I think I’m ready to commit to a ketogenic way of eating for life (or at least for the foreseeable future).
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Huh? Commit to a what?
I’ve changed my dietary habits over the course of my adult life. I’ve followed low-calorie plans, low-fat plans, low-carb plans, primal, paleo, keto, Whole30, Atkins…you name it, I’ve done it (or at least researched it thoroughly to know I’m not interested).
I keep finding myself coming back to low-carb and/or ketogenic diets. Atkins–low carb. Primal–low carb (except for the fruit and starches). Paleo–low carb (except for the fruit and starches). Whole30–low carb (except for the fruit and starches). Keto–low carb.
I’m finally at the point where I’m really enjoying my way of eating and want to do this long-term. This way of eating has done amazing things for my health, and I want to continue to feel even better as I get older. It has:
- significantly reduced the symptoms of both anxiety and depression to the point where I am now having days where I feel neither of those things for the first time in years
- reduced my weight while not leaving me hungry
- cleared up my skin–I rarely get blemishes anymore, even those pesky hormonal ones
- forced me to be more creative in the kitchen
- made me think about the things I’m putting into my body more carefully
- given me energy to get through my day without caffeine or a mid-afternoon crash
- stabilized my blood sugar levels
It truly has been a great thing for us. Yes, there are some downsides as well, but one learns to work through those.
That sounds great and all, but what about what you can’t have?
Yes, I’m not going to be able to have a sandwich or cake or cookies or doughnuts or spaghetti or pizza or breadsticks or ice cream…but let’s think about this for a minute–are any of those things really good for us anyway?
Wouldn’t it be healthier to load up half of my plate with veggies and the other with protein and top it all off with a healthy fat source? Doesn’t that sound better? That’s what keto is.
Isn’t it just a meat-only diet?
People think it’s all about eating bacon, cheese, and butter (which are all delicious), but it’s not. People think it’s a zero-carb way of eating, but it’s not.
There are a lot of ways one follows this way of eating, but here are the guidelines I plan to follow for life:
- Pick unprocessed foods over processed ones when possible.
- Work to stay under 20g of net carbs per day.
- Keep working to reduce and eventually eliminate dairy intake.
- Shoot for at least 90% on track. Don’t let a “bad” meal become a bad month.
- Try new foods and experiment in the kitchen.
- Stay under the carb limit, meet the protein goal, and eat fat to satiate until reaching maintenance. Let your body use its own fat to make up your fat total for the day.
Okay, you have my attention. Where can I learn more?
If you’re interested in knowing more about this lifestyle:
- Read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. This is the best book on the subject I’ve read so far.
- Join the Facebook group Adapting to Keto. That group is a fantastic resource for those just getting started as well as for those who’ve been doing it for a while. They are a bit strict when it comes to posting about cheats or foods that have been heavily processed to lower the carbs, but it’s one of the best groups I’ve found yet.
- Join the Facebook group Optimal Ketogenic Living. This group really educates about the science behind keto and follows Phinney and Volek’s book. The admin team is really knowledgeable about the subject and they break it down for the members in an easy-to-understand way. There are a ton of resources to be found there and a discussion thread about almost anything.
- Watch Michelle Rock‘s videos on YouTube. Start from the beginning to see how keto helped her lose over 100 pounds. Her full day of eating videos are good sources of inspiration for those looking for meal ideas. She created the group Adapting to Keto and is one of the administrators there helping others succeed.
- Watch Butter Bob Briggs‘ videos on YouTube. He claims that butter made his pants fall off and explains a lot of the science behind the diet in an easy-to-undertsand way.
- If you’ve been going for a while and want to try something new, read Dr. Jason Fung’s The Complete Guide to Fasting and learn how intermittent fasting can increase your success on keto.
Remember, the resources named above are for the way I plan to eat keto. There are other ways to follow this lifestyle and still be successful. The one thing every plan has in common is the severely restricted carbohydrate intake to induce ketosis. That’s what makes it a ketogenic diet.
Also remember, I’m not a doctor nor do I claim to be one. I’m not a dietician or nutritionist. I’m somebody who’s tried a bunch of things and finally found something I enjoy and want to share it with others.
Should I talk to an expert first? Maybe a doctor?
I recommend talking to your doctor before embarking on any sort of dietary change, but you may receive a bit of discouragement from some doctors about a diet like this. Doctors are not educated in nutrition beyond a basic level and may confuse the word ketosis with the word ketoacidosis.
You keep using the word ketosis. What is ketosis? Keep it simple; I’m new to this.
Ketosis is a natural state that your body gets into when glucose is low. Many people, even high-carb eaters, enter a state of ketosis while sleeping and get out of ketosis when they break their fast (aka breakfast). Breast milk, one of the most natural foods for humans, is ketogenic. Ketosis is the state your body goes into when you fast for a period of time. Our ancestors lived in a ketotic state when food was scarce.
Umm…I’m pretty sure fasting is not good for you. You shouldn’t starve yourself.
Fasting is not starving. Fasting is intentional and one can opt out of the fast at any time. Starving is unintentional due to physical (no food available) or mental (as in anorexia nervosa) restrictions and cannot be ended unless circumstances change. I’m sure some will disagree with me on this definition, but it is how I feel they are best defined for the average person.
Okay, fasting is fine. Then what’s ketoacidosis?
Ketoacidosis is a dangerous state for type I diabetics and is caused by an uncontrolled state of ketosis. It’s usually caused by low insulin, high blood sugar, and dehydration. This dangerous state can occur in alcoholics as well as those suffering from long-term starvation.
Since ketosis and ketoacidosis sound very similar, your doctor may try to dissuade you from starting a ketogenic diet. If they do, it’s up to you to decide what to do from there. My doctor agrees that a low-carb diet is good for me and my husband, so we have her blessing. One of my husband’s specialists believes it’s a good way to keep hormones in check. Your mileage may vary with your personal doctor.
Can I follow you on social media to keep up with your keto adventures?
Sure. I have an instagram account just for keto (so I didn’t clog up my friends’ feeds on my personal account with delicious food). I’m lishdoesketo on IG and I’m finally getting back into using Twitter (after a zillion year hiatus) and have a keto account there with the same handle. Both accounts are fairly new and I’m working to update them as often as I remember to.
Thanks for reading this novel and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!
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