Ask a lot of people out there, “What diet do you think is good to go with?” 8 out of 10 times you will hear “Keto – it is great, AND the food is yum!”, or “high fat, low carbs – you know ‘that one’ where you get to eat the fat on the steak?”…

But is keto a DIET or a PROCESS? In my books, it is only a process, in the billion dollar diet industry it IS A DIET! With so many variables to this regulated ‘diet’, even I learn about a new version nearly every day. Creativity wins in the diet industry no doubt. We just need to look at Google search on diet options to see that.

Is Keto a diet or a process?
Is Keto a diet or a process? PROCESS FOR SURE!

Now, some may think, this is the ‘current’ fad diet, but not so, this has been around for a very long time, with SUGAR getting the bad-guy status (@billieeilish you do not have sole rights to that title, sugar had it first) , people needed something to make their food taste better. In walks Mr FAT, dressed neatly in only grass fed attire, food never tasted as good and even better the minute it got labelled as a ‘diet’. It is a PROCESS, all sciency types, stand with me on this one please.

My experience with plenty of eager dieters, who have come to sit on my couch before after and during a regulated keto diet plan, has had its impact on my opinion. I am personally not a scientist, dietician, nutritionist or doctor and am happy not to claim the title, I am however someone who packs a punch in experience when coaching people into wellness. Before I share THEIR experience, I would like to add, I have found in my time dealing with diets that humans are incredibly good at relying on EXTERNAL SUPPORT/GRATIFICATION/FIXER UPPERS, they WANT/NEED something OR somebody else to be the magic pill and oh boy, on queue, (do advertisers know that!!!?) in walks the ‘Ketogenic Diet’, aka, the magic fix that tastes FANTASTIC. Back to the dieters on my couch… I have heard amazing success stories, horror stories, and outright lies. In their self-defense, it was for them; self-defense?!

For those who have no clue what regulated keto diets actually entail, I will give the commercially accepted WEIGHT LOSS DRIVEN understanding: It is a VERY low-carb, with a high-fat diet, similar to Atkins and other low-carb diets but just yummier. You basically replace MOST OF YOUR carbs with fats – good fats if you read the fine print (even though most keto goers know this… sadly, a little bad fat always finds its way in, oh and did I mention the sugar leak and the HAVOC that causes on ketosis?). By replacing carbs you put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis where it ‘burns’ fats for fuel/energy. Mmmmm, who was that scientist that said you can transform one energy to another but it does not ‘GO AWAY’… the law of conservation of energy where “energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another”.

So the whole keto idea revolves around the fact that; your body does need energy to ‘do’, to exist. If you do not supply that energy in the form of for example a delicious chocolate cake, a nutritious homemade meal, or an energy drink [sic], IT WILL BE OK, as there is plenty of energy in the form of fat sitting on your rump or muffin top available, to be converted into usable energy – fat be gone. That simple? If only…

Time to burn some fat for energy! The magic fix is here!
Time to burn some fat for energy! The magic fix is here!

Back to my dieters on the couch. One lady specifically I remember. She and hubby, 8 months before seeing me, had decided to go strictly ketogenic. Now both were not actually overweight (in today’s accepted terms, I would like to add), and both were reasonably healthy. She came through the keto self-experiment fairly bruised and battered. At age 38 her hormones had turned upside down 6 months in and no matter how much or how little she ate, post keto, her weight did not budge. I mention this little bit of information purely to once again EMPHASIS that your diet IS PERSONAL, like your fingerprint. NO ONE PERSON IS THE SAME how on earth can we work on averages, which it seems is what is being touted within the variances of keto?

My next question is this, when you are taking on ANY DIET, which with it comes limitations, rules and regulations, bland food, some exercise, lots of water, sometimes supplements and my pet hate, black coffee (and please, I LOVE the IDEA of keto as much as any other individual but my Ma taught me, anything that seems too good, generally is so), COULD there be a possible pitfall in the fine print of the regulated keto diet? Besides the fact that my gallbladder was removed at age 18 – which makes eating 80% fat a challenge for my body, I look at the regulated keto diet as I look at ANY diet, and ask; CAN I DO IT FOREVER?

CAN I DO IT FOREVER?

There is a diet, and there is a regulated diet. Big difference. The regulated diet means you need to be on top of the rules and regulations for the diet you are embracing. Keto diet regulated; high fat, low carb and a bit of protein, basically; an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein. Today I heard my friend was told to do 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carb – another version of a keto diet. Now interesting here, relative to WHO is on this diet, your carb intake, to get you INTO ketosis can be a massive variable, from 20grams a day to 100… that is a HUGE difference in my world. And herein lies the sweet point, most ‘get-on-the-keto-diet-wagon’ don’t realize this huge variation, they go to the averages, YOU ARE NOT AVERAGE! That is like serving a coffee, black no sugar, to all my guests because that is my average coffee drinkers preference??!

