Ketosis, Slow Carb, and Cheat Days

Start looking online on different diets, eating routines, weight loss regimens, and it can be overwhelming.  There are so many different opinions on how to go about it.  Is there one best way for everyone?  I don’t think so.

This will address basic information comparing a couple different methods that have been more popular recently to help you sort through the madness.

What does Slow Carb mean?  What is Keto?

Slow carb: A “slow carb” diet is one that contains carbohydrate foods that are not broken down quickly. Most vegetables fall into this category, as well as legumes and what are considered “ancient grains.”  Ancient grains are typically considered to be amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.  Most of your grains, starches, and fruits fall into the simple sugar or “fast carb” category.

A Ketogenic (Keto) diet is one that is very high fat, very low carb, and small to moderate amount of protein.  A typical breakdown is 5% carb, 80% fat, and 15% protein.  With this method, the body uses fat for energy rather than carbohydrates and has been known to improve weight loss, energy, and mental clarity.

Foods to avoid with Slow Carb

The simpler the sugar in the foods, the faster they break down.  Because of this, certain foods should be avoided and/or eaten at a minimum with a slow carb diet.

White potatoes

Grains (breads, cereal, pasta, rice)

Granola (most)

Baked goods/sweets

Candy

Sugar/natural sweeteners (consume at a minimum)

Fruit (consume at a minimum)

Pros and Cons, Safety of Keto

Ketosis and a ketogenic diet has many benefits, but it is not for everyone.

As stated previously, not all diets are appropriate for everyone and not everything has the lifestyle to support a specific method.

When looking at a ketogenic diet, it takes discipline, planning, and will power to avoid certain foods and stay in ketosis.

Pros:
– Weight loss usually comes fairly easily since you are using fat for fuel constantly.

– Improves mental clarity because the brain requires Omega3 and Omega6 fatty acids to function, both of which are typically low in low fat diets.

– Increases energy levels since you always have a quick source of fat available

Cons:
– It can be hard to maintain if you don’t plan ahead or want to go out with friends or family.

– If you don’t stay in in the right ratios, you will get out of ketosis and will not be as successful.

– In the beginning, it takes time for your body to become “fat adapted.” During this time, you will likely have lower energy, feel more sluggish, gym workouts will suffer, and you will likely have brain fog and difficulty concentrating. This usually lasts for 2-3 weeks.

Safety:
– Ketosis is a healthy state, ketoacidosis is not. Testing daily is important to make sure you stay out of ketoacidosis.

Why Keto is hard to maintain

A ketogenic diet can be difficult to maintain, especially when eating out or being social with family and friends.  It is easy to find high protein and avoid carbs, but it can be very difficult to find things to eat that are high enough fat when at restaurants.

When you live in ketosis and you have a cheat day, you may not feel good as you get back into ketosis.  Typically you will go through 1-2 days of sluggishness, deceased energy, and decreased mental focus during this time period, similar to what you felt when you were becoming fat adapted.  But since your body has been in ketosis, it will not last as long or be as severe.

Sucralose/Aspartame/Diet

Regardless of what eating lifestyle you maintain, Sucralose and Aspartame (artificial sweeteners) should be avoided.

Sucralose or Aspartame, which is in many “diet” drinks as well as many sports drinks and performance supplements, is not processed well by the body. It has been shown to have links to cancer and birth defects…but so has a lot of other stuff…so we will leave that aside.

Ingestion of these can result in or contribute to:

– Migraines

– Dizziness/lightheadedness

– Bloating

– Water retention

– Increased weight gain

– Inability to process normal sugars properly

– And many other issues

If consuming a no-calorie sweetener, stevia is your best option since it is derived from actual sugar.

 Why a cheat day is a good thing

With my nutritional coaching, I always allow one cheat day per week.  There are several reasons a cheat day is a good thing:

– Without fully depriving you of foods you love, you are more likely to stay on track on the other days.

– Allows you to go out with friends and family without feeling guilty with your eating.

– The higher calorie cheat days trick your body into thinking it is not getting enough calories on other days, which re-ignites the fat burning metabolism.

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