Are you on the keto diet?

keto diet, keto

I get the question a lot: Are you on the keto diet? I will start with explaining what the keto diet is. Benefits of keto and ketosis? And lastly, what are the side effect and how I differ from the diet.

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet is mainly based on a no carb theory. We have all heard of the weight-loss ideas of: “if you cut out carbs you will lose weight quicker” or “it will make you less bloated if you cut out carbs”. There was a time, this became unpopular as a diet option due to the fact that it is hard to maintain a strict keto diet. However, with a bit more research behind it, it is now back in the media and it is more popular than ever. It turns out that it has several health benefits. I love this part!

Ketosis, is what?

The diet is based on the research that if you drastically cut out carbs from your diet your body will start converting your body fat into energy. This is done in the liver, where your liver creates ketones out of your body fat that then provides you with long lasting energy. This metabolic state is called ketosis.

Ketosis happens when there is limited access to glucose which is mainly found in carbs. To go into ketosis, you would need to eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day. It can be lower depending on your daily caloric intake. Rule of thumb is 5%.

When eating a very low-carb diet, levels of the hormone insulin go down and fatty acids are released from body fat stores in large amounts. Many of these fatty acids are transferred to the liver, where they are oxidized and turned into ketones. These molecules can provide energy for the body. Unlike fatty acids, ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy for the brain in the absence of glucose.

You don’t need to overthink the diet even though above seems very technical. Above is simply to give you insights to what happens with your body when you go on a keto diet. All you need to know is you should be cutting out as many carbs as possible such as bread, rice, potatoes, legumes, etc. Try and eat lean meats but overall fats are good for you, so enjoy!

Benefits to the Keto Diet

There are many benefits to the keto diet. A lot of it has good research behind it and some is still being researched. Below I have listed the benefits I have come across:

  • Keeps you feeling full for longer, due to the amount of fat and protein you eat, which has been proven that both makes you feel full longer compared with carbohydrates. Checkout the research here.
  • The protein heavy diet helps your cravings. Yes, you read that right. Protein has up to 60% reduction in cravings (or obsessions as the research calls it). Check our the article here.
  • Due to the ketosis state, the diet burns your stored fat more so than any other diet. Check the research here.
  • Keto is said to have a stronger weight loss impact than any other diet. Check out the research here.
  • Ketosis has a positive impact on your cholestorol and thereby reduces the risk factors for heart related diseases. Check out the research here.
  • It has a long list of benefits which you can read more about here.

Side-effect from the Keto Diet

Although, the diet has a strong of benefits it does come with a few side effects but those certainly fades in comparison to the benefits.

I certainly experienced some of them when I first changed my diet. My husband kept telling me, I had bad breath. It baffled me. I was eating well and I had just had my teeth cleaned. Later on, when I started learning more about keto and ketosis, I learned that bad breath is a side effect. It disappears though so hang in there.

My brain at some point just stopped working, I could not process thoughts the same way as I normally would but this only lasted a couple of weeks. 2 weeks is a longer stretch than most but knowing how dependent I was on carbs, I am not surprised. I have listed some of the side effects below so there are no surprises if you choose to jump into it with me.

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Bad breath

Me on Keto

How I am differing from the keto diet is that I allow myself fruit once per day. I don’t limit myself to a particular fruit and if I have a craving, I might end up eating 2 fruits in a day. I am not particularly diverting from the keto diet but I do get more carbs than the 5% that is recommended. However, I have still been able to get into ketosis state, hence my bad breath.

If you have any questions or things you think I should add to this quick run-through, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

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Fat vs Sugar

It has been rumored that sugar is the culprit for the average weight gain in the western world and not fat. And I have been doing my fair bit of research on this. Why? You might ask. Well, trying to loose weight, I feel it is important that I focus on what is fact and what is yet another guess (as there has been a fair bit of that when it comes to weight gain).

Why is it that researchers are now so focused on sugar being the culprit? The reason is because of statistics. Statistics show a direct correlation between amount of people with type 2 diabetes, having high blood pressure and obesity with the increasing amount of sugar consumption.

It used to be that fat was the culprit. Now it is sugar. Why is this? The history is long and complex but I will try and shorten it for you.

In the 1050’s when we had a bit more time on our hands and did not have to deal with a world war, we noticed that there was an increase in deaths related to heart diseases compared to just 50 years earlier. Scientists of course  curious (that is their job after all) started investigating and found that fatty arteries were the culprit and a man, Ancel Keys, in particular fought for the idea that there was a correlation between fats and heart diseases. His research has been scrutinized A LOT and I am not going into this debate as that is a post on its own, so I will stick to facts and what is still usable and that is in particular his influence on the “Anti-fats” campaign. It is true that there is a correlation between eating high amounts of fats that then clings to our arteries and heart disease but where it goes wrong is the relevance on weight gain and loss. For some reason scientists made a direct correlation between fat intake and weight gain but luckily we have gotten wiser.

