There is no one source for keto. Dr. Atkins WAS the source for the “atkins diet”.
With a “ketogenic diet”, this was actually first done about 100 years ago to treat children suffering from seizures that could not be treated with medication at the time. The diet was strict with 92% fat, 6% protein, and 2% carbs. This was a clinical diet.
Over time, and in its resurgence, this has come to mean:
- High fat
- Low Carb
- Moderate protein
Of interest, you see a lot of “n=1” on the internet about this. It’s been 25 years, so I had to ask – this means you’re doing a study of 1 – YOU. Meaning, you may have to adjust what ratios work best for YOU.
Big picture is we’re standing the food pyramid on it’s head. What you are looking for:
- Protein. While this says “moderate” protein, what does that mean? Shoot for .6-.8g per pound of LEAN body mass. A lean woman is 20-25% bodyfat. A lean guy is 15-20%. As a guy with 161 or so pounds of lean body mass, I try and get 100-125g of protein. If you undershoot or overshoot by a few, you’ll live.
- Carbs. By “low” carbs, we are looking to enter and STAY in a state of “ketosis”. This means you begin to run on fats, not carbs. There is a magical threshold on everyone where they will “switch over”. Most people are told to start at 20-30g of NET carbs per day. Over 3-6 days, you will eventually use all of your stored sugar, then start “ketosis”. Your body LOVES the quick burning carbs, but we eat WAY too many. Most people don’t realize most of their stored fat is from eating too much carbs – carbs turn into fat with a process called lipolysis.
- Fats. Everything else. Most people think, “I HAVE to have 75% fat!! And then proceed to make things called “fat bombs” to make up a lot of calories in a day. The truth is, when your body learns to burn fat, you will burn fat from the table or your waist, your choice. Fat helps satiety, a LOT. So yeah, you want to primarily get “good fats” into you. What you want to stay away from is vegetable oils and trans fats.
What does it look like? Well, you eat LOTS of vegetables, moderate meats, and low/no sugar, flour, fruits (except berries in moderation).
Here are what my food creations look like…
What are the competing theories?
Traditional – saturated fats cause heart disease along with cholesterol clogging your arteries. If you eat low fat (healthy fats like vegetable oils, olive oil) and lots of grains/vegetables/fruits with some meats, you will live a healthy, happy life. You need to exercise a lot daily and all weight loss/gain is a math problem with calories in/calories out.
Keto – saturated fats were blamed for heart disease without any real science to back it up. The last 10 years, they have shown zero correlation between saturated fats/LDL cholesterol and heart disease. The theory is that there are two main things that need to be controlled – inflation and insulin. High levels of inflation in your body cause tiny cracks in your arterial walls, which is where people see cholesterol piling up. Cholesterol are the fire fighters repairing damage. The presence of firefighters is not the issue, the problem is the inflammation caused by sugars in our body (which acts like sandpaper). Omega 6s in vegetable oils (more accurately SEED oils) oxydize into trans fats and cause significant inflation. This inflation is why a LOT of people feel they have gluten intolerance and feel better when they go low carb. With keto, they embrace saturated fats and proteins to eat to satiety. The overarching big picture is calories DO matter, but the calorie math is not a physics problem, but a biology problem with insulin/glucagon regulating the addition/breaking down of body structures. YOU CANNOT BURN FAT when insulin is going through your body – yet you’re being told to eat 6 times a day with 6-11 servings of grains (carbs) and fruits (carbs). With keto, you switch to burning fats on your plate and body for primary fuels while eliminating inflammation from food. Often, a lot of the foods you eat in a “traditional diet” are pounding your insulin all day long, which leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Why use a ketogenic diet?
The first thing is, I’d like to demonstrate recent science on the heart impacts of keto versus “traditional diets” on patients. These studies ARE gold standard, with double blind and peer reviewed studies that CAN BE REPLICATED – AND HAVE BEEN REPLICATED. This is why the “junk science” of the 50s was horrible. A lot of those studies were done at the behest of the food industry, where their scientists were paid to find certain conclusions. And government policy was then implementing these as regulations. No…our government doesn’t have PACs which pay our politicians obscene money to implement policy.
What you will find is the low carb doctors and researchers out there do NOT have funding. Their science is rock solid, can be replicated, and on all of their talks, they announce any conflicts they may have, if any. This is open science, for once.
So you’re telling me the food science of the last 50 years was not honest? I want you to look at the companies below, and then make up your mind for yourself.
But why would we then think this is a good idea?
- The “traditional” diet was never clinically tested. That food pyramid? No one ever, ever did tests to see if this was safe for the American public. The science that created this policy was created off of junk science blaming saturated fats for heart attack and a study that was created by paid off Harvard researchers that pointed towards fat as the culprit to heart disease. This has led everyone to blame the patient for not following the guidelines closely enough rather than testing the actual safety/outcomes of the food pyramid.
