My blog is mostly about personal development and fiction writing, but I also dab into other areas. This time, it’s all about health and wellness and, more specifically, about the ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve struggled with this for a while, and I feel like I’ve finally found a path that works for me, and I wanted to share my results and approach with everybody in hopes that it would help somebody else along the way.
This is the first article in what I hope to be a series of posts that will take you through my journey to a healthier me. In the past, I’ve tried many different things-diets, exercise regimens, supplements, etc. Each of them worked to some extent, but I’ve never been fully happy with my results. So, over the past few months, I’ve done a lot of research into today’s diets. After going through many, I’ve decided to test two of them: the Ketogenic Diet and the Slow Carb diet.
I’m not going to detail what a Keto diet is, or its pros and cons in general. If you are interested, I added a bunch of links and resources at the end of the article to get an idea. I won’t discuss the Slow-Carb Diet yet; I’ll keep that for a separate post (you can read a brief of the slow-carb diet here).
This initial post discusses the WHY of this and presents my journey through the first TWO MONTHS of Keto.
Warning: this is a looooong post, so get yourself your favorite drink and get in a comfortable position because this will take a while. Also, the post is filled with links to outside resources that explain various concepts or products. I suggest you first read this post, then go back and check those references to get an in-depth understanding of those concepts that interest you the most.
Update: Since I wrote this article, I added three more follow-up related articles:
- The keto diet and intermittent fasting
- Excercise during the ketogenic diet
- Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
My Keto Journey
My wife and I lead a borderline healthy lifestyle. When I say borderline, I mean our house is devoid of the generally-considered bad stuff, including soda, heavily-processed foods and related. Instead, we have plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. We watch the products that we buy erring on the side of organic, money permitted. But at the end of the day, we occasionally splurge with large pasta dishes, french fries, pastries, and alcohol. So, you win some but lose some.
In the end, however, the net is more on the side of losing. The bad stuff, even if small, accumulates. Over time, I gained weight, my blood pressure spiked higher than usual, and I started to feel… old. Heavy. Tired. Lacking energy. All of them together.
In the summer of 2017, on June 1st, I started a very scientific nutrition and exercise routine. I was working at Next Jump at the time, a company that fosters health and wellness and encourages employees to work on their health. My plan involved moderate physical activity every day with bursts of intense cardio or weightlifting a few times during the week. I combined this with reduced caloric intake and healthy foods.
I had some moderate results. Just before this, my weight has peaked at 197 lb (89 kg), and my waist was at 39″+ (99 cm+). About six months into the new diet and exercise, I got down to 187 lb (85 kg) and 37″ waist (94 cm). And that’s where I got stuck. Totally. No matter what I did, how I did it, my weight kept oscillating between 186-192lb and my waistline between 36.5″ to 37.5″. I had hit a wall.
By this time, I had increased my physical exercise, but to no avail. There was no progress, just more fatigue. In addition to everything, I was on high blood pressure medication. My attempts to get off the medication failed every time. As soon as I’d stop, it would shoot back up. However, within eight months of the new regimen, my doctor cut both my pills in half. So, there was some progress. But not enough, and definitely not fast enough.
So, I started to research. After a couple of months of reading, listening, analyzing, and researching, I have concluded that a Keto diet is what I need. As I mentioned, I won’t go into the details of why Keto diets are great and what they are, but just to set the context: it’s a diet based on very low carbs, low to moderate protein, and very, very high fat, with one additional caveat: by carbs read “good” carbs, and by fat read “good” fat.
Month 1, Week 1, Day 1
The journey started on Sunday, April 1st when I sat down with my wife, and we went over all of my research. We brainstormed and shared ideas about how to go on doing this together. We both committed right away, and we decided to try this for at least a month and see where it takes us. At the time of this writing, we are already into our third month.
I’ll take a break and mention that if you are going to embark on a similar journey, I highly recommend doing it together with someone. Your spouse, partner, best friend, etc… Doing it as a team works a lot better. You can encourage each other; you can keep one another accountable. Teamwork!
Now, back to our plan.
I’m a very organized person in general. Still, it was my wife that had the genius idea: let’s sit down on Friday evenings and plan the entire following week: what are we going to cook (for the kids and us), what are we going to eat, when are we going to eat and what. This led to a little spreadsheet (yes, I love Excel) to plan the ingredients and create a shopping list. The goal was to eliminate waste as much as possible and save money while still being on the Keto diet. Taking the guess-work out of it was a brilliant idea.
Before we start, let me document my measurements on Day 1:
|Weight||192.5 lb (87.3 kg)|
|Body Fat %||24.7%|
|Waist||37.2″ (94.5 cm)|
And so, I began.
