You are what you eat.
If you feel like shit – that’s because you eat like shit.
Lately (last 3-4 months) I’ve been running several experiments to find a diet on which I can perform optimally. I’m a big believer that health is one of the key ingredients for a better life;
- If your nutrition is in order, you’ll have more energy.
- If you have more energy, your brain functions better.
- If your brain functions better, you make better choices.
- Your life quality is the product of your choices.
Better input, better output.
There’s a lot of conflicting opinions on this topic, but I’ve finally settled on a diet that seems to work great. In this article I’ll go in-depth on the ketogenic diet.
I’m convinced that a diet, high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates is optimal for (almost) anyone.
If the whole world would switch to this diet, we’d see a dramatic decline in health expenses globally (+-500B/year)
I’ll also be using a Color code in this article, like so:
- Difficult words that make me feel smart
That will be all.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low (or no) carbs.
It’s based on the premise that humans were never designed to eat so much damn carbs.
In the paleolithic era, carbohydrates were only available seasonally.
To supply food for a constantly growing population, we’ve turned to (cheaper) mass production of corn, wheat, soy and other modified crops (crap(s)). This hasn’t only degraded the quality of grains but also the amount it represents in our diet.
Literally turning the food pyramid upside-down since agriculture became the established norm.
Grains are cheaper to produce and maintain, compared to decent protein sources like cattle or chicken farms. Additionally, genetic modification, chemical repellents and synthetic fertilizers has made the plants low-maintenance and virtually pest-free.
Because there’s nothing in the plants that even the insects want – it’s devoid of nutrients
“a “food” that no other animal will touch”
People that are following the “traditional food pyramid” don’t see results. They need to do hours upon hours of cardio to get some weight off.
They also aren’t allowed to go below a 20% caloric deficit, otherwise this would act as a stressor on their body, making them hold on to their fat reserves extra-tightly.
“Grains, a food group that we didn’t eat for 97% of our human existence, are now at the base of the USDA food pyramid with 6-11 servings a day recommended.” – PaleoLeap
How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?
Your body can mainly use carbohydrates (pasta, rice, sugars, … ) AND/OR fats (butter, fatty meats, oils, …) for energy.
If carbs are available, your body will use those first. If carbs are not available, your body will to start to break down the ingested and stored fats to provide energy.
This is called beta-oxidization.
It’s basically another way to fuel our cells with the necessary ATP (adenosine triphosphate a.k.a. energy). Here’s a fancy multi-colored flowchart that explains how it works;
When these fatty-acids get burned off in your liver, you will start to produce ketones (most notably; beta-hydroxybutyrate). Your body and brain can use these for fuel.
When your level of ketones is high enough, your brain will start using these for energy. It’s actually a preferred energy source for your brain AND we function better on it.
Which makes perfect sense as it is our more “natural” diet.
Our ancestors didn’t always have access to food, and they certainly didn’t always have access to glucose. Their body was feasting on the fat from the last woolly mammoth or saber-toothed tiger. – Craig, Ruled.me
Why Is It Better?
Here’s some bullets to consider if you’re looking into making the leap;
- By switching over to a ketogenic (high fat & low carb) diet, you improve your bodies ability to use fat for fuel dramatically. Which means more (and more efficient!) fat-burning
- You eat less calories overall because fat and protein (which is the bulk of your diet) makes you feel satiated for extended periods of time
- Your triglycerides drop to the floor and HDL (“good” cholesterol) increases. This reduces heart-disease risk and blood pressure dramatically
- Your blood sugar & insulin levels drop to the floor, reducing risk for type-2 diabetes and risk of heart disease
- Your fat-transport is up-regulated and mitochondrial function increases. This means you’ll burn more calories in your resting state.
- Your LDL pattern improves; Your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is harmless.
- Ketones (compared to glucose) leave fewer “junk” (free radicals) in the mitochondria. This means better neural repair and recovery
- No blood sugar spikes meaning you’ll have more constant energy instead of “crashes” after meals and “sugar highs”
Also: my stool has become very firm.
(but that could also be contributed to the massive amount of veggies & wheatgrass I’m devouring at the moment)
The ketogenic diet is very efficient for fat-loss & increased cognitive function.
What Can You Eat?
So if I can’t eat carbs like pasta, sugars, grains, breads, oatmeal and all that stuff. What’s left?
