The Challenges of Going Keto

As one begins to embark on the Ketogenic diet many challenges arise; ranging from social to medical to the fear-inducing Keto-flu to fighting carbohydrate or sweet cravings to the “what on Earth am I going to eat?!” question.

Friends and family may be shocked when you decide to eat a high fat diet after believing that fat is the enemy campaign for the last 40 years, options at the coffee shop are slim to none, and people look at you like you are in a cult as you describe your fat-burning breakthrough.

While all these challenges may seem funny, they feel very real to those of us that have “Gone Keto.”

Let’s go through and see how we can get through some of these challenges.

Medically research has shown the Keto diet has shown great promise in slowing and in some cases stopping the progression of many chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritic conditions, high cholesterol/low HDL cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for a high carbohydrate diet.

The Keto-Flu is a short period during which the body is adapting over to using ketones for fuel instead of carbohydrates. One way to reduce the symptoms of the Keto-Flu is to begin the Keto diet slowly with a slow carb diet by gradually getting rid of carbs over a few weeks.

Increasing salt intake will also help as it is critical to keep a healthy electrolyte balance; pink Himalayan sea salt has a nice blend of minerals and works well for this. Increasing water intake to about 2-3 liters per day is very important as well because as we decrease the number of carbs we eat the body will flush out excess water.

Social life can get a little tricky on Keto. Most people socialize around food and will not support a person who isn’t eating the typical American fare. This is when Keto support groups and Keto meet-ups can be helpful. There are many options for support groups that only meet online and there are some groups that meet in person on a regular basis.

Sharing recipes and pushing through a plateau is always easier with friends that have been through the same struggles. Carrying your own oil packets can also be helpful when eating out as you can add a healthy fat to most meals and still get it to be Keto-friendly.

And the question What am I going to eat?!

As one transitions from high carb to slow carb to keto increasing fat is easy because it is done in steps. Cutting out grains, sugar, and potatoes the first week is a great way to reduce carbs. Adding coconut oil or grass-fed butter to coffee is a nice way to increase fat intake. Pouring olive oil on everything you eat will increase the fat intake. Eating one avocado per day will add over 20g of fat while only adding about 10g of carbs. Taking the next steps of eliminating underground vegetables, keeping protein to about 20% of your caloric intake and fueling up on fats can come later when you have gotten comfortable with the slow carb lifestyle.

Fighting the carb and sweets craving can be a challenge if there are no healthy options around. A great thing to have on hand at all times is dark chocolate (either 70% cacao or stevia sweetened); a square or two can usually cut through any sweet craving. Also, dropping one in your coffee along with a spoon of coconut oil is like eating a Mounds bar. Another option to have stored in your freezer or fridge is sweet or savory Keto-bombs/fat-bombs. These are like truffles made with healthy fat and a small amount of flavoring (you choose) that can be popped in your mouth whenever you feel a craving come on.

As with any new diet or exercise program, it is always recommended to consult your medical doctor especially if you are on any medications.

Listen to your body and go slowly.

– Erin Kirkpatrick

What to know about a Ketogenic Diet during Pregnancy

There is a lot of agreeance among the health and nutrition fields that point to a ketogenic diet as an aid to fertility. While ketosis can be helpful in helping one get pregnant, the question is: is it safe to maintain a keto diet while pregnant?

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

There is a bit of controversy whether the answer to this question is yes or no, and most doctors are still trying to “get with the curve” and understand/ grasp what a ketogenic diet is. Such doctors in the latter half of the controversy, are hesitant to recommend or even steer patients away from “low-carb” dieting while pregnant based on their concerns not on ketosis, but something called ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a state in which the body has an extremely high number of ketones and blood sugar levels. The result is a dangerous acid-base (pH) imbalance. Such a state is unhealthy for any individual, pregnant or not.
Ketosis, on the other hand, is a metabolic state in which the body uses fats (ketones) as fuel versus carbohydrates. In ketosis blood sugar is normal, there is a healthy pH (acid-base) balance, and ketone levels are relatively low. This is considered a “healthy” state of the body.

Maintaining a healthy keto diet leads to a state of ketosis, not ketoacidosis. Ketosis can be healthy for both mom and child when it comes to pregnancy.

