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Keto questions


Vian

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I started Keto on 1/8/18. At first it was great, I felt good, never got Keto flu, was losing weight pretty consistently. These last few weeks I feel like my weight loss has stalled and I'm tired all the time, can barely roll out of bed in time to get ready for work even when I go to bed early and set my alarm early with the intention of getting up to exercise. I have been trying to fill 2 new raised beds in my garden with dirt, and last year getting and unloading 2 or 3 loads in a single day wasn't a big deal. I'd be tired, but I could do it (I did do it last year). This year I got 1 load and was shoveling the dirt out into the bed and had to rest often, and by the time I was done with just 1 truckload I was just beat. I was sore for 3 days after as well. I ended up having to get 1 load of dirt each weekend (still have 1 more to get) because I was just too tired to do more. 

 

I started Intermittent fasting about 2 weeks ago (16/8-skipping breakfast) but found that if I just drank water in the AM until noon, I was SUPER low energy, got really hungry/hangry and was just miserable. However, if I drank my coffee through the morning (I make a 24oz. iced cold brew with sugar free Toriani syrup and 2tbs. heavy whipping cream) I felt great and wasn't hungry and had no problem making it to noon. But the 100-ish calories from the cream would technically break fast.

 

Here are my stats:

Female, 32

5'11"

Starting weight: 260.6lbs

Current weight: 234.6lbs

Goal weight: 180lbs by the end of the year (will re-evaluate once I reach this, will probably want to lose more)

Body Fat: 43%

Calories: 1850

Macros: 5% carbs (<25g net carbs) 20% protein, 75% fat

Workouts: No intentional exercise (would like to change that - see the part about no energy tho) but I'm a pharmacy technician and spend 8 hours a day on my feet walking around the pharmacy pulling and putting away drugs. On weekends I do grocery shopping, housework, and work in the garden planting veggies, pulling weeds, and also currently building trellises and potato boxes.

 

I seem to be at my lowest weight for the week on sundays, occasionally I drop a little more on mondays (yes I know it's not good to weigh daily, but I just look at it as data) and then I jump back up 2-3lbs during the week, then drop part of it on saturday and the rest on sunday plus some more. It's been like that almost since I started. These past few weeks I just seem to be gaining and losing the same 2-3lbs and not dropping any lower.

 

I have a fitbit that tells me I burn about 3000 calories on weekdays because I have a job where I am on my feet and walking around all day, and if that's the case maybe I'm not eating enough during the week? The fitbit is linked to MFP, my preferred calorie tracking app and it tries to add calories to my daily total to account for exercise, but I never eat more because of exercise. The last time I lost a significant amount of weight I learned that I couldn't eat back calories that I exercised because it would stall me, but with keto it may be different?

 

So I guess my questions are:

 

How do I break through this plateau?

Why am I so tired all the time on keto?

Do I need to try carb cycling or add a re-feed day?

If I add carb cycling or a re-feed day, what would my calories and macros look like?

 

Thanks for reading my super long post and for any suggestions you smart people might have!

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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Went back into MFP and re-calculated my BMR and found that I had set it to lightly active (standing all day) so I switched it to sedentary and it dropped my calories to 1580. But if my fitbit is to be believed, I'm burning between 2700 calories per day on weekends, and 3200 calories on weekdays... 1580 just seems really low... Should I keep it set to that, but eat more based on my fitbit's exercise adjustment? At 1850 calories between 2 meals, I'm not hungry. Like I get hungry before meals, but the meals are plenty satiating and plenty of food and keep me full 5-6 hours. I just don't want to kill my metabolism by starving myself.

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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Not all women respond favourably to intermittent fasting, don't worry about 'breaking fasts' and just do what works for you. If starting IF coincides with worse progress in fat loss, that's important data to take note of.  Fat loss is also not a linear progression, and stalling for a few weeks is totally normal, especially with more than 40lbs to lose.

 

Are you sleeping enough? Less than 8hrs in a calorie deficit is a recipe for fatigue and downregulating (eg. adaptive thermogenesis). If you're eating more/less salt than normal, that's also a possibility for odd water retention. But yeah, sleep is important!

