- Let’s Be Honest. There Are A Heap Of Fad Diets Around
- This Diet Gets Results With Real Benefits For Your Overall Health
- Can You Still Do The Keto Diet Even If You Don’t Eat Much Meat?
- What Is The Keto Diet And Why Does It Work So Well?
- Eating Carbs Regularly Means You Need To Exercise
- Why Does The Keto Diet Plan Need To Be So Strictly Followed?
- Ease Into The Keto Diet So It’s Not Such A Shock To Your Body
- You Must Drink Plenty Of Water On the Keto Diet…Seriously!
- Are There Any Side Effects To The Keto Diet?
- How Long Should I Stay On The Keto Diet For?
- We Need Complex Carbs In Our Diet For Optimal Health
- Let’s look At The 8 Super Benefits Of The Keto Diet
- 1. The Keto Diet Will Definitely Help You Lose Weight
- 2. Keto Diet Can Reduce Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels
- 3. Low Carb Diets Can Lower Blood Pressure
- 4. Lower Carb Intake Can Improve ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol Levels
- 5. Low Carb Diets Can Increase Levels Of ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol
- 6. Low Carb Diets Look Promising To Treat Parkinson’s Disease
- 7. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- 8. Epilepsy Improvement By Following A Ketogenic Diet
- In Conclusion
Recommendation – Consult with your GP before starting any new diet to check for any underlying conditions you may not be aware of. Even when you start to feel more energized, please don’t change any insulin or other medication dosages without consulting your physician.
Hello again my lovely friend.
I have never liked to suggest a diet/eating plan to people unless I have tried it myself…and even then I do so reluctantly. But I often get asked how I keep my weight pretty stable although I’m well over 50.
I know many of us struggle with weight gain following menopause and just due to aging in general. There are some very valid reasons why we find it hard to control weight other than just good ‘ol lack of willpower (guilty as charged!)
In this post, I’d like to share with the Keto low-carb diet that worked extremely well for reducing my weight (particularly that all-important belly fat), and has some very beneficial health outcomes for people of all ages, particularly our 50+ age group.
Let’s Be Honest. There Are A Heap Of Fad Diets Around
Some may seem great, but most can do more harm than good…and people love to try them looking for that magic pill. Such as a friend who recently tried the ‘Grapefruit Diet’ for example.
Our amazingly clever human body isn’t going to like that one bit!…here’s why.
When we finally stop chomping down grapefruits after a month, the rebound effect will be massive. Your body will be in a melt-down and not in a good way.
In the “OMG…feed me proper food” kinda way.
Promptly rewarding us for treating it so badly by ‘storing’ as fat, just about every morsel of food we eat after that…just in case we starve it again!
How many times have we heard people complaining that they put on even more weight AFTER they come off the diet-de-jour? This is the body’s rebound effect…and yes, I experienced this. It’s a total mind-mess!
Guess what! Your body didn’t know you were dieting…it thought you were starving.
It took me a long time to grasp this concept. I thought that the less I ate, the more I would lose. This led to a lot of anxiety which I’m sure many of you can relate to.
We think we’re doing what we should to be able to lose weight. Meanwhile, our bodies are like…nope, not gonna happen!
Turns out, evolution has built into us the mechanism that will protect us at all costs.
It thinks we’re in a starvation situation, so it switches to ‘survival mode’ and starts to hold on to every bit of food we give it after that…just in case. It’s actually trying to keep us alive.
Something we often forget is that, even though we’re all human, we are Bio-Individual. This means that we’re all different and what works for me may not work for you.
So it can be disappointing when your results differ from mine or others because diets are a cookie-cutter approach, which doesn’t work in reality.
However, the following diet seems to have good results for most people who try it.
This Diet Gets Results With Real Benefits For Your Overall Health
In amongst all the fashionable diets that tend to drift around in varying levels of popularity, I have personally used, and still do use two great diets…the Keto diet and the Mediterranean Diet. Both are effective and both achieve some very good and unexpected health outcomes.
The main difference between them is that the Keto diet needs to be followed strictly in order to be effective, whereas the Mediterranean (related post) is less a diet, and more an ongoing lifestyle choice for healthy weight maintenance.
