Welcome to Keto Koaching Week 2, by now you should have started to eliminate all the sugar and carbohydrates from your diet. Great Job! Click on the links below for your homework for the week.

Take Stock

This is great.  By now you should have started to eliminate all the sugar and carbohydrates from your diet (and your pantry) and are now discovering some of the amazing foods and recipes that you can now eat that you never thought possible before.  Now that you have reintroduced fat into your diet and you are starting to eat nutrient dense foods, you should be finding that, not only are you always excited about the new flavors you are being exposed to, but you are also completely satiated on a smaller volume of food.

That, for me, was what I struggled with the most in the first few weeks.  Since I did not seem to have a real sugar addiction (don’t get me wrong, I was eating a ton of chocolate every day and loving it), my problem was mentally dealing with the fact that I had actually eaten enough.  I did not struggle to stop eating those chocolates which is why I say I did not have a real sugar addiction.  I was so excited about all the new (and often previously banned) food that I could now eat that I never thought twice about the chocolates.

Remember, fat has more than double the amount of calories (9 kcal versus 4 kcal each for carbs and protein) so you feel full a lot quicker.  Even though I really was satiated, my mind kept telling me I hadn’t eaten enough because of the amount (or lack) of food my eyes had seen on the plate.   I had to consciously sit back and make a deal with myself to wait for an hour and then, if I really, honestly, did still feel hungry, I could go and eat some more.  Only once did I ever end up eating more.  An ounce of biltong and 2 ounces of macadamia nuts.  My body must have needed that energy for some reason and so I ate.  That is what is so cool about this lifestyle.  You will eventually achieve optimum weight and be infinitely more healthy without EVER being hungry.

If you have not chosen to go the Exogenous Ketone route, you will most likely have been feeling like your energy levels were way down towards the end of last week already.  The dreaded ‘Keto-Flu’.  Remember, you might be feeling weak (which is totally normal) but there is no reason to be feeling light headed or dizzy.  If you are, then almost certainly you are not eating enough salt.  Remember 3 – 5 grams of salt each day.  Make sure you are eating your broth or getting that salt in some way.  If you continue to feel dizzy please make sure you see a “Low Carb Friendly’ doctor.  If you are an active person, you might want to back off a little on the exercise until you feel your strength returning.  I can just tell you that, when it does return, it will return with interest and you will start to feel better and better each day.

The ‘Keto-Flu’ itself normally lasts from 7 – 14 days although I have heard reports of it lasting as long as a month.  If you are taking the KETO//OS each day you should have only noticed a very minor dip, if anything at all.  If you have not ordered any and now feel you would like to, overnight shipping is available, but it’s going to cost you.  I would just order it ground mail and ride it out.

Artificial Sweeteners

While I was doing a bunch of research on this subject, the best comment I came across was from a Dr. Jeffrey Sterling who’s opinions seem to parallel mine.  He says that when people raise concerns to him about sugar substitutes, his first response is something akin to: “Whatever your concerns are, the sugar substitute is going to be safer than using the sugar you’ve been using.”

Many people remember that once upon a time (i.e. in the 1970s), saccharin was linked to bladder cancer in lab rats. Some have been skeptical, if not fearful, of artificial sweeteners ever since.  The fact of the matter is, this is just a bunch of scaremongering.  According to the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies, there’s no compelling scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the US cause cancer or other serious health problems.  Saccharin doesn’t even carry a warning label anymore.  Furthermore, numerous research studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities, even for pregnant women.  Dr. Sterling goes on to say: “There are a million articles from less renowned sources that speak to ominous effects of sugar substitutes.  Remember that virtually every substance known to man has adverse effects if used excessively.  Based on the current medical literature, both on a relative and absolute scale, you should feel no concern with replacing your table sugar with sugar substitutes.”

