How This Diet Changed My LifeI’ll get into the details throughout this article, but I like to start with the good stuff first. The first thing I really noticed was how much fat I was losing. Within 4 weeks I could see a noticeable difference in my body, and it wasn’t just in my face, arms, or legs – I was starting to lose belly fat as well. That was huge for me as no matter what I did, this was an area that would never budge – even when I was crash dieting. And on top of that, I was actually working out less. I knew this diet was going to cause some energy issues in the first few weeks, so instead of doing my daily jog or gym workout – I was just walking for an hour a day. In other words, things were going great…but I was still skeptical. I’d had a lot of quick success with every other diet I’d tried, but as I mentioned earlier, the weight always found its way back…so I was just waiting for this diet to do the same. So I waited, and waited, and waited… Until finally after 12 months, 50 lbs, and a complete body transformation later – I realized there was something different about this diet. And not just because I was losing weight and could keep it off, but also because I felt amazing. Every other diet I’d tried had my feeling groggy and hungry after the first couple of weeks, but not this one…this one actually had me feeling energetic, both physically and mentally. I noticed an immediate boost in my productivity, and after a few weeks of starting this diet – I was actually able to stop taking adderall… AND boost my output while doing so. In other words, yes – I’m saying a diet helped me overcome my ADHD…something I battled for many years. And after I started to notice these initial results, the benefits just kept piling in. I was losing weight, I felt great, I was getting more done… All things that led to me overcoming the depression and anxiety of being an entrepreneur, and that’s really the main reason why I can say this diet has changed my life for the better.
Why It Worked Better Than Other DietsI’m sure you’re somewhat skeptical already, don’t worry…I was too. I didn’t know how a simple change of diet could lead to amazing results like this, so that’s when I decided I was going to dig in deeper. Not because I needed to improve it for my own life, but I knew if I was going to start explaining this to family and friends, then I’d need some science to back it up. So I started out by reading everything I could and documenting my own results, then months later…I had the key benefits of this diet boiled down to 3 main reasons.
1. I was always fullI’ll explain more on this in a second, but the main focus of this diet is to put your body in fat burning mode. This mode helps hunger in a few different ways, but to keep things simple right now – fat is a longer source of energy and that helps you stay full for a longer period of time. This a much better option than the alternative, glycogen burning mode (carbs), because that burns like jet fuel and makes us constantly wanting more energy. If you want to get technical, a primary reason for this is because it helps regulate “ghrelin”, the “hunger hormone”, but in layman’s terms – your energy lasts longer and you don’t need as much food. Then on top of this, once you do hit fat burning mode your body can easily access stored body fat for energy, if needed.
2. Fat burning = making weight loss easySo I just touched on this a little bit, but when you’re in fat burning mode – it’s pretty easy to burn fat….without starving yourself or strenuous exercise. Sure exercise is still good and I’d never advise against it, but the main problem with most diets now is that they keep your body in glycogen burning mode and force you to do long workouts to hit fat burning mode. This diet is different and helps you constantly stay in this state – meaning you don’t really have to workout…it’s just extra brownie points. This is obviously helpful from a practical standpoint, but I think it also helps with momentum. It’s hard to keep working out hard every day when you’re not seeing results, but when you don’t have to put a lot of work in and still see results – then well, that makes it pretty easy to keep going.
3. The ketones provide a better source of energyWhen we’re in fat burning mode, our body is running off ketones (source of energy created when fat is broken down). When we’re in glycogen burning mode, our body is running off glucose (source of energy created when carbs, or excess protein, are broken down). Now either source is fine and we can live either way, but as I mentioned earlier – the source of energy does make a big difference. There’s a lot that goes into it, but glucose is sugar – and our bodies can only have so much sugar in the blood stream at one time. So when we exceed that limit, then insulin comes flying in and converts the excess sugar into stored body fat. Now, this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but here’s the problem. Since we can only have so much glucose in the bloodstream, that means we have a limited source of energy that we can survive off of. In other words, you could eat a day’s worth of carbs in the morning and still be hungry 3 hours later. Why? Because all the excess energy has been converted to fat, and since you’re in glycogen burning mode…then well, your body quickly burns the energy that was left and needs more to keep going. It’s kind of like putting 10 gallons of gas in a 2-gallon tank. The remaining 8 gallons is just going to spill on the ground and once we use up 2 gallons of gas, we need a way to find more. Then you have ketones, on the other hand, a source of energy that can be derived from dietary and body fat. I’m sure you’re starting to catch on why this is helpful, but going back to my gas tank analogy… It’d be like putting 10 gallons of gas in a 2-gallon tank, but having a bucket on the ground to collect the remaining gas that was spilling out. Then once we ran out of the 2 gallons, all we’d simply have to do is pull out our bucket, fill up again, and continue on the way…without wasting any fuel. Now, this is obviously a simple way of explaining it, but that’s really how it works. Then on top of that, fat burns slower and that gives you a steady source of energy… Which is also the main reason why I felt increased productivity throughout my day. In other words, it’s a lot easier to get things done when you can work at a constant pace as opposed to having the roller coaster ride that comes with carbs.
