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A Sarcastic College Student's Guide To A Ketogenic Diet

Have you tried almost everything to lose weight but just can't seem to shed those pounds? Are you looking for something to help cure headaches, chronic bodily pains, works wonders for diabetics, and can even help fight cancer while simultaneously helping you drop pounds faster than any other expensive crappy fad diet out there without lifting a finger off your couch? Well, read on you lost souls, I shall help you find Nirvana.

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Keto 101

I'd like to start off by saying I am a College Student (and a super lazy one at that), and by no means economically stable. I have to point that out since people think Keto is expensive, but it has saved me about $200 a month on food (yup, you read that right). I hate exercise and I LOVE sweets, so if I could make this work, anyone can. Keto has changed my life, I did something I never thought I could do and I want to share it with everyone. So strap on your thinking hats lads because you're about to be blown away, but I warn you, it is A LOT of information and things to keep in mind. It will be scary at first, but I promise, you'll be a keto pro in no time.

So what the heck is this "keto" you've been hearing about? Basically, a Ketogenic Diet is a high fat low carb diet. The main thing about the diet is to eat as natural as possible and make your own food. Absolutely no refined sugars, carbs, or flours. Nothing fried unless it's in pork rind "breading". No bread, no pasta, nothing high in carbs. You are given a limit of 20g of net carbs a day, the way you calculate net carbs is by subtracting the total carbs from the Fiber (if any). I did a blood workup after 4 months of Ketoing and it has never been better, extremely low HDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), great hemoglobin and everything else where it should be. Newer long term studies show Keto can work miracles. All natural, no supplements, no magic pills, and no expensive pyramid scheme you must stay on to keep off the weight.

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, it's not. Keto works by switching your brain from a carb burning mode to get energy, into a fat burning one. This works by your body producing ketones and kicking you into ketosis (hence the name Ketogenic Diet). Fats have been proven to be a more effective fuel for your brain than carbs and while in ketosis I experience advanced mental clarity, high energy levels, skin health and an overall state of well-being. Never groggy anymore like I used to be with carbs. Keep in mind Keto is a high FAT diet not high PROTEIN, a lot of people confuse the two and just think this is an all access pass to the meat factory. Also, anything you consume should be high quality. Meats, eggs and dairy should come from quality farms where the animals are grass fed, free range and treated with respect, if you can't pay for the animal's well-being, you shouldn't be benefiting from them. Of course this is just a personal opinion and keto will still work with the regular stuff although it won't be as good for you. You could also always do the vegetarian form of keto (and yes it's possible).

Going into Ketosis

It will take you about a week to get into ketosis for the first time, for this week avoid all carbs as much as possible to get into ketosis as fast as possible. Eat only cheese, meats, and veggies. Avocados are great, fruits are too high in glucose (except berries but consume in moderation). Basically think of what the earliest primitive humans ate, and eat that, that's why there's a similar version of keto called the Paleo diet, as in Paleolithic. The first week try to have eggs for breakfast and bulletproof coffee, BP coffee is almost essential because it will give you most of the fats you need. BP is coffee with heavy cream, butter (unsalted, unless you're weird like that), and coconut oil, it sounds gross but it's actually pretty good. I suggest you buy a frother to mix everything together because it won't mix with a spoon, this one is the best for the price.

WATER is possibly the most important thing during this week (and the rest of the time). You better be drinking enough water to make you pee like a 9-month pregnant lady (seriously). Drink even if you're not thirsty, drink before breakfast, drink before meals, drink after meals, drink during meals, drink before sleep, drink during sleep, doesn't matter, JUST DRINK. Also, since we're on the drinking topic, stay the heck away from milk (always). I use milk substitutes such as almond milk (my favorite is from Kalifa Farms), coconut milk, heavy cream, or soy.

It's also pretty important that you track your macros at least the first week. My Fitness Pal is great for this and you can set it up to your specific keto needs. I suggest you buy a kitchen scale for portioning. I have to admit though since I'm lazy, this tracking lasted all of 3 seconds but I still managed to lose the weight through the method most low carbers frown upon called "Lazy Keto" where you don't keep track of your macros, just your carb intake. Avoid sweets, but if you must, sweeten everything with Stevia and have a square of 85% or higher dark chocolate. If you don't like chocolate, then sucks for you, no sweets.

You'll know you're in Ketosis by a strong ammonia smell in your urine, (it will smell like dog pee if you have dogs), fruity breath, oily skin (breakouts) or a metal taste. Everyone has different symptoms and they subside after a while, you can also use Ketone Test Strips that are very accurate at telling if you are in ketosis or not by tracking the ketones in your blood, it's like a pregnancy test for keto. Pee on the stick, if it turns purple, you've done good bud. Find them here.

NOTE: Most Keto websites will indicate that you should start slowly, by cutting 10g of carbs per day and replenishing with fats, eat healthy and unrefined for at least a week. Let's be real though, when you hear about something this awesome you want to get into it ASAP. Every time I have gone into Keto it has been cold turkey, and while this is very possible and will get you dropping pounds quicker, like everything that is rushed into, there are some down sides...

The Dreaded Keto Flu

Here is the downside... up until now, your brain has only ever known how to use carbs for energy, and now you are shocking your brain and sending it into a type of starvation mode so you will be depriving yourself of energy until your brain begins to use fats instead. While you're getting on keto you may have something called Keto Flu. It sucks, BADLY. But it's worth it. Sugar is like a drug, so you will be going through withdrawals, and quitting carbs cold turkey instead of progressively will worsen the withdrawal. You will probably very irritable or sad, very tired, groggy, have headaches, random muscle cramping, etc. If you feel like crawling by Day 3, YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT. At this point many people give up because you will literally feel like you're dying, this is NORMAL and it will PASS, nevertheless, keto on!

