So, this might be shocking, but I have some friends. Friends who are getting married. On beaches. Which means that I need to do my duty as a red, white, and blue flag waving american: lose weight as fast as possible because oh my god time is running out and I’m not sexy yet. Luckily, I’ve been on a moderately ridiculous diet for the past three weeks and it worked and I’m looking gooooood. So let’s talk about what happened. tl;dr I lost 1–2lbs per week for 3 weeks and over 1" off my waist using a Soylent variant called Ketochow and I’m looking forward to starting the diet again ASAP because it went so well.
Unlike most other diets, this one is based on science , and it also sounds completely ridiculous if you aren’t familiar with it. The diet goes by a few names: Low Carb High Fat (LCHF), Keto, or Ketogenic Diet are some of those names. I know. Sounds pretty legit, already, right? Well in 3 weeks I lost over a pound per week and 1 solid inch off my waist while gaining excellent and desirable muscles . These results are ridiculous and yes I expect them to last after I’m off the diet.
The secret ingredient is Ketochow a LCHF variation of Soylent. Ketochow is amazing. I was inspired to try it as a way to pull off a keto diet after writing about Soylent and realizing that I need a drop pounds more than I need to be nutritionally balanced.
This may sound familiar if you remember the Atkins diet (induction phase): very low carb (under 20 g daily), a good amount of protein, and just go to town in fat city. Dramatically cutting out carbs puts your body into a state where it burns fat for fuel (aka Ketosis). This is awesome because you want to have less fat on your body so that your abs can look dope. Eating all that fat helps your body in ketosis and keeps you feeling full at lower calorie intake. Protein? Not as easy to explain in one sentence but you want protein for maintaining or building muscle.
Ok, sounds easy until you realize that carbs are in almost every food. One stupid (delicious) tortilla might have 20g carbs. Bread, rice, chips, cereal… all of that obvious will instantly push you over the limit. Also say goodbye to all sugar. ALL SUGAR. That includes fruits . Vegetables aren’t even all safe. You can fill your saucy mouth with leafy green vegetables, but eat too many green beans and you could blow past that ridiculously low 20g per day limit.
The good news  is that meat and cheese have zero carbs. That steak is just begging you to eat it, bun-less burgers are way better than you think, and Keto dieters revel gloriously in bacon-stravaganzas. Seriously, just let them have this little victory because they aren’t allowed to eat pizza.
Mary and I tried this diet once before during hurricane Sandy and … it didn’t go well. We were hungry, didn’t know what to eat, and we weren’t getting enough salt. Basically a recipe for acting like crazy hyper-emotional people. We didn’t even make it two weeks. Yet in those 2 weeks I lost a ridiculous 5 lbs. That was real weight loss, those 5 lbs stayed off for months after the diet was over, and I expect the same this time . But, it was just too hard getting the right balance of nutrients without help.
So this time I sampled two different Soylent variations: Ketosoy and Ketochow which both ensure that I get every last vitamin, nutrient, fat, protein, and whatever else I need without getting excess carbs and without having to think about or plan anything. Basically this diet combines the convenience of simple/fast lunches from soylent with fast/true weight loss and delicious fat/protien-stravaganza dinners.
Ketosoy, the first one I tried, did not turn out so well. Here are my comments in block quote:
The texture is like misery. Grit that gets all up around your teeth, but also gooey chia seed like bits. Instead of being semi-thick or creamy it ends up watery. That watery bit could be my fault from the way I blended it. Also, to be fair, I ’m working with an exploaded oil bottle so maybe that makes a huge difference?
Flavor wise, it has a strange almost metallic taste to it that just signalled “bad bad bad stop go away do not drink”. This is not something I need first thing in the morning. Ketosoy includes artificial sweetener packets that you can toss in there, I used some, but can't imagine enough, because it definitely didn’t taste in any way good.
