How I Lost 30 Pounds in One Month Following a Ketogenic Diet
Effortless Weight Loss on a Low-Carb Diet
I'm an eater. Like really. I don't know about you, but I like to eat food. There are four kinds of food I don't like: raw onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and sea urchin. Other than that? I will get down to the point of making myself sick if it's a food I genuinely like. Unfortunately, I also really like clothes, and occasionally if my cute stuff doesn't fit so well, I have to do something to get it under control.
I've struggled with keeping my weight stable as I've gotten older, which is why I'm so excited to share my amazing, attainable, easy, and deeply satisfying diet plan with you. This is a diet plan that helped me lose thirty pounds and counting! For this diet plan, I followed a low-carb, high-fat protocol. The best part about the diet was that I ate very filling meals and I never once felt like I was depriving myself of anything.
A Great Video for Beginners!
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
I had to give you a little introduction there because I didn't want to scare you off, so here we go. I've tried to keep the hard science stuff to a minimum, so here is a quick overview of the ketogenic diet, also known simply as the keto diet or just keto.
It's pretty much low-carb. But there's more.
The term "ketogenic" comes from the term ketosis, which is when your body burns fat as its primary fuel source, producing ketone bodies. The diet is so low in carbs that it forces your body into this state of fat burning.
The idea is that by keeping carbs low and keeping fat high (along with plenty of protein), you will feel full for longer and thus you will not have to eat as much. This will decrease your insulin levels and force your body to start using stored fat as fuel. Since all of us are looking to lose those pounds in the form of body fat, a ketogenic diet is a great way to go about it!
Before you close this page because you think you're incapable of living without bread or pasta, let me let you in on a little secret: you are not incapable of living without bread or pasta, and in this day and age you don't have to!
2018 is a fabulous year to live and be almost carb-free. There are low-carb breads, pastas, tortillas, and cookies. I mean, imagine doing this back in the '90s when Atkins was in its prime? No comparison! The best part? You can pretty much eat all day, not work out, and still drop a ton of weight. Hold on a second there sparky; there's a catch. While many of these foods are technically ok to have on the diet, I would recommend trying to stick to whole foods like meat and low-carb vegetables as those tend to be the most filling. If you want to add in low-carb versions of your favorite snacks do so slowly and after you are already dropping some weight.
For a more in-depth look at high-fat diets, insulin resistance, obesity, and other advanced science stuff check out the video below. Dr. Naiman is really good at explaining complex systems in the body, way better than I am.
The short version is that you want to put your body in a state where it is consuming stored body fat, and a ketogenic diet that is focused primarily on whole foods is a great way to do that.
We can have endless debates about carbs, and it seems like every week there is a shift back to hating carbs or loving carbs. Carbs are not all that bad, but many of the processed foods that we love contain a combination of carbs and fat which wreck havoc on our bodies (and taste delicious). I love eating those foods, and while it is hard to give them up, it is also worth it in the long run. Carbs are the least satiating of the three macronutrients, so they are very easy to overeat. If you're someone that can control themselves, you won't have to cut carbs all that much, but for someone like me, I had to be more diligent.
Diet vs Exercise
While exercise is important, your diet plays the biggest role in determining your weight. Unless you work out like a professional athlete every day, a well-formulated diet will beat out exercise for weight loss every time.
Five Steps to Follow on a Ketogenic Diet
Here are five critical steps to follow if you want to go on a keto diet and have success losing weight.
- Get into ketosis
- Know what you're eating
- Eat the right foods
- Stay in ketosis
1. Get Committed!
I have had so many friends in the past year see my amazing results, and commit themselves to keto. "I'm starting Monday!" They say. They text me pictures of their meals, they ask for my substitutions and yet, time and time again they fail.
They fail mainly because they haven't taken the time to educate themselves on how this diet actually works. People think that if they eat two out of their three meals a day low-carb, and they're golden. Or if they do low-carb for a week and have a cheat day, they're ok. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. For this diet to work and for you to see actual results, you are going to have to commit to it long term and try to minimize cheating as much as possible. It will take some time to adapt in the first few weeks and progress may be slow, but you have to stay in it for a while.
2. Get Into Ketosis
The only real purchase this lifestyle change will have (other than food) is your keto monitor. Some classy people opt for blood monitors which are super accurate, but I go for the cheaper ketone urine strips. From what I gather (and what works for me), as long as it is some shade of purple, you're in ketosis. But if you're the kind of person that folds their underwear, by all means, pick up the machine. Keep in mind that if you do end up getting a monitor your going to be pricking yourself quite a bit as the monitor requires fresh blood to determine the levels of ketone bodies in your bloodstream.
How Long Does It Take to Get Into Ketosis?
Getting into ketosis can take anywhere from 4-10 days. Basically, you're going to consume under 25 net grams of carbohydrates, and when your mouth starts tasting like you're eating pennies, you're good to go. Once in ketosis, your body is now a fat-burning machine, causing your weight loss. Stay around that 25 mark, if you feel like you can go lower then go lower, and your body will continue to consume its fat causing you to drop weight. I managed to lose 30 pounds in the first month! Obviously, if you're a smaller person, this number will be smaller, and after the first month the weight loss will slow down. After your first month, you can expect to be losing 1-2 pounds a week on average, and you can be doing this while eating a package of bacon a day! No, really. I sometimes eat a package of bacon a day.
Now that you understand what ketosis is you understand why this diet will not work if you cheat. You're just cheating yourself, and if you eat too many carbs, you will get kicked out of ketosis and have to start over again, which will set you back another week or so. Just suck it up, and either do it or don't. If you eat the right foods, you will never feel like you are depriving yourself of anything and it will make the process easier.