So, if you are hardcore keto, I know you are GETTING IT RIGHT! But the average [sic] peep out there, (I hope your hair rose in that statement) will not look for or get the sciency bit about this diet – not for any other reason but the feeling of ‘close is good enough’. For those who don’t know, yup the averagers… this regulated diet is ALL SCIENCE. In fact, the reason I was attracted to it was exactly that, the science. But the science makes you very aware that this diet sits on a knife-edge when it comes to getting it right. The carb intake alone, if ‘slightly’ overdone, and I do mean slightly, allows you to skid right out of a ketogenic state of fat burning straight into a glucose burning state and the result is, you stay fat… and frustrated.

Will I be toeing the line between eating fat and getting fat to eating fat and burning fat too often? And will I be able to keep up with eating 80% clean good quality perfect fat for the rest of my life? And am I really able to ‘be regulated’ by a diet which is, in fact, a process?

You see, the reason why the diet industry IS a billion-dollar industry is based on the fact that we BUY INTO ‘regulated’ diets that we have ZERO CHANCE of adapting and living within forever and in that way, we are ON DIET or OFF DIET forever!!!

On a ‘regulated’ diet, GET THIN.

Off a ‘regulated’ diet, GET FAT.

And so we go on, we seem UNABLE to eat according to a non regulated diet without getting FAT simultaneously? What happened to us, we cannot eat based on instinct any more? ( Though I do not think it is our fault entirely, anyone ever looked at where your chicken comes from or the added sugar we get WITHOUT asking for it?)

LET US SPEAK ABOUT THE GOOD – THERE IS PLENTY

I love this regulated diet to such an extent that I do believe a large portion of our population could eat this as a non-regulated diet with ease – so rather a lifestyle approach. I do also believe that the extreme 80% fat go-into-ketosis approach is not the only way IN. There is a well balanced intermittent fasting approach which people like myself can use to get into ketosis without fat loading.

For sportspeople, this keto process, in my opinion, is THE BEST option to maximize performance. I dealt with a gent who went on a regulated ketogenic diet and over 6 weeks got keto-adapted and I watched as his body burnt fat beautifully for fuel. This diet allows energy levels to explode, the reason being that your body LOVES using ketones for energy!! Once you are keto-adapted, there is a far greater drive to be active – win-win for sure.

Coming back to the Law of the Conservation of Energy, and how amazing the keto process is for sportspeople, (note that the ‘average’ [sic there it is, again] person, most likely is not training for Iron man BUT most likely IS trying to get to at least 150min of exercise a week,) THE KETO PROCESS works beautifully if you are a sports buff. You become keto-adapted and literally turn into a machine. Can you imagine, carbo-loading be gone… and… your endurance and recuperation is on a different level. If you are driven to improve your performance and endurance, or would just like to increase your understanding of keto, please read the amazing book by Stephen Phinney, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity LLC. Why this book, Stephen Phinney explains why keto-adaption is key especially as a sportsperson, on the regulated keto diet: 70 – 110 grams of fat may be burned per hour, 50% greater fat usage versus the average [sic] diet which uses 20 to 60grams of fat!

HEALTH ASPECT OF THE KETO PROCESS

Besides burning fat which is a REAL ADVANTAGE if you on the overweight or obese category in life, the keto process is used to treat medical conditions such as epilepsy. Now, this is an interesting one, the emotions attached with epilepsy can prevent any caring mother to listen patiently when someone (that would be me) tries to explain how ‘food’ will solve her child’s epilepsy… We have such faith and belief in our doctors that we are blindsided by the simplest of answers. We, mere mortals, could not possibly solve it purely through the use of food? The science in the bag on this one, ‘keto diets’ are used to treat people with epilepsy, not to say that their epilepsy always disappears, but it does improve quite drastically. What a ketogenic state does: it alters genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain, which then helps stabilize neurons resulting in less epileptic seizures.

