Health and Fitness
Low Carb Diet, Part 4: Tools and References
As I indicated at the end of
of the low carb diet series, in this installment I'll talk about a few
references, tools, and techniques I have found useful.
I try to track my numbers daily, not because I'm obsessed with them, but
because it might help me understand what's going on when I introduce changes.
Here is a summary of what I do, with more details on each item below.
- measure weight plus body fat percentage
(for example, 123 pounds and 21% body fat means a "score" of 144)
- chart using weighted moving averages
- read a lot
: this is what I have been
doing for myself; you should do what you and your health care professional
feel are right for you.
I realize item #1, adding weight to body fat percentage, is a little weird,
and as far as I know unique to me. I based it on the well known fact that
bioelectrical impedance analysis
(BIA) gives highly variable body fat percentage results depending on many
factors, especially hydration level.
For example, when well hydrated, body fat percentage can appear to go
down, just because impedance decreases.
However, the inverse could be said for weight, i.e. when well hydrated, weight
can appear to go up due to "water gain". So, I reasoned I might get
more consistent numbers if I added the two together.
I bought a simple Tanita scale for measuring weight and body fat percentage so
long ago, I don't remember the decade. From that point, I started to manually
track my "fat-pounds" on graph paper.
I continue tracking them to this day (albeit electronically), largely through
sheer force of habit.
Plus it seems not only to smooth out spurious hydration level fluctuations,
but even minor fluctuations due to other conditions (within reason),
like time of day, the previous day's workout (or lack thereof), etc.
But honestly, the main reason I continue to record fat-pounds is a decade or
two of history and inertia.
I noticed that today's scales appear to have more features, like this
Tanita scale plus
body fat and body water monitor, with athletic mode.
Since I only use my scale for relative, not absolute, readings, I think
I will stick with my old one as long as it seems to be consistent. I don't
believe BIA measurements through the feet can be very accurate for me anyway,
given the way my feet are built after decades of doing
kendo (in bare feet).
Another tool I use occasionally is a
Nova Max Plus
blood meter with
strips, to measure my ketosis level.
I bought these early on, intending to experiment someday with carbohydrate
binging and ketogenic recovery, something like
I also highly recommend the
lancing device, which has drum loaded lancets and adjustable penetration depth,
and is virtually painless.
In 2007, I learned about
, a free online
book which I highly recommend reading.
His descriptions of managing, fixing, and solving problems
(see the "Eat Watch" chapter)
were eye opening to me, as an engineer struggling against the cult of
What I still use are his free
for logging and charting numbers
(see low carb diet part 3 for a
slightly modified sample graph).
The tools automatically calculate
exponentially smoothed weighted moving averages, so you don't have to
(see the "Signal and Noise" chapter for details), and the log form includes
space for notes and flags.
3. Recommended Reading
I really, really like to read, so I'm always stumbling upon new things to
think about or try. I highly encourage you to do the same.
Here are a few books and websites you might find interesting.
The Seeking42 low carb diet series
(note: this list will be updated as articles are added):
Low Carb Diet, Part 1: Prelude
Low Carb Diet, Part 2: The Art and Science
Low Carb Diet, Part 3: Results So Far (click "previous in series")
Low Carb Diet, Part 4: Tools and References (this article)
Low Carb Diet, Part 5: The Deep End (click "next in series")