Keto flu is a great deterrent to cheating because if you surpass 100g net carbs a day you will get kicked out of ketosis (tolerance increases the longer you are in ketosis) and have to restart the process. So before I have a cheat day and dive head first into a Godiva chocolate cheesecake, I think "is this going to be worth the keto flu?" After you're already on keto, if you fall off the wagon it will only take about a day or so to get back into keto (depends on the duration of your sin) as opposed to an entire week. Since your body is already used to burning fats and will process the carbs quickly. Sodium, magnesium, and potassium pill supplements are heavenly during the keto flu, electrolytes will make you feel better, you can find them all on Amazon (if you haven't noticed by now, I'm an Amazon addict).

Well, You’re in Ketosis, Now What?

Congratulations you trooper, you've made it into the club! At this point you will soon be enjoying pearly smooth skin and enough energy to power all your home appliances (do not attempt to actually do this unless you like your skin extra crispy). So what do you eat now? All Atkins products are great to curb your carb cravings (you can find them at some grocery stores ooooor *drumroll* AMAZON!), but try to stay away from them at first unless you have self control superpowers or it will tempt you to cheat. I love the Atkins chocolate almonds, and their peanut butter cups and "milkshakes". They're pretty expensive which is why I only use them as a once in awhile treat. Quest bars are great for an on the go meal if you couldn't prepare something at home (although it's best to do so). My favorite meal is bunless burgers. That's a patty, a fried egg, bacon, cheese, pickles, onions, mustard, guacamole (no ketchup too much sugar) and then wrap it in "lettuce buns".

You can get fast food if you're in a pinch, just remove the buns, some places even offer lettuce wrapped burgers. It's not recommended because the protein isn't of quality.

I haven't been to a fast food establishment in 4 months but it's an option. The best thing about this diet is you can make almost anything "keto". I've made keto cheesecake, keto key lime pie, and I make batches of keto cupcakes every Sunday and have one every day for breakfast. Coconut and almond flour are heavenly, and erythritol as a sugar replacement (although it's not good to use regularly) so I use stevia, which is natural but leaves a bit of aftertaste. Coconut oil is your best friend, really any coconut oil in its raw form (hardened) is good. I add coconut oil to my cupcakes and baked goods for extra macros even though it doesn't call for it. Coconut oil is like the best thing for this diet, healthy fats and MGMTs galore. Here is the recipe for my favorite keto muffins. I make my own frosting out of cream cheese, butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and chocolate powder. I add Lilly's chocolate chips to the muffins for extra goodness.

This place has all the recipes you may need for keto unless you want something specific. The keto pancakes from here are the BOMB.com, and I have them at least 3 days a week for breakfast. If you're in the mood for a specific food, Google "Keto ______ (name of food)" and usually there's a keto version someone already came up with.

As for snacking, CHEESE CHEESE and MORE CHEESE (sweet dreams are made of cheese), I like the babybel mini cheeses or cheese sticks, or sometimes I'll just go full cavemen and take bites off a block *GASP*. Nuts are great, especially Macadamia because they are very high in fat. I also like almonds and pistachios (take it easy with this one, the carbs creep up on you). I eat a Sugar Free Jello cup with my own homemade whipped cream (the canned stuff is sweetened but it's ok to have a little bit on your coffee or Jello).

Here is what my typical meals look like:

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs fried in avocado oil, bacon and a keto cupcake OR keto pancakes and bacon. Always with Bulletproof Coffee.

Lunch: No lunch, usually a cheese snack, almonds, OR a keto friendly starbucks drink

Dinner: Rib eye steak with green beans and broccoli, OR grilled chicken salad with Parmesan Crisps slathered in olive oil OR Lettuce Bun Burgers

Desserts: Keto Cupcakes, fat bombs, Lilly's chocolate, whipped cream Jello, Keto chocolate mousse, keto key lime pie

Results and Maintenance: Thanks Bacon!

If you still don't believe in the Keto Superpowers yet, here is a completely untouched and unaltered results picture of myself with 4 months of keto and 2 weeks of cheating in between (right: before, left: after) . Thanks bacon!

Unlike other fad diets, you won't gain all the weight back immediately after you discontinue the keto diet. I cheated for about 2 weeks while on a cruise, eating everything in my path like the Godzilla of buffets. During this time I only gained 4 pounds and then went back into Keto when I returned and lost them the first week. If you no longer want to continue ketosis, just make sure you eat healthy afterwards or you will slowly gain everything you lost.

While you are on a weightloss journey you want to keep the daily net carbs at 20g, once you have reached your target weight you can raise that limit to whatever you feel comfortable with all the way up to 100g net carb to enter maintenance mode (in which you won't drop or gain pounds). Keep in mind that for many people Keto is not a diet, it is a sustainable lifestyle, I've heard of people who have been in ketosis for up to 14 years. While the long term effects of maintaining a life long keto lifestyle are still unknown, the future looks bright. As for me, keto has become more than a diet, it is now my favorite way of eating and I couldn't be happier that I finally stumbled upon a truly healthier lifestyle that lasts longer than a week. If you have any questions feel free to comment and I will be more than happy to answer. Keto has changed my life, and I want to help change yours. So Keto on bacon lovers!

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