The ketogenic kid

Balancing on the edge of ketogenic for my mind and body

Going Ketogenic To Be A Better Writer

Ketogenic says, "Fat is energy."
Taken at Portland Art Museum.

A moderately strict ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting has subtlety transformed my life. From how I think and feel, to how I move and sleep, everything is different.

I changed to be fit to fulfill weekly commitments to my patrons.

After dinner, dishes, and my son’s story time, it’s been hard to push through the sleepy fog and be consistently productive before bed.

Having heard that mental acuity is retained after meals when using fat as fuel instead of sugar, I took the ketogenic leap of faith this last February.

More than two months in, I am confident that it is one of my best life decisions—up there with marrying a Japanese woman and buying a community land trust home.

Ketogenic BreakfastMy ketogentic diet guideline:

No food after eight at night. No food before ten in the morning. Fat for energy for first and last meal, some carbs in the middle.

I also try not to drink an hour before sleep and try to sleep at least three hours after I eat.

Foods I eat and love:

I have never enjoyed food as much as I do under my loosely ketogentic diet.

Ketogenic Halo

  • Fatty Meats: Bacon (uncured) and Mackerel being my two favorites, but I’m loving all meats from land and sea.
  • Dairy: Eggs, yogurt, milk, and cheese. Now we buy whole milk by the gallon with at least a third being left out overnight to become yogurt.
  • Avocado: From like to love, I eat these guys like I used to eat apples.
  • Leafy Greens: Lettuce doesn’t cut it. It’s got to be something like kale or spinach. Perfect to mix in with meats every few bites.
  • Fermented foods: My wife makes great sauerkraut, and a friend of a friend makes kim-chi to match the best I had in Japan.
  • Canned tuna: I buy direct from Safe Catch. Best tuna I’ve ever had. Essential if I’m in a pinch for time or packing a lunch away from refrigeration.
  • A bit of everything else: No bigger than side dishes of anything that’s carbohydrate heavy, and no more than spoonfuls of sweets—a taste of ice cream won’t kick me out of ketosis, and I enjoy the flavors without the addictive drive of being sugar adapted.
  • Cocoa: Unsweetened baker’s chocolate or cocoa powder. So far very happy with Scharffen Berger. It gives me flavor and a kick when I need it.
  • Multi-vitamin: I took them before and have kept up as a precaution, though with the decrease in carbs I may actually need it less.
Food: A typical packing for a workday

My first taste of food is bacon, a half hour before noon.

I ate late last night because of jiu-jitsu class, so I delay today until my first work break. Since I’m in ketosis, waiting makes me a little antsy but is otherwise no bother.

Ketogenic Lunch

I prepped the following:

  • Hamburger: 15% ground beef from Butcher Box, mixed with onions, egg, worcester sauce, mustard, ketchup, chili powder, ghost pepper bits, cooked in an avocado oiled pan and bacon grease, sharp cheddar cheese melted on top.
  • Bacon: Peppered, and uncured.
  • Fried egg: Yoke still runny.
  • Saurkraut: Red cabbage, wife made.
  • Sweet relish: Just a spoonful.
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Half an avocado
  • Leafy greens: From garden that survived the winter, kale or something like it.
  • Chives/Onion grass from our garden: This annoys my wife, as she has some Japanese name for it.
  • Ketogenic cerealMixed cereal carb-heavy bowl:  With a few dried cranberries, whole milk yogurt, sunflower seed butter, and 100% cocoa powder.
  • A third of a small apple.
  • Multi-vitamin.
  • A thermos of wife-made kombucha, apple infused and sweeter than I expected.

This food in my mouth invites God into my brain.

Meals have never been this fulfilling… except maybe on a two week long backpacking trip I took when I was a teenager, or perhaps when I was a baby and breast feeding. Oh, and there was that time when I stole a burrito off my brother’s plate…

My slow shift meant no ketogenic flu

When I turned forty, I started attending a jiu-jitsu academy. Ostensibly it was a scouting mission for my son, but it was probably also a mid-life crisis response.

Eating and/or sleeping poorly increased injury and sabotaged my motivation to attend class. So, I reduced my processed foods and sweets, and I went to bed earlier.

Pound by pound, I lost a bowling ball’s worth of weight.

