Make sure you have Ketostix to make sure you’re doing it right. Buy them here: Ketostix Reagent Strips for Urinalysis Test – 50 pack
So if you haven’t guessed yet, I am a strong supporter of low carb diets. Ketosis is the most powerful one of all. I’ve had it work wonders for me and I want to help you lose weight too. It’s not easy, but it helps to understand the aspects behind it. Living low carb is easier than most people think.
Humans, Americans especially, eat WAY too many carbohydrates. This is just the way it is. It’s easily available and it stores well, so we all eat it all the time. The problem is that we just get way too much and our bodies don’t like that. Since corporations give exactly zero schyts about us, they’ll fill their fake foods with whatever they want. In this case, pure unhealthy concentrated high GI carbs.
Just look at this graph of soda consumption! They had to expand this chart to include Americans! How depressing.
You don’t have to be fat to get diabetes!
We’re slowly figuring out that Diabetes may be what is partly the cause of obesity, rather than obesity causing diabetes. Check out this fascinating TED talk about the relationship. Basically, a surgeon admits medical science needs to change the way they deal with obesity and diabetes as a nutritional aspect vs. a medical aspect. He damn near breaks down crying as he explains that he had contempt for obese people who got diabetes until he got diabetes himself.
So, I’m very interested in keto because it seems to be a good way to halt the damage caused by chronic overconsumption of carbohydrates. Obesity rates are higher than ever and I want to help people understand the complicated mechanisms of the ketogenic diet. It is a powerful tool that most people have never heard of!
In this Keto Part 3, I’ll talk about how to get into keto, how long to stay in keto, the importance of fiber, and a little primer on how to view calories as a part of keto. These are all aspects of living low carb and losing weight.
Best ways to get into keto? Living low carb!
As I explained in part 1, Going into keto depends mostly on the glycogen concentrations in the muscles and the liver. You can think of the liver as the factory where glucose is compacted into glycogen and said glycogen is pushed into the muscles as fuel. Once those are full, the body further compresses glycogen and stores it in the fat cells, making triglycerides aka body fat. In order to get your body to fully switch to ketogenic mode, you have to simply exhaust the glucose and glycogen in the liver and muscles. Liver glycogen/glucose is easy, just stop eating carbs! Only takes about 12-18 hours to fully empty the liver of glycogen.
Muscle glycogen, however, takes longer to get rid of. It will naturally deplete itself over time (about 72 hours) after eating under ~50 grams of carbs a day, but you can deplete the stores manually for quicker results. One such method is using HIIT (high intensity interval training) to exhaust your muscles. The more full-body based exercises are ideal. The energy it takes to move your muscles will be taken from the glycogen and as long as you follow the dietary rules, you’ll get into keto within a day or two.
For you weightlifters, just do a full body workout and that’ll use up most of your muscle’s glycogen stores. Keep in mind one important aspect of keto is because your muscles will be “empty,” building muscle will be all but impossible with the methods I’ve described here. You can try a targeted/cyclical keto diet to enhance weightlifting and other sports while burning fat, but it’s very complicated. I won’t go into details yet.
One other method that I occasionally use, but I would not recommend for everyone: hard alcohol. When you drink something like vodka, tequila, rum, or other non- carb hard liquors, it will cause the liver to flush out the extra glucose/glycogen that it normally holds and can quicken the process. Since the alcohol is seen as a “poison” by the body, the liver will “drop everything” to address the filtering of it. Liver glycogen/glucose is flushed as a result and can accelerate the keto-transition. Just don’t overdo it and don’t use it as an excuse to drink!
The easiest way to check if you’re in ketosis or not is using these things called Ketosticks. Buy some here: Ketostix Reagent Strips for Urinalysis Test – 50 pack
For those of you who like to drink, there is some good news. You do have options for drinking when in keto. All forms of straight liquor are OK on keto since they are completely carb-less. It’s the stuff they mix it with that you need to avoid: juice, sodas, sugary flavored crap. Wine, in small amounts, can be acceptable on keto as well. Stick to the drier wines and try to measure out exactly how much you’re drinking so you don’t go over your daily total carb gram limit.
Unfortunately, beer is mostly not allowed on keto since it’s mostly carbs. There are a few lower carb beers out there, but still, watch how much you have and don’t go over your daily limit. Keep in mind too, keto will make you less tolerant to alcohol, and many have reported that they get drunk much faster and easier. Go slow, drink plenty of water, and get extra electrolytes in yourself to decrease hangover severity. /r/keto has an excellent guide here. Just remember that hard stuff is low carb, but still high in overall calories!
