Chicken Rob's Keto story (1 Viewer)

Chicken Rob

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Based on the number of interested people, I thought I'd share some stuff about my keto journey, and have a thread where I'll answer questions about my experience and things I've learned. For the record, I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. Ok, I am a doctor, but not a medical doctor, and this is not medical advice.

I have done Keto off and on since '98. Every time was met with success, but only recently have I found lasting success and actually hit my goal weight. Part of this was working with a doctor who used keto clinically for 30 years to treat all kinds of medical conditions, not just obesity and diabetes. I've learned a lot.

The short recent version is that I lost 85 pounds in 2015 doing keto, and then a major illness at the end o the year, lasting another year, resulted in further weight loss, and eventual weight gain. I got sick again at the beginning of 2019, and this time diagnosed, and had some weight loss due to the illness, but this time around was working with a doctor to reclaim my health through diet and nutrition. We started with doing a lot of work with the AIP Paleo diet (as I had an autoimmune illness) and then suddenly in december of 2019 I gained 45 pounds in 30 days. That's when I switched to keto, and have been living keto since then (with only 6 days off for christmas/my birthday in december 2020, I will probably never go off it again).

In 2020 I lost 85 more pounds eating keto and walking. The nice thing about keto as a lifestyle is that you don't push yourself to exercise. You exercise when the energy comes from the diet and change in metabolism. You will at some point want to move your body.

So I've read a bunch of books, as I'm now coaching my girlfriend through a keto lifestyle transition (she's been faithful since she started when I restarted in december, she hasn't cheated once), and not all the lessons I've learned about how my body works always apply to her. You're going to have to find what works for your body on your own. I can help provide some tools for figuring it out, and answer questions based on my experience.

If you're gonna do this, you have to realize a few things:
1. It's a life style. There is no part time keto. You either are a fat burner or you're not. And to get there means restricting carbs and moderating protein. Slipping off the program will revert you into a sugar burner, and you have to become fat adapted again. Depending how far you slip, and how long you've been doing it, will determine how long it takes to get back to being fat adaptive.
2. It's great. Once you break your psychological food cravings, you don't have to be hungry to be successful. This will happen naturally, and fairly quickly, so you only need willpower and determination to get started.
3. You may feel like crap getting started. Keto flu is real. People get it. I've had it. It sucks, but it doesn't have to, and there are tricks to avoid it.

If you're gonna do this, and you want some free advice and thoughtful responses form me, you need to do 3 things. If you don't do these three things, I can't help you.
1. Read Keto Clarity, best keto book I've read to date. Link
2. Get a KetoMojo blood meter (or any other blood ketone meter, but this is the best value these days) Link pee strips and the breath analyzers are not really gonna cut it. Get plenty of strips once you get started.
3. Get a food tracking app (I strongly recommend cronometer, and the free version is adequate)

If you do the above 3 things, and use items 2 and 3 as directed, I will help if you want it. Otherwise, you're on your own (which you may prefer, I'm no expert, just someone who lost some weight and did some reading).

The book will help you get started and get on the path. The one book (I saw a $4 used copy and the kindle version is $10) is probably enough for 90% of people to be successful if they read and really stick to it.

Here is my outline of what you need to do and some things noobs do wrong.

When you start, you need to measure you're blood often, starting within a week of starting the diet. You need to find your own metabolic tolerances. Mine are quite strict it turns out, which is why I was never successful in the long term previously. Also, blood meters are relatively new, and now the test strips are finally affordable.

As regards to food, for greatest success: eat whole foods as much as possible. Keto junk food has become popular, and a lot of food labeled as keto isn't necessarily as keto friendly as the package says. You need to learn to track your macros, get your few carbs from fiber rich veggies (not grains and sugars) and eat plenty of fat. This really helps keep down the cravings and helps keep the appetite suppressed.

You're gonna need to drink a lot of water, especially at first as you flush your glycogen stores. Drink a LOT of water.