So why is Sugar now the focus? The reason is related to Ancel Keys history. When doctors found out the impact that fats had on the heart and its related diseases, they started recommending a low fat diet. Ideal would have been to then increase the protein amount in foods but that was not that easy and it was expensive, so they recommended higher carb diets instead to make sure people were eating enough calories.

So why is the higher carb diet part of the story? Two reasons. Sugar is a carb and it is cheap and carbs converts itself into sugar (which then eventually becomes fats if we eat too much). The food industry started seeing a surge in the need for a “low fat” foods and sugar was the easiest replacement. It tasted good and it increased the flavors and was a great way to replace fats.

Interestingly, the increase in sugar in our diets now showed a correlation between obesity since the end of the 1950’s. Interesting, huh?

So this is where the research has ended. Sugar is now the bad guy. However, one thing, I believe is missing in all of this data is the industrialization of our western world. We move A LOT less than our ancestors and one thing we are build to do is to move. Us standing up and our long legs are due to the need to move around.

My opinion is, there is nothing wrong with sugar, there is nothing wrong with fats. All in moderation and simply make sure to exercise enough to keep your body healthy and strong. Fats does not cause obesity and truth be told, sugar does not cause obesity. Obesity is simple math. If you eat more than you burn off, you will gain weight. It is that simple.

New, very interesting, research is starting to establish the importance of full fat products and studies and science are showing something interesting. Studies are showing that people that eat and drink full fat dairy products tends to weigh less and even lose more weight than those that eat low fat or non fat dairy. Scientists have found a couple of possible and very likely reasons for this. 1. Full fats makes us feel full longer and 2. they have found acids in the full fat dairy products, similar to probiotics, that you can’t find in low or non fat products that are improving your bacteria in your intestines which in turn curbs your sugar cravings. These two facts is what has kept the research group that ate full fat dairy products stay thinner and even lose weight. They ate less and had a lower craving for sugars.

This in particular, I have found interesting and I feel there is enough research behind it already (thousands of people have been in these studies around the world) so I am willing to test it out on myself. I have started changing my milk from skim to whole, yogurts from low/non fat to full and my cottage cheese from non to full fat (not that my yogurts or cottage cheeses are high in fats even if they are “full fat” products). I will keep you posted on any changes I might experience.

When it comes to food and diets. Stay vigilant and do your research it is worth your while.

Xoxo,

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This Is The Tough Part

Going through the 4th week is usually my tough time. The time, where I simply want to give up. Drop out of the gym and not count every single calorie.

And true enough. It has been a tough week.  I have counted my calories, I have gone to the gym but boy, have I not wanted to. At this point I am just trying to distract myself from giving up. I am constantly trying to tell myself, I will get past these next couple of weeks.

It is a constant battle where I keep trying to rationalize my bad choices but I know they are simply excuses. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I have lots of them but none of them are really okay.

If I eat this ice cream I can just skip dinner. If I eat this chocolate, I could just eat a little less for dinner. I am so tired and my muscles are so soar, I am sure it will be just fine if I skip the gym today. I have been cleaning all day, that should count for something. I can already see my weightloss in the mirror so I can take a break, no?

You get the point. I have a LOT of excuses. They are never ending. Being aware of my rationalizing is simply excuses, I have been good at ignoring the urges to eat what I should not eat or not go to the gym and I have been cognizant of choosing what I need to choose and not what I want to choose.

Need vs want. That is a good call out for weightloss. I NEED to loose weight and I WANT to loose weight (most of the time) but the want is more wavering than the need. Which is how, I know what to choose when I am debating with myself. I, always, have to choose the need and not what I want. If I chose what I want rather than the need, I would sit with a tub of ice cream this very moment.

It is, also, that time of the month where you just want to eat everything in site and you simply feel like crap no matter what. Yes, if you are a woman, you know what I am talking about. My period has come along and cravings become 10 fold around this time.

This is the time, I am asking for your help. Your help to motivate me and check up on my and make sure I have gone to the gym and that I have been calculating my calories. I promise to be honest and open about my experience if you keep at it with me.

At the moment I am cooking my lunch for the week. A great way to stay out of the fridge and not eating food. It helps me stay organized for the week and it makes it easier to count my calories to have my food prepped for the week. It, also, saves time so I have time and energy to go to the gym during the week.

The menu for the week is Mexican inspired wraps with low fat ground meet, low fat refried black beans and coarse tomato salsa. I, also, bought a watermelon as my lunch dessert. I should be all set with a roughly 550 calorie lunch. Once I am done cooking, I am off to the gym. Anyone want to join me?