Natural Pregnancy and Ketosis Connection

Keto and pregnancy are naturally connected. Nausea and curved appetite during pregnancy cause many women to go in and out of ketosis naturally. In addition, pregnant women naturally become insulin resistant to provide the developing child with proper nutrients, making them more sensitive to carbohydrate intake. Thus, maintaining a ketogenic diet during pregnancy may help aid these natural processes.

In addition, ketosis can be a healthy and natural adaptation for the baby. Keto-adapted babies have an easier time converting ketones to acetyl-coA and myelin. Such conversions aid in brain and neural development of the child.

Eat Whole Foods and Listen to Your Body

While a keto diet, and ketosis, can be good for both the mother and child throughout pregnancy, there are a few fundamental concepts to consider.

Do not focus on weight loss. Many who start the keto diet do so for the weight loss benefits. This should not be the goal of pregnant women on keto. It is important that both the mother and child get the proper nutrients and calories and weight gain is a natural and healthy component of pregnancy.

Do not be strict keto. It is not uncommon to go in and out of ketosis just based on fluctuations in appetite and nausea throughout pregnancy. Listen to your body and the baby and do not fret or put your body through additional stress to try and maintain a constant state of ketosis. If your craving a piece of whole grain sourdough toast, feed the baby what it wants.

Whole food, nutrient-dense, and calorie sufficient should be the focus. This may be redundant, but when pregnant, making sure the baby and mother get proper nutrients and caloric intake is the primary concern when it comes to diet. The best way to achieve these things is to eat whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and grass-fed meats. One should avoid processed and packaged foods.

Breast Feeding and Ketosis

It is recommended that one breastfeeds, on or off keto. Breast milk is better than formula. Breast milk is high in natural fats, whereas most formulas are high in carbohydrates and sugar. If one has the ability, breast milk is a better option to make sure the baby is getting proper nutrients and not getting addicted to a high carbohydrates and sugar diet at a young age.

Additionally, coconut oil, a common component of the keto diet, can assist in lactation and allows breast milk to contain lauric acid that helps support a babies’ healthy metabolism.

Clinical Guidance

It is highly suggested that you start the diet before getting pregnant. Switching from burning primarily carbohydrates as fuel to fats as fuel can be a stressful transition on your body. Avoid extra stress on the baby and mom by navigating this transition before conception.

Also, it is best to have some clinical guidance while maintaining a ketogenic diet during pregnancy. A doctor can make sure that both the mother and the baby are getting enough nutrients and calories and monitor healthy levels for both mom and child. Because some health professionals are still trying to “catch-up” to the ketogenic diet, it may be helpful to explain your dietary choice as one in which you are avoiding sugar and focusing on healthy vegetables, fruits, and proteins versus telling them you are on a keto diet. Or better yet, seek a health professional that does understand the keto diet.

Take-Away Message

It is safe and arguably healthier for both mom and child to maintain a ketogenic diet during pregnancy. It is vital that the mother listens to her body, gets enough calories, and focuses on whole food consumption during this process. It is recommended that a mother seek clinical guidance to help navigate and monitor.

Dr Jerry Hizon

Alcohol and the Keto Diet

A lot of people ask: Can you drink alcohol on the keto diet? Or do you have to abstain completely?

The simple answer, yes, you can drink certain types of alcohol in moderation with the keto diet and still reach your goals.

Below we will break down each type of alcohol and make recommendations for each category then we will list a few helpful points with regards to alcohol and keto.

Beer:

Carb count: 13 grams net carbs per glass
Avoid: most beers, as most are high in carbs
Okay: lighter, American beers are the best option as they are lower in carbs
(i.e. Bud Select, Miller 64, Michelob Ultra, etc.)

Wine:

Carb count: 1-2 grams net carbs per glass
Avoid: sweetened or flavored champagne, dessert wines, or sweeter wines (i.e., Moscato)
Okay: unsweetened/ unflavored champagne and dry red or white wine

Liquor:

Carb count: 0 g net carbs per shot
Avoid: liqueurs, sweetened or impure spirits
Okay: pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, cognac, vodka, and tequila

Mixers:

Avoid: sodas, simple syrups, juice, andmost bitters (as they come with added sweetener)
Okay: sparkling water, citrus (lime, lemon, orange), and olives

