Friday, February 3, 2017

The Keto Khronicles: February 2017

Hello! I apologize for my sparse posts. I've been planning a post detailing how I have been losing weight for over a month. Life has been crazy lately and I haven't had much time to sit and concentrate long enough to write a full blog post. Add in the fact that once I started trying to tell others how I'm getting healthy,  I fell down the research rabbit hole. I know how I'm doing it and why it works, but explaining it to others is a different story. I am a perfectionist and once I started learning more, I wanted to try to learn as much as possible before I tried to relay that to other people. I decided to take a bit of a simpler approach and create a new series all about keto and my personal journey. I still like getting into the "mental side" of weight loss - I mean, that is why I named my blog "Who Ate My Psyche?" - but once you get in the right headspace, you need the tools to get you the rest of the way there!

So, here is the first edition Keto Khronicles. In each installment of The Keto Khronicles (which will be around the first of each month), I will update you on my weight, measurements and a comparison photo with the previous month's photo. I will also try to share something (or multiple things) I have learned on my own journey. That's exactly what this is - a lifelong journey and I hope I never stop growing and learning about it.

One reason I decided to start updating monthly is because it is hard to see changes from month to month. When I look at a picture of myself from before I lost weight vs now, it is pretty easy to see the changes. It gets harder to see the changes in recent months. I haven't taken my measurements often until this month, and I think that was a huge mistake on my part. One of my biggest regrets is not getting my proper starting measurements. I have an estimate of my measurements around my hip/belly button (the biggest part of me) and of what I was under my bust. I have never posted any of my measurements publicly because it is very embarrassing. But I'm at the point now where it doesn't really matter anymore. I'm not that person anymore. I put my starting weight and photos "out there," so I figured I might as well share my measurements. Measurements are actually a much better gauge of progress than pounds lost, especially on a ketogenic diet. (I use the word diet to describe a "way of eating," not as a short-term weight loss eating plan.) Weight can fluctuate a lot due to many different factors. The scale might show you have "gained" weight (which you will see for me in my January weigh-in chart below). It is highly unlikely that is fat gained, it's typically muscle or water retention. So, here are my starting measurement estimates (while they are estimates, I know they are very close to being accurate), along with my measurements about 6 months in, and currently.

Yeah, you read that right. At my heaviest, the biggest part of me was over 7 feet around. I still can't really wrap my head around that. I didn't feel that big. I mean, I guess I did in some ways. But, not really. I guess it was just what I was used to. Thankfully, I know I will never be there again. So far I have lost 25 inches, just around my hips! I think that's pretty awesome!

Now that I got that out of the way, let's move on to my measurements and photos for the month of January 2017. I wasn't planning on doing this until recently so my beginning of January pics were quick bathroom selfies I snapped to show my bestie. I hadn't even fixed my hair and wasn't really paying attention to how I looked. Definitely not my best pics ever. But that's what I have so you guys get to see them too. A year ago I would have said no way am I showing those and would have delayed a month. Now I will just say oh well! LOL!

So, why keto? And what is keto? I am going to keep this as short as possible because I feel like this post has already been lengthy. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and I am still learning. I will post some links below where you can research and learn more about the ketogenic diet if you'd like.

A ketogenic diet is one that puts you into a state of nutritional ketosis. You restrict carbohydrates to less than 20 net carbs (which is total carbs minus any fiber in the food you're eating), eat a moderate amount of protein (enough to support your muscles) and the rest of your calories come from fat. The reason this works is because fat does not make us fat. Sugar and starch (all of which turns into glucose once consumed) are what makes us fat. When you eat a "standard" American diet you consume a lot of carbs. This means you are a "glucose burner." Glucose burners are constantly burning off the glucose in their system because you cannot have excess sugar in your blood. Since your body is busy burning off the glucose, it then stores the fat you have eaten for future use because fat can be stored safely. Glucose can't. Anytime you eat something with carbs it causes insulin production which, in time, turns into insulin resistance because your body has gotten so used to the constant stream of insulin it no longer responds to it properly. Insulin actually blocks fat from being burned - that's part of its job. So, as you can imagine, having a constant stream of insulin makes it impossible to burn fat.

By restricting carbohydrates you no longer supply your body with glucose. Your body will still make any glucose it needs on its own, but most of what was being done with glucose will now be done using ketones in the blood. Ketones are made in your liver by, guess what, fat! It turns out fat is actually a much better fuel source than glucose. Once you stop using glucose as fuel, you become a "fat burner" (also called fat adapted or keto adapted). Kind of makes sense when you consider our ancestors lived off meat and fat and rarely had sugar, right? They didn't need sugar - they were fat burners.

