Carb Refeeds on Keto?

Last month, I had a carb cheat weekend. It was epic. I had Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Papa John's Pan Pizza, chocolate chip cookies, In-N-Out fries, chocolate truffles, cake, burgers, and doughnuts before bed.

I officially went overboard — in just 38 hours, I gained 12 lbs, LOL.

With all that cheating, it took me well over a week to get my weight back on track.

I'm back down to my lowest weight since my high school football years, but even then, I've hit a plateau and I've been feeling rather weak at the gym for the past couple weeks. I figure that's my body is telling me that I need to try something different.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to try doing the carb refeed. The basic idea is I'll do the standard low-carb, high-fat keto diet for most days, but once in a while, I'll eat carbs to replenish my muscles and give me a little boost of energy at the gym for the next several days.

In the keto community, it's a very new, very controversial concept. I've been doing research on it but I can't quite find any consistent advice on it.

Conflicting Advice

Here's a summary of the different things I've been finding:

  • "Don't do it! Carb refeeds are stupid and you'll just end up craving carbs even more."
  • "Carb refeeds are okay but only eat clean carbs in a reasonable amount."
  • "Eat sugary and high glycemic carbs early in the morning and eat clean carbs throughout the rest of the day."
  • "Only do a carb refeed for dinner, after a workout."

So Many Questions

It's pretty clear that keto is still an ongoing study. With so much conflicting advice by different people (who have all seen great results), I'm left with so many questions:

  • is carb refeeding only for heavy weight lifters?
  • is carb refeeding only for people who are close to their body fat goals?
  • how often and how many days should I do a refeed?
  • is it better to refeed before or after a workout?
  • what kind of carbs should I eat on card refeed day? How much?

Fuck It, Time to Experiment

I'm just gonna go for it for a month and see how it goes. I think I'll start off with only one carb refeed day per week, keep my carb intake around 300 grams and keep my fat intake low. I'll carb refeed all day Friday, work out hard at the gym that night, and then do Zumba again first thing on Saturday morning.

In the past, whenever I had a cheat day (mostly at weddings), I'd gain about 5 lbs. Most of that was just water weight which I would easily lose in just a couple days.

Worst case scenario, I'll gain some weight back this month. But really, let's put it in perspective:

If I was able to undo 16 years of mistreatment to my body with strict keto, undoing one month of weight gain will not be a problem at all.

Here we go!

Before You Start Your Weight-Loss Journey

Since I started sharing my weight-loss journey, several friends have hit me up about it. I definitely have plans to share everything here on my blog, but for starters, I think putting things in perspective is most important.

First of All...

Let me preface — I am no weight-loss expert. I’m just a regular dude with a weight problem, and after 16 years, I finally found one thing that works for me.

You will never hear me preach that keto is the one single miracle diet that will solve the weight problems of everyone on the world. There are hundreds of ways to lose weight. Many will work for you in the short-term, but really, you only need to find one way that truly works for you to change your life forever.

There are a lot of "experts" out there who will preach how their way is the one and only way. “YOU GOTTA WANT IT. YOU GOTTA BE STRONG. YOU GOTTA COMMIT.”

My problem with that is it implies that if you don’t commit to their specific method, then you are weak. And that’s bullshit.

A lot of my friends have found success with boot camps and meal prepping. Based on my experience with running, high school football, wrestling, I know I’d lose motivation in a boot camp after a few weeks. And as a foodie, I can only handle so much back-to-back meals of grilled chicken & veggies. I’ve tried both and found they are not sustainable for me.

Dozens of Factors, Hundreds of Solutions

The reality is, there are countless ways to lose weight. And there are just as many factors that’ll affect your success with any weight-loss plan. Here’s a bunch of them:

  • Age — Metabolism slows down considerably when you hit 30. If you’re under 30, START NOW, while your skin still has elasticity.
  • Sex — Women naturally have more bodyfat than men.
  • Appetite & Eating Habits — The conventional eating plan is three regular meals with snacks in between. But some people live off five small meals per day. Others get by with one giant meal. I personally get by with a small breakfast, a nice big tasty lunch, and a shake for dinner.
  • Allergies
  • Personal Tastes — Some people are happy with grilled chicken, steak, or fish for every meal of every day. Others, like me, will get bored very quickly.
  • Motivation Style — Some people are well-disciplined and won’t stop until they achieve their goals. I’m process-driven and only stay motivated as long as I’m having fun.
  • Body Type — Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph?
  • Family History of Health Problems — Obviously, if your doctor has warned you of certain dietary restrictions, some diets may end up harming you.
  • Work/Life Balance — If you’re constantly on-the-go and/or work 60+ hours per week, your healthy food options will be limited compared to someone who only works 40 hours/week.
  • Food Budget — Cooking at home saves a lot of money but takes a lot of time. Eating out or ordering healthy prepped meals saves time but costs a lot of money.
  • Social Life — Personally, I’ve found this to be hardest. It’s so easy to cave in when everyone around you is enjoying food & drinks you miss, especially at a restaurant/party that isn’t particularly diet-friendly.

Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s lifestyle is different. Therefore, everyone’s ideal weight-loss solution will be different too.

How I Started

For me, Keto started as a three-week experiment. I never hyped it up in my mind like, “TOMORROW WILL BE THE TURNING POINT OF MY LIFE.” I didn't take any "before" selfies. I didn't even do much research on it. I just looked at keto food porn and thought to myself, "Dude, I think I can do that."

Not gonna lie, the first week was HARD, especially when I was dealing with the “keto flu”.