The Keto Flu
Some people experience flu-like symptoms when switching over to ketosis. This is termed the "keto flu," and the best way to avoid this is to keep your electrolyte levels up. Drink broth or a carb-free electrolyte drink to help with the symptoms.
3. Know What You're Eating
Before I researched this diet, I used to try low-carb here and there. Holy crap, I now know why it never worked before; I had no idea what a net carb is! In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't understand what carbohydrates were in general, but that's besides the point. Finding your net carb is pretty simple, it's just math.
Look at the label. Take the carbohydrates (which includes sugar), minus the fiber, and minus the sugar alcohols. It sounds complicated, but it will become second nature. This article from UCSF gives a more detailed overview of the whole process, and it is worth checking out. Understanding this counting method comes in handy because foods like avocados might seem like they have high carbohydrates, but they also are high in fiber. So an avocado might have 12 grams of carbs, but it has 10 grams of fiber. 12-10 = 2. You can have like 10 in a day! Woohoo for guacamole! Stick with this, and you'll be in ketosis before you know it.
Sugar alcohols and fiber cancel out carbs. Why? Because of science, duh. But really, it is because they have a negligible impact on insulin and blood sugar levels.
Some people do have a weird response to sugar alcohols so keep that in mind. Also, many nutritionists count sugar alcohols in total carbs, cutting the number in half. So if you have 6 grams of sugar alcohols, then 3 grams would count against your net carbs. If you are feeling fine having them and they don't stall your weight loss then go ahead and enjoy them! I would try to be careful when eating them though, have them at the end of your meal so you will not be tempted to overeat.
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4. Eat, Eat, Eat!
Eat until you are full! I cannot stress this enough. If you are hungry then eat something until you're not hungry anymore.
As far as the carbs go, I try to stay under 25-30 carbs a day, but I am not a big fan of counting, so here's my secret: I don't. Occasionally if I've been drinking a few low-carb beers (yes, you can drink sometimes) I may go and double check that I didn't eat anything crazy, but with my diet change I stick to foods I consider ketosis-safe, and as long as I eat those I'm fine. Why? When your body is in ketosis, you don't have as much of an appetite, and you're probably not going to get the urge to munch just because you're bored. In essence, these are the foods I can eat as much as I want of in an average day:
- Meat & seafood (regular old meat, pretty much any kind. If it was alive you can eat it.) Keep in mind that most seasonings are ok, but watch out for sauces that can have sugar! Do not be afraid of meat due to the protein, you will be fine. The idea that too much protein causes kidney damage has been proven to be false.
- Cheese (all the cheese. mmm.)
- Leafy veggies
- Butter/coconut oil (for cooking)
- Pork rinds
- Almond milk (watch out for added sugar)
- Most seasonings
- Whipped cream (so long as there is no added sugar)
- Most condiments: ranch, mayo, mustard, most hot sauces. Look at the labels to make sure. BBQ sauce and ketchup are big no no's as they are high in sugar.
- Hard alcohol with zero carb mixers or just straight with nothing else. This is not recommended until you are actually in ketosis.
The above is a list of foods you can gorge yourself on. However, that's not all you can eat! As long as you check the label, you can have at least one serving of the following items a day. Once you familiarize yourself with the net carbs of each of these, you will more than likely not have to count carbs at all! You will know (like me) to limit your intake! Again, you have to be very careful with some of these as they can trigger cravings and binge eating. I would add in some of these once you're fully in ketosis and are consistently dropping weight.
- Low-carb ice cream (think Halo Top)
- Atkins frozen meals and treats (some people are sensitive to the artificial sweeteners in these, so if you have an iffy stomach don't go crazy here!)
- Most fruit
- Low-carb tortillas
- Nuts and nut butter (almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, almond butter)
- Protein drinks (like muscle milk)
- Most veggies (spaghetti squash and cauliflower are amazing substitutions, but check out the nutrition content! They still have carbs, so don't go insane on them.)
- Most all natural dark chocolate bars (find your net carbs, and don't eat the whole thing!)
- Low-carb beers like Michelob Ultra and dry wines
Obviously, this is not everything. However, this is a pretty good rundown of what my food intake is, my guidelines if you will.
5. Stay in Ketosis and Watch the Pounds Disappear
Many people have written about the ketogenic diet so there are plenty of resources out there that can provide you more detail than what I have written. Remember, no one is perfect and it's completely normal to get kicked out of ketosis occasionally by accident! For example, one time a stupid bartender decided to pour me Jack & Cokes all night instead of Jack & Diets. Ever look like a crazy person yelling at someone about ketosis in a bar? Me neither. If you screw up, just start again, no big deal. Just try to stay as consistent as possible and make sure you are eating ample amounts of the right foods. Sticking with this way of eating will increase your overall life quality, from your energy to your relationship with food. It can be difficult at times to give up the super tasty food that you are used to eating, but the benefits and results from this way of eating is totally worth it.
Switching over from being fueled by carbs to fat will result in a rapid loss of water weight, so don't be surprised if you drop a significant amount of weight in the first few weeks. Losing the water weight will make you look leaner, just keep in mind that the weight loss won't be as rapid after that.
Keto Diet Recipes
The great thing about eating a keto diet is that you can't really go and eat out, you have to prepare your own meals, which means that you get to make some delicious recipes! There are many great resources online to find great recipes, but my recommendation is Diet Doctor. Dr. Eenfeldt has compiled over 500 low-carb recipes, and many of them are very easy to make as well! Anyone who says that eating keto is boring and bland has clearly never taken a look at this site.
I hope you've found my story inspiring; I can't tell you enough how much this diet change has positively impacted my life. Hopefully, you can have a similar experience. Just stay consistent and count your carbs and you will be looking thin and trim in no time. Good luck, and don't give up!