Last night I went to dinner. While everyone else had a piece of bread or two and didn’t modify their side of potatoes, I made sure my fish had no sauces on it and that the side of spinach I requested was untainted. It didn’t take long for our dinner guest to notice my weight loss, as well, observe my modified dinner order. This led to a diet conversation. It also led me to realize how little is understood about the Ketogenic diet. I am not a Doctor, I am not telling you this is the best thing for you. This is an opinion piece. All the same, I want to use this space today to break down what the Ketogenic (Keto) diet is, how it works and what the benefits are.
How does the Ketogenic diet work? I am going to keep this as simple as possible. For the first two weeks, you eliminate carbs. You eat no more than 20g of carbs per day. You switch to eating a high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet. Fats of choice include olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, sesame oil and a variety of other fats. Proteins include eggs, any natural, pure meat sources such as steak, pork, chicken and especially fish. Carbs include sauteed or steamed spinach, leafy green salads.
The first two weeks are used to switch your body from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. During this period, many people experience side-effects such as insomnia, dizziness, diarrhea, and a foggy mind. For “Keto Induction,” as it is termed, this can be relatively normal and should pass. For me, side effects were on the milder side, but everyone is different.
After two weeks, many people up their carbs to just below 50g per day. A few notes:
- Drinking your carbs isn’t going to be a solution. Just because you can have 50g carbs per day doesn’t mean you should use those to drink a coke. If you drink carbs on a Keto diet, you will severely spike your blood sugar.
- Stay with good carbs, such as nuts (not peanuts, those are legumes), vegetables, and berries.
But won’t you die of hunger? No. The fact is, fat fills us up way more than empty carbs do. More information on appetite is below.
One notable success story that made headlines for adhering to a Ketogenic diet was Lebron James. His Instagram post shocked many around the world due to his admission of severely dropping carbs. He did this because he wanted to prolong his basketball career. The truncated carbs mean less inflammation, better joints, and higher concentration (more on that below).
I know, we aren’t all training like Lebron James is, so this is a bad example, right? Wrong. Lebron James proves that the Ketogenic diet is manageable for anyone. Many people fear that if they drop carbs, they will have no energy source. Lebron James trains all day (compared to myself, who tries to get in a 20-minute workout at best per day). Lebron needs constant energy. For him to be able to convert to this diet is a demonstration in the fact that fat is a wonderful fuel source.
Let’s extend on three important points.
You can lose weight without a struggle: Weight loss is difficult and tricky, particularly the more that we age. For many of us, counting calories is a brutal undertaking. I really don’t want to eat a half a cookie, no thanks. The body responds to a Ketogenic diet by severely lowering the appetite. Don’t worry, you will still be hungry, just not for carbs and sugars and sweet things. A Ketogenic diet gives you stable energy all day, it cuts out the yo-yo diet aspect of the day. At 3pm, you aren’t craving a Starbucks or a Milky Way. Stable blood sugar is the key to weight loss. The Ketogenic diet, as a side effect of stable blood sugar, also allows you to go longer periods of time without eating if you so choose.
So let’s break down this complexity just a bit. There is two ongoing theories regarding the Ketogenic diet’s high success rate for cutting fat in the body:
- It naturally cuts down on calories. This is true. It also makes calorie / portion control a much more manageable endeavor.
- A Ketogenic diet eliminates insulin from storing fat in the body; it handles the blood sugar issue. This causes the body to burn fat as its major source of energy.
Which side am I on? Well, it is likely mostly 2, but in the end, potentially a combination of both factors. I would highly suggest anyone interested in this part of the Ketogenic diet to join Reddit’s Keto subreddit. You will find tons of people posting their weight loss stories, in detail.
The Ketogenic diet fights cancer: . Cancer cells have been shown to feed off of sugar. When you remove the mainline of sugar from the body, they can often times lose their fuel source. Cancer cells aren’t able to use fat cells to fuel their nefarious plans. When you eat under a Keto diet, you fuel your body with roughly 75% fat and 10% natural carbs. This puts cancer cells in a quandary. Many people have claimed to have cured their own cancer using a ketogenic diet. A mainstream study from 2011 shows that even in severely advanced cancer patients, the Ketogenic diet can help.
These pilot data suggest that a KD is suitable for even advanced cancer patients. It has no severe side effects and might improve aspects of quality of life and blood parameters in some patients with advanced metastatic tumors.
It will fuel your brain: On a Ketogenic diet, I literally feel smarter. I have way more focus. Many people like to throw around the “ADHD” term, but many of these people probably load themselves up on sugar. Nothing blows my concentration more than eating something laden with sugar. When you use fat to fuel the brain, as the Ketogenic diet most certainly does, you give the brain its preferred fuel source. From a personal standpoint, my focus and concentration and memory all function at a level 10 times higher than when I am eating higher carb diets. I feel more energetic, happy and stable.
When we go even further down the rabbit hole, we find that the Ketogenic diet protects the brain from a series of illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. Here is a pretty worthwhile read from the Scientific American. I suggest you give it a read if you want to learn more.
A ketogenic diet may also DIRECTLY inhibit a major source of neuronal stress, by -well- acting like a blueberry. Reactive oxygen species are unfortunate byproducts of cellular metabolism. Unlike the gas Oxygen, these “oxidants” have a single electron that makes them highly reactive, bombarding into proteins and membranes and wrecking their structure. Increased oxidants are a hallmark of aging, stroke and neurodegeneration (read more here).
Here is a great video that further discusses the benefits of a Ketogenic diet.
Additional Notes: You want to make sure you drink a lot of water on this diet. In addition, you need to make sure you get a lot of electrolytes. Lacking in either of these can cause your Keto experience to be poor. Here is a pretty cool video about how to treat Keto Flu (that’s the term used for carb withdrawal during the Keto induction stage).
I would once again, encourage everyone to join the Keto Subreddit. However, here is a pretty cool 100lb Keto loss I found on Instagram, if you are looking for a little inspiration.
It’s transformation Tuesday! I have always loved the water. I love to sit on the beach. I love to swim. Snorkeling is my favorite thing. Even at 400 pounds I loved all of those things. But at 400 pounds they weren’t easy. At a pool, I had to make sure it had stairs and not just a ladder in and out. So on a cruise ship – many pools were out of bounds for me as they often only have ladders. To go snorkeling from a boat – I had to know if the boat had stairs – or if it was a straight up and down ladder. The ladder? Not an option. I couldn’t haul myself out of the water. And even the neighborhood pool was a challenge. From fitting into the pool chairs. To feeling completely embarrassed about the size of my body. I might go to the pool – but not in a bathing suit. Or I’d wear a suit – but never take off my cover up as I stayed on the sidelines. Well this week I racked up the #nsv (non scale victories). I’ve gone to the pool a number of times. Sat in the sun in my suit. Got in the water. Never wore a coverup. And I even managed to climb the ladder at the side without issue. AND – when you are 400 pounds – you are quite buoyant. Floating is what you do. Without effort. And uh – when I’m down 200 pounds – apparently I will sink! I had to work to stay afloat. ???????????? #transformation #transformationtuesday #beforeandafter #beforeandafterweightloss #inspiration #motivation #progress #gym #goals #workout #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #noexcuses #lchf #lowcarb #paleo #atkins #keto #ketogenic #ketosis #girlswholift #150poundsdown #100poundsdown #curvy