Chef Dez: I survived the ‘keto flu’ but it wasn’t pleasant

A sample of a Keto dish. NOW FILES By now, I am sure you have heard of the keto diet – or at least have heard the term “keto.”

But what is it and, more importantly, does it live up to all the attention it is getting? I am not one for diets, as I prefer to eat a healthy and balanced array of foods, but after doing some research I decided to give the keto diet a try.
The first thing I want to point out however, is that I am not carrying a tremendous amount of excess body fat, but I do have my share. Having a profession as a chef makes it challenging to stay on any restricting diets, as I am constantly creating and tasting a wide variety of ingredients and dishes.

It is because of all this indulging that, no matter how balanced I try to keep it, I tend to carry a little extra weight. Plus, I guess it could be because of my age in part.
The keto diet is about putting your body into a state of ketosis. This means that instead of your body burning carbs for energy, you train it to burn fat as a fuel instead. Supposedly, from what I understand, once your body is in the ketosis state, and you start cutting back on eating fats, you will burn stored fats in your body and become leaner and lose weight.
At the beginning of your keto diet journey, you are supposed to have a high-fat, moderate protein, and very low carb intake. This shocks your body – you stop giving it carbs for energy and it has no choice to start switching over to burning fat instead, because there are no, or very little, carbs coming in.

Keep in mind there are carbs almost everywhere; they are not just in bread and pasta. Sugar, whether natural or processed, also represents carbs. Therefore, on the keto diet, where carbs are closely monitored, a whole array of foods must be eliminated: read your food labels or do your research and you will be shocked at how many foods have a tremendous amount of carbs. Other than some berries in small proportions, you are not even supposed to have most fruits because of the high natural sugars in them.
After a week or two of doing this, you then start reducing some of the fats, keep the proteins about the same and increasing the vegetables. Some people at this point will also do some intermittent fasting as well (like skipping breakfast two or three times per week), but I am not interested in taking it to that extreme.
Part of the beginning transition into this diet will consist of going through a “keto flu.”

The effects of this will vary from person to person, but sure enough, after two days into the diet, I came down with flu-like symptoms for about 48 hours. I had body aches, chills, and a slight fever. To be honest, I felt terrible and was almost ready to give up on this whole keto craze, but I knew from my research that this was a temporary transition stage, so I stuck it out and sure enough the symptoms went away.
I am now on day 13 and I have lost nine pounds so far. I have lots of energy and my meals leave me satisfied and feeling full for much longer than any diet I have tried in the past. Does that mean I don’t miss carbs? Of course not. I miss them tremendously, but it is easier to stay on track because I feel so good.

It is in our nature to crave something when we can’t have it. Not just with food, but with anything. The more you can’t have something, the more you want it.
Please keep in mind here that I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. I am just a chef, with a few extra pounds around my midsection that I want to lose. This is just my take on this whole keto rage, and I highly recommend that you talk to a certified health professional before embarking on any major dietary changes in your life.
Do I plan to do this keto diet forever? No, to me that would not be healthy. I truly believe that we should always monitor what we are putting into our bodies, but also having a truly balanced intake of many types of foods.

My plan at this point is to try this for 100 days, just to say I tried it and see if is effective or not. However, it is important to point out that I cannot do 100 days straight through because of my career. There will be some “splurge” days within that timeframe, but I will do my best to stay on track the best that I can.
If, after these 100 days, I am successful and happy with the results, I may follow up this column with another entry on the results. However, if not, you may never hear me talking about keto again.
Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com

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