Emotionally, I felt really excited. The science was there; the research was done. All I had to do was… do it. But, first things first.
WHAT TO GET RID OF?
Before deciding on what to eat, I first had to decide what not to eat. So, I resolved to eliminate all of the following items from my diet, effective immediately:
- All fruits (because of the fructose) except for blueberries and raspberries
- Sugars (in any free form or added), including all artificial sweeteners (except for Stevia)
- All Starches (this includes ANYTHING made from grains: bread, pasta, rice)
- “Tubes” (potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes)
- All Legumes (beans, peas, etc.)
- Vegetable oils (Read here why you should stop using Canola Oil)
- All alcohol (yep, will explain why later)
TIMING OF FOOD AND EXERCISE
Now, once I had a clean slate in terms of what I should never eat, the question was: when can I eat?
I’ll make a short parenthesis to tell you that the concept of Intermittent Fasting is a practice that works really well with the Ketogenic diet (resources at the bottom). Because I didn’t want to introduce too many variables from the start, I did not fast during the first month. So, more about fasting later.
For the time being, I decided to go with a three-meal plan. This meant eating only three times a day with no snacks in between. The goal here was to keep the insulin spikes very low and controlled.
This was the original plan:
- 10:00 am breakfast
- 2:00 pm lunch
- 7:00 pm dinner
This means that overnight, my body benefits anyway from an uninterrupted session of fasting. However, I would break this fast early morning before my workout either with a Bulletproof Coffee or otherwise with some fat for energy. But, like I said, more about fasting later.
As for exercise, I chose the following general routine:
- 6:00 am—daily—30 minutes of HIIT or Resistance workouts (P90X3 / Insanity / 22 Hard Core, Morning Meltdown 100)
- Afternoon—twice a week—weightlifting at the gym
- Afternoon or Evening—once or twice a week—running or swimming
All right, so I knew what not to eat and when to eat. But now… what to eat?
The Keto diet requires meager amounts of carbs, very moderate amounts of protein, and high fat amounts. But how many, really?
I headed to the website https://keto-calculator.ankerl.com/ to compute my numbers. This is a very detailed calculator that I highly recommend to anyone trying to change their diet. It helps you determine your caloric intake and breaks it down for you between the different macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbs). So, I entered my numbers, and these were my results:
- 2480 kcal for Daily Maintenance — if I intake this amount of calories, I would maintain my weight (given my exercise regimen)
- 1984 kcal for Weight Loss — this intake allows for 495 kcal deficit, which means a theoretical loss of about 4 lb (1.8 kg) per month
- 30 g Carbs (6%, 120 kcal)
- 109 g Protein (22%, 436 kcal)
- 159 g Fat (72%, 1428 kcal)
Note that the protein seems high at first sight, but in my case, it does come to 0.75 g/lbs, which is good enough to maintain the existing muscle mass. That, combined with working out to keep my muscles “hungry,” should ensure that no muscle gets catabolized during the process, and I only burn fat for energy.
One more note here: the Carbs above are actually NET CARBS. Net Carbs equal Total Carbohydrates less Dietary Fiber. For example, an Avocado has 12 grams of Carbs, but 10 grams of those are Dietary Fiber, so technically, the Avocado has only 2 net carbs. That’s an important distinction as you start adding more veggies to your diet. Eating only 30 grams of carbs sounds crazy, but it’s not really… Trust me.
Note that for simplicity purposes, I have rounded up the max calories to 2,000 kcal.
Now onto day by day…
I started week one energized and hopeful, but also quite apprehensive. I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, but I knew that the only way to find out was by trying it out.
So, here’s what I ate on Day 1:
- Breakfast (10 am)
- Wild Planet – Sardines in olive oil, lightly smoked
- Avocado, 1 medium
- Boiled Egg, 2 large
- Lunch (2 pm)
- Mixed Green Salad – Field Greens, 6 cups
- Oil – Olive, 2 tablespoon
- Mexican Cheese, 0.33 cup
- Grilled chicken, 4 oz
- MCT Oil, 1 tbs
- Dinner (7 pm)
- Mixed Green Salad, 2 cups
- Organic Tahini Butter, 30 g
- Oil – Olive, 1 tablespoon
- Salmon Cakes, 2 cakes
- Almonds, 18 grams
- Blue Cheese Crumbles, 2 Tbsp
This resulted in the following nutrition for the day:
- Calories: 2,011 kcal
- Net Carbs: 29 g (100 kcal / 5.1%)
- Protein: 110 g (440 kcal / 22.5%)
- Fat: 157 g (1,413 kcal / 72.4%)
As you can see, pretty close to the plan.
