Anytime I hit 260 on a scale, I know it’s time to dial things way back. As a 6’6″, 39-year-old big-boned man, my self-proclaimed target weight is around 242. I have mostly floated around 250 for the past two years, give or take, but somehow things really blew up after the holidays in 2021. By mid-January, I had decided I would do a keto diet in February, after a wave of gatherings and special occasions had passed—wife’s birthday, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, etc.
The start date would be February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day, and I would do the diet all the way through March 11, the day we left on our spring break trip. To prepare, I visited Costco and loaded up on snacks. Costco, I have found, has the best variety of keto stuff. In addition to things like CanDo Keto Krisp bars, little 1g net carb peanut butter cups and crunchy edamame beans, I also bought a bulk package of pork chops that would become the basis of every lunch for a long time.
Breakfasts were pretty easy, because I am a big bacon/eggs guy. Those things are fine, I could still eat them. I’d just have to ditch the hashbrowns. I frequently ate Kiolbasa sausages, again purchased in bulk at Costco, with 2-3 fried eggs and a cup of coffee and a can of sparkling water for breakfast. I sometimes ate the Red’s microwavable egg/sausage sandwich instead, where the egg is the bun. Giving up orange juice was also part of the plan. As much as I love juice, it wasn’t difficult to skip it.
For lunch, I ate pork chops plus a vegetable of some sort. I lathered those chops up in oil, generously applied a tasty BBQ rub, and cooked them up on the stove top nearly daily. The only downside was I often smoked up the kitchen, where my wife’s work-from-home office is temporarily located. But goll dang it, those were really tasty. They never got old.
There were dozens of snack type things I ate during the afternoon, and for beverages I stuck to sparkling water, Spindrift, or Coke Zero. That was a big change from my normal afternoon snack of Airheads and regular Coke. There were some good ice creams too, including the Rebel birthday cake flavor, with only 5g net carbs in the pint. And it was legitimately good, keto or not.
Dinner was by far the hardest, because for the first time all day, I wasn’t on my own. Not only did I have to make a lot of annoying substitutions, I was sometimes eating entirely different meals and bypassing something Lauren worked hard to cook. Even worse was the five times we ate out! One night we went to a fancy steakhouse with some friends, and although that was actually a pretty good spot for someone on a keto diet, it limited me from enjoying the special occasion to the fullest. Twice we went out to our local strip mall Tex-Mex spot with the neighbors, and that too was very sucky. Instead of slurping down frozen margs with the other adults, I was drinking Wild Turkey on the rocks. A go-to drink for me anyway, but not at a Mexican joint. On another occasion we went to Texas Roadhouse and again, I stuck to the steak and shrimp, but still missed out on those fresh, warm dinner rolls and baked potato. They don’t have the cauliflowered rice at Chipotle anymore, so a rice-less bowl wound up as kind of a goopy mess. In general, eating out at restaurants with friends was definitely the worst part of the whole thing.
You may know I like to wet my whistle in the evenings, and beer was totally off-limits during keto. But liquor isn’t! I found myself drinking lots of bourbon on the rocks, or vodka with soda water and a splash of lime, things like that with zero carbs. I switched it up on occasion with some hard seltzers, most of which had very few carbs, such as the Topo Chico Ranch Water. I even tried a 12-pack of Bud Light’s new “NEXT” zero-carb beer. While it wasn’t bad, it also was almost entirely flavorless. It literally had less beer flavor than the trendy 0% ABV hoppy water beverages.
So basically, just keep my daily carb intake to under 50g. I did not count carbs, because I felt I was nowhere close to 50g. Some days I was probably under 10g. Not eating any potatoes, bread, beer, desserts, etc. sounds difficult, but once I got going and seeing quick results, they were very easy to avoid.
In addition to the diet, I continued my normal exercise routine. I usually do some form of intentional exercise every day, whether a walk around the neighborhood, lap swimming at the gym, racquetball, or even high-intensity yard work. I have an Apple Watch and made sure to close my rings every day, which for me is 1,000 move calories and 30 minutes of exercise.
So, what happened? Was it all for naught?
It began working immediately. My official weigh-in weight was 258.7, though I had seen 260 on the scale in prior days. I lost literally a pound per day for the first 6 days, probably just water weight. And then 1-2 pounds per week thereafter. I did the diet for a total of just 25 days, well short of a full month, and wound up at a low of 246.
The diet had to come to an end due to a previously-planned spring break trip with the family. I will still probably be mindful of what I eat, but I’m not going to be a party pooper and tiptoe around a bunch of goodies on the road.
So, was it a success? Resoundingly, yes! Not only did I lose over 12 pounds in under a month, but I didn’t go so hard that it made me ever feel sick or anything. I have heard about ‘keto flu’ but I bypassed all that, thankfully.
Will I stick with it? I don’t think it’s something I can stick to full-time as a parent of small children. Making multiple meals and all the substitutions are just too much work. If I can do it from sun-up until dinner time, that may be enough. Just being mindful of food intake is probably the biggest takeaway. No more slurping down 24 oz. of Coke per day, and high-sugar treats. But I also can’t avoid bread forever. If I was single and living alone, sure, I could more or less stick to it forever. It didn’t cramp my style that much.
For the record, this is the third time I’ve done keto. I did it in 2017 and 2020 as well, and all three times had great results. The first two times, I somehow was able to get down about 15-17 lbs. in the same timeframe, but in those instances, I was going too hard and sometimes felt lightheaded or short of breath. Not this time.
I’ll report back later on after I’ve returned from spring break, and let you know how a week off the diet goes.
March 19 Update: Spring break is over and I have returned home. I initially weighed in at 252.4, a gain of literally 1 lb. per day for the week I was gone. Not great! But after about 48 hours it dropped to 249.8, probably just water weight. So I think it’s safe to say I really did gain about 3 lbs. by completely ignoring all things keto for seven days. And not just ignoring keto, but really going over the top on meals, desserts, drinks, etc. It was not a normal seven days. I will plan to go back to low carb from sun-up until dinner, but won’t do my own thing for dinner and see if I can just keep it under 50g per day.