Ketogenic Diets

My wife and I have been explor­ing the world of keto­genic diets, with mul­ti­ple goals in mind. One is weight loss, of course, but the oth­er is to see if this would have some impact on our Type II dia­betes. (Diane is tak­ing insulin, I am not–yet.) Heart and kid­ney issues com­pli­cate mat­ters further.

And of course, one of the things that is an absolute no-no in a keto diet is wheat flour breads.

I’m cur­rent­ly read­ing the book “The Cycli­cal Keto­genic Diet” by Robert San­tos-Prowse, a reg­is­tered dieti­cian. The cycli­cal keto diet allows a day of carb-heavy foods inter­mit­tent­ly, pos­si­bly as often as once or twice a week.

Her endocri­nol­o­gist is some­what skep­ti­cal of the claims the keto­genic diet com­mu­ni­ty makes on reduc­tion of insulin resis­tance and reduc­ing the need for med­ica­tions, but he seems to feel that as long as we mon­i­tor our­selves we should­n’t make things worse. Our oth­er med­ical providers have voiced sim­i­lar sentiments.

I’ll keep you appraised of our plans and any progress. If we get into this seri­ous­ly, I do not intend to stop bak­ing com­plete­ly, and I’m look­ing at test­ing some of the keto-friend­ly ‘bread’ recipes I’ve seen, with some exper­i­men­ta­tion of my own, though I don’t hold out a lot of hope for them tast­ing much like real bread. This might even pro­vide some impe­tus for my idea of launch­ing a sub­scrip­tion bread ser­vice, I’d be able to bake for oth­ers if only infre­quent­ly for us. 

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Published:February 6, 2024


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    Mike Nolan

      My wife and I have been exploring the world of ketogenic diets, with multiple goals in mind. One is weight loss, of course, but the other is to see if
      [See the full post at: Ketogenic Diets]

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        Mike--While I'd like to be encouraging, I have to admit that I just don't understand the keto diet. It seems more a fad than rooted in scientific evidence. I will follow your attempt with interest.

        Mike Nolan

          A lot of what's out there tend to ignore or gloss over the science (that's true for most diet trends), but the ketogenic diet can be traced back to the 1920's, when it was developed as a diet for controlling epilepsy, before the drugs that are mostly used today were developed.

          The basic principle is to keep the carbs consumed down while raising the amount of protein and, especially, fat. How low you have to get varies from person to person, generally below 50 carbs/day, though 20-30 is more likely to be successful.

          Once the body uses up its reserves of glycogen (about 3 days worth, stored mostly in the liver and also in muscles), it will start converting fat to glycogen for energy. This is called ketogenesis. The trick is to avoid getting your ketones too high, which can turn the blood acidic, and is called ketoacidosis. It can be fatal. But there's a pretty wide range of ketone numbers where you're in ketogenesis before that happens.

          There are multiple ways to test your ketones, some are better (or at least more accurate) than others.

          Some of the proponents of the keto diet or its offshoots tend to get preachy, telling you to avoid most of the meats and other proteins in stores for reasons that have nothing to do with ketogenisis, eat only organic foods, avoid all gluten, etc.

          A cyclical ketogenic diet should be a bit more flexible, allowing some carbs, even (oh, the shame of it all!) wheat. 🙂

          Because fats are taste bombs, a ketogenic diet can be very tasty and filling. (Fats also fill you up faster and leave you more satisfied than carbs.)

          Tonight, for example, we had a cheese souffle with mushroom sauce, using some almond flour and xanthan gum, cream (watered down), eggs, butter, cheddar cheese and mushrooms. A serving was probably 4-5 carbs (I'm checking it using multiple recipe analysis tools), and it was delicious! By comparison, my traditional souffle recipe (served with canned mushroom soup as a sauce) is more like 30-40 carbs/serving.

          Being an engineer by training, I think I'll read some of the scientific papers on ketogenesis as we get further into this, but I don't claim that I'll fully understand them.


            Good luck on your journey Mike. Should be interesting. My neighbor who has type 1 diabetes went on Ozempic and lost 30 lbs. As far as carbs go I've heard that athletes fill up on carbs the night before an event to give them energy.

            Mike Nolan

              Carb-loading in advance of a high-energy output event, like a marathon, is common. Whether it really works is a bit more speculative.

              Football players tend to load upon proteins ahead of a game, but steak at 8AM is odd for the rest of us.

              Mike Nolan

                So far we're just using test strips to check ketones, but I've ordered a ketones breathalyzer, it should be better than the test strips but probably not as accurate as a blood meter.

                Mike Nolan

                  Ozempic as a weight loss tool is becoming popular for non-diabetics, so much so that it is impacting the supply chain, but the WSJ recently had an article noting that those who use it to lose weight are likely to gain it right back again when they stop using it, unless they change their eating habits.

