Image credit: coyot on Pixabay / CC0 / Public Domain

I am struggling with my weight since I left college and started working desk jobs. During my time in college I wasn’t super-thin, but I had an average BMI. I am 1.80 metres tall. Back in the day I fit in a 32/32 or 30/32 jeans and wore size 42/44 dress pants. I wanted to lose a bit of weight at that point, but generally I was quite happy with myself.

How to gain 40 kilograms in three years

As soon as I started my first job in a call center, the pounds added up quickly: I gained about 10 kilograms in weight. When I lost my job, my family doctor diagnosed a clinical depression due to chronic stress. He prescribed Seroxat (named Paxil in the US) and over the course of two years I gained 30 more kilograms.

After I detoxed from the pills, I vowed to NEVER take antidepressants ever again. I started a new job that allowed me to work from home and scheduled in a lot of walks. I walked for an hour per day and monitored my food intake with MyFitnessPal. It worked well, initially, and I lost 15 kilograms. A new round of severe stress made me gain it all back. I felt defeated and stuck in a body I no longer recognised as my own.

An unlikely ally

A few weeks ago I got help from a very unlikely source. The new European privacy directive went into effect in May. My American nutrition app wasn’t having it and demanded me to sign away my rights or be locked out of the app. This European wasn’t amused and deleted her account. I shopped for another app and found Lifesum, not knowing that this would be the best choice of the year so far. Lifesum is a nutrition app made by Sweden-based company Lifesum AB.

Lifesum’s Features

At first glance, this is just another nutrition app. It has a beautiful design. I expected I would use this to track my calories and nothing more. It has a verified food database that uses data from various national databases. Users also can add their own food, they can group products to create meals and they can enter products into recipes.

For a small fee, you can unlock premium features that include Fitness Tracker monitoring. Free users can enter their exercise data manually telling the app how long they did one of the pre-configured activities. In itself, that is not winning me over to go premium, but some of their other features did.

When I was done signing up for an account I was surprised about the questionnaire I got. In addition to the predictable questions about age, sex, height, weight, I had to answer questions about what kind of foods I ate and how much I normally eat. They gave me dietary advice based on my answers. So that’s what this was about!

I googled their company. Sure enough, their staff includes a large number of certified dietitians. I signed up for their premium feature, because I felt this was worth my €45 per year.

My Keto Plan

In my case, they advised a ‘medium keto diet’ I had never heard of. Being the sceptic I am, I went and googled it to see if there was any scientific merit to it or if this was another fad. I was somewhat surprised to learn that it had a scientific base and it made a ton of sense. Given the fact that so many dietitians work on the app, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Here is how it works: if you want to burn your body fat, you need to bring your body in a fat-burning mode called ketosis. Did you just think ‘duh’ just like me? The diet merely functions as a means to get and stay in ketosis. I went back to the app and selected keto as my plan and connected my FitBit.

Instant Feedback

The app works just like any other app, but what it makes so good is that it offers instant feedback on your choices as you enter them with smiley faces. As a premium user, you also get feedback on your macros. It shows what it should be like and compares that with what you are doing. I immediately felt empowered.

It tells me what I am doing wrong and it suggests what I need to eat to fix it. There is a recipe database tailored to your diet, allergies and plan to help you eat right. I lost 5 kilograms over the course of four weeks. I’ve never lost weight this fast and this easily before.

What I didn’t like

It’s a great app, but it has some flaws. It doesn’t sync well across devices. Some things, like food do sync, but other things like your water intake don’t. For logging I keep to my phone and I only use the iPad when I need to read from a bigger screen, when making the recipes.

Incredible Results

The app asks me every morning to weigh myself, gives me a boost with every weight loss. It then prepares for the day me by telling me what to expect with this diet. For instance, it tells you to expect fatigue and cravings the first week and motivates you to hang in there. For the first time in years I’m motivated to lose weight and feel empowered by an app. I believe this could work and will keep you updated with my results!