A year or so ago, I gave a friend my stash of XXXL blue oxford shirts. I visited him tonight and he was wearing one. They aged well and look good on him. I hope they never look good on me again. Midway through the conversation, I started talking about success with a ketogenic diet and he seemed interesting. We talked about food substitutions and how to get nutrients as well as some pitfalls. ONe wouldn’t expect it but cocktail sauce has some three times the net carbs as ranch dressing. We talked about what it’s like to be a large person and he railed at people who are annoyed when sharing public transit. He made the observation that “when I sit next to someone, we’re both crowded” and I don’t think most people recognize this reciprocity. It seems neither wholly wrong nor wholly right to blame the larger party but there’s no convenient way to communicate that middle ground. Â Between genes, choices, and engineering, how does one say “I’m 60% responsible for this discomfort.”?
I hope he gives low carb a try and that it works. If so, the baby blue oxfords that served me so well and then him will pass on again and maybe serve someone else. I picture wrapping them up with a few typed pages on dieting. Â They would make their way across the country making large men look a little bit nicer on their way to becoming a little bit thinner.
While on a low-carb diet, I have made friends with most of the diabetics that work at OSR. This week, I brought in low-carb creme brÃ»lÃ©e and it started a discussion:
Me: So, how did you like the creme brÃ»lÃ©e?
Diabetic Staff Member: It was great, and knowing it was low calorie made it even better.
Me: It’s not low calorie in any way.
Diabetic Staff Member: But you said it was good for diabetics.
Me: Yes, it has 3.4 grams of net carbohydrates. That’s pretty low compared to normal creme brÃ»lÃ©e.
Diabetic Staff Member: How many calories were in it?
Me: About five hundred.
Diabetic Staff Member: Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have two in a day. It’s good to know it’s only 3.4 grams though. It’s hard to keep to my limit.
Me: What’s that?
Diabetic Staff Member: 200 grams a day. Â What do you keep to?
Low carb eating has resulted in a few functional food shortcomings that’ve proven hard to work around. For instance, while most dips can be easily modified to be low-carb friendly most chips cannot. I miss the dip transport function of chips but feel them necessary as I’d feel like a barbarian if I simply ate blue cheese dressing or cream cheese-centered French Onion dip with a spoon, but while holding a chip, I am a gourmet, a gentleman.
I had tried chip alternatives like making my own crackers, but this brought flashbacks (https://www.suburbanadventure.com/2010/12/17/dinner-prep-crackerquest/). Another option I investigated was cooking pepperoni until it was hard but by the time it gets firm enough it’s also quiteâ€¦ toasted. Then I moved onto broccoli but had to keep steaming new batches which prevented me from late night consumption which I suppose may be a good thing.
That ended today when I spotted, in my very own fridge, cucumbers. I took one out, sliced it and it performed admirably. I’m pretty sure I had gotten them for this purpose which has raised the side effects of keto to include not just strange breath but retrograde amnesia.
Mike, Kacey, a friend of Kacey’s, and I went out to dinner this evening and I reflected for a moment before diving into my dinner. I was quite hungry, but I had to smile at the 6 oz beef patty with cheese and some red peppers on it served on a portobello mushroom with a side of broccoli and some ranch dressing. I had negotiated â€œÂ½ Price Burger Nightâ€ at Stanley’s without looking like a tool or doing a â€œhey, could I substituteâ€ and also because I was eating broccoli.
Maybe I just assumed I didn’t like broccoli or there was a time when I genuinely didn’t like broccoli but I’ve been eating a lot of it lately. I put together a list of foods I’ve eaten more in the past three weeks than during the rest of my life combined:
Sugar Snap Peas
Babybel Cheese Rounds
Toasted Salted Almonds (outside of mixed nuts)
Stevia in the Raw
A side effect of a ketogenic diet has been a nose-dive in my ability to do distance running. Once a week, I try to run 10 or more miles in a single stretch and this week and last I’ve simply not been able to go more than about 8 before I reach a level of discomfort where I don’t want to continue. This isn’t exhaustion or muscle failure but simply not wanting to run any more. So I suppose the alternate explanation is that keto has not reduced my stamina, but turned me into a bitch, albeit a lighter one.
