Keto for Dummies

Yesterday I kickstarted keto life again. I feel like every time I try to get into it, I’m a little bit better than before. Does anyone have any keto success stories to share, or diet success stories anyway? Reading up on diets in general, diets tend to be bad because most people can’t sustain them. All diets work if you can actually stick to them and make healthy changes along the way. I haven’t found anything better for my lifestyle than keto because I generally eat that way anyway. I only have to make small changes to get back into it; I don’t have to change very much about my diet. I’m actually pretty passionate about keto because I didn’t know I could feel so… healthy, until I got into it. I didn’t know that my body had such a toxic response to certain foods until I stopped eating them. Of course, I gave up keto because it can be difficult and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. But I only have two more weeks of work left, so in an effort to care about myself and have something to focus my energy on, I’m trying again.

If anyone isn’t familiar- keto is a lifestyle (mhmm- it’s a diet) where you give up sugar and severely limit your carbs to induce nutritional ketoacidosis (as opposed to diabetic) so that your body starts burning body fat for energy instead of carbs. Body fat is essentially extra energy stores your body creates when you eat too much; we only need certain amounts of nutrients per day depending on our health and lifestyles, and anything we eat over that gets stored as fat.

So there is a little bit of leg work and decision making when it comes to keto… you have to know how much of each nutrient you need to stay healthy and avoid excess; nutrients being mainly carbs, fat and protein. If you do a google, there are plenty of calculators for this, and once you get a baseline idea you can adjust to your feels.

As for carbs, the less you eat the better. Some die-hards try to keep their carbs to under 5g, whereas I like to stay around 25g. Some people can handle up to 50g without having issues. Carbs are easily digestible and give you very quick energy (and are delicious) which is why we love them. Our bodies become addicted to carbs because we mentally and physically like instant gratification in that way. But because they are easily digestible and give quick energy, we tend to get hungry soon after eating them and also feel sluggish at the same time. Think General Tsos and fried rice…. if you’ve ever stuffed yourself on take out and felt like a whale but an hour later were ready to finish whatever you left behind even though you know you already ate too much, this is because of carbs. And carbs are in a lot of things you wouldn’t expect. Carbs are in sugar, milk, vegetables… everything. Which is why I think people who get down to only 5g are crazy.

Fats and protein work together. If you’ve ever eaten something so rich that you can only take a few bites, that’s because that item is extremely fatty. And protein takes a long time to digest, so it gives your body long-term energy to work with and makes you feel full. Too much fat and protein, like anything else, is converted and stored to body fat, but in the right amounts its magic. Enough fat makes you feel satisfied to the point you don’t want to eat; think rich food. Protein fills you up so that you aren’t hungry an hour later. Plus, protein is good for your metabolism and muscles.

So, using a keto calculator to find the macros you need, the idea is that you give your body enough carbs/fats/protein to get the job done, and anything beyond that your body will pull from its fat stores to supplement which is why people lose inches so quickly. This process is natural, and its a clean source of energy for your body so it makes you feel a lot better when you get into it. It does take some time for your body to adapt to eating this way- it will cry out for carbs at first. Some people get flu like symptoms- me, I get headaches and I get irritated, but this is all a process to basically rehab your body’s sugar addiction. It only lasts a short while, but then the benefits are intense.

When you give up carbs, you feel better. No more bloating, no more fat pants. No more weird sensation of being hungry but also stuffed at the same time. No more craving for bad foods. Instead you get cravings for sensations. Like… I don’t want chips, I want crunchy, so almonds will do. Or, I don’t want ice cream, I want sweet, so strawberries will do. And when you give up sugar, you realize how sweet everything else really is. You’d be shocked how numb your taste buds get to sweet. Strawberries were very bitter to me until I gave up sugar, and then they became as delicious as candy. You also get better rest because your body is as ease. You have less digestive issues and sometimes poop less (yep) because your body becomes a more efficient, less wasteful system. You can think more clearly and have less mood swings because your blood sugar isn’t going up and down like a roller coaster. Until you give up carbs, you don’t know how bad they make you feel.

But giving up carbs isn’t for everyone. My mom, she tried to keto and leaned on me when she saw how great her friends and I were doing, but she had a hard time figuring out some of the technical things like carbs vs net carbs. Net carbs are the carbs you actually ingest- they’re the ones that count. Carbs – dietary fiber – sugar alcohols = actual carbs. Mom had a hard time keeping track in general. She’s less of a controlling what you eat type of person and a do and do not type of person. Do not eat this. Do eat that. She does better on overly expensive diets where your food gets shipped to you and you’re expected to eat this at this time every day. Keto is more free than that. Find out your macros, eat those amounts, and if it fits in your macros, its allowed. Maybe you do great all day and can fit in a scoop of ice cream or the glass of wine you’ve been looking forward to. Great. She’s also a gym rat. She LOVES high intensity work outs where as I’m very lazy. So, without carbs, she finds that she can’t sustain her gym routine. This life isn’t for everyone.

So yesterday, although I was irritated by the end of the day, I was proud that day one on keto I was able to hit all my macros. Its suggested I eat 23 carbs, but I got 26 instead. Close enough. But do I feel good this morning. I went to bed early, around 930, but I laid there and read a book. When I did fall asleep which was soon after I started reading, I didn’t wake up at all through the night. This morning is the first day that I’ve felt rested in a long time.

I need to go to the grocery store to pick up some supplies- I need to swap out my International Delight for some heavy cream. Someone recommended using protein shakes as coffee creamer to give an extra boost and purpose to drinking coffee in the morning which I thought was an excellent idea. I also want to pick up some keto ice cream. It’s funny to me that last year when I was heavy into keto, prior to pandemic furloughs when there was a huge shortage at the grocery stores of pretty much everything I like to eat, there was zero options for low carb but now EVERYTHING has a keto specific option. Even Chipotle has a cauliflower rice option which makes me a little excited. Its way easier today than it was a year or two ago since keto was popularized.

Okay, I’ve rambled enough this morning- now I’ve got to go take my weekly conference call and try to do my job at work. People are coming in to buy my fixtures now and its pretty intense to sell parts of my store. I didn’t realize how I’d feel but yesterday a man bought 2 4-ways and 3 mannequins… which Yolanda my liquidator spells Mannikins and I can’t… but yeah, my whole body ran hot and I started sweating to the point that when it was all said and done I had to step outside. I guess it was anxiety. I’m not even sure what that was. I didn’t feel anything emotionally, but my body clearly was sending me an emergency flag. Today he’s coming back for more. It’s a good thing, but it’s a crazy thing.

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3 weeks ago

You’re right that carbs are in everything…I learned a while back that the only things that don’t have carbs for consumption are other animals…otherwise everything growing out of the ground has some kind of carbs, some kind of natural sugar even if miniscule.

I usually hit Atkins bars for breakfast, and I’ve recently fallen very much in love with the lemon keto bomb snacks that look like Reese’s in shape.  *insert Homer Simpson drooling here*