Cheese and Cheesy Research (Days 15 and 16)

Cheese seemed like it would be an easy way to add in more fat calories (and calories in general) to some of my meals.  Thus, I spent a long time researching various cheeses and the amount of carbs contained in each.  While it was insightful research, it was ultimately useless research.  Why?  Because after I finished, I discovered that someone else had already compiled a very thorough list of the carb content of cheeses.  So, if you also would like to avoid looking up tons of cheeses, go there first!

Let me also highlight something I discovered in case you want to be as extreme as me and attempt to avoid all plants and anything from plants while on a Zero Carb diet.  Although cheddar cheese is on the list of very low carb cheeses, its orange color unfortunately comes from annatto, which is a coloring agent derived from the seeds of a type of tree.  Now, again, I have no idea if it’s worth being this extreme or not during this trial, but that’s the goal I set for myself, so I’m sticking to it.

So what does that leave as far as the best options for cheeses?  Well, I personally was considering the following criteria:

  • Does the cheese have less than 0.5g of carbs per 1 oz?
  • Is it commonly available?  (That is, can I find it at a normal grocery store near me?)
  • Is it cheap?

Going through all those questions, the big list of cheeses was reduced to 2 to try:  White Cheddar Cheese (which is NOT colored orange via annatto) and Monterey Jack (just pure Monterey Jack; not the type that is often mixed together with Colby).

I ultimately decided on the Monterey Jack (by a company called Joseph Farms).  It was the only brand whose package actually said “0g of carb for 1 oz” in the nutrition facts, thereby falling into my desired range of 0g to 0.5g.  And it is wonderful!  It’s great tasting and melts nicely into the scrambled egg / hamburger concoction I eat for lunch, giving it a little extra flavor.

Meals Eaten:
Day 15
B- Skipped.  Sorta hungry but just didn’t feel like it.
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs, and 0.75oz of awesome cheese
D- Leftover short rib meat, cooked in “sliced side pork” grease.  Also, 3 strips of that pork belly.

Total stats for the day:
No idea, since I’m not sure how to gauge what I had for dinner.  But given that I skipped breakfast, it’s safe to say that this day was too low in calories…

Day 16
B- 3 fried eggs, 1 tbsp butter (salt)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs, and 0.75oz of awesome cheese
D- 7.75 oz of some unknown cut of steak.  Didn’t seem very fatty, so I cooked it in butter.

Total stats for the day:
Taking a bit of a guess on the stats for the dinner meal because of the unknown steak cut.
1385 cal, 102f, 115p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  918 to 460 = 66% to 34%

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Cooking Reflection After Week 2

Delight of the Week
Swai fillet in butter – Perhaps it’s just because it was something new and different on this diet, but this meal was absolutely fantastic!  Swai is indeed an excellent fat absorber, so it functions perfectly as a butter delivery vehicle.  And I just really like the fish itself.  Swai has a mild taste and a light, flaky texture.  It’s also super simple to cook.  I just stick it in a pan with butter on the stove top on medium heat.  As it cooks, I flip the fish a couple of times to make sure it’s soaking up as much butter as possible.  If I stab it down the middle with the spatula/turner and it doesn’t easily split apart, then it hasn’t cooked enough.  If it does, then it’s pretty much done!  After splitting it into several small squarish pieces to increase the surface area for butter once more, it’s good to go!

Disappointment of the Week
Short ribs – Though sometimes tasty, as a whole, I’ve really struggled with these.  Part of it is my inability to gauge how much fat I can eat before feeling nauseous.  The other part, though, is that this just hasn’t been a very good cut of meat.  I’ve tried it close to rare and also up to medium.  I’ve tried it plain and also with butter.  But it’s just never appealing to me.  It’s often tough and chewy.  It takes forever to eat, causing dinner to drag on and on.  This then leaves me with cold short rib… which is even less appealing to finish.

Symptoms Reflection After Week 2

Positives
Bloating – Still gone!
Diarrhea – Still pretty much gone!  Happened one time, and I don’t know the reason.  But once in two weeks is a wonderful miracle compared to multiple times every day.
Skin rash – Continues to fade, and that is excellent!
No “kidney pain” – Whatever that discomfort was from the first week, I haven’t noticed it since.  So maybe that was just part of the keto adaptation phase?

