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Reflections on Living a Low Carb Life.

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There is a difference between an eating plan for weight loss and one for just living. Not everyone gets that.  I didn’t.  I have lost a great deal of weight (30% of my body weight) two – three times; and a lot of weight (5-10% ) enumerable times. I was super successful each time.  Man – I could lose weight with the best of them.

How? First – while in high school and then college – was just portion control and eliminating sweets. In my mid 20’s, I did Weight Watchers – the original – back in the early 70’s and got down to super thin – a 32 inch waist.  Each time I gained back the weight and more.  The original WW diet formed the model for my ensuing weight losses – but that was modified by the Low Fat movement that was foisted upon us. I hated eating Low Fat.  Never was able to tolerate eating food that tasted like cardboard and plastic. Calorie Counting became a way of life. Some exercise was in the mix, but as my will power to eat right waned, so did my desire to go to the gym.

As time went on and life got in the way, I cared less and less about my weight.  By the time I was in my early 60’s, I had hit 260 pounds and climbing. A visit to the Doctor for a cough that would not abate resulted in a hard smack up side the head. High Blood pressure meds were prescribed along with blood tests and a warning “don’t exercise or start a diet until we do all the testing.”

Sadly – I ignored the advise and headed to the Book Store – for some guidance on weight loss. I found a small book by Dana Carpender, which had a couple of pages explaining a Low Carb diet and the rest was a compendium of food carb content.  The updated book is on Amazon, Dana Carpender’s NEW Carb and Calorie Counter-Expanded, Revised, and Updated 4th Edition: Your Complete Guide. I followed the advice to the letter, aiming for no more than 25-35 grams of carbs per day.  That book went with me everywhere as I learned the carb count of various foods.  I already knew the Calorie count.  I started eating low carb on the day I joined a gym – March 12, 2007

I discovered the TNT (Targeted Nutrition Tactics) Diet in November of 2007.  The Diet was outlined in the November issue of Men’s Health magazine.  That issue changed my life.  It opened my eyes to the fact that dietary fats were not the devil’s spawn. I bought the full Men’s Health TNT Diet book once it was published.

The TNT diet had several “Plans.”  Each plan was tailored to your needs based upon the amount of weight you wanted to lose and how long you were already eating low carb.  It does not quantify calories, grams of carbs, protein or fats.  It gives you lists of foods you can eat and suggested meals and recipes. In many ways – similar to Weight Watchers. There is a full top-of-the-line exercise plan that goes with it – although any good structured plan would work.  Along with it, there is a TNT Forum on the Men’s Health site which answers any question you may have.

As I read more and more, I came to understand that Plan A is what I now know to be a Ketogenic Diet – one designed to eliminate your body’s dependence upon glucose (the product of eating carbs) and switch to Ketones (the product of eating fats) for energy.

An analysis of Plan A – was straight forward – the basic formula for a Ketogenic Diet. Here it is in a Nut Shell:

Carbohydrates: 25-35 grams is the sweet spot – but no greater than 50 grams in any day.  All mainly from non-starchy vegetables.

Protein:  1 gram of protein per pound of your Lean Body Mass – your body without the fat.  Another way of looking at that – .8 grams per pound of your Target or Proper Weight.

Dietary Fats:  All the rest of your energy needs.

When I started – I was 260 pounds, exercising 3 times a week.  My goal was 180 pounds. To maintain the 260 pounds, I had to eat close to 3,600 calories a day.  To maintain 180 pounds, I would have to eat approximately 2,500 calories a day. Assuming a goal of eating 2,500 calories – here is the macro-nutrient break down.

 

Carbs: 150 +/- calories a day.  (6%)

Protein: 550 +/- calories a day.  (22%)

Dietary Fats: 1,800 calories a day.  (72%)

The actual breakdown varies on a day-to-day basis.  This is NOT a NO CARB diet.  You must eat your non-starchy veggies which have carbs.  There are carbs in almost everything we eat.

This is NOT a HIGH PROTEIN diet.  This is more than the bare minimum protein that the FDA requires for you to live healthy – but in no way is it HIGH.  There are those who feel that to be fully on a Ketogenic diet, the protein should be reduced to closer to 100 grams – BUT – I do not believe they are taking into account exercising.  A “balanced” diet of 30% protein would have you eat closer to 190 grams a day.  Now that is a high protein diet.

This is a HIGH FAT diet.  No question – Fat is the source of your energy. Period.  You can not eat low-carb and low fat – your body would have no energy to survive. One of the biggest mistakes that folks make when they first dip their toe into Low Carb eating – is to significantly reduce their Carbs while maintaining a Low Fat diet. They crash and burn quickly.