You're going to need to take some electrolytes to replenish all the stuff you're flushing as you drink all that water, and in general on this diet. Putting a pinch of sea salt, or pink salt in your water is a way to get mineral rich electrolytes in. I think it's gross. Adding a splash of lime or lemon juice to your water helps. But not enough on it's own, only supplementally. I take an electrolyte supplement. It's cheap. It goes a long way.

When you get started, you need to understand this about your macro nutrients:
Carbs are a limit - you must severely restrict carbs to burn fat. the body will always process carbs before it burns fat.
Protein is a target - you need sufficient protein to keep the body healthy, but not more, as you have no way to store excess protein and can convert it to glucose.
Fat is a lever - eat as much fat as you need to feel sated. Eat high quality fats. The book will help you make good fat decisions.

Common pitfalls:
not understanding where all the hidden carbs are in your food, and eating too many.
eating too much protein, and not getting into ketosis
not eating enough healthy fats
not getting in the water and electrolytes
not finding your own macronutrient thresholds
trying to restrict your calories with a "dieting" mindset. This is unnecessary, as you become fat adapted, your body learns to metabolize fat stores more easily and your appetite will suppress naturally. I now eat all my food in a 5 hour window every day (1-6pm) and I don't try to do this. I'm just not hungry that often.

To minimize keto flu, and possibly avoid it all together (I did the last 2 times I restarted, as did my GF), eat more fat, drink more water, take your electrolytes. That's the secret.

To get started, most people can get into ketosis in a week or 2 by limiting net carbs to 20g per day, total carbs to 50g per day, and targeting protein at .6g-1.2g per pound of lean body weight per day. There are calculators out there that will help you calculate your estimated lean body mass and your protein needs based on your activity levels. Google will help you find them. They may need to be adjusted. For example, I did a DEXA body composition analysis and know my lean body mass was 141 pounds within the last month. My protein target is 75g/day and my net carb limit is 10g per day. That's not a lot. Also, it's a good idea to restrict protein to about 30g per meal if you're sensitive to converting excess protein to glucose. You'll need to learn this about yourself.

It all sounds like a lot. It's not as hard as it sounds. Read the book, get the tools, and I'll be happy to help anyone interested as best I can.

Hope someone finds all this useful.
 

FordPickup92

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Congratulations on the dedication and success! Sorry to hear about the illnesses along the way. It does however seem to have improved your self-health awareness overall.

I can say from personal experience (I don't really do keto) but I eat pretty healthy and avoid carbs for the most part, except beer I cannot give that one up lol my biggest struggle is feeling tired. I'm not sure if it's not enough rest or that I primarily eat salads (with meats) but I often find myself hungry or craving food because I have no energy. It's a running joke that I am always hungry. I have not conquered that one yet. Water is my primary fluid of choice I generally drink a gallon to 2 gallons a day, I'm not a big salt person though.
I have also found that while folks and doctors say healthy fats are important or key, I can almost notice an instant heavy feeling and excessive bloating when I try to eat healthy fats. I also see a rapid increase in weight within a few days if I introduce things like tree nuts/peanuts/pistachios, I like banana chips but the coconut oil is misery for me, I do enjoy guac now and eat a small serving of that daily. I also have a weakness for fruit which is a natural sugar/carb but in excess can still be an overload of "carbs"
I don't consider myself overweight but I seem to fluctuate by 10 pounds pretty regularly and have never been able to keep those 10 pounds off for more than 6 months to a year.
 

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Thanks for the post. I did a KETO diet last year for about 8 months, and I dropped 30 pounds pretty easily paired with walking. I did not measure everything or be nearly as strict as the OP suggests. I gained some of it back, and tried it again short term recently, and was less successful.

@Chicken Rob , can you comment briefly about the health concern of eating a high fat diet like that? My cholesterol is high. Thanks.
 

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Congrats Rob and great breakdown, lots of great advice and tips. I'll double stress two things - research research research before you start. Through reading and research you'll learn that keto takes a good deal of planning and preparation, especially at the start. You really can't "wing" keto, you have to plan for it, as stated above hidden carbs are everywhere. Keto can be a bit of a mind-fuck at first, it turns decades of that ridiculous food pyramid on it's head, you have to be open to the idea that fats are good, as long as you limit the carbs. Second x2 is water and electrolytes at the start, you really can't get enough of either. I managed to dodge the keto flu but I was foggy that first week. After the fog clears, it's amazing how great you feel.

