Not so long ago I was a fatty who spent the end of the work day focused on fighting sleep rather than work. Us Hawaiian’s call this phenomenon the kanak attack and it was deliciously crippling.
After I started the ketogenic diet (keto), however, the post lunch slump was no longer an issue. Keto diminished hunger, improved mental clarity, eliminated fatigue after meals, and energy levels throughout the day did not fluctuate.
What is the keto diet (for those of you completely detached from society)? Fat, fat, fat, and more fat: and absolutely no carbs and processed sugar. I started the ketogenic diet, about eight months ago, as a joke because I love the foods consumed on the diet, and two weeks after starting I lost about fifteen pounds of water weight. It hit me, there was something to this diet.
I know keto sounds unhealthy af for the un-sold. Eating a ton of bacon and eggs, and guzzling down a bunch of lard sounds, like a gluttonous meat lovers delight for some -- or a vegan puke fest for others. And, while gorging on animal products is certainly is a way to approach the diet, and the novel reason I went for keto in the first place, I surprisingly found myself replacing the carb and starch portions of my meals with cruciferous vegetables. No ways!?!? A proud carnivore like me eating more vegetables? How would this “extreme” nutritional approach perform such a mystical feat? Well that answer comes down to simple logic: more fiber = less constipation. Hence, the motivation to eat more veggies and nuts...especially macadamia nuts, the keto staple I never get sick of!!!
By embarking on the savory slip-n-side of fat, my ravenous curiosity about my new eating protocol discovered keto’s myriad of health benefits. Anti-inflammation was the main appeal due to keto’s ability to regulate dramatic spikes in insulin. Now I’m no doctor...only one on TV...so I’ll be brief on the matter; insulin is a powerful hormone that regulates bodily functions such as levels in cortisol, testosterone, and blood sugar. Sugar and carbohydrates, in particular, spike insulin, which in turn cause dramatic spikes in other hormones sending one's body on a hormone roller coaster, which also causes inflammation. Preventing these hormone fluctuations is why nutrition enthusiasts and weightlifters that eat carbs consume six meals every other hour, which in turn regulates insulin levels.
Thus, the reduction of insulin spikes, as well as inflammation, prevents diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, mood disorders, high cholesterol, and can even prevent and fight cancer. Furthermore, the health benefits of keto are great. It improves the clarity of skin, promotes weight loss, improves mood, and improves sleep....at least it did for me.
Back to the point, the health benefits coupled by the reduction of health detriments can put a person in a better state of mind and body in order to achieve one’s goals. The high fat consumption keeps people satiated longer and the energy produced from utilizing fat as fuel feels cleaner. Using fat to fuel the metabolism is like utilizing hydrogen fuel cells as opposed to sugar, which is like burning coal.
There are also sociological reasons I enjoy keto. I get my jollies seeing my carb loving bodybuilder friends freakout about my diet. My trainers, gym buddies, and non-keto friends give me flack about it, as well, which is hilarious. However my argument is I don’t need to follow a strict feeding to regulate my insulin and that my body doesn’t waste protein because it is in an anti-inflammatory state. So there, in your face carb eaters!
Now, I don’t think keto is for everyone, but everyone should absolutely try it. Learning how a fat and sugar burning metabolism works can give people great nutritional tools for accomplishing fitness and nutrition goals. Also, cutting out processed sugar and enriched grains, and understanding the reasons why, can literally save your life, and will certainly enhance the quality of it.
My natural appetite was made for keto worked well for me because I don’t like sweet things. I haven’t drank soda in over a decade, always drank my coffee black, I think cake frosting is horrendous, and never liked candy. However, if you throw a steak in front of me, I’ll devour it like a ravenous wolf. I adapted to keto with no side effects, like the keto flu, and found it to be a more convenient eating protocol to couple with my strength training regimen than traditional clean eating every two hours. No meal prep for me; no thank you!!!
On the other hand, a friend -- originally a disbeliever who I later converted because she saw the dramatic positive effect it had on my physiology -- tried keto only to fail miserably, because she loves carbs too much. Nevertheless, the take away was that she learned the importance of fat and protein in every healthy diet. Her skin cleared up, her mood improved, and her body toned out. For the last few years she only ate salads to lose weight, which according to her it did more harm than good.
The overall lesson I learned from my keto journey was that diets are highly individual. However, experimenting with just about any diet will offer health benefits...at least in knowledge. The reason I recommend keto, in particular, is to see if your body responds to using fat better than carbohydrates...mine certainly did...but, of course, that won’t be the case for everyone. I’ve had carb centric diets forced down my throat all my life, and it was horrible. I never understood nutrition because my body isn’t made to run on carbs and a diet focused them turned my health to shit. It wasn’t till I tried a ketogenic diet that “healthy eating” and nutrition made sense and why I crave certain foods. Finding a diet that works for me made a world of difference and I’m far better off mentally, emotionally, and physically.