I have been a little MIA as of late. Not that it matters but for some reason when some time has passed since I took finger to keyboard it feels like I should have some sort of excuse as to why I haven’t been writing. Well, I have an excuse. I have been dumping all my leftover brain function into an experiment. It isn’t finished yet in fact it will take me at least a year to complete. Some people can manage more mentally than I can. Maybe I was dropped as a child or something….we will never know for sure.
My experiment is physical and nutritional in nature. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis and my Dr. telling me basically there was nothing that I could do to prevent it, I would gain weight and feel tired and eventually need to be put on medication, I felt like I was given a challenge. When someone tells me there is nothing I can do and I need to just sit down and accept my fate I have a tendency to buck them. I have been doing a lot of research to try to understand more about our bodies and how they work and what we can do to help them work better.
I have recently been studying deeply into the research of Dr. Steve Phinney and others of his kind. After weeks of spending way more time than any reasonable person should listening to lectures and pouring over study statistics, I decided to dive head first into eating a ketogenic diet. The name diet is misleading. If you decide to eat this way it is actually a lifestyle and not something you can go on and off of on a whim and expect it to even remotely succeed. For those of you in the medical field, this can often be confused with keto acidosis which is life threatening but is completely different.
Here is a little background into what this kind of diet entails. The standard diet in our world today is made up of primarily glucose for fuel. Our body wants glucose for energy and gets that from the carbohydrates that we eat. These starches and carbs and sugars are converted to glucose and insulin is spiked in response. This kind of diet causes dramatic ups and downs in energy levels and since our bodies cannot store large amounts of glucose we are often feeling hungry not long after eating. A ketogenic diet causes the body to switch from burning glucose for fuel to fat for fuel. Fat is converted to ketones in the body and then those are burned as fuel. This can only happen when the body adapts to using fat as fuel and that can only happen when carbohydrate intake is kept very low.
Eating a diet like this seems to go against everything we have been taught about diet and that’s because it does. If you take the food guide pyramid and flip it upside down that is a very simple way of explaining the basics of keto. Sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and fruit are all off the table. Carbs come from dark green leafy veggies and low glycemic index vegetables and the carbs in things like cheese, chia seeds, eggs and such. Carbs are kept to a minimum. A moderate amount of protein comes next but that is kept at moderate as your body can produce glucose from an excessive amount of protein via a process known as gluconeogenesis. The largest part of the diet consists of fat. The fat is from animals or sources like olive oil, avocados, eggs and coconut. Since your body is using fat as fuel it doesn’t store it in your arteries and liver. It actually cleans your body of fat stores and in turn can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and other common problems usually blamed on fat consumption. Fat isn’t really the culprit it is excessive carbohydrates, at least that is what the science behind the diet seems to implicate.
I felt like the evidence for the diet was compelling and interesting. If you consider whole groups of people who eat this way such as the Inuit peoples, it becomes clear that something about this can work and possibly the way we have thought about food may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way our body wants to utilize fuel. There are so many more interesting potential benefits to this way of eating that I decided to dedicate a year to eating a ketogenic diet and see how it affects me. I have been on it over a month now and am finally able to do it without having to think about it so much. I feel good overall and my energy levels have been better than they were before.
There is no one size fits all way of eating and what works for one person may not work for another. We are individuals after all. This may not work for me but it also may work perfectly. Time will tell and while I wait for the answer I will enjoy copious amounts of steak, butter, bacon and avocados. If all else fails I will be quite satiated at least. Follow along on my journey if you like and if you are interested in more information about the ketogenic diet I encourage you to look up Dr. Steve Phinney on YouTube and watch his videos. The possibilities for incredible benefits for people with diabetes, auto immune disease and cancer are amazing. Since I don’t have to spend so much time learning the ins and outs of keto anymore I will have a little more time to develop content for HuntFiber so be on the lookout for new recipes, stories and adventures! Thanks for all the support!