                  Years ago, when the liquid protein diets were the in thing, I knew a doctor who lost over 100 pounds using them. When he stopped, his weight ballooned right back up and he wound up being a good 20 pounds heavier than before.

                  The breath ketone tester seems to be providing useful information, and it is a lot less expensive than a blood tester which requires strips that cost as much as a dollar each. I may get one anyway, though. More information is usually better than less information. What I've learned is that there are three different ways to measure ketones and each one measures a different type of ketone. I think they should be pretty much in lock step with each other, but being an engineer I like to experiment to prove it. So far, neither of us have hit readings indicating we're approaching ketoacidosis, which is dangerous.

                  I've lost at least 5 pounds in the last two weeks. I switched which scale I use for my daily readings because the digital one has a lot of variance, I can weigh myself several times and get readings as much as 2 pounds apart. So I'm back to using our platform scale, the kind where you slide a weight to get a reading. I just have to remember to reset it for Diane afterwards.

                  Earlier this week I started using a new app for meal tracking and recipe analysis. I want to use it for a while before I post specifics, but so far it seems pretty good.


                    Good luck with this diet. I hope it works well for you and your wife.


                      Hi Mike,

                      Good luck to you and Diane.

                      These days the runners I know try to eat a pretty balanced diet. My oldest runs between 75 and 100 miles a week. I can ask him about carbo loading. When he is home he just eats A LOT - fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbs - as I said, balanced. His typical Sunday run is about 15 miles.
                      Protein doesn't have to be meat. There was a story a while back about basketball teams loading up on peanut butter sandwiches and the various spreads of different teams. The story made it seem as if it were spreading from player to player and then from team to team.

                      And what about steak and eggs for breakfast?

                      Mike Nolan

                        I've never been much of a breakfast person, so steak for breakfast sounds like a huge meal.

                        Joan Simpson

                          Good luck Mike and Diane on your journey for weight loss I have found out half the battle is a mind thing.The protein is important for me and I love jerky and it's full of great protein.I'm going to learn to make it too as it's quite expensive.

                          Mike Nolan

                            I've been making a low-carb baked egg custard using a 1-3 ratio of cream and water in place of the milk and allulose instead of sugar. A little extra vanilla improved them. They appear to be 1 carb, with 9 g of fat and 3 g of protein, but I'm not counting the allulose. (Technically it should probably be added and then subtracted out at the bottom of the nutrition statement, like erythrytol is.)

                            I've also been making blueberry mini-muffins that appear to be about 2 carbs each (not counting the allulose), 5.8 grams of fat and about 2 grams of protein. I want to make it a few more times before I post the recipe here. They freeze well. I'm going to try making some with some semi-sweet chocolate in them, too. 40 grams of the Callebaut chocolate callets is 22 carbs, so that means 5 of them is around 2 carbs.

                            My wife was watching ads for Quest keto-friendly foods, so I picked up an assortment of them at the store today.

                            The 'smores one was a disappointment, a good marshmallow taste, a hint of graham cracker and an even smaller hint of chocolate. Odd mouth feel, though. (But I think most protein bars have that problem.)

                            The peanut butter cups got a more mixed review, we both thought they tasted like they had some coffee in them, though it isn't explicitly in the ingredient list unless it's under 'natural flavors'. I'm not sure they're good enough to justify buying them very often.

                            So far the best things we've found for snacks in stores are the keto snack (mostly nuts) mix at Costco and the parmesan crisps at Sams. (There are multiple companies that make parmesan crisps, in an assortment of flavors, though a few of them have garlic so those are out for us.) The parmesan crisps are very good substitutes for the stale bread in French Onion soup, and I suspect they'll be good in other soups, too.

                            Mike Nolan

                              After nearly 3 months on the keto diet, I'm down about 25 pounds. What's even better is that my A1C went from 6.4 in January to 5.3 yesterday.


                                Congratulations on your success with the keto diet!! Did your wife find her blood sugar going down too?

                                Mike Nolan

                                  Her weight loss hasn't been as dramatic as mine, but she's been able to cut back on several of her meds and her blood sugar readings are a lot more stable throughout the day. She hasn't had a recent A1C, but if the CGM estimate is on track, hers should be down as well.

                                  And because I've been able to find a number of recipes that are both flavorful and keto-friendly, neither of us feel like we're being all that limited by the diet, at least as long as we eat at home. (But we hadn't been dining out much before this, except for carb-heavy fast food that we've pretty much cut out completely.)

                                  We tend to keep the keto-friendly custards on hand (I need to make more soon) and the keto cheesecake was a huge hit.

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