All posts by the ketogenic diary

I live in Scotland with my family. I run a small engineering design consultancy. I'm 46.

On the diet – month 13

It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been very busy with things other than weight loss and serious climbing. I stayed on the diet permanently as it really suited me, but without any formal calorie counting since last summer. My weight has stabilised at 72-73kg although I’ve been eating noticeably more than I was last year and exercising less, which is interesting. I’ve no intention of changing my diet at present. My cholesterol is still low and my energy levels are very good.

Lindor white chocolate has more fat in it than carbs.

Recently, I’ve been bouldering at A2 once or twice a week and climbing indoors at EICA more often as well. Ticked a so-called 7b on toprope there the other day, which was nice, if somewhat meaningless. I have a new project – “Buzooka 7b, in Ratho Quarry”. I’ve been on the route once on top rope and got up to the roof, then out round the left hand side of it to the rock-over. No further. It’s a technique route, slabby, not power orientated, so quite good if you don’t have the spare time to get really strong.

Currently waiting for a coaching session and the very best beta from the 2nd ascensionsist, Robbie Phillips, on 8 April, and dropping my calorie intake to get back down to 70, 69, 68? kg

7b in 2017?

On the diet – month 4


imageDay 113

Check out my massive water retention spike! I’ve been having weird Saturday weight spikes for a while and I couldn’t work out why. Then this utterly enormous one happened so i had to do some research. I found good info on the body building website, talking about water retention in response to ingesting excessive sodium (i.e. salt). Then it all started to make sense. One of our favourite restaurants, Origano in Leith does takeaways and since I have been on the diet the only thing on their menu I can eat is the Chicken Ceasar Salad. It’s pretty salty anyway, I think it’s the dressing they use, but I always have it with anchovies….as I had on this occasion last weekend. I don’t know why the spike was so unusually large this time.

The surprising solution was to drink absolutely gallons of water. The rate of return to normal was about 500g/day.

Watch your sodium intake to avoid excessive water retention!

Day 114

Those of you who have read the first posts in this blog will know that one of, if not the main objective of adopting this diet was to lose weight in order to climb harder without injuring my fingers; a perennial problem for me. “Climb harder” itself meant the specific goal of red pointing 7a (outdoors of course); two grades harder than my previous best of 6c, being Nebuchodonosor in Spartacus sector, Kalymnos, in 2008.

After two sessions working the route, today I red pointed my first 7-grade route: Raw Deal on Wave sector in Cheddar Gorge (7a). To say I am happy would be a major understatement. I’ve out so much effort, commitment and discipline into losing around 14kg since this time last year, and 10kg since March, recovering from a serious finger injury, and getting my climbing up to this standard as well. I nearly did the route yesterday, falling on the last move, but I got it quite quickly today after a shaky start – red point nerves!

I would’t say I found it easy, but it was obviously totally do-able. This makes me realise that actually, in this shape, with the right routes, training and partners, further significant advancement is completely possible.

I would like to thank Eric for belying me, and coaching me, these last two days, and Donald for training with me in Edinburgh, Glasgow and in-between over the last six months. Thanks guys!

I’m not sure what is going to happen next diet-wise. Watch this space…

Day 115

Prompted by a query on UKC about my current body fat %, I did some skin fold tests. Here’s the text of that post:

I don’t have fat % reading scales anymore, and I’m not convinced of the accuracy of the home ones anyway; the ones I had were all over the place, all the time. I know I have gained upper body muscle mass, but overall: I just couldn’t tell you what % my body fat is now, I’m sorry. If I come across some fat % scales I’ll let you know. It would be interesting, for sure. Based on past experience I would say I’m now about 9-10%, but it’s a guess. Skin fold test on suprailiac fat pad is 12mm.

That gives me an idea…I’ve got some vernier callipers in the cupboard. I’ll just do a run of skin fold tests.

Chest 4mm
Midaxilliary 4m
Suprailiac 11mm
Abdominal 12mm
Thigh 7mm
Tricep 6.5mm
Subscapular 8mm

9.43%. How about that guess! 6.7kg of fat. So I probably lost ~11kg of fat and gained about 1.5kg of muscle.


On the diet – month 3

Day 63

Ultimately, it’s all about this:

imageI replaced my scales in April as the old ones developed a fault. The new ones seem to record greater daily fluctuations in weight. I’m not sure about this – whether it’s correct or not. The weather has been warmer so maybe my hydration is more up and down. Or maybe the scale are more or less accurate.