- This is how people ate over 100 years ago. What stunned me 3 years ago was I always believed that people just died of cancer or heart disease in their 60s or 70s. Apparently, this was not always the case. In 1900 or so, there was 3% obesity, heart disease was rare, diabetes was 3 in 1000 people, and cancer was 1 in 30 people. People did eat some breads, yes, but maybe one piece for dinner. They cooked everything with lard/butter (instead of vegetable oils) and they ate lots of vegetables, eggs, bacon. Coca cola came about at the turn of the century and our population started drinking sugary drinks. The combination of the explosion of sugars and vegetable oils began the big problem we have today. This then exploded further with the food pyramid pointing everyone towards high inflammatory foods with high insulin/trans fat.
- High energy. I have no energy lulls throughout the day. When you eat sugar, your insulin spikes to take the sugar out of your bloodstream and into your liver/glycogen stores. When the insulin drops, you get sleepy. I never get this.
- GREAT SLEEP. Something happens 1-2 weeks in to doing keto. Your sleep becomes amazing.
- Health. My blood pressure is now 113/67. All of my markers are terrific. Low resting HR.
- LOW APPETITE. With keto, an amazing thing happens. You reduce your appetite. Many people start then doing intermittent fasting or one meal a day (OMAD) due to the ability to easily eat less.
- More alert, less “fog” – you are sharper. This goes back to stone age shit. Imagine 40,000 years ago. You haven’t eaten in a day. Does this mean you are low energy and foggy and just lay down and die? No, our survival depended upon us being able to hunt during times of famine (on ketones). I want you to ask yourself if 40,000 years ago you honestly thought our ancestors ate grains 6-11 servings per day 6 times a day.
- Our bodies are machines, regulated by hormones. Hormones are developed from fats/cholesterol. When you eat significantly low fat diets, you are essentially starving your body from creating hormones it needs. Additionally, so many vitamins we eat/need are fat soluble. So, you need to eat them with fats. Many may posit a lot of our mental health issues today could be derived from low fat diets with high inflammatory foods going into our bodies.
- There is no such thing as an essential carb. We have essential fats and proteins our bodies CANNOT make, but we could literally go our whole lives without any carbs. Our brains run on glucose, but our liver can synthesize what it needs from our diets and run a lot on ketones.
- There really is no heart disease in other animals, that I’ve seen – only humans. This apparently has to do with humans many thousands of years ago stopping the ability to produce vitamin C. Apparently, other animals synthesize this and the vitamin C (and perhaps K2) prevent any buildup of plaques in their arterial walls. The leading theory today is a “traditional” diet rich in carbs – the carbs fight the vitamin C receptors in cells and win every time. So when you eliminate the sugars and have lots of veggies, your body can not only repair, but reverse arterial wall damage. This has been shown.
How to get started?
- Use MyFitnessPal to track foods. Don’t worry so much about calories, try to hit a range of 400 or so calories plus or minus. Calories listed on packages can be off by 10%. Additionally, there’s no way you can determine with any accuracy how many calories, exactly, you burn in a day. Two people who look similar may have vastly different metabolisms. Therefore, the calorie myth of counting to the exact calorie does not exist. That being said, it doesn’t mean you can eat 6,000 calories.
- Try to stay under 30 net carbs a day. Be careful of the sugar alcohols and fibers you see to knock down packaged foods from 35 carbs to 4 “net carbs”. They have found a lot of this has been too good to be true. Eat more veggies (not potatoes or carrots or the starches). I eat a TON of salad. I would not sweat the carbs in green veggies, even my beloved zucchini.
- Cook with saturated fats like butter, lard, tallow, bacon grease (high heat) for steaks or the like. if you are using low/medium heat to saute onions, you can use olive oil. The problem is the oils under high heat oxidize and create trans fats.
- Look at the charts for what to eat. Avocado is a great food on this, and I have made some really creamy puddings with it. I eat steaks, chicken, ground beef, bacon, sausage, eggs, meatballs, ham – the list goes on with the meats. I will have lots of greens with these, and I even love mashed cauliflower.
- Eliminate the sugars. What many people don’t realize is added sugars are in 85% of the 600,000 products on the shelves. They’ve also demonstrated with rats that apparently sugar is more addicting than cocaine. Only lower than heroin. Get this – the biggest knock of the keto diet is “it’s too hard” because people love their carbs too much. Yeah, because it’s addicting. You are literally being told to stop the sugar to save your life and your doctors are telling you that you shouldn’t do it because it’s too hard to do. Yeah. Oh, and doctors don’t dispute that you will lose weight on keto, just that it will kill you due to saturated fats (again, proven false in the last 10 years).
