Six weeks down, seven to go! We’ll count this as my halfway-point update, so I’ve included quite a bit of detail here. TLDR: keto is fantastic and working phenomenally well.
The Weight Loss
I’ve lost a total of 18.6 pounds, continuing to average a net loss of 3 pounds per week. This is delving into bodyweight territory I haven’t explored in a decade, and it’s a phenomenal feeling. Several tangible things have happened that make the weight loss feel much more real than just a number on a scale, however.
The pants I wore six weeks ago don’t fit anymore. I’m beginning to wear pairs of jeans that were stuck in a drawer for over a year, and even then, I’ve got to wear a belt. I knocked out a set of pullups yesterday and was shocked at how easy it was: when you decrease the amount of weight you have to lift on each rep by nearly 20 pounds, it’s incredible how the difficulty drops.
My body fat percentage (BF%) fell below 20 percent for the first time this week. At this rate, I should be in the 14th percentile by the end of the 90-day GoingKeto journey even if nothing changes. An approximately nine percent drop in BF% in 13 weeks is very successful, but I think I can make it better—my goal is to get to 10 percent.
What Went Well
In my update last week, I mentioned that fitness is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. I had an excellent opportunity to test that out this week: between the holidays, a big work project I picked up, and a completely changed parenting schedule with my kids, my routines were utterly destroyed—in fact, this was the first week during GoingKeto that I didn’t work out a single time!
I was apprehensive about what the scale would say today: in fact, although my morning routine involves weighing myself as soon as I wake up, I avoided the scale several times this week—I just didn’t want to know. Let me show you what happened in the context of the whole journey.
Breaking It Down by Week
Here is a chart to help you visualize my weight loss so far: it shows the number of pounds I lost every week. The initial spike in the first week was primarily due to my glycogen stores being depleted, carrying with it a fair amount of water weight. My scale breaks down my water weight percentage: when you run the numbers, I’ve lost precisely five pounds of water weight—add in the corresponding amount of glycogen, and you get just under six pounds. Incidentally, I lost 5.8 pounds the first week, so the numbers confirm the science.
The second-week weight loss wasn’t impressive: I lost less than a pound in seven days. At this point, my body had depleted all of the carbs I’d stored up but hadn’t become fat adapted yet. I struggled with cravings: this clip pretty much sums up how I felt as I walked past the bakery department at the grocery store that week.
By the third week, I’d started to utilize ketones for energy, and I was definitely feeling it. In my weekly update, I mentioned how my energy levels had begun to stabilize, my mental health had improved, the quality of my sleep had increased, and the cravings had started to diminish. Weight loss that week was up to 2.6 pounds.
This stayed the same in the fourth week, with another 2.6 pounds added to the rubbish pile. The most significant change I noticed was that I was able to dial in my intermittent fasting window: as my body had transitioned to run efficiently on fat, the need to eat frequently throughout the day diminished.
I credit that change with the increased weight loss I saw in the fifth week: I burned through 3.2 pounds and felt brave enough to post my first side-by-side progress pic. I was beginning to see major changes in my body and felt confident in showing it.
The coolest thing about tracking these numbers is watching my weight loss rate pick up speed: this week I lost 3.6 pounds, and it was pretty much all fat. The rate at which I’m losing weight isn’t just staying consistent… it’s picking up speed.
What Was Hard
Christmas week was difficult, I’m not gonna lie. If you follow my Tuesday Takeovers on our Instagram page, you heard me talk about the various food struggles I had at Christmas breakfast and dinner: cinnamon rolls smothered in icing, apple pie, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes… I love these things.
I wasn’t willing to give up what I’d fought so hard to achieve, so I was able to turn it down. Although starting an entirely different way of eating during the holidays isn’t the easiest way to do things, a significant reason that I chose to begin my journey on November 15th was that I wanted to prove keto was effective enough to get you through the season while still losing weight. By the time the first of January gets here and diet season officially starts, I should already be 20 pounds closer to my goal.
Not only was I able to stay on track, but I also lost more weight in fat this week than I have in any of the other weeks! Talk about encouraging!
The Next Week
Last week I mentioned completely changing up my workout and eating plans for the second phase of keto. As I stated above, the first phase was all about getting fat adapted and proving the fat-loss side of keto: as a single dad with four kids, I could still pick up a completely different way of eating, stay on track, and lose weight during the holidays. That goal has been smashed.
The second phase involves continuing to burn fat while building muscle, and that gets trickier. Here’s a breakdown of the differences:
Diet & macros: Currently I’m consuming ~1,940 calories per day (147g of fat, 131g of protein, and 25g of carbs). I need to increase my protein intake to 195 grams; when you’re building muscle, you should be eating ~1g of protein for every pound of bodyweight you have. Because eating too much protein can knock you out of ketosis, I’ve got to increase my fat intake as well, so that went up by about 60 grams per day (carbs stay the same regardless).
Exercise: My weightlifting routine is changing from high reps, low weight to high weight, low reps. Most of my sets up to this point were in the 10-12 rep range, going forward, I’ll start with a warmup set and then go into sets of 5 to 6 reps each. This allows me to bulk up much more quickly and efficiently.
Increasing your caloric intake gives your body all of the material it needs to build muscle; unfortunately, it often leads to an increase in fat as well. This is why bodybuilders who operate off of glycolysis consistently have to go through bulking and cutting rotations. I don’t want that to happen, so I’m going to be increasing my cardio significantly to take care of any extra energy I’ve got lying around.
I want to add in a quick caveat: you do not need this level of exercise to achieve weight loss—I proved that in the first half of GoingKeto. What I want to demonstrate in the second half is targeted at a completely different group of naysayers: those who believe that keto causes you to lose muscle mass, and it’s impossible to achieve muscle growth.
It’s good to routinely check in on the weight loss and fitness goals you set for yourself at the beginning of your journey. Set SMART goals, measure them regularly, and keep yourself on track. I’m pleased with where I am in GoingKeto: these were aggressive goals, but I think I’m going to achieve all of them.
You might be considering starting keto in the New Year: I can tell you, without hesitation, that it’s something you should try. The first few weeks are the roughest, but the results are absolutely addictive. You’ve got this!
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