I was doing keto wrong
What I want to share with you in this post is very important if you are trying to follow a very low carb, high fat diet. Ketogenic diets are becoming very popular due to the fantastic weight loss and health improvement results people are experiencing. They really do work very well, but only if you do it properly. If you don’t you can damage your metabolism, adrenals, thyroid and upset your hormones. It happened to me so I am speaking from first-hand experience. You need to know what you are doing and you need to KEEP doing it. What was my mistake? I wasn’t eating enough fat or enough calories (and I wasn’t properly keto-adapted). Everything changed for me when I was privileged enough to spend time with US expert Keto Coach, Stephanie Person, when she visited South Africa in May.
I explained to Stephanie that I had been trying to follow a ketogenic diet but had started to get disillusioned. I wasn’t losing anymore weight, my blood sugar was higher than I wanted it to be and my waist wasn’t getting any slimmer. I informed her that even on a 1200 calorie /day LCHF diet, plus 5 to 6 days of exercise each week, the weight wasn’t budging. What she said next opened my eyes to the severity of my situation. “You are starving yourself Nicky and your body is so stressed out that your adrenals are pumping too much cortisol and that is why you can’t lose weight“. It was amazing to me that intellectually I knew this stuff and have even written articles on these issues, but couldn’t recognise the problem in myself.
I told Stephanie that I had been experimenting lately with upping my carbs and that I had experienced some benefits but I confessed that of late I was finding my old sugar and carb cravings returning and that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to avoid temptation. Intuitively I knew that upping my carbs was not sustainable for me. I needed to go back to the basics so I asked Stephanie to advise me how to get back onto a ketogenic protocol and how to do it properly this time.
What was I doing wrong?
When I first started following a ketogenic diet a few years ago, I was filled with the enthusiasm that comes at the beginning of any new project. I did my research and strictly followed the principles of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. I lost weight and felt great. Then life got in the way and the guidelines that I had been so diligently adhering to started to fall by the wayside. The most important ones being eating enough fat and keeping carbs very low. On a ketogenic diet one has to really make a conscious effort to consume enough fat to fuel your body and metabolism. I had been neglecting this VERY important component of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. My 1200 calories per day, instead of helping me to lose weight was doing the complete opposite. My body went into stressed out survival mode and was holding on to every single precious calorie. My other issue was that I wasn’t being strict enough to maintain a fully keto-adapted state. I had started to consume too many carbs and was struggling to give up the dairy completely. I was drinking the occasional glass of wine and indulging in some dark chocolate a few times a week. Coffee with cream was also a daily ritual. Stephanie helped me to identify these issues and made suggestions of how to move forward. Not everyone needs to get as strict as I have had to, but we are all different. The key is figuring out how strict YOU need to be to get the results you are aiming for.
Here is what she advised:
- Keep carbs to around 25 grams per day.
- Carbs consumed must be from low carb, leafy green and cruciferous veggies only.
- Consume a minimum of 120 grams of fat per day (200 grams initially for the first few weeks to expedite the fat-adaptation process).
- Include a variety of animal and plant fats into your diet.
- Besides eating fatty meat and foods like avocado and olives, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of fats and oils to each meal.
- Cut out all dairy, alcohol, caffeine and nuts.
- Identify and eliminate any foods that could be causing a histamine response in your body for example nightshades such as tomatoes and peppers.
- Drink enough water and consume salt.
- Test your blood sugar levels often and aim for readings of 4.4.
- Keep protein portions to half the size of your palm for each of your 3 meals.
- Don’t try to intermittent fast for at least 3 months or until you are confident that you are fully fat-adapted.
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night and get to bed before 10 pm.
- Find ways to manage your stress – this is critical to reduce the cortisol and bring down your blood sugar.
- Don’t restrict your calories too severely and also not until you are sure you are fat-adapted.
- BE PATIENT – it can take months
This last point is very important. You have to completely change your mind-set and not expect results overnight. Most people embark on a ketogenic diet for fat loss but that is the wrong focus. We need to keep our eyes on what is important – HEALTH. When first trying to get into a ketogenic state (where your body can produce ketones and can effectively use them for energy), you might even put on weight and you need to be OK with that. It is a means to an end. Fat loss will come later.
5 weeks of following Stephanie’s advice
I am thrilled with the results thus far. After years of struggling to lose any more weight my body has shed 4 kilos in 5 weeks. This is nothing short of miraculous. My cravings are once again under control. Am I fully keto-adapted? No, not yet but my blood sugar readings are looking good and my Ketonix breath meter is registering orange and sometimes red, which indicates that I am heading towards ketosis land. It hasn’t been easy and I have to say “no thank you” a lot, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. I have also had to learn to be OK with diminished performance in my CrossFit workouts for now. Until I am fully keto-adapted that is going to be my reality. My competitive nature doesn’t like this very much but I am dealing with it. I am hoping that I will gain back my full strength and more when I am fully fuelled by precious ketones.
I believe that people come into your life at specific times to teach you something of value and to set your path straight again. I see these moments as perfectly timed gifts from above. I am grateful for Stephanie Person who shares her wealth of knowledge with people so freely and graciously. Her YouTube channel is also a wonderful resource for those wanting to find out more about doing nutritional ketosis properly. She is an incredible example of vibrant health and physical fitness. Stephanie is almost 50 years old and looks to be in her 30’s. I don’t know about all of you, but I sure as heck want to look like her when I am that age. She is busy writing her first book and I can guarantee you I will be buying it when it is published.
Her website is https://www.stephanieperson.com.
Here is a short video of the talk she presented at our CrossFit gym. She inspired so many that night.
A short video on why coffee is not good for you when doing a ketogenic diet. Filmed on beautiful Camps Bay promenade.
Please check out my opportunity page of this blog if, like me, your finances took a knock during Covid or if you are keen to earn some passive income. It is definitely worth looking into.
Posted on June 26, 2016, in Primal 101 and tagged blood sugar control, Crossfit Hout Bay, doing keto properly, fat loss, ketogenesis, ketogenic diet, ketogenic mistakes, LCHF, Stephanie Person, weight-loss. Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.