This is the accompanying article for a scheduled live stream on the Ketogenic diet (Monday, September 28, 2015). What you’ll read below are our “intention notes” (our term for what we ‘intend’ to talk about, but conversations on a live stream do have a way of wandering off topic). The video version of the live stream will be posted on this page and on YouTube in a day’s time.
If you want to join in on the conversation, here’s the link. https://blab.im/laura-childs-ketohybrid-four-stages-of-keto-how-your-body-transitions-on-lchf-low-carb-high-fat (you can ask questions from the chat or ask to take a seat live – there will be two empty chairs).
Tonight we’re talking about the four stages of KETO. This session focuses more on the psychological progression than the science-based or medically-focused stages. The two are intertwined but our intention for sharing in this conversation is more “YOU” focused. We really want you to know what you’re in for! When we started this diet in January of 2014 no one was talking about this. No one providing clues on what to expect (they’re still not!). Let’s peel back the curtain and discuss what really happens to your brain, your hunger and your body as you move towards a healthier you.
We begin by explaining ketosis (the very basics), and then move into our concept of the stages of keto.
There are two metabolic processes available to our bodies (every body). They are primarily glucose-burning metabolisms or fat-burning metabolisms.
The majority of our North American population are glucose-burners. Nothing wrong with that EXCEPT when we look at the stats – now 70% of the general population is overweight, obese, morbidly obese, diabetic, low energy, or addicted to fast burning carbohydrates.
This is how man has survived throughout history. Yes, right from the days of caveman (which is why the Paleo diet has helped so many lose weight, but without the training or understanding of human metabolism so many people stall or gain weight on a Paleo diet).
We’re not asking you to go back to the days of hunting and gathering.
Man has truly evolved! Yet, our metabolic functions have NOT changed. We can see the evidence of metabolic diversity as recent as the era when the vast majority lived on self-sustained family farms. (For you history buffs that is the Second Industrial Revolution; around the 1850s mark when early factory electrification, mass production, the production line entered into our realm of abilities.)
Right up until the early 1900s the majority of families ate what they either grew or could trade. Many families still do!
What we’re talking about here isn’t “caveman” or the Paleolithic era. We’re only glancing back (less than) 200 years of human evolution.
Back to the caveman or the farmer – in fact anyone who lived in an area of ‘seasons’ – there is a period of growing and sustenance on carb-heavy foods, and then there is survival on what could be cured, killed, or stored to get through the season.
In the seasons of eating a lot of carbs, we humans are sugar burners. Whether we do that for 6 months of the year, or 6 years consecutively (the number isn’t relevant), we store fat on our bodies which is meant to protect us, sustain us, for those long winter months. The trouble is – in this post Second Industrial Revolution Era – the long winter months never come.
On the other hand, when we eat a lot of fats (with or without protein) – our bodies switches over to the alternative metabolic system, the fat-burning mode.
We all have the ability to push ourselves into either mode!
Unless you have some underlying physical condition, your body is perfectly capable of switching from one mode of ‘burn’ to another. As for fat-burning – or ketosis – just hours after you were born, you were in it. You would have stayed in it as long as you were exclusively breastfed or until your caregiver moved you onto a high carb diet. http://www.ketotic.org/2014/01/babies-thrive-under-ketogenic-metabolism.html#id21
That is the gist of the ketogenic diet in a nutshell.
So what’s really happening inside of our bodies on a ketogenic diet?
When humans eat a high fat diet, our livers convert the fat into an energy source called ‘ketones’ and our metabolism cranks over to fat-burning mode. It may take a few days, it may take a month, but it is going to happen.
The pure ‘magic’ of this metabolic process is that the body – at any time it feels it needs energy – will seek out stored fat when no other fat is available (i.e. in the digestive system).
Now that you know what a KETO diet is and why it works so well for weight loss, let’s talk about what you can expect.
Four Stages of Keto
After two years of following and coaching others on this diet we’ve identified four stages that nearly everyone transitions through – physically and/or psychologically.
The first stage is only relevant when discussing keto and weight loss. Our people, our readers, Facebook participants, clients, and those we stay in contact with by email almost always arrive with a need to lose weight, and most will battle the sugar addiction first.
As a side note: The remainder of our people are learning about the diet based on a recommendation from their oncologist or family physician. This has sparked a massive ‘side study’ for both Veronica and I – given the high rates of cancer in the USA and Canada and based on the principle that cancer cells are major sugar feeders. We will not give dietary advice on battling cancer but we do have contacts working exclusively in this field. In fact – if there’s enough interest, we’ll see if we can get a live stream going on that topic.
For now, back to the sugar addiction, weight loss, and the ketogenic diet.
It’s nearly time to get on that live stream! Yikes! I will finish this when I return. Until then…JOIN US HERE (or watch the replay here) https://blab.im/laura-childs-ketohybrid-four-stages-of-keto-how-your-body-transitions-on-lchf-low-carb-high-fat
Stage 1: “Beating Down The Sugar Monster” For most people who have been eating a high carb diet for any length of time (certainly our readers interested in weight loss), addiction is the end result.
High carb foods are starches, sugars, and most grains. Sugars can be as natural as fruit, carrots, tomatoes.
