The ketogenic diet is a diet that has many mixed reviews. Essentially it is an extremely low carb diet with high fat. Don’t get too excited; most desserts are also high carb.
Benefits to the Ketogenic Diet
Putting it simply, when you are in ketosis your body is burning fat instead of carbs. This helps you lose weight. Some people do this diet just for weight loss, but there are other benefits.
The ketogenic diet is frequently recommended for epilepsy. Oftentimes doctors oversee the use of this diet while it is being used for epilepsy. A close friend of mine swears that the ketogenic diet has helped with her anxiety and depression, and she feels much better while on this diet. She does not need to lose weight so she tries to ensure she gets enough calories. The brain loves it when your body is burning fat instead of carbs since the process helps brain functions, eliminates cravings, and boosts happiness.
Something to be cognizant of is cholesterol. With the high fat diet, your cholesterol may increase. From my understanding, dietary cholesterol may not be bad for you, but make sure you check into this aspect. Personally, I was worried about my health on this diet but my doctor told me my blood work had never looked so good. Another person had her cholesterol go up a lot, which made her consider stopping.
What many people are most interested in is weight loss. When I started this diet I lost about 40 pounds in three months. I received a ridiculous number of compliments. I will say at the same time I was also changing medications and had a variety of other life changes. However, I have talked to two other girls who started the ketogenic diet around the same time. One of them lost 65 pounds in about eight months and the other 70 pounds in a similar amount of time. They both started with more weight that they wanted to lose. They had chosen the diet purely for weight loss and not for other reasons.
I will say I have put some of the weight back on after stopping the diet, however most of it has stayed off. Additionally, I want to go back on the diet.
Eating High Fat and Low Carb
This is the part that is actually surprisingly difficult, and yet at the same time quite simple. The first week or so is hard, but once you are into the diet your cravings seem to disappear. In fact, many sources suggest adding in a fasting day and it ends up not being too difficult to just not eat on one day. Also it helps to find sources for recipes that you like.
I found a couple good sources for getting started: http://ruled.me and http://ketodietapp.com. Both provide menu plans. Having a menu plan helps you stick to the diet. I stumbled on the sites searching for vegetarian keto recipes. That is correct: I am vegetarian, which increases the difficulty of this diet. For vegetarians, the keto diet app offers a free two week meal plan with some great recipes. On ruled.me you can get a one month diet for a fee, which a friend did.
How low carb are we talking?
Well, for the first 3 days you want to have under 20g of carbs. That is really low. Most people seem to go up to 40-60g after getting into ketosis.
For a vegetarian this is definitely the hard part. I eat lot of cheese, eggs, cream, and of course veggies. For an omnivore, it’s is a lot of bacon, meat, cheese, eggs, dairy. The real trick is no carbs, and learning what has carbs. Wheat and sugar are obvious no-no’s. Fruit is a big no-no. Tomatoes are also off limits; while you can have a bit of tomato sauce, most of the stuff you can buy cheap is pretty high in carbs. The best one I have found for low carbs is Rao’s tomato sauce which has three net carbs per serving. It takes a surprising amount of research to validate what food you can and can not eat.
The ever important topic of dessert. Have you ever heard of a “fat bomb”? That’s right, I ate a ton of these! A fat bomb would generally have between zero and two grams carbs and about 15 grams of fat. For example, the creamsicle fat bomb had .2g fat and 11.5g of carbs. This is a great ratio for getting to ketosis. You can also make other desserts, but you will have to make some substitutions. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which essentially has no net carbs based on the way your body processes it. Almond flour instead of regular flour works, although nuts are actually still not that low in carbs despite having a decent amount of fat.
Some ingredients which can help make the transition easier are as follows:
- Coconut oil
- Almond flour
- Whip Cceam
- Cream cheese
- Bacon (for omnivores)
I am probably missing a bunch of ingredients that I never used, but hey I never used them!
Why Does Ketosis Cause Weight Loss?
The concept is that your body is burning fat instead of carbs, so you still need to limit your calories over the course of the day. However, while eating low carb and high fat, it is easier to do this than normal. Your body takes that fat, burns it, and then burns some of the fat that your body had on it. As a byproduct of burning fat your body produces ketones, which can be measured. This allows you to see that you are in ketosis and see how far into it you are. In order to lose weight you just need to be starting ketosis, you don’t need to be far into ketosis.
How can I see if I am in Ketosis?
In order to check if you are in ketosis, you can buy keytone strips at any pharmacy. You pee on them and if it changes color you are in ketosis. Simple as that.
So Why Aren’t I Still on This Diet?
I stopped the diet back in August 2016, and for some reason have not been able to convince myself to get back into it. At first I kept saying, ‘”Well, it’s about to be my birthday, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas…” But now it’s the New Year and I don’t have any good excuses. And that is what those were: excuses. I need to figure out how to get my butt in gear and start going back on my diet. I will say, though, my doctor had recommended I go back on the ketogenic diet and not lose any more weight, which seems difficult. For me, I ate as much as I wanted while I was on the diet and lost weight at a pretty decent clip.
Do you have any suggestions for motivating oneself to get back on a diet? I could really use some help with motivation. I would ideally get back on the diet, but the first week is not easy and I have not had the necessary mindset.