The Ketosoy showed up with a broken oil bottle and everything covered in a thin layer of gross. That may have been the issue. It is also possible that they are still just working out the kinks. Regardless, I wouldn’t let Mary drink a full portion for fear of scaring her away from the diet. Every meal on ketosoy was grim battle of swallowing and hope was running on an empty tank. I’ll reach out to Ketosoy for their thoughts on what happened and update if there is reason to think that I should try them again.
That experience is why Ketochow was so unexpected. It tastes so stupidly tasty. Think dessert. Think the type of milk shake that comes in the big metal cup and that is what I remember every time I drink the vanilla. Think you want Ketochow right now. We tried many of the flavors and ranked them thusly:
Cookies and cream
Specific thoughts on each flavor would be too much for right here, so they will be included at the end. In an appendix. See, you are reading serious scientific literature now because there is an appendix.
Honestly, it is amazing how effective LCHF diets are. Our results burning off over a pound per week is actually on the low end for these sorts of diets. Likely if we hadn’t been working out so hard and building muscle we would have seen even more impressive weight loss numbers. The Ketochow drinks make you feel deeply, profoundly full after each one. I also just felt good and strangely healthy while on the diet . That is why, yes, after a short pause for the first wedding, we will be going back on this weird LCHF liquid-food-for-two-meals-per-day diet.
After all of this praise, there were some challenges worth noting:
- Pizza: While writing this on a plane there is a tv show on right now with really gross looking people eating really delicious looking pizza and I still haven’t had any carbs yet and oh wow I would like my face to be best friends with that pizza.
- Desserts: Oh I miss desserts. The only low carb desserts that we found are sugar free jello, whipped cream, and hazelnuts.
- Muscle Recovery: Carbs provide easy access to sugars that your muscles like to use while recovering from intense workouts. I really felt all of my workouts
- Fish Oil Pills: You have to take a bunch of fish oil pills every day to ensure that you get enough omega–3s . Fish oil pills are stupidly large and I guess it was annoying taking them
- Digestive Uncertainty: While your body is adjusting to the diet and you are consuming all of this oil your digestive system might surprise you with a few tricks you didn’t know it had. I don’t know, this is a family website  I don’t think I should go into this in detail 
- Social Awkwardness: Yeah, ordering bunless burgers is weird. Friends were tolerant but I can also tell it was pretty annoying trying to find a place where we could all eat that offered options that work as low carb.
- No Beer: Beer is obviously out because it is carb loaded. Straight alcohol like whiskey is actually ok although it puts a pause on the effectiveness of the diet while your body switches to burning off the alcohol for a few hours.
- Expense: The shakes are cheap, but you have to appreciate how carbs help keep meals cheap. For example, Chinese food offers some good low carb options, but usually you eat a lot of rice which helps fill you up for essentially no cost. We had to order a lot more to make a full meal which tastes great but defintely shows up on the bill. I also drank a lot of whiskey to make up for the lack of beer. It was very delicious but definitely more expensive than just grabbing a beer at a bar.
- Keto Flu: We didn’t really get Keto Flu. Some people feel not so great for the first few days while starting a keto diet. The few times when we did start to feel somewhat less than excellent it was almost always because of low salt/electrolytes . Nuun tablets were perfect for this and I always felt great after drinking one down.
None of those were show stoppers. Going forward we may try a less intense version of the LCHF diet. Since we are working out so hard, we will loosen the 20 g of carbs per day requirement. Some extra carbs after working out should help with muscle recovery while still keeping us in ketosis. That means dinners can include some of the more carb-y vegetables . We also may try “cycling” carbs back in with a one day per week cheat day. From what I’ve read that works great for some people and terribly for others. Could be a great way to ease cravings and help muscle recovery? Time will tell.
In conclusion, this absolutely qualified as a ridiculous experiment to run on my body (and Mary's) so I loved it just for that reason. The fact that it worked so well was just bonus points. I thought we would tough it out, lose some weight, look better for the beach, and be happy to return to carbs. I was surprised that the diet was actually really delicious and easy. I am shocked that I am actually looking forward starting it up again. I need me somma dat vanilla. Expect to hear how round 2 turns out in the near future.
