Let me get this out of the way: I love the ketogenic diet. I have since I first tried it a few years back. Some of the effects are immediate but many of them take some time to develop.
This is the first in a series of posts that will cover the 4th love of my life.
What exactly is a ketogenic diet? Its fucking magic. Not really. It kinda is. Its a diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrate. This forces the body to use fat as its primary fuel source instead of sugar. Its not very difficult to execute but it requires a lot of focus and attention because carbohydrates are everywhere. If care isn’t taken and enough sugars are consumed the body will end up storing the fat instead of burning it. The classic ratio of intake is 4(fats):1(protein&carbs). So if you’re considering this diet be careful, read labels, find out the nutritional value of everything you put in your body and also check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough for it. Big bonus for this lifestyle: this is not a calorie restricted diet. I repeat…THIS IS NOT A CALORIE RESTRICTED DIET. This will take some getting used to because we have had the idea that in order to lose weight we have to restrict calories hammered into our very souls. That is not the case with a ketogenic diet. I have literally and will continue to have a pound of bacon with dressing made of mayonnaise. As a snack. Yup. So good.
The human body is an amazing thing. It is highly adaptable. One great adaptation is its ability to use different fuel sources. The more fat put in the body when carbs are kept to a minimum the better equipped the body becomes at handling fat. Over time our cells will begin to produce more mitochondria. The more mitochondria our cells have the more energy they can produce. Most keto adapted people describe that they have more energy than before and that their energy levels are much more even – they no longer suffer from great highs and lows that are typically found in those that have a diet rich in carbohydrates. This is certainly true in me.
When I was eating a diet heavy in carbs I would wake up and be almost in pain. I had to eat something and eat something quick. And I would not be in a good mood until that happened. After switching to the ketogenic lifestyle I slowly needed to eat later and later in the day. I wake up at about 6 am. I sometimes have a snack around 11am which is typically a small handful of nuts. I’ll workout around 12pm-1pm and will eat my first meal around 2pm. It won’t be uncommon for me to eat my first meal at 5pm or 6pm however. This would never have happened before. The reason being I still have fat stores on my body and my cells will feed on them instead of needing me to eat.
One of the most immediate and gratifying effects of the ketogenic diet is weight loss. It is not uncommon to lose 10-20 lbs in the first few weeks of switching to diet high in fats. Some haters have the knee jerk reaction and say “Well that’s just water weight.” And they would be right. But that doesn’t mean its not beneficial. Those haters may also dwell on that double negative I just used. When you’re body is used to a carb heavy diet one of the main ways it stores energy is in glycogen. Each gram of glycogen is bound to 3-4 grams of water.
What research has also shown is that the amount of sugar that is eaten in a typical American diet is quite toxic to the body. One of the effects of this toxicity is generalized inflammation. Where their is inflammation there is water. So this reduction in “just water weight” means your body is bringing itself to a much more healthy and less inflamed state.
There are many other benefits to a fat adapted diet but these are two very important ones. The immediacy of them is great for the ego. We need victories like these to condition ourselves to make such a drastic change in our lives. I know I do.