This Big Guy is really doing it this time!


#1

I’m really doing it this time. I’ve joined these forums for community and accountability and I’m really going to stick with it! I know I can do it and I’m convinced that this is the lifestyle I need to follow.

Sorry for the long post. I’m writing this out almost as a form of therapy and to help this get stuck in my mind: I can’t deviate, this time. My health and happiness and longevity depend on it.

I’m a 32 year old male, and I’ve always been a quote-unquote Big Guy: I’m just over 6’4”, have an 84” wingspan and a broad chest. I’ve never found it difficult at all to put on muscle, and I’ve always retained large amounts of muscle mass despite not lifting for prolonged periods of time. For context: I’ve been lean with veins across my abdomen at 265 lbs. At my absolute lightest as an adult I weighed 220 and looked maybe too thin, with what my friends jokingly called “corpse face.”

So, I’m just a Big Guy. And like many other low-carb adherents who’ve been driven to this way of eating, I’ve never found it difficult to put on fat very quickly, either; just looking at baked goods will force my body to start creating adipose tissue. At this very moment, I’ve got a bit of a paunch and weigh just north of 315. But my upper abdomen is solid, my legs and arms are well-developed, and I don’t look the way a person who weighs 315 “should” look. There’s simply too much of me right now, both muscle and fat. I want to be lighter, I want to be healthier, and I want to do what’s best for my mental health.

I’ve been interested in the ketogenic diet since about 2010, but as an athlete during my college years I was under the false assumption that all high-performance athletes needed carbs as a way to perform at their best.

And at that time in my life, I could honestly get away with eating pretty much whatever I wanted without too much issue. I was working out constantly, sometimes getting in three hour-long workouts a day (6am, noon, and 6pm) and just inhaling food like there was no tomorrow. I never tracked anything, I never thought much about anything besides focusing on high-protein foods and avoiding sugar and alcohol—except on weekends, that is. And I felt awful after carb-loading, but I always thought that had to do principally with how much food I was eating, rather than the nutrient composition of the foods.

Around the same time, I started falling into a heavy depression. I was under a lot of mental stress with my challenging coursework in college, I lost friends and family who were close to me in close succession, and I wasn’t happy with my relationships. I felt really alone, and I knew that sugar crashes just made me feel even worse. But I felt there was nothing I could do about it, so I just bit down and fought depression with sheer force of will—and that will only take you so far, no matter your innate resilience.

Someone told me they were going on keto in the summer of 2010, but after some lazy googling I came to the slapdash conclusion that it was a fad diet that wasn’t serious, and maybe could flat-out kill you. All that fat? Couldn’t be good for you. But carbs, whole grains, sugar? It’s fine. You need the glucose, after all! Your brain depends on it. All the “healthy” people I knew were vegans, and I even tried that for a few weeks, but I felt like my soul was being forcibly torn from my body and had to stop. It made my depression even worse and my precious muscle started to atrophy. It felt like I was literally exhaling all the strength I had left in my body. After a two-mile run, I almost collapsed. I went from deadlifting 600 pounds to barely being able to lift a bar with nothing else on it.

Very long story short: Since July of 2016 up to March of 2020, my weight has stayed around 275, though I was still a high-performing athlete in both lifting and running. But the pandemic completely ruined me. I have a very sedentary job as a writer, and I was just sitting at home all day working—and eating. And eating. And eating. And I ate my way all the way up to 355 pounds. Using caloric restriction, I was able to get a lot of success and get all the way back down to 300 or so, but I simply did not feel good. I used CICO as a way to cheat on unhealthy foods, to eat whatever I wanted as long as it fit my budget. And though I’m literally lighter, I don’t feel vital. I don’t feel strong. And I seem fatter, somehow. Where in the world were all those calories going? Straight to my fat cells, it seems—even though I was eating in a strict deficit, sometimes as much as 750 calories below my TDEE. And now I’m 315 again and wondering how it all got this way.

So much for the energy balance theory. Eat your shoe, Layne Norton.

Last year around this time, I went full-board with keto and was super consistent for 22 days.

And you know what?

I felt amazing.

I lost a ton of water weight in the first few days alone, though I don’t know how much because I wasn’t weighing—I was too afraid. I was fitting into clothing I refused to throw away because I had this distant belief that I was going to get down to my goal weight again, and it seemed like it was really working. Maybe, I thought, I would fit into stuff I haven’t been able to wear since my mid-twenties.

The plantar fasciitis that I suffered from even when I was a 3x-day workout beast with visible abs? Gone after 3 days. I went from barely being able to walk 900 steps a day to walking 24,000 after my third day on keto. I was walking everywhere, albeit with some nervousness that the pain might suddenly flare up again and I’d be in a strange part of town basically handicapped. But that never happened. I got home and couldn’t believe the number. 24,000 steps, it seemed like a glitch in my phone’s step tracker. But it wasn’t. The next day, I walked 18,000 and the only thing that stopped me from beating 24,000 was the 12-egg cheese omelet I couldn’t stop thinking about.