Now, let me describe what happened on that first day. By 3 pm, I started to feel a bit strange. First of all, I was peeing non-stop. That was a sign that my body was slowly starting to flush out due to the decrease in carbs. With that came dehydration and depletion of electrolytes. I was drinking water, but it was not enough. I felt weak and dizzy. So, I bought an electrolyte supplement (Ultima Replenisher), and that made things better.
Not bad for day 1. I was a bit anxious and quite hungry toward the end of the day. During the evening, I drank lots of tea and had to fight the urge to drink a cold beer. I think that the excitement of actually doing this kept me going.
I woke up rather restless and very hungry. But the hunger was a bit different. It was not the starvation feeling you get after you had a giant carby meal the night before. It was more of a mental hunger with some stomach complaints.
The morning routine started to shape up:
First thing after I woke up, I drank one glass of warm water with my daily vitamins. I add a B-complex supplement, Vitamin D, and Potassium—all things you need in abundance during a Keto diet. More about supplements later. This was just day two, so I was adding things one by one.
Before going to work, I drink another glass of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (for digestive tract health and counteracting the body alkalinity) and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (to prevent the formation of kidney stones because of the aggressive flushing of calcium through the kidneys).
This was only day two, and I already started to feel very fatigued. Like my body wasn’t responding. I felt sleepy, unmotivated. Things were starting to change, but I wasn’t feeling any benefit yet.
Also, all my muscles felt weak. Deflated. I was slowly losing all the glycogen reserves, and my body was reacting to the lack of carbs. Literally, everything was hurting from joints to bones to muscles.
But I pushed through.
I did one gym session, which was excruciatingly hard. My body just wasn’t taking it, so I only worked out for like 20 minutes before giving up.
I woke up at 6:00 am again, and I resumed my morning exercise routine. At the time, I was doing P90X3. The humor and positive energy from Tony Horton rubbed on me, and I felt a bit better than the day before. I was in week ten of the program, so quite advanced. But on that day, despite Tony’s constant encouragement, I could barely get through to the end. Everything hurt, and I had no energy. No power.
This was the day when I started to have doubts. Maybe this was not for me. Perhaps I can’t do it. Maybe it just doesn’t work. The broken mental models and mindsets were clawing at me like tiny demons up on my shoulders, whispering in my ear: Give up! Give up, fat boy. So, I punched them and told them to go f*$% themselves.
In the meantime, my macronutrients ratio had improved slightly:
- Calories: 2,012 kcal
- Net Carbs: 18 g (72 kcal / 3.7%)
- Protein: 84 g (336 kcal / 17.4%)
- Fat: 169 g (1,521 kcal / 78.8%)
Day four was the first weekend day, Saturday. I was very concerned about my ability to stick to the plan. This was also exacerbated because my wife hasn’t started yet (she planned to start Monday), so our fridge was now a mess of old stuff and new stuff.
It was a tough day. I stuck to it as best as I could. The hardest part was when my son’s soccer practice finished, and our family joined some friends at a pizza place. Ah… the smell, the craving. It was bad. But I held on.
By this time, we received in the mail our Keto measurement kit. I’ll talk about measurements later, but I decided to use a basic urine test that simply gives you a range. That evening, I took my first measure, and I was already scoring “high.”
This was good. The system was working. My body was generating ketones, and it was starting to use fat as fuel instead of sugar.
This was one of the days when I felt at my weakest. By this time, five days in, I assume that all my glycogen reserves in the system had been depleted, mostly because I also worked out too much and kind of recklessly.
But, despite the physical challenge, something was happening with my brain. I can’t exactly explain it, but it was some sort of clarity.
You know how when you wake up in the morning, and everything is blurry? And then in the evening, you are tired and exhausted, and your eyes are just closing? Somehow, that was gone. I had this sense of mental energy, of focus, of clarity.
Also, seeing how I went through these 5 days successfully, my mental state has shifted. It seemed very clear that I can do this, so the sense of failure from a few days ago had been replaced by a new sentiment: a strong desire to see it through the end.
On this Sunday, we were invited to my mother for Easter. Imagine all the food that was there… But, my wife and I, we both kept the diet. High fats, low carbs, no alcohol. It worked! Somehow, the cravings were no longer there. It seemed like a switch had occurred…
That night, my wife and I sat down and made a full meal plan for the whole week. We committed to eating mostly the same, save for those situations when one of us likes something or not, and make a combined shopping list to make it efficient. Yes, to those who went nuts on my FB page—that’s how that shopping list came to be…
On day 6, I went to the gym again and did a chest workout. It was excruciating. I couldn’t push the weight that was not an issue in the past and definitely not as many reps.
Overall, I was able to maintain the fat percentage between 75% and 80%. Protein is between 15% and 20%. So, good ratios.
