The Levers of Power (What to Measure, What to Control) to avoid stalling/stalls

(Kirk Wolak) #1

Okay, for the record, I am down over 110 lbs, I am at my goal, and now in maintenance.
(ie, I’ve done the work, you might learn something from my misfortunes, LOL)

What I am trying to do is summarize the Levers we can use to control our fat lass, break stalls, and generally understand what is going on inside of us.

First, BS=Blood Sugar (Glucose), BK=Blood Ketones. I don’t trust Urine sticks, they don’t work for me. IF=Intermittent Fasting, OMAD=One Meal A Day, and ADF=Alternate Day Fasting (Skipping an entire day, so up to 48hrs). YMMV=Your Mileage May Vary (Every Body is Different, and might respond differently). CGM=Continuous Glucose Meter.

So, lets start. You are doing a Ketogenic diet to get healthy, and possibly to lose weight. This is going to focus more on weight, but the HEALTH is the reason to stay Keto!
I will NEVER go back. KFL=Keto For Life!

Dirty Keto, Sloppy Keto… Flip Floppy Keto. Don’t care, honestly. Find what works for you.

The Instruments. Measuring your BS and BG are key. Calculating your GKI is important (US: Glucose/18/Ketones: 91/18/2.5=2.02) The “/18” is to adjust to international units (like 5.0, so the rest of the world would do 5/2.4=2.0). You
can research GKI, the lower the better, in general. I Consider 6+ to me off target.
3-6 to be maintenance, and below 3 is solid weight loss. Below 1.5 is very healing!
Below 1 is the goal for me, but requires days of fasting… And only need to hit this on
occasion. (I Believe it is anti-cancer). Find Dr. Boz and learn about her details on this.

First, if you come here, I will assume you are NEW or Stuck. So let me start with the basics.

Measure Your Morning Glucose/Ketones and GKI Daily

We are doing this in order to determine how well your liver is emptying.
You want a morning glucose BELOW 100, and you want to be in ketosis (0.5 and Higher). I believe the higher the better (when you start)!

This is an Instrument. This is telling you how much FUEL you have in your tank. It is telling you how much energy your liver/body released into you bloodstream to wake you up, and WHAT TYPE of energy it made for you. This TELLS you what your body thinks of YOU, and your ability to make more energy on demand. When you are HEALTHY, these numbers are BOTH LOWER, because your body knows it will make what it needs, and is not trying to work off excess.

You MUST manipulate your Diet to IMPROVE these numbers! How?
By working on The Following Levers:

Lever 1: Carbs Must be low (Only use Total Carbs)

I recommend only using Total Carbs, you can’t get hurt this way. And the diet is Ketogenic. If you SCREAM “I am eating 20g of carbs, and NOT in ketosis!!!” My answer is “then you are one of the LUCKY ones, like me, that has to be LOWER. My number is 5g of carbs/day” So, 2 avocados kicked me OUT of ketosis. Net Carbs=6g, total carbs 30g. Ah, see the problem with counting net vs total. 2 different pictures. So, until you have CONTROL over this lever, and LOVE your morning numbers, use Total Carbs. And if you hit a wall, Lever 1 is the first one to check. Cut down for 1-3 days.

Lever 2: Insulin Control (Fewer Meals=Less Insulin)

The Second Lever you have to control your progress is by manipulating the amount of insulin as low as possible. STUDIES Show that the same food split over 5 meals produces more insulin than that food at one time.

So, you want to eat FEWER Times. This includes (for many), BPC, and artificial sweeteners. (Especially in the beginning). Now if you are making your own, not using a powder, and just adding some butter and mct oil, blending it. Limiting the Heavy Cream, and only drinking one. You might be fine. If you are stalled, remove this for 2-3 days.

You will see me reference 2-3 days. That’s roughly how long it takes the liver to forget (and why I believe the Feldman Protocol works with 3 days of increased fat consumption).

So, by simply cutting out snacking, and reducing meal counts. You reduce the amount of insulin.

Also note:

  • Eating after Sunset has been shown to release more insulin! Avoid it if you can, or eat
    your smallest meal then!

  • Eating longer than 90 Minutes will cause 2 pulses of insulin for 1 meal. Ugghh, and for some people, longer than 60 minutes. I try to keep the “Meal Window” to 30 minutes, INCLUDING Tasting the food you are cooking. Especially in the beginning, once you know how things affect you, you can get loose/sloppy… BUT NOT to start!

