The One Month Mark Low-Down on Low-Carbing

Trigger Warning for Eating Disorders/Body Image/Diet Talk

It’s been a month since I’ve actively induced ketosis in myself, so here is my check-in. 

What I did:

  • Consume 30 grams of net carbs a day or fewer.
  • Track every bite and sip that passes my lips.
  • Weigh myself often and track the results.
  • Ensure appropriate macro levels (i.e. appropriate carb/fat/protein ratios).
  • Refuse free cake.

The short of it is that a month of low-carbing has yielded results that are more confusing than enlightening to me. I did manage to reach a few tentative conclusions.

First off, I might have to differ from the more simplistic versions of the calories-in, calories-out model. My daily calorie average, 2350, was over 1000 calories more a day than I was taking in before low-carbing, and yet I gained no weight (this number takes into account my level of physical activity). This would go against the conventional wisdom that I should have gained, since my maintenance calorie level is 1600.

At the same time, I beg to differ from the low-carb fanatics who claim that calories don’t count. From the fourth day inward, my urine read moderate-to-large keto according to my test strips, and yet there was no dramatic loss of weight, or perhaps even none at all. In fact, I spent a month watching my weight fluctuate within the same five-pound range. To wit:


Obviously, weights fluctuate based on water and food and, ahem, solids, but compare January to the previous month:


Not as much in the way of the incredible up-and-down zig-and-zag, not by a long shot. I always ensured that I weighed myself in the same state (nude, right after waking up in the morning and using the bathroom, if you must know).

I still don’t know if I’ve lost much weight at all after a whole month of saying no to all kinds of delicious things, including my beloved beer (but for a six-ounce pour one day and a few guilty sips of others’ hoppy delights, which yes, I did count in my tracking). On top of that, the induction into low-carbing was brutal for me; I didn’t feel at all great for almost two weeks straight (and yes, I tried all of the tips for ridding myself of the “carb flu”). However, not gaining weight while eating lots of keto-friendly tasty things was nice. Based on this month alone, I’d say that counting carbs while letting myself go wild on the calorie front would be a great way to maintain weight. I don’t think that it induced any real weight loss, though.

The next phase of this experiment is for me to reduce calories and carbs to see if it speeds along the weight loss process. I’m lowering my intake to 1500 calories a day but maintaining keto (i.e. limiting myself to 20-30 net carbs a day). We’ll see what will happen.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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    1. Wouldn’t any exercise beyond what she normally does be an additional variable that would make the results of the diet more difficult to interpret?

  1. Thanks for sharing your data with us, Heina. This is fascinating.

    Did you measure your baseline intake the same way you’re measuring your low-carb intake? I.e., did you use the same food journaling protocol to establish your baseline as you’re using to track your low-carb calories? I ask because 1350 calories a day seems like an awfully low baseline intake for a young woman, unless you were already dieting and losing weight when you started the low-carb regimen.

    1. Indeed I did.

      1350 does seem low, but I did add back calories I “earned” through exercise (conservatively estimated). The calories a day were net calories including exercise ones.

      1. I have been measuring my body inches, but not as consistently. I probably did gain some muscle, if the way I look is any indicator — though that probably has more to do with the fact that I’ve been doing more weights than cardio due to the reduction in overall energy level.

  2. I believe there is a seasonal effect. I have beeing doing low-carb for 2+ years. Each spring-summer I drop 15-20 pounds, then I flat-line for the fall and winter. I don’t think it has anything to do with activity levels, as I don’t do anything more in the summer than in the winter. Also, I have come to believe that calories matter somewhat. Though I have not tracked my calorie levels well enough to be sure, my general impression is that if I let my calories get up to 3K or so, I don’t lose weight. If I keep them in the low-mid 2s, I lose weight (in the summer, of course). For reference, I’m a 215 pound middle-aged (mostly) sedentary male.

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