So, even though it’s strict, the great benefit of starting on the Keto is to achieve the weight loss and therefore gain the health benefits that come with that…and then transition to Mediterranean-style eating for weight maintenance.
Can You Still Do The Keto Diet Even If You Don’t Eat Much Meat?
Before I explain how the diet works, I want to address the Keto Diet from the point of view of people who aren’t vegetarian but don’t eat much meat.
Personally, I don’t like red meat, pork, or lamb so I stick with oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, plus chicken, prawns, eggs, cheese, leafy veggies, avocados, nuts, seeds, and berries (very low in natural sugar). Also, I use cream cheese on my veggies as I’m not a huge fan of butter.
If you are vegetarian, you can still do Keto but obviously, you will need to ramp up your sources of non-animal protein and continue including eggs and cheese together with all the good sources of fats.
For obvious reasons, this diet is not for people who are vegan.
What Is The Keto Diet And Why Does It Work So Well?
(Warning, a bit of necessary technical stuff ahead!)
Keto stands for Ketogenic. This is where you induce a situation in your body where it has reduced sugar to use for energy so it turns to ‘burning’ your body fat instead. This process is called Ketosis.
In order for this to work effectively, you need to follow the correct ratios of Fat, Proteins, and Carbohydrates.
So, how does your body achieve Ketosis?
When we eat a standard, or an excessive amount of complex carbohydrates, but don’t do enough physical exercise to burn them off, it gets stored as fat.
This is because carbs have a large amount of natural sugar in the form of Glucose.
Normally in an ideal situation, glucose will be converted by our body into Glycogen which is found in our liver and muscles, and then used to ‘power’ our body and brain.
When we consume more carbs than we really need, we are consuming more glucose than our body can store as glycogen so your liver stores it as fat for future use (very often around our mid-section. More on that later)
Eating Carbs Regularly Means You Need To Exercise
So, unless you work out frequently or you are training for a marathon, eating too many carbs regularly (simple or complex) is going to lead to fat storage because you have tipped the balance in favor of it.
If you reduce your intake of complex carbs (cut out simple carbs altogether – waaay too much sugar!), so that effectively you are depleting your body of the glucose available to be converted to glycogen, meaning there isn’t enough glucose to change into energy.
So your liver reacts by making ketones which are a type of chemical the liver produces when it breaks down fats.
Effectively, ketones are the by-product of the body using your stored fat for energy instead of using the ‘sugar’ you would normally be eating in the form of carbohydrates.
Notice, I’ve been talking about complex carbs.
These are found in whole fruits, pasta, bread, rice, root veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, etc, and to a lesser degree in legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas.
Avoid low-fat ‘anything’. Condiments, sauces, mayonnaise, and all processed foods…because they invariably contain plenty of sugar. As do low fat or non-fat butter, margarine, and low-fat mayonnaise. These are all culprits to be avoided at all costs.
Plus…they also contain so much other crap you don’t want in your precious body.
So, imagine if you’re getting your sugar from ‘simple carbs’
Like refined sugar, processed foods, (including canned ‘anything’) processed fruit juices, fast foods, candies, cakes, etc. These are stored as fat very fast in the body if you don’t burn them off. Hence the propensity for obesity by so many people in the population.
Why Does The Keto Diet Plan Need To Be So Strictly Followed?
In order to create the correct situation within your body to induce ketosis, you need to follow a Keto diet strictly.
But, this doesn’t involve calorie-counting.
You can eat as much as you like of the permitted foods but straying outside of these will stop the ketosis process.
It’s all about that balance discussed earlier. Falling off the wagon and eating carbs will stop ketosis and stop the fat-burning process and your weight loss will slow down or stop. (unless you exercise – there’s that word again!)
But you’re only human!
We all know shit happens. So there will be times when for whatever reason we can’t stick to it rigidly. The trick is, don’t ruin all your hard work by throwing in the towel and thinking “Oh well, I’ve messed up so I may as well give up”.
Don’t beat yourself up…just get started again the next day. You WILL see the benefits of this diet.
AND…if you can stick to it for a period of time such as 12 weeks, you will REALLY see the benefits and not just in your waistline but overall health improvement.
Then, move across to something like the Mediterranean way of eating for a maintenance period. Use the Keto diet again if you feel you are starting to creep up on the carbs too much.
