New Fad Diet? Not At All...
December 21, 2017 • By Seamus Mullen
So I’ve decided to do 30 days of ketosis, for a number of reasons.
What exactly is ketosis? New fad diet? Not at all, in fact, the ketogenic diet has been around as a concept for over one hundred years and has been used to treat neurological disorders like epilepsy since the beginning of the 20th century. From an evolutionary standpoint, ketosis has been a part of human biology for as long as we’ve been around, but as we shifted from hunter gatherers (paleolithic) to becoming agricultural (neolithic) our metabolisms shifted and we have moved further and further away from a ketogenic way of life.
Ketosis has been flying around the health and wellness conversation for the past few years and most people are at least somewhat familiar with it, so I won’t do a deep dive into the science, but in basic terms, it’s a process whereby we shift our main energy source from glucose to ketones, by depriving the body of refined carbohydrates. Ketones are an acid produced in the liver (and for the scientists out there, forgive the overly simple explanation) by consuming white fat on the body. Think of it as though it’s an emergency store of calories that we carry around to get us through times of little or no food.
I’ve dipped my toes in the waters of ketosis on and off for 6 years on my path out of illness. In fact, I did a full week-long fast, consuming fewer than 200 calories a day, exclusively from fats to fast track my body into ketosis. That was a crazy and wild experience, one I’m not sure I have the desire or will power to do again, but I’m glad to know that I can do it should I ever end up in a situation in which I was forced to go without food. Since I’ve been following a low-carb approach to eating for years now, slipping in and out of ketosis is not that tough, by just reducing my total number of net carbs from 150g per day (where I normally am) to sub -30g per day kicks me right into nutritional ketosis and my body starts producing ketones, technically defined as a lever of .5 to 3.0 mm of serum ketones in the blood or urine. For most people on a Standard American Diet (SAD), cutting carbohydrates back like this radically and quickly produces dramatic and unpleasant effects. Just imagine Trump, who loves his Taco Bowls, fast food and 8 diet cokes a day, suddenly going low-carb! God help us! (I have a theory about him, his terrible diet and high-dose statins likely mean a very low level of HDL cholesterol, one of the warning signs of early onset dementia)!
While the immediate effects of decreasing carbohydrate consumption can be pretty unpleasant, once you get past the hump, most people feel an increase in energy, mental clarity and a variety of other benefits, not the least of which is quite rapid fat loss. I’m doing this more as a reset for myself- I’ve been really dialed in with my nutrtition for a while, but recovering from double shoulder surgery has really set my fitness back and my physique. I will admit that vanity is part of this (who doesn’t want to look their best naked?) but more importantly, a ketogenic diet is a great way of getting my body and health to a good and sustainable place.
On a practical level, for me, I’ve figured out more or less how many calories a day I want to be consuming and what the make up of those macros should be. I think it’s crucial for anyone doing this to consult with their doctor and make a plan before going in half-assed. This is your health, your body, treat it kindly, it’s the only one you’ve got! Ratcheting down my carbs from 150g a day to sub 30g a day (I'm consistently coming in around 25g anyway) isn’t a huge stretch for me, the bigger stretch is culling my protein intake (and I’ll write more on this in another blog post) while balancing up my fats. Eating fats is a crucial way of getting the body to turn on the fat burning mechanisms that lead to ketone production.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be documenting how I’m doing this on a practical level, but for a quick overview, this is what a day looks like for me:
Wake up, drink water. Two cups of pour-over coffee with 1 TBSP grass fed, heavy cream in each cup.
Drink more water with magnesium and collagen.
A large lunch of either the Big Ass Salad (BAS) with about 4oz piece of fish or meat protein- about 25g of total protein- two eggs and half an avocado and plenty of vegetables. The most important part of ketosis to me is making sure I have lots of nutrient dense, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
3 egg omelette with cheese, vegetables and fish or meat.
A healthy sized plate of 4oz of meat (I like lamb, pastured pork or grass-fed beef) or fish (wild salmon, sardines, striped bass, halibut or fluke) and plenty of vegetables. I incorporate more coconut oil than I normally would to help up my fat macros.
All this is not radically different from how I normally eat, with the exception of higher levels of fat and much more strict, lower levels of carbohydrates. I'm careful not to snack on too many nuts and absolutely no dried fruit or fructose dense fruits. If I do have fruit, it would be berries, but since they are out of season now, I’m skipping the berries.
One of my favorite, and decadently delicious keto-friendly dishes is this kale, lamb and feta frittata. It’s easy, super nutrient dense and the left overs make perfect snacks. More to come on my keto-experience, but in the meantime, enjoy this recipe from page 165 of Real Food Heals or online here...I’m gonna go make it RIGHT NOW!