If you pay any attention to health and diet circles you have likely heard of the Ketogenic diet by now. Keto is a high fat, high protein, low carb diet designed to switch you metabolism to work in a state of ketosis burning fats instead of sugars for fuel.
My metabolism has slowed down in recent years and with it, my energy levels have decreased. I am a very busy person and just don’t have time for low energy, so I’d been looking for ways to address this when I heard about the Ketogenic diet. I had been hearing about it for over a year but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I really started to pay attention.
Three things about the diet appealed to me:
- You can eat cheese and I love cheese.
- A friend who was a SEAL told me his triglycerides and cholesterol are better now than when he was in training or ever before in his life. He went from over 400 to under 200 in a year.
- The diet was rumored to eliminate brain fog and increase energy levels.
Mental and Creativy Clarity with Keto
The best aspect of a ketogenic diet for me has been increased mental and creative clarity. I used to take a quick afternoon nap every day after work to recharge before making dinner and getting to household chores and helping kids with homework. After a week on Keto, I found myself wandering around my house feeling out of place thinking, “what should I do now?” My routine had been disrupted and I still hadn’t put together what was different. I felt like I was forgetting something. What was I supposed to be doing? Turns out, that was my regular nap time but I wasn’t tired. I was full of energy, looking for something to do. I’d cleaned and made a grocery list and still had energy and time to spare. My need for naps was gone!
I started using my newfound time to read. I planted myself in my favorite chair and read for 45 minutes to an hour. Reading more, made me think more and thinking more made my mind fire off new ideas and connections more than usual. I was coming up with story lines, beautiful sentences, clever plot twists and I had the energy to write them down and get things done.
Since starting the Ketogenic diet I finished writing the first draft of my dating book, Love is Blind, Keep Your Dating Sharp, a task that has eluded me for two years. I’m now working on my third draft and hope this is the final one before I submit it for publication.
Starting the Diet
To learn about the diet, I watched the movie The Magic Pill on Netflix and I bought The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners. I also asked my friends who were already eating Keto about some of their hacks and favorite recipes to help me get started. This diet wasn’t as hard as other diets I’ve tried because my family gets 90% of our meals at home and I have always cooked from scratch. I didn’t have the challenge of removing processed, prepared, packaged foods because they weren’t a part of our diet to begin with, but there were other challenges. The first week, I suffered from Keto Flu, which is just a feeling of sluggishness, possible headaches and constipation from changing your diet to using fuel differently. My body needed some time to adjust, and it also needed a little help to get it moving in the right direction.
I’ve outlined my solutions or “hacks” that made these obstacles easy to overcome.
I wouldn’t have been able to transition to a Ketogenic diet or reach a state of ketosis without the following items. I recommend highly that you consider using these if you try out Keto.
- Carb Manager App. My first day on Keto was a loss because I got hungry and reached for a favorite snack without realizing that it was very high in carbs. What did I eat? An apple. My goal was less than 20 carbs a day. An apple has 19 carbs. In one quick snack I’d eaten almost my full allowance of carbs for the day. The carb manager app lets me look up the number of carbs and log them to make sure my ratio of fat/protein/carbs is on target. It’s a free app and has been incredibly helpful.
- Keto Coffee: It sounds gross, it even looks gross if you don’t blend it, but it tastes pretty good and it gives you enough energy to skip breakfast so you are only eating two meals a day. I’ve come to really love Keto Coffee which is coffee blended with a pat of butter and a Tablespoon of heavy cream or MTC oil. You can also add a teaspoon of Stevia or Truvia sugar (I do). The key to making this delicious is blending it into a froth. I used a bullet blender and then a regular blender but these were not ideal for blending hot beverages and created a few explosions before I purchased a wand blender. This kind is the best! I also bought this small milk frother for travel and camping. It won’t get the coffee as frothy but it does the trick in a pinch.
- Fat Bombs: It can be hard to actually eat enough fat without over eating protein or carbs. Making and eating fat bombs has been critical for me to reach a high enough fat level without eating too many calories or ruining the balance of other foods. Fat bombs are single serving snacks that are high in fat. They are delicious and definitely reduce hunger. I’ve only made three kinds of fat bombs. So far these three are perfect for combating cravings, increasing fat and helping me reach my goals.
- Electrolytes: In the first week when I was feeling like I had the Keto Flu, I felt run down and a little nauseous. Then I got a headache. I called my cousin who was also doing the keto diet and she said I probably needed electrolytes. Gatorade is too high in sugar and carbs but she told me about sugar free Powerade. I went right to the grocery store, bought a bottle and downed it. By morning my symptoms were gone and I was feeling great. Ketosis makes my mouth feel dry and makes me feel thirsty, so I’m always drinking water, but sometimes water isn’t enough and for those times, I always have some sugar free Powerade on hand.
- Kimchi: One side effect of eating a lot of protein and fat is that it goes through your system slower. This helps you burn energy slower so you don’t get the intense cravings or feel hungry like you would on a high carb diet but it also can slow down your digestion and make you constipated. Drinking a lot of water is important but sometimes you need an extra push. Eating kimchi has worked to get me back on track.
I haven’t lost weight on Keto, but the energy level and creative intensity I’ve felt since changing my diet have been more than enough incentive for me to keep up with this diet. I’ve been able to manage it at home, on vacation and even on a camping trip which is a testament to how easy it is to stay consistent with. I’m not a doctor and I don’t have any health problems, so I can’t comment on any overall health benefits or the safety of the diet, but if you are already looking into it or on it and want some easy shortcuts to make it simple succeed, I hope my list helps you!