 

TDEE is always a crapshoot, and a rough estimate at best - keep a food journal to figure out where your 'maintenance' calories are, and ignore the calculators. IMO 1,800kcal seems like a good spot to shoot for. I don't like to cut more than 25% of my kcal, and (using the calculators I just told you are shit ;) ), I'd guess your TDEE to be something closer to 2,300kcal/day - so a 25% deficit would be around 1,725kcal/day.

 

Personally, I also like to aim for .75-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight, so closer to 175g rather than the 90-100g it looks like you're averaging - it may not work the same way for your body, but I definitely feel more tired when I don't get enough protein. Could be worth looking at that first, before going back to higher carbs (if you're still enjoying the low carb lifestyle).

 

Carb&kcal  cycling can get to be quite complex, but the easiest way to do it would be to add an extra protein shake with frozen berries on workout days - it adds a bit more, on the days that you need it, without getting crazy.

 

Finally, if you can add an extra hour of sleep to your day, it'd be a GREAT tool to also start doing some resistance training to favour fat loss rather than more muscle loss. Highly recommend checking out the NF bodyweight routine if you need somewhere to start.

 

Lots of different ideas here, feel free to take on what you like and ignore the rest. ;) Have fun!

 

 

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A couple of additional points to consider:

 

17 hours ago, Defining said:

Not all women respond favourably to intermittent fasting, don't worry about 'breaking fasts' and just do what works for you. If starting IF coincides with worse progress in fat loss, that's important data to take note of. 

 

Quoting this for extra impact. If it were me, I would start by stopping the IF and going back to whatever you were doing before. See if that puts you back on track.

 

22 hours ago, Vian said:

Went back into MFP and re-calculated my BMR and found that I had set it to lightly active (standing all day) so I switched it to sedentary and it dropped my calories to 1580. But if my fitbit is to be believed, I'm burning between 2700 calories per day on weekends, and 3200 calories on weekdays... 1580 just seems really low... Should I keep it set to that, but eat more based on my fitbit's exercise adjustment? At 1850 calories between 2 meals, I'm not hungry. Like I get hungry before meals, but the meals are plenty satiating and plenty of food and keep me full 5-6 hours. I just don't want to kill my metabolism by starving myself.

 

BMR or TDEE? They are not the same. All things equal, BMR needs to be the minimum you eat, not your calorie goal. 

 

There are two ways to use a Fitbit / MFP combo:

  • Set your activity to sedentary and eat back your exercise calories until you get to your chosen deficit (i.e. 500, which is usually the goal with 1 lb of weight loss a week).
  • Set your activity correctly (based on your individual activity level) and do not eat back exercise calories. 

Pick whichever works best for you. If 1850 has been working for you previously, I'd stay there, take out the IF, and reevaluate in a few weeks. If there still isn't any movement, I'd play around with the numbers to see what works. You may need to eat a bit more, you may need to eat a bit less, just don't get too frustrated through the process. Plateaus are totally normal, so while frustrating, don't let it get you off track. Also, FWIW, I am your height, weigh less, and still lose on around 1750, so you probably have some wiggle room for additional calories without worrying too much about eating too much. 

 

For your other questions: if you like eating keto and weren't having problems with it, I wouldn't change anything, particularly not with it being your first major plateau.  Anything you would do to change your macros would potentially (most likely) impact your ketosis. 

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Standing around actually doesn't burn that many calories, nor does walking a few paces intermittently.  It's fatiguing and hard on joints, but not a big weight burner.  Steady walking, especially on stairs or inclines, burns more energy.  Most of the scientific data we have on the subject comes from people in a lab on treadmills (and "standard" exercise test subjects are often male, sigh..).  So your fitbit may be exaggerating when it says you are burning 3000 calories a day with your shuffling around the shelves. 

 

Gardening, however, is good exercise.  You are walking a lot, bending, kneeling, lifting and carrying.  It is a bit intense for someone who's been on the sofa all winter or isn't used to heavy lifting.  My mom, who is a slim cyclist, still gets sore from gardening every spring.  Maybe yoga or tai chi would agree with you?  It is light enough to not drain you much, but could improve flexibility (less soreness) and rev up your activity level.

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I don't work in a retail pharmacy, we do a lot of bubble packing for facilities. I'm moving pretty much constantly and get 10,000+ steps a day according to my fitbit.

