The beginnings of the ketogenic diet
This is it, you’ve made up your mind, you’re motivated, you’ve read a lot of stuff in this jungle of information, today is the big day: You start your ketogenic diet!
It’s not easy, that’s why I want to give you my advice through this post.
First, you need to know why you want to eat ketogenic?
Remember that this is not a diet that you are going to follow for 1 or 2 months but that it is a way of life, ok many people do it because it makes them lose weight but not only… this diet is used for many purposes: epileptic disorders, senile dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, diabetes, in adjuvant treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Working in the medical field, I am shocked to see that in France, doctors criticize the ketogenic food, whereas in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Canada, USA, etc., they are more interested in the diet. Doctors are becoming more and more interested in this field.
I hope we can change people’s minds…
The beginning : The keto adaptation
The first step for me is to do a blood test with an ionogram, a liver test, cholesterol or kidney test. Ask your doctor for this, so that you have a starting point and you can monitor the evolution of your levels after three or four months.
In the first few months, the liver and cholesterol levels may rise, but they soon return to normal and stabilise. Personally they have not increased.
Then you have to calculate your macros, i.e. the amount of fat, carbohydrates and proteins you will consume in a day. You will have to respect a ketogenic ratio, I personally find that 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbohydrates is enough.
To know the grammages you will have to evaluate the quantity of kcal you need, for that I downloaded the macro application but there are also others to download. Depending on your gender, age, weight, activity and whether or not you want to lose weight, you can define your needs and then refine them if the macros defined are not ketogenic enough…
Now you have your course of action.
Now how do we know if what we eat fits into our macros and where we are in the day?
I used the Macros app and weighed all my rations. I even bought myself a mini bag scale for 10 euros on the internet.
I have been weighing and entering the macros of the food in question into the database of the application, but because it is a collective database the information stated was for some products ok, but for many there are mistakes.
So at the beginning it’s very tedious, it takes time, but as time goes by your usual products will be registered and then they will come out automatically and it will be much simpler, especially as at the end of the day you’re always buying the same thing…. And if you change the brand of butter, you are not more than 0.2 g away, for example.
If you need help with the nutritional values of a product you can consult the website: https://ciqual.anses.fr, which is the reference in this field.
Of course it is not possible to adjust your macros to the grams, but you have to keep an eye on the carbohydrates, which in strict ketogenics should be less than 20g, and you have to compensate with macros rich in fats. For people who do not do it for weight loss but for other health benefits, try to approach 200g of added fat per day and for those who want to lose weight you can go down, but in my opinion not below 130g. Make sure you don’t neglect these amounts otherwise you will find it difficult to adapt.
Help yourself to additional nutrition, such as MCT oils. The fats to be used are: butter, ghee, cocoa butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, macadamia, MCT oil or cream, lard, beef fat, red palm oil. Other fats contain too much Omega 6 which is inflammatory.
As far as proteins are concerned, you must not eat too much or your liver will trigger a process called neoglucogenesis, which will transform the excess proteins into carbohydrates and then you’ve won everything… The best thing is not to exceed 0.8 to 1g per kilo of weight per day depending on your level of activity.
And above all, do not eat too much at once to avoid neoglucogenesis, for a woman no more than 20/25g per food intake and 30/35g for a man.
In the phase of this adaptation, it is important to eat as little as possible of foods that will generate inflammation in your body, by attacking your intestinal wall, otherwise your immune system will be constantly on the alert, you will have malabsorption as your mucosa is suffering, in short your body will suffer. You will lose weight but you will not have any other health benefits. I’m not telling you not to eat it at all, but it’s better to eat it once in an exceptional way, than in small quantities every day.
The foods concerned are: all oilseeds except macadamia nuts, which do not contain any phylic acid, which is a protein of the lecine family that affects your digestive system (used by plants to defend themselves). Dairy products, except butter because they contain casein which is also inflammatory. If you must consume them, give preference to sheep’s and goat’s milk.
Gluten is not normally consumed in most countries, but it is present in certain processed products.
The skin of some vegetables also contains a lot of fat: peppers, tomatoes, aubergines for example. Oils other than those mentioned above (too rich in omega 6).
Blood glucose and ketone levels
I think it’s important in this adaptation phase to monitor your fasting blood sugar level on waking. The aim of this phase is to get your body to stop yo-yoing with insulin secretion. You will see that at the beginning your blood sugar will be very variable and often with peaks well above 0.80g and post prandial (after meals) it will jump. But if you do everything right, your blood sugar will drop and stabilise without going over 0.80. If you reach these figures you will be very close to the keto adaptation.
Concerning the ketosis, there is no point in doing it with the urine since the ketones found there are the excess that is rejected by the body. Ketones must be measured in the blood and always on an empty stomach in order to be suitable. It must be between 1.7 and 3.2 mmol per litre. If it is very high (e.g. 4) it does not mean that you are in ketosis, it means that your body is making ketone bodies but does not yet know how to use them and so they remain in the blood and are eliminated in the urine.
But that said, you are well on your way!
I use the One Call GK dual meter which does both measurements, it is reliable and affordable.
Supplementing the ketogenic diet
It is very important to eat enough salt because without getting into the kidney physiology, if you don’t eat carbohydrates your kidneys will have trouble fixing the sodium and it will go into the urine. In addition, if you lack salt you will suffer from keto flux which is like a small flu and have headaches, fatigue, aches and pains. If this happens to you, immediately take a teaspoon of pink or sea salt in 500 ml of water and you will feel better very quickly.
To do it right you should add about 5g of salt a day to your food, and don’t worry too much about your blood pressure. You also need to take magnesium, practically everyone is deficient in magnesium, and in keto it will help your metabolism, help reduce insulin resistance, fight fatigue, act on the nervous system and on mood. The recommended dose is about 400mg in well absorbed forms: I recommend magnesium bisglycinate and citrate. I also advise you to eat foods rich in potassium: avocado, green vegetables, offal, seaweed. Potassium also contributes to the ionic balance in the body.
Your body has to move, moving is important to keep the metabolism going. Do not hesitate to walk or to get up whenever possible and vary your positions.
I’m not talking about sport because I’m preparing another article on this vast subject, but about active living, getting up often, taking the stairs, sitting on the floor, squeezing your buttocks … all this will stimulate your body which will have to look for energy and thus also stimulate ketosis because it needs to feed your muscle cells and, for lack of available carbohydrates, it will produce ketones which do the same job.
I hope that, like me, you will find much joy in practising this food.