Personally, I prefer to use a natural substitute like Stevia when I can.  So when we cook or bake or make tea at home, we use Stevia or the erythritol based Swerve.  We just became aware of another option just the other day, namely a monk fruit sweetener by Lakoto.  This is a zero zero glycemic index sweetener which seems to taste great.Another option One note of caution, although it says ‘zero calories’ on the box, if you look carefully it says ‘Carbs < 1g’.  In my book that is not zero.  I track that as 1g of Carbs for each sachet I use.  It’s still way less than a teaspoon of sugar but it needs to be tracked.  You should also remember that just because a food is marketed as sugar-free (having artificial sweeteners) doesn’t mean it’s free of carbs or calories.  One of our favorite treats is the Sugar Free Jello Instant Pudding.

Although it is ‘Sugar Free’, if you look closely you see there are still 6 g of Carbs per serving.  It is also Fat-Free, but we mix it with Half and Half from Trader Joe’s which has no carbs in it.  One small box of pudding mix uses 2 cups of Half and Half and produces 4 servings and the profile for a serving is: Carbs: 6g, Protein: 4g and Fat: 12g.  It’s too funny, we trace a cross on the top of the pudding and we each carve out a quarter to eat at one meal and then have the other quarter the next day.

This also doesn’t take into account the situation where you may have a real sugar addiction to some extent.  That changes everything.  Prof Tim Noakes is a purist and he also had a severe sugar addiction which he had to battle.  He took a long time to wean himself off sugar and he believes you should wean your pallet off sweet tastes completely.  The example he uses is that of drinking diet soda.  Then you go somewhere where they don’t have a Coke Zero but they have a regular Coke and the urge for something sweet exceeds your will power and you break down and drink the Coke.

Only you know if this is an issue for you.  You may need to be that person who needs to abstain completely from sweet tasting things.  If you’re like me and that is not an issue then get some low carb or zero carb treats in to make your life interesting.

The other accusation I have seen levelled at artificial sweeteners is that the sweet taste triggers an insulin response even though there is no glucose present.  So they are saying it is a mental response instead of a physiological response.  Personally, I don’t believe it and I have not seen any quality research data to substantiate that claim at all.  I have seen one or two n=1 claims where people eat something with a sweetener in it and then test their insulin and show an increase, but we don’t know what else they ate or what else they have going on.  All I can say is that if you test yourself and find that sweeteners really do seem to trigger an insulin response, then don’t use them.  For everyone else, enjoy the odd treat.

What about Alcohol?

Not every time, but very often when I start discussing the vast benefits of adopting this lifestyle with someone, the first question they ask is: “Will I still be able to drink alcohol?”  The answer, once again is: “it depends on the individual.  On their personal goals and response to alcohol.”  First of all, you have to consider what type of alcohol you are drinking.

An average 16 oz beer has around 17g of Carbs while a 12 oz bottle as around 13g.  So, even just one beer is going to exceed the 10g – 15g of Carb restriction you are trying to adhere to for a single particular meal.  Chances are, you are going to be kicked out of ketosis if you have one or two beers.

Now you have to decide it that is a big deal for you or not.  For me, I seem to be able to deal with 2 beers in an evening and still find I am in ketosis in the morning.  More than that, and I am not.  That also assumes I am careful to consume very few Carbs in the food that I eat.  I have found that this is where the Ketone Supplement comes into it’s own.  I take a caffeine free serving before I go to bed and my regular caffeinated one in the morning and I seem to ease back into Ketosis over the next day or two with very little drama.

Wine is generally a much better option on a Low Carb Diet.  The average glass of wine has about 3.8g of carbs so, from a carbohydrate point of view, you can have a few glasses in an evening without jeopardising your ketotic state.  Every wine is different, obviously, but dry whites and reds are generally a bit lower in carbs than the others.  I have just come across merchant called Dry Farm Wines who sources and distributes Keto-Friendly Wines.  They are awesome!!  All Dry Farmed, so no irrigation, they only select wines that are Sugar Free, Carb Free, with no additives or preservatives and a little lower in alcohol.  So the result is that you can drink reasonable amounts of this wine without being kicked out of Ketosis.  Also, because of the old fashioned methods of fermenting it combined with the lower alcohol levels and the lack of added rubbish, there are no side effects or hangover the next day.  I know, I didn’t believe it either, but then I tried it and all the claims were true!  For more, Read the Blog Post about it.

