I wrote recently about losing 17 pounds in the past 2 months and I have to fess up – it’s been pretty easy. And you can skip the walks and workouts. They aren’t required. Neither are starvation, diet pills or a bad stomach flu.
I had been trying a keto diet for a couple of unsuccessful, frustrating months. You know the routine – low carbs, high fat, high protein. It never made sense to me that I’d lose weight eating fat bombs, but who am I to question the experts? Then my friend, Mike, passed along the cheat code.
Turns out there’s 2 keto plans. The one I tried is therapeutic keto or dirty keto. It was developed years ago to help people with medical issues like diabetes. It just so happened that controlling carbs limited food cravings and resulted in weight loss. The plan got popular in dieting circles. And it works for many people. Not for me.
I learned from Mike that the other keto plan also focuses on carb control, but flips the formula on fat and protein. With therapeutic keto about 65% of your daily calories come from fat, 35% from protein and 5% carbs. As long as you hit these marks, calories don’t matter and heaven forbid you blow past your carb limit one day and your keto stick doesn’t turn pink. But with the cheat code keto, your fat and protein macros are reversed, 35% and 65%. If you want to really hit the program hard, get your fat intake even lower and your protein higher. The higher protein helps maintain muscle mass while you’re losing weight. Carbs are the same and here’s the key, you do count calories. It’s so basic. You need a daily calorie deficit to lose weight. That’s hard to do with fat bombs. When you’re trying to lose fat, why plan to eat more fat? It doesn’t matter if it’s “good” fat or not.
Anyway, someone will want to debate me on this and so be it, but it seems like common sense and this plan works for me. The other element to it is intermittent fasting. For me it means putting at least 15-16 hours between dinner and my next meal and having an 8-9 hour window to eat. IF and less carb consumption helps keep hunger cravings at bay. It takes a couple of days to get used to, but if you can suck it up and barrel through it, the plan really is pretty easy.
The plan does require some thought and retraining. Hitting high protein numbers while shooting for low fat and low calories can be tricky. You can’t overload on bacon. Sorry. Learn to love boneless, skinless grilled chicken breasts. I’ve always been a dark meat guy, but I think that’s because Mom always overcooked the breasts. But chicken breasts are great for at 4 least reasons:
- Efficiency. It’s one of the highest sources of protein with the fewest fat grams and calories. And of course, very little carbs.
- Inexpensive. What other forms of equally efficient protein are $2 a pound?
- Easy. And fast to prepare. On the weekends I’ll grill 10 pounds for the family and eat all week. And no, I don’t overcook them.
- Versatility. Eat as is, cut up for a salad or veggies, put on a sandwich with no carb bread or mix with hot sauce and no fat cottage cheese. It’s not terrible!
But I’m not a zealot. I do like Nutter Butters and by late Friday night I’m ready for more than a few. Well, I’ll back up a second. I was a zealot for the first several weeks, but again it wasn’t difficult. Seeing the initial pounds come off really motivated me. But the beauty of the ketogenic IF plan is that you are counting calories. You need about a 3500 calorie deficit to lose one pound. For me I need to consume less than 2000 calories a day for a deficit. For the first 5-6 weeks I averaged 1300-1400 and saw great results. Then I bumped it up a notch and set my mark at 1000 or less. That’s where I’ve been for the last few weeks. Trust me! It’s not hard when your body (and mind) adapts. The high protein staves off hunger. And as of this morning I’m down 18 pounds in 8.5 weeks.
But back to the Nutter Butters because all of these numbers are all about the Nutter Butters. If I’m down 5000 calories for the week by late Friday night and I’m at 1000 calories for the day, I can splurge a bit. Maybe more than a bit. If I eat the half the package, I’ll barely mess up my day and I’ll still be down almost 5000 for the week. Then on Saturday I’ll enjoy myself up to 2000 calories and take the 5000. That’s almost 1.5 pounds a week.
Ok, to be honest, this is more than a theory. Last Friday night I did gorge on half a family size package of double Nutter Butters while bingeing on Netflix and yet I still lost 1.4 pounds in the last week. And I don’t worry about “getting out of ketosis”.
Just knowing that these mad moments are an option help maintain my sanity and allows my inner rebel to break free for a while.
I can only be good for so long.