why keto works and how to get started
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The reason why you can’t lose weight, especially in midlife is most often because you have chronically high insulin levels &/or insulin resistance. For more on that go here. Once you understand why you can’t lose weight then the question becomes, What is the best way to eat that will not raise insulin? Scientists and doctors have known for years that the best way to keep insulin levels low is to eat what’s called a Ketogenic (keto) diet. If you are interested in losing weight you should first understand why Keto works and how to get started.
But before we do that, let’s clear up biggest lie you’ve ever been told about how to lose weight, first.
the inconvenient truth about calorie restriction to lose weight
If you are not restricting your carbohydrate intake then your body relies on using blood sugar for its fuel source.
FYI you can eat lots of vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats and still be a sugar burner! When sugar burners eat, their blood sugar rises and insulin is released in order to deliver that fuel to your cells.
If you also try to restrict calories in this sugar burning state your body responds by decreasing its energy expenditure (lowering your metabolism) in order to preserve its fuel (fat) reserves. Remember that the only job your body has is to keep you alive. It’s not going to allow you to just dip into reserves that it prefers to keep around for famine emergencies – or the zombie apocalypse. It would rather downshift your metabolism instead. It really doesn’t care about how you start to feel tired, lethargic, and hungry all the time as a result. Although you might lose a few pounds initially by restricting calories, eventually you’ll plateau because your body’s burn rate has lowered itself to match or even undershoot your new restricted calorie intake.
The fallacy of the calorie deprivation model has been proven in scientific studies, most notably in the famous Women’s Health Initiative where subjects restricted calories from fat for 8 years and their weight stayed the same as compared to women who didn’t.* Caloric Reduction as a primary (long term) weight loss strategy has a known 99% failure rate**
the solution is how to get at the fat reserves
Are we good ditching the calories in/calories out weight loss model for good? Great! Let’s talk about what you can do that will actually work in the long term.
Remember, if insulin is too high (even just slightly high) it sends a signal to your body to store fuel as fat. Therefore, in order to unlock fat reserves, you need to eat in a way that does not elevate insulin. The most effective eating protocol for low insulin level is a ketogenic protocol, which is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet.
Keto works for fat loss because fat, which comprises up to 70% of your caloric intake on keto, does not raise your blood sugar/insulin. When you eat that much fat, instead of too much insulin in your blood, you have little to none. This has several effects:
- A prolonged absence of insulin heals the insulin resistance that so many of us are left with in midlife after 40 years of eating a diet comprised primarily of insulin-spiking food.
- A keto diet rebalances hormones so that you are not hungry all the time.
- This also allows you to go longer and longer periods of time without eating (intermittent fasting)
- Intermittently fasting on keto allows you to dine on your own fat. Literally.
how keto hacks into your fat
When you’re eating all the time no matter what type of food you’re eating, the body reads those actions as “store food mode.”
When you’re eating a high-fat keto diet, you’ll have a very low insulin response and less hunger. You’re going to want to eat less often. When you go longer periods of time without eating (intermittent fasting) the body reads those actions as “burn fuel mode.” This is how you get to your stored body fat if you want to lose weight.
This is how you dine on your own fat.
Intermittent fasting on a keto diet does not slow down your metabolism like calorie restriction on a sugar burning diet does. This is how you can bypass the system and lose weight without wrecking your metabolism.
intermittent fasting heals insulin resistance
When you’re eating keto and you’re not eating as often (without hunger) not only are you releasing your fat stores to be used as fuel but these fasting periods anywhere from (10-36 hours) allows the insulin receptors on your cells to repair the resistance deficiency they built up to insulin which caused you to gain weight in the first place. Now that your cells are not constantly being bombarded with insulin, they can heal and reset to their optimum function. Depending on how long you’ve had chronically high in insulin this reset period can take some time – maybe weeks, maybe months.
Once your receptors heal they will be once again insulin sensitive – responding appropriately and no longer overreacting to the presence of insulin.
This means that you are repairing your body to function optimally so that eventually once you’re a fat burner if you have a slice of cake once in a while the sugar response is negligible and you’ll immediately go right back to the fat burning machine that you have become.
get the right resources
Once I discovered the science behind why I couldn’t lose weight and the keto solution, my goal was to find a reputable source of information. I wanted an approach that would take into consideration my age, my hormonal imbalances, my history with adrenal fatigue, and my unique chemistry as a woman. I rolled up my sleeves last week and looked at lots of experts, programs, books, and research. I waded through it all. It took a ton of time.
But it paid off because I found Leanne Vogel and her site Healthful Pursuit.
Leanne is a holistic dietician who has experience with her own hormone imbalances and adrenal fatigue. She’s been eating keto for more than a year and a half and has experimented endlessly with optimizing the keto experience for women. Although she is young, she most definitely speaks to women in midlife and even beyond menopause. She believes in fostering a healthy body image, takes into consideration a wide range of allergy concerns, frames this protocol carefully for those with a history of eating disorders, and above all, has individualized the keto approach to become not just a tool for weight loss, but a lifestyle to translate scientifically backed health benefits to her clients for a lifetime. She makes a sometimes intimidating and foreign sounding protocol easy – and delicious!
She also happens to be the cutest, perkiest, and nicest Canadian ever.
If you want to try a keto diet to lose weight, I highly recommend you buy and read cover to cover The Keto Beginning which explains everything about what to expect and how this Keto lifestyle works. It includes 30 days of meal plans, shopping lists and lots and lots of resources.
As of today, I have been in ketosis for over 10 days and I’m on day 2 of her 30-day plan. I’m already seeing and feeling so many good changes. I’ve lost inches and a few pounds for the first time in over 2 years, and I’ve regained my confidence because I now understand how to effectively communicate with my body and generate the results that I’ve been searching for. I have the tools to help me be successful, and I’m really excited to share them with you, too.
Please let me know how you are finding your Keto experience and leave a comment below!
p.s. Let’s connect and inspire over on Instagram with daily check-ins. You can find me @thriveinmidlife
p.p.s If you found this helpful and are looking for additional resources and tools to get healthy and feel better in midlife, I invite you to join the tribe. When you join, you’ll get the support, resources, and tools you need to feel good again. The Guide To Thrive is your free gift for joining. It includes the 5 most effective & research-based tips to jump start you to feeling better fast.