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Week In #keto

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This is a continuation of the journey of keto. This is just a short update and some commentary.

Experience

The first week is tough. Switching from carbohydrates to fats for energy is rough. The worst part is the lack of energy, something I'm used to after having so many diet starts. It always seems to last about a week and makes me feel brittle.

But that's really where the similarities end. After that week, things have started to go back to normal - sometimes better than normal, sometimes worse. It feels like you can only burn so much energy at a time, if you exceed that then you're in trouble because you don't really have any reserves.

The interesting part is that I've gone down to one or two meals a day and don't really feel hungrier for it. So even if it's not the most effective way to lose weight, it has at least made it maintainable. I just hope I lose fat and not protein.

Testing

I started off not really knowing if I was in ketosis or not, really just going by feeling. A friend have me some test strips and I've been somewhere between "Small" (1.5) and "Moderate" (4) "mmol/l" (whatever that means). I initially thought it was because I wasn't trying hard enough, but speaking to the same person they said this was a very good result after so little time.

Reading online, it seems as though the number doesn't really mean too much anyway and is more of a suggestion:

Ketostix, Uriscan and other urine detection strips are not as accurate. They only measure the level of acetoacetate - excess ketone bodies that are not utilised by the body and are excreted via urine. Urine ketone strips can still be useful during the initial phase of the ketogenic diet when you simply want to test the level of carbohydrates in order to enter ketosis.

So it effectively measures an excess bi-product - it'll probably vary from person to person. The important part really is that there is some bi-product and it's relatively stable.

Some people use them to test if they are sensitive to certain foods that may be keto-friendly but still have a negative effect on their progress. They are easy to use and fairly cheap. You'll pay about $10 for 50 strips, that's $6 a month if you test yourself daily. If urine detection strips don't work for you, use one of the other two methods.

I have purchased about 300 test strips for the start and test 1 or more times a day randomly. So far every test has come back the same, but as I slowly and carefully experiment with foods I need to know if I accidentally fall out of it.

Edit: I opened a new pack of test strips that I purchased - it turns out that I am very much into keto at 8-16 mmol/l. It seems that moisture got to the strips I was given, so they were even less accurate than they would otherwise be normally.

Concerns

So my initial concern was about eating too much fats and getting ill and accidentally consuming sugars/carbohydrates. Neither turned out to be true so far.

There are a few foods I have eaten which I'm not so sure about:

So all of these things (other than the cheese) were legacy foods from before starting the keto diet. I may buy plain tuna again and sausages which are "fresher", but generally I was also look for better sources of protein. Regarding cheese, until I hear otherwise I think I will keep eating it, it really adds a lot to most meals in terms of flavour. Given white cheese has so few carbohydrates (diabetics don't even have to inject after eating it), it feels like it is worth the risk.

Next Steps

So far I'm not really running at a calorific deficit, but I am burning fat. What I need to do is two things:

  1. Increase exercise. Working out more means using more energy and burning more body fat. The other benefit is also reducing the amount of muscles loss.
  2. Decrease calories. This one is potentially the hardest part. I'll need to swap in more vegetables into the diet to replace fats and some protein.

I'll keep you up to date with how things go in the future. As well as general experience updates, I plan to comment on things like which foods I'm eating, what workouts I do and anything else that seems generally interesting. I think there's also some value in sharing the experiences of a larger person given things can be more complicated - losing just a few pounds is much more different from attempting to half your body weight.