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Healthy Lifestyle Plan, #3: Keto + IF

Over the past several years, on those occasions when I entertained the possibility of making some lifestyle changes to lose weight and improve my physical condition, I looked at a number of different “eating plans”. Paleo, Atkins, Low-carb, Carnivore, Vegan-Vegetarian, etc. What landed me on the Ketogenic plan, I think, is the understandable teaching of believable authorities such as Dr. Eric Berg and Thomas DeLauer, along with a few others, most of whom I found and follow on YouTube.

Keto is a carbohydrate restricted eating plan, with increased levels of healthy fats and moderate protein intake. The premise is that the body will use stored fat for energy creation, in lieu of the carbohydrates that are taken in in a typical American diet. There is certainly more science involved then I am qualified to try to explain, so I’ll refer you to the experts mentioned earlier for more about that. Avoiding carbohydrate rich foods such as grains, sugars and some dairy products is a big part of ketogenic eating.

During my weight loss phase, my daily “macros” are 1,858 net calories, 116 grams of protein, 145g of fat, and 23g of net carbs. Net carbs are total carbohydrates minus fiber. Using an app like Carb Manager makes tracking these categories pretty simple. Once I’ve reached my desired body weight, I’ll enter into a maintenance plan, which will allow me about 50 grams of carbs daily, and a more generous daily calorie target, while the ratios of the three macros will stay about the same.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating pattern which supports and enhances the benefits of the ketogenic program. The prolonged periods without consuming any foods encourages the body to enter a state called ketosis, which is the use of stored fat for energy. 

The eating patterns associated with IF are identified by the lengths of two windows in a 24 hour period, the fasting window and the eating window. The most common pattern seems to be 16/8 – 16 hours of fasting followed by an eight hour window for eating. IF also can include longer fasting periods of 24 hours or more. At the time I’m writing this I am typically restricting my meals to a 4-6 hour window daily, which gives me between 18 and 20 hours of fasting daily. Early on I did a couple of 24 hour fasts, however lately I have not done a prolonged fast.

According to both Dr. Berg and Mr. DeLauer, it is important when following a program of IF + Keto, to manage your intake of minerals and certain vitamins. Using Dr. Berg’s guidelines, I currently take supplements of vitamins D3 and K2, along with magnesium and potassium, every day. Both of these men are proponents of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and Pink Himalayan Salt. The studied benefits of this special salt, which contains 84 different minerals, include increased energy, pH regulation in the blood and increased nutrient absorption. Some of the purported benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar are lowering of blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, appetite suppression and belly-fat loss.

Every morning I drink an ACV cocktail created by Thomas DeLauer, and most evenings I will take another tablespoon or two of ACV in a glass of water.

One of the most important pieces of advice that got me started on the intermittent fasting program came from Dr. Berg. He asserts that there is no reason to get out of bed in the morning and go have breakfast. Breakfast does not mean a morning meal, it means the meal you take to break your fast. Dr. Berg suggests that you don’t eat in the morning until you are hungry. I found that, for me, real hunger didn’t begin until close to 11 AM, and as I have managed to my fasting window, I find I don’t need to break my fast until noon or maybe 1 PM most days. I have also benefited from Doctor Berg’s advice to move from three meals to two meals per day, and shortening the window between those two meals to maximize the fasting window. I currently am eating one good meal when I break my fast and then another small meal, or sometimes even just a snack, to close my meal window.

This intentional combination of ketogenic eating with planned fasting, along with the supplements mentioned, have empowered me to drop nearly 10% of my body weight in the last six weeks. In the first couple weeks I experienced some energy issues, some serious energy crashes a couple of afternoons. Since that time I truly feel more energetic and alert throughout every day than I have felt in many, many years. I am encouraged that I am going to be able to maintain this lifestyle to reach my ultimate physical condition, and then with some slight modification, I feel confident that this can be a permanent way of life.

In the next installment, i’ll share about my tracking system and the all important accountability of peers and mentors.