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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20 hours ago, Vian said:

I don't work in a retail pharmacy, we do a lot of bubble packing for facilities. I'm moving pretty much constantly and get 10,000+ steps a day according to my fitbit.

That's awesome! 10,000 steps/day from walking a brisk pace (5-8km/hr, or 2-5mph) can burn up to 400-500kcal or so, though if it's at a slower rate that can drop as low as 100-200kcal/day. For most TDEE calculators, that'll count as 'lightly active'. I really like this calculator, just because it shows the HUGE variance between different TDEE and BMR theoretical calculations (https://www.sailrabbit.com/bmr/).  This is another fun one, that can help set calorie/macro goals depending on the desired timeline (https://damnripped.com/tdee-calculator/).

 

Unfortunately, there are a few other things to consider when losing more than 10% of your bodyweight - namely, the hormonal adaptations that take place. There are multiple different metabolic responses to significant weight loss, but the cliff notes are effectively that a person who has always weighed 150lbs often has a higher resting metabolic rate than an individual whom used to weigh 180lbs and lost the extra to get down to 150lbs. This adaptation is highly individualistic, but can cause as many as 300-800 fewer calories to be burned per day in comparison to what 'should' be used. It can also be permanent, which makes things especially challenging for those whom have lost weight in the past, depending on how their systems responded.

 

Fitbits are great tools, but they're definitely not infallible, and the simple TDEE equations used are NOT capable of truly taking into account every individual context - which means it's a decent starting place, but not hugely accurate. MFP is equally flawed, for example: http://www.ontheregimen.com/2015/11/11/why-calories-dont-equal-macros-on-myfitnesspal/

 

All of which is to say - don't stress the details too much. If you're stalling for longer than 4-6 weeks, make an adjustment; a few weeks at a plateau is totally normal though. If 1,850kcal/day is working for you, keep with it! Based on guesstimate numbers, that should probably result in an average .75-1lb of weight loss a week. Eat 'enough' protein, whatever that means for you (though I'll readily admit my own bias on the subject, eg. https://examine.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-do-you-need/). Sleep at least 8 hrs (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss) because sleep is awesome. And finally, weight training will help favour fat loss instead of muscle loss (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10204826 | http://www.itriminternational.com/globalassets/se/pdf/forskningsrapporter/bryner_ja_coll_nutr_1999.pdf) which will help improve your overall body composition - since we rarely actually want to lose WEIGHT, so much as we want to lose FAT. And finally, if you're still feeling significant fatigue and soreness for more than 6-10 weeks, maybe chat with a health professional to discuss other potential causes.

 

 

 

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I had a goal to lose 1.5lbs a week for this year. That's what I have to lose to reach my goal of losing 80lbs by the end of the year, so it's frustrating to stall. I knew it would happen, and I know there's a reasonable chance I won't meet my goal by the end of the year, and that's fine, so long as I'm making progress. 

 

I started keto because it seemed like an easier way to lose weight without feeling deprived or hungry all the time. At this rate though, I feel like it doesn't matter what I eat so long as I count calories. I lost 40lbs on a low fat conventional "healthy" diet just by counting calories and exercising. I was hungry all the time, but it worked.

 

I'm just not sure how much to eat anymore. I used MFP back when I lost 40lbs before and I know that I put in sedentary and did not eat back exercise calories. I DID exercise, like 20-30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week, but otherwise I was going to school at the time and I was sedentary the rest of the time. Now I have a lot more incidental movement with my job and yard work on the weekends, but I'm not really working out intentionally (though I plan to start doing that more soon). 

 

I only eat about 80g protein because I'm not an athlete and excess protein is converted to carbs and can knock you out of ketosis. Women only really need 50-75g protein a day unless they are very active/building muscle. Even when I was paleo and set my macros to have like 145g protein, I never hit that goal and was usually closer to 100g. 

 

 

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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16 hours ago, Vian said:

I only eat about 80g protein because I'm not an athlete and excess protein is converted to carbs and can knock you out of ketosis. Women only really need 50-75g protein a day unless they are very active/building muscle. Even when I was paleo and set my macros to have like 145g protein, I never hit that goal and was usually closer to 100g.

To get to the point of gluconeogeneis that will 'kick you out of ketosis' (which is a bit of misnomer anyway, ketone production doesn't just shut off in the presence of glucose, it's a sliding scale) you'd need to consume something closer to 2g of protein per lb of bodyweight (or 4.4g/kg) - which would be over 450g of protein, which would be excessive in most people's eyes.