  • Black Coffee, Black/Green Tea, Water, Setlzer (plain, or a squeeze of lemon/lime) don’t seem to affect insulin in most people. YMMV (I changed brands of coffee, and stalled for 3-4 weeks. Later research revealed the new brand had a TINY amount of maltose in it. I am allergic to potato, and therefore potato starch. The allergen pushes cortisol, which pulses insulin, which stops fat loss)

  • Every pulse of insulin you get will BLOCK FAT BURNING For 2-12hrs!! worse for more obese patients, less for metabolically healthy (ie, not us) people.

    So, if you do ONE thing, it’s to STOP all snacking. Then more IF, and trying to get to OMAD. (Imagine getting 7-10 hits of insulin when you start, and working down to just 1… How much more fat burning will you do).

Lever 3: Fasting
Okay, there are 2 ways to deplete your Glycogen, and get into ketosis, and deeper ketosis. Fasting or Exercise. Avoid Exercise. Fasting is far more important. First, the more you fast, the better you get at it, the easier it becomes. (I recently at 3 days in a row, and I was JONESING for a fasting day. I am not kidding!)

Next, lets you you exercise, and burn an AMAZING 500 calories. You will get hungrier, and if you restrict calories, your metabolism goes DOWN, as your body knows this cannot be maintained. Not only that, you are eating your 2,000 calories. So you made a 500 Calorie Dent today… And you had at least ONE insulin release, turning off fat burning mode… It also tends to INCREASE Cortisol. If it spikes your glucose enough, it could even cause an insulin release. Leading to more hunger!

But, if you fast, then you burn 2,000 calories of mostly fat. That’s over 1/2 lb of fat, AND you burn about that much if you SLEPT through it.

Wow… Why would you EVER want to use exercise over fasting.

Now, fasting + Movement. Add some walking. Burn 100 calories extra with walking. It depletes your glycogen faster, makes your liver strong. And it reduces cortisol!

So, how much fasting? Well for simple math, lets assume you burn 2,400 calories a day (evenly, 100 calories/hr). Then adding 6 hours of fasting means 600 calories of fat had to get consumed. That’s why 16-8 fasting and OMAD work so well. I quickly felt I could skip days and went to MWF Eating, after OMAD, when I stalled out. It worked, and I have NOT transitioned back yet. I am working on eating Mon Tue and Thu Fri.

But fasting is an important lever!

Lever 4: Avoiding Allergens

Take particular note of how things affect you. I have noticed that my nose runs if I eat an allergen. Also, my BP will spike. Worse, these things lead “me” to stall. Or gain weight. (I gained 6.4 lbs overnight. I had a couple of bites of things that were questionable for me. Not carbs, per se, just had some dairy, etc).

Lever 5: Water… Get used to it!

You need to drink water. Dave Feldman has the Only Water challenge. To drink only water for one year. He was a Soda drinker (addict, probably, like I was). He is explaining how much better it is.

Water is clean, does not break a fast, and is required. Don’t over consume. Trust me, your body will TELL you when to drink, and when not to.

To get your salt levels up, considering drinking Warm Salted Water. During a fast, it is more important to get salt/electrolytes. The people who most readily give up the diet drinks do better. I personally think Artificial Sweeteners are EVIL, but have a place. The goal is to break ALL Addictions in the early days of this program…

Lever 6: Walking (Not exercise)

I tell people to avoid exercise, especially in the beginning, but I encourage them to walk. Start small. 5 minutes. Every day. I am now walking 5 miles multiple times a week. This weekend I I shooting for 20-25 miles of walking.

Why so much walking:

  • It reduces Cortisol/Stress Hormones
  • If you lift your chin slightly and smile, it is proven to improve mood
  • It gives me a chance to listen to my podcasts
  • It is literally replacing “Sitting”
  • It FORCES Your body to make more ketones. I do mine FASTING!!!

As you walk, you help your liver adapt and empty glycogen, and start nudging you into fat burning. WITHOUT MAKING YOU HUNGRY. If you walk 10+ miles, you MUST be taking some form of electrolytes (without sugars, and sweeteners, please).

Lever 7: Fat… But not so many Fat Bombs

Hopefully you get through the induction phase, and you don’t need to know this. But Fat Bombs have their place, but they should not be a staple. You should be focusing on whole foods. Not slurping down MCT Oil or Coconut Fat Bombs.