But my body adjusted, and I started losing one pound every two days for three weeks straight. It forced me to get creative with my eating habits, which actually became a fun challenge. Weighing myself every morning and doing cooking experiments in the kitchen became highlights of my day.

Change Your Life One Experiment At a Time

So for anyone getting started, especially those who think, “I CANNOT GIVE UP BREAD OR RICE,” just experiment for three weeks. That's it. I'm not asking for a life-long commitment; it's just few short weeks. After three weeks, you’ll have an idea of how realistic/sustainable this lifestyle change will be for you. At the end of it, you’ll just have to be honest with yourself, “How long can I see myself doing this?”

If it’s not sustainable, your subconsious will start looking for excuses. “Oh, it’s a little too hot to run today.” “Oh, my ankle is a little sore.” “Oh, my butt hurts cuz that girl didn’t text me back, I’ll start again next week.”

If you find a little too hard, that’s perfectly okay. It does not mean you are weak or a failure. Don’t let anyone — especially yourself — make you feel that way. It was just one experiment of many you'll go through while you figure out your body.

Eventually, you’ll figure something out. And when you do, you'll know it because it won’t feel like work. It won’t feel like you’re constantly testing your willpower. It won't feel like a daunting commitment or obligation.

It will be fun. And that's the only motivation you'll need to change your life forever.

Re: Stop the Low Carb Diets →

I saw a video this guy's fitness journey on Facebook and it is truly inspirational. He documents his transformation from the very beginning, 312 lbs to 172 lbs.

While checking out his YouTube channel, I stumbled across this video (embedded above) entitled, "Stop the Low Carb Diets". As someone who is doing a low carb diet, I naturally gravitated to this video first.

Here are my thoughts on it:

  • In terms of marketing, he did a great job of using a click-baiting, polarizing title to get page views.
  • While I don't agree with his click-baity title, he actually offers some sound advice.
  • Agreed: whatever diet you do, you will need to have a caloric deficit to lose weight. If you're doing keto but still eat the same amount of calories, don't be surprised if you don't lose weight.
  • Agreed: tracking your intake is the smartest way to get started. (I personally don't track my food intake because I'm lazy, but I'm okay with learning the slow, hard way because I'm patient.)
  • He promotes what he calls Flexible Dieting, which worked for me for a short time but wasn't sustainable for me. (I may revisit this later when I'm satisfied with my body fat loss from keto and want to slowly reintroduce carbs into my lifestyle again.)

On the internet, everyone is a fitness expert. There are countless ways to lose weight. But the reality is, you just need to be an expert of your body, your lifestyle, and figure out what works for you.

Open your heart and mind to everyone's advice, but don't take any one person's word as gospel. What worked for them may not work for you. What's true for them may not be true for you.

Take the time to experiment and find out what's true for you. That's the only truth that matters.

Hello, High School Football Weight →

225, 215, 205, 195.

Last year, I hit 250. Last March, even with Zumba, I was eating so much delicious carbs at Halal Guys (lol), I couldn’t get lower than 237. I decided to give keto a try after a fellow Instagram foodie kept texting me her low-carb high-fat food porn.

For three weeks, I lost 1 pound every 2 days. My progress slowed down a lot since then, but 1.6 lbs/week still adds up after 6 months.

After lots of experimenting, little acts of discipline, and conquering my weight one plateau at a time, here’s my progress from April, June, August, and October.

Hello, high school football weight. It's been a long-ass time.

Started at 250, now I'm here…

The last time I saw this number, I was 17. Just last year, I was at my heaviest. And here I am now, staring at a number I NEVER thought I'd see again.

Thanks, Keto and Zumba. Hello, one-hundreds.

And see you soon, pre-knee injury high school football weight.

Blood Test Results

My Keto diet consists of a LOT of bacon, eggs, red meat, cheese, butter, and deep fried stuff in coconut oil…as long as I restrict carbs and sugars, my body will run off fat.

Got my blood test results today:

  • cholesterol (under 200 recommended) down from 203 to 180.
  • triglycerides (under 150 recommended) waaay down, from 169 to 69.
  • Hemoglobin A1c down from 6.1 (dangerously close to diabetic 6.5) to 5.5 (within healthy range).

On top of that, I'm down a total of 41 lbs.


Achievement Unlocked: High School Graduation Weight

This past year I stopped thinking of weight loss as a goal and approached it more as finding balance. I realized that if I just focus on the process, the results will come; enjoy the process and the results will stay.

I realized that carbs are just a vehicle for carrying all the flavor. I discovered that replacing breakfast & dinner with low-carb shakes saves a shitload of money and makes me appreciate my lunches more. I noticed I was much happier spending less money on being a foodie and more money on being active. I found I'd rather be the only dude in Zumba class and dance to girl group music for an hour than run on a treadmill for 15 minutes.

All that has brought me here today, back down to my high school graduation weight. (The dots are weight measurements and the line is my moving average.) I’m sure my weight is gonna have its ups and downs, but that's okay because that’s life. By focusing on — and enjoying — the process instead of obsessing over a goal, I know my body will always balance itself out.

(Sidenote: Drop off at 250ish is when I cut high-glycemic carbs from dinner. Drop off at 245ish is when I started doing strictly protein shakes for dinner. Drop off at 240ish is when I started doing Zumba. The plateau at 234ish is when Halal Guys opened by my house, LOL. The big drop off is when I started doing low-carb, high-fat Keto diet. Those four up-spikes at the end are weddings and baby showers.)