How a Ketogenic Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

As readers of this blog know, I started the Ketogenic Diet for basically 2 reasons. #1 was to stop being 400 lbs, which has turned out fantastic. The second reason was to lower my blood pressure and that has been a little tougher. The problem I have is my BP was SO HIGH at the beginning that while I have managed to bring it down about 50 pts, it’s still way too high. However 50 pts is 50 pts and with the news that Luke Perry just had a massive stroke because his BP was high (I am a big Riverdale fan) (UPDATE: He has since passed away) I am going to start a series detailing everything I have done to lower my blood pressure and maybe by the end of it, talk about some of the new experiments I am doing to try to lower it further. I believe more peple need to know how the Ketogenic diet lowers Blood Pressure.

By far, the most important thing I have done to control my blood pressure, and I believe it is the fundamental starting place for anyone wanting to control their blood pressure through more natural means instead of with (or possibly in addition to) pills, is the Ketogenic Diet. Getting rid of the sugar and grains was absolutely transformative for my weight, overall health and blood pressure. Before we look at exactly how a ketogenic diet lowers blood pressure, lets look at what blood pressure actually is first.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood Pressure is the measure of force exerted by the blood upon the walls of the main arteries, which are the blood vessels that take blood away from the heart, with each beat of the heart. The blood pressure is expressed as 2 numbers, the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure in millimeters of Mercury or mmHg. It will look like 120/80 mmHg, for example.

The Systolic pressure is the maximum force of the blood exerted when the heart beats. The Diastolic pressure is the lesser force exerted by the blood between heartbeats.

What is the Optimal Blood Pressure?

There have been some recent changes to blood pressure guidelines. While the optimal BP of 120/80 hasn’t changed, in years past high blood pressure, or Hypertension, was anything over 140/90. In 2017, those guidelines were changed to say that anything over 130/80 mm Hg is now considered high. It should be noted that these new guidelines were not without controversy as it has been suggested by many that the driving factor in these changes was to increase prescriptions for blood pressure medications.

Controlling your blood pressure is important because, in the words of the 2014 guidelines from JAMA, “Hypertension is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately. ” In other words having high blood pressure puts you at risk for a host of other diseases and health problems.

In one randomized trial, 2 groups of people with high blood pressure were given one of two treatments, a standard treatment that kept their Systolic pressure at less than 140 mm Hg and an intensive treatment that kept their systolic under 120 mm Hg. The trial was stopped early because of the overwhelming evidence that the group that had the lower BP because of the intensive treatment had far better outcomes than the group with the standard care. In fact one prediction model suggests that for every 10% drop in BP, an additional 14,000 deaths per year could be prevented.

How a Ketogenic Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

There is a famous study from 2007 called The A to Z Weight Loss study that looked at Atkins, Zone, Ornish and Learn diets and studied their effect on not only weight loss but Blood Pressure as well. This was a 12 month study where “Participants were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins (n = 77), Zone (n = 79), LEARN (n = 79), or Ornish (n = 76) diets and received weekly instruction for 2 months, then an additional 10-month follow-up”. To the surprise of probably no one that follows this blog, not only did the people on Atkins lose about double the amount of weight as the other participants but the people on the Zone, Learn, and Ornish diets had statistically identical weight loss, suggesting that whatever factors separated those diets, when it comes to weight loss only the carb count matters.

The results for the group following the low carb diet were clear. “Parallel to the group changes in weight, the decrease in mean blood pressure levels was largest in the Atkins group at all time points. At 12 months, the decrease in systolic blood pressure was significantly greater for the Atkins group than for any other group. For diastolic pressure, the only significant pairwise difference at 12 months favored the Atkins over the Ornish group.”

In another study printed in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Clinically significant long-term reductions in blood pressure and reduced risk for hypertension can be achieved with even modest weight loss. ” in other words, if a Ketogenic Diet is effective for losing weight, it will also be effective for lowering blood pressure as those 2 variables seem to be connected.

In another study by Dr Eric Westman, participants were put on either a Ketogenic Diet or a Low Glycemic index diet. This study is particularly interesting because both groups are limiting carbohydrates but the ketogenic group’s carb intake was low enough to force the participants into a state of ketosis. After 24 weeks, both groups experienced a drop in blood pressure but the ketogenic group had a bigger drop. In systolic pressure the low glycemic group dropped 10.7 points on average but the ketogenic group dropped 16.6 points. In diastolic pressure, the low glycemic group dropped 5.6 points while the ketogenic group dropped 8.1 points. Again these numbers suggest cutting any amount of carbs from your diet drops blood pressure and the more carbs you remove, the greater the drop in blood pressure.

