Fat-Burning: Nerd Level

These fat-loss posts are being published retroactively. I originally wrote the following in late-July. 

   date       gut"       lbs    gut loss        tl gut loss    lb loss      tl lb loss           ktn avg 
21-Jul 39.5 177.2 0.13 0.75 1.4 6.2                   n/a
28-Jul 39.38 175.8 0.13 0.88 1.4 7.81.35

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from Tom Venuto was combining nutrition/fitness with neuro-linguistic programming. ie, visualizing long-term goals. Not just your body-shape goals, but also how they apply to everyday life -- whether for medical or psycho-emotional benefit, physical accomplishment, or simply for vanity.

Visualizing the goals and their everyday applications is the glue that keeps the program together.

My top goal this time around is mostly utilitarian: Ensuring I'm in the best health for my growing family. (Okay, okay: Looking good at the pool would be nice, too.)

There's also an important time constraint in that I want to maximize my progress before baby No. 2's expected arrival in mid-October.

Midichlorians, NOOOOOooooooooo!

Another huge motiviation comes as a skeptic -- nay, as an "engineer"; And that is validating Best Known Practices for fat loss.

Thus, this week, I started to measure my ketone levels more accurately by using an electronic ketone meter (vs. a pee stick). It's a blood test, via pin-prick, which shows how many ketones are in my blood (vs. how much are eliminated on a stick).

In short, the meter is a real-time gauge of how hot my fat-furnace is burning: Too few ketones means I'm not burning enough. Too many means I've reached a point of diminishing returns. (Too, too many might mean a medical emergency.)

Following the Phinney-Volek model, I should see better fat-loss progress when my ketones are in an optimal range (around 1.5 to 3 millimolar BOHB); and less progress when they are below optimal range.

One drawback of using the ketone meter is that the test strips are prohibitively expensive (even on eBay). For the meter I use, the cheapest strips I could find are about $3 each, lowering to $2 each if buying in bulk at my-wife-will-kill-me level.

While that's too expensive for daily use, I've settled on twice a week: Once at mid-week (Tues. night) to detect any lingering anomalies from the weekend, then again at end-week (Fri. night) to ensure I'm starting the weekend in good shape.

This week's initial ketone meter reading was 1.8, which is smack in the middle of Phinney-Volek's optimal bell-curve. But the end-week reading showed me at 0.9. This reading was likely lowered by eating some fruit and a bite of Rowan's birthday cake a few hours before taking the test. Hello, insulin spike!

If the theory is correct, you can infer the body's response to sugar intake: My body switched to using the digested fruit and cake for energy and lowered its use of fat stores.


Measurements the last two weeks show a consistent pattern: 1/8" and 1.5lbs down per week. That might be a good baseline to tell me how well I'm doing in the future. Again, compared to previous fat-loss cycles, this would be considered solid progress.

Everyday Victories

I made my short-term goal weight of 175ish by end of July. I also made my goal of fitting into jeans I'd only worn once -- before recent travel to NY made me too fat.

Next week: Traveling Tupperware Party

While the progress has been pretty solid so far, I think it can be even better -- especially at this weight since I've got a lot to lose. My biggest fault at the moment is a tendancy to snack late at night when I should be going to bed. Thus, I've come to reconsider the conventional wisdom of five/six-meals-a-day grazing; the constant hunger every 2-3 hours. Wouldn't life be so much easier if I ate just two or three truly satisfying meals a day?

Hmmmm... . Back next week.