At the end of the day, I weighed myself and—lo and behold—188 lb. I had dropped 4 pounds. And, yes, I know it’s probably 100% water weight, but still. I had a huge boost in morale once I saw that.
It was happening. I could see the actual results.
On day 7, I broke the record again with fat content at 78.9%. By this time, I was no longer craving carbs at all.
However, something else bad is happening: I’m starting to get severe indigestion, and the food is going through my body without being digested. What was happening?
Well, after 7 days of no carbs, the bacteria in my gut that helps with digestion had probably died by and large. All that was left are the bad bacteria which accumulate toxins. Also, my pancreas was probably unable to generate the necessary enzymes to digest the large amounts of fiber from vegetables.
I also have a weak stomach by default. The excess fat I was ingesting was creating inflammation, and my digestive system was getting clogged.
To combat that, I added a few items to my supplements list: Chlorella, Turmeric, a powerful probiotic, and additional digestive enzymes, including Lipase, which is critical for digesting vegetables, especially leafy greens.
After a couple of days, the digestion had regulated itself. I planned to add organic Bone Broth to the following week to strengthen the stomach’s flora and prevent future problems.
So, that was the quick and dirty detail of the first seven days. Next, I’m going to jump through the months as a whole.
MONTH 1 on Keto
The first month was tough; I can tell you that much. But once the first three weeks passed, once I went over that adaptation period, the last part of the month wasn’t as horrible anymore. Things started to settle, and my body was okay with the new regimen.
Here is what I scored after the first 31 days:
Nutrition – Daily Averages over 31 days (Month 1: April 4, 2018 – May 4, 2018)
|Net Carb Calories||79||kcal||4.0%|
Here are my BEFORE and AFTER stats after 31 days:
|Weight||192.5 lb (87.3 kg)||182.8 lb (84.0 kg)||(5% reduction) (9.7 lb)|
|Body Fat %||24.7%||22.8%||(8% reduction)|
|Waist||37.2″ (94.5 cm)||36.4″ (92.5 cm)||(2% reduction)|
By the end of this first month, I was quite psyched about the results. Overall, mind and body, I was feeling really good. In the meantime, my wife had similar results. So, things were going pretty well.
MONTH 2 on Keto
Month two was a little bit easier. But there were also a few more temptations along the way. I started to feel some sort of melancholy for old food that I can’t eat anymore. The bread was the biggest culprit. I craved it so much that I baked myself a Keto Bread. It came okay-ish, but nothing like real bread.
Also, during month two, I consumed some alcohol as opposed to month one when I haven’t touched it. The thing is, once on keto, you can forget about beer and sweet wines. You can also forget about not-so-sweet wines, too, but a glass of white wine here and there is acceptable. What I did drink, though, was hard liquor like vodka and whiskey. These do not impact insulin, so don’t technically pull you out of ketosis, but they do stop the ketosis process while the liver is dealing with the alcohol. So, I had to keep it to a minimum. My wife and I had to go to a wedding during this period, so that was tough. Tough, but doable…
Here is what I scored during the next 26 days:
Nutrition Daily Averages over 26 days (Month 1: May 5, 2018 – May 30, 2018)
|Net Carb Calories||75||kcal||3.8%|
Here are the overall BEFORE and AFTER stats after 57 days:
|Weight||192.5 lb (87.3 kg)||179.2 lb (81.3 kg)||(7% reduction) (13.3 lb)|
|Body Fat %||24.7%||22.5%||(9% reduction)|
|Waist||37.2″ (94.5 cm)||35.3″ (89.7 cm)||(5% reduction)|
A few things to notice in Month 2: I upped my calorie intake slightly while improving on my percentages. I still maintained a higher % of protein (closer to 20%). The last 30 days’ goal is to try my best to lower that to about 15%. If you are going on the keto diet, you have to pay attention to protein. It’s very tempting to eat lots of steaks and sausages, but keep in mind that too much protein will pull you out of ketosis. Protein gets converted to glycogen, too, if the body has the opportunity to do it. So, protein has to be kept to the limit of maintaining muscles and “pushed” into the muscles with exercise.
Also, notice that I have increased my sodium intake, but that didn’t seem to affect my blood pressure, most likely because a lot of it got eliminated via urine and sweat.
Intermittent Fasting and Keto
In the last two weeks of month two, I started to introduce intermittent fasting. I put some links in the resource section about this particular type of fasting. This is not about starving yourself; it’s about changing your food intake timing to allow for the maximum fat burn. If you read the research, you can see that there are multiple benefits, and lots of them extend far beyond just weight loss. The benefits go deep into slowing the aging process, lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease, and improving your quality of sleep. It’s a callous one to tackle, though. But once you are on it, you’ll start to feel its benefits very quickly.
