Thursday, 19 May 2016

I am KetogeNick

On 4 April I started a new, and pretty dramatic, diet - the Ketogenic Diet.  It is fundamentally very different from pretty much all other diets I've heard of (ie calorie restriction) in that it physiologically changes the way your body functions - specifically by using a different metabolic pathway to get energy, one that uses fat rather than carbohydrate.  So, contrary to conventional advice, I have almost eliminated carbs and am living off mostly fat - at least 80% of my diet is fat in fact, whilst aiming for less than 5% carbs.

I will do a longer post soon, but it has been very successful and my key findings so far are:
  • I just don't get hungry, freakishly so
  • I haven't had cravings or any desire to cheat
  • Whilst I have restricted carbs, I have in no way calorie restricted my diet as a whole - I eat as often and as much as I want
  • I have lost five or six kilos in as many weeks
  • I have more even energy with no sugar crashes
  • Whilst it hasn't been a joy, I have exercised, probably as well as I could before
  • I experienced low energy in the early stages but not massively so, and no 'keto-flu'
  • I have enjoyed eating food, and have been cooking a lot more
  • I get to eat things like bacon, cream and cheese for breakfast
  • I see no reason to stop (the greatest compliment a diet can receive!)
I am currently reading 'The Art and Science of Low Carb Living' having read 'Why We Get Fat'.  Both are good reads with the latter being lighter, easier reading.  Note, this is not a diet to start without some significant research.

Here is a brief summary of each day, mainly a food diary but with some other observations:

Day 1:
Skipped brekky, which I think will be the default.  Drunk coffee, which you aren't really supposed to do.  Massive salad with mackerel, nuts and avocado for lunch.  Half a day in and feeling fine (obviously).

Day 2:
Another salad, and a very nice king prawn, spinach and courgette concoction for dinner.  All quite filling but I was getting hungry by bed time. Also, had a very slow run home from work.

Day 3:
Working from home so went a bit OTT on the egg and bacon for lunch (only four eggs, but 11 rashers of streaky bacon).  Dinner was asparagus, broccoli an burgers.  Also realised I can eat cheese, so did. Overall not exactly healthy in the traditional sense, but kept the carbs low and the fat high.

Day 4:
Another salad for lunch and a really delicious smoked salmon creamy courgetti (courgette spaghetti) dish made by Holly for dinner.  Had a small pud of plain yog and a few raspberries. Then rather a lot of cheese.

Day 5:
Tricolore salad for lunch but Parma ham instead of tomato. Concocted a very nice chicken, aubergine, courgette and cauliflower bake. Probably mostly through the improving power of cheese. Didn't run home.

Day 6:
Smoked mackerel and egg for breakfast. Smoked mackerel is good! Dinner was prawn, bacon, Pakchoi, spinach, mushrooms and cashews. Not bad either. Finally, an almond milk vanilla milkshake with a dash of agave syrup. Not a good day otherwise, Willow has driven me nuts. Running low on blood sugar probably hasn't help my temperament.

Day 7:
More smoked mackerel with a avocado and feta scrambled egg.  Dinner was roast lamb with spinach, pine nuts and broccoli.  Temperament a bit better, probably mostly because we got out the house.

Day 8:
Feta in the usual avocado, nut, spinach and dressing salad. Then for dinner some chicken with Stilton inside and courgette with hummus and feta (and some considerable heat).   Plus the now usual milkshake.  Really enjoying the food but suspect I need to lower the protein to get myself into ketosis.

Day 9:
Back to tricoloure for lunch and had a few dry roasted peanuts too.  Sausages,, cauliflower mash, mushrooms and spinach for dinner.  Then a milkshake.  Back is aching but don't suppose I can blame the diet for that.

Day 10:
A lot of bacon and some egg for lunch. Smoked too, so that’s probably not good.  Then for dinner, smoked mackerel and broccoli. Plus milkshake.  I think very low in carbs and probably just about okay on protein.  I hope.

Day 11:
Smoked mackerel, spinach, nuts, avocado and dressing for a stink-out-the-office lunch.  Dinner was chicken, courgette, spinach, pine nuts and pak choi with cream - another pretty decent but completely made up dish.  My ketostix testing strips arrived. No sign of ketosis. Plus milkshake (must stop that).

Day 12:
A few peanuts and a creamy coffee in the morning had me not finishing my tricolore at lunch. This evening I had the keto dream of super cheesy cream sauce on bacon and cauliflower. Sure enough at tonight's test I am well on the positive side. Of course, being in ketosis is very different from being keto-adapted but I am definitely on the right track.

