I wrote about some of the observations I had with keto yesterday and it was getting a bit long – so I have a few more I wanted to get to but time ran out on me!
Yesterday, a few hours after my post, I hit 286 on the gym scale, so that is technically 86 pounds of weight loss (372.2 was the high). Last night, I had my zoodles with Rao’s sauce and meatballs. In the picture is a lot of meatballs, I only had 3, but they were a little sizable. The zucchini is about 4 net carbs for each one, and my Rao’s sauce is 4g of carbs for a half cup. My lunch was bacon, eggs (with spinach, cheese, and cherry tomatoes), and sausage. Breakfast was the keto coffee. So I was ok with a higher carb dinner, and still squeaked into my 30g of carb allowance, and went over by 150 calories. However, it was a gym day and I was ok with that. My picture here is one that I did several months ago, but MAN is it an awesome pasta/cheese delivery vehicle.
20 years ago when I first did Atkins, I did take off a good 40 pounds or so. But my energy sucked. My guess is, honestly, I was never in ketosis for very long, and if not – I was running on a low carb diet that just never “flipped the switch” over to burning fats as the primary fuel.
What you will find is all kinds of people on the YouTube keto universe talk about “fat adapted”. I can tell you, I feel a million times better doing keto than Atkins…or my versions of keto/Atkins.
Fat adapted is a term used for when it seems the body gives up trying to burn carbs as the primary fuel and switches over to burning fat. For me, I believe it hit somewhere around week 3, or just before. For others, it could take much longer. I’ve also heard it takes 3-6 months to be optimally burning fat. Until that moment happens, you do not feel great with energy. Ketosis happened for me in about 3-4 days. But for the next 2+ weeks, your body is on the struggle bus – trying to get carbs..looking for carbs…and your body starts to conserve energy.
Then…suddenly, you feel normal again.
There’s also something called “the keto flu” which I avoided pretty much completely. Look this up – I have a pretty good idea what it is from my periods of time trying atkins, but for me, the biggest things are:
If you get lots of these three things and drink plenty of water, you should be fine. Also, you might want to understand that for 2-4 weeks, you might want to dial back your workouts, as you will be gassed very quickly. Trust me, it comes back. Carbs are not needed, it just takes time for your body to flip this switch.
So one big business is trying to understand if you’re in ketosis? There are pee strips, blood strips ($5 per test), and get this – breathalyzers.
One keytone is…essentially acetone. The breathalyzer can detect acetone on your breath. For $15, I got a key chain breathalyzer. I haven’t had a drink since August, and I woke up this morning at .05 BAC. Trippy!
The truth is, if you are under 30g of net carbs per day, you should be fine. Maybe, like atkins suggests, you might be able to slowly increase carbs – but I would do that (and have done this) as part of maintenance, not weight loss. For example, when I would leave the Atkins diet, the first time I gained 5 pounds in a day. This is all water bonding with the sugars for glycogen storage in your liver and muscles. You get ridiculously thirsty when you get the carbs in you.
My biggest problems doing atkins were:
- Used too much coffee creamer – could not have coffee without it, and I would tell myself a reality that wasn’t true
- Poor quality of nutrients. Yes, you can only eat bacon and eggs, but a big staple of my diet then was 2 whoppers with cheese, only ketchup. Yes, I lost weight. Mysteriously, I never really got a lot of energy. Today, I eat a LOT of leafy greens and have a lot of nutrients coming into me.
- Lack of substitutes – I really had a problem giving up pizza, going our partying and drinking, and pasta. This would then have me exiting atkins once every 3 weeks for a cheat weekend. I’d put on 5 pounds, then drop that 5 pounds within the week when I got back on it.
- Lack of support. No, I don’t need you to hold my hand and tell me I’m special. No. Today, you have tons of youtube keto channels with tons of followers, recipes, science from doctors, and a feeling like this movement is growing.
All in all – you don’t need fancy devices to measure your keytones. You need to:
- Eat leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, string beans as a big part of your diet. Lots of micronutrients here. Vitamin C in a lot of this will also reverse blockages caused by years of damage of sugars scraping your arteries and cholesterol repairing the damage. Mix this with your proteins to get some really good healthy meals.
- Keep your net carbs ideally under 30…but under 40 might be ok to after you are “fat adapted”. Jason Wittrock has bee a yoda of sorts to me, but he counts 50 total carbs, including fiber. So, rather than maybe 60 total carbs and subtract 30 carbs for fiber to get 30 net carbs, he only uses 50 total carbs. It’s mostly going to get you the same result, and this makes MyFitnessPal a little easier to track – but I disagree. Fiber doesn’t really have any impact on blood sugar and should not be treated as the same quality of carb as table sugar. For example, 4g of protein will digest differently than 4g of carbs in the pasta sauce I eat (Rao’s).
- Drink lots of water
- Balance your electrolytes. This has forced me to do more with avocado to get potassium in me.
