This week I wrote about something with which I have become very familiar: the ketogenic diet.
If youíre like, "Huh?" you are where I was three months ago, before my husband, Phil, embarked on the weight-loss regimen.
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan in which the goal is to get your body into a state of ketosis, when it begins to burn fat because it doesnít have carbohydrates to burn. It can be tricky to stick to the diet properly. But if, like my husband, you do, the results can be dramatic: He has lost 30 pounds since he began, has more energy and generally just feels great.
He also hasnít eaten a piece of fruit in three months.
RELATED: Hereís the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it
So, yeah, the diet can be extreme, which is why itís important to do your research before starting it. Phil did, and heís precise about getting the necessary macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) to make the diet work and remain healthy. No, he doesnít eat a ton of bacon. Itís all about those good fats: avocados, tuna, olives, nuts. Sometimes, to get the required amount of fat per day, heíll just pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over his meal. (Or, shudder, take it by the spoonful.)
I thought Iíd ask Phil about his specific journey, because he is all in on that keto life.
How did you first hear about the ketogenic diet?
I have a friend who is doing it. He had lost a lot of weight. It sounded like a diet Iíd like doing because I prefer savory foods, and itís a lot of savory foods. It wasnít calorie restricting. Those diets donít work for me because, well, I get hungry.
Do you track what youíre eating?
I count carbs and protein and fat in grams. For carbs, I try to eat as little as possible . Iíd say six days a week Iím able to hit that goal. As far as tracking macros, you have to get enough fat in your diet, otherwise you throw off your ketosis. And you canít get too much protein. Thatís any type of fat, but I try not to eat saturated fats.
Are there certain numbers of different nutrients you aim to consume each day?
Generally, itís 1,960 calories per day, 165 grams fat, 105 grams protein, 15 grams carbs. I also have gotten into the habit of thinking about my daily meals in terms of macros. For example, today for lunch I ate 60 grams fat, 45 grams protein and 1 gram carb instead of "tuna, avocado, olive salad." Iíll treat myself to a keto pizza or a meatloaf from time to time, but mostly, food equals sustenance.
What are the foods you miss most on keto?
Bread. Well, maybe itís just flour in general. Itís not the sugar I miss, itís more of those savory carbs. I would love a bagel all the time.
Has your hunger level changed at all?
Iím practically never hungry. And when I do eat, I stay full. When I was eating a bunch of carbs, I would eat something and then be hungry all day. Now I get full after I eat. Sometimes I have to force myself to eat and hit my macros. I could go a whole day without eating and be fine.
And why is that?
I think itís because the body is breaking down that excess fat, and youíre technically in starvation mode, so you donít feel hungry.
How about your mood? Lots of people are cranky on diets. You have not seemed that way at all.
Yeah, you could say I feel better on keto. Happier and in a good mood. My friend told me that happened to him, too. Maybe itís because the brain isnít receiving that spike in glucose that you get from carbs. Instead thereís a steady stream of ketones.
So, what can you eat?
As with any diet, itís important to know what you can and canít eat. My husband builds a lot of grownup Lunchables, assembling plates of cubed meats and cheeses and nuts. Avocados are his new best friend. Olive oil is a good source of healthy fats, and can add flavor to meats and vegetables. Here are some reliably keto-friendly foods.
ē Nuts, but especially high-fat macadamia nuts and walnuts
ē Low-carb vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower
ē Cheese: Brie, blue, mozzarella, cheddar; stay away from sweeter cheeses such as ricotta