Ketosis and Low-Carb Diets

All right, let’s do this, then, can’t be too careful in these lawyer-infested times (grumbles into his non-existent beard, rolling his eyes):

THIS IS NOT ADVICE OF ANY KIND. THE AUTHOR IS IN NO WAY QUALIFIED TO ADVISE ON DIETS OR NUTRITION OR HEALTH. THERE CAN BE VERY SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS AND HEALTH RISKS INCLUDING DEATH AS A RESULT OF A KETOSIS DIET. OR YOU MIGHT TURN INTO A GIANT SPACE-CHICKEN WITH THREE EYES AND NO FEET, DON’T SAY YOU HAVEN’T BEEN WARNED:

giantchicken

Stefan here, I’m one half of Berkeley Square Barbarian. Just a quick post about low-carbing. I’m personally a great fan of this diet. My wife, who’s blogging here with me, liked it too, but less so than I did. Like most ladies and many of our male friends she has a sweet tooth and isn’t that big on large portions of meat, cheese, or eggs. I’m the opposite: I could live on meat, cheese, and eggs alone and enjoy it, and I never crave sugar, the opposite is true.

As you might or might not know from other posts or from our tweets, we’re both aware that too much meat is completely unsustainable for this planet, and we try to eat vegetarian dishes and cut down on meat more often than we used to.

I had been too thin for most of my life. I’ve been 2 metres (6’7’’) tall since the age of 15, but I only weighed 75kg until well into my twenties. Fast forward a few years, and I suddenly find myself weighing in at 106kg. My wife wasn’t leaving me in absolutely any doubt at all by no means that she preferred the leaner version of me.

simpson

We started to read up on diets (my wife, like most of the fairer sex, had tried out plenty before but wasn’t convinced of any of them), and low-carbing seemed a perfect way of losing weight without having to starve yourself.

We stocked up on all types of meat and seafood, low-fat cheese, egg whites (Two Chicks seems to be the largest brand here in the UK, it’s a dozen or so pasteurised egg whites in a 400ml or so milk carton; Waitrose, Wholefoods, Sainsbury, and other stores usually have them on the shelves near the dairy products), vitamin, mineral, and some other supplements, and off we went.

cheese

We started out cold turkey, eating absolutely nothing but the aforementioned ingredients for 2.5 days, then only very gradually phasing in carbs, avoiding all ‘toxic’ carbs such as pasta, potatoes, rice, most fruit, sugar, and the like, and focusing on leafy stuff like lettuce and kale and other so-so carbs. We also added lots of milled flaxseed for additional fibre and drank lots of water.

lowcarbchicken

We monitored our progress and had both reached ketosis by then. In my wife’s case it was a pretty decent ketosis, in my case a platinum full-scale one with a massive kaboom.

According to Wikipedia, Ketosis is a metabolic state in which most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, different from the nowadays normal state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy. Most cells in the body can use both glucose and ketone bodies for fuel, and during ketosis, glucose synthesis (gluconeogenesis) and free fatty acids fuel the remainder. In glycolysis, higher levels of insulin promote storage of body fat and block release of fat from adipose tissues, while in ketosis, fat reserves are readily released and consumed. Hence the label “fat burning” mode.

Delicious salmon steak grilled to perfect and served with a colorful side salad of wild greens. Shallow dof.

‘Low-Carb’ just refers to any diet that is based on lower carb-intake than whatever is considered to be the mainstream diet. It is necessary to low-carb for ketosis, but it is not necessary to push your body to the level of ketosis, just because you’d like to reduce your carb-intake. Ketosis changes the way your body functions in terms of chemical processes, low-carbing alone doesn’t, that’s my understanding, but I should note that I am a million miles away from an expert, I’m just someone who spent an afternoon reading up on this and then decided to try it out, and it worked for me, that’s all.

scrambledeggs

The beauty of this diet is, as long as you stay on ketosis, the effects are in my experience very strong and you’ll see results within days, not just in terms of weight, but you look healthier and you feel more energy, and maybe more importantly, you can pig out like there’s no tomorrow. Back then I was less conscious about the negative effects of too much meat in human diets and I thoroughly enjoyed eating tons of meat every day. I was also surprised, how relatively easy it is to gradually phase in even more ‘dangerous’ carbs such as fruit and potatoes, as long as it is in very small dosages, and only slowly over time.

After about six weeks I was down to my ideal weight of 95kg and felt great.

saladwitheggs

What happened then? I wish I would have stayed on that diet, because it really added some zing to my well-being, but within a matter of another two weeks I was back to my normal diet, eating too much potato, too much fruit, sugary stuff, started to include pre-processed ingredients in my cooking. I kept the weight, but I do have the intention of starting again with ketosis sometime soon and I hope the other half of Berkeley Square Barbarian will join me.

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