A Ketogenic Weight Loss Kick-Start
I put on a few pounds while taking grad school courses and working full-time in a hospital (and blogging, and engaged in activities around my business). I was putting in way too many hours in front of a computer, and I became really fatigued. Now, I’ve taken a break from grad school for various reasons, but in general, the timing wasn’t right as I have too many irons in the fire. I apparently haven’t quite neurohacked my way into being a superwoman who didn’t need sleep, downtime, and sufficient fitness time and playtime.
I started to increase my activity and kept my eating lean and clean, but couldn’t break the plateau. Although I wasn't a huge carb-eater, I did eat brown rice, rice crackers, and juices. These are considered healthy foods, but it's still a lot of simple carbs when you want to stay lean. I was ready to eliminate most of the remaining sugars and simple carbs from my diet, so I decided to go with a ketogenic diet to kickstart my new lifestyle. Ketosis works by eliminating glycogen storage (from not eating carbs) and then your body starts to burn fat for fuel instead.
Ketogenic diets have been around a long time, but originally was used to treat epilepsy. The ketogenic diet is very helpful for many people with seizure disorders, but not all. A significant body of research has been growing since the 1920's supporting the benefits of being in a state of ketosis. I'm providing a link just below from Nature magazine on the numerous health benefit derived from the ketogenic diet including neurocognitive benefits, but I am also self-reporting that I do feel mentally clearer and have not experienced any severe migraines on this diet and I feel my mental energy has been great, even during the early stages of while feeling muscle fatigue.
Giving up the relatively small amounts of simple carbs I was eating was a real challenge for the first week, but I got over the hump and the carb cravings went away. I did this for 3.5 weeks and broke my plateau with the loss of a few pounds, which is a noticeable difference in a petite woman with a goal of 6-9 lbs of weight reduction. I didn’t follow any specific prescribed plan, but I have done ketosis in the past with success. I was eating eggs, fish, nuts, leafy greens and delicious treats like avocado and I devoured organic humus as a dip for raw veggies. I was eating only 20-30 non-vegetable carbs a day, and even my vegetable choices were keto-friendly (as in no tomatoes or carrots). After 3 weeks, I started to introduce more carbs. After 4-5 weeks and 5 lbs weight loss, I'm now up to 100-150 net carbs a day.
Ketosis is a little challenging for me since I am already on a fairly limited diet and I almost never eat meat other than fish. Most people seen to stay in ketosis by loading up on meat. I was eating fish, eggs, and nuts and after a week or two, I was sick of fish, eggs, and nuts. I did experience a huge decrease of appetite on this diet which is the side benefit of doing this. When you do keto, you go into a fat-burning state and lose some of your appetite and cravings too!
To monitor my ketogenic state, I used ketogenic test strips to test my urine and I managed my status pretty well that way (they are found at drug stores). I noticed I went out of ketosis once when I had fish in a Thai curry sauce, so I held off on that indulgence until I switched to a more moderate low carb diet. It takes one cheat to throw you off, but once in ketosis, those little setbacks only throw you off for about day. That was