5 Helpful Tips for alcohol and the ketogenic diet:

  1. Most people find that they have a reduced tolerance for alcohol on keto. That means they tend to get drunk a lot faster. Thus, be careful to only drink 1 to 2 glasses and dont drive.
  2. Hangovers can be worse on keto. Since the keto diet causes one to urinate a bit more, especially in the beginning, alcohol consumption can add to a dehydrated hangover effect. Be sure to drink one glass of water per 1 shot (or glass) of alcohol consumed.
  3. Alcohol may slow weight loss. The liver will metabolize alcohol before other forms of energy (even ketones). Thus, alcohol consumption may hinder a weight loss process. Be careful to drink only in moderation and take into consideration cutting all alcohol consumption out if you are not able to obtain your weight loss goals with moderate consumption.
  4. Be careful when ordering mixed drinks from bars or restaurants. Although pure spirits may have 0 carbs, the added sodas and sweeteners to mixed drinks and cocktails are loaded with carbs. Stick to soda water, lime, and ice with any pure spirit.
  5. One may turn carb cravings into alcohol cravings. Alcohol, like carbs, can be a quick sugar source to the brain. Be careful not to replace one addiction with another. Drink only in moderation.

In summary, you do not have to cut out all alcohol consumption on keto. Stick to very light beers, dry wines, and champagnes, or pure spirits. Drink in moderation, only 1 to 2 glasses in a sitting. Avoid sugary mixers and add-ins.

Take care to hydrate and be mindful of tolerance and hindrance to weight loss. With all that said, we hope that you found this helpful.

– Dr Jerry Hizon

Is the Ketogenic diet effective for men?

A lot of people are interested in the ketogenic diet as a way to increase weight loss and improve their health. At a recent talk I gave about the benefits of the keto diet, I noticed something interesting: the majority of the audience were women.

It is amazing how few men are aware of, and reaping the benefits of the ketogenic diet. Why men are less interested in dieting as a whole has always been an area of curiosity for me.

From my observation, there are some significant gender-specific differences when it comes to nutrition. Women tend to have a higher awareness and better knowledge of nutrition than men. They also seek nutrition counseling more frequently than men do.

Studies have shown that women eat more fruits, vegetables, cereals, milk, dairy products and whole grain products, whereas the consumption of red meat, particularly pork, sausages, eggs, alcohol, and high sucrose foods is higher in men.

Men’s approach towards nutrition is uncomplicated and pleasure-orientated whereas women have an ambivalent attitude to food. Women are typically less satisfied with their weight.

For this reason, restricted eating, dieting, and eating disorders are much more common in women. Men tend to control their weight with exercising and implement diets often for health reasons more than appearance.

The prevalence of obesity is similar between men and women. However, men are more frequently overweight.

For this reason, adopting a ketogenic diet can be an excellent way for men to get their weight under control. And because of the simplicity and pleasurable foods that can be eaten on the keto diet (bacon, anyone?), it is easier for men to stick to than other diets.

Just google the term keto diet results, and you will see how beneficial it can be for both men and women.

In my experience, men enjoy a more simple, streamlined approach to eating. So, for men looking to start a keto diet, here are a simple few tips to follow:

Think Fat

Because men enjoy protein-rich foods, it is often easy to consume too many proteins. It is better to seek fatty cuts of meat or foods with lots of butter and fat. There are many healthy ways to get your fats increased in your diet. The key is always to ask how can I get more fat in this meal?


Stay above ground

Generally speaking, the best vegetables to help you on the keto diet are those that grow above ground. Leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard) are the best, in fact, anything in the salad variety works well to keep your carbs low. Vegetables that grow below ground (potatoes, carrots, beets) are higher in carbs and reduce the ability for your body to stay in ketosis.

Say no to beer

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to lose weight (and improve your health) is to reduce the amount of alcohol in your diet. When it comes to the keto diet, the best way to lower your carbs is to stop drinking beer. Beer contains both carbs and sugar, which both are going to mess with your ketone levels. If you really need to consume alcohol, then the best are liquors such as gin, vodka, tequila, etc. A glass or two of red wine can also be a great alternative to beer.

These are just some basic tips to help me on the path to better health on the keto diet. As I said before, it is rare to see men interested in their diet, but the keto approach I believe is about as simple (and enjoyable as you can get).

Hopefully, as more research shows the success of the keto diet for men, there will be a larger uptake of adoption.

Dr. Jerry Hizon