I've been on keto since May of 2018. Initially dropped 80+ pounds the first year. A change to my job (which required a lot of travel) derailed a bit of that as it's hard to plan for meals while on the road, and 18 months of COVID isolation hasn't helped, but I'm still down between 40 and 50 pounds overall. A1C and cholesterol levels are both the lowest they've been in 15 years. I cheat a little more nowadays than I should, but honestly never for long as I feel like garbage when I do. I really need to refocus. I appreciate the links to the meter, I was previously successful with just tracking carbs without measure ketones, but it's been more of a struggle to loose the weight again as of late, I may grab one of those. I think my problem the last year or so has been alcohol. Bourbon/scotch is usually OK on keto when done sparingly, I've been a good deal above that line during COVID.
 

Chicken Rob

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Thanks for the post. I did a KETO diet last year for about 8 months, and I dropped 30 pounds pretty easily paired with walking. I did not measure everything or be nearly as strict as the OP suggests. I gained some of it back, and tried it again short term recently, and was less successful.

@Chicken Rob , can you comment briefly about the health concern of eating a high fat diet like that? My cholesterol is high. Thanks.
Keto will improve your blood markers, especially inflammation and cholesterol. There is a thing to be aware of, and fortunately it’s easy to measure if your doctor is at all knowledgeable or reasonable. Most cholesterol tests don’t actually test LDLs. They compute it. You can have them tested. And you should. The specific tests needed are recommended in that book.

my diet is over 85% calories from fat. The best markers for heart health are HDL and triglycerides (and their ratios), systemic inflammation markers, fasting insulin and glucose, a1c. My a1c is 4.3, HDL is 61, triglycerides are 51, fasting insulin 5.3, fasting glucose 78, total cholesterol 196. My inflammation markers (cRP and sedrate are both at the lowest levels of normal despite having lupus and a high fat diet).

A good indicator of insulin sensitivity is Homa-IR. Here’s a calculator:

https://www.mdcalc.com/homa-ir-homeostatic-model-assessment-insulin-resistance

mine is 1.0 by the way.

The triglyceride:HDL ratio is incredibly important. Google has tons of sound medical sources on this. Mine is 0.8.

These kinds of results are normal for keto. Blood serum cholesterol does not come from dietary cholesterol, it comes from the body’s need to repair inflammation caused by things like too much sugar/grains among other sources.

Keto is protective in many ways and anti-inflammatory.
 

davislane

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@Chicken Rob , can you comment briefly about the health concern of eating a high fat diet like that? My cholesterol is high. Thanks.

A great video to better understand the ins and outs of cholesterol. Everyones circumstances are different and therefore I would advocate you get your individual bloodwork mentioned by @Chicken Rob done before undertaking such a drastic change. It would also be beneficial to find the right Dr to support what you are trying to do. Not all Drs are equal in their knowledge so get one that has the knowledge and experience in ketogenic eating.
 
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Jbolles777

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The key to Keto is finding go-to meals and snacks… gotta find a good variety and keep the fridge stocked with appealing items. What are your go-to meals?
 

Chicken Rob

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My favorite is keto eggs.

cook 3 pieces of thick cut bacon in a pan. Pull cooked bacon when done and set aside. Add 1/3 stick of butter to the bacon grease. Whisk 3 eggs into the fat so the eggs mix with the fat. Throw in some shredded cheese so it melts. Dump the cooked eggs on the bacon and top with avacado sour cream and season with taco seasoning. 1 serving keeps me full 24 hours. Takes 10 minutes to cook.
 

liftapint

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My favorite is keto eggs.

cook 3 pieces of thick cut bacon in a pan. Pull cooked bacon when done and set aside. Add 1/3 stick of butter to the bacon grease. Whisk 3 eggs into the fat so the eggs mix with the fat. Throw in some shredded cheese so it melts. Dump the cooked eggs on the bacon and top with avacado sour cream and season with taco seasoning. 1 serving keeps me full 24 hours. Takes 10 minutes to cook.

