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A blog about thriving and feeling awesome, by Brad Rourke

Ketogenic Diets and KetoChow: What is Working For Me

Preface this by this: I am not an expert, I have no specialized knowledge. So your mileage may vary. That said, here is what is working for me.
Since June 20, 2015 I have been trying to lose roughly 10% of bodyfat. A few days before, on June 15, I was the heaviest I have ever been at 199.7 pounds. (I am six feet tall.) Now, I have been trying to gain muscle over the last year or so by using barbells, but the truth is I have gained more bodyfat than I have strength. Nudging up at 200 pounds was a bit of a wake-up call for me so I decided to do something. At that point I was at 26% body fat, measured by an electric resistance scale. (I know those are not precise, but they are fairly consistent at least.)
My friends know that I am a bit of a body-hacker, and I am always game for experimenting with nutritional changes to see what happens. My friend Sutton Stokes had been having great success using a ketogenic approach to eating and I decided to try it. (You may be interested in my account of the first time I ever tried to go on a low-carb diet.)
So far, so good. A couple of days ago I was at my lowest weight since January, at 190.4.
I thought I would write up my experience so far. I posted this already elsehwere, but here it is in one place.
First, theory:
  1. There are two components to the keto fat-loss concept: a) ketosis; and b) calorie restriction. A more important than b but it is still helpful to have a calorie deficit. Keto makes it less of a problem if you overshoot calories — but it does stall progress if you overshoot.
  2. Thinking about (b) first: I did a basal metabolic rate calculation and determined that my resting metabolic rate (what my body needs, at rest, to stay alive and conscious) is 1,795 cal per day. Then there are coefficients you multiply by to see how much you need to maintain body weight under different activity scenarios:
    1. Sedentary: 1.28
    2. Low Active (2-3 exercise/wk) 1.51
    3. Active (4-5 exercise/wk) 1.74;
    4. Very Active (hardcore athlete) 2.08.
    5. I figure in a dead average week, which would include travel and all the things that get in the way of my goal if 4-5 x working out, I am somewhere in between Sedentary and Low Active. So that is between 2,298 and 2,711 cal/day to maintain weight.
    6. To lose 2lbs/wk, restrict by 500 cals daily.
    7. SO . . . Ta daaaa . . . If I am ingesting between 2,000 to 2,200 daily, I am in a deficit situation.
    8. HERE is the calculator that I used. It also allows you to figure out macronutrient needs.
  3. Now let’s take (a), the “ketosis” part:
    1. Eating regular food it can be damn hard to hit sub-50g carb intake per day. (That’s NET carbs, so carbs minus fiber, but still.) And then don’t even get started on sugar that exists in all manner of foods. BUT, 4-5 days of sub-50g carbs and your body is now used to burning fat instead of glucose for its basic energy needs. Benefits: we have relatively speaking unlimited stores of fat, so hunger becomes less of an issue.
    2. HERE is a terrific discussion as an intro into the theory and practice of ketosis.
  1. KetoChow, one week bag

    KetoChow, one week bag

    EASIEST way for me to ensure compliance is using KetoChow. If you look at the site and his “preparation” page you will see you are in complete control over how many cals per shake it is — you manipulate that by changing amount of heavy cream. I mix up a batch that gives me 2,000 cal/day.