Your brain runs on KETONES or GLUCOSE not fat, in fact, its favorite fuel is ketones, it is pure and it is wholesome. Brain clarity is a great advantage of the Keto process. When your body burns ketones for fuel, it produces less oxidative stress vs carbs burning for fuel. Yes, you may get younger too! And not only that, in certain situations, it has been reported to reduce your body inflammation. However, I may add, I have read reports that are contrary to this last statement.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS

I found my clients going into ketosis, realized it was so firstly by physically tasting it on their breath, it can also be tested with test strips with urine. Other realizations as they were going into a ketogenic state were moodiness (that sugary wench needs to come out!) tiredness day 3 to 4 and sinus. This is the first point of going into ketosis, it is NOT YET keto-adapted. That takes at least 3 to 4 weeks of perfection, for some it takes months. Just for clarity purposes, my clients managed to go into ketosis on a regulated VLCD which split was 40% Protein, 40% Carb and 20% Fats but that said, ketosis is ketosis. Many think ketosis is 80% fat, 70, or 60%. There are variations. Ketosis or ketogenic state is what happens in your body, and there are various ways of getting INTO ketosis.

To be able to help you get into ketosis, chose the method you would prefer to use based on the fat content and calorie load, then get a good food tracking app, like MyFitnessPal. This allows you to log just about everything (except your children’s school extra murals) to enable the tweaking of your macronutrients to achieve desired results faster.

WHAT SITS IN THE FINE PRINT?

Besides the halitosis, what else should I be aware of? Firstly, you may not lose weight at all… despite loving your food and enjoying every meal and the fact that you are really trying… but still, no weight moves. The reasons are as follows; you could not be in ketosis due to too many carbs, too much protein, not ENOUGH calories (this is not starvation, in fact, it is extremely filling). You could be allergic or intolerant to some of the primary ingredients such as nuts, eggs, shellfish which all cause inflammation and then weight gain. You could also be leptin resistant (oh dear…). Leptin resistance is caused by stress (who doesn’t have that problem??) lack of sleep (ditto) and yo-yo dieting (50% of people on this planet).

Then there is the possibility of nutrient deficiency, people get so wrapped up in the yummy fats they forget about the fruits and vegetables we need to ensure we don’t run out of micronutrients…

Liver and kidney problems, if you already have a delicate liver and/or kidney, possibly well used, this diet may exasperate the problem ever so slightly.

Mood swings… this happens regardless of being on a ‘keto diet’. Sorry.

And last but by no means least, constipation due to lack of fiber for some people who do not eat enough of the vegetables. Personally, I never came across this one especially in people who ate large amounts of good fats.

WHAT FOOD TO EAT ON THE REGULATED KETO DIET?

Warning: the quality of fats you put into your body is extremely important. Junk fats are not deemed as good quality fats in your body. So too, Do talk to an advisor of choice, be it a doctor or registered dietitian before attempting a REGULATED ketogenic diet or ANY regulated diet.

LOW CARB VEG:
Arugula, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, fennel, cabbage, celery, Brussels sprouts, kale.
Starchy veggies such as carrots, yams, beets, turnips, sweet and regular potatoes should be avoided.

LOW SUGAR FRUITS:
Tomatoes, avocado, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, coconut, lemon, and limes.
Off-limits are apples, pears, bananas, pineapples, papayas, grapes, and fruit juices in general (after all, fruit juice is equal to a fizzy drink, it just comes without the bubbles!!!).

SEAFOOD:
Wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, crab, tuna, mussels, cod.

MEAT POULTRY EGGS:
Chicken, turkey, beef, venison, pork, lamb, eggs.

NUTS AND SEEDS:
Macadamia nuts, flaxseed, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds.

DAIRY
Cheese, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter.

OILS
Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nut oils, coconut butter, MCT oil.

CONDIMENTS:
Olive oil mayonnaise, mustard, unsweetened ketchup (maybe just eat a tomato?), oil-based salad dressings.

EXTRA:
Coffee, tea, dark chocolate.

IS IT REALLY ‘THE’ DIET?

Well, unless they (whoever they are these days) now decide, we as a population should get healthy by adding another classification of KETOVORE to our eating groups of omnivore, carnivore, an herbivore, I really don’t think so. Firstly, the REGULATED keto diet is NOT ONLY an 80% fat loaded diet (which can happen instantaneously apparently if you add some glup to this diet – someone would have figured out an additive to super-boost going into ketosis by now for sure…) You can go into ketosis without A HIGH fat diet. Secondly, it is not a diet, it is a state in which your body burns ketones for ENERGY, A PROCESS, a by-product is weight loss if you get it right, and yes many do.

‘THE’ diet, should rather be based on YOU. What you eat, how you live, YOUR health condition, YOUR emotional condition, your STRESS condition… all your CONDITIONS equate to you NOT BEING AVERAGE. Chew on that BEFORE you take on the keto PROCESS, as good as it is, YOU ARE BETTER.

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