The addiction is insidious. The only way you’ll know you’re addicted is either by (a) feeling hungry all the time, or (b) cutting out carby foods and watching how your body responds. Common responses are mood swings, depression, lethargy, unwarranted aches and pains, and flu like symptoms – just like any other addiction!
These responses may be mild and may cause you to think that the addiction is light (if at all) but without putting it in check now, it will worsen over time to a deeper problem.
Therefore, Stage 1 of a KETO diet is spent becoming free of that constant hunger and sugar addiction. Moving past that “KETO FLU” stage and forcing your body into fat-burning mode.
And we promise you – no matter what you go through – it is all worth it.
Ketogenic diets are no different than any other weight loss diet – the first week or two will be the hardest. With this diet though you won’t be starving yourself silly. Instead you’re going to fuel up on healthy fats and keep those carbs (those sugars) very low.
Fats are going to keep your body feeling fuller longer.
Fats are going to push your body into the metabolic state of ketosis.
Fats are tasty! Who doesn’t love bacon, cheese, cream, nuts, oils and butter on their foods?
While we suggest people only eat when they’re hungry and only as much as they need on this diet – especially when getting over a sugar addiction – we don’t push portion control or calorie counting in the first stage.
Stage 2: “Awareness” This is where we see people noticing changes in their bodies, in their energy levels, and in their interest in new foods and/or nutrition. Cravings are lessened and new habits are forming.
In this stage people are digging deeper, perhaps discovering an interest in their food sources (thinking about organic, non-GMO, or starting a garden). This is where we see the strongest psychological shifts.
Sometimes this new interest or stage happens when people reach a plateau in their weight loss.
Sometimes it just happens because they feel great and want to learn more so they can hack into better health.
Hunger – even that “healthy” 3 square meals a day type hunger – wanes.
Individually noticing ‘food triggers’.
Starting to love themselves – not just from a vanity perspective, but the realization that their bodies aren’t working against them and that it is really quite a complex, intelligent system.
Weight is down, health is up, interest piqued, AWARENESS!
Stage 3: “Hack Fasting” The first hack people make in this stage is almost always intermittent fasting. This happens naturally when the body and the brain has released the addiction and realizes it is being fed an adequate amount.
In this stage, you’ve figured out the best macros for your metabolism.
You’re feeling even less hunger – while your body burns off stored fat – and meals are sometimes forgotten altogether! You are likely needing to remind yourself to eat. And since intermittent fasting happens naturally as a result, it becomes very easy to give it a trial run. Again – back to caveman and famines of the Industrial era – completely natural.
When you’re just starting out with the KETO diet, this may not be a message you want to hear, am I right?
- You LOVE food.
- Food is a celebration that you have with friends.
- Food is a habit that you’re comfortable with.
- Food is comfort.
- Food is a stress reliever.
But once the reliance, the habit, the addiction and so on is gone – food takes its rightful place in your life.
It is something to be enjoyed. Something that nurtures you and heals you. Not something that controls you.
Back to the topic of fasting. I watched a live stream this week that featured Jimmy Moore. If you don’t know Jimmy he has been publicly battling his weight for many years. In the beginning he was involved with and promoted something called KimKins (which turned out to be unhealthy and a scam) but then he switched to a low carb diet and lost 180 pounds. At any rate, now Jimmy is working with ketogenic diets (unsure for how long) but on that live stream he stated he was on Day 6 of fasting. This is quite easy to do once our bodies have switched over to ketosis (fat-burning mode) as long as you have the weight to support the fast. I will say that for someone on Day 6 of a fast, Jimmy was bright-eyed, coherent, high energy, and cheerful.
My point is…fasting is healthy. It is part of our ‘ancestral roots’ and our bodies are completely capable of managing long fasts. It sounds completely unreasonable to a sugar-burner, but absolutely within reason to a fat-burner.
When you’re just starting out with fasting, give Intermittent Fasting a trial run. (Veronica warns that if you aren’t in ketosis you should not fast as your body will still be looking to burn sugar and a fast will deplete muscle in that quest. Your metabolism won’t be looking for fat to burn until it has switched over to fat-burning mode.)
Intermittent Fasting is gentler on our bodies. You can do so just by eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast on the following morning. That’s an 18 hour intermittent fast – and again, as long as you’re in ketosis, your body knows to look for stored fat to use for energy.
This business of doctors and governments telling everyone to eat every 2-3 hours or to eat 6 small meals a day instead of 3 – that advice is for sugar burners. That’s for people who are stuffing so many carbs and sugars into their bodies in 3 large doses that their insulin receptors are getting damaged and as a result need to replenish the sugar to remain clear-headed throughout the day.
You can do this – eat every 2-3 hours to stabilize your energy levels when you’re starting out with KETO and to get over Stage 1: Sugar Addiction – but you won’t NEED to once you’re in ketosis. Your body maintains your energy levels naturally in ketosis.
Stage 4: “Optimum Health” This is the end of the KETO weight loss journey but the start of the rest of your life!
- You’re eating the highest quality foods, less often.
- Maybe you fast for 2-3 days or longer.
- Now you’re a nutrition nut! Never – okay, maybe seldom – putting harmful foods in your body.
- You eat to nurture your cells.
- You eat for longevity.
You deserve high praise for this.
You’ve come so far and you’ve turned your life around!
Now go and change the world with what you know about food, nutrition, health and more.