However, they do show the trend and also agree well with the ones at the gym, which the old ones didn’t. The old ones weighed lighter by about 300g.

On this basis I’m happy to go with them for now.

Feeling great.

Red pointed 6c outdoors last week. That’s equal to my previous PB!




Day 75


So yeah, things have got a bit tougher since I last reported. I really felt my weight loss had stopped for the first time but I have not been able to do more exercise recently in order to keep it going, or much cardio vascular exercise at all in fact. I’ve done some outdoor sport climbing, with good results but that’s it. I’ve been eating about 1750 calories a day, so not a lot.

At the beginning of this week I had a think about where I am going with all this. I wasn’t feeling great, very tired, looking quite gaunt. However, I wasn’t loosing weight and I had achieved my original goal of 75kg long ago. Also, critically, I wasn’t climbing any harder. I was climbing longer – so my stamina, or my ability to move my reduced body weight up and down the wall, had increased, and in fairness I was working 6c/+ and 7a (and failing, which is fine) but I was’t seeing the sea-change in achievement I had hoped for. Maybe I’m just not a good enough climber yet.

So…I decided to get back down the pool, drop my calorie intake to 1550 a day, get down to a maximum weight of not more than 72kg (average of 71.3kg then) then start eating more, plus immediately get back down to TCA and start bouldering, working on technique.

I went to TCA this Tuesday and I must say I did see a definite increase in performance and endurance straight away. I’m still at the low end of the grades, but considering I haven’t bouldered since February, before I burst my finger, it was a pretty good session. Maybe climbing routes indoors on plastic just isn’t that motivating for me…?

On the diet – month 2

Day 32

Last night I went to the gym for the first time in years instead of going swimming or climbing. I half expected to hit a brick wall in endurance or output levels or both, perhaps because it was new forms of exercise (rowing & running especially) but it went pretty well! In fact in some ways it went really well. I found my heart rate was unusually steady compared to what I remember from my last big gym phase in 2009/10. I felt great and really enjoyed the session, which lasted about an hour an involved a (very approximate) 400 calories burnt. Looking forward to going again.

Day 34

I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a weight plateau at the moment, hovering above 75kg. However, it’s only been a few days without significant weight loss. I look pretty lean; leaner than I have for a long time. I feel pretty good about this, truth be told. I feel physically light. I confess that this makes me happier

I’ve been paying more attention to my hydration this week. Alternating coffees with waters, doing the Burning Man drill of “pee clear” (i.e. not yellow); not quite making that happen , but doing better than previous weeks. I’ve been at traces levels of ketones all week on the Ketostix.

Day 36

I went looking for a diet tracker app and after a few false starts settled on MyPlate. It’s easy to set up and I particularly like the home screen, see below. It’s targeted towards following macronutrients, so well suited to this diet. The scanner is not much use, in fact I have not managed to successfully scan one item with it. That’s a non-working scanner (in the UK at least) but personally my diet is not that varied so it’s no hassle to input a search term, be offered the options, and select something.


This has enabled me to watch my intake, especially carbs, and look after hydration. I’m back on a downwards weight trajectory again as well.

The app deducts “extra exercise” from calorie intake to give you a net daily intake of calories to compare against a required intake, being BMR – the weight loss target converted to calories. As you can see, for me to lose 0.5kg/week the app is saying I need to take in 1790 net calories a day. If you recall, in my Introduction post I did some BMR calculations and the value there was 1653 cal/day.


Pretty understandably, I think, I have been keen to make sure that eating a lot of fat doesn’t clog up my arteries and lead to an untimely death. It turns out that blood chemistry is a lot more complicated than “eat fat, get heart disease” though. Logically perhaps, if you are burning off all the fat you eat (and then some), there isn’t going be that much spare sloshing around your bloodstream. But actually the truth is a lot more prosaic.

25% of blood cholesterol come from your food intake but 75% comes from in-house production in your liver. So the level of dietary control over blood cholesterol is relatively limited. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try of course. Then there’s HDL, LDL-P LDL-C, VLDL  and non-HDL-C  to get your head around, plus the particle sizes and everything else. It’s a complex field. I found this article very helpful.

Despite the available literature, it would be a fool who embarked on a high fat diet, even if it was low carbohydrate, and didn’t at least wonder what it was happening with the cholesterol levels…wouldn’t it?

I am going for tests every 4 weeks or so. Thanks to the nice staff at Lloyds In Stockbridge, Edinburgh, for being interested in what I’m doing.


