I am very critical of any diet with too many limitations.
But recently, I kept hearing about the benefits of the ketogenic diet, and I became very curious (I also liked the idea of eating more peanut butter.)
I started researching the diet more, and while I like to use a flexible dieting approach for my clients, I realized this may be a good option for some.
Since I learn best by doing, I started a personal experiment a month and a half ago. Before I share my thoughts, here's a little breakdown:
WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
The most basic premise of the ketogenic diet is that the body can be forced to burn greater amounts of fat by decreasing its use of glucose. To get into ketosis you need to eat a VERY low carb, high fat and moderate protein diet.
While our brains bodies normally use glucose (carbs) for fuel, they will use ketones for fuel if glucose is not available.
The liver is always producing ketones to some small degree and they are always present in the bloodstream. Under normal dietary conditions, ketone concentrations are simply too low to be of any physiological consequence. A ketogenic diet increases the amount of ketones which are produced and the blood concentrations seen.
WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS?
Some uses for the ketogenic diet include treating epilepsy as well as:
- people with neurodegenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s); and
For the average person, it can be a useful tool to achieve fat loss without feeling deprived.
WHAT AM I EATING?
A lot of fat. I also have chosen to take a higher protein ratio than some.
My days look something like this:
Breakfast: Coffee with a tbsp of coconut oil, a tbsp of MCT oil, 4 tbsp of peanut butter
(Some nuts and coconut oil coffee post workout)
Lunch: 6oz of beef, a whole avocado, vegetables cooked in coconut oil
Dinner: 6oz of chicken or turkey, salad, 1/2 an avocado
Snack: peanut butter/cashews/homemade keto 'fat bombs'
AM I IN KETOSIS?
Ketosis happens when blood ketones are higher than normal either through dietary changes (which lead to very low blood glucose) or through supplementation (independent of blood glucose concentrations).
I bought some ketone strips off Amazon, and according to those, I still only have traces of ketones (reviews on accuracy are mixed).
It's hard to say if I'm in ketosis as my diet hasn't been 100% perfect. I do have increased energy and focus however (one sign).
DID I LOSE WEIGHT?
A popular belief is that fat can be lost on a ketogenic diet without the creation of a caloric deficit. However, like most diets, most people will lose weight because they are unknowingly eating less than they think. When I was in a caloric deficit to prepare for my photoshoot, I was losing fat. However, when I increased my calories to maintenance levels my weight stabilized back to normal again.
*A recent study looked at whether or not there was a significant increase in metabolic rate when going from a high-carbohydrate diet (48% carbohydrate) to a ketogenic diet (6% carbohydrate), with protein being the same (around 16-17%).
DID MY WORKOUTS IMPROVE?
Some experts say that the ketogenic diet may not be the best choice for athletes and that carbs are still the best source of fuel.
But in recent years, some scientists and quite a few athletes have begun to question those beliefs. Athletes devoted to ultra-endurance sports, in particular, tout high-fat diets as a means to improve performance.
I'm not an athlete, but I feel like my workouts have improved. I have been sprinting faster and lifting more most days.
There are a few other factors that may have helped: I started doing more functional training, I increased caffeine consumption, and I am taking ketone supplements.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
Generally, no. I don't like recommending any diet that isn't sustainable because I want my clients to live a balanced life and to maintain their results over the years.
For many people, it is very difficult to adhere to. Carbohydrates add up quickly and are generally apart of a well balanced diet as well as most social situations.
However, for someone who thrives on higher fats, I would be open to working with a ketogenic approach that I could monitor.
WHAT ARE MY PLANS GOING FORWARD?
I'm going to experiment a little longer and see how I feel.
Afterwards I will likely go back to a flexible dieting approach but with higher fats (and possibly ketone supplements.)
This has been eye opening to the fact that I may need to eat more peanut butter (I'll take any excuse).
There are ants everywhere this Spring. They come with the rain.
Depending on my mood, they bother me or they don't, crawling into the kitchen sink or across bathroom floors.
As I build my life in California, I find myself running form place to place working on various projects, working long days, going home to study, and making an effort to have some kind of balance on top of it all.
I remind myself how lucky I am. Even when I'm beat down, I think "I get to do all of this. I get to build my life here."
I see my future clearly now in health and fitness. My ultimate goal: empower women. There is so much misinformation out there.
In building this I have started coaching more clients, completing my studies to become a personal trainer, and am completing an apprenticeship at a sports training centre where I'm learning science based functional training for athletes as well as the general public. Soon I'll be teaching the 5am class and have already welcomed 4am mornings as I shadow and learn the drills.
I also had the opportunity to work with a local photographer and tanning company on my first photoshoot. It's crazy to see these photos. I have worked so hard to build muscle, to become stronger, to love and fuel my body and alas - it shows. I realize I have a big responsibility in sharing these photos and hope to keep spreading science based information on diet, fitness and body composition to override the fads and lies out there.
I have so much work to do. I also joined the board for the Uganda Fistula Fund and will be tying in some of my work with the foundation.
Like all forms of building - in muscle, in business, in homes - it is a lot of work building my dream here. But I am so very grateful and proud of my foundation.