In yet another study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Over 24 weeks, systolic blood pressure in the low-carbohydrate diet group decreased by 9.6 mm Hg (CI, −13.3 to −6.0 mm Hg), diastolic blood pressure decreased by 6.0 mm Hg (CI, −8.0 to −3.9 mm Hg), and pulse rate decreased by 8.9 beats/min (CI, −12.1 to −5.8 beats/min).”

What Should You Do?

To be clear, I am not a doctor. I am just someone who has been obsessively studying this subject for years because my own health is on the line. I can tell you from personal experience that switching to a Ketogenic diet dropped my high blood pressure about 40 points (Magnesium supplementation dropped it another 10-15 points but that’s a story for another day.) It was studies just like the ones talked about above that really convinced me I was on the right track. If you haven’t done so already, if you have high blood pressure or are obese, I beg you to start the Ketogenic Diet and see how it works for you. You can find everything you need to know about this way of eating on our FAQ page here, and get free Ketogenic Meal Plans sent to you by signing up for our mailing list here.

Most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns, or if you just want to talk to someone who has been eating this way for a while, leave a comment below. It may take a day or two but I will always get back to you. Thanks!

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How a Ketogenic Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

New Year’s Resolutions

I got this survey from looking at what people are doing for their New Year’s Resolutions that I found very interesting. Let’s go over a few of these and then I’ll tell you my resolutions as we move into the new year.

Obstacles to New Years Resolutions

Biggest Obstacles to New Year's Resolutions
I don’t think I expected Anxiety and Depression to score so high.

A few things here caught my eye. Almost nobody is worried about social obligations. Probably because we’ve become a nation of hermits who stare at our phones. Work obligations was clearly the biggest obstacle but more for men than women. But the thing that really jumped out at me was that the biggest obstacle for women is anxiety and depression. More than work or family or anything else. That is terrible! Especially when you consider one path out of anxiety and depression for many people is to stop eating foods that spike blood sugar and cause inflammation and start a habit of regular exercise. It’s certainly not a cure-all but I’ve seen many people dramatically change their mood and outlook on life by doing those simple things.

New Year’s Food Resolutions

Healthy Food New Year's Resolutions
Oh look, something I can help with.

So here’s the food resolutions people chose. Biggest one is drinking more water and I’m a fan of that, especially if “more water” means less soda or other sweetened drinks which I think is the biggest culprit in most people’s weight loss plateaus. Also, removing sugar and processed foods from your diet is certainly a big deal. Eat foods that existed a 1000 years ago and don’t eat foods invented in the 20th century. (or 21st I guess.) It looks like more people are committing to Preparing their own foods. Yes! Don’t let clowns feed your family! Don’t get your food from drivethru window! Buy ingredients, prepare the meal, sit down and eat it, preferably with family at the same table. If you don’t have time, buy an instant pot and learn a few recipes (Here’s a great book I use.)

Something else that scored high is prepping meals in advance, that is something else I can help with! If you sign up for my email, I will send you a 7 day meal prep plan and then you will get 6 more over the next few weeks. This is totally free and just something I provide for people who are new to this way of eating. I am not a gourmet so these are stupid simple recipes that can be prepared in a few minutes. I’m not a fan of spending hours in the kitchen. You can do that here.

My New Year’s Resolutions

So what are your New Year’s Resolutions? I’ve talked about my big one a little in previous posts but I will be spending January celebrating World Carnivore Month and just eating meat, eggs, and maybe a little cheese. I’m actually looking forward to it a great deal and might start a day or 2 early. I’ve also gotten a squat rack for my backyard gym so once my new barbell comes in on the 4th I’m going to get back to my StrongLifts workouts with Kettlebells and Jump Ropes mixed in. My big goal for the year is to get back under 200 lbs but this time with a lot more muscle so I’m (hopefully) not as prone to weight rebound. I really want my waist to get down to half my height which would be about 35″ but I think I’ll be happy if I can get it within 4″ of that. It would be nice to have a waist smaller than 40″ because I don’t think that’s happened in my adult life.

So I’ll ask again. what are your goals for the coming year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Meal Prepping and The Ketogenic Diet

The Power of a Long-Term Ketogenic Diet

What is the biggest benefit of sticking to a low carb or ketogenic diet long term for weight loss? Let me throw a little math at you before I tell you what I think the answer to that question is.

I lost 200 lbs in about 3 years. So assuming that a pound of fat represents about 3500 calories, I lost 700,000 calories of energy in, let’s call it 1000 days to make the math easier. That means on average I ate 700 calories a day less than what my body needed to maintain my present weight.

