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Ketogenic Diet Tips: What to eat and when to eat

Whenever someone starts a new diet, it seems like the focus is always on how many calories you eat, or whether you should eat a specific type of food. This makes logical sense, as it is estimated that as much as 75% of weight loss is attributed to the diet.

However in the past few years, there has been more interest in not just what you eat, but when and how often you eat.

The concept of intermittent fasting, and eating smaller meals more often are two trends that have become common. I believe that both have some value in improving your results.

Fasting and the keto diet work together

When considering a ketogenic diet, it seems that intermittent fasting works well, as typically you are less hungry for longer periods.

When your body goes into a ketosis mode, it begins to consume fat reserves. If you have just eaten fats (which is common on the keto diet), your body will burn those fats first. But if you keep yourself in ketosis, it will begin to consume your stored fat.

One of the challenges people have when on a conventional diet is that they are constantly hungry. I believe this is less to do with the actual physical hunger, and more to do with the psychological habit of eating too often.

How often do you really need to eat?

Our society teaches us to eat three meals a day, with snacks in between. But often we aren’t eating out of hunger as much as habit.

One of the keys that I have been talking to my keto diet patients about is whether they actually need to eat as often as they do. As a medical doctor, I am typically a very health conscious person, so I have always been very disciplined in my approach.

However, even when eating healthy, I have never experienced the same energy and weight loss results that I have on a ketogenic diet. This is especially true when combined with some intermittent fasting.

I have been adding some fasting days (24-hour fasts) and even tried a 72 hour fast recently. Both were actually less challenging than I had assumed they would be. I believe that is because of my adherence to the keto diet.

Try a fasting window with a keto diet

When you get started on a keto diet, you can also begin trying a ‘fasting window.’ This is another way of choosing a length of time when you don’t eat. For some people, this can start with 8 hours when they sleep or moving to 12 hours or 16 hours.

The longer you can resist eating, the better you will enable ketosis to begin in your system. Intermittent fasting has been proven to give some of these benefits:

  • Balancing your blood sugar levels
  • Improving nutrient absorption for the body
  • Removing toxins naturally
  • Clearing the mind and increasing focus
  • Increased fat burning throughout the day

Aside from these nutritional and health benefits here are some lifestyle benefits I’ve found from fasting on a keto diet:

  • Save money: you tend to eat out less, and that costs less
  • Eat higher quality food: when you do eat, you crave high-quality, healthy foods
  • Enjoy eating more: when you eat, it is enjoyable and satisfying

Changing your mindset around when to eat along with what to eat can be a game changer. It gives you back a sense of self-control and makes you accelerate your health results.

Jerry Hizon, MD is a keto doctor working from Murrieta and Temecula, California. He assists people with weight loss and lifestyle changes to improve their health. His keto coaching programs helps people to track their progress and stay on track. Visit his website today to learn more, or sign up online for a keto coaching session via nudge coaching.

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

A guide to Exercise and the Keto Diet

Before we talk about exercise and the ketogenic diet, it is important that we address two common misconceptions regarding diet, exercise, and weight loss.

Misconception # 1:  Less calories in than calories out causes weight loss. Therefore, more exercise and less calories eaten equals even more weight loss.

Reality: Less calories and more exercise equals hunger, fatigue, stress, and ineffective weight loss.

No matter which way you look at it, your diet is the weight loss ‘game-changer’. What you eat is more important to weight loss than exercise.

Therefore, focusing on what you eat versus how much you eat is a much more successful and safe approach to weight loss.

This is where the ketogenic diet is such a useful tool to those wanting to lose weight.

Misconception # 2: You need carbohydrates to exercise  at optimal levels. Thus, low-carb diets decrease exercise performance.

Reality: Carbs are stored in the form of glycogen and are only used as a fuel source in quick bursts of high intensity exercise and can only sustain an individual for a few minutes of these types of exercises.

Fats are the main source of fuel for all aerobic exercise (i.e. long jogs or cycles) and are used as fuel once glycogen stores are depleted in anaerobic exercise (i.e. sprints or heavy lifting).

Once you understand the importance of diet over exercise, andexplained why you don’t necessarily need carbs for optimal exercise performance, you may be asking: should I even exercise on the ketogenic diet?

Although diet is arguably the most important variable to weight loss, exercise is also a key component to optimal health benefits.

