What Do I Do After Reaching My Goal Weight With the Ketogenic Diet?

We are continuing our look at FAQ’s for the Ketogenic Diet.

By far most of the questions I get are how to lose weight with the Ketogenic diet but what about after you lose the weight?  It’s difficult because it’s a whole new world.  Instead of marching toward a goal, (Like my goal of a 200 lb weight loss) you are instead hovering around the same weight all the time so it can be easy to lose focus.

Here are some tricks and tips I have used to maintain my weight so far.

Set New Goals

It was incredibly important to figure out a new goal to shoot for to replace my old weight loss goal.  For me this became a series of experiments to see how I would react to different things.  January was a No Caffeine experiment that absolutely sucked and I am currently in the middle of a carnivore experiment that is going pretty well.

Think about something that you want to accomplish and start working toward it.  It can be an exercise goal like running a 5K or bench pressing 250 lbs, a body shape goal like a thinner waist or a broader chest, or maybe something more esoteric like meditating for a month.  Whatever it is, I really believe that continuing to set and meet goals is an important factor in ongoing maintenance success.

Dance With the One Who Brung Ya

This is an old Southern saying that basically means continue doing what got you here.  If a ketogenic diet helped you lose the weight, keep eating a ketogenic diet.  Going back to doughnuts and Oreos now will only undo the hard work you’ve already done.

I haven’t seen any hard science on this but my own personal experience tells me that it is much easier to pack on weight if you have already been obese.  I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person that can just eat whatever whenever and not put on weight.  This is going to be an ongoing fight so I can’t give up now.

Get Used to the New You

This is such a tough one.  You are so used to seeing yourself as obese that it can be difficult to see yourself as someone at a healthy weight.  I still tend to shop for clothes that are way too big for me.  I can still walk by a mirror and not recognize myself immediately.  It’s weird I know but you spend a lifetime seeing yourself as the fat guy, it can be a little odd to not see all those extra pounds on you.

I have found that some of this will change in time as you continue to get used to the new you but in the mean time, enjoy and celebrate the changes.  I will tap my collar bones that I could never see but are now prominent or rub my hip bones and remember the days when I had no idea they existed.  These are the results of years of hard work so I try to see them as trophies earned.

Learn What Triggers You

This was a very surprising lesson for me to learn.  Once I met my goal weight I figured I had conquered my demons and I could take my foot off the accelerator a bit and just kind of coast.  Nope!  Turns out the exact same things I struggled with before keto were all still there.  I learned that I still can’t have one donut or cookie, I can have none or all of them and then go buy a second box.  Moderation just seems to be beyond me.

I had to learn exactly what my triggers were and how to avoid them.  For me, I knew that any time I got less than 8 hours sleep or things were stressful at work that I needed to be careful about being around any sugary snack.  I learned that free food in the breakroom would call out to me throughout my shift.  I learned that I still had the same addictive, binge-prone personality I had at 400 lbs.  Once I learned my triggers, I could take steps to handle them.  If I went to work tired, I would buy a tin of sardines to eat halfway through my shift instead of fasting throughout.  If there were free donuts in the breakroom, I would just throw them away.  (I work nights so they had been there all day by the time I got there so it wasn’t like I was depriving anyone of anything.)  In short, I learned my triggers and developed strategies for defusing them.

What about you?  Have you developed any tricks for maintainning a healthy weight?  If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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I Work Out, Should I Be Worried About the Ketogenic Diet?

This is another in our ongoing series of Ketogenic FAQ’s.

A common misconception about the Ketogenic diet is that it does not work well for athletes because they need the ready access to a quickly burning fuel like sugar to be able to perform at high levels.  We now know that is not the whole story.

The reason this rumor got started is because when the earliest studies were done on exercise physiology, they showed a correlation between burning carbohydrates for fuel and athletic performance.  This is why for decades athletes were counseled to “Carbo-load” before big events and every one was wolfing down pasta dishes the night before a race.

