Getting Started on Keto

Getting started:

If you decide that keto / low carb choice is for you, then I offer the following tips. Prepare to find your refrigerator full and your pantry with less in it, because you are eating real food.

First, what carbohydrate level should you be aiming to eat? There seems to be a magic number of grams of carbohydrates for each individual. If you are below this number you will most likely be losing weight. As the level of carbs rises your weight loss will slow. When you reach your magic number weight loss will stop and if you eat more carbs per day than the magic number, you will put on weight. So a good plan is to start with 20 grams or less carbohydrates per day and after you have fully fat adapted (maybe 3-4 weeks) add a few grams back each week, to manage your weight loss to stop losing weight when you get to your goal weight. Keep the carbohydrate level low if you have heaps to lose, but don’t get bored by the lack of food diversity. Add those carbs back gradually, but drop back if you start to put weight back on.

Make sure you eat plenty of good fat so that you are not feeling hungry. The aim is not to eat less calories, or you may kick your body into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow. So keep up your calories, ensure you are eating plenty of fat, but do not snack between meals. Remember your goal is to keep insulin levels low. Eating the required level of fat is quite difficult at first as it goes against all past conditioning.

However if you are trying to lose body fat, you should still eat plenty but not overdo the fat, allow for some of your calories to come from body fat daily. This is done by eating slightly less that you need and once fat adapted, the body will burn body fat to make up the difference once insulin is low. In my case I never had excess butter or bulletproof coffee as I never felt the need, and the extra fat just gradually melted away. Awesome. Remember that the Keto diet is very good at enabling you to eat less without getting hungry.

Plan your meals because there is generally more preparation required due to less off the shelf items available. An easy way to plan meals is to cook larger meals each dinner time and refrigerate the excess for the next days breakfast or lunch. This helps, as you are adjusting to a higher level of home cooked food. If on removing it from the refrigerator you can see it has set (like fat sets when cold) then this is a sign you are getting plenty of fat.

When you realise one day that you completely missed a meal without noticing, then you are ready to think about eating windows and 16:8 fasting. Maybe dropping breakfast and only having two meals per day.

Keeping hydration up is critical and you may need to supplement salt, magnesium and possibly potassium as the reduction in carbohydrates increases the water loss and with this you will also lose those essential minerals. Leg cramps can be a signal that you need more sodium. Drinking a huge glass of water as soon as I get out of bed each morning works for me.

Go easy on the exercise for the first 2-3 weeks as your body adapts particularly if you are not used to regular exercise, give yourself a good 6 weeks of adaption before starting. By then you may find that it is all much easier and you are chomping at the bit to start.

The early changes in your gut can result in mild constipation, so keep hydration up and if you are concerned, taking some psyllium husk in water (teaspoon in a glass) may help the transition. This can also be an indication of insufficient fat in the diet, so add more butter to the vegetables and olive oil to the salads. I expect you have already stopped trimming the fat off meat and are buying the cheapest and fattiest mince (hamburger). In my experience your body will soon settle down to a new regular.

If you slip up and have too many carbs, just double down and it will come right, but can take 2-3 days in the early stages. If you need something sweet, try eating one square of chocolate with above 70% cocoa solids. Check out my cracker recipe at the end of the book. These can be great when you have a craving or when you need a quick lunch.

When I want a real treat I take 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, cover with cream and leave a few minutes for the cream to freeze. Then eat with a spoon. Yum. Like ice cream but without the sugar.

For traveling food, I suggest some boiled eggs in the shell, cheese, salami slices, ham slices, canned tuna or sardines, some nuts, cold sausages and some of my crackers. Green salad with some vinegar and olive oil dressing is a good option.

George Elder, Author, “Take Back Your Health”, Amazon $3.99.
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Insulin Resistance

Have you heard of Insulin resistance? It is a condition where excess insulin gradually eats away at your body without showing much in the way of symptoms until one day your pancreas gives up and you end up with full blown Type 2 diabetes because your glucose is now out of control. It is caused by a persistent high level of insulin which gradually causes insulin receptors in cells to become less sensitive to the hormone’s signal. This reduction in sensitivity forces the pancreas to manufacture ever higher insulin levels, to get the signal to work, which then reduces sensitivity further, and the cycle repeats.

