Post #651 Keto and What the Heck Is It?

June 16, 2019 at 11:50 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

So, we’re all growing older every day and as much as I’d like to believe I’m Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, once in a while my body reminds me that I’m not a teenager anymore.  Of course, I also have many helpful friends (they know who they are!) who persistently remind me of my advanced years, as well.  I’m so lucky.  The other day, while at a bookstore, a small locally owned business that we’ve been to before, Partner/Spouse brought up a book he was interested in called Keto Lunches.  His boss who is also a larger man, but much younger than we are, is heavy into Keto and has lost weight at a reasonable rate, and kept it off.  So we got the book with the vague idea of doing keto lunches.

Being me, I can’t let it sit there.  I have to know about what I’m doing so I can make informed decisions.  So, once we got home, I read through the introduction which was very helpful and told me a lot.  The I went to the internet to verify what I’d learned from the book because a book can say anything.  So can the internet, but the various sites all cited the same sources and said the same thing so it all seems reliable.

So, the first thing I discovered is the keto diet, or ketogenic diet, is not a fad diet.  It’s been around for over a century and was first designed to help epileptics.  Since it’s inception, though, it’s slowly and quietly (till recently) gained in popularity due to its effectiveness and results.

The second thing I learned is that keto is not the same thing as paleo.  Briefly, the paleo diet is eating like the cavemen ate in the paleolithic era.  Humans at that time were wanderers, and had to eat pretty much what came along.  Their digestive systems were adapted to that style of diet and could be anything from meats, to nuts, to grass or any other thing they found that didn’t eat them first.  Including bugs.  The modern paleo limits consumption to all natural and no mass produced products.  Milk and dairy were supposedly unknown to the caveman so it’s not eaten on this diet, as well as sugar, alcohol, and coffee (among others.)

Another thing I learned is that the science behind this diet is sound.  It’s been studied for over a hundred years and refined and will do no harm to the body if followed properly.  This is one thing that always worries me about fad diets because they typically say to eliminate one thing completely and watch the weight melt off.  Of course, once that one thing is reintroduced, the weight comes right back.  Keto is an all around diet that includes all the food groups, but in different measures.

The human body needs fuel to operate the same way your car needs fuel.  It gets that fuel by breaking down the foods we eat into glucose to power the engine.  The easiest form of food to break down into glucose is carbohydrates, or starch.  That’s why we like cake so much.  All carbs.  A balanced diet includes about 50% carbs, 25% protein, 24% fruits/vegetables, and 1% fats.  The keto diet switches that up, and for a very good reason.  In keto (and Atkins for a different proportion), the carbs are severely limited, the proteins are scaled back, and dietary fats rule the roost.  About 80% of the keto diet is from dietary fats, 15% is protein, and 5% is carbs.  The reason you can’t eliminate carbs totally is because the body needs some carbohydrates to function properly.

Going back to our engine metaphor, when we fuel the engine with too much carbs, the body will store the extra as fat.  But since there is always a ready supply of carbs coming in, that extra never gets used, and gets added to.  There are ways to reduce the amount of fat we carry.  One of the easiest is to reduce the amount we eat while increasing the amount of activity.  I can attest to that personally.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes early last year, I eliminated soda from my diet completely (and wine, too, sob) and the weight loss was so dramatic that people I worked with for less than six months were commenting on it.  I didn’t change very much else about my diet because we’ve always eaten fairly healthy.

In keto, by eating primarily dietary fats, the body isn’t getting the carbs and has to burn something.  So fat becomes the fuel.  And once the body starts burning the fat rather than the carbs, the fat reserves start to disappear.  There are more calories in fat than in carbs so it disappears slowly, and in a more healthy way.  So, in a keto diet, carbs are the enemy.

How tough is that?  No bread.  No cake.  No donuts.  No chocolate.  No wine.  I’m making myself sad just listing all that.

Except that’s not really true.  It’s about balance, and what works for you.  Some people have cut down carbs dramatically and lost the weight, then eaten smaller amounts of carbs, and been fine.  Others, have cut down, lost, and gone back to carbs, but in a more measured and healthy manner.  They gained a little weight back, but not in an unhealthy way.  So it really depends on the person and how they manage their own calorie intake.  Just like any diet.  And I’m using diet here as in the total diet, not just a fad regimen.

So what’s allowed to eat on a keto diet?  You’d be surprised.

Eggs are a good thing.  Just be careful about your heart.  Bacon is also a good thing, which is one of the things that draws people to this diet.  I once knew a guy who was on the Atkins diet and would bring two pounds of cooked bacon (just bacon) to work every day and nibble on it all day long.  I never noticed that he lost weight, but he looked happy.  Cheese is good, too.  And butter.

What’s not allowed?  Well, there’s nothing that strictly not allowed, because you need it all.  Just severely limit the amount you eat or drink of it.  So, in the overall scheme of things, in a week of meals, one sandwich is not a killer.  Nor is one six ounce glass of wine.  But limit the carbs as much as you can.  And know where your carbs are coming from.  Vegetables are good for you, right?  But carbs are in veggies like corn, and potatoes, and carrots.  Again, you can have these, but don’t have as much.  If you used to have a whole baked potato, try eating a third or a quarter of one.

So, we’ve got one book, Keto Lunches.

We’ve also got a few more on the way.  Once I’m used to cooking the keto way, I’ll be able to remake my recipes into keto-centric versions.  Luckily, we both like salad, and as long as we leave out the carb heavy veggies, we can have all the salad dressing we want.

Feel free to share this post as you like and send any questions my way.

And as always,

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