Ease Into The Keto Diet So It’s Not Such A Shock To Your Body
Changing from eating carbohydrates to suddenly cutting them out completely (except the allowed ones) will be a bit of a shock to your system.
I suggest you prepare yourself for the change by slowly cutting down on the main carbs like pasta, potatoes, bread, rice, root veggies (beets, carrots, etc.) and, all legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, peanuts (yes, peanuts are a legume and not actually a member of the nut family).
If you cut down on these foods for a couple of weeks prior to starting the diet, it won’t be such a drastic change to cut these out once you begin following the diet strictly.
This can also help offset the ‘Keto Flu’ (see side effects section)
You Must Drink Plenty Of Water On the Keto Diet…Seriously!
Drinking a lot of plain water throughout the day is very beneficial under normal circumstances anyway as it helps with weight loss at any time.
However, when you’re in ketosis, you need more water to flush the ketones from your body along with the by-products of the fat that has been used for ‘energy’.
In the process of turning carbs into energy, water is an important part of the process. Plus, water will help ease any headaches you can sometimes experience as a result of ketosis.
As carbs become scarce in the diet, the body turns to the carbs it already has stored as fat and burns them for fuel (ketosis). As the stored energy, in the form of glycogen, is used up, the water stored along with the glycogen is released as well.
Therefore, when the stored carbs are used for powering your body, you also lose quite a lot of stored water. As a result, water is typically the first weight loss that happens on a low-carb journey, and it’s usually the easiest to lose.
Don’t get discouraged…this is just the start of the weight loss process.
Are There Any Side Effects To The Keto Diet?
Yes…as with any diet, there are adjustments that your body has to make.
The Keto diet is no different. As long as you are following the diet correctly, not getting ‘radical’ about it, and drink lots of water you will usually only experience the Keto-Flu.
Keto-Flu is where you get flu-like symptoms. No…it’s not contagious. It will go away after a few days.
Don’t panic. It’s just your body’s way of adjusting to a totally new way of dealing with your food. Take things easy, rest, and drink plain water and green tea.
Some other possible side effects that can happen but are not as common and are relatively short-lived are:
- Vitamin and Mineral deficiency
Coping With These Side Effects
However unpleasant the side effects of this diet appear at the time, will be more than offset by the health benefits you will experience compared to the medical issues you could have later in life if you do nothing!
Particularly if you suffer from any of the health issues discussed later in this post.
Remember…most of these will be greatly alleviated if you drink PLENTY of plain water and some Green Tea.
NOTE: If you overdo it, don’t stick to eating correctly, or stay on the diet for month and months, you may get more serious conditions such as:
- Kidney Stones
- Hepatic Steatosis (fatty liver)
- Hypoproteinemia (low levels of proteins in the blood)
However, these are extremely unlikely if you follow the diet correctly. As with anything…don’t go ‘radical’. Follow the guidelines and don’t stay on the diet long-term.
How Long Should I Stay On The Keto Diet For?
It’s recommended that the first 2-6 weeks are the ketogenic adaptation phase where your body is going through the change of switching to relying primarily on fat rather than glucose or carbohydrates for energy.
To really see dramatic results you should follow the diet as strictly as possible for 3-4 months max!
NOTE: It’s definitely not recommended that you live the rest of your life in a state of ketosis no matter how good the results are.
In fact, overdoing it by getting all gung-ho and eating massive amounts of protein, not drinking enough water, or staying on the diet indefinitely could be dangerous.
**Remember…ketosis is NOT a normal state for our body to be in**
We Need Complex Carbs In Our Diet For Optimal Health
So, view the Keto Diet as a solution for good weight loss, helping to get you back to a healthy weight and offset some serious medical issues.
But, you will need to transition back to a more well-rounded way of approaching your food consumption long-term.
Evolution designed us to be able to chase wild animals for our food, extending massive amounts of energy doing so. We don’t do that anymore…(unless you count the run at the grocery store to get the discounted roasted chickens!)
Now we eat too many carbs (particularly unhealthy processed ones) as if we still expended that much energy every day which of course most of us don’t.
Hence the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s and so many others.
The medical profession is very aware that so much of this is attributed to what we eat, how much we eat, and lack of exercise. It knows that this is greatly contributing to the health epidemic in the US and other 1st world countries.
