The Keto Diet - Getting Started



I thought I was doing better with my health and then I had a setback again. No reason why that my doctors and I can figure out, but it hurts. It hurts my body and it hurts my psyche. It is a let down. Then my very good friend came to visit from Canada. He told me about his girlfriend who suffers from Lupus. She has been in pain for several years now but it had gotten to the point where she had to stop working. But my friend came with good news, his girlfriend found a diet that helps decrease her pain. That diet is called the Ketogenic Diet,  Ketosis Diet or just Keto. It is also known as the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Diet. I called her and she said it has been a godsend for her, both for her inflammation and her weight. She lost 50 pounds in one year! I was not looking for a way to lose weight but the idea of being in less pain is music to my ears. So why not try it? (And come on, very few of us are not game for losing a few pounds). I will answer a few questions that I had myself briefly here because it is pretty easy to google what you need but maybe you didn't think of some of the questions. In the next blog I will start sharing my experience and I will include some things that will really help you if you are planning on going down this path.

You can eat at dinner parties, just stay away from the fruit and bread, the rest is a-ok.


What is the Keto Diet and why do I want it?

The short answer is that it changes your body from being a carb-burner into a fat burning machine. It is also a gluten free diet which is known to bring down inflammation.

These little guys are ok to eat. I found them in Chamonix.

How does this diet work?

Normally the body will take carbohydrates and convert them into insulin and glucose. The glucose is used for energy and it is moved through the body by the insulin. If carbs are being put into the body, the body will continue to produce glucose because it is the simplest conversion it can make. If you deprive your body of the carbohydrates then the body is forced to start using the stored fat cells as it's source of energy. When the liver burns fats it produces Ketones. When the body is producing Ketones, it is in Ketosis, a metabolic state that the body usually goes into when it is being deprived of food. In this case, the body is deprived of carbs and not calories and nutrients.
Proteins and dairy with high fats are encouraged.

I tried Atkins years ago, how is this different?

Pretty much the only difference is that on the Atkins, you were given free range to eat as much fat and protein your heart desired with no limits. That can not only make a dieter trying to lose weight plateau or even gain weight, but it can be dangerous as well. I recall doing the Atkins for a few summers and some of those recipes were pretty outrageous when you think of an unlimited amount! The Keto Diet keeps the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats to maintain Ketosis. We already know too many carbs can throw your body out of Ketosis but what can surprise some people, including me, is that too much protein can take you out of Ketosis as well.
Raclette? Fondue? No problem! Just leave out the bread and potatoes.

How do I know how much Protein, Carbs and Fat to eat daily?

I found a nice web site that helped me learn a lot about this diet. There is a handy calculator to help you find the perfect levels you need for your body. I can tell you now, it is important to do your best to stick to those numbers. I created a spreadsheet in Google Docs that calculates these for you daily based on what you eat. I will share it in my next blog as it needs fine tuning to make it usable for everyone. Right now I have it set to only my parameters. So, coming soon! Until then you can rely on various websites that share the levels of the three important factors right on the recipe which is great.
Carpaccio? Yes, have as much as you like! No bread though.

How do I know I am in Ketosis?

When the body is in Ketosis, it will have specific changes besides weight loss and lower inflammation. You will have some telltale signs like bad breath, weird taste in your mouth, dry mouth, less hunger, and the body will have ketones in the blood stream and urine. For the mouth, you can feel the dryness usually, unless you are like me and are already on medication that gives you a dry mouth. This is ok though, because you are encouraged to drink lots of water which helps. I, having been the manager of a chemistry lab for the last 20 years, am most familiar with the taste in my mouth, but not everyone will know what that is. When you breathe out ketones, you also breathe out Acetone. It does go away, or so I hear, I am only one week in, but at first you will have a sort of fruity, metallic taste in your mouth. That is the acetone telling you that, good news! you are in Ketosis! As for in the blood, there are machines you can purchase that read your ketone levels in your blood but they are expensive and unless you are on this diet expressly for serious medical purposes you will not need to spend that much money, just go by your instincts or check your urine. The urine test is just using little strips you can get almost anywhere. This test will be least accurate as it is only measuring the ketones that the body has an overload of and getting rid of for waste. If you would like to get the strips, I suggest do it for the first month or so, then you will be used to reading your body to know when you are in the right metabolic state.
When you get hungry looking at the pictures of food that is ON your diet, that's winning.


Will my body get all the nutrients it needs on this diet?

I was concerned that with the restriction of many fruits and vegetables I would be losing some nutrients that I might need. Turns out that is what happens. I found this out the hard way by waking up at night with what I call "crazy legs". Also known as RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome, this is a symptom that affects many chronic pain sufferers and those of us who have to take a lot of medication. This was due to a lack of Potassium and Magnesium. I normally do not suggest anyone take supplements, but in this case, it is essential. This diet does not, in my experience, fulfill a body's need for K and Mg. I stopped having the RLS as soon as I began the supplements.
A personal fave of mine, heavy cream and strawberries. Just leave out the added sugar in the cream.

More questions? 

Here is a great website that I read through before I started.