    1. This is a terrific description of how you mix. It is easy. But you need blender bottles, a scale that reads tenths of a gram, and don’t forget to buy MCT oil (though canola oil can work in a pinch)
  2. Every night I make three shakes in large (28oz) blender bottles and pop them in the fridge.
  3. In the morning, I take a 1liter “Hydroflask” water bottle and pour it full of KetoChow. That is one full blender bottle plus part of another. I drink down what is left in the blender bottle (about 2/3) and for the rest of the workday (lunch and snacks) I drink from the Hydroflask.
    1. Why Hydroflask? It is basically a Nalgene water bottle, but stainless steel and insulated. Keeps the cold stuff cold and, since this has cream in it, you need to keep it cold. Also it looks icky to the uninitiated so why rub it in people’s faces?)
    2. That said, a regular 1liter Nalgene would work with some ice in it for travel to work and then keep in fridge.
  4. So my nutrition is taken care of up until dinner time. When I get home, I have options now. USUALLY I just have my last blender bottle and that’s that. But maybe I want to actually eat with (instead of sit with) my family. Or maybe I did a serious strength workout and, being totally honest with myself, I really and truly did work hard enough to go over threshold today. In that case I either:
    1. Have my shake plus some food
    2. Skip the shake and have real food
  5. Now, as for this real food:
    1. Meat, cheese. Meat, cheese. Meat, cheese.
    2. Leafy green veggies but really they do little for you when you want FOOOOOOOD, so see #1 above.
    3. Sometimes for desert, if I want a treat: Olives or almond butter. I have basically trained myself that the “dessert” taste is savory not sweet.
    4. AVOID: Fruit. “Other” vegetables (tomatoes, corn) — too much sugar
    5. AVOID: Potatoes, starchy stuff
    6. CHIPOTLE is the best widely-available restaurant for keeping on this diet. A “keto-bowl:”
      1. Fajita bowl. No rice or beans. Double meat (steak and/or chicken). Medium salsa. (NOT tomatoes.) Sour cream. Cheese. Guacamole if desired (though this has higher carbs than you might imagine.)
    7. Burger joints are a good option too:
      1. Bunless bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys is the bomb
    8. Don’t worry about not getting a “balanced” meal with the above “real” foods. Why? You are ALREADY getting balance from the KetoChow. It has everything you need including fiber.
  6. Why the emphasis on fat intake? Mainly for satiety reasons. If you are not eating enough fat, you’ll get hungry, and then you will break ranks and have a doughnut. Your body will simply force you too! So eat enough fat.
My favorite tracking app is My Fitness Pal. Truly. It has an excellent food database and includes the foods that other people add. So you can find “Brad’s Chipotle Keto Bowl” for instance. I do track my cals etc. in the app just because I am in the midst of this fat-loss project and it helps self-accountability.
The r/keto subReddit is a great source of info. Also for recipes and such, and of the Paleo sites will be helpful just keep an eye out for too much sugar. So Fast Paleo and Nom Nom Paleo are good options. (I think they both have apps but I usually use the sites.)
But for realz, just use the KetoChow and be done with it. Come up with three go-to “optional meals when social events or family stuff require. So simple.
Nutrition is 80% or more of fat loss. BUT. Exercise can help. Everything I’ve read and my own experience suggests that the VERY BEST exercise to support fat loss is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The good news is that takes little time. The bad news is you have to PUSH yourself during it. One excellent approach my friend Sutton is a big fan of, and that I have picked up, is kettle bell swings Just do this workout every day:
  1. 30 sec kettlebell swings
  2. 30 sec rest
  3. Repeat 10x
On a tired day, do this for 5 minutes instead of 10. On the weekend, crank it up and go for 20 mins. (You’ll hate me.) Do this 4-5 times per week.


  1. Traveling With KetoChow | Well And Good. · July 12, 2015 Reply

    […] I am prepping for a week away from home at a conference. I’ll be gone Sunday night through Friday afternoon, working intensely in a conference setting. I am committed to remaining on my KetoChow nutritional plan (go here to learn more on that). […]

  2. Chris Bair · July 12, 2015 Reply

    Re: hydroflask, how do you clean yours? just a bottle brush and some soap?

  3. bradrourke · July 12, 2015 Reply

    Exactly right, Chris. I don’t use it for traveling too much because it’s bulky. But for daily around town use it is perfect.

  4. bradrourke · July 12, 2015 Reply

    And yes, brush and soap. Every week or so it goes in the dishwasher.

  5. Portia · February 26, 2016 Reply

    I know i’m about a half a year late to this discussion, but I have a hydroflask that i bought from David’s Tea and it was starting to smell like the heavy whipping cream I put in my coffee every morning. Then I remembered that lady who worked there actually recommended denture cleaner (believe it or not) to get the mug truly clean. It makes sense if you think about it. Works like a charm. 🙂

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