Ketosis – what the heck is it?
Ketogenic diets have been all the rage lately in the health and fitness world. Ranging from supposed keto supplements, to all keto cookbooks and food alternatives, the influx of knowledge and know-how seems to keep flowing in with no signs of stopping or slowing down.
So, what is ketosis? What foods really are considered ketogenic foods?
As confusing as things may seem, the basis of a ketogenic diet is very simple, and equally effective.
Although the keto diets seem to have flared in popularity this past decade, it really isn’t a new concept. As a matter of fact, a lot of bodybuilders ate keto back in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s under the guidance of Vince Gironda, but a lot of his ideology was considered taboo and didn’t really grab traction until the 90’s.
The Steak and Egg Diet
What Vince proposed was to eat two meals a day, consisting of as much steak and eggs as you could shovel down. What was this diet called, you ask? The Steak and Egg diet. Can only imagine why his ideas never really caught on…
So that’s it, right? Just slap some steak and eggs on a plate and call it good? Well, not quite. Although the diet is effective, it really lacks in diversity. Not just diversity in taste, texture, and flavor, but diversity in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. This is the main reason I recommend changing up what you eat, not just to keep things from getting bland, but if you don’t diversify your food selections, you neglect your body of very important vitamins and minerals.
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There are a few pillars to all ketogenic diets. The first is actually getting there. In order to achieve a state of ketosis, you must deplete your body of all glycogen (stored sugars for energy) so your body can begin breaking down your body’s fat for energy.
Best way to do and keep up this is to keep your impact carbs, or net carbs, below 25 grams a day. Sounds horrible, right? Almost like starvation. Well, this is where making the right choices will make or break you. Carbs can be consumed on a ketogenic diet, but the amount of NET carbs, or carbs that impact your blood sugar, must be kept under 25 grams a day.
How do I figure out my net carbs?
1. Find the amount of carbohydrates per serving. 2. Underneath the carbs there should be a row listed as fiber. 3. Take the fiber, and subtract that number for the total carbs. 4. The total is your net carbs.
For an example, I’ll use my favorite vegetable – broccoli. Broccoli has trace amounts of almost all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, and usually about half the carbs are fiber. One cup of steamed broccoli is roughly 11.2 grams of carbs. Of those 11.2 grams, 5.1 grams is fiber. Subtract the fiber from the total carbs, and we get 6.1 grams. This is your net carbohydrates and what counts towards your daily 25 grams of carbs.
Fiber also has added benefits of making you feel fuller, lowering blood sugar, and detoxing your intestinal tract.
What is this about eating more fat?
The second, and most important point in a keto diet is your fat intake.
Your fat intake MUST be higher than anything else (at least % of your daily caloric intake). This sounds horrible, but it’s a lot easier than you are probably expecting. Fat has 9 calories per gram, as where proteins and carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram.
Let’s say you are to eat 2,000 calories a day. 1400 (70%) of those calories would come from fat. If you divide that by 9 calories, you get 155 grams of fat.
Again, sounds like a lot, but this is where dietary choices really shine through. You’re left with 600 calories. That’s your protein, which equates to 150 grams of protein.
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The amount of differences in dietary needs from person to person is so vast that there is no way I could post up one diet that would work for the masses.
I wish there was, but what I can do is post what I did during my keto experience and how it worked for me.
My Keto Journey
I started this diet at the beginning of February 2016, and ended it around April of the same year. Every day was about the same thing on the menu, except for lunch. I’d wake up every morning around 6:30 am, and be at the gym around 8am. I worked out on an empty stomach (just a personal preference of mine) and would finish around 9am.
My workout consisted of fast paced, heavy, compound movements, with lighter accessory work, and a circuit style cardio followed with a quick jog on the stairwell.
Breakfast was eaten around 9:30am and consisted of 3 eggs scrambled with a handful of cheddar cheese.
Occasionally I would treat myself to some bacon, or turkey sausage patties. Again, I didn’t measure these foods
Lunch was around 1 or 2 pm and was always one of 3 things. The first two options are very similar. Ground beef (80/20), or ground turkey (93/7) mixed in a bowl with cheddar cheese, avocado, and hot sauce.
The third option was two 8oz swai fish fillets, dipped in egg, and fried in canola oil. No reason exactly for using canola oil, it’s just what I use.
Can I use coconut oil instead?
Sure. Keep in mind that the myth of coconut oil being a MCT (medium chain triglyceride) and having fewer calories is a LIE. It doesn’t burn body fat any more than any other cooking oil, but if you like cooking with it, by all means continue to do so.
Dinner was almost always eaten at exactly 7 o’clock, and usually always consisted of grilled spicy chicken (I’m a sucker for Mrs. Dash seasonings), 2 cups of broccoli, avocado, and hot sauce. If I was feeling hungrier than usual, or if I had lunch left overs, I would eat beef instead of chicken.
Personally, this diet made me feel incredible. Some people say ketogenic diets make them enter kind of haze, or a state of confusion. Not so much the case for me, I had great mental clarity, awesome energy, and absolutely no feeling of bloat. I wasn’t drinking crazy amounts of water, just my regular gallon, with a few glasses here and there.
Mixing lemon with my water for flavor is my go-to. Plus, a bit of alkaline benefits help. Water will help flush out acetone through your urine. It’s either that or its excreted through your breath, which gives off a fruity smell. Never experienced it, so I can’t comment on the severity of the stench, but everyone should be drinking water anyways!
I started this journey at about 212lbs estimating at about 12% body fat, and ended it at 199lbs, at approximately 7% body fat. All my oblique muscles and separation between obliques and abs were visible, and I felt strong as ever in the gym too.
Let me know if there are any questions, or requests for future articles and I will get back to you!