 

Even looking at the keto-friendly materials, the lowest recommended protein intake is 0.68g/lb of LBM (so @ 230lb w/ 40%BF, that's just over 90g, ironically still more than the official RDA of 0.8g/kg=84g) but are also as high at 1g/lb of bodyweight (230g). There's LOTS of material that suggests that a higher protein intake offers some muscle sparing effects during fat loss, ESPECIALLY when paired with resistance training. Again, I'm totally biased on the subject, but IMO it couldn't hurt to bump that up a bit.

http://siimland.com/how-much-protein-on-keto/

https://www.ketovale.com/how-much-protein-on-keto-diet/

https://ketosummit.com/much-protein-can-eat-keto-diet/

https://ketodietapp.com/Blog/post/2014/05/20/All-You-Need-to-Know-About-Protein-on-a-Low-Carb-Ketogenic-Diet

 

16 hours ago, Vian said:

I started keto because it seemed like an easier way to lose weight without feeling deprived or hungry all the time. At this rate though, I feel like it doesn't matter what I eat so long as I count calories. I lost 40lbs on a low fat conventional "healthy" diet just by counting calories and exercising. I was hungry all the time, but it worked.

So much of this depends on the individual, where some feel less hungry on a low carb diet, while others do better with more moderate macro ratios. No one can answer this except yourself, through experimentation and trial/error. Fiber helps (veg, fruit, whole grains if you're into that sorta thing, or even psyllium/chia), as does staying hydrated and eating more satiating foods that taste good to you (when you eat things you enjoy, you're less likely to become hungry); some ideas of foods: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-incredibly-filling-foods If you want to stay with low-carb, not all of these are viable options, but still a great starting point!

 

16 hours ago, Vian said:

I'm just not sure how much to eat anymore.

Unfortunately, the best way to figure this out is the boring way: keep a food journal for a couple weeks, and monitory your girth measurements & weight - if they're going down, you're eating in a deficit. If they stay the same, you're found your maintenance kcal, and if you gain than you may be in a slight surplus. Individual data is the best data.

 

I'll leave off now, I know that I can come off like I'm lecturing sometimes (sorry!) which is definitely not my goal - I just want to add some good info into the mix, but at the end of the day you need to choose what's best for you!

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I personally love IF, but over years of different athletic activities with different groups of people, I cannot stress this enough: EVERYONE is different! If throwing a little cream in the coffee in the morning makes you function in a less zombie-like fashion, do it! You aren't being graded on your adherence to a method. You just should do what makes your body work well. A lot of other stuff could have changed too. The metabolic rate mention, above, is fascinating to me, and I don't know much about it. has your sleep quality or quantity changed? I'm one of those people who wakes up with the sun practically, so right now mornings are ok, but call me in January and I will be in slug mode.

 

I would also suggest that our bodies are designed for all 3 macros. So while keto is great and a powerful tool for all sorts of things, it may not be sustainable right now for you. Small tweaks are the answer.

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New here, not new to keto. Hi! I topped out at about 350 lbs. several years ago, in the 240’s right now, back to work on continuing the descent. 

 

Just some things that have helped me along. Data is a great resource. It can tell you a lot about what’s going on with your body and health. This year, I looked up a decent macro tracking app and started keeping tabs on what I eat in a much more specific way than previously. It’s been illuminating, to say the least, and invaluable to ensuring that I stay below my carb threshold and at or above my protein goal daily.

 

I also weigh myself weekly with a scale that does body composition analysis. It’s incredibly useful to see how much of a week’s weight loss was fat and if I gained or lost muscle mass. That tells me whether or not my protein level is good or if I need to bump it up a bit to avoid loss of lean body mass. 

 

I concur with the other comments about intermittent fasting. It may not be helping you at this stage of things. You might try it again later when your weight loss is rolling along again, but if you immediately stall again, it may be a sign that IF and weight loss do not work together well for you. If that’s the case, maybe save that technique for after you’ve hit your goal weight and stalling is no longer a concern. 

 

Above all, have patience with your body and be kind to yourself. It’s a good thing you’re doing for your health. Keep at it, and let your body sort itself out over time. Cheers!

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