The Ketogenic Diet is a pretty hot topic right now. There is a lot of information out there floating around and it can seem overwhelming. Before embarking in this journey, both my husband and I did extensive research. The Ketogenic Diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy in the 1920's and 1930's. It is a high-fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. This way of eating causes your body to be retrained to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. When your body is burning fats for fuel, it is in a metabolic state call Ketosis. The Ketogenic diet is also often recommended by physicians for patients with Diabetes.
I personally do not have Diabetes or Epilepsy, but do suffer from Migraines and Diabetes runs in my family. Depending on your Migraine triggers, there is evidence a Ketogenic diet could help reduce Migraine occurrences. I've also always struggled with low blood sugar, which looking back I now contribute to a diet with too many carbs and sugars. One major change that had to be made to ease into a Keto way of life was that I had to reintroduce meat into my diet after over a year of being vegetarian. I'd be lying if I also wasn't a little sad to give up alcoholic beverages.
I started Keto in late February and here is what I've learned so far.
1.) Sugar is in EVERYTHING. Seriously, the first grocery shopping trip was painful. Here in America, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, etc is added to so much of our "food". Even things you wouldn't expect! Check your salsas, condiments, sandwich meats, salad dressings, and even seasonings. Even foods that do not have sugary or sweet flavors have these additives, so make sure to check.
Generally, Keto is a zero sugar way of eating (except for naturally occurring sugars in fruits), due to the low carb part. I'm eating about 20-25g of carbs per day at this point which means I'm not eating much fruit, but tons of leafy green vegetables. And honestly, I'm not craving sweets much. I do have Stevia on hand to add to coffee occasionally and have indulged in some Zevia soda a couple times.
2.) Keto Flu is REAL. The first couple days were totally fine and then it hit. The Keto Flu hit me like a ton of bricks. Headache, nausea, and overwhelming feeling of awfulness. This is your body detoxing from all the sugars and carbs and making that metabolic switch to burning fat. It's like a right of passage. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? It passed relatively quickly (less than a week) and afterward I started feeling really amazing. My energy levels are consistent, I am sleeping better at night, and just overall feeling better than pre-Keto.
There are many suggestions out there on how to beat the Keto flu, and it does affect everyone differently. My best recommendations are to drink lots of water, keep your electrolytes up, and do not give up. It's worth it!
3.) Splurge on the good meats. If within your budget, definitely go with what is least processed and most natural. For example, Grass Fed Beef without hormones, all natural pork with no antibiotics / hormones / nitrates. And go for the fatty cuts. You may have conditioned yourself to believe that chicken is the healthiest protein source, but for Keto, you're wanting to stick with moderate protein and high fat. Go for that 85% grass fed ground beef.
To my surprise, my body didn't have difficulty adapting back into eating meats, and I contribute that partially to the types of meat we purchased and easing back into it. And for those of you thinking those meats are so expensive -- it's been a total wash for us (if not savings), since we are no longer going out to eat anywhere near as often and our microbrew purchases have drastically decreased.
4.) Make sure to eat your Fiber. With all the fats and meats you're eating with Keto, do not forget to keep an eye on your fiber intake. Make sure to eat lots of leafy greens. Spinach and Kale are my favorites besides a good spring mix salad. If you're still having discomfort and irregularity, try a natural fiber supplement. My favorite is Barlean's Digestive Blend. The Flax, Chia, and Coconut blend is great in smoothies or protein shakes.
5.) Bulletproof Coffee is Keto Life. Butter in your coffee? Seriously? Yes! Or my favorite is black coffee, MCT Oil, and a bit of heavy cream -- blended to frothy goodness. MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride and is derived from coconuts. It is concentrated - so be careful and ease into your intake. (I can go more in depth on another day.) My favorite MCT Oil so far is this one. Aside from heavy cream and butter, cheese is the only other dairy in my diet.
I can't wait to share more of my Keto experiences with you, including some amazing recipes I've whipped up! While I've decided to treat this as a way of life, versus diet, I'm happy to report I've lost nearly 15 pounds in less than two months with relatively zero exercise. Not too shabby! Even though the weight loss is an awesome side effect -- the best side effect is the way I feel! Originally it was a "Let's try this for 30 days" thing, but I plan to see this through for at least another few months. Afterward, I may relax into a more Paleo style of eating, but we'll just have to wait and see!