Hello Dear Readers!
I cannot believe it’s already been a month since I started the ketogenic diet! Time has just flown by and I’m thrilled to report that I’m still feeling super motivated and I (amazingly!) don’t miss the non-keto foods I’ve cut from my diet…well, okay I do miss eating fresh berries, a tiny bit, but not enough to make me cheat!
In last week’s post I talked about why I feel so passionate about the ketogenic diet, my motivation for launching this life-changing weight loss program (and why I decided to participate in the program myself), plus the successes and challenges I experienced during the first three weeks on the keto diet.
I am also working on a blog post about the major health dangers of sugar and carbohydrates- and how toxic they are. Coming soon!
This week I continued my search for the perfect keto-friendly cracker recipe and mused about the meaning of the word “diet”. I also solved a mysterious sugar craving, celebrated my birthday in (nearly perfect) keto-style, remained strong even when a family member ate potato chips in front of me, and learned how I need to tweak my exercise routine in order to give my body adequate recovery time between workouts while on the ketogenic diet. Read on to learn more!
The Keto Crunch Chase
Since starting this the ketogenic diet, I have been working on some new recipes to replace those old “go-to” foods that so many of us think of as dietary staples. For example, I found a great cracker recipe that really hits the spot. These keto-friendly crackers come out really nice and crunchy- which is great because finding keto-friendly foods that “crunch” can sometimes take a little searching and creativity!
Ketogenic Diet vs. Ketogenic Lifestyle?
I often hesitate to refer to this experience exclusively as a “diet” because of the negative connotation that word carries. The modern understanding of the word “diet” also implies a temporary (and oftentimes extremely unhealthy) change in how you eat, only to return to old eating habits after a predetermined amount of time. While the ketogenic diet is a “diet”, it isn’t anything like those “crash/fad diets” that we have seen over the years. In fact, the original meaning of the word “diet” is “[t]he kinds of foods a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” So I challenge you to redefine the way you think of the word “diet”. I prefer to think of this as a “lifestyle” rather than just a “diet”- a new and completely sustainable way of eating. This lifestyle has so many incredible healing benefits to it. People thrive on this low carb way of eating!
Mysterious Sugar Cravings
Week 4 has been an interesting week with a few bumps in the road. It was a little annoying since I had been doing so well and had been dealing with very few cravings. I noticed that I was a bit hungrier this week than I had been during the first three weeks and I found myself looking for something sweet and “carby”- something like cookies. I did a lot of cooking and baking and kept trying out new recipes looking for just the right thing to satisfy me. I didn’t realize until later that I was about to get my cycle- which helped explained the sugar cravings! (Women tend to need a bit more carbs around that time of the month.) The good thing about the ketogenic diet is that it is an anti-inflammatory diet and it helps balance out hormones. So thankfully, I had no real issues with cramping, bloating, or moodiness during the few days leading up to it- just the craving for sugar. I stayed on the diet but ate a few more calories than I should have. I have also been so busy I haven’t been consistently tracking my daily food intake (something that is so crucial to being successful on this diet.) When I am tracking, I use the My Fitness Pal app and it works great!
My Birthday Dinner + the Ketogenic Diet
The other minor diet setback I faced recently was going out to dinner to celebrate my birthday with my family. Of course going out to dinner on your birthday is great (and I really enjoyed the glass of red wine I had) but it can make staying in ketosis a little tricky. But I’m pleased to report that other than the wine I stuck to the diet; I had raw oysters, a small salad, a tiny piece of beef, and no dessert! Yum!
Just remember that when you do eat more carbs than you should it will stop the fat burning for a few days so you have to decide if it is truly worth it. (Honestly I think that the birthday wine set me back a few days- my blood sugar has been higher, I am eating more than I should, and the scale has been unkind to me.) When this happens just get right back on the keto horse (so to speak) and keep going. You are worth it!
Resist the “Carbage”!
