months is that I do have actually gained more control over my weight. I have been to several weddings, birthdays and other social gatherings in this timeframe. It may not come as a big surprise to you but social events in Germany usually involve beer - lots of it – and there’s actually carbs in it! I am far from being a ketogenic diet purist and I love drinking beer or wine on weekends and I won’t deny a piece of cake, if my family offers it to me while we’re sitting together on a Sunday afternoon. Apart from my first weeks on keto in January I made it a rule for myself not to care about keto, if I am meeting other people and am offered something non-ketogenic. This may have slowed down my progress and I can’t compete with the weight loss of some other people on this forum but it definitely keeps my sanity up and my social life intact.
I recently starting doing extended fasts (3-5 day fasts) again because I feel like this is a good tool to keep the weight loss going whilst having my freedom on weekends.
What I think about keto:
You can make this your own by trying out lots of recipes and figuring out how far you can go with non-keto meals, if you feel like this would hurt your social life otherwise. I think of it as a tool like fasting. You could easily also combine IF or EF with a standard diet (which I have done before) but it is simply so much easier to get through the first 2 days of an extended fast and basically effortless to do a 24h intermittent fast, if you have been eating keto the day before. Keto works fine on its own for weight loss, but I personally throw in some fasting because I wouldn’t be able to lose more weight at an acceptable rate without it whilst taking my dietary freedoms on weekends.
Over the last few months I have been pondering a lot why keto actually works and debating about the whole weight loss topic with my brother. If it was only the insulin being low to allow for fat burning: Why do people lose weight by cutting their calories and remaining on a high carb diet? Even if you take into account that they may actually regain all the weight several months later: How were they able to lose fat in the first place, if high insulin didn’t allow for fat burning? In the end you definitely can’t exclude calories from the equation. There are always more questions to ask and keto may not explain the whole weight gain/loss phenomenon completely. Other people have success with different concepts and I would personally never tell anyone to stop what they are doing because I think keto is superior.
I decided to give keto a try because the logic kind of made sense to me. A lecture by Gary Taubes made me understand why the laws of thermodynamics are not broken by the people advocating the ketogenic diet and the Youtube videos by Jason Fung (Aetilogy of Obesity) helped me to get a deeper understanding of the subject.
I think it is helpful to understand why something works but ultimately it’s only about results. If you are eating high carb low fat and are steadily losing weight. Fine by me. Keep doing what you’re doing. I personally can’t, at least not without throwing most of the foods out of my diet I really enjoy eating and without starting to feel more and more hungry the longer I stay on a diet like this. In my opinion I’ve had good results so far despite eating keto only 5 days a week on average and indulging in the sinful yet wonderful creation called beer on weekends.
So is this working because insulin is low and allows for fat burning? Could it be that the metabolic rate doesn’t go down as severely when eating keto and cutting calories? Are you maybe simply eating fewer calories because you are satiated for longer? Is there an answer that definitively answers all my questions and can also refute claims and concepts from other diets? I don’t think there is but to this day this diet is the one I’ve stayed with the longest. All that counts for me is long-term sustainability, enjoying the food you can create under the restrictions of a given diet and to still feel like you are fully in control when you decide against eating a certain way for a day or two without having to fear that you’ve just destroyed all the progress you’ve been working for.
This post just got a lot longer than I initially expected and if you read all of my thoughts up until here and are new to keto, then I really encourage you to try it out for yourself and find a way to make it your own. From time to time friends or colleagues come up to me and ask me how I go about losing weight because they are noticing the changes. If I tell them that I’m doing keto with the occasional fast, I usually get to hear: ‘Oh. I could never…enter anything you like’. Please don’t let yourself get discouraged by thoughts like these. Just ease into it, make mistakes and find out what they are. A few weeks in you won’t have to look up any nutrition labels anymore and wonder, if something is keto-friendly or not. You will have found out what works for you and can start experimenting, if you feel like it.
In the future I may actually post a few of my own recipes or even put up some progress pictures although I don’t really like sharing pictures on the internet. I’d be interested to hear how other people on the forum are dealing with the social aspect of eating with non-ketoers while on keto. As an afterthought: I hear from people being constipated on the ketogenic diet. I have the exact opposite problem, especially if I eat a very fatty keto-meal after an extended fast. I’d be thankful for some advice from people who are in the same situation.
I want to thank the keto dudes for creating this forum and keeping me entertained with their podcast. All I can wish you now is to keep calm and keto on.