Ketosis/Weight Loss challenges.
My first post! It's going to be a bit of a doozy and I'm going to be as detailed and specific as possible so you all can understand the complexities involved and I can ideally get some good advice and/or get pointed in the right direction. Hooray for the Internets! :up:
I'm on day 32 of nearly strict keto. After 16 days I broke down briefly and ate a bunch of carbs but got back into it immediately.
Here's the thing...I am 33 years old. I am 6'7" tall with linebacker shoulders.
As of yesterday I got a DEXA scan showing I have 200 lbs of lean tissue, 11 pounds of skeleton, and about 89 pounds of adipose tissue for a total weight of 300 pounds.
About 2 weeks ago I got my ketone meter and strips and have been testing almost every day.
I was surprised when I first tested after 2 and half weeks my blood levels were only 0.2!
I quickly dropped my protein levels and the ketones started rising...0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.7...then I jumped to 1.2, and then 3.2!
However these last two readings were "cheats"...the day before I had eaten a lot of coconut oil which converts directly to ketones, so it doesn't mean my liver had adapted.
I got up to 1.5 the other day keeping my protein low, and then the following day I decided to try a fat fast for three days to see if I could really push it. I made it through the whole day eating nothing but fat, athletic greens for micronutrients, a scoop of BCAAs with each fat meal, and a bullion cube for sodium...in other words it was as well formulated as it could be.
I made it through the whole day but by the end of the day I was feeling REALLY sick and broke down and ate 7-8 oz of salmon, which immediately made me feel better. However the next morning my fasting ketones had dropped from 1.5 mmoL to 1.0 mmoL.
So here's the rub...according to most recommendations I should be eating 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight minimum, which for me would be 200 grams...however this has gotten in the way of ketosis.
The REAL issue however is that...although I LOOK a bit leaner (and many have been commenting on my shape), and my strength has noticeably shot up...my body composition has not changed ONE BIT. For the last month I have been hovering right around 300 lbs and my body fat % has stayed right around 30%.
Further complications aside from the protein. Because of my sheer size, my resting metabolic rate (RMR) is over 2700 calories a day, which was verified by DEXA only yesterday. That's just lying in bed all day long.
My sedentary (desk jockey) level of maintenance calories is 3400/day...a LOT of food! When training it gets up to 4,000 per day which is why I've been keeping my calories to 3 meals of 1,000 calories each. Again though my weight has hit a plateau for the last month!
I recently read a metabolic book that indicated that even though I'd been exercising every day, my otherwise sedentary life means I should be using a lower multiplier...which would put me at around 3500 calories a day...but if I cut 1,000 kcal/day for the max burn of 2 lbs of body fat per week...it actually puts me at 2500 per day which is BELOW my RMR!!!
I've found this a theme in my life...because I am so big the rules change. For example my 30% body fat according to DEXA means I am technically obese even though I look anything but. I think because of my size and mass I can handle a bit more body fat safely. However my goal is to get down to 5% bodyfat, and it is frustrating because even though I have been stabbing myself in the finger every morning and sticking with it, the scale HAS NOT BUDGED.
It was quite disheartening really...because I know I look better and my strength has gone up I was SURE my body fat% would have gone down but dammit I can't seem to crack 29-30%!!!
Giant, sounds like you've done a lot of analysis :-)
A few thoughts:
1. Where did you read 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass / target weight? Phinney and Volek give 1g to 2g per kg of target weight, and later bumped that down to a range of 1g to 1.5g. Rosedale suggests 0.7g to 0.75g per kg of lbm. By using pounds instead of kg, you're setting your minimum at 2.2g per kg of lbm, which seems rather high.
2. Athletic greens? Must be something in the soil, I just remember mine sitting immobile on my plate :-) More seriously, what are they and how much? Anything with carbs is a first place I'd look.
3. I'm not sure BCAAs are the best way to kickstart ketosis. They have a use immediately around weight training, but among the aminos they're the most insulinogenic. Similarly, salmon is very protein heavy relative to fat, and probably has a harsher insulin response. Perhaps eating some meat with fat?
4. I'd step back a bit from running the numbers so intensely, and I'm a fairly quantitative guy (day job is analyzing data and data mining). Figure out what it takes to get your appetite under control. Trying to lose a moderate amount of weight while keeping yourself hungry seems unlikely to succeed long term. My usual approach is I'm doing a major dietary change is to forget about calories for awhile. Figure out how to get your ketones where you want them while feeling ok. Then play games with calories. But, that's just my approach.
Also, are your clothes fitting better? They're a neutral judge of how big you are, and how fat and muscle distribution is changing over time.
