Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Geek Castle Diet

I do not want to be one of "those people" who evangelizes about whatever diet they're on, because most of the time it comes across as bragging or showing off. However, a few people have been asking for details on how we've lost weight, so here's the info.
First though, before I give any links or anything, I want to be super clear: do not go on a diet unless you really want to do so. If you're happy where you are, that's fine! I'm not here to say what's a "good" weight or "bad" weight. We lost weight because our starting weight didn't feel right for us, but that's each person's choice. In addition, it's my honest belief that 90% of the "wonder diets" out there only work because in the days before the diet, the dieter-to-be was eating 4000 calories a day without even being aware of it, and the day after the diet started, they started keeping track of calories and not eating more calories than the diet suggested. Low fat diets, low carb diets, cabbage diets, juice diets, paleo diets, short-term fasting diets, celery diets... you should just do whichever one works for you and isn't immediately harmful, because most of the "miracle" comes from just eating fewer calories than you use. Our choice of diet plan might not work for you, or your choice of plan might work even faster or better than ours. We don't have the One True Answer, because no one does. And although it's true that there are some people who have legitimate medical issues who might be the exceptions to the rule, dieting is mostly about CICO (Calories In, Calories Out).
Okay, on to the details!
  • We started the diet on March 5th, 2017.
  • As of today (6ish months later) I've lost 40 pounds, and Natalie has lost 30.
  • We mainly used a keto diet (also known as a low-carb diet).
  • We decided that unless we went "all in" on this, we'd probably wuss out and give up quickly, so for the first two weeks, we lived almost entirely on Keto Chow. Keto Chow claims to be a nutritionally complete meal replacement; theoretically, you should be able to drink three shakes a day forever and be just fine.
  • In case you're wondering... no, this isn't a pyramid marketing scheme. Buy some Keto Chow or don't. We don't get anything out of it either way.
  • After the first week or so of the diet, we started supplementing the shakes with sausages, cheese, avocados, pork rinds, salads, steak, etc. There's quite a lot of food you can't eat on keto, but there's also a surprising amount of "bad for you" food that you can eat: bacon, summer sausage, pork rinds, massive amounts of cheese, etc.
  • Halfway through the diet, Costco started selling a Kirkland-brand Protein Bar that only has ~4 carbs, and so we've used those liberally when we can't be arsed to make shakes.
  • To figure out how many calories/carbs/etc. we should be eating, we used a site called Keto Calculator. It looks intimidating, but the end result is a surprisingly accurate set of target numbers.
  • As we hit weight loss milestones, we re-calculated our numbers. That's the rough part, as the number of calories you can eat per day and still maintain weight loss keeps dropping...
  • The switch from burning carbs and glucose to burning fat and ketones can be a little chaotic on the body, so we took a daily probiotic supplement, just to help our digestive system adjust to the upheaval.
  • We've done two "cheat days": one for the closing of a favorite restaurant that only served carb-heavy food, and the other to go to the State Fair. In the later case, we felt like crap for two days afterward.
  • When in doubt: eating too many carbs is very very bad, eating too many calories is bad, and eating too much protein is not fabulous. However, eating too much fat will keep you from losing weight, but isn't actually that big of a deal. Weird, huh? High-fat whatever is just fine.
Whether we'll be able to keep the keto diet going in Beijing is a big question. There's a lot of carb-heavy food there, and one of the main staples of the Keto Chow shakes, heavy cream, might be very hard to track down in a country where almost everyone is lactose-intolerant. But even if we can't stick to it, I think/hope we'll stick with generally lower-carb eating habits. I like bacon a lot, and any diet that allows me to dip that bacon in sour cream is okay by me!