To begin, I started with fasting only two days per week with the following schedule:
- Eat my last meal of the day between 7 and 8 pm.
- Eat my first meal the next day between 12 and 1 pm.
This gave me a window of about 16 hours of fasting (including type asleep) and a window of 8 hours to get all my calories in. I kept with the three-meal plan for the time being, but at some point, I will transition to only two meals per day.
Because of Keto’s way, you don’t really feel the hunger fatigue you get when you are on carbs. It’s actually quite easy to go without any food until 12 pm, something I haven’t been able to do in the past, and my wife can attest to my levels of “hangryness”… But this time around, I found it quite easy. But that first few days of doing it… Damn, that was hard!
The way you break the fast is also important. There’s a science behind the way that allows you to reap the most benefits out of it. This is how I do it:
- I drink one cup of Bone Broth (I use Kettle Fire) to provide collagen and get the stomach ready for nutrient absorption. Wait 10 minutes.
- I drink 2 tablespoons of MCT Oil (more about this in the Supplements section) to signal my body to start making ketones. Wait 10 minutes.
- I eat any supplements I have for that day. Wait 10 minutes for max absorption.
- Begin with my first solid meal of the day
It sounds hard, and it is hard in the beginning. But once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that bad!
General Observations on the Ketogenic Diet
Here are a few general observations from the past 2 months:
- As soon as you stop the carbs, your body begins to drop water weight. It’s almost within 24 hours.
- After about 5 days, the cravings disappear, you no longer feel hungry even during long periods of fasting.
- Once ketones are present, you will start feeling a different energy type: mental acuity and mental strength. Maybe this is in my imagination, but I feel like my short-term memory, my focus, and my attention have improved.
- The skin starts clearing up and get “tight.”
- No more bloating!
- Fast weight loss and size decrease
- You pee a LOT—all the time.
- Electrolyte unbalance – as you lose water, you lose electrolytes. This makes you dizzy and weak. You must supplement it.
- Reduction in strength – because of my muscles’ lack of carbs, I had dropped about 30-40% in my strength and resistance.
- There is no such thing as a cheat day! If you cheat and eat carbs, your body will stop the ketone production, and insulin will spike. You will need another few days to resume. So, no cheating on this diet!
- You need to take a lot of different supplements to make this work.
- The diet takes a toll on your digestive system. If you approach it correctly, though, you can fix it after a while.
One thing to note is that the cons are expected. This is the phase known as “keto-adaptation.” It takes about four to eight weeks, sometimes more, to get into full ketosis. So, all these symptoms are perfectly normal. I’m expecting them to subside and disappear over the next 30 days or so.
Exercise on Keto
So, after doing some research, here is the dirty truth: at the beginning of the Keto diet, during that adaptation phase, you have to take it easy with the physical exercise. I experienced this on my own skin. If you are a gym-goer, be ready to take like seven steps back. I found out that lifting the same weights for 8-10 reps no longer worked. Running in fast sprints no longer worked either. I realized I had to create a special ketogenic exercise routine.
If you love the gym, this is good news because you can start easily. I had to take a step back and lower my speed in cardio. Make the workouts easier but longer.
My body was still in shock, rebuilding cell structures to create energy from fat instead of carbs. During that time, while the transformation was not complete, I couldn’t maintain the same workout regimen as before.
Below are several stats from my physical exercise. What you’ll notice right off the bat is that I tend to over-train by a lot. I will work on scaling it down. The fact is that on this diet, overtraining is actually hurting you. Once I complete my P90X3 / Hard Corps routine, I will try to reorganize my workouts and scale them down until I transition out of ketosis.
I use the UA Record to track my exercise, and here is the overview of my workouts for this period of 57 days. Note that the Gym portion (legs, upper, treadmill) is not entirely accurate because I haven’t entered it all the time, especially in the beginning. But at least it gives some sort of general guideline.
As you can see, I worked out 58 times in 57 days, burning an average of 353 kcal per session and each session being about 30 minutes long. So, basically, on average, I worked out 30 minutes every single day. Of course, I didn’t work every single day, but some days I worked out twice. This is my general schedule:
|Mon:||6 am P90X or similar|
|Tue:||6 am P90X or similar + 2 pm weights at the gym|
|Wed:||6 am P90X or similar + abs and core in the evening|
|Thu:||6 am P90X or similar + 2 pm weights at the gym|
|Fri:||6 am P90X or similar|
|Sat:||8 am P90X or similar + short run in the afternoon|
|Sun:||long run in the afternoon + abs and core workout in the evening OR gym workout + swimming|
Of course, I haven’t kept it as strict as on paper, but it’s a decent guideline. Note that I haven’t actually tracked the abs and core workouts in the evening, but they usually consist of 10-15 minutes of deep ab work, including ab vacuums, reverse situps for lower abs, and lots and lots of planks.