Now I know that not all of that was strictly from the food as I was also doing a bit of exercise but nowhere near 700 calories per day. Google tells me that to burn 700 calories a day I would have to jump rope for an hour, jog for an hour, or ice skate for about 75 minutes. I ain’t doing none of that. I will jump rope every once in a while and 5 minutes is absolutely pushing it.

So that is a consistent calorie deficit of 700 calories a day, every day for years. Now this is where I think the most important power of LCHF comes into play. In all that time where I was doing various tweaks and adjustments to my diet and exercise like trying yoga, playing with Intermittent Fasting, and doing more kettlebell work, I was able to miss 700 calories a day from my diet and never be hungry.

That’s the answer to the question in my opinion. The real strength of an LCHF or Ketogenic Diet (and I’ve done both…and carnivore) is that you can remove calories from your diet with no hunger. Look, I like to think of myself as a guy with a moderate amount of will power that can stick to something long term. I’ve been married to the same woman for over 25 years, been writing on this blog for about 4 years, and have another blog I wrote at before this one for about 10 years. But let me be honest with you, if I had to be hungry every day for 3 years in order to lose weight, there is no way in Hades I would have ever stuck it out this long.

I had always thought a certain amount of suffering was necessary to lose weight. I remember years ago when I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and decided to just drink juice for like 6 weeks. I certainly lost weight but I was miserable the entire time. If I would have had to be hungry for years in order to lose weight, it just never would have happened. I would still be 400 lbs if I was still alive.

Having eaten this way for years, it is absolutely the lack of hunger that is the strength of this way of eating. Imagine losing weight without hunger! That is absolutely the power of keto.

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Self-Discipline and the Ketogenic Diet

I am a huge fan of Joe Rogan and his podcast and have listened to every single episode he has done for years which is really saying something when you see his average episode is 3 hours long.  I love his take on the world and the entertaining way he is able to communicate his world view.  However, in a recent interview with Layne Norton and Dom D’Agostino he said something that has absolutely been stuck in my mind for weeks and I need to address it here.

First to set the stage, this was a conversation between 2 well respected scientists; one of which (Dom) studied the Ketogenic diet and the other (Layne) believed in a more carb-centric, eat 6 times a day model of eating.  The conversation was fascinating even if Dom seemed to never talk and Layne seemed to never shut up.  At one point Layne was saying that all diets have some people adhere to them and some people fail at them and Joe made the point that it was a primarily a discipline issue that caused adherence to a diet.

You can see the exchange here.

Here’s the problem.  Willpower and self-discipline are finite resources and have to be developed over time.  I mean it would be great if every time someone had a problem, you could just say “Stop It” and they would stop.  You’re fat, stop eating so much.  Done.  Wipe your hands and move on to the next problem.  What a wonderful world that would be!

Speaking as a formally morbidly obese 400 lb person, let me just tell you that if it was as easy as being told to stop eating so much, no one would ever get as fat as I got.  I would start a new diet and go strong for a while and then slowly but surely the plateaus would start, the willpower would dissipate and I’d right back to where I started if not worse.  It sucked!  What I didn’t realize was I was working against my own biology and in order to succeed, I first needed to adjust my hormones.

I’ve written about this at length in the past so very quickly, let me describe what is happening to you when you eat a meal that increases insulin.  Insulin’s job is to move energy out of your bloodstream and into a cell to be used as fuel or into a fat cell to be stored as fat for later use.  Over the decades of eating a diet that constantly spikes your insulin, the muscle cells eventually get insulin resistant so energy doesn’t flow into a muscle cell as readily.  If muscle cells aren’t getting the energy they need, you feel lethargic and just want to sit on the couch.  This isn’t a willpower or self-discipline issue, this is a hormonal issue.

I’m sure you’ve felt this.  You start a new exercise program you are excited about (usually on January 1st) and after a few weeks it fades away.  That was certainly my story over and over again until I addressed the root of the problem.  I stopped eating foods high in sugar, starch, and grains and my muscles became more insulin sensitive.  I no longer had to talk myself into exercise, it is now a normal part of my life and I start to feel “antsy” when something happens to prevent me from exercising.  (Usually a small injury)

I totally get where Joe Rogan is coming from, it’s awesome to be able to blame everyone else’s problems on a lack of self-discipline.  Self-discipline is important and certainly a skill that can be improved upon, I remember a Bible verse I memorized to help me on my journey, “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself would not be disqualified for the prize.”  Those kind of mental mantras help but will ultimately fail if your body is working against you.