Day 13:
Climbed today and although pretty bad I did enjoy it. Scrambled egg with spinach and feta for brekky. James was staying with us so had fancy dinner of asparagus and Parma ham then scallops, chorizo and apple with mash (cauliflower for me). Berries and cream for pud. Zero alcohol! In mild ketosis but it's no good thing to peeing tonnes of ketones so that is good.

Day 14:
Bacon with avocado and feta scrambled egg. And smoked salmon courgetti for dinner. Did the seven mile forest and although it started bad it got much better.  Forearms seized up, maybe from the cold air coupled with the climbing yesterday, very odd.

Day 15:
Such was my lack of hunger at work today I only ate some peanuts and a creamy coffee. Dinner was prawns, aubergine, mushrooms, broccoli, nuts and cream. Slow run home but feeling alright, ish.

Day 16:
Tricolore for lunch and a nice fish curry with cauliflower rice for dinner, plus milkshake.  Mildly in ketosis when I got home from work, and heavily only an hour later - it changes quickly it seems.

Day 17:
Bit of a fat day, at least on paper. Started by finishing some leftovers, then had bacon and a lump of cheese. Then had my usual milkshake with the addition of some cocoa. For dinner had a baked thing of aubergine, courgette, mushroom, mince and cheese. Seemed to be out of ketosis this evening - too much protein?

Day 18:
Too many peanuts had me thinking I'd ruined my macros but in ketosis this evening. Lunch was last night's dinner. Dinner was parmesan courgette 'fries' and roast chicken, feta and avocado salad.  Plus some yog and raspberries.

Day 19:
Chicken, asparagus and cheddar for lunch. Dinner was a very nice, and very high fat, celeriac carbonara.

Day 20:
Tricolore for lunch and a chicken pie with cauliflower mash for dinner . Wandering around the woods knackered me out, but then it knackered everyone.

Day 21:
Went out for lunch and was forced to have chicken wings as the only compliant offering. Pretty good though. Then salmon, cauliflower, spinach and avocado for dins. Seven mile forest run felt pretty draining but okay and didn't feel hungry despite no brekky.

Day 22:
Leftover pie for lunch and an enormously gluttonous cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake. With bacon and mushrooms. And cheese. So much cheese. Too many calories today but must have ticked the fat ratio.

Day 23:
Leftovers again, so definitely fatty. Then moussaka made by Holly, decarbed and fattened!  Ordered some books on this lark and started reading 'Why we get fat'.

Day 24:
Chicken soup for lunch, creamy but must be pretty low calorie. Leftover moussaka for dinner.  Made vanilla fat bombs too - macadamia, butter and coconut oi, so super calorie dense.

Day 25:
Tricolore for lunch, which I have realised is a little high in protein. A piece of fat bomb and a lump of cheese. And later off to Jamie's Italian before a midnight cinema trip, it looks to be the best of the bunch for keto at Westfield (wouldn't have expected Italian).

Day 26:
Soup made of only broth and cream for lunch and a four mile run in evening, slow but okay. Leftover chicken pie and cauliflower mash for dinner. Must be well under calorie today but yet to feel hungry.

Day 27:
Out for coffee this morning so while others had a croissant, I had a scotch egg. Breadcrumbs but surely not much. The egg with feta and bacon foe lunch and a prawn courgetti thing for dinner.

Day 28:
Scrambled egg for breakfast. A very late lunch of chorizo, spinach, cream, cheese - this was after watching everyone at the cafe eat as choices were too limited for me. Stilton chicken with asparagus spinach gruyere cream for dinner. Dense.

Day 29:
Chorizo scrambled egg for lunch after a grim but faster seven mile forest run. Pork shoulder, broccoli and creamy spinach for dins. Also had some berries and yog and made some vanilla milkshake ice lollies, notionally for Willow.

Day 30:
Tricolore for lunch again due to lack of time and imagination. For dinner we had Indian. I opted for chicken saag in the hope it is basically chicken, spinach and oil. We shall see.

Day 31:
Bacon and mushrooms in cheese and cream for brunch - traditionally a heart attach on a plate, but now science says not so much.  Milkshake. For dinner cauliflower cheese and two sausages - sausages were surprisingly un-keto, but think I escaped.

Day 32:
16 hour working day on the elections yet ate only a cheesy avocado salad, two sausages and some leftover cauliflower cheese. Still not really hungry!  Amazing turn around.

Day 33:
Bacon and mushrooms cheese cream for brekky and smoked salmon courgetti on Friday night. Damn, I love that breakfast invention.

Day 34:
Omelette for breakfast.  Attempted BBQ for dinner with steak, halloumi and courgette - finished of on frying pan. And milkshake, added cream cheese for extra fat.

Day 35:
Calorie bomb central today.  The bacon and mushroom cheese brekky. Cauliflower and mushroom cheese bake and chicken with Stilton for dinner. Plus another 'cheesecake' milkshake, a bit odd.