Is that literally all you would eat in a day?

I love eating a bacon-egg scramble. I usually drain off the bacon fat. Is that a mistake?
 

Chicken Rob

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Is that literally all you would eat in a day?

I love eating a bacon-egg scramble. I usually drain off the bacon fat. Is that a mistake?

It varies. But I’d probably eat a little more than that in a day. Today on the other hand was a lower calorie day. Very low volume.

All my food is organic/pastured/grass fed/etc.

Here’s my food for the whole day. Not hungry. Living on fat stores. Also here is my blood levels a little over 3 hours after dinner. Those are very high ketone levels. Running on fat stores.
 

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JeepologyOffroad

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You ever tried throwing MCT oil in the mix? I remember it giving me a nice clarity boost when first starting keto. Need to jump back on the train myself and stop being fat.
 

Chicken Rob

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You ever tried throwing MCT oil in the mix? I remember it giving me a nice clarity boost when first starting keto. Need to jump back on the train myself and stop being fat.
I am not a big mct oil user. My girlfriend loves it in her morning coffee. I have read that the ready supply of ketones you get from mct oil can inhibit burning your own fat stores. The same foe exogenous ketones. It can be helpful to get into ketosis, and useful as fuel when you hit your target weight, but I think it might not be a great choice when trying to reduce body fat.
 

liftapint

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OK, I have read the book, and I have the blood tester. I have questions about calculating macros.

To calculate macros, do I use total carbs or net carbs?

Here is the source of my confusion.
The book says that you need to track total carbs, not net carbs. This was my biggest take away from the entire book, to be honest. I thought net carbs was the target. And obviously, this can make a HUGE difference (goodbye, low carb tortillas).
But when I try to calculate my macros based on the number of calories I'm getting from carbs (4cal/g), protein (4cal/g), and fat (9cal/g), this equals my total calorie intake only if I use the net carbs in the equation. If I use total carbs, then the total calories from carbs+protein+fat sums to greater than my total calorie intake --> therefore the denominator for my macro computation is wrong.

I've looked all over the internet to find the answer, and most sites addressing computing macros just says "carbs".

What am I screwing up here?
 

liftapint

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Let me use the low carb tortilla as an illustrative example.

Nutritional information from back of the packaging (1 tortilla).

3g Fat
5g Protein
19g Carb (15g Fiber -> 4g net Carb).
Packaging says 70 total calories.

So using the 4/4/9 calories per gram for Protein/Carb/Fat rule, then:

3g Fat x 9 cal/g = 27 calories fat
5g Protein x 4 cal/g = 20 calories protein
that leaves 70 total cal -27 fat-20 protein = 23 calories from carbs (by the 4 cal/carb rule, that means about 6 carbs...a lot close to the net carb than the total carb).

I don't think my carb macro on this is really 23/70 (net carb calories/total calories), is it? The book told me to count total carb.
Because in reality, there are 19g total carbs (x4=76 calories from carbs, which is more than the entire tortilla).

The math doesn't add up, and I really want to know why, because this seems to be critical for foods that have fiber (difference between total and net carb).
Seems pretty important to know how to calculate macros.

Thanks Chicken.
 

davislane

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I noticed that when I was in the US that you count fiber in your carb count. In Australia we only show what you would refer to as net carbs on packaging. fibre as its spelt in the queens english is its only line entry. If I had to guess I would only be counting net carbs and ignoring the "fiber" in your calcs.
 

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So, I don’t really count calories. I eat if I’m hungry and I fast when I’m not. As for how to count carbs, the literature largely stresses net carbs. You have to find your own thresholds to be successful, which he stresses in that book.

This is what I learned by actually working with my doctor, about myself: net carbs are most important. But the threshold for me is low. 10g/day net carbs. Not all “free” carbs are equal. Sugar alcohols, different fiber sources yield different results for me.

