I think I’m late to the party. Or I’ve just discovered a secret club that I didn’t realize everyone had already joined.
A few coaching friends of mine have been talking about both Keto and Intermittent Fasting and sharing their results. And there’s no denying they are seeing RESULTS. And when I see that, I start to research. I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading websites, downloading meal plans, asking questions…
I’ve decided to give it a go, for one month, and see how I am feeling. Granted, I am heading into the most stressful month of my work year so this will either turn out to be awesome or the worst idea ever. Time will tell!
What is Keto?
I’ve been hearing about a new high fat, low carb (HFLC) way of eating lately, sometimes called Keto, sometimes Paleo, depending on exactly HOW you’re doing it. Paleo hit big a few years ago and it seems like Keto is taking its place as the next big thing. I am still researching the topic, but here is the clearest, simplest definition I have found so far:
A ketogenic diet (keto) is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many potential benefits for weight loss, health and performance, but also some potential initial side effects. A ketogenic diet is similar to other strict low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet or LCHF (low carb, high fat). These diets often end up being ketogenic more or less by accident. The main difference between strict LCHF and keto is that protein is restricted in the latter. A keto diet is designed specifically to result in ketosis. It’s possible to measure and adapt to reach optimal ketone levels for health, weight loss, or for physical and mental performance.
(Credit: Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, M.D., https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto)
Not to get too “sciency,” but here’s an explanation of the concept… Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. A keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state by lowering carbohydrates. When you increase your fat intake and reduce carbs, your body begins to burn ketones as the primary energy source.
It’s all about the macros. “Macros” is an abbreviated term of macronutrients. Your macros are your daily intake of “the big 3” nutrients: fats, protein, and carbohydrates. For the most part, it would appear that a Keto diet is usually based on the principle of 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein, 5-10% carbohydrates. I’ve seen these numbers fluctuate and much like what you will see becoming the running theme throughout this post, it’s up to you as an individual and what works for your body.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The other thing is intermittent fasting. It seems to go hand in hand with a keto diet. This term has also been popping up in my newsfeeds and my podcasts over the last couple of years.
It seems like everyone and every website has a different way of explaining intermittent fasting, but basically it’s about WHEN you eat. It’s about the “fasting” vs “feasting” time. Fasting for longer periods of time encourages your body to go into ketosis and use the fat stores instead of the glucose. Most people choose to fast for 16 hours, so they eat all their food within an 8-hour period. Some shorten that window to 4 or 5 hours, some choose to fast for a full day. It’s kind of all over the map, quite frankly, but it seems that it’s about what’s right for you.
A whole new way of thinking
Basically, this whole thing has been a bit of a headtrip for me. Years ago I followed the South Beach Diet so I get the higher protein low carb concept, but that proved unsustainable and didn’t feel super healthy. But I have lived my LIFE on low fat. Low fat everything – snacks, yogurts, cheeses…I used to love shopping when we were in the US because there were SO many more low fat and “diet” options. Low fat = good, right?
Apparently not. In the 1970’s, there was a population study conducted by Dr. Ancel Keys. In his study, Dr. Keys claimed that his results showed a correlation between the countries whose population ate more saturated fat and those that had higher rates of heart disease. Therefore, he concluded that saturated fat caused heart disease. This was, and is, the only study that was used to justify the low-fat movement of the last thirty years. WHAT?!
It was later found that Dr. Keys manipulated the data to prove his theory. He did this by only showing the data points that supported his case, ignoring the ones that were ‘outliers.’ When ALL of the data was revealed, there was no correlation. But the government ran with this false information and started a nationwide “Low-Fat” campaign.
And breakfast? Most important meal of the day, right? Again, APPARENTLY NOT. Breakfast is exactly what it says it is: a BREAK in your FAST. It can happen at ANY time. The first meal in your day, whenever you have it, is technically breakfast.
So here’s my plan…
I am going to do a one month trial, or as long as I can go. The one consistent thing I’m taking from all my research is that you need to choose a plan that’s right for YOU, and there are no absolute RULES to follow. There are guidelines, principles, scientific concepts, but it’s a matter of tweaking and seeing how it all works for you and your body.
I’m not going “full Keto,” which is why I named this post what I did. I am going to go Keto-ish. I am following a plan that consumes is macro breakdown: 50% fat, 30% protein and 20% carbs. Most of my carbs will be from vegetables, with very little, if any, grain. Maybe once a week I will have rice or potatoes, but I would alter my other carbs accordingly. The BIGGEST change will be reducing my fruit intake, because I LOVE my fruit. But I also know this is likely why I have been struggling to lose weight. I typically have at least two full servings of fruit in my morning shake. That will be the biggest change.
That and the FAT. Like I said, I have lived my life indoctrinated into the “fat is bad, low fat is good” camp. It’s going to take some time to find it normal to consciously consume fats, to cook with butter, or to eat full fat yogurt. I know it’s all natural, healthy fats, but it’s definitely a shift for me.
The other thing I am doing is the intermittent fasting. I am working on an 8-hour window, from 11am to 7pm. I haven’t fully figured out how I will pack everything I need to take to work, or how I will make my shake AT work, find ice for blending, etc…but I will get there.
I made it through Day one yesterday, and it was a holiday so I was able to try a few things and not have to follow my workday routine. I felt good the whole day, never RAVENOUS but feeling moderately hungry before each meal. And I woke up today feeling good.
As I said earlier, time will tell. Today will be the big test, so wish me luck!
I will report back.