Other strange telltale side effects of keto:
- Some report a “fruity” smelling breath and/or very strong smelling urine. This is due to the body trying to expel excess acetone any way it can.
- Testing with Ketostix. If you get any color change, congratulations!
- Dehydration. Make sure you drink extra water when doing keto.
- Old clothing no longer fits. (I’ve personally gone through 5 sets of different sized wardrobes in the past 5 years. It sucks and is wonderful at the same time.)
- “Keto-flu” which can be any of the following: fatigue, muscle twitching, headaches, muscle cramping (especially in the legs.) Make sure you get your electrolytes and extra water!! It will go away after once your body adjusts.
Speaking of Keto-flu, I’ve got a simple solution to get the daily requirement for electrolytes to avoid any problems as you slip into keto. I call it the “Super easy anti-Keto flu miso broth”
Like I mentioned before, you can use iffy sources for your electrolytes like bullion cubes or pre-made stocks, but they loooove to slip MSG into those things. We don’t need it. Instead, I use something called “hatcho miso” You can buy it in most health food type places or even on the net. It’s pretty damn simple.
**A note on salt substitutes: People with kidney failure, heart failure or diabetes should not use it without medical advice, and according to Wikipedia, salt substitutes are contra-indicated for use with several medications.
“Super easy anti-keto flu miso broth”
- Food scale with digital readout (a must for keto/low calorie stuff)
- 5-10g Hatcho miso
- 10-15g Morton Lite Salt mixture (or plain salt for those with health issues)
- Hot water
- psyllium fiber/metamucil
- seaweed bits
- scallion/green onion
- splash of soy sause
- basil – parsley – thyme – Sage – garlic – bay leaves
The hatcho miso is an excellent way to get your required potassium for the day. It has some carbs to it, but the flavor for it is amazing. Adjust salt content to your liking. I personally love a good salty food/broth. I use about 10-15 grams but any more and it gets a little too overwhelming. Sodium is the largest required electrolyte needed per day, so make sure you either a large dose now or sprinkle it liberally on your food later.
5g miso uses up about 1g of carbs and 10g miso will net you 2.3g of carbs. Barely a blip on the carb radar! If you take 2-3 Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc supplements and make sure you get some extra salt in your food, you’re good for the day!
Once it’s all smushed up with the salt, just pour some nice hot water in and let it all get nice and dissolved. Wait a while for the water to cool down and sip it like a soup! The Hatcho miso will tend to sink to the bottom, so keep stirring to keep it in suspension. Otherwise you’re just sipping mostly salt water with solids at the bottom.
Can also add in some psyllium fiber for added total fiber for the day. It’s also good as a “cleanser” of sorts. Speaking of fiber…
Dietary fiber intake is important.
On keto, if you don’t get your fiber, you’re going to pay for it in the bathroom! Besides that, it has many important health benefits:
- Increases food volume without increasing caloric content, providing satiety which may reduce appetite.
- Attracts water and forms a viscous gel during digestion, slowing the emptying of the stomach and intestinal transit,
- Shields carbohydrates from enzymes, and delaying absorption of glucose which lowers variance in blood sugar levels
- Lowers total and LDL cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Regulates blood sugar (which may reduce glucose and insulin levels in diabetic patients)
- Speeds the passage of foods through the digestive system (facilitates regular defecation)
- Adds bulk to the stool, which alleviates constipation (especially on keto!!)
- Balances intestinal pH and stimulates intestinal fermentation production of short-chain fatty acids, which may reduce risk of colorectal cancer (In other words, makes the good stomach bacteria happy)
I’ve read a few sources saying the keto diet is a bad idea due to the lack of fiber. It has mostly to do with the reaction of one’s gut flora (MicroSpartans) having nothing to “eat.” They claim that people who follow Atkins/keto don’t get enough fiber. While this may be true for some, I go out of my way to eat fibrous foods and get extra supplemented during the day.
Fiber is a very important part of being healthy and to ignore it in any dietary sense is foolish. If any person tells you to that you have to eliminate fiber to be living low carb, they’re wrong. You can easily get it without going carb crazy.
Fiber is easy to get! Just eat some low carb/green veggies and supplement with some kind of fiber additive. My prefered foods are broccoli and leafy green salads. The greener the better. I supplement with simple psyllium husks (aka metamucil). Just mix it in with some water, let it expand and gel, and gulp it down! About a spoonful is all you need. For a more scientific explanation for why fiber is so important, check out Silverhydra’s page about it.