I believe the book I recommended also recommends your fiber/carbs should come from whole foods. Nuts, green veggies, etc. forgive me if I misremember what nuggets are in which books.

I am most successful leaving things like low carb grain substitutes to occasional treats and not staples. Low carb bagels with eggs, or low carb biscuits, or making taco salads with Quest low carb tortilla chips (a favorite) is something I can do 2-4 times per month, if I want to lose weight. A little more to maintain. The same is true with keto sweets. There are many great keto ice creams (once your palate adjusts and you’ve been off sugar for a while), but if I eat it too frequently my weight loss stalls.

If I’m doing “clean keto” the appetite naturally suppresses, I go into intermittent fasting without effort, and naturally, not by trying, and my energy is better, my brain is clearer, and I don’t feel deprived. I feel liberated.

For me, 10g net carbs, 50g total carbs, carbs from green veggies, is my ideal. Im a tough case. Others can do 50g net carbs and never have to look at total carbs.

The author’s claim about total carbs is good advice if you’re not having success. But his advice about finding your own thresholds is the more important takeaway. Start with 20g net carbs. Don’t do “processed carbs” (nut flours, pre-made low carb packaged food like protein bars, etc) more than twice per week to start, ignore total carbs, hit your protein target, don’t overdo protein, and see how your blood looks after a couple weeks.

Remember, especially in the first few weeks as you’re getting keto adapted, don’t worry about total calories. You’re gonna need a lot more than you think. Eat as much fat as possible. More fat, less carbs, lots of water, plenty of electrolytes, and you’ll get fat adapted quicker. In the early stages mct oil is helpful (during the extended weight loss stage, it may slow progress, but becomes helpful again in maintenance mode at your target weight). If you drink coffee, lots of heavy cream. Put some mct oil in it. Try bulletproof coffee (google it, it’s delicious). These first couple weeks are a good time to have some extra fat bombs handy (google fat bomb recipes for things that look good to you). I really like the keto eggs recipe in that book. A lot of fat! The lower carb and higher fat you go the faster you’ll get fat adapted. Hydration with water and electrolytes and high fat will lower “keto flu” or irritability and grumpiness during the transition. Getting over that hump is key.

My transition to keto sometimes was 4500 calories/day for the first week. This week I’m averaging 1200.

Once you’re pumping out ketones in your blood, and your body starts using them as fuel, appetite suppression kicks in naturally. For me, it’s too easy to overeat keto icecream, keto protein bars, keto tortilla chips, etc. your mileage may vary.

I’m doing intermittent fasting right now that developed naturally. I did not force it. I fast 22 hours and eat in a 2 hour window. Yesterday at the 21 hour mark I went for a 12 mile ride on my elliptigo bike. Felt great. Came home and had a heaping tablespoon of ghee to give a quick energy boost while I cooked, then had a rib eye smothered in ghee and a salad of mixed lettuce with olive oil. It was delicious. I hit my protein target, my net carbs were almost 0, my total carbs were all from green veggies.

My GF can’t just eat ghee off the spoon but had a tablespoon of coconut oil while we cooked.

Sorry about the rambling, hope this helped. Feel free to ask more questions if I missed the target.
 

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liftapint

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So, I don’t really count calories. I eat if I’m hungry and I fast when I’m not. As for how to count carbs, the literature largely stresses net carbs. You have to find your own thresholds to be successful, which he stresses in that book.

This is what I learned by actually working with my doctor, about myself: net carbs are most important. But the threshold for me is low. 10g/day net carbs. Not all “free” carbs are equal. Sugar alcohols, different fiber sources yield different results for me.

I believe the book I recommended also recommends your fiber/carbs should come from whole foods. Nuts, green veggies, etc. forgive me if I misremember what nuggets are in which books.

I am most successful leaving things like low carb grain substitutes to occasional treats and not staples. Low carb bagels with eggs, or low carb biscuits, or making taco salads with Quest low carb tortilla chips (a favorite) is something I can do 2-4 times per month, if I want to lose weight. A little more to maintain. The same is true with keto sweets. There are many great keto ice creams (once your palate adjusts and you’ve been off sugar for a while), but if I eat it too frequently my weight loss stalls.

