Here's the What, Why and & Now of my experience doing Keto. Enjoy the read! Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be happy to share what I know from my own experience.
Keto is an IMMENSELY popular diet* that emphasizes eating fat, moderate protein and minimal carbohydrates. It takes the consumer on a journey through fat adaptation and improved metabolic flexibility - that is, if the consumer is adherent to the program. There's really no "cheating" on Keto - it's all or nothing and if you get through the roughest part of the Keto Flu - the sluggish, achey, flu-like period of low energy which is a result of "turning into a fat burner from a sugar burner," you're on your way to a pretty neat joy ride of delectable savory foods you may have once thought were taboo. If Keto does one thing and one thing well, it changes your belief system. Typically the shared consensus, aside from rapid weight loss, is a feeling of freedom. Many seasoned dieters proclaim that they felt stifled before and that Keto gives them a ticket to eat more unabashedly.
Fat adaptation and metabolic flexibility are terms common to the keto connoisseur. If the consumer is open minded, there is plenty to learn and relearn about health, ill health and dis-ease caused by the over consumption of an Americanized diet of packaged and processed foods.
There's 'doing keto' as a quick fix in a sort of naive way (I want to say the majority of folks do this and it's not wrong but it's also incomplete) and there's GOING KETO which essentially involves a lifestyle overhaul. Kind of how Veganism wishes to enlighten, Keto wishes to upgrade. According to popular Keto aficionados, the newbie progresses from frail and addicted to immortal and bulletproof (mostly kidding) by affixing plenty of healthy fats and protein to their once carbohydrate laden diet.
Where do people fall short? Usually when the dieter gets 'dirty' and their repertoire is replete with deli meat, cheese and cream. Fun - liberating - sure, but healthy - not. Acne soon leers its nasty head by way of dairy and an influx of omega 6 fatty acids. Alternatively, the clean keto approach focuses on the best of fats from coconut and avocado oils to grass fed and finished meats, fowl and offal. If sincere in adherence, prepare to be changed. Scientifically injected. Rightly educated. The disciple of Keto is dedicated to hormonal health, longevity, improved cognitive function and - you bet - all the testosterone a man could dream of. For women - balanced estrogen and progesterone if done correctly which typically leads to smoother menstrual cycles and an all around pleasant lady. Expect your libido to come knocking and your hunger for sex to know no bounds.
The culprit and precursor of imbalance? Insulin, blood glucose, sugar and yes, carbohydrates. For those master Keto followers, Ketosis might be the ultimate goal yet mind you, rarely do people actually "live in ketosis" since the task of testing ones blood, urine or saliva is rather unsustainable on a routine basis and staying below 30 grams of net carbohydrates is extremely challenging over the long haul. The idea of eating steak every night for dinner and spoonfuls of almond butter all day sound amazing until the fruit trees start shaking and apples begin dropping on your lap. The once knee jerk reaction of fruit-grabbing becomes a new obstacle - you question if the 25 net carbs are worth the "indulgence" or if a pint of Halo Top is a better alternative (there are 5 per serving if you need to know...).
Were Adam and Eve true sinners or is this whole Keto thing actually what I want to do for the rest of my life....
I have a lifetime of dieting experience. From Fruitarianism to Ancestral diets and everything branching out and in between - I've worn them all - and not just "on for size" but for years at a time. Having been raised in a household of dieters I didn't really know any other way. Yo yo'ing was the way. Diets for me were like wardrobes to the fashionista - each marked a new identity and who I was was very much associated with whatever I was eating.
In 2019, coming off of years of staunch Veganism I vowed never to "diet" again. Just how the universe loves to teach us lessons when we least expect them, I went from committing to a life void of absolutism to going hard in the opposite direction. I threw my life to the wind (which included divorce, moving, working full time and becoming a single parent not to mention continuing & finishing my masters degree) and with it, the anti-absolutism I had committed to.
I became another food label that I said I wouldn't. Reminds me of the Sanskrit term, Abhinivesha, which literally means to attach to, fear death and the will to live even despite shitty circumstances. When things get scary - it's rather typical of us humans to cling to what's familiar for safety. So Keto felt like a natural solution to the mayhem of my life. And possibly it was. Clinging may have been my best survival tool - who knows.
Eight months later and a lapful of apples - in actuality: papayas, pineapples, bananas and the plethora of tropical fruits that are never in short supply here in Hawaii, I scratched my head wondering WTF am I doing.
I wanted to make mention a few real life experiences in this 8 months. While I experienced a myriad of benefits and enjoyed the liberation of jumping off of the edge of life and doing everything differently, there were drawbacks. My hair was falling out in noticeable handfuls, the skin around my eyes was looking crepey and I had to wonder where the vibrance I once felt had gone. I felt I had aged very very rapidly. Sure there is stress to blame - 2018 to 2020 was a compilation of my life's greatest obstacles - but aside from the diet, or any diet for that matter, I had had enough. I felt as if I had learned anything in all my years doing the same thing (dieting) but differently (_______ insert diet name here) the place I always return to is - Me. That home inside that knows just what I want and what I'm needing on any given day if I listen closely enough. I missed "that." And I was happy to return.
1. I learned so much about metabolic flexibility, fat adaptation, autophagy, intermittent fasting and the power of sugar! Real applicable scientific stuff.
2. I ate meat for the first time in years and enjoyed it - truly
3. It simplified my life during a time of pretty hefty tumult all the while giving me something to focus on that was educational and inspiring. It led me to a host of influencers who do great work in the world inspiring people to get healthy (and ultimately serious about eliminating sugar which we all know is a serious food drug).
1. What, no fruit? I had to get real. Women need a heavily modified Keto program if they want to do it safely. In the end, we really do benefit from unrefined carbohydrates and I know limiting myself caused unnecessary stress to my body.
2. Fat balance - how much is too much? Counting macros? Ew. No way is that sustainable or enjoyable for me. Despite all my experience dieting I never counted calories, fat grams or carbs. I was not about to start now. Thankfully I know for a fact it's unnecessary
3. Another diet? Ugh. I thought I was over that.
So in summary,
Keto was a cool experience. And an experience it was = one that ultimately brought me back to me. Cooking my mind to peace and clarity - doing what I believe I do best. Navigating. Sensing. Roaming the farmers markets and getting excited about discovering new, simple and nourishing ways to prepare foods and then sharing them with the world. With a much heavier emphasis on plants and much much less (if at all, on meat). The great news is that the majority of foods that I make can be eaten by all - no matter what diet anyone adheres to.
We all have the intuition and the strength of our inner guidance systems to bring us home to ourselves. That's the work I love to do! It's what led me back to my happy place, despite all that I know about food, at the end of the day it's better - healthier even - to dumb it down a bit, be bold and not overthink how to nourish ourselves. Your body knows. Science can sometimes muddy the swift and serene waters of our intuitiveness. Food isn't good/bad. Whole unadulterated foods that haven't been messed with are here to be relished. Unleash yourself! And if you need help, that's what I'm here for.
Food is medicine.
Connection is our daily dose.