But I tricked myself into thinking that calorie tracking is the better way, the easier way, because it would enable more traditional social interactions and would make shopping easier. But as it turns out, I was just using sneaky logic so I could use my entire calorie budget to cheat on starchy foods.

Never again. I’m here, and I’m doing it!

Thanks for reading.


#2

Welcome!

Gimme the muscle you don’t want!!! I don’t believe in too much muscle without steroids (except maybe on legs. I don’t want super muscular legs. or maybe I do, I will see if I ever can slim down and gain muscles. I have a hard time at both).

Well you probably aren’t fat in my eyes, you can’t have very much extra fat, I had as much on my non-muscular short woman frame, well that was kind of fat, not super bad but yeah, definitely fat. Maybe you have more muscle with a heavier body too but anyway, it has so much space to go unlike in my case!

But of course, you should be slimmer and good luck for it, I don’t think you will have a very hard time with it… Your big body and muscles will help a lot!

Maybe that too but it’s quite a different feeling eating 4000 kcal from fatty protein sources or using carbs (I tried both a few times with my ~2000 kcal energy need… In 2 meals as I have my limits. I felt pretty normal in the first case, I felt some heaviness in me in the second case). I am pretty sure most of us feel different when lots of carbs are involved (and I always did it with high-fat, low-fat must have been another feeling).

Feeling bad after a meal is a hint you don’t do it right. I know people with certain goals (getting muscles as fast as possible, pro athletes etc.) may want them more than health but it never could sit well with me.

I (probably) ate way more fat on high-carb :smiley: Okay, I am not the typical one… It’s just so odd to me. Sugar is fine, fat (great energy source for my body without the problems of carbs) is bad? How crazy.
Glucose is a good energy source too, for many. Fructose is worse. But we should find what works for us. Lots of carbs didn’t do it for you… Or me. I didn’t go keto but I did went low-carb and my life just got better while I lost nothing good and important!
Even high-carb diets aren’t the same… One can make definitely good little steps (first).

Ouch, poor you, losing so much strength, it couldn’t be just muscle loss or not in a short time…

You totally can track on keto, I did it a lot… It didn’t help me to lose fat as I ate too much but tracking, I did that part.
But HEALTH is my top priority. I need a good woe. But I need a good woe to eat less than usual too. So no conflict here. But I rather eat well than losing fat on an unhealthy diet. A good diet is basic for health! It affects so many things. It’s important for your well-being too. You need a good diet, first and foremost. Calories and macros may fall in line or not and tweaking may be needed but only focusing on calories? That’s bad. (And I couldn’t do it myself but if I could, I still wouldn’t do it on a bad diet.)

Carnivore made shopping easier… I just need to visit the meat and dairy counters and get eggs from houses and from the greengrocery… I have other items but the majority is these…
Even with some vegs and nuts it would be simpler than my very old style (I left high-carb about 12 years ago)…
It’s so relieving not to be interested in the bigger part of a supermarket! :smiley:

Bad form for an athlete… Sigh.

BUT as you wrote and as we all can see, you are here! Well done, now you just need to stick at it! And when you fall off the wagon, just come back. Or find your sweet spot, it’s not keto almost all the time for everyone. And keto isn’t enough for all of us either.

Good luck and have great results!


(Veronica) #3

Hi, all I can do is wish you welcome and tell you you’ve come to the right place to stay motivated throughout your keto journey, it’s different for everyone but you’ll find a lot of support here, by the way I’m a newbie myself. I’m sure more experienced keto folk and carnivores alike will welcome you and provide advice. I wouldn’t know about muscle, I have so very little of it and have been dealing for years with muscle fatigue. Performance? Can’t lend much advice there either as I’m a couch potato. What I can say is that with the right motivation, building new healthy habits and with just a little willpower any WOE and lifestyle is possible whether you’re thinking of doing it long term or just in the short term.


(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #4

Welcome to the Ketogenic Forums! Thanks for your story, and I’m glad things seem to be working better for you.

Take a page from A.A., and don’t tell yourself that you can’t ever have any carbohydrates again. You can have all you want—tomorrow, just not today. Thinking that way prevents a sense of deprivation. All we have to do is not eat carbs right now.

Most recovering alcoholics find that total abstinence is easier to do than moderation, and those of us here who are carbohydrate and sugar addicts find the same thing. Personally, I am okay as long as I don’t have any sugar at all, and I can eat less than 20 g/day of leafy greens, broccoli, or cauliflower without wanting to binge. Trying to stick to a single piece of bread or a small amount of pasta is just asking to launch myself on a binge. And eating no carbs at all is always an option, too, since there is no known carbohydrate deficiency disease.

