Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What About Keto Cheat Days?

Like many people, we have followed many types of diets in the past.  Most diets are based on calorie restriction, or in the case of a low carb diet, carb restrictions along with calories.  In those types of diets, a cheat day might help you sustain the diet for more long-term success.  The biggest problems with most diets are the feelings of being deprived.  However, with the Ketogenic diet, it may be an entirely different arena.  Here are some reasons that I think that Keto cheat days might be a bad idea.

Here is a short discussion that we had on our YouTube Channel:

1. Keto cheat days have a direct impact on your metabolism

The whole point of getting into the state of Ketosis is to alter the function of your liver to stop utilizing available glucose as fuel and instead convert fat to ketones for fuel.  This is a transition that should not be taken lightly.  When excess glucose is provided in any form (sucrose, fructose or sugar stored in carbs), the liver will change modes back to Glycogenolysis, converting stored/available carbohydrates to glucose for fuel.  Only one of these modes can be in place at a time.

It gets worse if you are insulin resistant.  If your blood glucose levels rise, so will your insulin levels in response.  The excess energy that you have needs to be dealt with so the insulin will store it in your body (as fat) for later use.

While you are in Ketosis, it is not efficient at converting carbohydrates to glucose, which could mean that you have a bigger spike in blood glucose than normal.  During the transition from one state to another, it is possible that you may actually burn a small amount of lean muscle, so that may be one reason to minimize how often you shift modes.

After your cheat day/meal, your body will eventually return to the state of Ketosis, but how long that takes varies person to person.  The more insulin resistant you are, the longer it will take.  As a rule, the more belly fat that you have, the more insulin resistant you are.  (Best case - One day to return to Ketosis, Worst Case - Two weeks.)

The takeaway is that your cheat meal may not only stall your weight/fat loss, but it also may actually cause you to store additional fat that you will need to burn later.

2. About feeling deprived

If you are on a Ketogenic diet and you are feeling deprived or ravenously hungry, you are doing something wrong.  If you are new to Keto, you should be worried less about calorie restriction and more about training your system to become fat burning adaptive. There are 3 rules that will always be true to best take advantage of the Ketogenic diet

  • <= 5%  (20 grams or less) of your daily calories should be from carbohydrates
  • Eat only when you are hungry, don't when you are not
  • Eat until you are satiated (full)

If you eat until you are full, the time between bouts of actual hunger will naturally increase.  If you must "cheat" eat some extra fat/protein food.  Following these rules, eating a few extra calories will NOT knock you out of Ketosis.  Your body may consume dietary fat instead of fat from your body, but it will not change your metabolic state.  Once you have become fat burning adaptive, then you can concentrate on maintaining a calorie deficit.

The bottom line, if you are feeling deprived - eat something that will not sabotage your weight loss or metabolism.

3. I have the "Keto Flu"

First of all, the "Keto Flu" is not caused by a lack of carbohydrates.  The Ketogenic diet causes you to shed water weight.  Along with the water that leaves your body goes minerals in the form of sodium, magnesium, and potassium.  The quick fix is to take in some electrolytes.  While some may disagree as a whole, I felt better by drinking a little Powerade Zero or Gatorade Zero.  That is completely anecdotal.  In many cases, just adding a little extra salt to your diet will make up the difference.

More on that here:

Second of all, sugar is an addiction, so even if it is a withdrawal from carbohydrates, does it make sense to eat them to "feel better".  Should a heroin addict inject some heroin to resolve their withdrawals?

Lastly, the "Keto Flu" is temporary.  Once you are fully fat burning adaptive, this will pass.  A short period of discomfort is totally worth the weight loss and improved health that you will experience in the not so distant future.

4. I have an overwhelming craving for carbs ...

This is classic carbohydrate withdrawal.  Everyone that chooses the Ketogenic diet will undergo this process.  Think of your old self.  How many times did you turn to "comfort food" as a reward or during times of stress?  There is a direct connection between sugar and dopamine levels in your body.  When you eat sugary foods, your dopamine levels rise (making you feel good)  as the dopamine levels drop, your hormones will do their best to get you to do whatever it takes to get those dopamine levels back up.  This is the same cycle that happens in all addictions.  You will need a strategy to overcome this cycle.

So what can you do?  Here are some strategies (some may sound familiar).

