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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

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

Your first seven days on the keto diet

So you’re considering a keto diet?

The low carb, high fat ketogenic diet is known to help with weight loss, certain metabolic disorders (i.e. Diabetes), increase energy levels, reduce hunger, and is simple to follow. Because of all these reasons, it seems that starting such a diet with all these benefits seems like a no-brainer.

However, for most people, the transition from carbohydrates to fats as a main source of fuel is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true for the first week of adopting the ketogenic diet.

In this article, we explore some tips for your first seven days on the ketogenic diet.

Set a goal. Create a plan.

The first thing to decide is why are you starting the ketogenic diet?

Define a goal for yourself (i.e. weight loss, better health,). Having a clear picture in your mind of why you’re starting the ketogenic journey and a way to track your progress towards your ultimate goal will help keep you invested, especially within the first week of physical and mental transitional challenges.

Next, determine how you will measure progress towards your goal. In the beginning, rather than a weight loss goal, it can be better to set a goal to stay on the keto diet for 7 days. This might seem simple, but it will help you get through the first few days, which can be challenging.

Research and join a community.

Like anything else in life, know what you are getting yourself into before starting. Look around, read blogs, testimonials, recipes, and research. Hear what doctors have to say about the diet and people, like yourself, have experienced within this first 7 days of their keto journey.

Find a community such as ours on Facebook or a physician to provide you with support, feedback, and information throughout your transition to keto. You can also consider the use of support apps such as The Nudge App, in which your physician can help monitor and guide you through the adoption of a ketogenic lifestyle safely and effectively.

For the first week, it may be useful to also research a 7-day keto meal plan, since counting your calories and keeping macromolecules within range may be harder at the beginning of switching to keto.

Meal plan and prep your pantry.

A day or two before you start full keto, create a food diary of foods that you currently eat and make note of which items are keto-friendly and which are not.

Stock up on the foods you eat daily that are keto-friendly, and find replacements for those that you currently indulge in that are not keto-friendly.

Rid your pantry (if possible) of bread, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables, and sugary foods or drinks to avoid temptation throughout the first week struggles.

Fill your fridges and pantries with lots of healthy fat options, lots of water, and foods rich in sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

Mentally prepare.

Switching your body from metabolizing glucose to metabolizing fats as our primary source of fuel can be a “shock” to our systems, especially within the first days of the switchover.

It is important to realize that there will be side-effects, often called the ‘keto-flu’ when making this original transition. If you experience headaches, fatigue, mental fogginess, muscle cramps, reduce stamina, know that these are very normal to experience within the first 7-14 days on the ketogenic diet.

All that’s left is to get started!

The truth about keto is that it will be hard to begin with, but it will be worth it after several weeks!

Each day, keep focused on your goal. Make sure to track your progress toward your goal. Reach out to your established keto-community or physician throughout the process.

Have patience, and know that very often, the first week is the hardest!

Dr. Jerry Hizon

I lost 6 lbs in 2 weeks on the keto diet

1 week into Keto, is the hype real?

Has it been hard to cut the carbs, skip on desert, and find nothing to order while at dinner? It’s been an interesting 1 1/2 week journey, to say the least. In this time I learned that MyFitness Pal app doesn’t like me intermittent fasting or eating coconut oil. My mom was disappointed that I was doing keto since I wouldn’t be able to eat tamales. Finally, I found out that Keto Urine strips have a limited shelf life once you open them and “testing” to see if they work by dipping them in vinegar does not tell you if they’re functioning!

Why am I still continuing keto? The results.

1 1/2 weeks in and I’m starting to feel different. My energy is consistent throughout the day and my hunger has been well under control. Don’t get me wrong, the first couple of days I was having pretty strong hunger pains regardless of how many macadamias, pork rinds, and slices of cheese I had. But 4 days into switching my diet I finally felt like I had control of my hunger. I was able to eat lunch and dinner and not feel a ravenous hunger 1-2 hours after eating. I’ll give a break down of some of the meals I had eaten during this time. I know that there is no breakfast, since I always skip breakfast. As Jason Fung MD, author of The Obesity Code, states “breakfast is the most important meal to skip.”

