Ketosis

A primer on ketosis for the not low-carb inclined: The whole theory behind low-carb dieting is based on this thing called ketosis. Ketosis is a state your body enters when it is starved for carbs, wherein it burns fat instead of storing it for later. Generally, if you’re not in ketosis, your body uses carbs first, then fat. Ketosis kinda reverses that ordering, and it pretty much only happens if you almost (not quite but almost) zero out your carb intake for some period of time. Once you do this zero-ing out (known as Phase 1 in low-carb circles), you’re in ketosis, burning fat like crazy for awhile, and then you can gradually increase your carb intake until you figure out what the right amount for you is in order to maintain your weight and/or lose weight if you’re still trying to lose. There are handy-dandy test strips you can use to figure out if you’re in ketosis at any given moment.

When we started LC dieting, we didn’t use the test strips at all. We just followed the 2 week phase 1. But, we knew we were going to blow off the diet during the Ireland trip, and we didn’t want to return to Phase 1 for two weeks if we didn’t have to. Phase 1 is really restrictive. You basically eat meat, eggs, and the occasional green veggie…and that’s it. You have to keep diet sodas to a minimum, and technically, you’re supposed to eschew caffeine altogether, although I never did. You can’t have sugar alcohols for the most part, so that knocks off most meal bars and all of the LC desserts in existence. You also can’t have any variant of chips or bread out there, no matter the carb count. No fruit. No beans. So, it’s also a PITA because it makes eating out that much harder. You’re stuck with salads in most fast food places, or you’re stuck just eating meat. Anyways, we bought the strips to use to test ourselves when we got back from Ireland to see if we needed to Phase 1 and also to check for how long. (Once you’ve been in ketosis once, it doesn’t always take 2-3 weeks to get back into it.) As it happened, we were still in ketosis when we got back, so we didn’t have to Phase 1 at all, although we did, just to kick our weight back down to normal from what we gained.

I’ve recently been having a lot of trouble maintaining my weight, despite being pretty good about carb counts. I have cheated occasionally, but it’s seeming like the weight gain/loss is totally tied to quantity rather than carbs. It hadn’t been like that for awhile. So, I got suspicious that I’d fallen out of ketosis and I tested. Sure enough, I was ketone-free. So, I’m going to have to Phase 1 again here pretty soon. I’m postponing it a week because I know I’ve got this wedding coming up, and I won’t be able to stay on Phase 1 during the wedding weekend. I’ll be “good” this week until I leave for New Orleans. I’m planning to find pasta, pizza, and croissants during the weekend and eat them. 🙂 Why? Because I can. And darn it all, if I’m going to go back to Phase 1, I’m going to have some of the things I miss first.

I did have real Chicago deep dish pizza (Malnatis buttercrust, individual size) last night, and it was strangely disappointing. I really do like the low-carb pizza (with the sausage “crust”) better. The spicy sausage in every bite is necessary. I tried to eat some french fries today, but they were icky to me…greasy and bland…so I gave the fries to a friend and got a salad (that I was totally craving) instead. Isn’t it wild how one’s tastes can change?

As for how I ended up out of ketosis, I have a theory that I’ve been out of it for around a month to a month and a half, based on the changes I noticed in how things seemed to work and how I felt. So, I think I can trace it to the South Beach snack things. We bought these South Beach cookies and snack crackers, and I loved them. I had them as an afternoon snack every day for weeks. And that was about when I started gaining and couldn’t seem to drop it again, except on days when I skipped a meal for some reason. Now, I don’t completely blame the SB items, but it is true that they do not have a low carb count. They’re just low cal, low fat, and somewhat low carb. So, I suspect that they contributed. SummerFest and a few other indiscretions contributed also, I’m sure. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve proven in the past that I can “cheat” in small ways once or twice a week without it affecting me badly. So, I really think the regular eating of the SB items that weren’t low carb is what pushed it over the edge.

The silver lining of this is the good timing, since I’d have to go off the diet this weekend anyways, and I’ve got a two week period following that when I should be able to be “religiously” low carb without too much trouble. I’m also hoping that the Phase 1 will kick me back into weight loss mode again. I’ve been maintaining for about six months now. I really want to drop another 15 lbs…my overall goal is to be under 200 and stay there…even if it’s 199. 🙂 I just want to be in the ones. I haven’t been in the ones since…crap, since like early middle school, and I was shorter then by a good bit. Right now, I’m about the same size as I was during freshman year of high school.