Think of it this way, if you say someone in the ocean drowning with a huge rock in each hand, wouldn’t you tell them to drop the rock so they can focus on swimming to shore?  If someone is struggling with their weight, the constant spikes of insulin are the rocks.  Don’t yell at them about their lack of discipline or get on to them about eating too much.  Instead, teach them to drop the rocks.  Teach them about insulin’s ability to make us fat and lazy and that the key to swimming to shore and having the body you want is to drop the rocks.  Lower insulin by cutting out sugar, grains, starches and PUFAs and start eating real food with a focus on saturated fat.  Tell them about how bacon, steak, eggs, butter, meat and veggies are the key to seeing the pounds come off and sty off.

But most of all, if you are someone who has struggled with your weight, I want to help.  You can leave a comment below or come join or FaceBook support group but whatever you do, get the help you need!

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(Also, if Dom ever reads this article, if you ever have an opportunity to do something like this again and your opponent says “We will agree on a lot of things” then try to figure out where you disagree and talk about those things.  That whole interview could have been a lot more productive.)

This Week in Low Carb News: Nitrites Might Be Healthy and How to Eat Healthy During Lent

Every week I come across a bunch of articles I want to tweet about and comment on and every week I run out of time to do it.  This is my attempt to clear out the open tabs on my browser by putting them all in one place.  Enjoy!

Gary Fettke diagnoses Billy Connelly’s Parkinson’s in Hotel Lobby – Fettke just saw this British comedian walking and from his gait, told him he might have Parkinson’s.  You know, as one does.  Pretty amazing story.  If you need a reminder, you can find my interview with Gary Fettke here.

Study on Obesity being transferred from obese mice to thin mice through fecal transplant recalled – Remember that study?  The one that implied that obesity was more a result of your gut microbiome rather than what you put in your mouth?  Turns out the data was falsified.  Don’t get me wrong, your gut microbiome is important but you don’t have to transplant your fecal matter to change it. (In most cases)  You can just cut out the processed carbs and sugar and focus more on the fats our ancestors ate.

Maybe Nitrites in meat don’t cause cancer – Most of us have heard that processed meat causes cancer and usually the finger is pointed at the nitrites but wait, that might not be the whole story.  There is at least some evidence that nitrites are actually healthy!  So what causes the correlation between processed meats and cancer?  Could it be that most processed meats contain added grains and sugars?  Yeah, probably.

Dietary Carbohydrates Impair Lifespan and Increase Mortality – Well, duh.  Not the best designed study in the world but interesting none the less.

How to Eat Well During an Orthodox Christian Lent – Love anything Chris Masterjohn puts out and am always interested in the intersection between faith and nutrition so this of course was a must read for me.  Very informative and helpful document to help navigate not just an Orthodox Lent but most meat-less fasts.

Surgery vs Placebo Surgery for Tennis Elbow compared – And holy cow, the placebo surgery was better for the patients.  This reminds me of the interview I did with Stuart McGill where he said he gives his patients “Virtual Surgery” where he makes them act like they had back surgery and undergo a lot of rest.  Maybe all these surgeries aren’t doing what we think they are doing and it’s just the downtime and rest after surgery that is actually repairing the issue.

Pre-op Keto diet improves outcome for bariatric patients – Man, oh man.  I’ve been screaming this for years.  Before you pay someone thousands of dollars to cut out part of your stomach or implant something that makes it difficult to eat, try the ketogenic diet.  You will get all the benefits of bariatric surgery with none of the downside.

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What Books Should I Read to Find Out More About the Ketogenic Diet?

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

I get asked this question from time to time and I have to admit that I am VERY biased here.  This list is going to be a list of the books that I found helpful to me along my journey in roughly the order that I think would be most helpful.

Sugar is Bad

  1. Why We Get Fat – This book makes the case that it is insulin that drives weight gain instead of CICO.  I usually recommend it alongside the next book on the list as it makes the case of what we should remove from our diet in order to lose weight.  This was the second book Taubes wrote on the subject.  The first one, Good Calories, Bad Calories, makes the same case but with A LOT more science.  It was a pretty dense book so Taubes wrote Why We Get Fat to make the case in a simpler format.  So if you are a Dr or scientist (or nerd like me) go with Good Calories, Bad Calories but for the general layman, Why We Get Fat is fine.  He Also wrote The Case Against Sugar which has some of the more updated science in it but I haven’t read it yet so I can’t recommend it.

