Is The Keto Diet Right For You?
I am not a medical professional and have had no training in medicine or nutrition. Before considering a change in diet you might want to consult your doctor.
Ketogenic Diet: What and Why
The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular ways to lose weight fast. Those who follow this plan not only claim that they are just shedding pounds, but are also feeling better, having more energy, and having more mental clarity than ever before.
"Doing keto" means eating mostly foods high in good (or saturated to be technical) fats, eating a moderate amount of protein, and very little carbohydrates. Eating in this way changes the way that your body uses energy.
Glucose vs Ketones
Glucose is sugar that the body receives from carbs. The body stores glucose for quick access energy and the excess glucose is transformed into body fat for future use. In ancient times, having body fat could save your life when starchy, glucose-rich foods were in short supply.
Once the glucose in your body is at practically negligible levels and no new glucose is being digested, that's when it begins to burn the fat that the body has stored. The body uses fat for energy and that energy comes from a molecule called ketones. This process is called ketosis. When a body is in ketosis, they are burning fat because of the lack of glucose.
Now this is important. Glucose is not bad for you, only the excess glucose being turned into fat is when the problems come to light.
My Favorite Hobby
Keto is not easy. Keto is not for everyone. For me, I had to change my views and relationship with food.
I love food. I take such pleasure in cooking for myself and my loved ones. Cooking has become one of my most enjoyable hobbies in my adult life. I recently cooked my first chicken tikki masala and it was divine. I have a brisket thawing in my fridge that I'm smoking this weekend. I love food! Discovering new recipes, experimenting with flavors, and getting out of my comfort zone are now some of my most favorite ways to spend time.
I had to change my mindset. I can find food that I love to cook and consume that works with my new eating plan. And even if I have something that's high in carbs, it's not the end of the world. Years before I'd beat myself up about having a cookie or slice of pizza. I'd just binge eat the rest of the day because "why not? I've ruined this day!" Sometimes a donut in the morning is OK, just compensate that for the rest of your day.
Welcome to the Modern Era
There are so many different products out there that can help folks who want to do the ketogenic diet. With it's recent popularity, many companies are taking this diet into consideration.
- keto-friendly options all up and down the grocery store aisles, food, drinks, and snacks made without any sugars that would blast you out of ketosis
- ways to keep track of your food intake
- they make glucometers, a device that detects blood sugar levels, that can detect the level of ketones in your blood stream. They also make strips that can be used to test the level of ketones in your urine as well.
- exogenous ketones: a person a consume this and within 30 minutes be in full ketosis. Most exogenous ketones come in a flavored powder that can be shaken up into a bottle of water. I use at least one a day in between meals.
Exogenous Ketones that I use
Food is Fuel
Sometimes, we can't always eat something delicious. Our bodies need calories from food just like plants need sunlight. Whether it's time, finances, or an empty pantry, every meal can't be gourmet. I need food to function and sometimes that means I'm eating dry chicken breast and a handful of olives. I drink my coffee with a tablespoon of butter and another tablespoon of coconut oil. I also drink much more water than I did before doing keto. If I'm full, I'll be less tempted to eat things outside of my meal plan.
Keeping track of my eating habits is also very crucial. I need to know if I have consumed enough fat to keep my body in ketosis, or if I ate too many carbs that will kick me out of ketosis.
There are many ways to keep track of this data.
- apps for mobile devices (MyFitnessPal is a very popular one that I use personally, they have a great program for macros)
- using a spreadsheet
- just writing down everything you eat with the calorie count and other nutritional data.
This diet plan is not for everyone. Please consult your doctor before considering this eating plan. Here are some other downsides.
- carbs are often delicious. To stay in ketosis I have to severely limit the amount of carbohydrates that I eat.
- eating fat. Not everyone likes the idea of eating or the taste of fat. Consuming enough fat throughout the day for people adverse to fat would not be a good time.
- meal prep is time consuming. Making food ahead of time has to be a priority in order for me to be successful. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Too many times I have forgotten my lunch and succumbed to the temptation of a delicious pizza.
- going out to eat can be a hassle. There can be hidden carbs in a meal that can throw off your ketone levels.
- starting out is rough for some people. It's called the "keto flu" and it can be very discouraging. If you feel so bad then how can this diet be good? Makes sense to me.
Food Tips and Tricks
When that craving sneaks up on you for bread, pasta, sweets, or adult beverages, you need to be ready! Here are some things that I do!
- Bulletproof Coffee: a cup of hot coffee that is blended with ingredients like butter, coconut milk, and avocado oil. The blending process is crucial! Once emulsified, the fats and oils gain a delcious creamy consistency that sure beats the pants off of black coffee! Using butter
- Keto Pizza: grab a cookie sheet. Place some parchment paper on top. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese into a circle. Season the cheese with basil, oregano, garlic. Place any toppings on top of the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the edges are crispy. Slice and enjoy!
- Cloud Bread: it's basically a sugar-less meringue baked until it's a shade under golden. Use as a bread replacement!
- Soft drinks with Stevia: stevia is a very popular sweetener in the keto community because it normally does not influence your blood sugar levels.
- Enjoy a sparkling water with some cucumber slices and a squeeze of lime! Some brands like Topo Chico have a similar mouth-feel to a beer in my opinion and really hit the spot when a "cold one" is calling my name.
The online keto community is amazing. Whether it's recipes, advice, or just emotional support, there are so many people out there who are either experiencing the same thing or have survived and have wisdom for others.
There are also so many talented, well-informed, and affordable nutritionists in the world that are available either in person or online.
If you're looking for another option to weight loss, you might want to consider the ketogenic diet. If you stick with it, the results are undeniable.