What do you think about the keto diet?
Does it seem counter-intuitive to increase your consumption of dietary fat when you’re trying to lose excess body fat?
There are a lot of misconceptions about ketosis and the diet/lifestyle that helps turn your body into a fat burning machine. Let me explain my experience of this healthy way of living and the benefits plus limitations of a keto based diet.
Ketones are produced from our liver when carbohydrates are not readily available to metabolise for our body’s functioning. They help the body mobilise its fat stores for energy- just as it would have in more primitive times when certain food types were less readily available due to seasonal changes, as a form of survival.
Our brains are made up of mostly fat and whilst keto living is highly effective for fat loss, it is most strongly placed in supporting certain brain disorders and for clarity of mind. For instance in cases of epilepsy ketosis has great benefits because the brain responds to the increased fat intake postively impacting the incidence and severity of seizures and related symptoms of such disorder.
That noted, keto is not designed to be followed forever, unless you have a specific need – for eg. are an elite athlete or are using ketosis to try manage other body imbalance. In cases of trying to improve your fertility ketosis would not likely to be ideal for you, although if the infertility is based around obesity, then it could be well placed, for a certain time. This is because ketosis is a brilliant fast way to shift unwanted fat, recalibrate your brain if you’re hooked on sweets, and to tone the body, improve blood lipid profiles/heart health (in many cases) and increase sustained energy levels when needed. Ketosis also has therapeutic implications for certain diabetics.
After offering a keto diet to my clients over two decades, I decided to follow the keto lifestyle for myself late last year, continuing on for the past couple of months. The basic principle is to eat higher proportions of “good” fats, a high amount of protein with limited complex carbohydrates (ie. in 70/20/10 ratios), thereby encouraging the body to produce ketones. This means my daily eating regimen features lots of delicious high fat options like avocado, coconut butter, nuts, bulletproof coffee, organic meats, simple greens, 70% dark chocolate, vegetables and berries. In essence it is a whole foods diet, cutting away the refined grains that cause us blood sugar highs and lows, and for me, also really pulling back on any alcohol for less joint inflammation and gut aggravation (which I usually experience post wine consumption).
Clinical case history suggests that those who eat clean foods & less refined carbs feel amazing on keto very quickly – whereas those who have been eating more processed meals including sugar can naturally take longer to adjust this way of living. The important point here is to not be deterred because if you’re in this category you are more in need of the anti-inflammatory, blood sugar balancing, body fat reducing benefits – it’s just that it may take more effort to adjust, initially. The worst of experiences here include headache or lethargy and yet that shifts once your body is through this phase, resulting in a far better sense of sustained health.
I have shared many examples on Facebook/Instagram of the delicious meals I have enjoyed on my keto diet, none of it was an effort, and remarkably for me, I actually survived throughout the days without my obligatory 2 pieces of toast that I often eat for brekky. I didn’t need muesli bars or muffins to snack on anymore, humous and carrots was enough, goats cheese and olives being my new saviours.
There are keto alternatives to bread and I baked and bought some lovely loaves and flat breads consisting of plain yoghurt, chia seed meal and sometimes buckwheat. For me the results of this change was that I no longer felt hungry (say, after eating a bowl of muesli as I used to do), didn’t feel swayed by sweets, no longer longed for cakes and crackers, and suddenly had a clarity of mind that I haven’t felt for many years. Whenever I started to question this, if I had a piece of bread or a corn thin, I would notice how those quick carbohydrates made me feel good instantly, but a lot worse for much longer afterward. Same goes for a sweetened drink. As soon as I returned to a high fat, healthy protein option like an egg, can of tuna or some celery with peanut butter my moods stabilised and joints stopped aching.
As this way of eating became automatic, I realise that quality over quantity is truly powerful because, as an active individual I am typically a big eater, needing to graze to avoid becoming “hangry” (hungry and angry!). Now my portions were smaller but more dense in nutrients, shedding away the rice, pasta, sweet sauces/dressings and lashing my stir-fries or cauliflower rice with nourishing tahini paste, miso paste, or putting more avocado on top. Food was becoming my medicine not only a sense of reward or instant source of solving a symptom (eg. feeling tired or bored).
I’ve eaten like this for a couple of months now – the effects of which include losing a dress size & gaining my energy mojo so much that I have begun running again (an activity I ditched post kids). This is all despite the fact that I truly believed I had little to gain from ketosis – I was already healthy & yet this optimised my sense of wellbeing, toned my body & gave me extra oomph for my busy work/exercise schedule. Keto living has proved to me again that “you don’t have to be sick to get better” and how you can’t imagine any improvements gained, without first giving something new a go.
As I’ve employed with clients like you, I’m now adjusting to a more Mediterranean based diet, with slightly higher quantities of carbohydrates/grains, seafood & less focus on MCT oil, with virgin olive oil continuing to be part of my diet. My taste buds have changed – I don’t crave bread I don’t even enjoy eating it anymore, which is quite remarkable for a long-standing toast/pizza base lover. I learnt that cauliflower pizza base is actually yummier than a typical base and that I now prefer animal meats like salmon or chicken with zucchini noodles over standard options. It makes me fuller & fuels my body more readily than my old favourites that were fillers without the same sustenance.
Note there are a variety of great keto supplements available now to help nudge your body into a state of ketosis more quickly. I stock some of these in my clinic and can share with you my experience with various options. They aren’t vital though, you can still achieve your goals with diet alone, it simply helps support your efforts to the results can be more evident.
Still a little confused?
For a wonderful resource on keto simplified Dr Mercola provides a feee article that explains all.
in health, Julie