Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Health Update: Day 47

294.0. Ah, the shame. (Up from a low of 292.8 earlier in the week.)

No change from last week, and I'm going to start exercising, anyway. I suspect that my body chemistry just isn't like Sean's; the low-carb approach doubtless works well for many, but not for all. I've long suspected that, for me, the key to weight loss is activity, not diet. My body has traditionally responded faster to changes in physical routine than it has to changes in eating habits.

So: tomorrow, we start a-walkin', and I'll be adding more data to these health updates.



Elisson said...

May I make a suggestion?

Write down everything you eat during the course of the day, including full descriptions and quantities. Do this for one week - or at least four days, if you feel lazy. Then e-mail your food diary to me. I can make a few suggestions based on what you actually eat.

At first blush, what I would say is that there is nothing wrong with the low-carb approach, but it does not work if you eat unlimited amounts of fatty foods and high-calorie proteins. The trick is to balance the amounts of carbs and proteins, while at the same time maintaining enough caloric intake to keep your body from going into starvation mode, yet low enough to create a caloric deficit.

If I can do it, you can, too... and I've been able to maintain my (lower) weight for three years now.
I'd be happy to help... if you want it.

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for the offer, but I'm feeling over-monitored as things stand, thanks to a rather micromanaging supervisor at work. I'll lone-wolf it for now.

Taubes spends a great deal of time hammering home the point that it's not the calories—it's the carbs. Amount doesn't seem to matter to him, unless we're talking about ridiculous extremes, be they starvation or stuffing.

It may be that I'm overusing artificial sweeteners, since I do, admittedly, have a very sweet tooth. Artificial sweeteners can still stimulate insulin production, according to Taubes (this insight is consonant with the claim, made a couple years ago, that it is indeed possible to get fatter by just thinking about certain foods).

Whatever the problem may be, I'll isolate it and soldier on. Thanks again.

Sperwer said...


You seem to keep forgetting the context of Taubes' rejection of the thermodynamic principle of weight loss, i.e., that simply creating a caloric deficit, WHILE CONTINUING TO CONSUME AN EXCESS AMOUNT OF CARBS, will not result in a significant loss of FAT. You can still lose weight, but most likely you will be catabolizing muscle to the extent that you simply aren't burning off the new calories with which you have simply replaced the ones incinerated with cardio the day before. This is why so many cardio bunnies are relatively "skinny" but are fat, ie have high BF% and little muscle tone (they don't have much). It is possible to lose fat with a low carb diet of the sort that Taubes champions, but - in the absence of serious exercise AND A CALORIC DEFICIT, it takes a long, long time. Both are needed to prime the body to release fat stores, transport it and burn it for fuel in place of the decreased carbs and in lieu of more readily available protein and fats from current consumption.

Kevin Kim said...


But I don't think I'm consuming an excess amount of carbs, and that's the rub. My carb consumption is pretty much near zero at this point.

Sperwer said...

Sorry, ironically it seems that I was as unclear as Taubes. The problem is that even if carbs are low - and the specific etiology of carb-driven fat deposition is inhibited - fat loss will be stunted or even non-existent if one is eating an excess of any sort of calories, because in the presence of sufficient calories to maintain ordinary daily activities, and (most of any) excess will end up as fat. The most effective way to trigger and maintain fat loss is thus some combination of caloric restriction and/or increased caloric expenditure through exercise.

Anyway, I'm glad you are starting to exercise again.

Maqzito said...

i dunno... i obviously don't know exactly what you've been eating everyday, but some of these pics of meals you've been posting since you started look kinda carby to me. its the dressings and sauces that do it (and that gochujang in the jjigae). you'd probably be more successful by just eating more "bland" preparations of things. it leaves little chance for carbs to sneak into the equation. i've definitely got a pretty lowe tolerance for carbs myself and i find myself having to go pretty low in the carb count. also remember about the sheer amount as well. just because low-carb people stress carb counting instead of calorie counting, it doesn't mean that calories are now irrelevant. a steak is zero carbs, but if you ate a dozen steaks everyday you'd gain a whole lotta weight regardless of the fact that you would have eaten zero carbs. i'm sure you're at the extreme of eating a dozen steaks per day, but just keep in mind that volume is still a factor in the equation.