Thinking about diving in on some Ketochow? There are sample packs for all the flavors, but I wanted some extra opinions before I pulled the trigger. Here are my thoughts on each of the flavors I tried:
Vanilla - Absolute, hands down favorite. We just don’t get sick of the vanilla and it seriously tastes like a quality milk shake. I want one right now.
Cookies and Cream - A crowd pleaser in the reviews and a close second behind Vanilla. Great for mixing it up so that we don’t just drink Vanilla everyday. Still excellent, but not Vanilla excellent.
Chocolate Fudge - Pretty great. Not super sweet, not like a proper milk shake (the vanilla tastes like a proper milk shake). Chocolate fudge could be a pretty good one to mix in as a change in flavor, nothing bad, nothing outstanding.
Cafe Mocha - “it doesn’t take mocha-y but I like it!” This is like an asj  coffee drink in a can. It is pretty subtle, approachable, easy. Barely tastes coffee-y. Fine Fine.
Strawberry - “oh my god. This tastes like an Asian milk! A little salty then it totally is asj milk. So lightly strawberry that it barely tastes like a specific fruit. A hint of strawberry and a hint of sweet but nothing more.” Verdict is like not love mainly because strawberry is so specific and would be hard to have every day.
Banana - its ok. kind of the banana version of the strawberry. Not bad, very light, it grows on you. But you are also drinking banana drink and I’m not sure you are ready for that kind of life.
Cinnamon Bun - This one smells so good in powder form! But doesn’t really taste like much. Think of Cinnamon Bun as somehow being the Soylent flavor equivalent. You could probably drink this flavor for days and not get sick of it because it just doesn’t taste like anything. Which is shocking since it smelled so good. Cinnamon Bun would rank higher for its accessibility if the other flavors weren’t so tasty.
Rich Chocolate - Just tasted… strange. Too salty perhaps? I don’t really see any reason for this flavor to exist.
Mint Chocolate - The mint is just really there in your face. I don’t think I want this again. Apparently if you like Mint Chocolate a lot then this can be a good option. I’m not really a fan though.
In addition, now that you are totally excited about trying a ketosis diet, here are some additional resources to learn more:
And also because I used to live in an apartment with 2 other physics PhDs and I was the only one who wasn’t shredded (meaning that they both have six packs and I have a stupid normal stomach) and oh, cool, I’m self conscious forever now ↩
Well at least loosely… or maybe it is based on things that sound like science… whatever, it is based on logic that was pretty convincing ↩
The workout, Turkish Get Ups and Kettlebells swings, is for another post, but I’m impressed my weight dropped along with the muscle gain. I don’t have a good way to measure fat loss vs. water weight etc. but I think with the muscle gain and the total weight drop 3–5 lbs of fat loss seems like a reasonable guess and also A LOT TO LOSE IN 3 WEEKS ↩
Yeah, I still get it: some people in the world aren’t as fat as fat Americans and need calories and don’t want to burn fat. If that is you, maybe you are more interested in evidence that ketogenic diets lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke etc.? Just leave the rest of us fatties alone ↩
Apparently true keto-pros eat some berries that are low enough carb but I haven’t earned my true legit keto cub scout badge yet ↩
Assuming you aren’t vegan ↩
Mary is my wife. Hi Mary. I make her do all these weird experiments with me and she is a good sport ↩
After some gain from water weight returning ↩
Seriously, what is with people writing “thusly”… what is with ME writing “thusly” ↩
I think everyone on every diet ever says that. Don’t you hate hearing that? I’m sorry. I’m not sure how much to take away from that ↩
honestly, you probably don’t get enough omega–3s normally so this is probably a good practice ↩
haha no it isn’t ↩
They call it “never trust a fart”. Oil loosens things up down there and you can probably just use your imagination about why to never trust a fart ↩
you need more while on a keto diet for reasons that no one cares about ↩
I’ll also be happy to have tomatoes back. Do you know what it is like to miss tomatoes? It is just weird. No one misses tomatoes ↩
say it out loud… it is short for asian. Hear it now? cool ↩