Total cholesterol CHOL


Approx. LDL

TC:HDL ratio


















Side effects

I’ve posted links to this blog on a few forums:

and a few of the comments raised have reminded me of things I should mention here. I’ll be updating this as time passes, so it doesn’t really have a chronological place in the archive.

Face flushing

My cheeks stopped flushing after about a month.

Elevated heart rate

During the very early stages of transition to ketosis I experienced a slightly elevated heart rate and found my heart rate really picking up unusually when taking even gentle exercise. This stopped after the initial adjustment period.

Bad breath

The diet can make you a bit dehydrated especially early on. Also if you are skulling back gallons of creamy coffee or other diuretics containing caffeine, like Diet Coke, you will get dehydrated. This reduces mouth saliva which creates an advantageous environment for plaque growth. Also, if you are snacking regularly through the day without brushing, you will get a build up of food fragments around your teeth. Nuts are bad for this as the skins get into nooks and crannies in your mouth. All this can make your breath smell. I am brushing three times a day, sometimes, and flossing and using mouthwash more often. No complaints received so far, but I’ve noticed it myself.

Cardio health

I think anyone doing this diet has to take this subject seriously. My approach was:

  • to do lots of general research into valid and well-documented studies
  • to account for the over-arching influence of the status quo (high carb high sugar low fat) on general nutritional advice
  • consider broadly how humans evolved without vast volumes of cheap carbs available from agriculture, but that historically life was “nasty, brutal and short” too
  • think about the various factors increasing human lifespan today, including a better understanding of nutrition
  • get my blood tested regularly

This article provides an apparently well researched positive outlook, but I have not checked the references:

On the other hand this one contains the most negative data and I recommend following up the references which are linked off the pdf at the end:

I recommend you study this data.

My own conclusion was that building my meals around a core of animal fat and cheese was not on; that walnuts nuts, avocados and olive oil were great; and that I needed to get my blood cholesterol checked every two weeks until a pattern emerged.


On the diet – month 1

Day 1-3

Feel a bit flu-ey. I also feel a bit more wired than usual during this time (I drink quite a lot of coffee as normal). I have a flushed face and feel tired. I find it hard to concentrate. I feel emotional. I am losing a lot of weight very fast (1kg/day) and pissing like a racehorse so this is probably dumping of body water associated with the low carbohydrate intake. This is feeling quite serious. Ketostix still showing no sign of ketosis. Feel a bit hungry but not in a stomach-growling way.

Day 4-9

Still feel a bit flu-ey, wired, problems concentrating, emotional. Weight loss has slowed to a rate that’s within my experience (equivalent to 0.5kg/week). Still no obvious ketosis on the sticks, maybe some traces some nights. Wondering if I bought a bum batch on eBay. Feel less hungry.

Day 10

Stop feeling crap. Still flushed. Concentration back. Still no major ketosis, possible traces. I am going to try really upping my fat intake with cream and pork scratchings. Don’t feel hungry at all.

Day 11

Boom. Big positive on the Ketostix. This makes me wonder if in fact it’s better to have traces only, indicating that all the ketones are being used up. I don’t know if the sticks measure waste (unused) ketones or the bi-products of ketone digestion. You see what I mean about research?

Day 12

I did that research and I was right – traces-only is indicative of greater weight loss going on. This reference is very helpful:

Weight loss so far: about 3.5kg

Day 15

Weight seems to be going back up. Need to look at calorie intake. I’m a bit disappointed after the amazing early stages. Been feeling occasionally hungry but not badly. Easily satiated. Energy levels are normal. Power is good. Endurance is really good, put power endurance is down.

Day 16

Go for cholesterol test. It is normal and healthy. I’ll get the data and post it up.

Day 25

Back under control and hit target weight of 75kg for the first time. I just ate less but still never really felt hungry and was easily satiated.

Day 28

What happened there? Gained a kg overnight then lost 1.5 kg the next day. This has to be a weird hydration thing. Had a salty Caesar salad with anchovies on the Friday night, drank loads of squash, and then sweated buckets fixing the insulation in the attic on Saturday evening. Just goes to show….

Day 29

Feel like I am stabilising at under 75kg. Also I haven’t needed a lunchtime nap or to stop driving to nod off since I started the diet.
Essentially though, it’s all about this:


Day 31

Today my approximate body fat % measured on my home scales is 16%. When I started it was somewhere around 22%. 22% of 80kg = 17.6kg. 16% of 75kg = 12kg. This all makes sense and suggests that the majority of my weight loss has been fat.