Get natural fats in your food, and make sure you are paying attention. I see people stalled, and find out they are eating Pork Loin. Not nearly enough fat there. Keep the fat high, but be willing to trim it down and play with the amount as one of the levers of control. You may find that you need more fat to fast longer. I do that. I eat extra fat on Fridays, because I don’t eat on Saturday or Sunday!

Lever 8: It’s the artificial Stuff

Remove or eliminate ALL of the artificial foods and artificial sweeteners, and even the sugar alcohols, etc. This is the last lever. It works for me. Artificial sweeteners can stall me out very easily.

But I have a friend who squirts them into EVERY Bottle of water he drinks. He is down 65lbs since starting. BUT, he openly admits he is losing weight slower because of it. His answer is “I am in control, this keeps me sane, and I am NEVER out of Ketosis in the last 7 months”. He measures his numbers daily (every morning).

Now that you have the Levers, how do you fly this thing?

Okay, you have the levers. I put them in the order that I believe has the biggest impact. This diet is about getting into nutritional ketosis (And you only need to tweak carbs lower to get there. Some will have to tweak protein lower as well). But the key point is YMMV. You must do what YOU must do to get into ketosis. And if that means lowering carbs to 0g/day, then TOUGH, that’s your level of health, deal with it. Stop crying!

My buddy can consume 50g carbs/day and be DEEP in ketosis. I hate him. I watch him eat, and I get kicked out of ketosis!

I have a CGM, and if I get stressed, drive in bad traffic, or get really bad news… BAM, my glucose rockets up 20 points!!! No wonder I was always over eating. I was turning ALL of my stress into a desire for food through my bodies desire to deal with the stress by giving me the energy to get through it quickly. (Fight or Flight response).

So, you use your morning numbers to tell you how you are doing. You practice working your levers. YMMV, but your job is to determine HOW each lever works for you.

If you hit a plateau, then I typically recommend checking Carb Creep, and then trying to add some fasting. Getting ONE day in of extra fasting for 2-3 weeks in a row, will break most plateaus.

Also, a note on LONG Fasts. Avoid them UNTIL you are there. If you only fast 16:8, then PLEASE don’t do a 7 day fast. (Opinion here)… I believe this causes your body to see the 7 day fast as a new fasting pattern, and PROTECT itself on days 1-5… So, by going from 16:8 to OMAD to ADF, and NOT changing until you no longer see the “instruments” showing you what you want to see.

The first time you fast for 24hrs, your ketones ROCKET Higher. But after doing that for years, your body is not phased by it. It adapts. (could be weeks). Then I would do a 36hr fast. And a 48hr ONLY When the 36hr is not working for me. I would rather do more 36hr fasts than EVER go to a 72hr fast. Do it like that as long as you can.

But these are the levers. YOUR JOB: Learn to Fly!

Good Luck!

Note: Do not get a Medtronics CGM!

This is the one I have. It kinda sucks. Requires to be calibrated twice a day, sometimes more. It has been off, and I can easily manipulate it through dehydration/rehydration. It’s kinda sad. (I got a free trial and because of random BS issues, got a prescription for it, but it is not as useful as I thought it would be).

For testing, spend a few dollars extra on Glucose Strips, and test every 15 minutes, just set a 15 minute repeating timer!

Medtronics Called: Their accuracy is +/- 20 for BG < 100

Okay, so technically, if I get a blood reading of 82, then their meter is considered accurate with a reading ANYWHERE between 62 and 102. (Above 100, and they are given 30 points).

To be fair, there has to be SOME defined range. BUT OMG, considering Nobody is getting a 40 glucose reading and still standing, unless in ketosis. That means in a 60 point range of values (40-100), they have 40 points or a 67% chance of being accurate according to them. But not helpful when trying to track what is affecting your glucose readings.

Lever 9: Stress

This is a new add. Why? Because it just happened to me. A really stressful SHORT event caused a 20+ point rise in my glucose. I have seen driving in Rush hour traffic spike my glucose as well. So, managing stress becomes a lever.

BTW, I always knew stress was an issue. When I get stressed, I get hungry. My wife gets stress, she can’t eat. Guess which one NEVER had a weight problem? I used to attribute it to Cortisol (Fight) vs. Adrenal (Flight) response. But now there is a part of me that wonders… What if her body gets flooded with KETONES instead of glucose? Enough ketones would make you not want to eat… Hmm, worth testing out. I guess I am going to have to REALLY stress her out, and measure her ketones before and after…

So, work on controlling the stress, or your reaction to the stress. Exercise will burn off the excess glucose. Squats work anywhere! Deep breathing. Visualization…

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(mole person) #2

A truly excellent post.

