Sunday, December 15, 2019

the three horsemen of Kevin's apocalypse

Bye-bye, sodas. Bye-bye, carbs. Hello, keto. And hello, brothers of keto.

I've been reading Dr. Jason Fung's book, The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally (available at Amazon here). It's very informative, and not a little scary in its description of how all-pervasive the damage of diabetes can be. All your major organs are affected by it; neuropathy (which I suffer in my feet to a light degree) is only the beginning. Fung's contention, consistent with that of Gary Taubes, is that carbs are the root of the problem. Further, Fung thinks that diabetes doesn't have to be a lifelong ailment: it can be halted and even reversed (although many of the effects of diabetes, like neuropathy, cannot). This is good news for people in my situation, i.e., 50-something folks who could end up with a slew of major problems in as little as a decade if they don't get off the deadly course they're on.

I haven't read all of Fung's book yet, but I've seen the commentary around the book and know something of his plan, which includes 24-hour blocks of fasting to supplement one's intermittent fasting. Fung recommends a diet that is mostly congruent with the keto diet, so these are, starting tomorrow (Monday the 16th), the three horsemen that will be chasing me for the next several months: (1) keto dieting, (2) intermittent fasting, and (3) Fung's 24-hour fasting blocks, which he recommends doing 3-4 times a week (for me, that means MWF). Fung's book is shot through with anecdotes about people who went from being heavily dependent on meds that did nothing to help them, to being completely med-free, all while losing weight, gaining energy and alertness, and regaining a sense of well-being.

I'm cautious, of course: as I've written before, I tried Atkins in the early 2010s, with that diet's hardcore two-week ketosis "induction" period at the beginning, and it led me to become clinically depressed. But I've been watching plenty of YouTube videos about keto-friendly recipes that will allow me to satisfy my massive craving for bread, pasta, and sweets without falling off the wagon. I have no illusions that keto substitutes will be anywhere near as tasty and satisfying as the real thing, but it's getting to a point where, if I don't put myself onto some sort of regimen, I may very well not make it to 60. I've often joked about dying by that time: my maternal and paternal lineage both have histories of heart attacks; my paternal grandparents were also alcoholics, and my mother's father died of a heart attack when he was relatively young. Genetics-wise, the odds are very much stacked against me, and given that Mom herself didn't make it past her sixties (she was 66 when she died), I need to look out for diseases like cancer as well. The odds of getting cancer go up logarithmically when you're diabetic; "cancer loves sugar," as one doc on YouTube puts it.

While it's tempting to lay out my plan here, I know I've done that before, and doing so often seems to jinx me. Suffice it to say that I'll be sticking to keto and the two types of fasting, with occasional exceptions for the holidays that will be compensated for by some nice, long walks. I might explain my regimen in more detail after a couple of months, assuming I start to see results from the discipline. So mark this blog post; I'll be expecting my commenters to hold my feet to the fire. To the man in the mirror, I say: Ganbatte!


John Mac said...

Good luck! I did the Taubes thing and coupled with my walking lost a lot of weight. Like you, I have bad genes and saw what diabetes did to my mom.

I'm not sure how I'd deal with a 24 hour fast. Giving up sweets is about as big a sacrifice as I can handle. Maybe it's something you get used to over time? Will be interested to hear how this part goes for you.

And don't get discouraged if you have setbacks. Each day is a new opportunity. I predict you will be buying a shitload of new clothes before long (I went from a 42 to 34 waist).

Ross LeCompte said...

I went through a long skinny period due to a keto diet. Went from 93 kg to 78 in about 6 months. However I only managed to maintain the discipline for about a year, and then slowly gained it back over the course of about 4 years. Now I am fatter than ever at about 105 kg. I was at a reasonable weight for 5 due to that 6 months of effort though, so I will most likely start again when the inspiration hits. Some tips, first 3 days during induction are murder. Then I was low energy for a couple weeks, and then I evened out and felt like superman. My bench went up as my weight plummeted. Pretty cool, that. However I had constant leg cramps in my calves. Since then I have read that is due to lack of salt, so I will try to consume more of that next time. Also, I feel like only red meat really satisfied my hunger. Chicken just could not satisfy my gargantuan apatite.

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for the much-needed encouragement.


Going from 93 to 78 kg in 6 months comes out to 2.5 kg lost per month for a total of 15 kg. That's a good, slow, steady pace, I think; a lot of diets say that it's unhealthy to lose weight faster than 1 kg per week. What caused the regaining of weight? Stopping the keto? I'm curious, and I'm obviously asking for selfish reasons because I might find myself on a similar path, and I'd like to know the warning signs.

Thanks for the heads-up regarding what to expect with keto. Did you suffer the "keto flu"?

Lack of salt is a new one on me. I've heard that muscle cramps are linked to a lack of potassium (see here), but when I Googled about cramps just now, I saw that "lack of salt" is also listed as a possible cause. Interesting. Maybe eat some salted bananas...? Heh.

Anyway, I appreciate the insights. Good luck as you restart your weight-loss journey! For me, I'd be happy to get down to 98 kg!

Ross LeCompte said...

I had never heard of the Keto flu before, but apon reading the symptoms I would say yes, every time I make another attempt I go through it. No nausea, but the weakness and irritability for sure. Granted, I am always a bit grumpy. The reason I could not keep the weight off is familial responsibilities. I cook once or twice a week, and my wife cooks 5 days just about. When I was on the diet, I cooked my own meals or my wife cooked 2 meals, one for me and one for her, as she had no desire to go on a diet. After our kid showed up, neither of us had time to do that and keto options are limited at the convenience store, so it becomes pretty hard to maintain that diet.