Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Many people have joined the Keto craze because it promises to shift your body into a constant fat-burning mode...but getting there will be costly. As you know, I follow a popular diet every month, and KETO is my choice for July 2020.
The Ketogenic Diet is not for the faint of heart
There is a large learning curve, complete with terminology such as "Ketones", "Fat Bombs", "Net Carbs" and "Keto Flu".
You must calculate and set the macro percentages that are appropriate for your height and weight. These are typically given in a range, with newbie Ketonites aiming for easier targets. Online calculators are available of course. I'm a nerd, and like to do it myself!
It is very helpful to have certain items like a bio-impedence scale that estimates body fat, test strips to measure ketones in your urine, and some kitchen appliances, like an Instant Pot and a fat separator.
You must have the desire and time to create foods that are unfamiliar to you, including fat bombs and bone broth.
You must have a mental fortitude to navigate and embrace the symptoms and side effects. This diet will challenge your limits. Here I kindly suggest that you find a good online discussion group, as well as a partner who will commit to this diet with you. You will need the support.
Week #1: This is what has happened to me so far:
I used the book Keto Basics published in 2019 by Simon & Schuster (1) to learn, well, the basics. I found this book to be that perfect balance of straightforward explanation, and important details (like complex formulas for calculating macros).
The average person should give themselves 2-3 weeks to gradually reduce and eliminate all forms of simple sugars. I was able to jump in quickly because I didn't have to wean myself off of sugary drinks, candy, bread or pasta. Even then, I found that the swing from taking 200+grams of carbs down to 30grams was hard.
After 2 days, like clockwork, I suffered the 'Keto Flu', causing me to be near a restroom for 5 days. Why does this happen? Right now, there is not enough research to determine why this happens (2). Some claim it is a cleansing reaction, some say it is electrolytes rebalancing, others say it is carbohydrate withdrawal. Whatever the reason, you can expect it. If you don't wean off simple carbs, it will be worse.
I've also experienced gastric reflux on a regular basis, which has never been a problem for me before. Especially at night.
I avoided the brain fog, but I have been irritable. I know this irritability was my brain sort of yelling at me to give it sugar. I can literally feel the depletion of my glycogen stores - a tight dull sensation by my stomach. It still has not abated. It's uncomfortable and I don't like it. Here's where the mental fortitude kicks in - you have to learn to wait for the fat to be broken down into ketones which can then used for energy. It's an energetic shift.
I've dabbled with a few fat bomb recipes. This is absolutely core to the program. The carb cravings can be abated with these little gems. Fat is not typically abundant in foods, except for oils, butter and avocados, so you have to make them ahead of time. I loved the cream-cheese-peanutbutter-rolled-in-unsweetened-dark-cocoa (pictured right). I've made a few others fat bombs that ended up in the trash, so just keep trying!
I used a ketone test strip and confirmed that I achieved ketosis!
As a newbie Ketonite, I am setting my macros goals gently, by allowing 15% Carbs and working down from there. My actuals macros after 7 days: 64% Fat, 23% Protein, 13% Carbs. I can be proud of those numbers, and can work towards the ratio of 75-18-7.
Week #2: I need to be optimistic & I need to supplement
KETO adaptation is harder than going VEGAN. The tight control of carbs at <10% of your caloric intake impacts every move you make. There is a reason they recommend the dark leafy greens - packed with nutrition and fiber. It is one of the few areas you get vitamins and minerals in this diet.
A nutritional analysis of my first 7 days show a deficit in both vitamins & minerals. If you would like to see the data, please go to my FB post to see the comparison. I use the RDA standards, and I track my foods on www.cronometer.com. If you are on a weight loss program, you need to be aware that it will be hard to achieve the right targets due to limiting of foods and calories. You can order high quality supplements through my website.
I made ONE mistake and was 'kicked out of ketosis'. I worked in the yard and it was hot. I came in and grabbed a gatorade. An honest mistake; I didn't even think about it until I looked at the empty container. "Oh, no." There was enough sugar in there for 3 days of KETO. What's so bad about that? Well, I ended up with the 'Keto Flu' all over again.
I have purchased a BIA scale and synced it to the app on my phone. It has shown me that I have too much body fat and that I am 15 pounds overweight. As long as I remain healthy I'm not too worked up over the 15 pounds. Perhaps in 3 more weeks I will see a difference in the fat% - after all, that's the promise of this diet.
I've also made bone broth in my Instant Pot and it is quite good. I've tasted a store bought bone broth in the past, and it was terrible! I strongly recommend you seek out the cooking experts on YouTube who can guide you through this!
Finally, I would like to just say that this diet is hard. You have to abandon a lot of traditional foods. For me I cannot have fruit smoothies, a stir fry, lasagna, pizza or potatoes. Each night I make meat or fish. This is not my mojo. Unlike the other diets I've tried (VEGAN, Probiotic, Intermittent Fasting) my food requirements added more variety and they gave me recipes I will use in the future. I don't foresee making random fat bombs in the future.
I hope that this was helpful to you. If you are interested in following my daily progress, you can find me on FaceBook. I am a nurse, a nutritionist and a health coach. If you are seeking advice from someone who has walked the walk, I'm here for you. Please feel free to comment, share or follow my progress.
Until next time,
Be Kind to Yourself!
1) Keto Basics, 2019 Simon & Schuster