How’s it going? GREAT! So well in fact, my twenty year old son has decided to join me. He chose to go keto for general health and well being, and hopefully as a means of preventing diabetes and dementia that are prevalent in our family.
What is a ketogenic diet?
As a refresher and for those of you who have never heard of this term, a ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet that causes your body to create ketone bodies for energy, from fat. This is a natural and perfectly healthy state for the body to be in. In my first post, I gave links to research that support this if you are concerned or want to know more about the science behind this. Generally, less than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day will cause the body to enter ketosis. My formula is 20 grams or less of carbohydrate per day, 0.8 – 1.0 grams protein per kilogram of body weight per day, and then eat fat until satisfied. This results in a diet for me that is about 3 – 5% carb, 60 – 80% fat, and 15 – 30% protein.
How is keto different than Paleo/low carb/Atkins/Whole 30, etc.?
There are many different lower carb/higher fat diets out there, but reducing carbs to less than 20 grams per day requires special care and attention. No one following the above mentioned diets will get their carbs below 20 without measuring and weighing their food, or following a very restrictive food list (like Atkins). The exception is Atkins however, since the induction phase of Atkins is less than 20 grams of carbs per day. But Atkins only has you follow that for the first 2 weeks; keto has you follow that indefinitely.
A keto diet requires an adaptation phase where your body changes over from being dependent on glucose to running on fat. The first stage of this is usually the first few weeks, where people experience fatigue, aches, and changes in bowel movements. Full adaptation takes about 12 weeks (some need even more time). Once adapted, the body runs better than ever. With fat as the primary fuel source, your energy is stable all day and your brain and thinking are clear all the time. Appetite also goes way down too, so it can lead to fairly easy weight loss, as well. See month one and two and below for all the health and well being improvements I’ve experienced.
What do I eat?
I recently started posting photos of all my meals, snacks, and beverages on Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram here.
Here are some of the things I’ve eaten over the last week:
Improvements and Progress
I started this keto diet experiment to see if it could help with a long list of health complications I was experiencing as a combination of a car accident in 2014, genetic factors, and dietary habits. In both month one and two I experienced huge improvements in my health and well being. My third month was no exception:
- Energy – I continue to have steady energy all day and this is improving each week. I have been able to start a part-time job, which requires me to stand on my feet all day. On my days off, I am able to walk for 30 – 40 minutes (and more).
- Athlete’s foot – last month I reported that my athlete’s foot was cured, and I thought it was, but I’ve had a few more spots die off since then, so it looks like the total die off may take a few more months. Anyone who has ever tried to fight candida and/or athlete’s foot knows that it is a really tough one to kill off. I’ve had mine for at least 10 years and in 3 months, it is nearly all gone.
- Sleep – I used to be a night owl, but now my sleep is more in sync with the sun plus it is more efficient. I fall asleep easily, stay asleep and wake refreshed after 7 – 8 hours of sleep. I am waking before 8 am regularly, without an alarm clock, which has NEVER happened in my life!
- Mental clarity – Along with energy improvements, my thinking and processing are improving as well. This has been a complication of a suspected mild brain injury from the car accident, and one of my primary motivators for trying this diet.
- Sense of calm, peace, general well-being – I realize after freeing myself from from it, that I used to be restless all the time. I needed to be doing, eating, consuming, engaging, or otherwise be busy. I had an addiction to the feeling of being busy. Now I can just sit and be and really enjoy the present moment. For example, this summer I’ve really enjoyed “making natural vitamin D” by laying in the sun. Prior to this, I could have never done this, as sitting still felt like a huge waste of time. Likewise for reading any fiction books. Now I can do both.
- Skin – This was an unexpected side effect. My skin is soft and clear, with no acne. Even my feet, and especially my heals, which I just thought got rougher and cracked as a natural part of aging. Who knew that fat makes your skin soft! Hah! (Now, there were a few break outs during my first month and a bit in the second month, but this was part of detoxification.)
- Teeth – My teeth seem to be whiter and they feel clean most of the time, even when I haven’t brushed in a while.
- Decreased pain and swelling – Up until I started keto, there was still considerable pain and swelling in my lower legs from the car accident. This continues to improve.
- Improved hair growth – An additional symptom of my leg injuries was impaired hair growth; hair was not growing on most of my legs, except for patches near the sites of injury. Now I know for some women, this may sound like a joy, but to me, it was another sign of the severity of the tissue damage in my legs. In the last few weeks, hair growth has started to occur all over my legs, which is a good sign for healing.
- Less dairy sensitivity – prior to keto, I was very sensitive to dairy, experiencing considerable congestion and coughing after consumption, and each morning. Now I eat more dairy and have very little reaction. This is likely due to a couple of reasons: lower insulin decreases inflammatory response in the body, and healthier tissues in my digestive tract.
- Impulse control – Another great side effect of a keto diet is that since my body now has a steady energy supply (body fat), I am not ruled by cravings and hunger. I have lots of willpower and control of my food choices. I can resist foods that I know will make me feel terrible and choose foods that taste great and make me feel great.
- Bowel movements normalizing – For some people, diarrhea is common during the adaptation period of a keto diet. This is most likely caused by bacteria die off and the body adjusting to increased fat intake. I experienced this for the first 6 weeks. Others struggle with constipation, which I have not. My bowel movements are beginning to normalize at about one time per day. A few weeks ago, I added a probiotic to help recolonize after the massive die off.
- Weight loss – 38.5 lbs
- Lost abdominal fat – 7 inches off my waist