When humans eat a high fat diet, our livers convert the fat into an energy source called ‘ketones’ and our metabolism cranks over to fat-burning mode. It may take a few days, it may take a month, but it is going to happen.
The pure ‘magic’ of this metabolic process is that the body – at any time it feels it needs energy – will seek out stored fat when no other fat is available (i.e. in the digestive system).
Now that you know what a KETO diet is and why it works so well for weight loss, let’s talk about what you can expect.
Four Stages of Keto
After two years of following and coaching others on this diet I’ve identified four stages that nearly everyone transitions through – physically and/or psychologically.
The first stage is only relevant when discussing keto and weight loss. Our people, our readers, Facebook participants, and those we stay in contact with by email almost always arrive with a need to lose weight, and most will battle the sugar addiction first.
For now, back to the sugar addiction, weight loss, and the ketogenic diet
Stage 1: “Beating Down The Sugar Monster” For most people who have been eating a high carb diet for any length of time (certainly our readers interested in weight loss), addiction is the end result.
High carb foods are starches, sugars, and most grains. Sugars can be as natural as fruit, carrots, tomatoes.
The addiction is insidious. The only way you’ll know you’re addicted is either by (a) feeling hungry all the time, or (b) cutting out carby foods and watching how your body responds. Common responses are mood swings, depression, lethargy, unwarranted aches and pains, and flu like symptoms – just like any other addiction!
These responses may be mild and may cause you to think that the addiction is light (if at all) but without putting it in check now, it will worsen over time to a deeper problem.
Therefore, Stage 1 of a KETO diet is spent becoming free of that constant hunger and sugar addiction. Moving past that “KETO FLU” stage and forcing your body into fat-burning mode.
And I promise you – no matter what you go through – it is all worth it.
Ketogenic diets are no different than any other weight loss diet – the first week or two will be the hardest. With this diet though you won’t be starving yourself silly. Instead you’re going to fuel up on healthy fats and keep those carbs (those sugars) very low.
Fats are going to keep your body feeling fuller longer.
Fats are going to push your body into the metabolic state of ketosis.
Fats are tasty! Who doesn’t love chicken, cheese, cream, nuts, oils and butter on their foods?
While we suggest people only eat when they’re hungry and only as much as they need on this diet – especially when getting over a sugar addiction – we don’t push portion control or calorie counting in the first stage.
Stage 2: “Awareness” This is where we see people noticing changes in their bodies, in their energy levels, and in their interest in new foods and/or nutrition. Cravings are lessened and new habits are forming.
In this stage people are digging deeper, perhaps discovering an interest in their food sources (thinking about organic, non-GMO, or starting a garden). This is where we see the strongest psychological shifts.
Sometimes this new interest or stage happens when people reach a plateau in their weight loss.
Sometimes it just happens because they feel great and want to learn more so they can hack into better health.
Hunger – even that “healthy” 3 square meals a day type hunger – wanes.
Individually noticing ‘food triggers’.
Starting to love themselves – not just from a vanity perspective, but the realization that their bodies aren’t working against them and that it is really quite a complex, intelligent system.
Weight is down, health is up, interest piqued, AWARENESS!
Stage 3: “Hack Fasting” The first hack people make in this stage is almost always intermittent fasting. This happens naturally when the body and the brain has released the addiction and realizes it is being fed an adequate amount.
In this stage, you’ve figured out the best macros for your metabolism.
You’re feeling even less hunger – while your body burns off stored fat – and meals are sometimes forgotten altogether! You are likely needing to remind yourself to eat. And since intermittent fasting happens naturally as a result, it becomes very easy to give it a trial run. Again – back to caveman and famines of the Industrial era – completely natural.
When you’re just starting out with the KETO diet, this may not be a message you want to hear, am I right?
- You LOVE food.
- Food is a celebration that you have with friends.
- Food is a habit that you’re comfortable with.
- Food is comfort.
- Food is a stress reliever.
But once the reliance, the habit, the addiction and so on is gone – food takes its rightful place in your life.
It is something to be enjoyed. Something that nurtures you and heals you. Not something that controls you.
Fasting is healthy. It is part of our ‘ancestral roots’ and our bodies are completely capable of managing long fasts. It sounds completely unreasonable to a sugar-burner, but absolutely within reason to a fat-burner.
When you’re just starting out with fasting, give Intermittent Fasting a trial run.
Intermittent Fasting is gentler on our bodies. You can do so just by eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast on the following morning. That’s an 18 hour intermittent fast – and again, as long as you’re in ketosis, your body knows to look for stored fat to use for energy.
This business of doctors and governments telling everyone to eat every 2-3 hours or to eat 6 small meals a day instead of 3 – that advice is for sugar burners. That’s for people who are stuffing so many carbs and sugars into their bodies in 3 large doses that their insulin receptors are getting damaged and as a result need to replenish the sugar to remain clear-headed throughout the day.
You can do this – eat every 2-3 hours to stabilize your energy levels when you’re starting out with KETO and to get over Stage 1: Sugar Addiction – but you won’t NEED to once you’re in ketosis. Your body maintains your energy levels naturally in ketosis.
Stage 4: “Optimum Health” This is the end of the KETO weight loss journey but the start of the rest of your life!
- You’re eating the highest quality foods, less often.
- Maybe you fast for 2-3 days or longer.
- Now you’re a nutrition nut! Never – okay, maybe seldom – putting harmful foods in your body.
- You eat to nurture your cells.
- You eat for longevity.
You deserve high praise for this.
You’ve come so far and you’ve turned your life around!
Now go and change the world with what you know about food, nutrition, health and more.