My dad and I in the kitchen:
Dad: You’re on a diet?
Me: I’m eating low carb.
Dad: What’s a carb?
Me: Short for carbohydrate, all sugars and starches are carbohydrates.
Dad: I tend to eat what you eat. What’s it mean?
Me: See the pepperoni in the fridge?
Me: Go nuts on it. I’ve got tons of it. See the cheese in the fridge?
Me: Go nuts on it. Also, I’m going to be preparing a lot of broccoli.
Dad: I can deal with this.
Low carb dieting has lead towards food choices that alternate between “oooh, that looks healthy” and “why are you doing that to yourself?” My lunches have been a salad topped with chicken and hardboiled egg topped with bleu cheese dressing. That last part is responsible for 40% of the calories in the salad so I figure I’d swap it out for balsamic vinegar and give myself a margin to down extra pepperoni later in the day. I ate my lunch gingerly, knowing that I had reduced my consumption that day by 15%. This energy faded when I logged my lunch in my calorie tracker and found that the two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar had contributed 6.8g of net carbohydrates against my daily allotment of 20g. How could ascetic acid with a few flavoring agents possibly be so high in carbohydrates? Because balsamic vinegar isn’t a traditional vinegar. It’s a grape reduction that turns out to be quite sweet that is then soured to give it the vinegar-y taste.
I had gotten quite good at rotating jars to check their carb content but now found a new Brutus waiting to slay me.
5am is normally a time where I can sleep quite well, but for some reason, rest wasn’t coming. Today I was driving home but, if I left now and drove swiftly, I’d be able to make a family get together just in time to politely decline the potato salad. I said goodbyes to the rest of my confused parties and launched Eastward making very good time for the first 500 miles. Then I-80 clogged up, then US-220 clogged up, then I-476 clogged up and I lost a total of four hours to traffic. Reunion missed, I parked in my driveway at 8pm on a day where I had driven back from Chicago, six hours before I’d normally return.
I broke the news to my housemates that I was going to be eating low carb:
Dave: So, what’s that mean for us?
Me: I have some popcorn to get rid of.
Dave: Smartfood, I love that stuff!
Me too, Dave. Me too.
I tried to make a keto-friendly angel food cake today, figuring that I could substitute the white flour and sugar with almond flour and Splenda, respectively. Â The recipe called for the relatively low-carb cocoa powder and I set to getting the foam to rise. Â Using just my arm, that took quite a bit of time and my forearms were screaming after a few minutes. Â I worked the foam to soft peaks, a bit below what I should have and folded in the appropriate ingredients. Â I popped the pan in the oven and 35 minutes later was met with a eggy, chocolatey, failed keto donut.
The result had the density of anÂ omeletÂ and the fluffiness of a devil’s food cake. Â The bottom was aÂ gelatinousÂ cloud of sweet eggs and after learning that Splenda wasn’t zero carb, I learned it had eight grams of net carbs per slice, 40% of your daily allowance.
My host loved it.
I was happy that I had access to a treadmill and about three miles into a run I had a funny taste in my mouth like I was sucking on a penny. My urine smelled like dinosaur sweat and my body odor had changed character. I had entered ketosis and had the discolored ketosis reagent test strip to prove it. The test strips were nice as a way of saying “yes, you’re doing this correctly” and I’m glad we had gotten them.
So what does ketosis feel like? These were my initial impressions:
- The first day I tried it, I felt a distinct weakness for about an hour. This was my blood sugar passing below some level but I didn’t experience that weakness again.
- My water consumption more than doubled as my kidneys needed a lot of help to flush out ketones.
- My urine seemed to have a fine film to it link of like the sheen of a puddle with a drop of oil in it.
- My weight hadn’t changed. Nor did I expect it to considering this was only day three of the diet.