I was asked by a lifestyle magazine to write some thoughts on the Ketogenic diet – specifically why I live an ‘Intuitive Keto’ lifestyle.
I believe 100% in this lifestyle, but I’m not a zealot. I don’t push this on to anyone, and I also don’t believe it is for everyone. People need to do the work and find out what’s right for themselves.
But with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes being such a huge and dangerous health issue – that can be fixed with the low carb/keto lifestyle – I do believe people have a right to know about all of this so they can make an informed choice.
The difference between LCHF (low carb, healthy fat) and keto is merely how low to take the carbs. Getting into a ketogenic state is important if you want to create metabolic flexibility. But after that, and when you get to the point that I have after nearly 5 years, you can become a lot more flexible with all of it. This is especially true if you exercise and combine intermittent fasting into your lifestyle as well. Oh and of course, stress management is super important too because stress on its own can throw you out of ketosis!
Anyway, below is what I wrote. I hope you enjoy it. xx
My Intuitive Keto
‘Keto’ is not another quick weight loss fad diet. It’s chance to say goodbye to dieting forever and find the freedom from food that so many women crave.
Since I found the keto lifestyle almost 5 years ago (I’m now 45), I’ve never felt better. I have stopped thinking obsessively about food, my energy levels are stable all day, I’ve completely stopped snacking, I rarely get sick, I’ve reached my healthy weight, I’ve lost my belly gut (which after 5 kids is pretty impressive) and my body has become exceptional at telling me when I’m hungry.
All of the above has happened because when I reduced my carbohydrate intake, my body had to ‘make’ another energy source, which it did from fat, in the form of ketones. This means I am ‘fat adapted’, or another way to think of it is metabolically flexible, which means my body can now metabolise both carbs and fat for energy when needed. If you eat primarily carbohydrates, your body can only really burn glucose for fuel. Glucose is what all carbohydrates are broken down in to. This is why weight loss is hard when you eat a lot of carbs because your bodies ability to burn fat is switched off while your body has to remove all the glucose in the blood. This is our bodies highest priority to do as high blood sugar is toxic to the body. This especially becomes an issue when you become insulin resistant or intolerant to carbohydrates, which for many happens as we get older.
I’ve never counted macros on this lifestyle, and I help my clients move away from that too. Eating isn’t a maths equation, and this is all a part of the diet mentality which we just don’t need (unless we’re a body builder). You do not need to count your ‘macros’ – carbs, fat and protein at a certain number to achieve ketosis. All you need is to lower your carbs enough, and your body will tell you when you’re fat adapted (you will be able to go longer without eating, more stable blood sugars, no more being hangry, no more 3pm slump). Most people don’t realise just how inaccurate counting food can be anyway. Plus it doesn’t allow for individual metabolic differences – for example I can eat sweet potato and remain in ketosis. The other problem I have with counting is that it keeps us from listening to our body. Which if we want to get off the toxic dieting cycle, we will want to reconnect with what are bodies are saying to us.
Over the last 5 years I’ve seen big changes within this lifestyle, that have come primarily due to the diet industry now seeing there is money to be made from this new ‘fad’ diet. So they’ve jumped on board, and brought with them the same quick fix diet mentality that sees them make a lot of money, and keeps women trapped in this mental cycle of dieting and restricting.
In reality, living a ketogenic lifestyle saves you a lot of money. You don’t need shakes, potions or lotions. It’s just about eating real food and understanding your body’s metabolism. When you have this knowledge, you can easily feed your body what it needs to feel amazing. The only supplement most people need on this lifestyle is electrolytes – sodium, potassium and magnesium. This comes about because when you have lower insulin levels, your body doesn’t retain as much water, and hence it loses electrolytes. And these are vital for our body to make energy. However, for most people, it’s as simple as adding extra salt with their meals, and maybe taking a magnesium supplement.
What’s really going on within our body when we live this way is that our hormones get a chance to get back in balance. Insulin is our king hormone… when it’s being asked to work too hard by constantly having to remove blood sugar all the time, it sets off a negative hormonal domino effect. Many women who are insulin resistant, are also resistant to other hormones – I’m thinking here of leptin – the hunger hormone that tells us when we’re full. If you’re insulin resistant, it’s likely there will be leptin resistance too. This can mean it may be difficult to ever feel full when your hormones are so out of balance.
It also gets us feeling energetic again because we are giving our body enough protein and fat to function at its best. The low fat era has been so damaging to women’s health – especially when combined with restrictive eating and excessive exercise.
BUT.. and there is a but.
It is not a quick fix. The magic doesn’t happen in 2, 6 or 12 weeks – or even 6 months time (although it does really depend on your current state of metabolic health and the many other lifestyle factors that affect our health).
It requires time and patience – maybe a year or two to really find your happy place. It took me 3 years to find my groove after my 5th baby.
Most of that comes with changing mindsets along with changing what you eat. It has to all be addressed together if you want to achieve the best results.