Living Keto: My Spin On No Hungy
Like our glorious Shogun and Mr Ryan T, I’ve also been on a No Hungy crusade. It’s no secret that I’m quite obese, and have been for many years. After being inspired by Xopher’s amazing No Hungy progress, I decided to take up the challenge, but with a low-carb spin on it.
First off, a short background: I’ve struggled with my weight since I was in high school, though as I’ve gotten older my weight has gotten out of control. In October of last year, I was within a pound or two of 400, and decided it was time to change. I started with a regiment of eating less and walking more, and the pounds slowly started to come off. When you’re 400 lbs and you lose 1 to 2 lbs a week, it’s hard to stay focused, and more often than not I overate and shot myself in the foot yet again. In 4 months, I had dropped 20ish lbs and was hovering around 375.
Depressed over my slow progress, I went to my doctor. We did some tests and it turns out that I was nearly pre-diabetic, with some major insulin resistance to boot. With this knowledge, I started studying blood sugar and what it meant to be resistant to insulin. Through these studies, the mantra of a ketogenic lifestyle was introduced to me. After a couple days of hard research, I decided to give it a try and see how it went.
Spoiler Alert: It’s been fantastic. I have lost about 20 lbs of body fat in 30 days, as well as 10 lbs of retained water. I have tons of energy and generally feel better. Hell, my old t-shirts are starting to fit again, and it’s all thanks to my ketogenic lifestyle change.
But what is a ketogenic lifestyle, you ask? Ketogenesis is a process your body goes through when you don’t introduce glucose to the bloodstream. This state is called ketosis, abbreviated to Keto. In ketosis, your body will produce compounds called ketones, which break down fatty acids for energy due to an absence of glucose in the blood. Since fat is not a prime source of energy, like carbs and sugar, your body will pull from fat stores to provide energy… and you lose weight.
While the above paragraph is a seriously condensed version of how Keto works, it covers the very basics. Living Keto is actually pretty simple, once you break it down into a simple list of key points to follow:
1: The No Hungy Rule Still Applies
Though Keto may sound like a “magic pill” diet, it’s not. You still have to follow the golden rule of No Hungy: Eat Less, Move More. Without following this rule, all you’re doing is overfeeding yourself and causing your body to store energy instead of burning it. Nobody loses weight eating 5000 calories a day.
To follow the rule of No Hungy, I use My Fitness Pal to track everything that I eat. Seriously, go check out my profile. This website is free, and has a free Android app that syncs to the website. It also has functions for building personal meals, and tracking weight loss and body fat. To follow the Move More part of the No Hungy mantra, I’ve begun parking a mile away from my office and walking instead of parking down the street. I wear my poor dog out with long walks when I can. I also do body-weight exercises, such as push-ups, burpees, and wall squats.
2: Nutrient Macros
For Keto to work, glucose must not be allowed to be produced in the body. Therefore, one must forgo carbohydrates and sugar as sources of energy. This is a difficult adjustment, as carbs are a large part of the American diet. In order to follow this, and receive proper caloric nutrition, the following nutrient macros are important. My diet is set up as such: 60% Fat, 35% Protein, ~5% Carbs. What this means is that I not only track the calories in my food, but also the source of these calories.
Ah, but why so much fat? Isn't high fat bad for you? Sure, if you let it sit in your body. But as long as you remain in ketosis and don't overeat, your body will burn that fat and then some of your stored fat for energy. Also, you should be eating good animal fats from meat, eggs, dairy, and nuts instead of unhealthy trans fats.
3: Low Carbs, High Fiber
Once again, cutting carbs is the point of this diet. I eat less than 20g of carbs a day, though other people eat up to 50g or even 80g while remaining in ketosis. This number is different for everyone, and though I could probably go higher I choose not to. 20g is a difficult number to stay under, though there is one magic rule: Fiber doesn’t count in your calculations. For example, a cup of green beans has 5g carbs, and 2g of fiber. 5-2= 3g of net carbs, which is what you count.
Fiber is a must on this diet. Without it, you will get constipated and it will be markedly unpleasant. The best sources of fiber are certain veggies and nuts. I usually eat a spinach salad every day for lunch, and at dinner have broccoli, green beans, or cauliflower. These veggies have some carbs, but you’d have to really pack them in to go over your limit as they are also high in fiber.
4: Drink Water
Most medical professionals agree that 8 cups, or about 2 liters of water is a recommended amount of water intake per day. A side effect of ketogenesis is that the body uses more water than normal to turn fat into energy. Because of this, I tend to drink between 3 and 4 liters of water every day. It also helps that water can curb your appetite when cravings hit.
Though you could consider this a brief overview of Keto, the major points above are the basics. By following this lifestyle plan, I’ve been able to change for the better. I must say that Keto is not for everyone, and by all means please consult a doctor before beginning this sort of major lifestyle change. Also, please read more into it. I was a skeptic at first, but through hard research and then trying it out, I discovered that it works great for me. If you are interested, I highly recommend the book Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. Another great resource is the Keto subreddit, which I am an active member of.
If anything, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my own spinoff version of No Hungy. Always remember that the rule of No Hungy applies: Eat Less, Move More. I’ve just tweaked my eating less. Hell, I’ve completely revamped it. If you’re interested or would like more information, check out the sources I’ve listed above, or feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to proselytize to anyone who’s interested.
And as this is a diet related post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t have a recipe at the end. These are a favorite of mine to make, though they are high calorie so they’re more of a treat. Even if you don’t subscribe to the low-carb way of thinking, these are an interesting take on an old favorite.
CREAM CHEESE PANCAKES
Makes 3-4 6 inch “pancakes”
- 2 oz cream cheese
1 packet stevia sweetener (If you want. I don’t eat fake sugar so I skipped this ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Let rest for 2 minutes so the bubbles can settle. Pour 1/4 of the batter into a hot pan greased with butter or cooking spray. Cook for 2 minutes until golden, flip and cook 1 minute on the other side. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
You could serve with syrup and/or fresh berries. Since I don’t eat either, I put a little bit of peanut butter on two of them and it was a tasty part of dinner. The other one I saved for breakfast the next day, and used it as a wrap to hold eggs, spinach, and bacon. It was delicious, but they don’t really work well as wraps as they fall apart kind of easily.