Why Isn’t Everybody Using This Diet?So even though I had the results to prove it and the science to back it up, I kept getting the same question over and over again… Why doesn’t everybody use this then? And that’s a great question, one that’s crossed my mind plenty of times as well. To be honest, I think this is the part I could talk about in the most detail as it’s the one I’ve had to answer the most… But out of respect for brevity, the main reason due to misunderstanding. What I mean by that is that guidelines and rules are great, but the only problem is that they take a long time to change… And since our dietary guidelines are still based off outdated studies from 40+ years ago, even though they’ve been proven wrong many different times, I think it’s just a matter of time. Which really is unfortunate, because there’s a lot of great doctors and dietitians out there that think they’re doing the right thing by teaching this outdated advice, and even more people suffering from this outdated advice, but the good news is that there are many doctors starting to see the dangers of this – and I’m thankful to those, because without them…I wouldn’t be in this position today.
So, what is this diet then?Okay, enough of the tease – this diet is the ketogenic diet. If you’ve never heard of this diet before, it’s a diet that stresses high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and low amounts of carbs… Pretty much the exact opposite of everything we’ve been taught, well – what I was taught anyway. I grew up thinking that eating fat clogged arteries, made me fat, gave me a heart attack…etc. But then I started reading real results that showed the exact opposite. In fact, high fat diets were actually raising HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and making LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) go from small and dense, to big and fluffy. What does that mean? Well HDL is the cholesterol that comes through and picks up excess LDL, the kind that many think creates clogged arteries. And since you have more HDL coming through and cleaning house…then well, that actually creates less clogged arteries. Then on top of that, the LDL is big and fluffy (as opposed to small and dense), meaning you have more good cholesterol coming through and taking care of “easy-to-remove” bad cholesterol… A win-win all around. A lot to take in? Don’t worry, I understand. There’s a lot of information out there, but here’s a great article that breaks it down in more detail. Okay, and the last thing I wanted to mention with this is that it is not the Atkins diet. Many people associate this with the Atkins diet, and even though they’re very similar…there are a few slight differences that create big results. And that’s not saying the Atkins diet is wrong, it’s just that he didn’t quite have all the information we have today. The Atkins diet knew low carb was helpful to people, but the major confusion that most have with this diet is that they think they should eat low carb AND low fat. I know it makes sense on the surface, but there are a few problems with that. First, you’ll be starving and nobody survives diets that force you to starve (trust me, I’ve been there many times). Second, it’ll take longer for your body to get into fat burning mode. Eating high amounts of fat is essential because it tells your body that a new source of fuel is in town, and that’s what will help you reach the ultimate goal – fat burning mode. So we’ve covered a lot of ground today and it’s impossible for me to pack all this information into one article, but if you wanted to look into this diet more – I wanted to leave you with 5 things that I think everybody should know.
1. In the beginning, it is difficult.You’re completely changing the primary source of fuel that your body is running on, and any time there’s a major change in the body…it’s going to create some discomfort. To give you some comparison, I quit smoking cold turkey 4 years ago and when I first transferred over to fat burning mode, it felt very similar to when I quit smoking. Which I guess makes sense if you think about it, because you really do have to detox from carbs before switching over… But don’t let that discourage you, once you reach fat burning mode – it’s well worth it. The most common way people make the switch is nutritionally, meaning they change their diet to eat 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs. There are also a few ways to expedite the keto-adaptation phase (transferring to fat burning mode) and skipping over most of the negatives, but those techniques require a lot more detail and can be dangerous if not applied properly – so I don’t want to try and explain them in an article.
2. Try and go for a walk every dayIf you do decide to start making the switch, I highly advise going for a walk every day. And please don’t try and be an overachiever by jogging or running, because in this case – a walk is the best exercise. Walking is great for turning on your fat burn and you don’t want to put your body through too much stress while making the switch. Intensive exercise like jogging or running has been fueled by glucose in the past, and if there’s no glucose to burn…then well – this can do more harm than good in the initial weeks. BUT, after those initial weeks are over…feel free to resume your regular activities. Ketones are actually a better source of energy as they require less oxygen, meaning you’ll probably notice an immediate improvement in your performance after making the switch.
3. Consume salt, magnesium, and potassiumA carb heavy diet means there’s always higher insulin levels, and higher insulin levels tells your body to retain more salt and water. So when you lower your carbs, that lowers your insulin levels and in turn – your body starts to drain a lot of salt and water. This is a good thing in the long run, but when you’re making the initial drain you lose a lot of electrolytes, and that creates side effects – like headaches. These headaches are never fun, but at the same time, they’re easy to take care of. Just make sure you’re getting a fair amount of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in your diet…and that should take care of most headaches right away. Personally, I like to add salt in my water and eat avocados, but I’ve heard of some people taking care of this with supplements. Either way is fine, just remember to look at the entire picture. Most people think of bananas when they hear potassium, and that’s true, but bananas also have a lot of carbs…so eating them will be counterintuitive to your main goal. The same goes with Gatorade. Gatorade IS full of electrolytes, but it’s also full of sugar, and that will also keep you away from fat burning mode.
4. Eat less mealsOver the recent years, we’ve been told to eat smaller meals more frequently. This is supposed to help with metabolism and help us achieve our goal of fat burn. Okay, so there are a few reasons why this mentality will hurt you on your way to becoming keto-adapted…but just remember, we’re trying to increase our fat metabolism – not glucose metabolism.
As we talked about earlier, our body can only handle so much glucose at once, so if you’re in glycogen burning mode…then yeah, I can see how smaller meals are important. But fat burning mode is a little different. In this mode, it’s important to eat bigger meals less frequently and allow our body to use body fat for fuel if it needs extra. There’s no specific strategy to follow, but if you want the best route to start – I’d say eat a big breakfast and a big dinner. And by big, I mean eat enough to where you’re full, but not in a food coma.