How long should I stay in keto?
As long you want!
Some people stay in it for months at a time. There’s even some who’ve done it for years like Eskimos. I once found a fascinating article about a few scientists who lived with an Inuit tribe for a few years and consisted mostly on a ketogenic high fat diet. In addition to fat loss, it had interesting effects like affecting hair regrowth! (I can’t find the article at the moment.)
For everyone else. Do it until you feel you’ve lost enough weight or until you go crazy and binge on doughnuts. (It happens…) I like to go into keto when I start feeling hungry more frequently. It helps to re-sensitize your insulin receptors so they function properly and keep your appetite under control. It’s a good “undo” button if you’ve been really bad and ate too much crappy food for a while.
There’s other very good reasons for going into keto occasionally beyond general fat loss. Some people say it helps them think better by reduces brain-fog and makes thinking easier! Long story short, a higher ratio of ATP is available for our brains to use for processing power. I find this fascinating because of the fact that babies would technically be in keto for most of their young life due to being fed only on breast milk. It might explain why babies are like little informational sponges, whereas adults… not so much.
As I mentioned on the previous post, keto is great, but Leangains is better for fat loss. However, it’s only for people who are able-bodied enough to weight lift. Keto is perfect for the obese/sedentary to drop weight. However, if you can weight lift, you’ll have a world of possibility in front of you. The best part is if you do it right, you can use glucose to your advantage and “earn” those high carb foods. That’s my motivation to exercise! (Plus big muscles are cool.)
Are all calories created equal??
There’s a lot of controversy in the keto/low carb/paleo etc. communities regarding if “a calorie is a calorie.” Speaking from experience, tons of research, and anecdotal evidence; the resounding answer (like always):
I have personally found that people who are of a very high body fat simply do not need to worry about calories. The reason for this is because once keto really kicks in, the body will have TONS of fuel in the form of burnable body fat to play with. As I’ve mentioned before, the magic of keto is that eventually you’ll start feeling fuller faster, longer, and your body’s chemistry will re-calibrate itself.
Suddenly you won’t be hungry all the time and you’ll see fat “magically” falling off. This is largely due to fewer calories consumed overall from being less hungry. You’ll find that you need less food to fill yourself up and you’ll start to experience your body feeding itself regularly, so you don’t have to eat as often! (Which can then transition to I.F.)
So if you have 100-something pounds of weight to lose, go crazy. See how you feel after a month of keto. Chances are, you’ll lose most of your appetite and will consume fewer calories naturally. You will literally forget to eat at times. This will help to put you into a caloric deficit and thus help you lose additional fat. (BUT ONLY IF YOU STAY IN KETO!)
It’s a wonderful thing, especially if you’ve been fat and always hungry like I used to be. Not only that, but you’ll have a dramatic shift in the composition of your “MicroSpartans.” Most people who have lived on the Standard American Diet of mostly highly processed carbs have mostly “bad bacteria” that mess up your insides.
They’ve found that obese people’s gut bacteria process food more efficiently and thus can produce more total calories than people without that “bad bacteria.” The good news is this: The bad bacteria are fed by sugars. If you stop eating sugar, they’ll die off! The good guys take over and your metabolism changes as a result. Especially if you introduce a good probiotic like Kefir.
So you’ll see a very interesting shift in metabolism via energy burning and gut bacteria. Over time, you’ll see a ton of fat loss.
For leaner people who have less than 30% bodyfat: Bad news. You’re going to want to watch how much you eat. There are many individuals who will tell you that macronutrients count more than calories, but frankly, I disagree. The human body has been studied time and time again, and it has very specific laws that govern how it stores energy. The energy has to go somewhere. While you’re not a steam engine per se, you still have to obey the laws of thermodynamics! This article breaks down all the crazy variables that go into calorie counting.
In my many observations of people in various diets, I’ve found that the leaner you are, the more calories matter. You cannot escape it. I’ll go more into detail eventually, but get yourself a scale and weigh your food, watch your total calories. Make sure you get enough protein to preserve lean muscle mass. Check out the keto calculator on part 2 for exact numbers.
In summary, if you are obese, try keto and watch the fat melt away. It’s one of the most powerful non-exercise forms of fat loss available.
Don’t forget to get lots of water during the day!
Pic credits: Reddit.com http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Broccoli_in_a_dish_2.jpg http://farm1.staticflickr.com/71/159830128_571dd5fb74_o.jpg