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Calorie Tracking #keto

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This is a continuation of the keto journey. Previous articles:

Tracking

After a house mate told me about the "hidden" calories in milk/milk power, I decided that actually my internal perception of what is good and what is bad is way off. I decided that actually I couldn't really trust any of the keto websites either - after all I've been following their meal planning and nothing is happening. Who knows who is running these websites anyway?

I've been on some Facebook groups for a while, what has become clear is that most of the people on there really don't know what they are doing at all. Like me, they joined to find out more, but then they got sucked into the "keto cult". The real problem is, they share pictures of their meals based on "approved keto foods", but nobody there is measuring anything. Not ketone levels, not macro-nutrients, nothing. Despite most people wanting to lose weight, most of the foods listed are well over a persons daily calories - they aren't going to lose anything. It seems like the only people who have been successful are those doing intermittent fasting (OMAD (one meal a day)), but I'm not sure they understand why.

I decided to go back to basics: I built an excel sheet to properly track what on earth is going on. I wasn't going to trust my or anybody else's eyeballing any more.

Ingredients

First of all I wanted to build a database of the ingredients I'm working with. I entered them each individually (copying data from WebMD), trying to pick the right proportion amounts I am likely to use in each meal.

Ingredients (larger view)

Ingredients (larger view)

As you can see, there aren't too many foods on here, but you can easily add new ones. This is just what happens to be in my fridge during this time.

I want to essentially track macro-nutrients and calories. As you can see, I have the following:

  • id -- I want to be able to address each ingredient individually in other sheets.
  • name -- Some human friendly name for each ingredient for when I'm compiling a new meal.
  • kcal -- The number of calories per portion.
  • fat (g) -- The amount of fat in the portion.
  • carbs (g) -- The amount of carbohydrates in the portion.
  • protein (g) -- The amount of protein in the portion.

Meals

Now that I have a list of ingredients, I can compile meals together by compiling meals out of them. Currently I only allow for 8 ingredients, but this is really also the limit of my meal planning creativity!

Meals (larger view)

Meals (larger view)

Essentially we now get the sum of the values for the ingredient in each meal, as well as the break down of percentages of each macro-nutrient. It means that at a glance I can pair meals together to balance out the nutrients to achieve a specific percentage, and also ensure the calories are limited to some amount.

Exercise

Next I want to track calorie burn. If I want a larger meal, I can figure out how much exercise I need to do to balance it. If I am feeling really drained, I can check to see if I am running too far into a daily deficit.

Exercise (larger view)

Exercise (larger view)

Note: The calorie burns for each is just estimated, it could be more, it could be less. I really have no idea to work out exactly how much energy a given exercise burns.

Log

And finally, where it all comes together. I can input up to three meals and a single snack a day, then get information and total grams for each macro-nutrient, as well as percentage breakdowns. With the exercises, I can figure out how much I think I burned and what the theoretical total is for that day (without considering daily burn rate).

Log (larger view)

Log (larger view)

As you can see, when I started logging, I realised how far off I am. 3000 kcal intake a day will not allow me to lose weight. 2000 kcal is supposed to sustain me, anything less should lead to weight loss.

All this data should eventually produce some graphs (when my OS starts behaving) that I can use to figure out what is and isn't effective for weight loss.

Diet Method

(For the hardcore - my current method is OMAD, VLCD and PSMF combined.)

This is not medical advice, understand that there is a real risk to your health by following this method.

For those of you that are awake, you may have noticed that fats, carbohydrates and proteins are all in the red. It makes it look like I'm not in ketosis at all, yet the ketones levels remains high - how? Why? So far I have followed these steps:

  1. Put my body in ketosis by eating the right foods for keto, reducing carbohydrates gradually. Once I started testing high for ketones, this meant that I was mostly burning fats for fuel, not carbohydrates.
  2. Get the percentages correct so that I'm running 80%+ fats, 15% protein and 5% carbohydrates - whilst maintain calorie intake of fats.
  3. Get into a calorie deficit.

So you ask - keto is a high fat diet, why are you reducing fats?! It still is, but the fats are no longer coming from my diet... They are coming from my body. I'm still fully in ketosis, my carbs and protein never raised (in fact they dropped), so my body has no choice but to process body fat.

At the same time I am working out to slow down the body's temptation to eat muscle rather than fat. It also helps offset the calories taken in that day, so the calorie deficit is even higher.

Risks

This method should 100% lose weight rapidly, as long as my body doesn't go into starvation mode. This is why it's important to keep taking in some food, drinking caffeine, heaps of water and exercising - if my metabolism drops I'm in trouble.

The real issue is that I'm not letting my body burn protein (or muscle), not letting it burn carbs - only fat. Processing fat is not easy - if you use more energy than you are able to produce - or you don't drink enough water to allow it to be processed, something has to give. I certainly feel more tired, but I have to fight this with everything I have. If I give in to it then it'll be hard to get my metabolism going again.

How can I get away with it? Well, the thing I am fighting is also the most powerful tool I have. The fat I carry means that any cardio-based exercise is multiplied, and it also means that I have more energy access from fats before going overdrawn. As long as I can ride this fine line, I should be able to safely achieve maximum weight loss.

Bare in mind, I am in my prime, I have grade A health (recently had a full set of tests for a Visa medical) and this isn't the first time I have done something similar.

All this data should eventually produce some graphs (when my OS starts behaving) that I can use to figure out what is and isn't effective for weight loss.

How long can I get away with this? I've not seen anybody anything even remotely close to this for longer than 16 weeks. I plan to do this for 10 weeks, or until the 6 stone before Christmas goal is reached.

What's the abort condition? If my heart rate changes drastically, I have unrecoverable fatigue, I start sleeping for more than 8-9 hours a night - or any other obvious tell-tale sign. In this case I'll go back to the meal plan in the first line of the log and seek medical advice. I have some people around me who are aware of what I'm doing, encase I become unable to be an impartial observer of my own current state.