If I’m doing “clean keto” the appetite naturally suppresses, I go into intermittent fasting without effort, and naturally, not by trying, and my energy is better, my brain is clearer, and I don’t feel deprived. I feel liberated.

For me, 10g net carbs, 50g total carbs, carbs from green veggies, is my ideal. Im a tough case. Others can do 50g net carbs and never have to look at total carbs.

The author’s claim about total carbs is good advice if you’re not having success. But his advice about finding your own thresholds is the more important takeaway. Start with 20g net carbs. Don’t do “processed carbs” (nut flours, pre-made low carb packaged food like protein bars, etc) more than twice per week to start, ignore total carbs, hit your protein target, don’t overdo protein, and see how your blood looks after a couple weeks.

Remember, especially in the first few weeks as you’re getting keto adapted, don’t worry about total calories. You’re gonna need a lot more than you think. Eat as much fat as possible. More fat, less carbs, lots of water, plenty of electrolytes, and you’ll get fat adapted quicker. In the early stages mct oil is helpful (during the extended weight loss stage, it may slow progress, but becomes helpful again in maintenance mode at your target weight). If you drink coffee, lots of heavy cream. Put some mct oil in it. Try bulletproof coffee (google it, it’s delicious). These first couple weeks are a good time to have some extra fat bombs handy (google fat bomb recipes for things that look good to you). I really like the keto eggs recipe in that book. A lot of fat! The lower carb and higher fat you go the faster you’ll get fat adapted. Hydration with water and electrolytes and high fat will lower “keto flu” or irritability and grumpiness during the transition. Getting over that hump is key.

My transition to keto sometimes was 4500 calories/day for the first week. This week I’m averaging 1200.

Once you’re pumping out ketones in your blood, and your body starts using them as fuel, appetite suppression kicks in naturally. For me, it’s too easy to overeat keto icecream, keto protein bars, keto tortilla chips, etc. your mileage may vary.

I’m doing intermittent fasting right now that developed naturally. I did not force it. I fast 22 hours and eat in a 2 hour window. Yesterday at the 21 hour mark I went for a 12 mile ride on my elliptigo bike. Felt great. Came home and had a heaping tablespoon of ghee to give a quick energy boost while I cooked, then had a rib eye smothered in ghee and a salad of mixed lettuce with olive oil. It was delicious. I hit my protein target, my net carbs were almost 0, my total carbs were all from green veggies.

My GF can’t just eat ghee off the spoon but had a tablespoon of coconut oil while we cooked.

Sorry about the rambling, hope this helped. Feel free to ask more questions if I missed the target.


Thanks Rob, this is great information. I think I'm off to a pretty good start. I have found a few meals that I absolutely love. Having a hard time getting enough fat, so will investigate "fat bombs". I'm rarely hungry.

One more REALLY big important question for now. I've seen that diet soda is to be avoided on keto. This is a HUGE problem for me. I have been a chain drinker of diet coke for my entire life, probably 40 years. This is simply NOT something I can give up. Is this going to really hold me back in keto? I don't really get it, since it has zero carbs. Please tell me I can keep my diet coke, and be a keto champion!
 

JeepologyOffroad

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This is simply NOT something I can give up. Is this going to really hold me back in keto? I don't really get it, since it has zero carbs. Please tell me I can keep my diet coke, and be a keto champion!
Not a problem imo. I found diet soda to be really helpful to curb cravings for something sugary.

Never read anything about diet soda having any impact on ketosis and it never kicked me out of ketosis when I was in it. I’d assume the recommendation is just a general health recommendation and won’t actually impact it.
 

liftapint

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Also...I have this blood monitor sitting on my desk. I haven't used it yet. I just keep looking at it.
I am seriously a big puss when it comes to needles and blood (and pain).
It's probably not as bad as I think it will be. But I think I'll just leave it in the box for a while longer. LOL.
 
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