Let’s look At The 8 Super Benefits Of The Keto Diet
1. The Keto Diet Will Definitely Help You Lose Weight
After the initial water loss, you will see rapid weight reduction, particularly from your tummy region. This is important as belly fat (visceral fat) in both men and women is attributed to heart conditions. And, it’s not just where you can see it.
It collects internally around your organs…so you can imagine the health risks.
This type of fat deposit increases inflammation levels in the body. It’s interesting to note that the nickname for visceral fat is “heart attack fat”. So while losing fat from anywhere will help your health…there are extra special reasons to get rid of that ‘spare tire’.
A higher waist circumference indicates visceral fat. Women with a waist circumference of 34.5 inches or more and men with greater than 40 inches are at higher risk of heart and other diseases. It’s a sobering statistic and one we should all should take seriously.
2. Keto Diet Can Reduce Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels
Millions of people worldwide are affected by diabetes and insulin resistance. Studies are now showing that cutting carbs lowers blood sugar and insulin levels dramatically.
Some people on the low-carb Keto diet have needed to reduce their insulin dosage by as much as 50% almost immediately. A low-carb diet may treat and possibly even reverse Type 2 diabetes.
**NOTE: Always consult your GP before adjusting your insulin or any other medication dosage**
3. Low Carb Diets Can Lower Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure or hypertension is an issue for many of us as we age, and can be a significant risk factor for many diseases. These include heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure, all of which affect women as often as men.
Cutting down on carbs leads to a significant drop in blood pressure, reducing the risk of many common diseases and definitely helping you live longer.
4. Lower Carb Intake Can Improve ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol issues are something many of us start to have problems with as we age. Strangely this isn’t usually associated with whether you have always been slim or always carried some weight.
I have a friend who has always been super slim, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink much and yet her cholesterol has always been high. Seems weird right?
She has been controlling it in the latter years by limiting her intake of carbohydrates.
The size of the LDL particles is important. The smaller they are, the greater the link to heart disease. A low carb diet has been shown to increase the size of the LDL particles, AND reduce the total number of them in the bloodstream making them less of a risk.
5. Low Carb Diets Can Increase Levels Of ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol
One of the best ways to increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol is to eat good fats, and low carb diets like the Keto diet include a lot of the good fats.
The higher your levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol compared to ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart disease.
6. Low Carb Diets Look Promising To Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder characterized by low levels of the molecule dopamine. This leads to symptoms such as tremors, impaired posture, stiffness, and difficulty walking and writing.
The ketogenic diet has shown promise in improving symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in both animal and human studies. However, at this stage, high-level testing is required so there’s no conclusive evidence yet.
7. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
This condition affects thousands of women. It’s a hormone dysfunction disease resulting in irregular periods, infertility, and obesity, leaving them at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The syndrome leaves these women with insulin resistance meaning they have a hard time losing weight AND falling pregnant.
The fact that the low-carb diets can reduce insulin resistance, and reproductive hormones can improve, can possibly reverse infertility. At the very least, weight reduction will improve their health.
8. Epilepsy Improvement By Following A Ketogenic Diet
Epilepsy seizures are due to excessive brain activity. Some patients don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. Seizures often improve in about 50% of patients who follow a classic Ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic diets have been shown to reduce seizure frequency and severity in many children and adults with epilepsy who don’t respond well to drug therapy.
Also, there are some promising benefits for the brain beyond just seizure control like Alzheimer’s disease. This has to be a good thing as Alzheimer’s is on the rise in the US.
Ok, So Now You Know Why Ketogenic Diets Work.
I’m sure you get the picture. Real health benefits to be had and less belly fat…so a very big chance of a longer life.
BUT…here’s the thing
Don’t do this diet because you feel unworthy due to being over-weight. Please accept that you are a wonderful, complex, and amazing human being!. Carrying some extra weight is nothing to be ashamed of. Do this diet for YOU.
As far as I’m concerned, STUFF what the world wants to say about anyone being overweight.
Losing weight is intensely personal. It’s all about YOUR health and YOUR self-esteem. Yes, you will gain self-confidence and positivity from being a slimmer version of yourself. But, do it for the right reasons for YOU, and not because anyone else thinks you should.
As always, I would love to hear your comments. To our continued wonderful Midlife journey