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WHERE DO I START? What can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? A basic Keto Diet plan can be found in “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes. Another great resource is “Keto Clarity” by Jimmy Moore. These are both great reads and will give you so much wisdom into this way of eating “WOE”. This is not technically a diet as much as it is a healing way of eating for metabolism, hormone, and immune system which results in weight loss. Inflammation is a HUGE factor when eating carbohydrates, when you eliminate them and your immune system become available for your body, major changes happen. Weight loss is almost a side effect of the healing. Therefore, WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT LINEAR, which means you won’t lose at a steady pace. Your body will reduce in places all over, SO measure yourself. You may go weeks without losing pounds, but inches will come off. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.
Ketosis will take place when the body needs energy and there is not sufficient glucose available for the body. This can typically happen when the body is lacking insulin and blood glucose levels become high.
Other causes can be the result of being on a low carb diet. A low level of carbohydrate will lead to low levels of insulin, and therefore the body will produce ketones which do not rely on insulin to get into and fuel the body’s cells.
A further cause of ketosis, less relevant to people with diabetes, is a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
The human body contains approximately 5 liters of blood. This amounts to 4 grams of sugar in the blood, which is less than a teaspoon of sugar! The American Diabetes Association draws the line between a healthy individual and someone being pre-diabetic with less than a teaspoon’s difference in their bloodstream. A single can of coke has 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar or 39g. A third of an average sized jar of tomato based pasta sauce has over 13g or just over 3 teaspoons. Water is good, right? Depends what type. “Enhanced water” has vitamins added to it but sugar as well. A 16oz glass of some brands contains 15g of sugar, the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sugar.
To get started, you must PURGE THE SUGAR. If you are eating carbs, you are fueled by glucose. If your body is deprived of carbs, it happily converts to fat for fuel. But this is a process. For some it takes a few days, others a few weeks. It took me almost a month to be in fully adapted nutritional ketosis (Wikipedia definition states, Ketosis is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides energy. As opposed to glycolysis, ketosis metabolizes fat to provide energy) This is the best time for you to get educated. Read, Read, join us at Keto Recipes for Beginners on Facebook and ask questions.
What does this mean to you? The process of going from sugar fueler to fat fueler is at the cellular level. And just as it states, it’s a process. During this process, some people experience withdrawal symptoms from the sugar. Some call this the Keto flu. A general feeling of weakness, nausea, icky feelings for a few days. There are ways to prevent these symptoms. But to be clear, these are typically only experienced during the initial days of KETO.
When you stop eating processed foods and carbohydrates, your electrolytes can become imbalanced. THIS IS CRITICAL. You must feed your electrolytes. The three main ones to be concerned with is Sodium, i.e., salt., Magnesium, and potassium. A good vitamin will help. I got a magnesium supplement and used it in the beginning and currently use it whenever I fast for a few days. (we’ll get to that later) Common symptoms of low blood sodium include weakness, low energy, headaches, muscle cramps, and more. EAT SALT. Salt your food, take salt capsules, or drink pickle juice. Be sure you feed your electrolytes and the keto flu may pass you by.
So now you are asking, so what do I eat? For the first two weeks while you are in sugar withdrawal, eat meat and FAT until you are totally full. Don’t count, don’t measure, but only eat meat and fat. MEAT: Beef, steak, hamburger, chicken, fish, goat, pork , ham, bacon, lamb, veal, seafood and so many more. (Some seafood have carbs, check them, scallops are surprising!) Some processed meats are ok, but read ingredients, most meat processing methods use sugar to cure the meat, so WATCH out for sneaky carbs. FATS: Coconut oil, avocado oil, and bacon fat are the best to cook with. Animal Lard is fine too. Vegetable oils, corn oil and soybean oils, are NOT OK. (Soy oils are found in SOOOO many products. READ LABELS on your dressings and mayonnaise) For FAT to eat, you have delicious REAL butter, sour cream, cream cheese, full fat cheeses, avocados, heavy whipping cream, (not half and half), clean mayonnaise, sauces with butter and cream and lots of seasonings. Many use hot drinks to increase the amount of fat in their day. Butter in tea and coffee is delicious. Many drink bullet proof coffee which is even greater fat. You cannot eat too much fat during this first two weeks. Do not worry about calories. If your calories are from FAT you are fine. I like Chai tea with a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of MCT oil, a couple of drops of Stevia, and 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, all blended together with a milk frother, for a whopping 400 calorie cup of tea. ALL FAT!
Carbohydrates come in many forms. They are sneaky and add up quickly. It is recommended that you eat 20g or less of TOTAL carbohydrates in a day. There is a school of thought on NET CARBS, the science behind that is sketchy at best, and it gets complicated, so for now, think total carbs, and we’ll save the NET CARB information for another day. For now 20g or less of Total Carbs a day, (except avocados, they are free) more on that later. Heavy cream has some carbs, not much but some. Be careful. FAKE sugars can mess you up. Erythritol, Xylitol, Monkfruit and Stevia are a few of the favorites that do not affect your insulin response. This is one of the most important things in this WOE, is to cause your insulin to stop releasing so much into your bloodstream. NO SNACKING. Every time you eat a bite, insulin releases. Think of ways to reduce these times. NOTE: Xylitol is toxic to dogs. If you chose this sweetener, do not allow your fur babies to eat your leftover cookie.
How do I be careful? TRACK. There are many apps for your phone that are free. My Fitness Pal is one of the favorites. You can get the online version here. There are many, you can ask others in the group their opinions. Again, for the first 2 weeks, you need only track your carbs to ensure they are low enough to send your body into FAT fueling, i.e. Ketosis.
Enough for now. Get started. Purge the sugar and feed your electrolytes.
Remember. There is less than 2 teaspoons of sugar normally in your bloodstream at a time. A single bite of something high in sugar will negate all your work and send you back to day one when you are in the converting process. If you cheat, just a little, you prolong the withdrawal symptoms. As soon as you begin burning fat for FUEL, it will almost be euphoric. You will know.
Next, we’ll talk about how to know when you are converted.
Rules of a basic keto diet plan:
- 20 net carbohydrates per day (that’s the total carbs minus fiber)
- Calculate your protein grams (see pinned post)
- Eat meat grilled, baked, fried, boiled, stir-fried, sauteed, roasted or microwaved.
- Veggies are limited. You are not missing vitamins. More later. Green leafy veggies are good. Spinach, dark lettuce, cabbage, spaghetti squash, zucchini squash. Google is great for help with values. Just google “Your food nutritional information” and you’ll get results.
- No sugars (simple carbohydrates) – white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, corn syrup, beer (contains barley malt), milk (contains lactose), yogurts, fruit juice, fruit, or food with sugar in the ingredients. You will be amazed where they put sugar.
- No starches-grains, wheat, oat, rice, flour, cornmeal, cereals, cornstarch, breads, pastas, muffins, bagels, crackers, legumes, peanuts (also a legume) and most “starchy” vegetables such as beans (pinto, lima, black beans), carrots, parsnips, corn, peas, potatoes, including french fries, potato chips, popcorn, etc.
- EAT LOTS OF HEALTHY FATS. Do not be afraid of over doing these.