I’m a little torn on this. My family has their demons with forms of addiction. Nothing like heroin or anything, but the pleasure centers in our brains drive our behaviors and nothing nor anyone can stop us. This could be smoking, drinking, eating poorly, gambling, or even driven to succeed at all costs.
What’s very interesting is I’ve noticed that when I got off of sugar, most of my compulsive behavior subsided. Like everything.
I have written a lot in this space about the gut biome. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that science is starting to understand that moods, depression, and a lot of our behavior is determined by the bacteria in our guts. For example, if you feed your stomach yogurt, it has an affect of promoting certain bacteria. As they start to die out, they may send bio signals to your brain via the central nervous system and we don’t understand why – but we know we need to eat a certain food and get a craving for that food….and indulge.
Of interest, is take a look at how MSG screws with messaging to our brain – and many, many foods you eat out have MSG in them to make them taste better. One thing it does is screw with your ability to know if you are full, and you tend to eat more. Like a lot more. Chinese food is notorious for this, but it’s in a LOT of the food you eat.
However, sugar is also possibly related to depression and even mood disorders. Think about those impacts. Someone who eats a snickers every day could end up with serious depression? Maybe not an exact dotted line, but there are impacts at how the food we eat is seriously causing problems within us.
With sugar, we don’t SEE the addiction with negative consequences. You obviously know a junky has a bad road ahead. You know people with alcoholism will drink more and potentially have negative impacts with work. You know people who eat more get fat. But is it possible the drive to eat more – whether it be depression or your gut biome turning on your compulsive behavior to do something – is caused by sugar? We all know when you have insulin spikes, on the way back down from the spike, you will get hunger pangs…time to eat again! And…these make you HANGRY.
A funny thing happened to me. This time around, I did a LOT of research prior to doing this. Some tidbits I learned as well…
- Sodium increases the amount of blood in the body, thus increasing blood pressure
- Potassium decreases the amount of blood in the body and is used for muscle contraction
- Magnesium is used to relax muscles.
All of the above have serious implication with cardiovascular health. Think about this…
If you have high blood pressure, don’t get pills. Decrease your sodium or you may even have a potassium deficiency. I used to think a banana a day was good…I was sorely mistaken. You NEED lots of potassium. Leafy greens, avocado, supplement.
If you have cramping, don’t take a pill. You don’t need a banana, but you do need potassium
If you are deficient on magnesium, you might have anxiety, have constipation issues (you need the muscles to relax to move waste), and even have electrical issues with the heart. People think they need pills, and well, a lot of this is solved by a healthy diet.
So with the above, here are some things that a sugar addiction can cause:
- Heart disease
- Hormone imbalances
- and possibly – compulsive behaviors
So you’re telling me that keto might be the way to go?
For me, it’s starting to look like this is the way my people ate over the last 100,000 years. In the warmer months, they ate carbs and hunted/gathered to supplement their diets. They would have a kill every few days, but hunt and eat berries on the go. When it got cooler, carbs are no longer available, and thus they would go without eating for days on end, and when they did a kill, they ate the fats and proteins. How else would they survive?
There is a lot of information on fasting and intermittent fasting which talk about how a lot of this came to be over the last 100,000 years. All we know of today is the supermarket era.
- No scarcity of food
- Long commute times
- Most jobs today are sedentary
- Most food is “convenience” food because we don’t have time and it’s simple
- Food that is mass produced is made for profit, and quality of ingredients is not great.
- High fructose corn syrup is in everything
- Obesity in this country is the highest ever.
- Most other countries don’t deal with cancer, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes
Evidence is starting to stack up that keto might be something to look into if you have any of the above issues.
Costs of keto
In one of my early graduate school classes at Villanova (go Wildcats!), I once saw something that has stuck with me ever since.
“You always pay for quality. Whether it is upfront to prevent costly items down the road, or afterwards, you will pay for the quality on the front end or the backend, but there is a cost most try to avoid on both sides”
I paraphrased this, but I want you to understand something. Out healthcare crisis is at an all time high. People just think costs should miraculously go down. OR, the government should just make it “free” to everyone. There is no free lunch people, a “free” healthcare system would essentially take your tax rates to 40 or 50%. And, you want the government running your healthcare? No thanks.
So here is the problem. Sugar. We now have an entire generation who have gone through the wonderful food pyramid, and we are now realizing the costs of this on the backend. People want to pay $100 per month for life, and this somehow will cover cancer treatments (million), heart disease ($250k-$500k), diabetes (200-700k, plus all the surgeries), etc.
Cancer used to be something like 1 in 30 people got it 100 years ago. Now it’s 1 in 3. So, I ask you, how the hell are we going to afford million dollar treatments for 1 our of 3 people in this country without increasing costs for everyone? Then, the dialysis and insulin for the diabetics. Then, the heart disease for all of the people with heart attacks and bypasses?
