The Ketogenic Diet. You may have heard of it. If not, you will.
And you'll want to pay attention. That's because this diet could change our lives, our healthcare system, and the entire way we think about food.
But what might be most interesting is the idea of how it can help you right now.
Bold statements, I get it. But read on.
First, it's a diet. Duh. But long story short, it's a very specific ratio of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) that when consumed correctly have amazing benefits. There's a lot more to it, but rather than dive into it now, let's cover a few things first.
Here are just several things that the diet has been shown to do:
I know, I know. It sounds like hocus pocus.
But you can Google any one of those things and see the research yourself.
Here's the thing, this article is not meant to convince you why you should consider the Ketogenic Diet. Rather, it's a resource to help you learn what it is and how to get started.
This article actually comes from an email that I sent to a friend.
I had been on the Ketogenic Diet for a few months and pretty much couldn't help myself from bragging about how great I was feeling. My buddy was intrigued and asked for help getting started. So, I gathered up all the best resources that had helped me during my initial days of researching prior to starting the diet. This article is essentially my email to my buddy.
And believe me, I obsessed over this research. There's a lot of great stuff out there on the Ketogenic Diet. But I had to sift through a ton of garbage to find it.
The sources that follow are the best I found at the time. The people mentioned are the experts. I am not. They'll explain everything much better than I can.
Also, I might mention some things in the next several paragraphs that you won't quite understand right now. You might not even have a clue what the Ketogenic Diet is yet. Stay with me. As soon as you get to the resources everything will make sense.
First, a disclaimer. I'm not a doctor. This article and this website are not written by doctors. You definitely should talk to one before you change your nutrition to the degree outlined in this article. The dramatic changes can actually be dangerous without proper monitoring of your blood, which is the only way to know you're on track and safe.
Before you jump in, I’ll also mention that this is a very strict way of eating. It's not easy to get going nor sustain, but if you're really serious about changing your life the results are incredible.
Consider yourself warned, both about the difficulty and the doctor thing.
I’ve had the most success with hardcore diet "experiments" like this by committing to a defined time frame with a real end date.
I recommend committing to 30 days and going all in. The finite timeline will keep hope alive, especially during the first week which will be the most difficult. It helps to subconsciously know it can/will end. However, it’s always been my experience that when that 30-day mark hits I keep going if the results are good.
I started my experiment with Tim Ferriss' “slow carb” diet before going all in on the more hardcore Ketogenic Diet. If you Google "Tim Ferriss Slow Carb Diet," you can read all about it. Or, get the whole rundown in Tim's book, The 4-Hour Body, which I highly recommend.
Tim's diet is a little easier to handle. It essentially boils down to cutting out two main staples of the western diet: sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Here's a tip: when you cut these two things out of your diet, refer to them as "poison."
Someone offers you a cupcake? Say, "No thanks. Poison." It'll get a laugh, but after time you'll actually trick yourself into feeling that they really are poison. I got the idea from a super funny Modern Family episode. It works, I swear.
Following 3-4 weeks of the Slow Carb diet, I went all in on Ketosis.
Below is a reading from my FitBit scale from the time I started until the time of writing this.
Just for context, I'm a 6'5" guy. So 210lbs wasn't crazy overweight, but it definitely was not fit either. I lost about 18 pounds in 4 months. And that was with not much exercise. Maybe 8 trips to the gym. The spikes, or noise, in the readings are on the weekends when I cheated a bit and had a beer or 7 beers.
Once I went super strict Ketogenic, I’ve noticed these things:
When I wake up, I wake up. I find myself rolling out of bed wide awake. Most times, I’m waking up before my alarm goes off. I do not feel groggy in the mornings at all. This is when I get at least 7 hours of sleep.
After about 3 weeks on the diet, I very rarely get hungry. Almost no cravings. In fact, I have to remind myself to eat.
I have completely eliminated the afternoon slump. I used to start yawning around 2:30 pm. Now? Never.
I feel mentally sharp. Like, seriously sharp. This could be a placebo, but I don’t care. I feel like I’ve been able to connect pieces of information almost instantly. I am an animal during brainstorms at work.
I have become more decisive. This could be completely unrelated to the diet, but worth reporting.
Happiness levels have remained the same. It was rough for the first 2 weeks but after that fine.
Welcome to Ketosis University. I will not be your teacher. Instead, I will leave everything to the experts. That said, Dr. Peter Attia and Dom D’Agostino will be your professors. These are THE two guys when it comes to nutritional ketosis.
Attia is articulate and fun to listen to. Dom is kind of quiet and speaks more as a practitioner of the Keto diet.
In the following resources, you'll learn the answers to these questions:
Here’s the order I’d recommend for diving into all this:
If you can stomach a bit of hardcore science, the best and most thorough explanation of Ketosis and the Ketogenic diet that I’ve come across is the presentation below. It’s a bit long and does get dense in just a few parts, but it’s really good. If you watch this first, then nothing will go over your head when you read or listen to other stuff out there. Plus, you’ll be able to really remember what everyone is talking about.
Attia covers many of the same stories and more. He also goes deeper into life extension versus death avoidance which is super interesting. Basically, he riffs on the fact that if you are in your 40s, statistics show that you are 80% likely to die from 4 things: cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (e.g., stroke), or neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s). And if you want to extend your life your strategy must address those things.
Once you have the theory down from Attia, then I’d move on to Dom to learn more about how to do it.
I’d start with this episode of Tim Ferriss' podcast.
The whole interview is good. He gets into exactly what he eats and supplements around the 2.5 hours mark.
I haven't dived into Ben's stuff as much yet, but Ben Greenfield is big on ketosis and is always a fantastic resource. He typically likes to get really sciencey so I recommend checking out his stuff later in your research so you have a better chance of understanding what he’s talking about.
He’s got a TON of stuff on Ketosis. His interview of Dom D'Agostino is good. Consider starting there.
ketogenic-diet-resource.com: The site looks a little janky, but it's a really good reference for the Keto diet. This is Dom’s #1 recommended resource.
MyFitnessPal: This is the best app for tracking food and ratios of fat, protein, and carbs (macronutrients).
Here’s a screenshot of my macronutrient percentage against my goals:
Scivation Xtend Perform: Branch chain amino acid supplement that Dom takes. I used to drink this back in college to help recover from my workouts. It’s really good stuff. I bought this newer “Perform” formula per Dom’s recommendation. I had a noticeably better workout in the gym compared to the zero supplements I take.
Precision Glucometer: The Glucose meter that everyone considers the gold standard.
KetoCaNa: The exogenous ketones that most people use, including Dom, Attia, and Ferriss. These are the ones I have. Tastes SUPER sweet, but a totally good flavor. Expensive as hell.
Quest MCT Oil Powder: MCT Oil powder per Dom’s recommendation. I bought it. No taste at all. Way more convenient to travel with compared to messy oil.
Salads suck. You need to quickly figure out alternatives or you’ll go insane. My favorite and easiest meal is what I call the One Pan, One Bowl Scramble. It takes 10 minutes to make and only dirties one pan and one bowl.
You know what? I'm going to stop there. That's more than enough info to get you start and I just got hungry.