Dietary Fats are your only variable for controlling your weight loss.  Reduce them and lose more – increase them and slow the weight loss process or gain weight.

“That is insane – your Cholesterol numbers are going to be off the charts.  You are killing yourself!” the world shouts at me. Here is a chart of my blood work. You decide.

Simply put – if you are not eating carbs then your body burns dietary fats for energy and those fats don’t cause a problem. Strange but true.

It takes 2-3 weeks for your body to switch from a Carb burning machine to a Ketone burning machine.  When you read the articles concerning various studies – look behind the hype and see how long the study had the individuals eating Low Carb. Most of the time it was for maybe 2 weeks. That is not enough time to prove anything.

I get a bit crazy reading the strange things on-line. Some of the Myths and down right false ideas:  Low Carb is High Protein – Not.  Paleo is Low Carb – Not.  Your brain only burns Carbs – Not. Your brain is a switch hitter and the aging brain loses its ability to use glucose and thrives on Ketones. Your body cannot exist without eating carbs – Not. Your body can make glucose – in part from amino acids. You can not exercise or grow muscles without carbs – Not.  Check out my two year anniversary pics. You only lose water – Not. That comes from the fact that as you burn up the stored glycogen in your muscles, your body loses stored water.  One gram of glycogen holds onto 4-5 grams of water.

Eating a ketogenic diet – is eating Very Low Carb – Normal Protein – High Fat.  It is the true Low Carb diet. Eating more than 50 or so grams of carbs is probably eating a reduced or low Carb diet but not a Ketogenic diet. Everyone is different.  At what point does your body stop being in a Ketosis and revert to burning carbs – a moving target – different from person to person and from year to year.  No question that eating above 100 grams (400 calories) of carbs will shut down ketone production.  

But – is that reduction of carbs without transitioning to Ketosis – bad for you?  If you are eliminating highly processed foods – it can only be good.  The question that you must answer is what works for you.  Knowing that you want to keep protein close to 1 gram per pound of lean body mass – the question remains – how do you balance fats and carbs. Eliminating fats has proven to be a false idol. Eating a high carb diet is just plain fool hardy.  Your own body must be your guide.

There are so many books out there – some good – some not so good – some worthless. If you are interested in pursing reading – check out Drs. Volek and Phinney’s The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. It is pretty close to the definitive statement and guide.

If you like to just watch a video, here’s one to watch with Dr. Mary Vernon.

Protein Myths

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As I walked into the gym, I was greeted by this sign.
20151107_081856

Decreases the accumulation of body fat and accelerates weight & fat loss!”

Somebody want to tell me how eating protein accomplishes that.  Am I being too critical? 

The sign is there for one reason and one reason only – to sell protein shakes. BTW – there is an extra cost to add more Glutamine to the shake.

This is at a RetroFitness.  The one I go to has added a number of enhancements including Battle Ropes, TRX straps, a Sled push/pull area, a kick and regular boxing bags and new bikes.  I can’t complain.

Just an observation – the Shakes are a high profit item – selling them supports the rest of the gym.  Drink up guys.

Single-Leg Bench Getups

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There are times when you realize that those esoteric exercises actually had value.  That happened to me this past winter when post right hip replacement, I fell and destroyed the prosthetic.  I spent the next month in the hospital.  For 8 weeks I was prohibited from putting any pressure on my right leg.  None.  I walked with a walker using one leg to steady myself and my arms to lift and propel myself. That is when all those weighted dips became my savior. I was even able to walk up and down a flight of steps on one leg – using the railing and a crutch as the supports for the “dip.” Amazing what you will do for a Shower.

There was one other exercise which was critical to my ability to function during this time.  The Single-Leg Bench Getups.  I had been doing these as the starting point to eventually get to one-legged squats and finally a Pistol Squat.  If you have the Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises – check out pages 196 and 197.

Between the Dips and the Squats – I was able to survive and function during those 8 weeks.  This morning, after months of rehab and time back at the gym, I started Single-Leg Bench Getups again.  My left leg was fine – my right leg is going to need a lot of time and work.

Here are the progression of exercises.  Your Quads and Calves and functionality are calling on you to add these to your workout.

Single Leg Bench Getup

Single Leg Bench Getup

Single Leg Squat

Single Leg Squat

Pistol Squat

Pistol Squat

I found this YouTube Video.

2015 Classic 52 Day Challenge – Starts Wednesday, October 28th

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The Men’s Health 2015 Classic 52 Day Challenge – starts this Wednesday, October 28th.  I’ve been doing these Challenges since the Summer of 2008.  5 Peer Run Challenges each year.  They have been and continue to be a tremendous way for me to keep my focus and to keep my weight off for the past 8 years.