My husband does not follow a ketogenic diet and sometimes he eats naughty things like potato chips and Twix ice cream bars. (By the way, I do not condone this but he is a grown man and can decide for himself what he puts in his body, which he refers to as a “prime physical specimen”. I nod and smile when he says this and say, “Yes, dear”! This week he ate a bag of potato chips and I had absolutely no desire to eat them, not even one bite! Now that is awesome! That’s what this diet does; it satiates you and stops you from making “bad” food choices. You find that you just don’t want to put that “carbage” (carbs + garbage) in your body anymore. And those chips really are “carbage”: a single-serving bag of potato chips has 15 grams of carbs, 160 calories, and a bunch of toxic fats that clog up your cells! It’s just a bag of chemicals, not food!
Ketogenic Diet = Flex-Fuel Body!
When you become keto-adapted (which can take a month or more) you have a flexible metabolism and can burn either glucose or fats (ketones). So if I decide to skip a meal my body can burn ketones and I still feel great and don’t suffer from low blood sugar.
If I hit the gym and do some high intensity workouts, I can use glycogen (stored glucose) for the speed work and then switch back to burning fats or ketones for the less intense sets. You always have fuel on board unless your workouts are longer than, say 90 minutes, then you need to refuel.
To refuel for those longer workouts, I recommend using Generation UCAN products. They offer healthy refueling alternatives that are perfect for high-performance athletes that are readily absorbed and won’t cause GI distress. Steer clear of those conventional refueling products like Gatorade and “energy gels”. Those types of products are loaded with sugar and can knot up the gut because the gut can only handle so much sugar at a time. When you use those conventional products, you are taking in way more sugar than your stomach can metabolize so your stomach will hurt and you’ll run out of steam! Bonk! Keep in mind that you don’t need these types of products if you are working out for an hour or less; they are more for the athletes doing long training sessions and athletic events.
Finding that Exercise “Sweet Spot”
This week I have been pushing myself pretty hard in my spin classes but I think that I need to take longer rests after the high intensity sets to give my body a chance to recover. By pushing too hard, and not taking long enough rests, I am raising my cortisol levels. When cortisol goes up, fat burning goes down and I don’t want to do that. Keep in mind that stress of any kind (whether it’s fighting a tiger, work, family, lack of sleep, poor diet, or even excess exercise) will raise cortisol levels. The best type of exercise is high intensity sets with longer recoveries followed by strength training. This will get you fit and help you burn fat long after your workout is over, build strong bones, tone your body, and raise human growth hormone levels (which is the fat burning hormone).
Sneak Peek into Next Week
Next week I will experiment with doing my high intensity sets while giving myself more time to recover between high intensity sets and between workout sessions. I will also be experimenting with some new supplements to help curb food cravings. Because I have been eating more than I should, I am feeling hungrier. That may sound strange but it is a vicious cycle that you don’t want to get caught in. I will keep you posted on how the supplements help curb cravings. I am also going to cut back on dairy (it can stall fat loss) I think I have been over doing it there.
Hope you have a great week and keto on…
You have got to try this recipe for Keto "Magic" Crackers! All the crunch of normal crackers but without the carbs! Yum!
In mid-January, 2016, I launched an exciting new weight loss program designed to teach my clients how to safely and effectively lose weight with the ketogenic diet (a low carb-high, fat diet). Because I was so excited about this new program (and because I’m such a strong believer in the ketogenic diet) I decided to participate in it, too! I also decided to document and share my personal experience while on the ketogenic diet so my readers can see how a real person can make the ketogenic diet work for them!
I have launched this new weight loss program because I am so excited about the ketogenic diet and all of its truly amazing health benefits. I also did it because I feel so strongly about sharing this potentially life-saving information with as many people as I can. But first, let me tell you why I am so passionate about the ketogenic diet- and why I believe it is so important:
While this new ketogenic diet program I just launched is focused on weight loss, I also use the ketogenic diet to help my clients fight cancer. (As a cancer-survivor, I am very passionate about this subject.) There is very promising research showing how the ketogenic diet can be used therapeutically to suppress cancer growth and halt its progression. While on the ketogenic diet, the majority of your caloric intake comes from fats which the body turns into an energy source called “ketone bodies”. Cancer cannot use ketone bodies for fuel. In fact, cancer can only use sugar/carbs (or “glucose” as it is known once carbs/sugar have been metabolized by the body) for fuel. So because ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet it cuts off the cancer’s fuel supply, essentially “starving” it.