This changed when Drs Phinney and Volek released the results from their FASTER study that showed the effect of being in a fat burning state could have on exercise metabolism.  The big discovery was that it took several weeks up to 3 months to become fully fat adapted where you can access the benefits of ketone production.  In fact this was something that Phinney and Volek found out by accident because their original study was not going to continue long enough for their athletes to become fat adapted until they decided to extend the adaptation phase for another 2 weeks.  That was when they discovered the difference that happens when the body is able to access its own fat stores for fuel.

Fat Adaptation for Endurance Athletes

If you are involved in an endurance sport then the Ketogenic diet is really a no-brainer.  Once you have access to your own stores of fat for fuel means that you can go a lot longer without refueling.  While other athletes are having to suck down sugary goo’s every 20 minutes to top off their energy, the fat adapted athlete can run on nothing or very little besides water and possibly salt.

A fat adapted athlete will also generally lose weight when they transition over improving their power to weight ratio.  If you would like to hear one man’s story about the change that can happen with dietary change, I would recommend my interview with Prof Tim Noakes.  Prof Noakes has run many marathons in his life and despite being incredibly fit, developed Type 2 Diabetes.  When he switched to a low carb diet he reversed his T2D and was able to improve his race times.

Fat Adaptation for Power Athletes

The story for athletes that require explosive power isn’t quite as cut and dry with the science that is currently available.  For most of us, a ketogenic diet works just fine but for the very top performers that need that quick boost of energy to squat 1000 lbs, they may benefit from a little bit of sugar just before the big event.  I know some who remain in a ketogenic state and then chew up a life savers before sprinting up a steep hill or a big bench press.  However, for most of us a fat burning state provides more than adequate energy for whatever we are doing.

If you would like more information on this subject, I highly recommend the book that Drs Phinney and Volek wrote with the results from the FASTER study, the Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. An excellent book full of all the information you would want on this subject.

I Work Out, Should I Be Worried About the Ketogenic Diet?

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Can I Drink Alcohol on the Ketogenic Diet?

Here is another in our series of Ketogenic FAQ’s!

Can I Drink Alcohol on the Ketogenic Diet?

Short Answer: Yes but you want to mainly stick with hard liquor with the understanding that it will slow down weight loss.

Let’s first discuss what happens in the liver when you eat (or drink) something.  Your body processes foods in order of toxicity.  In other words, the more prone something is to do long term harm to your body, the higher up the liver prioritizes dealing with it in order to keep the body healthy.  This is why carbohydrates are prioritized over fat by the liver, high blood sugar does more damage to the body than high levels of fat in the bloodstream so the body chooses to store fat and deal with the blood sugar when both fat and carbs are eaten at the same time.  Unfortunately, this has given carbs the halo of being the body’s “preferred source of energy” as if the fact the body tries to burn off sugar before fat makes the sugar have a beneficial impact on our health.

What really puts the lie to this theory that sugar is the body’s preferred fuel source is that the liver prioritizes burning off alcohol even higher than sugar.  So does this mean that whiskey is the body’s preferred source of energy so we should all be eating a high alcohol diet?  Absolutely not, it just means that the body recognizes high blood alcohol levels as very dangerous in the short term so it prioritizes burning off the alcohol first before dealing with sugar, then finally fat.

Ketone Production and Alcohol

So when you are on a ketogenic diet and you drink alcohol, the liver will be busy dealing with the alcohol so production of ketones will be slowed or stopped.  This means that for the period of time your blood alcohol levels are elevated, you will not be using your stored body fat for fuel, slowing weight loss. (But not very much unless you are getting totally plastered.)  I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink alcohol, you just need to keep in mind what happens when you drink so you can make an informed choice.

Are Some Alcoholic Drinks Worse Than Others?

Now that we have an idea of what happens when we drink, let’s examine other factors that will help us decide what to drink.