Starting a ketogenic lifestyle can be hard in the beginning. Most people will get "keto flu" (which I prefer calling carb withdrawal) when they start. This is minor and can be helped greatly by balancing out your electrolytes. You will most likely crave carbs the first few days. After that your cravings will go away. Trust me. I was a 402-pound Coca-Cola addict who loved macaroni and cheese and potato chips. My actual cravings for those things went away fairly quickly. I did have a lot of emotional attachment to them - mostly to Coke - that took longer to get past. But I DID get past it. If I can do it, you can.

I honestly can't imagine going back to how I used to eat. I absolutely LOVE the food I eat. I do not feel deprived. I look forward to food because it tastes good, just like I always have. But, I choose when I need to eat rather than the food controlling me with cravings. It really isn't just about losing weight, it's so much more than that. Once you are keto adapted you have so much more energy. For the first time in my life I actually want to do stuff and even workout. Your brain is much more efficient when running on ketones, therefor clarity and concentration are improved. You don't have constant cravings. For the first time in my life I feel like I am 100% in control. I just feel amazing.

Another plus of keto is if you suffer from chronic pain and/or inflammation (fibro, arthritis, etc.) it will likely be helped. Carbohydrates cause inflammation so when you remove those from the equation you will notice a lot less pain and swelling. I have not been diagnosed officially yet but am 99% sure I have rheumatoid arthritis. My pain and swelling in my hands has been so much better since cutting carbs. To prove my point, I splurged over my birthday in November. I enjoyed the food, but it honestly wasn't as good as I remembered. And for the next week I had pain and swelling like I hadn't felt in almost a year. I didn't need more proof that this was the way I was supposed to be eating, but if I had, that would have done it.

Ketogenic diets are nothing new and they aren't a "fad." The ketogenic diet has been used for decades for children with epilepsy to help control seizures. It is also currently being studied for cancer patients and Alzheimer's patients.

Some people argue that a state of ketosis is "unnatural" but you know what? Every single one of us is born in ketosis! Yep, babies are born in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural state of the body that almost everyone goes into at some point. A long night's sleep or a day of fasting can result in you getting into ketosis because there is no glucose going into the body. Pregnant women are especially prone to going into ketosis. Research has shown they go into ketosis faster than anyone else because their bodies need to supply the baby's brain with ketones for proper production.

I could honestly talk about this for hours, but I think I have probably given you enough information for now. Many people try to complicate things too much when they start keto. Keep it simple to start with - lowering your carbs is the most important part. Keep your carbs below 20, eat a moderate amount of protein and eat fat until you're satiated. Eat when you are hungry and listen to your body. Do not worry about calories. It really is that simple. Some people do have to tweak things down the road, a lot of that depends on how insulin resistant you are and how much fat you have to lose. But in the beginning those are the most important things.

If you would like to learn more about the ketogenic lifestyle I highly recommend looking into the resources below. I am not affiliated with any of the links below and am not receiving compensation for recommending them. I believe most people (myself included) start out doing low carb without knowing the science behind it. This often leads to them giving up because they don't think it works for them or they don't focus on all the other changes happening with their body. It's not an overnight magic pill, but it will work if you give it time and focus on getting healthy and not just losing weight.

Online Resources:

2 Keto Dudes - they have a Podcast (which is how I typically listen), but all of their episodes are also listed on their website (linked below)  and YouTube. They are very informative and get into the science behind keto, but are also entertaining while they do it!
Episode Archives
YouTube Channel

Ketogenic Forum - a forum created by Carl and Richard from 2 Keto Dudes. It is a vast community with a multitude of information.

Diet Doctor - one of the largest and most informative low carb sites. It is written by
Andreas Eenfeldt, a Swedish medical doctor and specialist in family medicine, with many contributions from other doctors as well. - another great site with lots of information and "how-tos."

Doc Muscles - he has a great blog with a ton of information. He also has a series called The Principle Based Ketogenic Lifestyle. I have linked Part 1 of that series.

Dr. Jason Fung - I have linked his YouTube channel, but he has written a book called The Obesity Code that is highly recommended as well.

Book Recommendations:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Dr. Stephen D. Phinney  and Dr. Jeff Volek

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz

Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore

I hope this post wasn't too long for you! I look forward to my next post. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post meals, progress pics and more.