Day 36:
An odd leftover lunch of an egg and some cauliflower cheese. Sausages, cheesy spinach and salad for dinner. Very tired again for some reason. No sign of ketones but can't imagine I am out of ketosis so perhaps adaptation is well underway and I am using them all up.

Day 37:
Another odd mix of leftover sausage, avocado and mozzarella salad for lunch. Chicken, spinach and avocado and feta for dinner. Back showing ketones.

Day 38:
Tricolore for lunch and for dinner, fish, cheesy spinach and cauliflower. Plus yog and berries. Showing ketones again - hoped I would get my head around some reason, but perhaps it's all just rhyme. 

Day 39:
The lamest lunch yet, more as a product of an empty fridge than anything, a lump of cheese and a boiled egg. Meatballs in creamy mushroom sauce for dinner. 

Day 40:
Scrambled egg for breakfast, bacon and mushroom cream cheese for lunch, and finally got around to having pork scratching (motorway service station food wasn't really an option.

Day 41:
Bacon and mushroom cream cheese at the campsite for breakfast - James was impressed.  Two boiled eggs on the hill for lunch, not that I was very hungry.  Dinner was chicken and spinach cream cheese.  A real test of the diet today - 280m or so of rock climbing and a walk to, essentially, the summit of Great Gable.  Felt fine.

Day 42:
Scrambled egg and avocado for breakfast and a sausage casserole with courgette, broccoli, cheese and cream for dinner.  Another full day climbing.

Day 43:

Bacon and cheese, only, for breakfast. Nuts for lunch. And bbq steak with some broccoli for dinner. This will be my last daily note and it seems right that it ends with me breaking my whisky abstinence, such is my faith in me having adapted. So I survived some strenuous exercise, and have survived whisky!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Return to the cliffs

Yesterday I got back from a four day trip to the Lakes with James, though it felt more like a month.  It was a brilliant re-introduction to rock climbing, though I am not sure how I will be able to build on that. Regardless, it was fun and very varied.  On Saturday we did the (actually not that) long trek in to Great Gable and climbed Tophet Wall – a route I probably climbed eight or so years ago, then we moved round to Napes Needle and simul-climbed the classic VDiff Needle Ridge and then soloed a Mod above it called Pinncale Ridge, leading virtually to the summit.  This was the first real big test of how my new diet can fuel significant exercise and it passed with flying colours, but I won’t say any more as a big blog is coming.  

The next three days we spent on single pitch routes – leading, soloing and even top roping and it became increasingly less alien.  I only led VS 4b which is a far cry from where I was, but better than where I was a week ago.  The weather was fantastic throughout and we were very lucky, although it was chilly out of the sun.  And James only nearly got the car stuck once.

To top it off, Willow was actually pleased to see me for once when I got home.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Goodbye Aj

This blog, more than anything, is just a form of diary for me to look back on in years to come, so it is right that I document anything significant that happens.  At the weekend, we heard the tragic news that our friend Ajvir Sandhu had died in a light aircraft crash.  I am lucky in my life to have to have dealt with loss only a very small number of times, and these days I rarely saw Aj.  But he was one of the cadets I worked closest with, at a time when the Squadron was arguably at it’s strongest and he was part of the close Alps Team of 2007.  I remember him reading the entire last Harry Potter book on the drive to the Alps (it came out the day before), being a very slow reader, I was in awe.  He was also one of the few to be able to claim that he actually improved the Squadron, and was among the best SNCOs I have worked with.  More importantly, he was one of the very, very few ex-cadets that I consider my friend – most move on and we never see each other again, and naturally so - but I did expect Aj to pop up on occasion for many years to come – I went for a drink with him only at Christmas.  So, infrequent though it was, and usually through the effort of mutual friends, it is odd to think I’ll never see him again. 

I also remember Aj’s passion for flying and the RAF and I was really pleased when I heard that he was streamed for Fast Jet, not that I ever really expected anything else.  In such tragic times maybe one can draw slight solace from the fact that he was enjoying life and his job to such a degree that he chose to do exactly the same thing in his spare time – not many of us can claim that.  He would have gone very far in the RAF, but in a life cut all too short, Aj experienced a lot, and clearly touched a lot of people judging by the social media comments – I guess, because he was such a genuinely nice guy.

Our thoughts are with Aj’s mother, father and sister. Rest in peace, Aj.

Aj, and someone's washing, in the Alp, 2007
Aj, front left
Aj liked climbing but I think he liked flying more

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sixteen years

Last week was mine and Holly's anniversary - well done to us, I'd say!  Naturally, we went to see Captain America: Civil War.  And it was all that it should have been.