Get most of your calories from fat & moderate protein. Things like
- Bacon, fatty steak, ground beef/pork, eggs, bacon, salmon, turkey, chicken avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, bacon, mct oil, …
- Low glycemic vegetables are infinite
- AVOID CARBS (or at least not in the first two weeks). Try to stay under 20-30g/day of net carbs (= total carbs – fiber))
Be sure to keep your protein requirements around the recommended amount by using the keto-calculator. IF you eat too much protein your body will convert the excess back to glucose, kicking you out of ketosis and making you tired once again.
As a rule of thumb: stay around 1.3/1.5 g of protein/kg bodyweight (or 1g/pound of bodyweight)
Try to limit carbohydrates as best as possible (especially in the beginning). After you’ve made the switch and your body gets used to burning fat as fuel, you can gradually re-introduce these.
The initial “switching period” will be the worst – meaning your body (enzymes) will need to adapt to this completely new type of diet. Your body will need to switch gears to run on fat instead of carbs. This will need a “switching period” in which you’ll feel tired and lethargic.
We call this “the keto-flu”
It’s analogous to a factory that has been producing laptops whole their life and one day they decide to switch over to the booming yogurt business.
Confusion and chaos in the workplace
.. making you feel like crap.
This faze might last from 1 day to a week, depending on the glucose/glycogen levels remaining in your body. Here are some tips to speed it up;
- Eat only animal protein, such as meat and eggs.
- Use medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
- Increase the fat in your diet so you eat more than 65 percent of your calories from fat.
- Use coconut oil as a supplement.
- Combine a very low-carbohydrate diet (and 24h+ fasting) with long periods of high intensity training. For example: Sprints & weightlifting
During this period your body will also start shedding a lot of water, containing vital electrolytes (since carbs retain a lot of water). These will need replenishing (DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THIS!) or else you might become foggy/light-headed and fatigued. Electrolytes are vital for cellular function – if your cells don’t function decently, you’re pretty much a miserable wreck.
Aim daily for;
- 5000 mg of sodium (normal or sea salt) (= +-1 teaspoon)
- 1000 mg of potassium, in the form of potassium chloride or potassium sulfate (lo salt in most groceries)
- 300 mg of magnesium (Effervescent tablets – they are really cheap)
I recommend making “ketorade” which will refuel your electrolytes on a daily basis. Fill a 1.5l bottle of water with 2/3tsp of sea salt, 1/2 tsp of lo-salt & 1 tablet of +-200mg magnesium and drink that throughout the day. It tastes like salty lemonade.
How To Start?
My recommendation would be to start with a 1-day fast and on the second day you go for a hour long run (or as long as you can manage) to deplete all your remaining glycogen stores. Drink a full bottle of “ketorade” after/during the training. This should speed up ketosis significantly.
I realize this is an extreme diet. If you slip back into bad habits I’d recommend switching over to a Paleolithic diet first, in gradual steps.
Here’s an overview of a basic ketogenic diet I’ve followed in the past when trying to lose some weight. It’s a big-ass salad for lunch, a protein shake as snack and some steamed veggies & eggs in the evening. Extremely simple & tasty.
I was very skeptical in the beginning and even a bit frightened, meaning I’d have to eat a ridiculous quantity of eggs and fat (12-15 whole eggs/day & 65%+ calories from fat). Pretty much the direct opposite of everything I’ve ever learned in school (and I’m doing a personal-trainer oriented education atm)
- “Saturated fat is bad for you!”
- “Your body needs sugars for energy”
Now, I’m 3 months in and don’t consider EVER switching back (nor craving sugary stuff). I can eat as much bacon and eggs as I want. What’s not to love?
- Less than 20/30g of net carbs/day
- 1.3/1.5g of protein/kg of bodyweight
- Replenish electrolytes with “ketorade”
- Recommendation to speed up ketosis: 1 full day of fasting + 1h run on second day & ketorade
It’s not a difficult diet once you’ve switched to the “dark-side”.
My blood levels have changed as expected (good) and has puzzled my (conservative) doctor.
Other ambassadors of a low-carb diet are Peter attia, Tim Ferriss & Dave Asprey (#SocialProof). I’d definitely recommend to look into this further.
Here’s a great talk, done by Peter Attia on the Ketogenic diet (definitely worth watching fully – this might change your life)
Note: Not everyone does great on a low carb diet. If you don’t feel better after two weeks of low-carb, try slightly increasing the amount of carbs (by 20g/day) and go by feel to get the most benefits for your body. Everybody is a unique little snowflake!
