Full disclosure – I am attempting a quick crash diet that is intended to get me some quick results, with very little hope for long term sustainability. I’m going on a full ketogenic diet, starting today. I’m going to see what kind of gains/losses I can see in a 6-week period. My goal is to see a relatively dramatic 15-20 lb drop, which will be maintained after 6 weeks with a more sustainable slow-carb diet, larger workout volume, and of course, smaller portion sizes. I’ve experienced yo-yo diets firsthand, and that’s the main hazard that I intend to obliterate head-on after I’ve finished with this short project.
I’m currently sitting at 158.5 lbs. I’ve been fluctuating between 154-159 lbs over the last few months, courtesy of living in Toronto and working from home. I recognize that I’ve been less active, and while I’ve made a point to increase the frequency of my workouts, I want to do something big, to see big gains. Here’s my aggressively immature statement of the day: Go big or go home.
What is a ketogenic diet?
This is a high-fat, medium-protein, low (or no) carb diet that forces the body to switch from burning carbs to metabolizing fat stores. It differs from the slow-carb diet in the sense that I will be avoiding carbs altogether, other than what can be found in vegetables, avocados, peanut butter (for emergencies) and nuts/seeds.
What is on your limited plate? Aren’t you vegetarian?
Surprisingly, I have a lot of food to choose from, and these can still provide many different combinations. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, any other seafood), but I do eat eggs and cheese. My preferred diet for the next 6 weeks will consist of:
- Bok Choy
- Gai Lan
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Coffee (with the coconut oil… really delicious for some reason)
- Butter and margarine
- Mushrooms (white, brown, shiitake, oyster, portobello)
- Tofu (soft, medium, firm, extra firm) cooked in different ways (baked, fried, steamed)
- TVP (textured vegetable protein) and other “fake meat products” made from soy and wheat gluten
- Seitan (wheat gluten) cooked in different ways (baked, fried, steamed, boiled)
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Soy milk
- Soy protein powder (for making protein shakes)
- Whey protein powder (for making protein shakes)
- Various cheeses (cottage cheese, halloumi, cheddar, edam, blue)
Won’t this be difficult? What difficulties will be faced?
Absolutely difficult. Carbs affect the reward centers of the brain in almost exactly the same way addictive drugs do. I will be depriving myself of these. In fact, my experience with the slow-carb diet really frightened me because of how crazy I felt when I was deprived of simple, fast sugars/carbs. I realized I was going into withdrawal. Given that I am a person who avoids getting drunk because of an overwhelming desire to remain in control of one’s faculties, the notion of being addicted to something is an outrage!
I fully expect to go bonkers for the first week or so. I will have carb cravings all day long, and walk halfway to the kitchen before stopping myself from grabbing a jar of Nutella. My concentration will lapse at work. Generally, I’ll feel like crap. My body will feel like it is starving, since it will be lacking the main source of food that it is used to burning. I will be very, very irritable.
I also expect that my workouts will suffer for the first few weeks. I’m currently running between 5-10 km (3-6 miles), 3 times a week.
That sucks. Any coping mechanisms? Strategies?
1. I’ve eliminated (or hid) most of the things that will drive my cravings, like chocolate bars, pasta, Nutella, bread and other candies. It’s probably not the wisest time to be doing this, right when halloween candy is on sale/clearance everywhere, but there’s no time like the present to start a new project.
2. I’ve ensured that I have all of the “right” food available. The kitchen is stocked with veggies, tofu, eggs, oils, soy milk, nuts, seeds and other things that will keep my cravings to a minimum.
3. Lots of coffee. It’s my only other drug right now.
4. I will have one day a week when I can eat without restrictions. I’ve selected Saturday. This will help to jumpstart my insulin levels and keep my metabolism up.
Any health concerns?
To the layperson, the main concern is cardiovascular health. However, I’ve yet to see any respectable, peer-reviewed paper that definitively concludes that a high fat, medium protein diet (devoid of processed or even unprocessed meat products) is in any way bad for the cardiovascular system. Not all fat is created equal, and I’m the least likely candidate for eating processed fatty meats. I’m not concerned for my heart health. I don’t abuse alcohol, I don’t smoke, I exercise, and I minimize my salt intake to reduce the chances of high blood pressure that runs in my family.
That’s all, folks! I’ll provide updates on Sunday evening on how my first week goes. 🙂