Honorable Mention: The very first book I read about sugar was Fat Chance by Lustig.  Great book that focuses more on the effects of fructose on the liver and how it affects weight gain.

Fat is Good

2.  The Big Fat Surprise – This book makes the case for what we should add to our diet, namely fat.  It also reads a bit like a detective novel where author Nina Tiecholz unravels the tangled web of bad science that led to fat being Public Enemy #1 for decades while everyone got fatter.  Might be the most engaging and entertaining book on this list as well as the most informative.

What are the Basics?

3.  The Ketogenic Bible – This spot on the list used to go to Jimmy Moore’s Keto Clarity but things move fast in this dietary world and I think The Ketogenic Bible surpasses Moore’s book in terms of clarity and science on the ketogenic diet.  It goes through everything from the basics through the science on to how the diet affects certain chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, etc.  If you are looking for something specifically on the ketogenic diet (as opposed to sugar and/or fat like the first 2 books on the list cover) you couldn’t do better than this.

Honorable Mention:  Another great book that covers this same ground is Keto by Craig and Maria Emmerich.  Again, heavy on the science but includes the Emmerich’s experiences of helping their hundreds of clients lose weight and regain their health with a ketogenic diet.

What About Vegetable Oils?

Deep Nutrition – This book is thick and covers A LOT of ground but I found its focus on vegetable oils uniquely interesting and informative.  Great info on how PUFAs destroy you from the inside out and lead to a host of metabolic problems.  In fact, if you are interested in nutrition in general instead of the ketogenic diet in particular, this would be the book to read first.

Honorable Mention: It’s hard to get in the States but the first book I read on the subject of PUFAs was Toxic Oil by David Gillespie.  In fact I read a lot of his books in those early days and couldn’t for the life of me tell you how I came across a series of books from an Australian before I found almost anyone else on this list.

What About Cancer?

5.  Tripping Over the Truth – This is a fascinating book that tells the story about how cancer research took a wrong turn and started treating cancer like a genetic disease instead of the metabolic disease it actually is.  If you or someone you know is fighting cancer, this is the book you want to read.

Honorable Mention: The Metabolic Approach to Cancer covers similar ground and if you are a science nerd with a hundred bucks to blow, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease is the Godfather of the current metabolic approaches to cancer phenomenon.

What About Alzheimer’s?

Grain Brain – Again, this was the first book I read on the subject that caught my attention and is more about how a low carb diet will improve overall brain health, not just help with Alzheimer’s but still a great resource if you want your brain to continue working into old age.

Honorable Mention – What if There Was a Cure tells the story of one woman’s fight to keep her husband from the devastating effects of early onset Alzheimers’s using a high fat diet.

What Do I Cook?

Any Cookbook by Maria Emmerich – She has written so many ketogenic cookbooks that there is too many to choose from.  I would just pick one and use it for a while, then get another.

Honorable Mention – Something I do is just Google the word ketogenic and add the ingredients I have in the house.  So Ketogenic Chicken recipes would get me at least a few things to think about.  Of course you can also check out the recipes I have on my page here.

I know I left out many great books from this list but it will at least get you started.  We are living in the “Golden Age of Keto” so there are new books coming out all the time.  Keep your eyes on this blog and I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting!

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What is the Ketogenic Diet? A Beginner’s Guide!

Last week in our Ketogenic Training and Meal Plan Room, someone asked for something they could read about how to start and be successful on a ketogenic diet.  When I started going over the basics, I realized that what I really needed was one post with everything I would want someone to know on day one of starting this way of eating.  So this post will be a little longer than most but I think that if you are new to this way of eating, it should answer the big questions most people have when starting off.  If you still have a question or if you think I didn’t cover something important, leave me a comment below and I’ll make any necessary changes.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Your body can use 3 different types of dietary fuel for energy; glucose, fat, or ketones.  In the typical person that includes carbohydrates as a normal part of their diet, the body will prefer to use the glucose that carbohydrates are converted into in the body as its main source of energy because in high amounts, glucose is toxic to the body.  So every time you eat a carbohydrate, your total blood sugar level goes up and your body has to either use that sugar as fuel or store it away as fat as quickly as possible to keep your blood sugar levels where your body wants them to be.  So if you ate fat at the same time you ate carbs (which usually happens.  Think of a fatty hamburger on a carby bun with a side of carby french fries.) then rather than use that fat for energy, it just quickly stores it away in a fat cell so it can concentrate on the sugar.