A steady drop over a year’s time. My dietary shift, really no more than embracing Portland hipster sensibilities. Cane sugar over corn syrup. Ginger beer over root beer. Smoothies instead of milk shakes. Smaller quantities of quality.

My goal was to commit to better habits. The weight loss was great, but not my measure of success. Although, it did put me in good shape for a ketogenic dabble I didn’t know as coming.

Thank you Joe Rogan for pushing intermittent fasting

My wife has long berated me for eating before bed, but it took a pod cast about daily fasting to change me.

Don’t eat after eight. Don’t eat before ten.

Dabbling with this for a few months, I lost more pounds and felt twinges of ketogenic greatness. This was especially true when every once and a while, because of a daytime jiu jitsu class, I’d wait until the afternoon for my first meal.

I had limitless energy on the mat when my stomach was empty.

This intrigued. It turned what had been ingrained in me at school on its head.

Gradually, over the course of a month, I shifted my percentage of sugar intake (in all forms) down and my fat intake up.

I credit this slow shift, and the fact that I had already trimmed down, as the reasons why I suffered no symptoms I recognized as ketogenic flu.

I also think intermittent fasting has aided my instincts in picking what and how much to eat. I don’t follow a book or any particular plan. Other then sugar and time limits, I eat as much of whatever I feel like.

I mocked Atkins: The food pyramid was holy

Decades ago a roommate went on the Atkins diet. He had a positive experience, but I rolled my eyes and ignored it. Short term food fads didn’t interest me.

But Robert Atkins wasn’t so different from my mother.

She kept me away from sugar. I ate some pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, and a fair amount of juice. But she did a good job of limiting the sugar bombs, the sodas and the bags of Halloween candy.

As the kids around me drank Kool-Aid and ate american cheese on white bread, I drank milk and ate a lot of red meat.

In elementary school I resisted when the teacher said milk shakes were healthy.

Something always nagged me about the food pyramid and descriptions of what happened to the body after the stomach was empty.

Ketogenic is the answer I didn’t know I was searching for.

Dimitri Neron
By Dimitri Neron, used with permission

The results: What has ketogenic w/ fasting done

Ketogenic FaceOverall, I am a healthier more balanced human being.

The good:

  • No mental fog after meals: Success!
  • Reduced muscle and joint pain: I’m pretty sure I heal faster.
  • Energy level constant: No more three o’clock dip at work.
  • Fewer shits: It’s simply a more efficient way to eat.
  • Mood even/Reduction in body response to stress: I still get mad, but I don’t have the lasting tension in my shoulders when I do.
  • Improved general health/Boosted immune system: My family gets sick, but I resist.
  • Food tastes better, and I never feel bad afterwords.
  • Control/Makes discipline easier: For food, no more struggles with self-control, and I can skip meals without detriment.

The neutral:

  • Cost, plus and minus seems to equal out: I compare grocery store shopping with ordering directly online. Directly works with tuna and chocolate, but not with my major meats. Butcher Box ships a great product, but for their price I can get twice as much comparable meat at a local store on sale.
  • I miss things like bread, but I don’t desire them: It’s like an 80’s sitcom. It was good when it was on, but I don’t need to watch it again.
  • Family adjustment: Change is hard. My wife likes to bake, but she appreciates my improved health.
  • Sustainable: It’s a lot to think through, but at the very least I think that being a fat burner is nearly as sustainable environmentally as sugar burning, if not more so. Understandably counter-intuitive, but consider all the snacks and packaging as a sugar eater.

The bad:

  • Sleeplessness: I had issues deciding to go to sleep when I was sugar burning, but I tended to sleep better when I did. Now I want to sleep at a reasonable time, but have trouble staying asleep. I do think this will improve as I continue to adjust to my changed diet.
  • Fight response before eating: This works for me in jiu-jitsu class, not so much in a professional work environment during a political correctness crisis flooded with hyper-sensitivity.
Ketogenic thoughts of whimsy

The fat on people’s bodies are fuel tanks. All that weight is inefficient. Use it. Reduce it. Be leaner and life will flow better.

I chase down a deer and rip its throat out
I bury my face in its fuzzy neck
Blood pumps against my checks, warm and salty
My arms hug its heaving breast
As it dies, I rest, warm and content

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