Disclaimer: Simon is a 20 year-old college student. Although much of his “life-advice” is (very) interesting and equally tempting, it would be unwise to take everything he says literally. Therefore, Simon (yes – that’s 3rd person) believes it’s a good idea to consult with your local doctor/shaman/health-person before dramatically changing your lifestyle.
He will also not be held accountable when protruding sexual organs get stuck in printing devices.
That will be all,
Take care & stay strong
- My head
Great article. Very informative and succinct. I love your sense of humour, it brings a light heartedness, much needed in today’s world. Don’t change anything as it’s part of your unique personality.Ignore the fuddy duddy old prudes…..Some people are take themselves WAY too seriously 🤪
Simon, love that you don’t apologize. People think everyone is obligated to share their stupid opinions. Keep being you and other people can take it or leave it but smart people will see the value and/or move on.
this is interesting information. and for me self discipline is the ability for us to recognize our behavior
in terms of dieting.
I have been on Keto diet for maybe 5 months now and I and Feeling great and have lost 30 pounds. Was I loved about this article was the pin point precision you had on all the facts. Awsome job! I will recommend this to people that I don’t want to spend time explaining the keto diet to. Could you please remove the akward jokes and disclaimer please? I don’t need people to know that your stool is “EXTRA” hard :)
I guess if you are depending on this for a career you might consider all the feedback. Once you put something out there all kinds of opinions ensue. Overall, I appreciated the clarity with which you presented the information. I can then add that to other sources and life experience to form my own opinion. Thanks for a job well done!
This is a very informative, well-written article! Thanks Simon
great website with great articles!
Definitely valuable inputs that everyone is free to “process” his individual way.
Keep your language style. It just demonstrates that you do not take yourself too seriously and have a sense for cynicism. Moaners go home…
Just keep rocking. You are worth it!
You have it all wrong. Man (man, woman, child) is a fructivore. That means fruits and veggies. And water. That is the only thing you need to live healthy. A real meat eater eats his meat raw. Can you eat it raw? I can’t. Before man could cook his meal, he ate only plant based food that he found above the ground. That is lots of fruits and some veggies. If you eat meat, your energy levels stay down. Also your acid level goes up. In order to get it down to a healthy level your body gets phosphate out of your bones. The calcium that’s left, disappears in the toilet.
One more thing: grow your own food, go off the grid, kick the mainstream media out of your life, stay away of microwaves of all sorts, grow your own medicine and try to live with as little money possible. Last thing: you do not need to be governed by anyone. Especially by those in suits and fancy cars and house, who only sit and do nothing. There a name for those nitwits: politicians.
What is the basis of your assertion? The Ketogenic Diet is based on Science not someone’s opinion.
Read up on the ketogenic diet. See articles by Peter Attia, MD, Dr. Jeff Volek, Dr. Dom D’Agostino, Lyle McDOnald, MD., etc….
btw over 150 + years ago what fruits were available year round in northern seasonal climates where more than 1/2 of the world’s populations live?
Man is adaptable but science demonstrates the body & mind performs extreemely well in a state of ketosis.
What up Simon,
Nice article! .. so what are your results so far with this diet plan? did you decrease you Fat% or have any more details to spare?
I’m on this diet for 3 months, the things I’ve noticed physically were;
> I’m eating less frequent (less hunger)
> I have more energy (& more continuous energy, instead of spikes & crashes)
> I’m still in a caloric surplus as I’m looking to add muscle (so I haven’t dropped noticeable body fat%
> My blood results have improved
> I feel “sharper” mentally. Especially when I’m sleeping enough (8 hours) and have eaten good fats (more brainfuel) or am in a fasted state (more ketones)
> I’ve gained +-1,2kg whilst staying at a relatively same bodyfat
I might experiment with fasting in the near future to drop some excess body fat. I still eat HUGE meals
You’ve spoiled the article by this fricking disclaimer.
Such disclaimers are the signs of insanity taking over our society. You either have common sense and you have at least vague idea what’s good for your body (in this case) or you aren’t and then no disclaimers will not improve the situation.
It was more meant to be a joke. I previously added “also: be sure you don’t get your dick stuck in a printer due to my instructions” but found that (too) inappropriate :)
Agree though, everyone with a brain can decide for themselves what the best course of action should be. Then again, not everyone has one.
Simon offers this nutrition article, which ostensibly offers valuable information, but he sabotages it with foul language. Dumb move.
Sorry you feel that way man – tastes differ I guess