What the Ketogenic diet does is it removes those blood sugar spikes from your metabolic equation by removing carbohydrates (especially simple carbs like sugar and processed grains like bread and pasta) from your diet.  So instead of having to deal with both sugar and fat at the same time, the body only has to deal with the fat, which it does very efficiently by converting fatty acids into ketones.  (This is where the ketogenic diet gets its name)  These ketones are the body’s actual preferred energy source as almost every metabolic process runs more efficiently on ketones as fuel rather than glucose as less metabolic waste products are produced in your cells with ketones as compared to glucose.

A very important truth at the core of the ketogenic diet is that weight loss (and overall health) are controlled not by the amount of calories that we take in, but by the hormones that are produced by the types of food we eat.  (As well as other factors like stress but food is the biggie.)  The main hormone that sits in the driver’s seat and exerts the most control over your weight and metabolic health is insulin.  Insulin’s job is to take the glucose created by the carbohydrates we eat and usher it into a cell to be used as fuel or if we eat more than we can use, to usher it into a fat cell for long term storage.  So Insulin in your body’s fat storage hormone.  Anything that increases insulin makes you fatter and anything that suppresses insulin production makes you leaner over time.  The ketogenic diet suppresses insulin production by removing the foods that cause insulin secretion from the diet, namely sugar and other carbs.

If you would like to check out my history with the ketogenic diet, you can read how I lost over 200 lbs on the Ketogenic Diet here.

What Should You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

Fat!  I know, you’ve been told your entire life that fat would give you a heart attack but that’s just not true.  (Want to do more research?  Here’s a list of 5 studies on the healthiness of dietary fat)  You body is mostly fat, your brain is mostly fat, every cell in your body contains fat, your body needs fat to make most hormones and enzymes, your body requires fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.  In short, fat is a basic building block and can be consumed in large amounts without harm, as long as it is not consumed alongside carbohydrates.

The Ketogenic diet in one sentence is High Fat, Moderate Protein, and Low Carb.

High Fat

We are talking specifically about saturated and monounsaturated fats from animal sources like beef, chicken and pork as well as oils like coconut oil, lard, olive oil and butter.  Essentially if it is a fat that came from an animal, eat it.  You will want to avoid Polyunsaturated Fats (Sometimes called PUFAs) like canola oil, corn oil, or any oil that contains the word “seed” like sunflower seed oil, cottonseed oil and so on.  You will want to avoid like the plague any trans-fats that are usually found in processed foods or anything that has the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.  Also, avoid anything that says “lite” or “low fat”.  Any product that has removed the fat has probably replaced that fat with sugar.

Moderate Protein

Again we are talking about meat here but specifically fatty meats.  We want to stay away from lean meat like turkey or boneless, skinless chicken breasts as excess protein gets turned into glucose in our bodies through a process called Gluconeogenesis.  So eat fatty meats like steak with a lot of marbling, pork chops with a thick rind of fat, bacon, dark meat chicken with the skin and so on.

Low Carb

It is the low carb part of the equation that is the most important as ideally you are aiming to keeping your carbs below 20g a day.  None of your carbs can come from processed sugar or grains so no candy, sweets, fruit juice, tropical fruit (grapes, pineapple, and bananas are the worst offenders but most long term keto-ers just stick with berries if they eat any fruit at all), bread, pasta, or potatoes.  All carbohydrates are complex and in the form of whole vegetables, usually mixed with fat so almost any veggie on the produce aisle (except for potatoes) covered in butter works great and they can be cooked in any way imaginable.

If you would like a complete list of the foods you can eat on a ketogenic diet, there’s not a better or a more complete one than the one Dr Westman gives to his patients.  (Edit: That helpful resource is gone! Here’s a list of foods you can eat on a Ketogenic diet.)  In a nutshell, you can have any meat but the fattier the better, any vegetable but you want to prefer green leafy vegetables over more carby root vegetables like carrots or squash, and most dairy up to your limit of 20g a day of carbohydrates so you want to eat the fattiest dairy available.

Other things you will want to include in your diet is high quality salt like pink Himalayan salt or any salt that came from a sea bed as opposed to Morton’s that came out of the ground and plenty of water.  (My personal favorite salt is Redmond’s Real Salt.)  In fact, most issues that arise on a ketogenic diet, especially in the early days as you are adjusting to the diet can be solved with more fat, more salt, and more water.

How Can You Succeed on the Ketogenic Diet?

There are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of success.  As with any big change, the biggest obstacle will be the inertia of old bad habits that will try to trip you up.  For instance, when I first started I was in the habit of going to the gas station almost any time I left the house and grabbing a big fountain drink.  It was so ingrained in me that I would often pull into the gas station and buy a Coke completely on autopilot and not realize what I had done until I was done the road a ways.  I couldn’t even remember stopping!