Left: Day 1
Right: Day 7

Left: Day 1 Right: Day 7

I would normally never post these progress photos on social media, but I’m posting these because I really believe in this lifestyle because of the crazy amount of health benefits. The results you see is just me adhering to a pretty strict ketogenic diet (<20 grams of carbs/day & 70% of calories coming from fat) with yoga 2-3 times per week. I’ve also integrated 18 hour fasts to help get my body used to using fat as its primary energy source. What this means is that I give myself a 6 hour interval to eat. So I’ll eat my lunch at 1 pm and will eat dinner around 6:30 pm. I’ll talk more about the benefits of intermittent fasting in a later post, so you all can know the science behind it. Check out some of the meals I ate over the last 2 weeks.

Lunch Dinner
Mozzarella with prosciutto, salami, sopressata, and walnuts. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Kielbasa sausage stir-fried with organic broccoli in oyster sauce.
Pork rinds and hummus In-n-out double double, lettuce wrapped
Caesar salad with no croutons Wild-caught pacific rock fish cooked in butter, Cauliflower kale “rice”.

-Will Leon aka the Keto Latino

Mike’s Daily Blog: Day 1

Day One: Monday, 11/27/2017

*Disclaimer: I’ve been doing keto for 1 year on and off and consider myself at an advanced level. It is advisable that you consult with your doctor(s) before making major lifestyle changes

Here we are, day one. I’ve said that to myself plenty of times. “Diets ALWAYS have to start on a Monday or they don’t count”, “Get all your cravings out the day before”, been there and done that throughout the years.

If you read my intro, you’ll know I’ve been at this a long time. At my worst in July 2013, I weighed in at a meaty 315 lbs. (photos to come shortly). Over the four subsequent years, I have finagled my way down to 240 lbs. This started off with low-calorie diets, low-fat diets, running over 4 miles per day, cutting sodas and fast food and incorporating some weight training in there. That got me from 315 lbs. down to 265 lbs. At that point, I hit the proverbial great wall. Nothing I did from August 2014 through November 2016 worked for weight loss. While working at Dr. Hizon’s office starting in November 2016, I was introduced to the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. I lost 25 lbs. in one month and have been at the new weight of 240 lbs. since then. One year later from the day I discovered the Keto diet, I am embarking on my journey to break through this current wall.

So, here we go. Anyone that knows me knows I don’t like taking off my shirt. Why? Sheer embarrassment. When you’re so big for so long, you get used to certain things like not wanting to take off your shirt in public.

Then why am I posting a collage of myself from all angles? Because I’m all in. This will help hold me accountable. I want to share my ups and downs with everyone. Weight loss is not easy; I know that firsthand. More importantly, I want to show that average individuals, such as myself, can achieve their physical goals.

How I feel: Genuinely excited. There was an internal debate over whether I would post to this blog as I went along or later in time. I knew that if I waited to post, I had a safety net. If it worked, I would post it. If it didn’t, I could always start on another Monday. That said, I’m sharing from the start.

What I expect: Ebbs and flows. Definitely feeling motivated to start. It helps that my family (mother, brother, sister) are all on board. Everyone is as excited as I am. I know that with Christmas coming, I will be tempted by food everywhere. I expect to have cravings when I hang around friends or go into work.

Alright, down to brass tacks, some measurements:
Weight: 241.8 lbs.
Body Fat: 24.1% (correlates to 58 lbs.)
Biceps: 35 cm (13 3/4 inch)
Bust: 114 cm (44 7/8 inch)
Chest: 108.5 cm (42 3/4 inch)
Waist: 98.5 cm (38 3/4 inch)
Hips: 101.5 cm (39 15/16 inch)
Thigh: 66 cm (26 inch)

Meals:
Breakfast: coffee + coconut oil + butter + heavy cream
Lunch: bone broth + coffee
Dinner: fasting

Breakdown: approximately 900 calories (95% fat, 2% protein, 3% carbs)
Water intake: over 128 ounces
Exercise: Ab workout, 1 hour spin class

Relaxation: Stretching, Steam room

Motivational word for the day: ENOUGH
You have to be fed up with your current situation to make real change. I am fed up with mine. Enough is enough. Enough hiding myself behind loose fitting clothing. Enough making excuses for myself. Enough starting diets and never continuing them. Enough not being happy. It’s time for a change…