Category Archives: general

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 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.


timh1-1-205Hello. I’m Tim. I have been using the ketogenic diet since early March 2016 and my approach plus the results have caused interest among friends and colleagues. In particular, people in climbing and mountain biking circles have asked me to write about my experiences, and that’s been the main trigger for creating this blog. I hope it is of some use.

I’ve diarised the diet time itself and written some prologue as well. I wrote the prologue at around Day 30 so forgive me if I muddle tenses here and there.


I am not a medical professional or dietician. I am a professional structural engineer. This is just about my own experiences. Be safe and look after yourselves. Diet is important.

Why am doing this diet?

I want to climb 7a/E3. There are two reasons for this: simple ambition and also to have access to a greater range of quality routes.

I’ve identified finger strength as my primary limiting factor throughout my climbing career, far more so than head state, core strength, cardio-vascular fitness, or strength per-se.

I planned a trip to Mallorca for February 2016 with a mate and for once developed a modest, sensible three month training programme. I was bouldering carefully once a week at TCA in Glasgow or Alien 2 in Edinburgh, and doing routes at EICA once a week, sometimes Alien 1 in Leith. Muscle gets stronger faster than connective tissue. I got a lot stronger but didn’t injure myself. I was delighted!

I went on the trip and partially tore my RH middle finger A2 pulley on the third day, but after a day off, kept on climbing at a reduced level. Stupid me. It was all so very boringly predictable. On my return I needed to stay sane while recovering, recover properly (I followed the advice in Dave MacLeod’s injury book Make or Break which seemed to work well. Basic pulley recovery took six weeks) and then develop a different strategy for climbing harder – get lighter.

My previous experience is that 5% of my body weight equates to about one letter grade. At the end of January 2015 I was at 6b/+ and I want to do 7a. Sure, I needed to get appropriately stronger, but losing 7.5% of body weight would also make a massive difference and I should hit 7a on the right route at that weight. I started at 82kg. 7.5% of that is 6kg. My daily bodily variance, even applying rigour to weighing-in times, is +/-800g, so I needed to aim for 75kg.
I had to do this without digesting muscle fibre and that is an absolutely critical thing with the ketogenic diet – you digest dietary and your own body fat but not your muscle protein (if you do it right).

Background in climbing

I have been climbing since 2005. Full focus was on this 2005-2009 and I got up to 6c redpoint and E2/5c headpoint, E1/5b on sight. So fairly average. Finger strength was always a limiting factor. My training was unscientific (I just climbed really, sometimes 6 times a week, indoor and outdoor). Diet was poor, living on my own; too many takeaways, unbalanced. During 2010-2014, I didn’t climb. In 2015 I came back to climbing to supplement swimming  (see below) as I find swimming quite dull.

Background in mountain biking

I don’t go mountain biking any more. In the period 2006-2010 I went once a week and rode at a good level. Since then, nothing; a few times a year maybe.

Other sports

I’ve done two half marathons. 2004 (1hr 55 mins) and 2009 (1hr 42mins)

 Previous weight loss experience

In 2002 I went from 90kg to 76kg working as a cycle courier. No dieting, far from it, just a very large amount of exercise. I then went from 76kg to 73kg while hitch-hiking through Central America. That was a hungry time. I didn’t look too well on my return.

In 2009, for climbing, I went from 84kg to 76kg on a calorie-restricted, high exercise volume, “normal” (i.e. carb-based but calorie-restricted) diet. This was hard work and unpleasant and I put it all back on again within 6 months. Pfff.

My metrics

Body size and type

I’m 46, 5’11”, 38″ chest, typically 33″ waist, 32″ inside leg. During the last 15 years my weight has ranged from 90kg (14.2 stone) to 73kg (11.5 stone). (I will use kg from now on). Big shoulders and short arms for my height!

Base metabolic rate (BMR)

Currently 1653 cal/day calculated here, with a daily energy requirement of between 2036-2291 cal/day depending and exercise levels. This is the level of detail you need to go to.

Body fat %

I think my composition scales are a bit approximate but I was somewhere around 20-25% at the start of the diet.

General physical health

My physical health is generally very good. I have no allergies, no special dietary requirements, I’m not on any long term medication, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol and I have no congenital conditions or concerns. Cholesterol levels have always been pretty normal; I’ve has tests every couple of years. I have some skeletal issues from old injuries/breaks: right foot and left elbow. I have a tendency to partially rupture A2 pulleys, more than other people I would say, suggesting a genetic predisposition. I also suffer from synovitis, particularly in the PIP joints of my middle fingers and the DIP joints of the ring fingers. So it goes.

General stress levels

Pretty high. Running a business in construction is quite stressful (for me). Home life is a nice counterbalance most of the time: I have a lovely partner and gorgeous stepdaughter. They need time and energy, sometimes both are in short supply, which is hard for them.

Recent weight profile

So, January 2013 I was back at 90 kg and I felt pretty lardy. I decided to take action on my diet and general well being. I dropped to 86kg fairly easily but despite stopping drinking in May 2014 and starting to cycle to work my weight stayed pretty much there or thereabouts. Then around Christmas 2014 I  was diagnosed with mild depression. My GP and I decided that less work and more exercise were necessary, so I started swimming as well. That dropped me to 82kg. I started climbing again in the autumn of 2015 but my weight didn’t change significantly as a result. I started looking at low carb diets about a month before my Mallorca trip, which was in the first week of February 2016.

Miscellaneous information

Over the years I have noticed a tendency to fall asleep after lunch. Recently this has become more of an issue. I am guilty of “boss eating” and I do a lot of driving. By “boss eating” I mean stuffing my face at irregular times with anything that comes to hand in order to keep going. It’s what bosses do. I also noticed last year (2015) that I was occasionally actually having to pull over at the side of the road and take ten minutes shut-eye as I was completely unable to stay awake after eating sugary or high GI food.

I did some research and decided that I did not have a condition as such, and that this response to certain foods within the range of “normal”, but obviously undesirable.

Recent events

So I trained for the Mallorca trip from September 2015 to January 2016 as described above. Blew my finger first week of February 2016. By this time I was experimenting with low-carb, and feeling a bit rubbish as a result, but not taking it seriously enough. The finger injury prevented me climbing, but I needed a productive climbing-related focus, so I got serious about the diet at the end of February 2016.