The above graph is a record of my weight loss over time after starting LCHF in the autumn of 2012.
Points to note:
- A-B: initial weight loss phase, strict LCHF including dairy products.
- B-C: “plateau” phase, as above.
- C-D: continued weight loss after dropping ALL DAIRY products with exception of clarified butter.
As you can see, things started really well with immediate and steady weight loss from points A to B. Indeed, it was the first ever Christmas where my weight went down instead of up! Things were looking good.. However, it was at B that I hit a road block! This road block lasted nearly 10 weeks and no matter what I did, I could not lose any more weight. This was extremely frustrating to say the least and I very nearly gave up on LCHF altogether, ready to blame it as just a fad, based entirely on bad science!
Despite this, something inside me told me to push on and determine what I was doing wrong. Others I knew were doing OK on LCHF so why couldn’t I? Why was I different? I read and re-read all the material I had on LCHF, kept a strict record of EVERYTHING I ate and decided to start measuring ketones using a blood ketone meter. Sure enough, this proved I was NOT in ketosis. It was time for some hard detective work to solve this mystery once and for all!
Slowly but surely, by a process of trial and error, I started to focus in on what the culprit might be, namely dairy. It featured a lot in my diet. In fact, if anything, I had increased intake since going LCHF thinking that as a ready source of fat, it could be consumed in fairly liberal amounts. The more I read up about it, the more it became apparent that there were “issues” with dairy, in particular the animal proteins casein and whey which for certain people were inflammatory! Could this be the problem? There was only one way to find out..
And so it was that 18 weeks in and after a nearly 10 week plateau, getting absolutely nowhere, I decided to drop ALL dairy products from my diet and that’s when my luck finally changed. Within 24 hrs of dropping all dairy my ketones took off and I started losing weight again, a total of 2 kg within the first week! At this point I would like to stress that I was doing NO EXERCISE whatsoever so this was not a factor. The weight loss continued for the next 6-8 weeks at a similar pace with ketone levels peaking at 5.5 mM at one point! Naturally I was delighted; LCHF was working again.
Finally, after about 30 weeks in, my weight started to “bottom out”, right where I was expecting it to at around 89kg, with ketone levels falling in sympathy. I’d done it. ALL my excess weight was gone and I was entering the maintenance phase of long term nutritional ketosis. The science worked, I’d proved it to myself and at the same time discovered that I am dairy intolerant. Result!
Looking back it’s obvious now that if I’d dropped all dairy in the first place, my weight loss phase would have been about 10 weeks shorter than it actually was i.e around 24 weeks or just under 1kg/week. This is what I was expecting when I started and is in line with other people I know on LCHF. This is the reason why I now recommend to ALL people starting out on LCHF to drop ALL dairy for at least the weight loss phase in order to be certain of achieving the fastest weight loss possible. You can always add dairy back in later during the “maintenance phase” once your weight has bottomed out.
Since losing all my excess weight, my diet has changed very little: with the exception of clarified butter, I still don’t consume any dairy and I have also incorporated some intermittent fasting. Quite naturally the amount I eat in terms of calories has gone down in sympathy with my weight. Since bottoming out I decided I wanted to put on some extra muscle as I thought I was a bit too skinny! In spring 2014 I started some light resistance training and have since gained about 4kg of lean muscle mass. Critically my waist measurement has remained the same, confirming that I have put on muscle and NOT fat and over the course of a year, my weight fluctuates to within +/- 1.5kg, max. I am now about the same weight as I was in my 20’s and naturally very happy with both the way I look and feel.