The last 3 months have been pretty incredible for me so I feel the need to write this up and share my story of how the Keto Diet (Ketogenic Diet) worked for me. I wouldn't say I was really fat. I would say that I was just fat. I am 6 feet tall and 3 months ago I weighed 218 lbs. I was cranky, clothes didn't fit and I was hungry all the time. What really aggravated me was that I thought I was eating right. I would have a banana and Cheerios for breakfast. 2 hours later I'd be starving so I'd have another banana. A little later I'd be starving so I'd have a turkey and spinach whole grain wrap. A few hours later I'd have an apple and a granola bar. By the time I got home from work I'd be raiding the snack closet but then finishing the night with some "healthy" meatless spaghetti and a salad. My weight stayed the same even with exercising 7 days a week. Something must be wrong.
One of my friends was tweeting the hashtag #ketosis and that intrigued me. I looked into this and learned more about the Keto Diet or Ketogenic Diet. Long story short this diet is based on the concept of removing carbohydrates and increasing your fat intake. Basically it goes against everything we have been taught about nutrition our entire lives. Fat is good for you and carbohydrates and sugars are bad. I wanted to try something new because clearly the advice I have been given to reduce fat has been a failure. This seemed perfect.
Starting The Ketogenic Diet
My goal was to take in about 2000-2500 calories a day with a macronutrient breakdown of 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbs. Basically that means the only carbohydrates I was taking in are from salad greens or other vegetables, referred to as incidental carbs. Here are some of the meals that I ate.
Common Keto Foods
Going out to dinner wasn't really a problem. For a Mexican restaurant I'd have a chicken fajita platter with cheese and extra sour cream.
I also had some leftover steak in the freezer, so I put it in a pan with some red peppers, tomato sauce, heavy cream and mozzarella cheese.
When I felt like hitting the grill, I turned to bacon cheddar stuffed burgers cooked on a salt block with a side of steamed shrimp. This is delicious stuff! No bun!
One of most keto friendly foods that I have on this food blog is my Keto Friendly Smoked Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers. Are you kidding me? A "diet" where you can eat all this?
Above I mentioned eggs for breakfast. Basically, eggs and bacon or eggs and sausage are the best keto breakfast foods but I would mix things up with this cream cheese pancake recipe with heavy whipped cream (no sugar) and blueberries. Yes!
For my birthday we went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I got this 22oz bone in ribeye with extra butter and then next morning I lost 2 pounds. What is going on here?!
Bacon. Yes bacon!
This might be the coolest thing I have ever seen. A little Mexican blend cheese microwaved for 1.5 minutes on some parchment paper until it "burns" and you can fold it up into a crisp cheese taco shell!
Taco salad is one of my go to meals. Low carb with great grass fed ground beef, tasty jalapeño peppers, cheddar cheese and lots of sour cream.
I lost my sweet tooth during this experiment and after dinner I am usually full so desserts aren't something I really want anymore. However, 90% dark chocolate is a low carb and very tasty dessert. I might have a serving once a week.
Does a Keto Diet Work?
Ok, so by the above photos, I've proven to you that I have eaten some pretty awesome stuff over the past 3 months. This type of food was the typical for every day. As I mentioned, I also workout 7 days a week. Either swimming for 30 min, walking for an hour, or doing weights. I enjoy exercise. After 3 months on the ketogenic diet I lost 28 pounds. Yes, as of this date I weigh 190.8 and I feel amazing. Total mood increase, major weight loss, I'm never hungry and in fact sometimes I have to remind myself to eat. That's the power of the ketogenic low carb high fat diet.
Cholesterol Test After Keto Diet
Above shows the weight loss results. The next thing I did was to schedule a physical with my doctor, at Johns Hopkins, to explain to her that I no longer believe the concept that a low fat diet is healthy. When I met with my doctor she was fascinated. She admitted to not knowing too much about a ketogenic diet but when I explained it to her she agreed that "carbohydrates are most of our problems nowadays." I couldn't believe she said that! I requested a full blood panel including lipid analysis and a special LDL test called a fractionation test. The latter test is a special test that doesn't look at a calculated total LDL, rather it breaks the LDL down into various particle sizes, some of which have been shown to be linked to atherosclerosis.
Just as this whole ketogenic diet has turned what I know about nutrition upside down the same is true for the analysis of blood cholesterol levels. It turns out that all that is important in your lipid blood panel is total triglycerides, HDL and your LDL pattern. LDL pattern is only available from the fractionation test I mention above. Here are my results which my doctor is perfectly fine with:
Total cholesterol: 246 mg/dl
Triglycerides: 92 mg/dl
HDL: 64 mg/dl
LDL (calculated): 164 mg/dl
Some doctors who are using old cholesterol rules would put me on cholesterol lowing meds immediately simply because of the calculated LDL number and total cholesterol number shown above. However, those numbers are believed to be useless and it doesn't even asses the type of LDL that I have. Also, my HDL is high and my triglycerides are low. My trig/HDL ratio is 1.4, which is awesome!
The Quest Cardio IQ Lipoprotein Ion Mobility Lipid fractionation results are below:
My small, medium and large LDL particle size distribution was determined to be 189 nmol/L, 430 nmol/L and 5410 nmol/L. Overwhelmingly, I have the large LDL particles. In general it was concluded that I am a "pattern A" LDL profile, which Is the "large fluffy" or "large buoyant" LDL subtype. This is great news! Also of note, my C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, was 0.1mg/dl, which is amazingly low. I attribute this to my low intake of highly inflammatory processed carbohydrates.
Is a Keto Diet Safe?
My doctor agreed that my results are normal for a low carb high fat lifestyle and she congratulated me on losing so much weight. I know it is a little disturbing to have to throw out all the information we have been told about cholesterol and dietary fat being bad for us. However, I feel that with my blood results, my doctor's approval, the way I feel, and some of the reading I have been doing that this keto diet is indeed a lifestyle that is working for me at this time. I'm in a good mood, I've lost a ton of weight, my alcohol consumption has decreased (hard liquor and red wine are safe for the Keto Diet, sadly no craft beer) and I'm eating awesome satiating stuff!
A lot of the grilling recipes that I have on this blog are already keto diet friendly foods, especially if you skip the bun. Lucky for me, most of us enjoy the meat aspect more than the bun aspect of a recipe so I'm going to add a new category to the side of the blog to be able to label all of the recipes that are keto foods that work with a low carb high fat diet.
Keto Books and References
Please let me know if you have any questions or find any references or scientific studies that go against or support this. I've become fascinated with the idea that our nutrition guidelines are incorrect and I'm very interested in reading articles and books about this. Here are some of the references that I have enjoyed over the past 3 months:
Vinnie Tortorich (yes, a Hollywood trainer! - no wonder celebrities are always slim!)
Diet Doctor - this is an amazing source of great recipes for Keto Foods that fit the low carb high fat % requirements.
Of note, these opinions are my own and this is simply a story of how I dropped a lot of weight fast. By no means is this any sort of medical advice or the views of any official federal agency.