Ketogenic diet is the one where one gets most of his/her calories from healthy fats and limit carbohydrates to about 5% of daily calories. This way, the body learns to get its energy from fat, by creating ketons and burning fat rather than glucose. It gives the body more and sustainable energy, stops the sugar/carbohydrate cravings and helps you to each optimum fat level in the body.
I have been trying different diets since many many years! I got my first diet book when I was in the university and at the time the main concern was how to lose a few kilos in a healthy and conscious way.
Why did I decide to try?
During my Health Coach certification, I started exploring new ways of eating, some for health reasons and some for trying out new weight loss programs, for my self and my clients. I tried vegan, raw, green juice fasts, detox programs and each time learned so much through the theory and practice. I still apply my learnings for myself and my clients.
I learned about ketogenic (low carb high fat) diet a few years ago from my brother, my all-time guide in the healthy living realm! At the time, it seemed impossible for me to live with that low carb levels (around 25g-50g per day depending on the person).
This year, I went through some digestive problems after using heavy antibiotics and other factors. Then did a long detox from gluten-dairy and raw food to give a break and rest to digestion. Meanwhile, I realized I started eating more carbohydrates than before. And even if they were all complex-whole-clean and healthy versions and not the white-processed form, I felt like eating and craving “carbs” more then before.
After a week of juices and smoothies cleansing (although it still had carbohydrates from fruits), I felt ready to try the ketogenic diet! I found an expert coach, Ilker Caglayan and had our session and got my own program, menu and exercise ideas.
My main target is to decrease my body fat percentage, get rid of this carb dependency, increase my energy and support me for the muscle increase program.
It has been 4 weeks now and it was quite a journey!
My first advice
In this diet is, never do this on your own or without asking your doctor or reading-analyzing very well that you become and expert before you apply!
A good reading to start with is the The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, by Jeff S.Volek and Stephen D.Phinney.
During the initial part of the program, the limit is 25g net carbohydrates (that comes mainly from vegetables), eliminate sugar-fruit-grains-legumes/staples. This is identified by my coach, considering my weight-height, fat percentage, lifestyle and exercise routine.
What is out?
That covers no flour-rice-quinoa-buckwheat- potatoes-corns-peas, sweeteners, coconut milk/yogurt, cashews-peanuts (which I am shocked to learn that it is a staple and not “nuts”!!), alcohol, etc too!
What is In?
So I eat healthy fats (nuts-seeds-avocado-olives-coconut/olive oils, etc), palm-size protein and at least 3-4 times more green vegetables-salads then proteins!
The first days are clearly though!
There is something called keto flu, where your body goes through a kind of detox. I had headaches and made me feel very tired and flu-like feeling. On the 4th day I started feeling better but then I started heaving some “sugar/carb” cravings which were strange as I am not used to it! I usually have salty cravings and not sweet!!
This was clearly a trick of the mind and body’s reaction to not having the usual way!
As days go, I started feeling really energetic and my cravings lessened. I always had a morning and afternoon snack and especially the afternoon snack sometimes turn out to be a like a big meal!!
In this diet, you are advised not to snack and keep the blood sugar level consistent and not play around with your insulin, pumping it every few hours. Ideally, 2 meals, one late breakfast and early dinner is a good way to keep the body well nourished and insulin consistent.
However, life is not that easy! I had a full time training these past 2 weeks and a family to feed and socialize! So I gave myself time to adjust and had 3 meals as usual but had no morning snack and in the afternoons, just a few nuts. Even this was a process for me to go through!
Organising the keto life
Every night after dinner, I prepared myself a “breakfast salad”, with avocado-olives-pine nuts-sesame-cucumber-parsley-mint-walnuts. Separately I made a lemon juice- olive oil sauce to accompany. I ate half of this salad for my breakfast, together with my 2 egg omelet with vegetables.
For lunch, I used the remaining salad and added a protein and vegetables from Indian or Chinese restos nearby my training school.
Evenings were usually grilled or baked vegetables, salads, and a palm size protein- mostly fish. After 3 weeks of 3 meal protein, now I am down to 2 meal protein.
Pictures: Cauliflower rice, steamed green beans and asparagus with lamb chops; grilled veggies with grilled turkey, spinach sauté, steamed broccoli and grilled curry powder turkey.
So far I have lost 3% fat, down from around 25% to 22%. I started to see the muscles I have been building through my power yoga and fitness classes! I am feeling more energetic, can keep up with exercise and busy life easier. And most of all my cravings are mostly gone.
Now the big challenge is what and how to do during the holiday?
To carb or not to carb? That’s the question!
I am back to my home country, Turkey, the homeland of carbs, the perfect combination of Aegean – Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines!! Plus, holidays mean a glass of spirit with your nice view and delicious dishes of mezzes (tapas)!!
I decided to give this diet a 4-month trial, full on!
So I will challenge myself during the holiday yet I am a human, a yoga teacher human!! So I will be kind to myself if some days I feel like giving a break and enjoying a holiday and then make sure that I move more then usual and balance it in the next meal. After 4 months I will write again my opinions, experience and decision to continue lifetime or not! According to the experts, this diet is forever! That means you adapt your lifestyle to it and never go back to previous carbohydrate levels. I am not sure yet if this can be the case for me or not.
High-Intensity Workouts, Meditation and Breathing
A good advice is to support this diet this high-intensity workouts, where one empties the glycogen storage and therefore help the fat burning process. So I will do the 7-minute workout application exercises and swimming with intervals of high intensity.
A better advice during this diet (and actually any diet and anytime) is to meditate and do some breathing. If you have been meditating already, maybe you can include an intention or sankalpa (a wish-something positive you want to be, like “I am Strong”) before the start of this meditation for some days or weeks to prepare your mindset. This is how I did and I believe it helps me. During the first weeks of this diet, especially when the cravings hit, you can again go back to your meditations and do some relaxing breathing. It really helps you to overcome those difficult moments. If you want to learn more about mediation, take a look at my article here.
I am updating on this journey in my Instagram and Facebook accounts, sharing my new recipes, discoveries and challenges. Please ask me any questions and I will do my best to answer. I am not an expert yet an explorer and can share my own experience.
And once more again, please get an expert opinion, a doctor or a coach, before you start this diet as it is a very specific one.