I have gotten addicted to my FitBit, as well. I use it to track my steps, my intake of water, and calorie burn. Below is the chart view from FitBit showing my steps over time. I’m averaging about 10,300k steps per day, so that’s a good thing.
Lastly, I use Runkeeper to track my running sessions. As I mentioned above, I had to scale running back significantly. Not just distance but speed, too. My normal running speed in races like this is between 8.5 and 9 minutes per mile. Here, you can see I am averaging between 10 and 11 minutes. So, definitely a decrease in stamina when it comes to running.
Thanks to my Fitbit, I also track my sleep patterns. I’ve done extensive research on this, and I have to tell you this: you will not lose weight if you don’t sleep properly. This is not the place to explain this, but do some research into the effects of sleep on weight loss and general wellbeing.
Below is what I’ve collected over a period of 37 days. As you can see, the percentage split between REM, Light, and Deep sleep is pretty much in line with what would be expected.
Charting the sleep cycles over time, I can’t say that I see any significant changes, neither good nor bad, during the period of the Keto diet. So, at this point, I don’t have any reason to believe that my sleep has been affected in any way. One thing though that I really have to work on is a longer sleep altogether. Only six hours per night is a bit too low, for sure. I will work on going to bed earlier by at least 30 minutes to push that average toward 6.5 hours slowly and then, maybe 7.
Measuring Level of Ketones
If you don’t measure, you don’t know where you are, so you can’t tell if you’re doing good or bad. That’s good advice in almost any context. When it comes to the ketogenic diet, it’s essential to measure where you are. To do so, you can use several methods:
- Urine test strips
- Finger-prick blood analyzer
- Breath test
Because I don’t particularly like finger-pricking, I chose the urine test. It works pretty well, even though once you are in full ketosis and your body adapts, it will make just enough ketones for you to function and eliminate a lot less via urine. This means that in time, the urine test will be less effective. At some point, I will invest in a blood tester—ideally, one that reads ketone levels and glucose levels simultaneously.
I never used a breath tester (which measures acetone level in your breath) because I simply couldn’t find one.
Because of the limitations on food types during the ketogenic diet, some minerals and vitamins don’t get into your body. On top of that, lots of them get eliminated. Also, your body might have difficulty absorbing some of them. So, to overcome that, I knew that I had to introduce several supplements to my diet. Below is a list of what I’ve taken over these few months. Obviously, not all at once…
Vitamins and Minerals
Multivitamin — This is a pretty obvious one. I keep it simple by taking one Centrum Plus every day. You should use whichever one works for you. One good idea is to do a blood test before you start Keto and identify if you are low in any vitamins. Then, select a multivitamin that has those.
Vitamin B — Because our body doesn’t store vitamin B, you might experience low vitamin B. However, if you have a diet rich in meat, nuts, and seafood, you might not need this. If you do, a good B-complex is an excellent idea. However, you might get that already in your multivitamin. Make sure you don’t take too much.
Vitamin C — There’s not enough space to write about the benefits of vitamin C. Since you cannot eat fruits on keto, and vegetables are limited to a set, you probably don’t intake enough vitamin C in. If you do eat about 10 cups of leafy greens every day, you might. Just count it. If you notice a deficiency, supplement vitamin C.
Vitamin K2 + D3 — This might not be for everyone. One cause of high blood pressure is the accumulation of calcium in arteries. The combination of vitamins K2 and D3 results in the mobilization of calcium and moving it out of the system or into the bones where it belongs. In time, this is supposed to lower blood pressure. At this point, I can’t testify to that because I have just ordered the package.
Electrolytes — If there’s any supplement you must have at your disposal at all times, it’s electrolytes. As I mentioned, during keto, I lost a LOT of water very fast. This resulted in losing electrolytes, which put me into some sort of “keto flu.” It comes with brain fogginess, weakness, restlessness. Basically, your body loses sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium too fast. Those are the elements that help our brain communicate with our organs. So, during Keto, you probably need to supplement the electrolytes together with drinking enough water.
Probiotics — Once you deplete your body of carbs and start taking a lot more fat in, the healthy bacteria in your gut will begin to die. Behind it, you’ll get a bunch of left-over bacteria that can hold on to toxins. Basically, you create an imbalance in your gut. That’s why at the beginning of keto, I suffered from a lot of indigestion. Taking a good probiotic has helped me regulate my gut and get back on track.
