A VERY Basic Low Carb Ketogenic / LCHF 101 .

So folks are asking me what I am doing to lose weight and reverse my diabetes.  As mentioned before I have been eating a very low carb, ketogenic diet.  It is also known as LCHF (low carb, high fat).

Before listening to me....I highly recommend researching ketogenic eating on google, and listening to various lectures on youtube about it.  Dr Jason Fung, Dr. Westman, Dr. Phinney, Dr. Sarah Hallberg, Dr. Michael Eades, and Jeff Volek are a some off of the top of my head.  Also Gary Taubes is worth hearing out.  Finally, for people to learn from.... I highly recommend searching for a video called Butter Makes Your Pants fall off by Bob Briggs.  Watch it, and everything else on that sweet mans channel.  It is worth your time as he explains things so well.  He has a website as well. 

These are some of people who have taught me and I am only passing along bits and pieces of what I have learned from them and others like them.  One day soon I will make a page of resources linking to things like the above.  For now, please take the time to learn from these excellent resources.

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor and this article/blog is no substitute for medical advice.  Anything you do is at your own risk and I recommend doing your own research.  Research for yourself and see what you feel is safe to do.  Below is my personal opinion after my own research.

What is a "Ketogenic diet"? 

First let me say it is NOT a fad.  It has been around since the mid 1800's at least, technically a lot longer.  It is a diet or 'way of eating' that cause you to go into ketosis (NOT diabetic ketoacidosis).  Ketosis is simply when your body changes from burning sugars/carbs from your food, to making the little tiny bit of glucose it needs from it's stores of body fat.  Your body can actually survive without carbs.  However, if you can get your carb intake from your food low enough (20g or less usually) then your body will make this conversion.  God made our bodies in amazing ways!  The point of this is to get your body to start to burn it's own fat for energy.  It also does a HUGE thing and can reverse Type II diabetes, fatty liver, PCOS, etc. 

If you don't eat sugar/carbs/starchy foods, your body doesn't have to release ever increasing amounts insulin(which is a fat storage hormone).  Type II diabetes is a condition where you are insulin resistant.  Your body isn't using it's own insulin well.  It resists it literally.  It needs greater and greater quantities to battle the carbs you eat.  The only way to really pull the rug out from under diabetes and reverse it, is to lay off the carbs.  So it is NOT just about weight loss.  It is about stopping deadly diabetes and metabolic syndrome(and other issues too).

Now for my meager attempt at basic advice.  Each of these points I could say a lot more about, but I want to keep this as basic as possible.

Get over being afraid of fat
First before your start....forget fearing saturated fat.  A ketogenic diet is going to be high fat.  Fat is something that has been falsely feared for years.  Don't fear the fat unless it is hydrogenated trans fats.  Run from those!  Use butter, coconut oil, lard, tallow, olive oil, etc.  Fat is your friend.  Fat will help you feel satiated.  It may be more calorie dense, but it can help control your appetite with shocking power.  Higher fat, means better appetite control.  It is a tool that helps that elusive willpower most people struggle to find.

DO NOT skip the salt

Also forget fearing salt.  DO NOT try this way of eating and with intentions of going easy on salt.  You will just feel awful.  You will have terrible headaches, and even heart palpitations.  Embrace salt.

Keep a Food Journal
Track your food!!  You don't HAVE to, but I have personally found I can't do very well without doing this.  Use myfitnesspal or whatever website you like.  Use a notebook and pencil.  It doesn't matter.  Keeping track of your food intake helps so much.  If you do it with even a little accuracy, it stops you from lying to yourself about how much you are eating.  Believe me, you WILL lie to yourself if you don't track.  I guarantee it.  If you can not make yourself do a food journal, then you need to stick to a food list of safe very low carb foods.  Search Ketogenic Food List. 

Carbs are what you MUST watch

When tracking watch carbohydrates more than about anything else.  Yes, people get technical with 'macros' and getting percentages right. Typically it is be a high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet.  Ultimately, whatever you do, keep those carbs down!!!  I recommend 20 or less.  Even if you start at 30-50, it is a place to start, but you might not hit ketosis and the benefits from it.  However going with 20 works for most people, and it will put you into ketosis in a reasonable amount of time.  I personally say, go cold turkey and do it.

Keep Electrolytes Balanced <--pretty much same point as not being afraid of salt, it is that important

As mentioned above you need salt.  The process of going into ketosis is likely to make you drop a lot of water weight fast initially.  When in ketosis your body doesn't hang on to as much water.  This can cause temporary and/or intermittent electrolyte imbalances.  You might feel sluggish and have headaches for a few days.  It is often termed 'keto flu'.  Hang in there!  Some of it is also plain pure 'carb withdrawal' too.  But you can help solve the keto flu by eating plenty of salt.  Many like to supplement Magnesium (magnesium malate is a good one that won't cause bathroom issues).  Also supplementing or making sure you eat foods with potassium is good.  You can certainly get these things in your foods, just be aware few people get enough of them.  Salt is the biggie.  You just plain need more salt when you eat this way.  Many find a bouillon cube or two for quick broth is adequate to get you the salt boost you need.  Lite salt is a great cheap source of extra potassium.  I don't care if my salt is lite of course, but I do use that in addition to regular salt for that potassium.  Works beautifully.  For salt, I am partial to pink salt crystals, but anything can work. 

Consider at least Light Exercise

You don't absolutely have to exercise, but it is surely helpful.  Exercises reduces inflammation and makes you more insulin sensitive, which in turn will also help you lose weight and have better blood sugar control.  (yes I am still working on this too)

Calories Do have a Limited Place

Calories do matter.  You can eat very low carb and still be off the charts on calories.  While calories don't matter as much as carbs do, they are still worth keeping an eye on especially when trying to lose weight. 

Summary of most important things
Track your food. 
Eat 20 carbs or less. 
Eat your salt. 
Don't be afraid of fat.

There are other points I could discuss like your ratios of fat/protein/carbs.  I could talk about killing processed foods.  I could go into artificial sweeteners.  A big one I didn't touch on is Intermittant Fasting.  I won't go into that now, but it is worth googling.

Above is the most basic things to get started, in my opinion.  Keep in mind, I am still learning and capable of mistakes too.  But this is where I am right now.

I hope that helps.


PS  I also can't emphasizes enough, you have to keep up with this.  It has to be a lifelong change in eating and habits.  Believe me, if you add back in the carb monsters....weight and diabetes(or other problems) will come back faster than the blink of an eye.  If you make these wonderful changes, KEEP THEM UP for the sake of your health. Health is precious, never give up on it!