If you are not familiar with these Challenges, check out the Men’s Health 52DC Forum. Browse around.  Read the History and how the “Classic” came to be.  Read through the FAQs – there is a huge amount of information that will get you started.  Then SIGN UP and be part of a great group.

I’ve updated my Resistance Training program for this Challenge.  Since I’m still working on regaining strength after the mess of this past Winter, the program is a continuation of the last one with some minor tweaks.  Here is Phase 19 of my  Design It Yourself Workout Series.

I will be continuing my warm-up/stretch routine before each workout.  I am now ending that with a set of 50 push-ups. The Resistance Training days will alternate with Cardio days.  I’m pretty much a fast 4-4.5 mph walk for 20 minutes.  Not sure if I will ever take it back to a run. Time will tell.

I look forward to seeing you at the Starting Line.

You’re in Great Shape!

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Went to the Gym this morning.  Got there about 7:30 am.  Quiet morning.  Today was an RT workout. Started with our normal warm up & stretching including a set of 50 push-ups.  Then on to the scheduled RT.
  • Wheel Roll Out
  • Swiss Ball Hip Raise and Leg Curl
  • Barbell Row – 90 pound bar
  • Farmer’s Walk – 45 pound plate in each hand for 60 paces and return
  • Barbell Bench Press – finally back up to 135 (including bar)
I feel good about the long road back. 
I’m not a talker at the gym.  I focus on my workout and taking my wife through her workout.  I am a head nod’r and “Good Morning”  guy.  I acknowledge those who are there during the times we workout. Seriously – not sure how you can see someone almost every morning and not acknowledge their existence.  There are guys like that.  Not me.
Finished the workout and was in the locker room packing up.  Another guy who I see a couple of times a week turns to me and asks:  

“How old are you guys?”  

Huh? and he repeats the question.  I chuckle and respond “We are both 71.  Why?”

He looks at me and says: “You are in great shape!”  

“Thanks”  “How old are you?” I asked.  

“54”  

I returned the compliment – “You are good shape as well.”  

“Not like you.”  

I laugh and say “Have a good weekend” as we walk out the door.

No question that my effort is paying off.  Others have noticed.  Always nice to get a compliment.
BTW:  The next 52 Day Challenge starts on Wednesday October 28th.  These Challenges have kept me focused on my workout and I will keep them up. 
Just realized, I never reported my final results from the last challenge. So – here they are my final numbers for Friday, October 2, 2015 – Day 52 (100%)
  • Clean Eats: 97/104/96 (101.04%)
  • Resistance Training: 20/20 (100%)
  • Cardio Training: 20/20 (100%)
  • Personal Goal 1: (Push-ups): 2650/2600 (101.92%)
  • Personal Goal 2: (Chin-ups): 930/520 (178.85%)
I’m getting ready for the next Challenge – just need to update my workout.  Project for this weekend.

The Sled – Part Two

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This morning was Cardio.  We started with our normal warm up and then I did 20 minutes on the Treadmill.  Pretty happy that I am up to a fast walk at 4 mph and getting my heart rate up into the 120’s.  May take it to a slow run in a month or so.

Then I went to the sled.  There it was – alone and unused.  It had 45 & 35 pound plates on it.  I left them.  Hooked up what i thought would be the Shoulder harness – No way.  It is either for a midget or used as a Bear Crawl pull.  I grabbed the ends and pulled facing forward.  Not an upright walk but a bent over pull.  Not hard – but not easy.  

At the end of the run, I threw the straps on the sled and pushed it back to the starting point.  This was a bit more difficult.  I did this several times and then did my Chin-ups – 10-5-5-5.

Next time, I’m going to use the long straps – standing facing the sled and pulling it towards you.

I can see where the sled workout could be of value – once you know the weight you need and which muscle groups you want to work. Doing it fast and in succession will be a good Cardio workout. It will take a couple of more times to get it right.

The Sled

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I workout at a Retro Fitness.  Not a bad place.  This one has a pretty good selection of free weights and resistance equipment. Yes – it has a lot of Cardio machines – but no where like some of the other places.  

This location just rehabbed.  It switched the underused Cardio-Movie theater to a smaller venue while making the old theater into a larger “classroom.”  The old classroom is now a larger warm up room.  All the machines have been moved around – enough to make you a bit crazy.

With all these changes it added a Sled area. The Flavor of the Day. No one uses this – at least while I workout early in the am.  Still it’s calling my name.

Although not the exact same piece of equipment – this is close.  You can push or pull.

Sled-1

Here is a YouTube video of a sled workout.  Check it out.

Tomorrow is a Cardio day.  I’m going to try it out.  Maybe.  I’ll report back.

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