A. This bears repeating:

  • <= 5% of your daily calories should be from carbohydrates
  • Eat only when you are hungry, don't when you are not
  • Eat until you are satiated (full)

B. Get creative.  The internet has plenty of low carb versions of many of your favorite treats and comfort foods
  • Fat Head Pizza Dough
  • Low carb cheesecake bites
  • "Fat Bombs"
These should not be an everyday food item but can help get you through a craving crisis without screwing up your metabolism.  Also, it can be fun to recreate some of these items.  It is a great way to provide alternatives to your kids, as well.

C. You and you alone control what you put into your body.  Taking control of your appetite and desires can be one of the most empowering things that you can do.  Use steps A and B to push through.

5. But the holidays ...

First of all, refer to item #1 above. Keto cheat days directly impact your metabolism. Second of all, perhaps it is time to reevaluate your relationship with food.  Is it the food that makes the holidays so great?  Do you think that Aunt Gladys is going to be offended that you don't eat her special pumpkin pie?  Don't you think that she would be happy that you are making better health choices for your life?  It may even be possible that your choice to abstain from sugar and high carb foods might encourage others that want to do the same.  Lastly, why not bring some Keto friendly replacements that you can enjoy and feel inclusive.  Think of how awesome you will feel if you do not gain weight during the holidays or actually even lose a pound or two.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Let's Talk About Ketogenic Macros

Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of your medical professional before starting any sort of diet or fitness routine.

If you are new to the Ketogenic Diet or just beginning your research, you will hear the term “Macros” bandied about quite a bit.  Most other diets focus on restricting calories and perhaps eating fresh fruits and vegetables along with grains and some protein. The Ketogenic Diet focuses on Macronutrients instead of food groups.  Calorie restriction is still recommended. All diets do have some expectation of self-control, otherwise, it wouldn’t be considered a diet.


The Ketogenic Diet is considered a High Fat Diet.  The majority of Standard Keto Dieters will keep this Macro at 70 to 80% of their calorie intake.  Personally, I shoot for 75% Fat.


Proteins are consumed moderately in this program, usually between 20 and 25%.  Eating fattier proteins and fish help keep the fat macro at the necessary levels. I strive for 25%.


The Ketogenic Diet is considered an Extremely Low Carbohydrate Diet.  This macro is usually maintained at 5 to 10% of calories. I attempt to stay at 5% or less.

So, how do we calculate the number of grams of each?  Roughly, fat has about 9 calories for every gram. Protein and carbohydrates each have about 4 calories per gram.

So for estimate's sake, let’s assume your optimal calorie consumption is 1,800 calories.

Macros by Meal

Once again, other diets will look at the macros for each meal as shown below.  They will often include similar groupings for snacks, totaling for up to 6 “meals” per day, in some cases.

The Ketogenic diet recommends against snacking between meals.  In fact, many Ketogenic proponents start with 3 meals and eventually drift towards 2 or even 1 meal per day.  So, rather than trying to fill up your plate with limited servings, the portions on a Ketogenic diet are much larger, and the meals tend to be much simpler.  Removing fruits and grains from your diet will have that effect.

Breakfast may simply be a Keto Coffee with butter and MCT oil.  Lunch will consist of a high-fat meat like bacon or sausage with some eggs and cheese or an avocado.  The evening meal will once again have a fatty meat, perhaps with some mayonnaise or butter, a salad, and some leafy green vegetables.

Finally, Keto dieters tend to rely on items like “Fat Bombs” to round out their fat macros.  In truth, it is much less complex to maintain your macros, once you have mastered the concept than try to track how many whole grains and servings of fruit you had throughout the day.

Perhaps the major breakthrough in the Ketogenic diet and using fat centered macros is that fullness is attained and it becomes more difficult to consume excess calories which makes it easier for most to have a calorie deficit when desired.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Let's Start with the Basics - What is Keto?

Always Begin with the Basics

In the past, Shauna and I started on a diet before we knew everything involved.  It is understandable because you want to lose weight and you don't want to wait even one minute longer.  We did this for years with every type of diet we tried whether it was Weight Watchers, Adkins, DASH and even a little with the Ketogenic diet.  The difference now is that so much more is available on YouTube and the internet than ever before.  You are not limited to a certain book or group meetings to get your information.