Here are a few of the many benefits of incorporating regular exercise into your ketogenic lifestyle:

  • Improve bone mineral density (bone-loading)
  • Improve immunity
  • Increase cognition
  • Regulate mood
  • Reduce the effects of aging
  • Increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics
  • Prevent injury
  • Improve overall locomotion and flexibility
  • Burn 2-3x more fat doing endurance or ultra-endurance exercise (20-30+ minutes)
  • Prevent fatigue during long periods of aerobic exercise
  • Maintain blood glucose during exercise in obese individuals
  • Increased exercise performance overall

    What Should I Expect with Exercising on Keto Diet?

As your body is becoming keto-adapted (switching from using carbohydrates as a main fuel source to fats) in the first 2-3 weeks of starting the ketogenic diet, your exercise performance may be negatively affected. You may feel tired, fatigue, or even dizzy during exercise, especially anaerobic exercise (like heavy lifting or sprints) and you most likely won’t be able to perform at the same level as you did before.

It is important to note that these effects are short-term and performance will only suffer until you are keto-adapted. This is natural and due to your body’s natural transition from carbs to fats for fuel resulting in keto flu symptoms.

You will be able to presume regular aerobic exercise safely and efficiently after your body makes its’ transition to using fats as its’ main source of fuel, so have patience and trust your bodies normal process. How should you go about your exercise routine?

Exercising in the first few weeks on a keto diet

Before adaptation: Before being keto-adapted, in the first 2-3 weeks of adopting the ketogenic diet, you should stick to low-intensity, aerobic exercise for a majority of the time so as to prevent sugar cravings and muscle catabolism during exercise (i.e. yoga, Pilates, or long walks/ jogs).

You should also increase electrolyte and fluid intake (i.e. drink a large glass of water with a pinch of salt before working out). You should avoid doing high-intensity, anaerobic exercises until you’re are keto-adapted because it can be counterproductive to adaptation and you will have decreased performance during this time period. We keep saying anaerobic exercise versus aerobic exercise and you may be unfamiliar with these terms. As a general rule of thumb: if you can breathe easily through your nose without panting during the exercise, it is an aerobic exercise. These include things like 20-30 minute + jogs and cycles. If you cannot breathe easily through your nose during an exercise, these exercises are considered anaerobic. Examples of anaerobic exercises include: heavy weight lifting, sprints, and explosive sports like soccer, lacrosse, hockey, etc. However, exercise in general will help you get into ketosis faster, so that is not a deterrent from embarking on exercise during this time frame. Instead, you should focus more on endurance and mobility.

Bottom line: Before keto-adaptation you will experience an initial drop in performance. During this time period you should increase electrolytes (sodium) and fluids and stick to low intensity, aerobic exercise.

After keto-adaptation: After you are adapted to using ketones and fat for fuel, your energy levels will improve along with your training. Your aerobic exercise performance will increase, you will burn more fat and feel less fatigued during these exercises. Studies have suggested that a keto diet will increase endurance or ultra-endurance athlete performance, lead to greater fat loss in these individuals, and maintain their muscle mass.

The benefits of keto diet  for athletes

Becoming keto-adapted using a ketogenic diet can also specifically help aging athletes who struggle with impaired recovery, increased body weight, and have difficulty maintaining desired body composition. In addition to these aerobic performance effects, anaerobic exercise performance should proceed almost back to normal levels, if not normal.

It is expected that you will be able to perform at 90% of maximum equally as good anaerobically. Your muscle glycogen stores that fuel these types of exercises will be replenished despite lack of carbs and with the increased ability to use fats for fuel, you won’t tap into glycogen stores as often.

An everyday, moderately active individual will experience less fatigue during exercise and greater performance on a normal ketogenic diet. Those that do more intense, anaerobic exercise often may want to consider adapting the ketogenic diet to optimize anaerobic performance.

Here are two ways to do so:

Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): Eat 25-50 grams or less of fast-acting carbs (i.e. whole fruit) within 30 minutes of workout and/or 30 minutes after workout. This will ensure that your body has the proper amount of glycogen to perform during training and recover after. This will not take you out of ketosis, as your body will use up this glycogen during training and after for recovery.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Eat strict keto for 5-6 days to get the benefits of ketosis, then eat a higher carb diet 1-2 day a week to replenish glycogen levels and help improve high intensity performance. This can be especially helpful for athletes who train throughout the week and can up their bard intake to perform well in games/ matches on weekends.

The standard ketogenic diet can lead to increased fat loss for the normal individuals and increase exercise performance of ultra-endurance, endurance, and aging athletes.

It is possible to receive all the health benefits of the keto diet and be able to participate in regular exercise or preform at a high level as an athlete.

After being keto-adapted, aerobic exercise performance may increase, as your body can use fats for fuel more efficiently and you experience less fatigue.

– Dr Jerry Hizon, MD