So we know the backend cost for each person with these afflictions are something in the neighborhood of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet people only feel they need to contribute a few bucks, or some magical government healthcare system (the one who recommended the food pyramid) is going to cure all of you for the cheap.
Or…better yet. Let’s make all of our rich people pay for the problems of the rest of us. Let’s just up their taxes to 80% and it’s THEIR job to take care of all of us. They have the money, they should give it up to help the rest of us.
Well….this is the problem. Our citizens were advised on the poor quality on the preparation side. They thought their whole lives what they were doing was right. “Look, I have my 6-10 servings of carbs per day, I’m healthy”.
The problem is, the medical industry for the last 50 years preached “fat will make you fat”. So low fat diets (which I did a dozen times), had non-fat or low fat products which pumped you full of more carbs.
Friends…the quality costs up front were incorrect. And NOW we are paying on the backend.
Let’s look at each of these…
- Cancer – cancer’s primary fuel is glucose. If you don’t feel it glucose, and instead your body runs on ketones, it will starve the cancer. Additionally, using intermittent fasting will starve off these cancers. Sugar is fuel for cancer. So, that piece of blueberry pie, after your big meal of pasta with garlic bread? Cancer. Bagels, cereals we feed our children, pastas, breads, sugars….cancer. You are poisoning yourselves with items that feed cancers. Anyone wonder why breast cancer has skyrocketed in the last 40-50 years?
- Diabetes – what essentially happens is you give your body sugar all the time, and your pancreas cranks out insulin. As you go on, your body needs more and more insulin to address this glucose in your blood stream. You become insulin resistant, and in order to bring your blood sugar down, you have to avoid carbs or inject yourself with insulin. When a diabetic starts to do low carb, they can feel spaced out, low on energy – this is the imbalance of electrolytes and not becoming “fat adapted”. Like me on atkins above, they float in a 40-60g per day of sugar/carbs where their body is still trying to burn carbs. They feel fatigued. If they dropped it to 20-30g per day, they can become fat adapted and essentially cure their type 2 diabetes.
- Obesity/heart disease – I’m lumping these two. People get overweight when insulin is cranking through their systems all the time. When insulin is going through their system, they cannot burn fats. It is physically impossible. You need to have glucagon and leptin firing through your system. This happens when your blood sugar drops. In order to get more glucose, your body then breaks down fats for energy. If you are eating 5-6 times a day with carbs of any type, your body is constantly not able to burn its own fat, but burn carbs being ingested. The fun part is insulin then takes glucose to your fat stores for energy later (fat tissue). What happens here is people have done low fat, 60+% carbs in their diet, and the sugars cause
- Cravings – your appetite goes out of control
- Messes with gut flora – look at MSG and how foods screw up your ability to control volume of food in
- Addictions – foods on McDonalds menu can cause addictions to their foods
- Insulin resistance – your body needs to secrete more insulin to reduce your blood sugar, meaning you are not in fat burning mode more. Go for a run right after a pasta meal? Good luck.
- Arterial damage – sugar is like sandpaper in your arteries. This creates tiny tears. Cholesterol is the body’s band aid for this. Cholesterol flows through the body and repairs damage. This builds up over time, and you get blockages. Vitamin C is the repairman for this – but since glucose and vitamin c compete on the same receptors, the more glucose you have, you can never fully repair this damage, but plaster over it. Then, on top of this, a high calcium can then harden all of this for your ultimate whammy. They put people on Lipitor and other drugs. If you just cut the sugar out, and upped your vitamin C, this will assist the reversal of damage.
Now – keto is expensive?
Ummm…not really. You can get big packs of chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings on the cheap. Cabbage, broccoli, leafy greans- pretty cheap. This is not an expensive diet, and furthermore, it reduces hunger pangs and compulsive behaviors.
So….try keto for 12 weeks? Want to do the keto challenge with me?
It could potentially save you:
- Hundreds of thousands of dollars when you get older
- Taxes/health insurance costs – by having a healthier United States, costs of treatment fall off the cliff
- Years of your life. Think about living to 95 instead of 48.
- Years of suffering in pain. Chemo, radiation, lost appendages, dialysis. Is that cupcake worth it?
In my life, I will at some point have a cupcake again. Once I hit my maintenance weight, I will:
- Slowly increase my carbs to find a level that I’m happy with
- Have a cheat meal once every 3-5 weeks. I feel like an indulgence rarely is far better than living like that every day
- Keep my activity levels up to burn whatever carbs I have in me immediately rather than letting it get stored in fats
- Continue to eat healthy 90-95% of the time. I will have my keto pizza or the like once a week as a treat, and still stay within my macros.
This is so much better than 20 years ago on atkins. SOOOO much better. The fats really help with satiety and I’m starting to plan for smaller meal portions now, as the meals I’ve been eating the past 3 weeks or so are now seeming to be too much food for me.