This typically shows with some of the symptoms below:

1. Increased body fat levels, particularly in the central area.

2. Waist measurement greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

3. Increased levels of facial and body hair for women.

4. Acanthosis Nigricans, which is a darkening of skin in folds and under arms.

5. Difficulty getting pregnant, (applies to women only of course).

6. Tendency to oily skin and hair.

7. Cravings for sweet or salty foods.

8. Skin tags.

9. Fatigue.

10. Increased hunger or thirst.

11. Erectile dysfunction.

A series of tests by the doctor can confirm IR, but it can be missed as there is a high proportion of the population which show these symptoms and the doctor may only be looking for elevated glucose. My study also highlights that most doctors tend to only treat what you complain about, rather than being proactive about your health. I have begun to realise that you need to do that yourself. If you have any concerns9, Insulin resistance itself should be tested with both a glucose tolerance test and fasting insulin test, because of the ability of the excess insulin to keep glucose levels down, hiding the real problem and causing fasting glucose levels to appear to be OK.

One often failing of current medical testing for insulin resistance is that it focuses on your inability to get glucose into cells rather than how much insulin you are producing. The result is that people can be sent away from the doctor after being told all is okay, because the massive level of insulin in their body manages glucose down and hides the real problem. Unfortunately for them the doctor only realises there is a problem when the “end stage” symptoms show up. Because serious micro-vascular damage is being done during this undiagnosed period by excess insulin, much of the damage to your body may be irreversible by the end-stage. If you have any concerns, you need to take a look at other signals yourself and insist on insulin resistance testing to avoid this disaster.

Family history can also be a clue. Check out direct relatives on both parents sides of your family tree, because some people are much more sensitive to this than others. Also don’t assume that because you are slim, you are in the clear. There is a body type known as TOFI (thin outside, fat inside) which presents as slim, but is still impacted by significant visceral fat around the organs.

If this is not reversed or treated in some way, your future health can be seriously impacted.

Here are some of the problems directly related to this condition:

1. Significantly reduced chance of getting pregnant, even with IVF treatment.

2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

3. Non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

4. Metabolic syndrome.

5. Type 2 diabetes.

6. Kidney disease.

7. Cardio vascular (heart) disease.

8. Blindness due to damage in small eye blood vessels.

9. Nerve ending damage that can lead to amputations particularly in extremities.

10. Alzheimer’s (brain) disease.

People with Insulin resistance, Metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance doubles your risk for heart attack and stroke – and triples the odds that a heart attack or ‘brain attack’ (Stroke) will be deadly, according to the International Diabetes Federation. One single extra kilogram of visceral fat in a female is linked to a 4X greater risk for type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are also linked with higher risk for cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, cervix, pancreas, prostate and uterus.  The connection: High insulin levels early in insulin resistance seem to fuel the growth of tumors and to suppress the body’s ability to protect itself by killing off malignant cancer cells.

The longer that the condition goes untreated the less the ability to reverse it in the future. It used to be believed that Type 2 Diabetes was not reversible and in fact many doctors still believe this because they have no understanding of the capability of a low carbohydrate diet to counter this. I have read that doctors are not really taught about nutrition at medical school as the current medical model instead focuses on drug prescribing and surgery.

How to reduce insulin resistance? A most effective way is to dramatically reduce the level of carbohydrates in the diet. In other words, cut out sugars, grains and starches , replacing these calories with healthy fat and low carb vegetables. For proof, ask your doctor for a continuous glucose monitor and watch to see what foods raise glucose in your body, remembering that when glucose rises, insulin will then rise to manage the glucose level in your blood. Before making any changes, consult your medical professional and take the tests.

George Elder, Author, “Take Back Your Health”, Amazon $3.99.
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