Have you read the "Performance" book by Phinney and Volek yet?
For the most part we aren't worried about the calories, though one might need to track them eventually.
Find your needed protein level, based on either your goal weight or your lean weight. There are different numbers anywhere from 1g-2.5g times lean (or goal). Lots of threads here have those formulas. I think using a range is easier than an absolute number (for me 60-90g of protein)
Then pick your carb limit and stick to it. Drop the carbs before messing with the protein (if you feel the protein is a good number.)
And eat fats to fill in the rest.
For me the fats are finally kicking in. It's been 4 months and I'm finally craving fats, go figure.
BTW, I don't look obese at 34% bodyfat either.
I agree with Annette in that you are putting too much emphasis on calories. If you make a plan that fits the macro nutrients based on your personal physical situation, and then rely on how you feel, eating to your hunger but within the set out amounts of protein and carbs and then filling up the rest with fat, you may find works better.
Btw, as an overweight, post meno woman, the charts and everything else do not fit me either. Welcome to my world!~! ;)
those calorie calculators and charts are just general rules, not specific to your body. you have the facts in front of you: you burn fewer calories than those things suggest you "should." so believe your body and not the charts! as long as you aren't ravenously hungry all the time, don't hesitate to eat less till you find the level that supports weight loss for you.
btw, I was just seeing Peter Atila suggests a max of about 120 grams protein, seemingly no matter how large we are.
2. Athletic Greens is a green superfood powder...zero carbs, 100% micronutrients (very necessary for this extreme diet). My carbs are WAY under 30g and consists of each day, 2-4 cups of broccoli (net carbs 2-4 grams), 3-6 oz of baby spinach (similar, mostly fiber), and occasionally a VERY tiny amount of coconut water for potassium (less than 1 cup per day, which is under 10 grams carbs). IN point of fact my carbs have been way under 30 grams, approaching zero net every day. What I am finding is that protein is negatively effecting my ketosis.
3. In point of fact BCAAs are comprised of Leucine, IsoLeucine, and Valine. Leucine is entirely ketogenic, Isoleucine can be ketogenic or anti-ketocgenic, and Valine is entirely anti-ketogenic.
Source: Ketogenic Diets, I: Ways to Make a Diet Ketogenic - Perfect Health Diet | Perfect Health Diet
4. Actually my hunger has been pretty much zero after the first few days of stripping carbs. It was only the one day experiment with a fat fast that I realized protein was necessary for satiety. To say again: my appetite has been thoroughly under control.
I also believe that numbers are necessary which I'll get more into below. Suffice to say I'm not merely going for extreme fat loss (I want to drop from 30% to 5% and stay there) but also have athletic goals that require me to be strong and build muscle, so skimping on the protein can be a negative is I lose lean mass or ability to perform.
As for clothes, its hard to say...I'm so big that I tend to have to wear baggy clothes anyways. For me the number s MATTER. It is IMPERATIVE that my overall scale number drops along with my body fat % while preserving or even adding to my lean tissue. You can't trust the scale or appearance since we are not always able to be honest with ourselves...but twice monthly Bod Pod, and a DEXA scan won't lie.
Absolutely, I have the book and have read it. Calorie tracking is essential to me...for a long time I couldn't lose because my calories were too LOW. I'm a giant athletic guy which seems to make everything not quite work right for me. My carb intake has been impeccably low. It seems protein is throwing me out, but in order to get my blood ketones up it seems I have to go dangerously low on the protein (last night I had a tiny 3 oz strip of fatty ribeye steak before bed and this morning my fasting ketones dropped from 1.0 to 0.4)...
Again, to everyone who says calories don't matter and don't bother counting them, I hate to be the one to break it to you but...they absolutely do. Time and time again in the most rigorous of controlled metabolic ward studies, scientists have proven over and over that it doesn't mater what your macros are, the only way to drop weight and burn fat is to be in an energy deficit.
Again, anyone who thinks counting calories doesn't matter is fooling themselves...the science is simply not on your side I'm afraid, and we are talking decades of carefully controlled studies that reproduce the same results over and over and over. People LIKE to thin counting calories don't matter because they think it's a pain in the ass, but really it;s never been easier with online tracking tools.
Also, and no offense intended, but there is a HUGE world of difference between an overweight menopausal woman and a 33 year old 6'7 300 pound athletic man. Simply put, whatever works for you is not going to work for me and vice versa.
Lyle McDonald has a very interesting post about why tracking macros based on % is utter B.S. You have to go off of your total caloric needs and your lean weight for protein not %.
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