Negatives
Nauseousness from too much fat – Ugh, I hate this one.  Feels awful and makes for terrible sleep.  I really hope to prevent this in the future by better gauging how much fat I can handle in one sitting.  If I can’t, this is a huge negative.
Food nightmares – This one is… kind of funny?  Twice now I’ve had bizarre dreams where my garage is full of donuts or some other super carby food.  And though I fight and fight the urge, the nightmare always ends with me seemingly giving in to the desire.  Then I wake up all confused, wondering if I actually chowed down on a box of donuts and abandoned my Zero Carb experiment.
Mood – I don’t know that this is necessarily a negative, but the super positive mood from last week is more tempered now.  Thus, I think it was just initial excitement.  Still get down sometimes, still have reality to deal with.  No diet can cure that.
Weight loss – Yikes!  I’m still shedding weight and don’t need or want to be.  Though I’ve certainly averaged a higher number of calories per meal than last week, that number is still much lower than it should be.

Short Ribs Causing My Patience to Run Short (Day 14)

I wrote last week about how my body gives me lousy feedback signals for feeling full or hungry.  And for whatever reason, this is hugely the case when I eat short ribs.  My dinner meal on Day 14 prompted the now classic “Nope!  Full!  Couldn’t possibly eat another bite!” signal right after the first bite.  Given that I had been feeling hungry for much of the afternoon, this was just ludicrous.

So I continued to eat.  However, I remained fully aware of how easy it is for me to eat too much fat from these short ribs and feel ill.  And this was a particularly fatty piece!  Since I’m still unable to gauge where the appropriate stopping point is, I cut the meal quite short and… spent much of the night hungry.  Sigh.  But I’ll take that over feeling nauseous and wanting to throw up.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to survive on a Zero Carb diet with only ground beef?  I haven’t had any problems with that, and I’ve loved the taste.  Furthermore, I appreciate how easy it is to chew.  That makes the meal so much quicker to eat and in turn makes it much more enjoyable.  As for short ribs, it feels like a chore to eat them.  Not fun.

Meals Eaten:
Day 14
B- 3 fried eggs, butter (salt)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs
D- 3/4 of a short rib, probably.  Really, really fatty, though.  Gonna guess somewhat on its stats.

Total stats for the day:
1216cal, 100f, 76p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  900 to 304 = 75% to 25%

Bacon!! Well, Not Exactly… But Still… Bacon!! (Day 13)

While shopping for fish at the grocery store, I was also curious about bacon.  I know some Zero Carbers eat bacon (and a lot of it!), but after looking at the list of ingredients on various packages, I opted to avoid it.  I don’t know if the preservatives or nitrates or whatever else gets added during the curing process matters on a Zero Carb diet (or even in general), but I’m trying to avoid as much of that as possible during this experiment.  I really just want the meat with nothing else added to it.

So I was a little bummed until something else caught my eye in a different section of the store:

“Sliced side pork”

Hmmm… Well…  It sure looks an awful lot like bacon!  But why is it suspiciously named as creatively as “lamb neck slices“?  That’s because it’s definitely not bacon.  However, it’s the same cut of meat that bacon comes from:  pork belly.  So it’s exactly what I was looking for:  just the meat!

Now, to warn anyone who goes out wanting to try this, “sliced side pork” is NOT bacon and does NOT taste like bacon.  Even though it’s the same cut of meat, the taste is quite different since pork belly goes through a lot more to actually become bacon.  Pork belly on its own–if you’re familiar with Korean food–is Samgyeopsal.  I think it tastes good, but it’s very different from bacon.

So I’m excited to have a little variety!  Pork “sort of bacon” and fish are now options on the menu, and this diet is feeling a little more doable.

Meals Eaten:
Day 13
B- 3 fried eggs, 1 tbsp butter (salt)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs
D- Swai fish in 1 tbsp butter (salt) and 1 sliced side pork strip.  The swai fish was wonderful.  I think I overcooked the pork belly, but it still tasted okay.  If I cook it less in the future, I bet it’ll be much better.