Beer

Beer is probably the worst alcoholic drink we can have on the ketogenic diet. (Although there are low carb options we will discuss later)  The problem here is not only is there alcohol but the grains the beer is made of will raise blood sugar, stimulating an insulin response.  So not only does your body have to deal with the elevated blood alcohol but once it gets those levels in a normal range, it then has to deal with the elevated blood sugar levels from carbs in the beer making the time your body is in fat-storage mode instead of fat-burning mode increased.  Beer also causes a large spike in blood sugar levels because of how fat your body absorbs the carbs without any fiber to offset the glycemic load so not only will you tend to store it as fat, you will store it as close to the liver as possible.  This belly fat, or omentum or visceral fat, has the largest detrimental impact on your health.  This is what causes the “beer bellies” you see in heavy beer drinkers.

Wine

Wine has a large range of sugar and alcohol levels but the important thing to remember is that the drier a wine is the less sugar it will contain.  The less sugar in the wine, the smaller the insulin response so the shorter time your body will not be burning off fat.  I typically stick with dry reds because not only do you get the low sugar but the Resveratrol compounds that have been shown to have some beneficial impact on our health.  Of course, any low sugar wine is acceptable and the lower the sugar and the lower the alcohol content, the better for ketosis.

Hard Liquor

Clear distilled drinks are the best to drink in ketosis because there is almost no sugar left in the drink after the fermentation process so all your body has to do is deal with the alcohol.  Darker distilled liquors are fine as well but might have a little sugar left in them but such a small amount it’s not even worth talking about.  A scotch or whiskey is processed fairly quickly by the liver so you can get back in to ketosis very quickly.  Of course it goes without saying that you should also avoid any sugary mixers for obvious reasons.

A Word of Caution

I have no idea why this is exactly but it is definitely something I have experienced and have seen anecdotal evidence in keto forums and in my 28 Day Support group.  For whatever reason, when you are in ketosis and drink alcohol, the alcohol seems to have a much stronger effect on you.  I chalked it up to just being 200 lbs smaller but having heard the same thing from other people, I am wondering if this is a universal effect of alcohol on us Ketonians.  So if you do drink, do not drink and drive or do anything else that might put you or someone else at risk.  Even a small amount of alcohol can impair you.  If anyone out there has a theory as to why this is, please let me know in the comments below.  I am definitely curious.

For reference sake, here is a list of a few sample wines that have a low amount of carbs so you can compare them. Thanks to Perfect Keto for this info.

Reds:

  • Pinot Noir (3.4 g carbs)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (3.8 g)
  • Merlot (3.7 g)

Whites:

  • Sauvignon Blanc (2.7 g)
  • Pinot Grigio (3.2 g)
  • Riesling (5.5 g)
  • Chardonnay (3.7 g)
  • Champagne (1.5 g)

For beers, choose light options like:

  • Michelob Ultra: 2.6 carbs
  • MGD 64: 2.4 carbs
  • Bud Select: 3.1 carbs
  • Rolling Rock Green Light: 2.4 carbs
  • Natural Light: 3.2 carbs
  • Bud Select 55: 1.9 carbs
  • Michelob Ultra Amber: 3.7 carbs
  • Miller Lite: 3.2 carbs

For those of you lucky enough to live in Australia, there is also a zero carb beer you can try.  I mean you have to live in a country where everything is trying to kill you but at least you have zero carb beer.  Pros and cons I guess.

What is your favorite keto-friendly drink?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Can I Drink Alcohol on the Ketogenic Diet?

Is There a Sample Menu I Can Look At?

In our continuing series of FAQ’s here about this way of eating, I have been putting this one off for a little while.

Why?  Because starting this year, we are introducing a new format to our weekly meal plans.  In the past we had standard recipes but in response to feedback from the members or our 28 Day Challenge group, we have switched to a Meal Prep format.

So these new meal plans walk you through exactly what to buy and how to prepare your food for the week.  Then all you have to do on the meal day is take your prepared foods out of the fridge and just take the final few steps to finish your meal.

This way all the hard work is done on one day for the week saving you valuable time.

If you would like a free sample meal plan, just go to MySugarFreeJourney.com/28Day and scroll down to the bottom where you can sign up to receive your meal plan.  Once you do, let me know what you think!

Also, consider joining our 28 day program and get great meal plans delivered to each week!

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