This diet can also help address many other health issues as well including diabetes, weight loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, PCOS, just to name a few. How can one diet do all this? Here’s how: Because this diet is so healthy and so low in carbs, it promotes an anti-inflammatory environment in the body. This is extremely important since the root cause of nearly all dis-ease is inflammation.
So now that you know why the ketogenic diet is so amazing, let me share my own ketogenic diet journey with you. Each week I’ll be sharing my personal insights, daily successes (and challenges!), keto-friendly meals and snack ideas, as well as pro tips for getting the most out the ketogenic diet!
As a nutrition therapist, I feel I should look a “certain way”- healthy, trim, fit, and vibrant. Even though I am very healthy, I have put on a few pounds over the last couple of years due to a very busy schedule (finishing school, working, raising my 12-year-old daughter, starting my business, etc.) During that time, I relied on carbs a little too much to get me through the hectic days and then drank a little wine at night to relax. But I am tired of feeling uncomfortable in my clothes. I am also tired of this extra weight affecting what I do, or don’t, do (i.e. putting a bikini on, wearing a sun dress, or walking around naked in front of my husband). So I decided to embark on the ketogenic diet journey once again and take care of business!
Today is day 21 for me on the ketogenic diet and, truth be told, this is my second attempt at it. I stopped the diet a few months back due to a vacation to Hawaii (it was my first time there) because I couldn't resist the fresh, lovely pineapples and mangos growing everywhere. But they were too high in carbs for me to stay in ketosis!
Now that I am happily back on the diet I feel so much more prepared and determined this time around. In fact, I am embracing it instead of fearing it and thinking, “I can’t eat bread or drink wine or eat an apple. Ugh!” But I can eat triple cream Brie! Now that makes me happy! This time around I am focusing on the insanely awesome health benefits instead of letting any negative thoughts derail my progress.
So how is the diet going, you may ask? I am pleased to report that so far, so good! I have lost 6 pounds (I know that some of that is water weight but the rest is fat!). During the first week I was carefully tracking macronutrients with the MyFitnessPal phone app but I have been so busy that I have slacked off a bit with my tracking (but not with the actual diet itself, of course!) My weight loss numbers would probably be a bit better if I was more consistent on tracking my food. To lose weight you need to factor in a calorie deficit so counting is crucial. However, I can feel when I have “overdone it” without even seeing my numbers. (Thankfully, you get a feel for it pretty quickly!)
Here are some the highlights of my experience with the ketogenic diet so far:
1. Appetite Suppression + Curbed Cravings
One of the greatest “side-effects” of the ketogenic diet is appetite suppression; it really curbs cravings for carbs, sugar, and alcohol. It is the only diet I have found in all of my research and experience that is truly satiating that still allows you to lose weight. It does take a few weeks for the cravings to subside but eating a low-carb, high-fat diet really helps with satiety! Since starting the ketogenic diet I have had maybe two ounces of red wine but I’ve really had no desire for it. (That is very shocking because I used to like having a glass of wine with dinner!)
2. Increased Energy Levels + Stable Blood Sugar
Since starting the ketogenic diet my energy levels have been fantastic! In fact, I have even been able to work out at the gym in a fasted state some mornings! I can eat dinner at, say 7:00 PM and then not eat again until about 11:00 AM when I get home from the gym. (And no, I didn’t pass out in the work out class or even feel lightheaded! I did, however, take it a bit easier than I normally do, just to be safe. Now you may be wondering how this is possible (or even healthy). Here’s how it works: While on the ketogenic diet your blood sugar levels are much easier to maintain (i.e. little to no blood sugar crashes) because your body is running on ketones (fats) which become readily available. That is such a great benefit of the ketogenic diet because it means you can avoid eating for long hours without feeling like you want to chew your arm off or kill someone, (so to speak)! I will get more into intermittent fasting in a future post. Keep in mind that you really shouldn’t attempt it until you are fairly “keto-adapted”, which can take a month or so to achieve.