Total stats for the day:
1214 cal, 92f, 99p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  828 to 396 = 68% to 32%

Fish and Fishy Research (Days 11 and 12)

To figure out the stats (calories, fat grams, protein grams, etc.) for the various foods I eat, I’ve mainly taken advantage of a feature of Google where you type in the amount of food, followed by the type of food, followed by the word “calories,” and then a list of nutrition facts pops up.  So, for example, just search for

3 oz halibut calories

and it pulls up the data, generally from the USDA.  So it’s quick and easy to get a decent estimate.   However, in my experience, the numbers are often a bit strange.  For example, 3 oz of “halibut” has 12 g of fat and 158 calories, but 3 oz of “halibut, raw” has 1 g of fat and 78 calories.  Those are rather different!  Looking at an actual packaged frozen filet at the grocery store, the stats appear to be closer to the latter.  So maybe “halibut” means you eat the skin, too?  But with “halibut, raw” you don’t?  I’m not sure, but it certainly complicates keeping a stats diary!

Anyways, salmon (regardless of whatever label is attached to it) seems to consistently be one of the fattiest fish out there.  However, salmon has rarely sat well in my stomach in my life, so it’s not something I’m anxious to try again.  And everything else available in my grocery store didn’t seem to be that fatty.  (And, WOW, is fish ever expensive!  I’ve had halibut before, and it was awesome, but when I can get almost nine pounds of ground beef instead, it’s no longer appealing!)

Thus, I settled on a much cheaper fish:  swai.  It claimed to have a tiny amount of fat in it, but it’s real purpose is going to be as another fat absorber, like eggs.  I’ve had it in the past, and it soaks up butter like crazy and is quite tasty.  Thus, I’ll make a fatty fish out of it yet!  That’ll be on the menu for Day 13.

Meals Eaten:
Day 11
B- 3 eggs, 1.5 tbsp butter (salt)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs
D- 5 3/8 oz sirloin steak, .5 tbsp butter

Total stats for the day:
1353 cal, 103f, 101p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  927 to 404 = 70% to 30%

Day 12
B- 2 fried eggs, 1 tbsp butter (salt)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs
D- 6 oz sirloin steak

Total stats for the day:
1226 cal, 89f, 100p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  801 to 400 = 67% to 23%

Can’t Be the Histamines! (Days 9 and 10)

I took a guess before starting this diet that my symptoms and problems were simply due to carbs and/or plants.  However, another possibility I read about was histamine intolerance.  Since a lot of the food I was eating prior to this diet was also quite high in histamines (or were “histamine releasors”), there was some plausibility to this.  Fortunately, going Zero Carb appeared to be a way to handle this scenario as well.  If I stuck to land meat and avoided certain fish or shellfish, it didn’t seem like histamines would be a factor.

Except… apparently eggs are also on the list of things to watch out for that are histamine-related!  Oops!  Well, if that’s true, then with as many eggs as I’ve been eating, I imagine I should’ve had some kind of awful reaction by now.  Furthermore, the freshness of meat is apparently also an issue.  But since I’ve been raiding the “Manager’s Special:  About to Expire!  30% Off!” meat section of the grocery store without ill effects, I believe it’s safe to say histamines aren’t a concern for me personally.

If you’re interested, here are the sites and articles I found while looking into histamines and histamine intolerance.  Unfortunately, the food lists do not always line up and agree with each other.  But they may still give you a starting point when looking into this:

Anyways, not having to worry about histamines is quite exciting since it opens up the possibilities of eating certain fish (like shrimp, my favorite!) and cheeses!  There was some cod in the freezer, so I went ahead and ate that on Day 9.  I actually didn’t feel the greatest the next morning.  It felt like maybe I had too much stomach acid?  But I don’t know if that was due to the cod or something else.  The cod meal was pretty low in calories, so I might have just been super hungry.  I’m certainly willing to give fish a try again since I don’t know what the issue was.

I plan to do some more research on both fish and cheese to see what is best to include on this diet from a carb standpoint.

Meals Eaten:
Day 9
B- None.  (Woke up late)
L- 6 oz of 80/20 hamburger with 2 eggs mixed in
D- 6 oz cod fillet, 2 tbsp butter (salt), 2 eggs

Total stats for the day:
1030 cal, 77f, 80p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  693 to 320 = 68% to 32%

Day 10
B- 3 fried eggs, 1 tbsp butter (salt)
L- 6.5 oz of 80/20 hamburger, 2 eggs
D- 4 oz of short rib (actual measured weight of the eaten meat.  Very hard to accurately gauge fat content, though.)

Total stats for the day:
1415 cal, 118f, 84p
Fat cal to pro cal ratio:  1062 to 336 = 75% to 25%

**What’s up with the Google calorie database thing?  The total calories seem to be quite off from the amount of fat and protein grams…