Digestive Enzymes — Bacteria only is not enough to regulate your digestion. You also need digestive enzymes. Since in keto, you start eating many leafy greens and lots of fiber, your natural enzymes might not be able to break them down because they won’t be enough. You will start seeing undigested greens in your stool, which means your body is not absorbing nutrients. Buy good enzyme support, especially one with Lipase, an enzyme that helps with the digestion of leafy greens. After only one week of this, my gut was back to normal and has been since.
Garlic Extract — Garlic is a natural detoxifier and also helps with the reduction of inflammation. You can use raw garlic, but an extract pill packs a lot more, and it comes without the smell. Garlic is said to help with the reduction of cholesterol, blood pressure, and have antioxidant properties.
Glycine — Glycine is the simplest amino acid, and it has a significant role in the body. It promotes muscle growth, lowers inflammation, and increases the liver’s glutathione production, which is a powerful anti-oxidant and free-radical fighter. Read more about the benefits of glycine.
Creatine Monohydrate — This is a classic workout helper that has been used by athletes for years. It is totally safe during Keto. I only take 5mg before I do a weight-lifting set of exercises, and sometimes after. Best to combine it with BCAAs. Read more about the benefits of creatine monohydrate on the keto diet.
BCAAs — BCAAs are essential amino acids. In other words, they are a type of protein that is very important to our cell growth, especially muscle cells. Because during keto, you are limiting the protein you intake, you might find it difficult to maintain or grow muscle mass. This is where BCAA, in combination with Creatine, comes in handy. I take 10 g of BCAAs before my morning workout and 10 g after. Learn more about BCAAs on keto.
Hormone Support and Regulators
Adrenal Support — The adrenal glands are two small organs above each of our kidneys. They are essential in producing many hormones and regulating multiple functions in our bodies, including cortisol levels. On keto or not, you want your adrenal glands to function well. Most adrenal support is natural, plant-based.
7-Keto DHEA — 7-Keto DHEA is a by-product of DHEA, which is naturally produced in the skin, adrenal glands, and the brain. Studies have shown that 7-Keto DHEA contributes to weight loss and can increase metabolism in the body. The substance works by increasing the activity if the thermogenic enzymes known for the oxidation of fatty acids.
Tribulus Terestris — Tribulus Terrestris has played a vital role in Ayurvedic, Chinese, and European medicine for centuries. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it has been applied as a remedy for urinary and reproductive problems and fatigue. It helps boost testosterone production in men, which helps with fat loss and muscle gain.
MCT Oil — Once you get on a Keto diet, you WILL learn about MCT Oil. Probably you’ve never heard about it before, and neither have I. It stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides. It’s a special type of fat that can “go around” the digestive system and the liver and run directly into the blood and fuel ketone production. MCT Oil is a staple of the keto diet. The MCT oil is usually extracted from coconut, so some of the oils you buy will have a coconutty-flavor and smell, but you will find some that are smell-less and tasteless.
Brain Octane Oil — This is a type of MCT oil produced by the Bulletproof company. They make a variety of products specifically designed for the keto diet. You probably heard of Bulletproof Coffee. That’s basically coffee with Brain Octane Oil and Ghee Butter. I love it!
Ghee Butter — Ghee is similar to clarified butter produced by heating butter to remove the milk solids and water. However, in comparing ghee vs. clarified butter, ghee is simmered longer to bring out the butter’s inherent nutty flavor and is left with a higher smoke point than butter, meaning that it can be heated to a higher temperature before it starts to smoke. Ghee is rich in beneficial nutrients and contains several fatty acids that are important to health. Plus, ghee has numerous benefits, and some of its components have been shown to do everything from boost weight loss to improve digestion and relieve inflammation. You can buy ghee butter at your local grocery store in the “health” section or, of course, online. My favorite drink is coffee + one tbsp of ghee butter + 1 tbsp of MCT oil, mixed in a blender.
Policosanol — Policosanol refers to natural substances derived from cane sugar, beeswax, and several other foods. Policosanol has been shown to lower total cholesterol levels, boost HDL cholesterol levels, and prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation in several studies. The same studies found that policosanol may lower triglycerides, prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and slightly lower blood pressure: several of the key risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid — Alpha-lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and the bulk of its benefits arise from that fact. Being uniquely fat and water-soluble permits this antioxidant fatty acid to work in a broader range of body tissues than other antioxidants, like fat-soluble vitamin E or water-soluble vitamin C. ALA can also bind with toxic metal ions such as mercury, copper, iron, and others so they can be expelled from the body. ALA plays a role in energy metabolism in every cell’s mitochondria. Research has shown that ALA’s antioxidant properties support liver health, cardiovascular health, the nervous system, brain, skin, and muscle recovery following intense exercise. Additionally, ALA supports healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.