3. More Than “Just a Diet”?
When I started the diet I thought it would be temporary health protocol for me. But now as I progress into it further I feel like it is going to be something I continue for the foreseeable future. I cannot imagine going back to the way I use to eat; it just doesn't appeal to me anymore. When I think about how much sugar is in carbs, even the “healthy ones”, I get turned off. This is very surprising to me; I didn't expect to feel this way. I really thought I was going to miss the carbs. I do miss eating a nice crisp apple at times but at some point I may be able to add a little bit back in to my diet. I am also working really hard to develop a keto-friendly cracker and cookie recipe that is both tasty and satisfying. I’ll keep you posted...
4. Bonus “Side-Effects”
Another interesting thing that I have noticed already is that the “brain fog” sometimes associated with eating gluten and sugar has already lifted (and that is huge!). I’ve also noticed that a dry scaly patch of skin on my forehead that had been there for a long time has now disappeared. I feel light and comfortable after eating and I no longer have that “tight” feeling in my clothes. I no longer experience bloating and I never feel “uncomfortably full” after a keto-friendly meal. I’ve also found that I need less sleep and I wake up earlier feeling like I actually want to get out of bed. (Before starting the ketogenic diet, I never wanted to get out of bed early in the morning!)
5. Some Days are Easier than Others
Even though it all sounds pretty good, it is a bit tough in the beginning. You can feel a bit unwell, grouchy, and even annoyed knowing you can’t have certain foods. For example, yesterday I started out feeling just fine but as the day went on I wasn’t feeling so good. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I had a little bone broth and some kombucha tea and rested a bit. Eventually, the feeling passed and I felt fine again. Maybe it was a temporary “healing crisis” or just my body adjusting to the diet. Whatever it was, I knew that kombucha tea and bone broth were just what I needed to help me through it as they are both so helpful with any digestive issues, indigestion, bloating, fullness, etc. Bottom line, if you plan ahead, give yourself the rest and nutrition you need it really makes things bearable. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to make keto-friendly" grab-n-go snacks like these almond butter chia squares.
5. Keto-friendly Foods Can be Fun!
I have found some foods that really satisfy me while learning how to make my diet interesting and still have some “treats” (always keto-friendly ones, of course!). The "Fat Bombs" I have been making and the bone broth have been lifesavers! The bone broth is so comforting and satisfying. I load it up with lots of sea salt and greens, hot sauce, fresh lime juice and sometimes leftover meat and sesame oil. It is so easy and quick especially when you are pressed for time and need something quick that will sustain you. I am working on recipes for keto-friendly crackers and breads because I’m always on the lookout for keto-friendly foods that crunch! After all, celery may have some crunch to it but it’s certainly not a cracker! For now, I am loving this keto-friendly tahini bread recipe to satisfy my bread urges.
You can always check out my Facebook page for more of my updates and keto-friendly tips. You’ll also get to see some of the lovely keto-friendly meals I have been preparing for my family!
I’ll keep you posted as I go each week. When YOU are ready to lose weight and feel awesome, come and join me on this ketogenic diet weight loss journey!
Yours in Good Health,
Beth Winter, MNT
Just because you're on the ketogenic diet doesn't mean you have to eat a boring breakfast. Jump start your morning and excite your taste buds (while still staying in ketosis) with these keto-friendly breakfast ideas!
What's YOUR favorite keto-friendly breakfast recipe? Send it to email@example.com to add it to the list!
VITAL NUTRITION FOR HEALTH
by Beth Winter, Master Nutrition Therapist
Welcome! My name is Beth Winter and I am the proud founder and director of Vital Nutrition for Health. As a holistic nutritionist, mother, cancer survivor, and enthusiastic epicurean my decision to found Vital Nutrition for Health was the realization of a longstanding aspiration to revolutionize how people approach their own health. Learn more at vitalnutritionforhealth.com or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org