The keto diet: Almost 100 years of eating fat and how it changes lives
Monday, May 21, 2018
Writing about ketogenic eating and not sharing my story on the effects it had on my life seems like an impossible task. Some associate it with the paleo diet, but paleo is easier.
Currently, the keto diet is the "it" girl in diets. Products are being labeled keto diet-approved. Some of the meal delivery services are now including keto diet options.
However, the ketosis diet history dates back almost a century. It began as a way of eating to manage epilepsy. Doctors discovered that a diet high in fat, a certain amount of protein, and extremely low carbohydrates reduced seizures.
My back story
Back in 2015, I weighed 235 pounds. I felt unhealthy and lacked energy. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease. Shortly after that, I developed atrial fibrillation (A-Fib).
I was active, I worked out with a trainer three times a week, and one extra day every week on my own in the pool.
I could swim a mile. I ate whole grains and avoided fats. I thought I watched my sugar intake, always reducing it; always weighing food, measuring it out and feeling shame and guilt that I continued to gain.
A-Fib landed me in a cardiologist with many heart tests, and medication to slow my heart down. I carried "emergency" medication wherever I went.
The cardiologist suggested that I speak with one of their RNs; she had a program that she coached many clients through. He thought it was a good fit for me.
This is how ketogenic eating came into my life. It was Atkins times 10, more restricted than paleo, and the main ingredient was fat. What?
Shortly before starting, I tore a meniscus in my left knee. My picture: 235 pounds, thyroid and heart problems, and headed into knee surgery. My body, more than ever, needed something different. What I was doing wasn’t working!
What is ketogenic eating?
The main goal of ketogenic eating is you eat food that will put and keep your body in a state of ketosis until you reach your goal.
Ketosis occurs when your body no longer can obtain fuel from glucose (carbohydrates), and it decides to derive fuel, ketones, from fat that it has stored away. You train your body to look for fat instead of sugar.
What do you get to eat?
80 percent of your daily calories must come from healthy fats.
- Macadamia nuts and pecans
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
The next ingredient is protein but in a balanced amount. Too much protein keeps your body from being in ketosis, and your body cannot handle that much protein without enough fat.
For protein every day:
- Fish and seafood: The fattier, the better
- Eggs: the whole egg
- Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey, pheasant and quail
- Tofu: Firmer tofu contains fewer carbs
- Bacon and sausage
- Salami and other lunch meats (watch labels for overprocessed food with carbs added)
- Nut butter (read the labels for added sugar)
- Two cups daily of the all the leafy greens, cabbages, chard, or herbs
- One cup (uncooked) daily of artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (which makes a great rice substitute), mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, green beans, okra, peppers, leeks, chiles, celery, yellow squash, or zucchini.
Dairy is allowed, but in moderation due to the sugar content. If doing this for weight loss, the more you use, the slower the weight loss. If you use almond or soy milk, get the sugar free variety.
The total daily allowance for carbs should not exceed 20 grams, which means looking at labels for foods that were low in carbs.
Some foods are higher than others, but then you have to look at fiber; if a food has 6 grams of carbs but 4 grams of fiber, your carb load is about 2 grams in the end.
At the beginning (two weeks):
- No sugar and starch. Nothing white, no grains, no pasta, no quinoa, no bread.
- No fruit.
- No alcohol. However later, if I really wanted something, the clear alcohols are "better;" vodka, gin, silver tequila. (Word of caution: I found the alcohol hit me harder, even just one drink, and I didn’t care for the sleepiness in the morning.)
And the results…
I started this way of eating in mid-May 2015. I did have the advantage — if you want to call it that — of not doing well with anesthesia from my knee surgery, so for a week or two I didn’t miss anything because I didn’t want to eat anything. I remained inactive, and I was told that was probably good, diet-wise, for the few weeks.
By mid-June, I was limited in what I could do with my knee, but I started physical therapy.
By July, I was down to 195 pounds. Do you know what losing 40 pounds feels like?
Like someone unshackled huge weights from around me! My joints moved easier. I stopped having the 3 o’clock in the afternoon crashes. I wasn’t hungry all the time. Fat tastes good. Very satiating.
For me, my body responded with vigor eating this way. The fat around my middle reduced.
My blood chemistry changed. My heart rate dropped. So, much that the RN, had a consult with my cardiologist and we first reduced my medications to every other day.
Now, I no longer take heart medication as instructed by my cardiologist. I still carry the emergency meds, just in case (superstition).
After a meeting with my endocrinologist, we discussed what was happening and we tested my thyroid function. The elimination of sugar did not reverse it, but I went to taking my medication every other day.
Emotionally, to be able to walk into any store and try on, and purchase clothes lead me to weep tears of joy in a store changing room.
My ketonic eating was extreme, but never felt uncomfortable or restrictive. After a few months, I had no taste for sugar.
By the end of 2015, I dropped to 160 pounds losing a total of 75 pounds. I went from a size 18/20 to a size 10, sometimes an 8, and in one case a size 6. I was strong! My memory and thought process seemed clearer.
My story is the poster child success story. It is not typical but not far off. I did go to the gym and workout three to four times a week, but that isn’t what got the weight off because that was my normal routine.
The diet, with the elimination of sugar and the introduction of the right amount of fat changed everything.
Cons of ketogenic eating
The naysayers will talk about cholesterol levels and how ketogenic eating raises it — mine is at a fantastic level. I increased my HDL level, which is the good cholesterol that removes the bad cholesterol (LDL).
However, I will caution that if you start this diet, talk to a doctor who will help you monitor your body through this. Get a blood test before and maybe a year down the line.
The other cons:
- Bad breath (I don’t remember that, and no one said anything)
- Brain fog (I don’t remember that, which could be due to brain fog)
- You might lose some nutrients, so find a good multi-vitamin
In the beginning, you feel like you have the flu (I never experienced this)
The satisfying eating and the benefits to my overall health far outweighed the cons. My results ushered in a completely new lifestyle and feeling of vitality that I had not experienced before.
Fat is vital for healthy bodies, and sugar is not. Research is continually coming out that shows the hazards of sugar.
Ketogenic eating can be a solution for many who are struggling with being active but still have the weight on. If you are one of these people, clear it through healthcare provider, and give ketogenic eating a try.
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