You will discover many bad habits you will need to break.  You might always go to vending machine right at 3 PM for a snack or order pizza on Friday nights.  What ever your particular bad habits are, you need to pay careful attention in the first few weeks to keep your carb intake as low as possible.

You should also get some support, perhaps that would be from your family members or close friends or maybe you join the ketogenic training group I created.  When you join, you get a new ketogenic meal plan sent to you each week as well as access to our Facebook community with over 1000 people who are improving their health and losing weight with the ketogenic diet.  Every night I have a new Facebook live video with important training you need to know about the ketogenic diet as well as encouragement to help you succeed.  To sign up, just click here!

I also have a handy checklist of things you can do to succeed on a ketogenic diet here.

What Should I Expect on a Ketogenic Diet?

The first few weeks on a ketogenic diet can sometimes be a little difficult to get through if you don’t know what’s coming so let’s be clear about what you can expect.

Chances are you are a sugar addict so when you stop eating your sugar filled snacks, you will probably experience some sugar cravings for a few days to a few weeks.  These can be pretty intense depending on how often you were eating sugar before you stopped.  The only thing you can do is just get through them.  If you cave and eat something with sugar in it then the whole cycle starts over and you just made things worse for yourself.  You have got to go through this withdrawal stage to break through your addiction.

One of the places your body stores excess sugar is in water in your muscles in the form of glycogen.  As you lower the amount of sugar consumed, your body will begin to dip into these sugar reserves and as that happens, the water contained in the muscles drains off.  This will usually result in a fairly rapid weight loss of 10 pounds or more in the first week or 2.  While it’s great to see those numbers on the scale go down, don’t get too excited as most of it will be water weight.  This will also mean that you will probably go to the bathroom much more often than normal in the first few weeks as your body sheds this excess water.

Losing this water can also lead to mild dehydration which can leave you feeling drained and having flu-like symptoms, sometimes referred to as “Keto Flu”.  This also happens while the body has depleted most of its sugar reserves but hasn’t quite switched over to full-blown ketone production.  Don’t worry, it usually passes within a few days and can be shortened by upping both your water and salt intake.

Beyond this early transitional time, the ketogenic diet is fairly smooth sailing.  Once the sugar cravings disappear and the ketone production goes up, you should expect to feel more energy and can see weight loss of 1-3 lbs a week, depending on how much weight you have to lose.

What Are the Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet?

Weight loss – This is the biggie.  Once you lower your insulin levels, you should begin to see steady weight loss until all excess weight is gone.  Again, you can read my story here.

Type 2 Diabetes – Lowering the amount of sugar consumed means less work for your pancreas to do as it is your pancreas’ job to produce insulin.  Let your pancreas rest long enough and chances are you will regain full function of it.  Keep your blood sugar levels low enough and your A1C should drop like a rock.

Cholesterol – A ketogenic diet will raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and lower VLDL cholesterol, the smallest densest particles of LDL cholesterol that actually cause heart disease.  It also will lower triglycerides which is an important factor in heart health.

Blood Pressure – Insulin makes your blood vessels more rigid and incapable of flexing with each heart beat which means blood pressure tends to rise with insulin resistance.  Once you lower your insulin levels, your blood vessels will relax and BP should fall.

Epilepsy – Before anti-seizure medications were invented, a ketogenic diet was the only option for epileptics and it worked very well with none of the side effects of the medications.  If you would like more info on this, I recommend you check out the work that The Charlie Foundation is doing.

Cancer – Insulin stimulates increased cell reproduction and cancer is essentially cell reproduction run amok. Combine that with the fact that cancer consumes sugar to produce energy, it’s easy to see why the typical high sugar diet most of us eat or ate at one point increases our chances of getting cancer.

There are plenty of other benefits, most of which we go over in detail in the 28 Day Challenge group but suffice it to say, a ketogenic diet improves your metabolic health on pretty much every front you can imagine.

Would you like to try it out?  Come join us in the 28 Day Challenge room today!

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Need more info about the ketogenic diet? How about a great support group? Join our Ketogenic Facebook support group!

The My Sugar Free Journey Podcast – Episode 12: 10 Positive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet!

Ever wonder about what happens to your body on a ketogenic diet?  In today's episode of the My Sugar Free Journey Podcast,  we are looking at 10 Positive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet!

It’s time for another episode of the My Sugar Free Journey podcast!  This week it is just me because I wanted to share 10 Positive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet that I’ve learned about since starting this journey of mine.  I think that it would be helpful to find this important information all in one place.

