Chewing the Fat: Ketosis

The smell of bacon pervades everything until the late afternoon.  Egg shells are sprinkled across the cutting board, the counter, the floor.  Coffee cups smell of coconut.  And I would kill for a slice of greasy cheese pizza.

I roam around the house.  Open the refrigerator. Close the refrigerator. Open the snack cabinet and sigh.  A jar of Luxardo cherries peek out from behind two leaning tuna packets.  I grab it and turn over the jar to read the tiny script of the nutrition label.   Eight carbohydrates per cherry.

I put the jar back and know I’m going mad if I entertain the thought of eating a cocktail garnish.

My brain rebels, my mouth waters and I drool on myself.  I’ve never been so psychologically hungry.  Everything in my body screams for cookies, cake, even pasta.  I think of that last french fry, saturated in ketchup and imagine my tongue mashing it on the roof of my mouth.

Finally, I peel the last soft boiled egg, roll it in salt flavored with chilies and eat.  I’ve had 10 grams of carbs, 120 grams of fat and today, I have been delivered from temptation.

2 weeks later

I’ve eaten nearly 11 lbs of fat and I’ve gotten creative with this endeavor.  Butter sauce on soft boiled eggs.  Fatty oils on every veg, raw or cooked.  I feel great but I loath myself.  Out of all of my friends, I am now the only ‘obligate’ carnivore and  my dietary restrictions are a burden.

No booze, no beer, restricted fruit and milk intake, no bread, no sugar, no balsamic vinegar.  Every restaurant order is an embarrassing plea to have my favorite dishes conform to what I can eat.  I’ve never been this person.  Eating around the tomatoes and carrots like a spoiled toddler.

I had made a mistake.  When I began my research into the ketogenic diet, I had not considered all those lovely recipes and the repeated assurances, “You’ll never be hungry” or “You can eat as much as you want!” were advertisements for a very old diet that has recently surged in popularity and profitability.  As such, the concept of the diet is stressed over the application.

Unfortunately, by the time I had realized this, it was too late. I was committed. My body composition had already been tested, my blood work results where in and I had cleaned out my cupboards of every comfort food.

Honestly, after the first week of reading the Luxardo cherry jar over and over again, I knew that I couldn’t turn back.

Too Stubborn

My decision making process is laborious.  I will often spend months processing a want, doing research and planning before I even consider taking action.  For me, the amount of work I will need to do to see a goal to its end is small in proportion compared to the time I spend thinking about how best to accomplish a goal.  In other words, the more work I need to do, the longer I need to think about doing the work.

By the time I say, ‘YES. I’m doing this!  This is my plan for how I’m getting it and this is how I will cram all that work into my life.” The idea already has a momentum of its own and bar a few exceptions it is unstoppable from there.

When I knew that I wanted to tone up four years ago, I also knew I didn’t have enough motivation to follow through on a plan.  I had a few rough starts and failures but I never considered the goal entirely off the table.  I knew that in order to succeed I would need to find a diet that would allow me to retain my muscle mass and decrease my body fat percentage.  I also needed a diet that I could train on without the temptation of binge eating afterwards.

As a high protein and low carb (sometimes) person, the obvious choice was the ketogenic diet.  Among other considerations, the ketogenic diet is one of the more logical diets.  As a former Paleo enthusiast (thank god I grew out of that one), I know the draw backs to eating a diet that requires specialized ingredients and silly ‘don’t eat that foods’.

So stupid.

Unlike Paleo, the keto diet doesn’t restrict what you eat based on anecdotal reasoning about what early humans may or may not have eaten.  The keto diet’s backbone comes from its reliance on tracking macro nutrients.    This means that technically, you can eat what you want, however it better not skew your macros in a direction that puts your body out of ketosis.

So, you eat fat, cut calories and unknowingly trick your body in to eating the things you don’t like about yourself.  That’s the keto way.

Sadly, my keto is much more demanding than most.  As many people can eat up to 50 grams of carbs a day and up to 20% of their total caloric intake from protein, they have an easier time of eating those lovely keto cupcakes and remaining in ketosis.  However, I can only eat 15g to 20g of carbs a day and if my protein exceeds my fat intake, I’m out.

During my research phase no one said, “There are some of you that are extremely carb sensitive so none of these recipes will apply to you.” or “These are not the carbs you’re looking for.”  (Which is surprising in the era of post truth.) So I never bothered to consider that a diet that is already extreme could get even more restrictive.   Ultimately, I suspect this is due to my underlying body composition and metabolism.  But, maybe one day, I to will be able to partake in the creativity of Reddit’s Keto Recipes.

Epic Destruction

With any diet research, you will find that many articles will make claims contrary to the hype.  The keto diet is no different but besides the negative health impacts, few venture beyond the potential for renal failure.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves though, the ketogenic diet certainly has other implications that are a guarantee.   It is likely one of the most environmentally irresponsible diet fads of the modern era and there is no sustainable approach.  In the animal and plant kingdom, fat is biological gold and it comes at a great cost to both the environment and to the animal or plant attempting to procure an excessive fat store.  This work transcends up the food chain and on to our plate.  Eggs may seem to be like a shortcut (and they really are the perfect food) but good luck getting enough ‘farm fresh’ eggs – I blow through nearly 4 dozen in a week.

It would be typical of me to expound on ‘the facts’ about how factory farmed meat or not eating locally is terrible for the planet.  But I will not. As I’ve long suspected, facts are for people who have already made a decision.  Admittedly, I’m doing a lion’s share of dragging humanity and a good portion of the ecosystem to ruin because I hate my body as it is today.   It is incredibly selfish and no one will me more relieved than me when the insufferable thirst of vanity is quenched.

I cannot undue the destruction of this, but I am going local vegetarian for sometime after this endeavor.

 

[Omissions: Reader, I have not elaborated on the ketogenic diet for many reasons but mainly I believe that you should undertake the research if you want to learn more.   Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist, a dietitian or even remotely qualified to advise anyone on this subject.]

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