Since the start of my ketogenic lifestyle journey on Dec 7th, 2019, I’ve lost 9 lbs and 2 1/2 inches off my waist. Though brain and metabolic health is my primary goal, this is a welcome byproduct and actually an expected result on a ketogenic diet.
I’m consistently in nutritional ketosis confirmed by daily prickings/blood readings. This was not easy at first as I don’t like needles or eliciting pain on myself. With that said, the lancet is tiny and relatively painless and has become so easy now that I take multiple readings daily to monitor how my food is affecting my body.
The fact that I’m preferentially burning more fat for fuel and less glucose is good for brain health, decreasing inflammation and improving energy levels. I feel strong, alert and am not experiencing the dips in energy I used to feel during the day from erratic blood sugar levels. I don’t feel deprived or hungry at all. My sleep has improved dramatically which helps my body to heal and my brain to detoxify and regenerate.
An unexpected bonus, I just got back from the dentist and my hygienist was amazed at the improved status of my gums. She asked what I was doing differently and when I told her, she said the gum improvement was a direct result of the anti-inflammatory effects from the Keto diet.
Nuggets to Share with You
Intermittent fasting is something that helps boost your metabolism, healing, and weight loss. We need to make sure we don’t eat for 3 hrs prior to going to bed. Our goal in the study is 12-16 hours of fasting each day. That may sound draconian at first but it’s really not that bad. If you have your last meal at 7 pm, you can eat 12 hrs later at 7 am the following morning. It also helps with sleep as your overactive digestive system won’t wake you up.
Sleep Install f.lux (a free app) on your computer so that the blue lights will dim as the sun goes down. This helps your natural melatonin to do its job. I started wearing a light-blocking eye mask ($10 for three on Amazon) at night to help with sleep and it’s helping tremendously. I had to get beyond the fact that they look like training bras for the eyes but the comfort and effectiveness won out! I’m going to try earplugs next.
Sauna is great for sweating out toxins. I’ve discovered through my lab work, that I have a high toxic load and because I don’t naturally sweat, even when I exercise at normal ambient temperatures. Because of that, I don’t detoxify well. I’ve now added with my doctor’s recommendation, 4 days of hot sweaty yoga and 1-2 days of dry sauna to accelerate the removal of my toxin burden.
I found the following quite interesting and pertinent to my goals. A 2016 study done in Finland found that among those who used a sauna 4-7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66 percent lower and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 65 percent lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week.
You can read more about the study Here
Online Brain Training is one of my daily requirements as a study participant. The program we are using, BrainHQ.com is the most scientifically validated program on the market. This is way beyond crossword puzzles in sophistication and the exercises get harder as you become more successful so it’s continually challenging your brain. Check it out! You can do it on your phone, iPad or laptop.
Favorite Keto Foods
Thankfully I love avocados and eat them daily with olive oil as they are a keto superfood. Packed with healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, you can eat them on their own or put them in salads, smoothies or enjoy some guacamole.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap but they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet – especially the yolk! I’ve been advised to only purchase ” Pasture Raised” eggs as they are the safest and healthiest.
My two new favorite snacks are macadamia nuts and raw cauliflower florets dipped in Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter, a delicious blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.
In January we had a gathering of the clinical study participants with our doctor, nutrition coach and fitness coach. This allowed the participants to meet each other and share insights and challenges. The highlight of the meeting was a call in from Dr. Dale Bredesen, the creator of the protocol that we’re using. He was inspiring, answered all our questions with wisdom and humor and let us know through our participation in this study, that we were becoming a part of history.
Keto 101 Basics
If you’re interested in trying a ketogenic diet here are some of the main points. You can also find plenty of info and recipes on the web.
Under normal circumstances, the cells of our body rely on glucose as their primary energy source. Glucose comes from dietary sources and from the breakdown of glycogen in the skeletal muscle and liver. When glucose is in short supply, the cells tap into fats as an alternative source of fuel. The breakdown of fats leads to the production of ketone bodies and a metabolic state called ketosis. The benefits of being in ketosis are listed at the end of this post.
Keto diet principles:
- Fat: 60-75% of daily calories of daily calories
- Protein: 20-35% of daily calories
- Carbs: roughly 5% of daily calories
Most people are in chronic sugar burning mode due to a diet high in carbs for many years. That’s why it can take days to weeks on a low-carb, high-fat keto diet to get keto-adapted as the body learns to preferentially use fat/ketones for fuel.
What to Eat
Your diet should be a majority of healthy fats, polyunsaturated fats, and some saturated fats such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil, and ghee. This increases ketone bodies making the body crave fat instead of sugar.
Veggies preferred are non-starchy above-ground low carb veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbages, and leafy greens. I’ve substituted spaghetti with zucchini noodles using my spiralizer and honestly don’t miss the pasta!
Onions, garlic, cilantro, and basil are all great additions.
Fruits: best are organic berries such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. strawberries, as well as lemons and grapefruit. Other fruit like bananas and oranges and tropical fruits like pineapples and mangoes are higher in carbs and should be avoided or minimized.
Alcohol is not recommended on this clinical study diet although red wine (1x /wk is permitted later in the study protocol) Woo hoo!
We’re instructed to stay within 50 net carbs per day. To calculate your Net carbs, look at the label for Total Carbs and subtract Fiber and that = Net carbs.
For example: 1 serving of my Mixed Nut Butter is 7g carbs minus 3g of fiber so it’s 4grams total Net Carbs.
Are you afraid that eating fat will make you fat?
That has been proven scientifically as incorrect. One of the major causes of fat accumulation is inflammation. Being in ketosis reduces inflammation and helps you lose extra fat weight as I’m experiencing first hand.
What to Buy
We’ve been advised to buy organic as much as possible with grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs to minimize toxic exposure of antibiotics and GMO’s. Grassfed animal products have the proper ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 to support optimal brain health, fat burning and keep inflammation levels down. You’d be surprised how much affordable organic food you can find in Costco and Trader Joes.
Measuring Ketone Levels
There are several ways to measure your level of ketosis such as urine strips, breath monitors, and blood meters. The blood ketone reader (I use Keto Mojo) is the gold standard, most precise and is what we’re using in the study. Here’s a link to the Keto Mojo kit on Amazon. Although nutritional ketosis is defined as above 0.5 ml/mm, in the clinical study we’re shooting for a ketone level of 1.0 or above ml/mm as that level has been shown to better improve brain function and cognition. Though it took me a while, I’m now pretty consistently at or above 1.0
Benefits of Ketosis as quoted by Dr. Jockers from DrJockers.com
- Reduced inflammation
- Enhanced mitochondrial health
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Increased mental clarity
- Abundant energy levels
- Reduced cravings
- Accelerated fat burning and Weight Loss
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Reduced risk of chronic desease
- Improved mood and emotional balance
- Healthier Skin
- Anti-aging effects
Comment or post your questions below (rather than emailing me) to consolidate things and I’ll answer them as best I can and will try to include them in my next installment!