Although we enter ketosis almost immediately after restricting our carb intake, there is a period (called “fat-adaptation” or “keto-adaptation”) of usually six to eight weeks, during which our muscles are limping along on ketone bodies in lieu of glucose from the carbohydrate we are no longer eating. The time is needed for the muscle mitochondria to heal themselves, and for certain deactivated cellular pathways that are involved with fatty-acid metabolism to be reactivated. You should notice a gradual return of your endurance to pre-keto levels (possibly above) over time, so just be patient and avoid stressing your body too much. Explosive power takes somewhat longer to return, but it, too, eventually reaches pre-keto levels again.

The reason for the adaptation period is that prolonged carb-eating damages the mitochondria and causes certain pathways to shut down from lack of use. The muscles actually prefer to metabolise fatty acids, and once we are fat-adapted, they will actively refuse glucose and even ketones, in preference to fatty acids.


(Laurie) #5

Wow, amazing story, and you are some writer!

Great that you were able to heed your body’s messages. Welcome. I look forward to your posts.


(Robin) #6

Oh man, I am buying some prime seats in the cheering section for this one! Love your attitude and resolve.
YOU GOT THIS!


(B Creighton) #7

Welcome!! You are at the right place if you want to do this. However, I would discourage you from trying to lose muscle. It actually helps you lose fat, and keep up your metabolism. You can hardly have too much muscle unless you are unnaturally boosting it. You can def lose the fat while maintaining muscle - or even gaining muscle. This is exactly what I did on keto - lose fat and gain muscle.

That is not exactly false. High performance endurance athletes will probably do better on keto, but sports that require only short, bursts of strength athletes will probably perform at their peak on carbs. However, that doesn’t mean all carbs are going to be optimal for them.

Actually, if you measure health by terms of life span, the healthiest people are omnivores. The most centenarians in the world are in a few “blue zones” like Sardinia, Ikaria, and Costa Rica. They eat local grass fed meats, vegetables, and goat and sheep dairy. So this is def not a vegan lifestyle.

Personally, I do not believe in veganism. Issues include getting enough vit B12, collagen and vit K2. Surprisingly, many vegans and vegetarians have athlerosclerosis and hardening of the arteries, and are prone to strokes. However, there are people who do vegan keto. Keto is actually very flexible except for limiting carbs.

I started my keto last year around this time and did keto for 4 months less Thanksgiving and Christmas. I lost two inches of fat and gained about 12 lbs of muscle.

I did not track calories at all, but instead tried NOT to reduce my calories. I increased protein and fat. Protein moreso. I didn’t know how long I would go, and I didn’t want to slow my metabolism through a calorie restricting diet. I also didn’t want to lose muscle. The thing about prolonged calorie restriction is that after about 4-6 mo, the thyroid will start producing reverse T3, and the metabolism will slow, and the fat loss will stop. I studied quite a bit before deciding keto would keep me healthy, and even be healthier while losing fat and gaining muscle. It can be done.

My oldest son is about your size, and I talked him into trying keto. He lost down into the 220s. Keto allowed me to accomplish all my goals. Overall I lost probably 30 lb of fat while gaining about 12 lbs of muscle, and while improving my blood pressure to levels from my high school days.

Keto allowed me to keep eating vegetables and some fruit for fiber, etc. However, I did stop eating the starchy root vegetables. I am doing it again this year. For me winter works better, and I feel it is the time of year the human body was more naturally tuned to doing keto. For instance, it is easier to gain brown fat in the winter, which will increase metabolism and help with fat loss. I have learned a lot about health while doing keto.


(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #8

On a ketogenic diet, there will be a certain amount of muscle loss, simply because it is no longer needed for hauling the fat around. This is healthy, and it need not be worked for, as it is automatic. The muscle wasting from starvation or intentional calorie-cutting is what needs to be avoided.


(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #9

Definitely the former, for sure, but there are indications that over time, glycogen levels in keto-adapted athletes return to the same levels as found in carb-adapted athletes (see the recent study by Volek, Forsythe, et al.). It is definitely true, however, that this return of glycogen to normal takes longer than the original keto-adaptation.


#10

Another former 300lb’r here dude, I’ll say this as a guy that’s always heavier on the scales than many pay close attention to what you’re taking in, watch the life out of your calories and protect that muscle at all costs! I lost too much too fast, seemed good, ultimately bit me BAD! The more muscle you have the higher your RMR, the higher that is the easier it is too lose the extra. You’re clearly going to lose muscle, but minimize the life out of it! Losing muscle only makes it harder and harder to continue to lose the fat.

Ya, I said the same thing at one point, only one problem, I had no clue what my TDEE was, only what I thought it was based on guesses by calculators which horribly estimate everything about me. If I was actually eating at a deficit, I would have been losing, but that 2nd grade math wasn’t clicking at the time.

Then I actually went and got strapped to a calorimiter to learn my 500cal “deficit” was more like a 1200 cal surplus! Fixed that, huge surprise weight started dropping again for the first time in over a year. A lot of crap led up to that hell, but long story short, if I paid more attention, didn’t undereat, and didn’t lose the muscle I did, I probably would have been fine. Took a long time to fix. Don’t be me!