Remember that you can follow us on iTunes and I would really appreciate a review there on iTunes.  Thanks!

10 Positive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet

#1  A Ketogenic Diet Speeds Up Weight Loss

I’m not going to lie, when I first started eating a Ketogenic diet, this was the only benefit I cared about.  If it didn’t make me lose weight, I would have stopped in when the keto flu kicked in.  But the weight came off and kept coming off for almost 2 years now with a massive 160+ lbs dropped so far.

#2  A Ketogenic Diet Suppresses Appetite

Hunger was my great nemesis on any diet I was ever on.  I was the guy with the hollow leg that could just eat and eat and eat no matter what.  All You Can Eat Buffets would would tremble when I walked through the door.  But probably a month or 2 after starting a ketogenic diet, I began to notice that I was almost never hungry and then after a few more months I started Intermittent Fasting where I didn’t eat from about 8PM at night to about 2PM the next day with no feeling of hunger.

#3  A Ketogenic Diet Causes More Visceral Fat Loss

Not all fat is created equal.  It’s the fat that is around your midsection (visceral fat) that causes the greatest amount of metabolic damage by crowding your internal organs and impairing their ability to function efficiently.  Studies have shown that a LCHF diet increases the rate of fat lost around the midseection which means that weight lost on a Ketogenic diet is better than weight lost on a different diet.

#4  A Ketogenic Diet Lowers Triglyceride Counts

Triglycerides are fatty molecules that have been shown to be associated with heart disease when in high numbers.  Cutting out the carbs and increasing your fat intake will cause your Triglyceride numbers to fall.

#5  A Ketogenic Diet Will Increase the Amount of Good (HDL) Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol is the heart protective good cholesterol that has been associated with better health markers.  HDL Cholesterol carries cholesterol away from the body and back to the liver to be reused and recycled.  The higher your HDL numbers, the greater the health benefits and a ketogenic diet will increase your HDL cholesterol numbers.

#6  A Ketogenic Diet Can Cure Type 2 Diabetes

It was my wife’s diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes that really started us on this road.  At the time we really didn’t know what to do but we knew we had to get the weight off of her.  Of course the doctor was no help and basically told us that it was a progressive disease that would just get worse as we got older.  No mention of dietary changes or anything else that we could do to combat the issue.  Of course, all we had to do was reduce the amount of insulin her body needed to produce everyday and the issue evaporated almost overnight.  Now I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving any medical advice here but if Type 2 Diabetes is a dsease of too much insulin then it stands to reason that reducing insulin need would be a natural fix.  I’m not sure why this isn’t being shouted from the rooftops in every doctor’s office in America.

#7  A Ketogenic Diet Reduces Blood Pressure

A ketogenic diet reduces the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.  Glucose is hydrophilic which means it absorbs water and expands in the veins and arteries.  High fluid volume means higher blood pressure.  If you stop eating things that your body can convert to glucose, the blood volume goes down which reduces blood pressure.

#8  A Ketogenic Diet Can Cure Metabolic Syndrome

It wasn’t to long ago that I was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome.  To get it, you have t have at least 3 of the following 5 symptoms; Be overweight with a large portion of the fat being around your midsection, high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL.  A ketogenic diet fixes every single one of these symptoms.

#9  A Ketogenic Diet Reduces the Amount of Small Dense LDL Particles

There was a time when we thought that all LDL cholesterol was bad but we now know that LDL exists in many different particle sizes from large and fluffy to small and dense.  The Large fluffy particles are harmless but the small dense particles are a little like having small ball-bearings rolling around in your veins damaging everything they touch.  Removing carbs from your diet reduces the amount of small dense LDL particles.

#10  A Ketogenic Diet Improves Brain Function

Dr Perlmutter goes into this in great detail in his book, Grain Brain but a low carb diet will increase brain function and is protective against a wide range of neurological problems ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s.

Here are the other blogposts I discussed in the podcast

All Real Food, Keto, and Paleo Coupons in One Place!

Keto Tip: “Light” or “Low-Fat” Products are the Devil!

Broccoli Chips Recipe

Be sure to use this affiliate link before you shop at Amazon.  It doesn’t cost you anything and helps out the work we are doing here.  You can also buy your Pure Vitamin Club vitamins by clicking here.  Thanks!

Ever wonder about what happens to your body on a ketogenic diet?  In today's episode of the My Sugar Free Journey Podcast,  we are looking at 10 Positive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet!

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Need more info about the ketogenic diet? How about a great support group? Join our Ketogenic Facebook support group!