Ketogenic Diet Resources
Keto Video Channels
This is a list of my favorite Keto-related YouTube channels. I highly recommend subscribing to all of them, and you will get a weekly stream of high-quality videos about keto. These channels were the place I started, and I am watching them to this day. It’s a good idea to go to each channel, subscribe and add notifications, and then watch the videos under the label “most popular.”
Dr. Eric Berg
Dr. Eric Berg DC, age 52, describes the truth about getting healthy and losing healthy weight. He is the director of Dr. Berg’s Nutritionals and author of the best selling amazon.com book, The 7 Principles of Fat Burning. He has conducted over 4800 seminars on health-related topics and trained over 2500 doctors worldwide in his methods. Dr. Eric Berg presently lives in Alexandria, VA.
Visit YouTube Channel: Dr. Eric Berg Video Channel
Dr. Ken D. Berry
Medicine in Plain Words presented by a Board Certified Family Physician practicing in small-town America. Dr. Berry has treated over 20,000 patients during his career, spanning more than a decade. No big medical words here, just plain talk you can use to stay healthy and happy. If you like it limp-wristed and sugar-coated, then you should probably look somewhere else.
Visit YouTube Channel: Dr. Ken D. Berry Video Channel
Dr. Jason Fung
The Aetiology of Obesity is dedicated to exploring the root causes of the modern plague of obesity and diabetes. There are in-depth analyses of modern nutritional facts and falsehoods, resulting in a surprising conclusion about diet and disease. Topics explored include obesity, diabetes, insulin, fiber, salt, cholesterol, dietary fats, and cholesterol.
Visit YouTube Channel: Dr. Jason Fung Video Channel
Thomas DeLauer has built his name around helping the busiest people in all corners of the world find the time to make small, easy changes within their diets and their lifestyles to not only become healthier but to become top performers within their respective areas. On this channel, you’re going to find close to all the information that you need to begin making a change for the better without having to sacrifice your favorite things. As someone who has been in the healthcare space for his entire career, Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Along alongside him is a remarkable research team that backs everything with science and evidence to ensure that you get the most out of what you are doing.
Visit YouTube Channel: Thomas DeLauer Video Channel
KetoConnect aims to provide informative videos centering around the Ketogenic Diet. We(Megha and Matt) started our keto journey together, and our results were too good to keep to ourselves, so we have made it our mission to spread the word! We share recipes and lifestyle information on our website, as well. Check it out at www.ketoconnect.net. We are working hard to provide you with all the tools needed to get you up and running on the Keto diet. We love eating, so we are always keeping up with the latest and greatest keto snacks, and we often give reviews of them. Check us out and get in touch with us for all things keto! Thanks!
Visit YouTube Channel: Keto Connect Video Channel
Official channel for the Headbanger’s Kitchen show hosted by Demonstealer (Demonic Resurrection/Workshop/Reptilian Death). A show that brings together his love for food and passion for heavy metal music. We’re now creating Keto Recipes, though.
Visit YouTube Channel: Headbanger’s Kitchen Video Channel
Keto Websites, Blogs & Podcasts
- Diet Doctor
- Keto Adapted
- Healthful Pursuit
- Living La Vida Low Carb
- Low Carbyum
- Keto Diet App
- Ketogenic Girl
- The Essential Keto Cookbook
- Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
- Dr. Colbert’s Keto Zone Diet
- The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to A High-Fat Diet
- Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking
Keto Articles and Videos
Lastly, here is a list of my favorite Keto articles and videos. If you want to start on the ketogenic diet, read and watch all of them. They’re filled with valuable information and probably will answer most of your questions.
Here’s a list of articles I think you should read before getting on the ketogenic diet.
- Ruled.me – Keto Diet Guide
- Healthline – Ketogenic Diet 101
- Dr. Axe – Ketogenic Diet Food List
- Diet Doctor – Keto Diet
- Healthline – Intermittent Fasting Guide
- James Clear – Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- Nerd Fitness – A Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Thank you for reading!
If you stuck through the end of this article… thank you! It was a long one. I hope you found it informative and useful. If you did, I’d appreciate it if you could share it across your favorite social media networks. If you have any comments, ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, please post them in the comments below. I am very curious to hear from other people who went through similar journeys and had good (or bad!) results. Thank you!
Now, before you go, I have…
3 Questions For You
- Do you have any personal experiences with the ketogenic diet?
- What other diets have you tried, and how did it go?
- What do you struggle with the most when it comes to maintaining healthy nutrition habits?
Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!
Hi there! I’m Iulian, and I want to thank you for reading my article. There’s a lot more if you stick around. I write about personal development, productivity, fiction writing, and more. Also, I’ve created Self-Growth Journey, a free program that helps you get unstuck and create the beautiful life you deserve. Enjoy!