('Jackie P') #3

Thank you for this, I have reached a stage where my body and I have become a little complacent!
50lb down in 13 months, I’ve been happy to catch up but I’m ready to tighten up and move on to the next stage!
Some good tips here.:blush:

(Karen) #4

This is an exceptional post and very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your success, and congratulations!

(hottie turned hag) #5

Excellent summation and written in a fun way. Love love love :sparkling_heart:
Ought to be pinned.

(Karen) #6

Which type of coffee were you having some troubles with.?

(Kirk Wolak) #7

That’s a great question. I tossed them, LOL. But the REAL variable is reading the ingredients, and knowing that MALTOSE is my kryptonite. It was MY Bad.

So, I would rather everyone learn from my mistake. YOU Might tolerate Maltose. Maltose is NOT the problem for everyone, but it could be some OTHER “OSE”. The key thing is to read the ingredients thoroughly. (duh)

Thank You!

(Karen) #8

I use pure sucralose. Not noticing that it affects me. I brew my own coffee and there’s nothing on the side of the container that says any “oses”. I do know that some instant coffees have something in them

(Kirk Wolak) #9

Yes, it was an instant coffee… The liquid sucralose is better (very relative) because of the lack of the maltose/dextrose they mix with it.

(Patrick) #10

Cool basic knowledge. I think you should add something about fiber since alot of people forget about it when starting keto (including me) and count it in a bad way or just don’t have enough of it in their diet.

(Central Florida Bob ) #11

@CaptainKirk, you don’t specifically mention how you measure ketones, but I assume you’re measuring blood ketones, BHB?

I recall seeing some questions about the Precision Extra vs. Keto Mojo, and accuracy there is going to be critical.

(Kirk Wolak) #12

I mention at the top: BK = Blood Ketones.
Urine Ketones no longer work for me, and TRUST ME, cannot be relied on.
You could have been knocked out of ketosis already, and still peeing them out for up to 2hrs.

Both meters are really close to each other for accuracy. The difference between 1.0 and 1.2 is not a huge deal. I am mostly concerned with the trend, day to day, relative to food and movement.

After you take it for a while, you kinda know, but always best. I have had BAD measurements with Glucose and Ketone strips on both machines. I got a 199 glucose reading, and did one right after and I was at 86…

Only trust the blood!

(Kirk Wolak) #13

Fiber jacks me up. I avoid it like the plague.
But if you are stalling… You probably are NOT counting fiber.
And honestly… What’s fiber for you, and safe, could be inflammatory for me!

This is about the basics for helping people make sure they are not STANDING on the GAS and the BRAKES at the same time. I just tested some foods, and I gained 10lbs in 2 days. Fiber is PART of the problem here. But my ankles and feet were really swollen. And it could be other chemicals. I wish I knew how to tell EXACTLY what ingredients in a product were crushing me.

(hottie turned hag) #14

This would make a way cool neck tattoo

(Kirk Wolak) #15

With 2 small “puncture” wounds tattooed on for good measure?

(traci simpson) #16

I love exercising! It makes me feel strong and I like food so yes, I would rather exercise than fast! BUT, I’m learning to balance the two.

(Barbara) #17

Outstanding! Thanks for taking the time to write this and keep the updates coming!


All good points. I have recently gained, according to my scale, and not happy about it! Keto since March 2017. So I have slipped up somewhere- taking a deep look at all these levers and making adjustments.

(Susan) #19

This is a well-thought out and very well-written guide. I am sure that it will help many people. Thank you for taking the time to write it up for all of us, and congratulations on reaching your goals and Maintenance!!

(Kirk Wolak) #20

@lbrasile WHEN you find which lever it was, PLEASE post back what you did, and how you found the lever.

The reason I posted it was to help those who come after us. We are LITERALLY building the manual for them. And many of them will read it and say “Yeah, Splenda doesn’t affect me, so THAT’s not it…” Or dairy, or something, and then ONLY after removing it do they see what it was doing.

The MORE people who chime in on what helped will REINFORCE the ideas, or HONESTLY, give me other ideas to write about.

Good luck, and I hope you find the culprit…