I have a confession to make: I’m no longer keto.
Shocking but true. Before I explain, let’s refresh on few key points and generally accepted definition of being “keto”. The Ketogenic Diet (KD) is eating a very low-carb and higher-fat diet. It’s similar in many ways to other low-carb diets. While you eat far fewer carbohydrates on a keto diet, you maintain moderate levels of protein intake and may increase your intake of fat. The reduction in carb intake puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, where fat, from your diet and from your body, is burned for energy. So you want to limit carbohydrates (carbs) to about 20g — 30g per day.
I started doing keto in July 2019 and by my birthday in October had lost over thirty pounds. In addition to keto I had started doing intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. IF doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. In this respect, it’s not a diet but more accurately described as an adapted eating pattern. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts. I believe our bodies are programmed to respond positively to fasting as it has been a practice throughout human evolution. Our ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or fast food available year-round. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat. As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. I typically eat between 1pm — 8pm. I have breakfast between 11am — 1pm, lunch between 3-4p and dinner at 7pm.
With eating clean keto and fasting I reached my personal “ideal” weight goal in early December. I didn’t want to lose anymore weight but I didn’t want to stop keto lifestyle so had to figure this out. I decided I wanted to continue eliminating sugar, gluten and grains but needed to up my daily carb count. So now I’m LCHF.
Low-Carb, High-Fat or LCHF — is a low-carb diet meaning that you eat fewer carbohydrates and a higher proportion of fat. Low-carb and keto diets share a central goal: decreasing the number of carbs you eat. Excess carbs — especially refined carbs like sugar, flour, white bread, and pasta — contribute to weight gain and a variety of chronic diseases and inflammation. On LCHF you limit carbohydrates to about 50g — 75g per day. I’m probably somewhere in the middle. I say “probably” because I dont follow any strict guidelines, measures or counts as I’ve been following another eating principle for the last 6-7 weeks: Intuitive Eating (IE).
Intuitive eating is an eating style that promotes a healthy attitude toward food and body image. The idea is that you should eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Though this should be an intuitive process, for many people it’s not.
Trusting diet books and so-called experts about what, when, and how to eat can lead you away from trusting your body and its intuition. To eat intuitively, you need to relearn how to trust your body. To do that, you need to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
Physical vs Emotional Hunger
- Physical hunger. This biological urge tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability. It’s satisfied when you eat any food.
- Emotional hunger. This is driven by emotional need. Sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create cravings for food, often comfort foods. Eating then causes guilt and self-hatred. Emotional eating is akin to filling a black void…no matter how much you stuff it, it will never be filled.
Additionally, while experimenting with Intuitive Eating I decided not to weigh myself for several weeks. Remember, I reached goal weight and simply didn’t want to lose anymore. So you may be wondering how now being LCHF while practicing IF and IE eating patterns has impacted my weight:
On December 12, 2019, I weighed 170.6 pounds. I didn’t weigh myself again until January 3, 2020 (post holidays mind you), my weight: 170.6 pounds! And in the lead up to writing this article I weighed myself on January 18, 2020: 170.6 pounds on the dot! I’ve never experienced remaining the exact same weight over an extended period of time, ever.
What I’ve learned in my health journey with keto, intermittent fasting, LCHF and intuitive eating is that we must heal, nurture and trust.
Heal, Nurture and Trust Our Bodies
First heal our bodies by eliminating the bad stuff (sugar, gluten and grains) that causes inflammation and adding in the good (water, healthy fats, organic, cruciferous vegetables, antioxidants, protein). Then sustain that healing by nurturing our bodies through regularly eating clean, exercising and meditation.
And finally, trusting our bodies. Our bodies are wondrous adaptable tools that will signal us when something is off or needed and reward us by functioning efficiently and ailment-free when all is well. Although I’m no longer keto (more like keto-adjacent) I must confess I love how I look and feel.