- Substitution. Get this. Over the last 40 years, most of us were raised on “low fat” things and have dieted 200 times. When you make products low in fat, they taste like shit. So they added sugars to everything. When you cut out the sugars, guess what? You can eat full fat foods. And holy shit these taste amazing. As long as you can get some substitutes like stevia, swerve, and erithrytol, you will be fine for sweets. You can make your own chocolate that tastes amazing!! Over 4 weeks or so, the sweet tooth dies, and when you have the sweeteners I mention above, you cannot taste the difference with sugar. I can now taste the sweetness in vegetables that I never tasted before. Our brains are pounded with sugar/pastas/breads – and it dulls our senses.
- Eat only when you’re hungry. Get this. When you cut all of the shit out, your hormones ACTUALLY WORK. You get full quickly. You can go LONG periods of time without eating. 2-3 weeks into keto, your hunger mostly disappears. When you do get hungry, it’s a gentle nudge and not shoving food down your face at a drive thru on the way home. You start to make better choices with food and not crazed choices. You begin to take control of your food rather than your food controlling you.
- When you start – have plenty of water and electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Otherwise, you will experience the “keto flu”. I didn’t really have problems, but I did feel feverish a little at one point. Over time, your body becomes “fat adapted”. This might be 3-8 weeks or so where your body tries to still fight to burn whatever low doses of carbs you’re giving it – still holding on to being a sugar-burner. Eventually, your body “switches” to fat as the primary fuel and then you start feeling absolutely amazing, 24/7. So – any “cheat” meal you might have before this, you are resetting your clock and delay you getting into the fat adapted stage.
- Go to YouTube and do your own research. Check out the below people and do all of the research yourself – it’s now there.
- Dr. Rhona Patrick
- Sugar be gone. If you are trim, in great shape, and all of your numbers are good, perhaps you don’t need this. Apparently, 15% of the population work very well on the “standard diet”. This also implies 85% don’t. If you want to be healthy, simply roll the clock back 120 years on what they ate when none of these problems existed. If you are a die hard sugar fan – you may be a severe addict and not want help. Only those of us who may have had their mortality flash before their eyes forced us to change.
- Cheats. Well, the downside is you can’t really cheat. Maybe over time, you can eat 40-60 NET carbs a day with still being in ketosis. Great! But if you have a big plate of spaghetti, 4 pieces of bread with 3 donuts afterwards – it will kick you out of ketosis. I heard that if you do this, you will feel like dogshit for several days. You then have to go back through ketosis all over again. However, people tell you after being on it for 6+ months, you can have a cheat meal with ZERO effects, you may be out of ketosis for 1 day but that might be all. Going to test this in July.
- The first few weeks you will be weak. It took me 3-4 weeks until my strength started to come back in the gym. I’m still not at the same bench I was, but this is countered by unlimited energy when biking/running/swimming. When using sugar as your primary fuel, you have about 2,000 calories in your glycogen tanks. In most leaner people, you have 20,000-100,000 calories in your fat stores. Why not use that first?
- Eating out and being social can be a challenge. Most everyone feeds carbs to everyone. Remember that when out and about, you start to see it everywhere. The good news is, I can control hunger so well I can just skip meals. I eat one meal a day now for 3 months (except weekends, I do 2). With this diet, you MUST be disciplined, but the good news is after about 4 weeks on, your cravings disappear. I once found I had a craving for chicken drumsticks rather than spaghetti lol.
- “It’s too hard”. People will discourage you from doing it because it’s too hard. Quitting heroin is hard too. Advising people to get off the sauce is hard too. Quitting smokes is really hard. But we tell people to do it not because it is easy, but because we see them poisoning themselves and feel if they quit that habit, it would benefit them. When others tell you to not do it because it’s “too hard” – it’s because it’s too hard for them, not for you.
- “The saturated fats will kill you” – this is what just about everyone leads with. Unfortunately, this was all started off of a big fat lie in 1955, and no studies since then could replicate the findings. It has been a hypothesis based off of junk science, then the sugar industry pushed this narrative in the 1960s, which then led to the food pyramid and low fat foods – which had sugar then added to every food to replace the flavors. Do your own recent research. One thing to consider. Saturated fats are what are stored on your waist. So when you burn your own fat, you are burning saturated fats. When you go keto, your body is burning the saturated fats you eat as fuel – so when you’re short on fuel for the day, your body taps the saturate fats on your belly very easily. The saturated fats you are eating are not going to your waist, they are what you are running on all day.
- You may have some issues adapting over 3-8 weeks. I took about 3. Some are longer.
- Toxins being released. Some bad news. What a lot of people don’t know is that when you’ve been eating a lot of shit food your whole lives, your body may tend to store some of that in adipose tissue (fat cells). So, as you burn fat, you may be releasing some of these toxins into you. Drink tons of water!!!
Below, I am pictured at 267, about 35 pounds lost on keto. This is my sophomore year in college weight. My high was 372 which I have in another post but wordpress is being cranky at the moment. I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel I’m on the right path!!