XoXo

 

 

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Week 11: Cholesterol

Week 11: It has been a while since last. Times at work got crazy so I prioritized my husband and my work outs in my spare time. It seems to have worked out. I am now at 226.4lb (102.5kg) which is a loss of 7 lb (3.2kg) from 3 weeks ago. The week after I got back from my mini vacation was a little tough so I must admit that the 6 of the 7 pounds have come off the past two weeks but hey nothing is perfect.

One of the reasons I started this journey was due to my health. I am not deadly ill but I do have among other things high cholesterol which is one of the main causes of heart diseases. The number 1 cause of death in America. I don’t want to be a statistic and looking at my family’s health I could very easily become one. My parents are not too healthy and I have certainly inherited some of their habits. Habits which I am trying hard to break but that is not what this post is about. I wanted to give some information about cholesterol. I do not think people are aware or want to be faced with what it means to have high cholesterol. And there certainly are many myths about it.

High cholesterol aren’t only seen in overweight/obese people. It can hit anyone especially if they have high amounts of fat intake. Because overweight and obese folks (like myself) would not get to our size without eating a lot of fats in our diet you will see an increasingly high number of overweight and obese people with high cholesterol.

I got myself into this mess by not controlling my binges, which was usually a combination of ice cream, cake, nutella on bread or cookies. So yeah, there you go. ALL sugar at fats. It tasted good though but those days have to be over.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: your body and food. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins. These packages are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside. Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL cholesterol sometimes is called “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. HDL cholesterol sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.

This is a great sum up of Cholesterol from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute but they don’t mention what the fat is. When you get your cholesterol measured by the doctor. They look at 3 numbers. The LDL (which should be less than 130mg), the HDL (which should be above 46 mg) and lastly the triglycerides.  Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglycerides. Triglycerides needs to be less than 150. I believe in Denmark the doctor usually only gives you one number, HDL Ratio which is a combination of 4 numbers. Your total cholesterol, HDL number, LDL number and your triglycerides. If you have slightly high LDL but still high HDL, you might show up with high cholesterol but since your HDL (the cholesterol that takes away fats) is high you are technically not at high risk of heart diseases so I urge you to ask your doctor for the specific numbers so you have an idea of what number you need to work on and how serious it is.

Personally, my numbers are not in my favor. My HDL is low, my LDL is not high but on the edge and I have a very high amount of triglycerides. Which means I have an excess amount of fat in my bloodstream but not enough HDL to take it away which means my LDL is on the rise (which is what can cause plaque in your arteries, and then lead to heart disease). I need to reverse this trend. That means, try and stay away from binging as best as I can and eliminate high fat foods from my kitchen. This of course, also, means that I need to loose weight so my liver understands that it does not need to keep feeding my body cholesterol.

When I learned about how the cholesterol makes vitamin D in your body and how cholesterol comes into your bloodstream, I had an aha moment. I have had a long period of depression, unusually long for me, I knew I had to check my vitamin D levels (Vitamin D is what helps keep us in a good mood, for example when summer comes around and the sun is out it lifts your spirits. You feel lighter and more happy. This is because the sun is feeding you vitamin D). And sure enough, I am almost at the deficiency level of (only 1 point off) vitamin D. So my binges have not been psychological as I always had thought they were but more likely they were physiological. My body was screaming for more vitamin D so I feed it high fats to create more cholesterol so it could create more vitamin D. Needless to say, I have now started on a high dose of vitamin D. Hope this will help on everything. Still have to go to the gym and watch what I eat but perhaps I can get a little more control over my binging. Crossing my fingers that I might be right. I might not have an eating disorder after all. This sorta excites me.

I recommend if you discover that you have high cholesterol. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor ALL the questions you can think off and perhaps they know of a good website to go to for more information. I am happy that my doctor is not the type that pushes for medication but rather more natural remedies (exercise, low fat diet, fish oil and vitamin D was her prescription). If I work hard at my diet and my weight, she will check my numbers again in 3 months and if I can prove that with some Vitamin D, fish oil (helps on cholesterol), exercise and a healthier diet that I can move the needle on my numbers, she is fine with not prescribing any medication. In fact it seems to be her first choice.

If you like me, can’t control your binges. You have worked on your mental health and feel like you have worked through most of your major issues then you might want to check your vitamin D levels. Especially, if you are in a location where there are more seasons. You might not get enough vitamin D from your foods or the sun. I was naive enough to think I did.

Feel free to comment or reach out if you have any questions. I am not an expert but I have gotten a good sense of where to look for helpful information. But always as your doctor if you can.

Want to give some credit from a few websites that I have been frequently visiting:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp#.V6nCGq0-gsA

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186

XOXO

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