 Although I have always been a beer guy, since I have been following this lifestyle I have developed a taste for spiced rum and Coke Zero.  It has no carbs and does not seem to affect my state of Ketosis in any way, especially if I make sure I get some Exogenous Ketones in before I go to bed.  Generally, all the distilled spirits do not contains carbs so they are the best option in terms of  alcohol choices if you are engaged in this lifestyle.  But we still have not discussed the effect of the alcohol itself.  The first thing to consider is that if you have any kind of dependency issues with drugs or alcohol then you need to abstain totally.  There are no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it.  If you do not, however, there is something to consider.  Just remember that there are about calories per gram of alcohol so that can also be something you need to keep in mind.

Up to this point I have not seen any real scientific study into the effects of alcohol on the state of Ketosis or weight loss implications for people on a Low Carb or Ketogenic Diet.  From everything I have seen, and read, and heard about on this subject, I am not sure there will be anything in the near future.  The reason I say this is that everyone responds so very differently to alcohol and I think it would be extremely difficult to draw any kind of valid general conclusions from any kind of study; other than to say that everyone responds differently and you have to work out how it affects you personally.

 As long as I don’t have more than 2 beers, I seem to be able to drink quite a lot of rum on the odd occasion with very little effect.  Pam finds that she has a couple of glasses of wine and she puts on weight for the next 3 days or so.  Needless to say she hates me for this, but the bottom line is that you need to work out what is going to work for you.

Getting Enough Fat

For most people, this is what they struggle with the most in the beginning.  It’s counter intuitive to everything we’ve learned growing up and it takes a while to get one’s head around it and reverse that programming in our brains that has us recoiling when we see fat (or even hear the word).  Eventually you will be like me, you’ll relish fat and recoil at all the rows and rows of cereals and carb laden food in most of the isles in the supermarket.  Also, people often struggle with understanding what to eat to get that fat in.

Well, first of all look for all the fattiest cuts of meat when you are buying it.  Grab that roast with a huge chunk of fat on the side of it.  The fattier cuts are often cheaper as weil which is a nice added bonus!  Eat a lot a bacon, and even if you used to like it really crispy, try to have it less and less crispy so less of the fat is reduced out of the bacon and you end up eating more of it.  The thought (of fear) of eating the fat is probably the main reason you liked it crispy in the first place.  Fatty fish like salmon is a great source of fat as well as pork and lamb chops etc.  Once again, look for the fattiest ones.

Then there is obviously the olive and macadamia and avocado oils and the things like homemade mayonnaise which is almost purely made up of these oils.  Avocados are awesome as well as all forms of coconut.  There are tons of uses for coconut flesh, coconut oil, coconut cream, and coconut butter.  Cream cheese, butter, heavy cream all have a myriad of uses.  Then you have macadamia nuts, almond nuts, walnuts and pecan nuts.  Other nuts are also pretty good (except for peanuts) but these four are, by far, the best.  Most of these things are listed on the Keto Essentials page in Pam’s Pantry.

Then there are the famous Fat Bombs.  Usually made from a combination of ingredients such as butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, fat bombs were originally designed for those following the Ketogenic Diet and are all very high in fat and very low in carbs.  With that in mind, macadamia nuts are their own little fat bombs.  We often make a quick and easy fat bomb by cutting up a bunch of pimiento-stuffed olives and mixing them in with about 12 Ozs of cream cheese and keeping it in bowl in the fridge.  The idea is that we can then put a spoonful or two on our plate of food but, if the truth be known, it very rarely makes it to the plate and we both just eat it straight off the spoon.  There are tons of other fat bomb recipes and I have put links in here to a few recipe books.  There are savoury versions to go with main courses and sweet tasting versions using Stevia and artificial sweeteners which can serve as tasty dessert treats.