However, jumping into something before you completely understand the process can set you up for failure.  For example, we had a feeling that a low carbohydrate diet was the best method to lose weight, but we were ignorant of how important fat is to our metabolism.   We had attempted an Adkins or Modified Adkins Diet off and on for several years. We would be successful for a time, then fail and gain all of our weight back in a few months, which is discouraging.  Then we went Vegetarian for a year and jogged 20 - 30 miles every week.  I lost 50 pounds but then found out that a restrictive calorie diet and continuing that kind of punishment was not sustainable.  I, of course, gained all that weight back.  Jumping in half-informed into a Ketogenic Diet can actually be dangerous.  In this case, you are actually toying with your metabolism and even your physiology.  This could actually cause physical damage, so I urge you to be very careful.  If that happens, you will become one of the "Look what Ketosis did to my body" people.

We Are Not Unique

But this just isn't our story, this is the story of 60% of Americans and growing.  Every one of us has an intense desire to be fit and not fat.  But, what all of us need is a sustainable lifestyle.  The "Eat Less and Move More" solution sounds great on paper.  Calories out > calories in = weight loss.  But if that is the case, then why are more people getting fat?  The short answer is that our bodies rebel against this "solution".  It defends itself by slowing down your metabolism and increasing your hunger.  So while you are killing yourself, working out and burning calories, your at-rest metabolism slows to a crawl and you begin eating more calories than ever before.

But Eating Everything in Moderation? ...

This again sounds great on paper.  The problem:  What is the definition of moderation?  Does your body's cravings respect "moderation"?  If you are like the majority of Americans, nope.

Please Watch the Video

I could put everything that we say in writing on this blog, but we take some time to break out what you should eat (most of), what you should eat in moderation and what you should completely avoid along with some reasons.  We break out the macros (Percent of Calories) for Fats, Protein, and Carbs.  We don't want to steal that thunder.

This is Just the Beginning

This first video is just the basic about what the Ketogenic Diet is.  We are not even talking about the benefits and challenges yet.  If you really want to begin a Ketogenic Diet or any other regimen, you need to start somewhere.   We are sharing our experience and hope that we can be your support mechanism (and vice versa).

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Ketogenic Diet vs Prednisone

After dealing with a respiratory infection for several days, it is finally improving after taking a dose of prednisone to help reduce the inflammation of the bronchial passages.  The good news was that after an hour, my congestion was 80% clear and the coughing slowed down.  I took it with food, so I did not have any stomach upset.  But, I noticed something within 2 hours after I ate.  My stomach was growling and I was ravenous.

When you are on Keto for a while, feelings of extreme hunger seem to become a distant memory, so I probably noticed it more than I would have before.  One thing to note is that I have an ongoing prescription for prednisone due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I almost never take them because of the long-term damage that they will do to your body.  So, I have to be in some pretty serious pain and nothing else is working before I resort to that medicine.  It has probably been over a year since I have taken Prednisone for that reason and I was not doing Keto then.

So, for the first time in a couple of months, I had no choice but to eat a snack between meals.  I had some Turkey and Pork rinds with some Mayo, so I did not reach out for carbs.  Then 2 hours later, the hunger returned.  We had a normal dinner and then I wanted to research a theory.  Was prednisone impacting the Ghrelin hormone that makes you feel hunger?

Sure enough, I found that the main complaint about Prednisone is weight gain.  As it turns out, Prednisone mimics the cortisol hormone (the old stress/weight gain connection).  This totally disrupts the Ghrelin cycle and results in an increased appetite.  This is why so many people gain weight on Prednisone.

So, I figured that I can manage that hunger for a day or so, which I will and just be happy to let it leave my system.  Then I noticed that my heart rate was cruising at 94 while at rest.  Normally it is about 68.  Sure enough, that is another happy little side effect of this tiny little pill.  So, now cardio is definitely out of the question until my heart rate settles down. So, I had to see what other surprises may be in store, so I read about another side-effect;  Prednisone can raise blood glucose levels.  Great!!!

Since being on Keto, my glucose has measured between 80 and 90 pretty consistently, but tonight it measured a staggering 124.  So, not only was I feeling ravenous, my blood sugar was spiking my insulin.  I was way out of Ketosis.  So now I just want this vile medicine out of my system.  It did help my congestion, but it also derailed my metabolic system temporarily.  All will recover in a couple of days (I hope).

The biggest lesson for me is that you have to pay attention to the medicines you take and how they impact your metabolism, whether you are on a Ketogenic diet or any other type of diet.  If you are not careful, you could end up packing on pounds and not know why.

Guess what.  That freaking appetite monster is back again.  Hopefully a Fat Bomb with put it to bed for the night.

Until later, KetoMojoGogo out.