Kevin Kim said...


Understood, but I don't see that my meals have been carby at all.

Gochujang has about 10g of carbs per tablespoon. Assuming I put, say, 4 tablespoons of gochujang into the entire batch of jjigae, that's 40g of carbs distributed over about 10 servings, i.e., 4g of carbs/serving. Assuming I eat a double portion of jjigae, that's 8g of carbs from gochujang, and almost no carbs from any other ingredient. 8 grams of carbs is less than one third of my daily carb allowance.

And as for the dill dressing on the Greek salad, that was a mixture of heavy cream and mayo; mayonnaise has 4g of carbs per tablespoon. The mix was about a 3:1 mayo/cream ratio, so if I put 2 tablespoons of dressing on my salad, that amounts to about 6g of carbs in my salad. Not carb-heavy at all.

You may be right about quantity, though, and that seems to be the line that commenter Sperwer is adopting. But I challenge anyone to find the carbs in what I've been eating. One benefit I have encountered from reducing carbs has been the disappearance of sugar-related headaches and blurry vision. That's one way I know I'm more or less on the right track, nutritionally speaking.

Maqzito said...

correction from my comment above: "i'm sure you're *NOT* at the extreme of eating a dozen steaks per day."

The carbs that I'm seeing are from the vegetables and vegetable products. I think your biggest offender has been the tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is quite carby, about 21g per cup, and most of the carbs are from sugar. Eggplant has about 8g/cup, spaghetti squash has about 10g/cup. 1 cup isn't very much, so the carb count can add up pretty quickly. Add in the other veggies that you're using and the count goes higher. Also remember that the type of carb matters as well. When you use something like gochujang that gets a lot of carbs from sweet rice powder, such a refined simple carb will stimulate the insulin response much more than the same amount of carbs from a veggie. Also for me, I also find that even if I'm only eating zero-carb dairy (cheese), that slows or stops weight loss if I eat a lot of it. It's strange for that to happen considering that cheese is pretty much zero carb.
One thing that helped me learn how my body works with carb amounts was essentially cutting the carb count to zero and then working up from there. As an experiment, try a day or two in a row of only eating meat that has been minimally seasoned and left completely unsauced. I would be VERY surprised if you didn't lose at least a couple pounds from that 2 day experiment.
Also, you may have mentioned this before, but when during the day are you weighing yourself? As you've already experienced, weight can vary a lot during different parts of the day. I personally made a habit of only weighing myself in the morning right after I wake up and have gone to the bathroom. That seems to give me the most controlled sample of weight.

Kevin Kim said...


I weigh myself in the morning after two poops, but even after two poops, I know I'm not totally empty. (Wish there were some way to flush my pipes completely.) Still, it would take me too long to wait to weigh myself after a third poop, and I've got to establish a baseline somewhere.

re: tomato sauce, veggies, etc.

Still not convinced that I'm all that carbed up. Given the stats you offered on squash et al., I'd say that my meals clock in well below the 30-gram limit, and since I eat only once per day on weekdays (at night, when I come home from work, around 11PM), those meals are the only chance I have to ingest nutrition at all. I certainly don't consume an entire cup of tomato sauce with any meal; my spaghetti sauce is very chunky, and the bulk of that chunkiness comes from sausage (0g carbs).

Personally, I'm sticking to the theory that artificial sweeteners are a problem for me, since I do consume sweetened products like Fresca and sugar-free chocolate pudding (0g sugar, but 8g carbs per serving). The sweetness doubtless produces an insulin reaction.

The other part of my theory is the lack of exercise: I had been losing 2 pounds per week like clockwork until I got close to losing 10 pounds, then I hit a wall—this with no significant change in my diet. I think exercise is going to be the way to kick-start the metabolism and continue losing weight. My prediction is that, with exercise as an extra factor, weight loss will resume. We'll see whether my theory bears fruit soon enough.