Keto to Flex Diet
Kelli Michelle M.S. Nutrition Science
Whether you’re looking to lower your blood sugar levels, curb cravings or shed excess “body weight,” the ketogenic diet is a popular eating plan that’s loaded with health benefits. These benefits can be achieved through other means but usually, 1 of the thrills that keep the person motivated in the beginning of Keto is that the person will “IMMEDIATELY” lose water weight. The carbohydrates you see are made of carbon. They hold water, hence the work CARBOHYDRATE or hydrated carbon. Why is this important to know? The first 7-10 lbs. of “weight loss” is almost entirely water weight.
The keto diet will also deplete some essential minerals if not replaced for electrolyte balance and is just 1 reason people feel “flu-like” symptoms sometimes when first implementing. You can also get headaches and weakness in the muscle if potassium/sodium levels drop too low during Keto dieting phases. The Carbohydrate keeps the cells hydrated. Carbs are the body’s 1st prime fuel source. Carbohydrates are what the body prefers and also stores in muscle tissue and liver for reserve fuel. If the body goes into a calorie deficit from carbs the body will be the next go-to protein for fuel and if dietary fats are too low store those for famine. The physiology is tricky!!
By cutting back on carbs and bumping up your fat intake, you can switch your body into a “state of ketosis” to reap all of the rewards associated with going keto. Some people can lose weight in a calorie deficit simply by cutting 2 macro groups, carbs and protein to a very low % of their daily intake while fats usually compose 70-75% of the client’s daily intake on Keto.
However, Keto for the purpose of fat loss was not meant to be a long-term solution for better health. In fact, it’s generally recommended to follow the ketogenic diet for no longer than two to six months, unless under the supervision of a doctor. There are exceptions to this rule and 1 would be the epileptic.
Some cancer patients elect to do Keto as well for shorter periods of time and merge back into a healthy balanced diet afterward. Keto can be beneficial for some people as long term the mental clarity can be better on Keto than with protein and carbs as ⅓ of the diet. It is different for each person.
Successful steps for transitioning off of a Keto plan and into a balanced format for meal pairing.
Slowly increase carb consumption
Rather than turning up carb consumption right off the bat, it’s best to increase your intake slowly and gradually as you adapt. This can help minimize any potential side effects while also keeping your waistline in check to avoid regaining extra pounds while converting calories from fat to carbs. Fats are 9 Calories per gram and Carbohydrates 4 calories per gram. For every 2 grams of fat consumed and replaced, you can have 4 carbs for almost a like for like calories exchange. Pretty cool math, protein is the same it is worth only 4 calories per gram and is touted as the SUPER HERO of macros.
Ideally I like to have clients increase carb consumption by around 10 grams per week lowering fats until you reach about a 150-200 calorie conversion from fats to carbs in a fat loss phase. Carbs in a building phase along with protein should be around 30-35 percent of your total daily calories in a balanced format. Additionally, be sure to keep track of any changes in the way that you feel and adjust your daily carb count as needed. For fat loss you can keep dietary fats under 30 % of your total calories as you get more aggressive with your fat loss dieting phase. I encourage a reverse diet for people who are transitioning from a low calorie keto diet to restore metabolism so that you can set up more successful dieting from closer to the persons maintenance calories or surplus.
Things you might discover the first few days of adding carbs. You must watch your fiber not to over consume. Keto and low carb dieters traditionally think that eating more fiber is better because they are particularly used to consuming a lot of carbs from veggies while on keto. We eat a variety of carb sources on a flexible diet. All carbohydrates are converted to glucose. The rate at which those are used will depend on many things. Pairing foods with proteins and fats will slow the utility.
Eating carbohydrates alone is not recommended unless for exercise as that will usually spark hunger not satiation. We highly recommend eating meals together with a protein serving and fat serving to have a better outcome with satiation. More fiber is not better as it can cause constipation and bloat. Most people blame the carb but it is not the carb, it is the fiber!! We do not want to tax the GI or have you sparing minerals from over consuming fiber with your new found carb group. It is important to have a variety of moderate-lower fiber carbs as well as higher fiber options for shopping. Some lower fiber options would be rice, rice cakes, brown rice cereals, potato red, yellow and regular baked potato in your meals. Instant oats will have lower fiber than the OLD FASHIONED oats.
Fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly to help keep you feeling fuller for longer while also optimizing digestive health. Picking healthy, fiber-rich foods can also slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels as you slowly reintroduce carbs into your diet.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are all great sources of fiber, along with a range of other vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Whole grains such as oats, sweet potato, yam, buckwheat, barley and quinoa can also be enjoyed in moderation as part of a nutritious, well-rounded diet. You do not have to stick with carbohydrates that are considered clean by dieting “gurus.”
Limiting your sugar intake especially when not active is one thing you should definitely take from the keto diet back into your regular eating routine.
Added sugar or over-consumption is associated with a number of negative effects on health, including heart disease, diabetes, liver problems and even cancer. It also contributes little to your diet other than extra calories, which can increase the risk of weight gain over time. This together with overconsumption of calories in general can cause someone to fall into the obese population quickly. You still have to be in a calorie deficit to lose body fat and stay in healthy weight ranges. You can overeat and consume inherently “clean foods” or food labeled “good” and still gain fat.
What should you eat sparingly and in order to keep you on your FLEXIBLE plan sometimes?
Sweets, baked goods, fruit juice, dairy desserts and soft drinks are all concentrated sources of added sugar that should be limited in a healthy diet. However, there are plenty of nutritious alternatives that can help satisfy your sweet tooth, such as fruit or dark chocolate. Try making your own homemade trail mix, blending up a low-sugar smoothie or sprinkling fresh berries over yogurt or oatmeal for a wholesome snack.
You can certainly indulge in an ice cream cone, cookie or some goodies once in a while because they are no longer considered “off limits” and you will not binge eat on foods like that if you set healthy relationship boundaries with food now.
Hydration is another area of concern. Sometimes people forget that carbohydrates are going to hold more water and they don’t see why they are so thirsty. Try drinking about the same amount of water daily. Look at your salt if you are tracking food and try to regulate that within 1800-2600 mgs the first week or so on a balanced diet. As you get your water stable you do not need to monitor your salt as closely. Potassium levels should also be something you look at and try to keep a little higher than sodium for the first week if you can while working that to a 2:1 ratio. Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining overall health, and staying well-hydrated plays a key role in regulating your body’s temperature, transporting nutrients and supporting brain function. However, it becomes especially important when transitioning off the ketogenic diet, as it can help prevent digestive issues, fight fatigue and keep you feeling your best.
Water intake : As a general rule of thumb, aim for 50 percent your body weight in ounces of water daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, you should try to squeeze in at least 75 ounces of water per day. Setting a timer, using an app to track your intake, or infusing your pitcher with your favorite flavors citrus, berries, mint are a few strategies that can make it easier to help meet your daily needs.
Don’t rule out making sure that you have exercise set up so that you are doing the same amount and type of training or cardio you were doing before with your keto lifestyle. Do not try to change many things at once, change diet and then allow a week or 2 to pass before making changes to your training so that you adapt to your new lifestyle. Water intake being higher or lower can and will cause scale fluctuations of 1-3 lbs. for any reason each day. 1 Gallon of water is almost 10 lbs. so even if you are off ¼ gallon you are going to see 1-3 lbs. fluctuation. Unless you overfed by 3,500 calories in 1 day you didn’t gain a pound of fat. You have probably learned that much of what we see day to day on the scale now is indeed water weight fluctuation. Why give up on your goals when this is not a tangible means of measure all the time.
Flexible dieting will take time to perfect so be sure to learn the practices so that this is a fun, methodic and sustainable plan. You learned about fats now it is time to learn more about the other 2 very important macro categories.
How do we get started with Keto to flexible balanced macros month 1??
- Calorie Balance from balanced macros
- Meal Pairing all macros in 1 serving at each meal for optimal satiation and glucose balance as well as GI function.
- Water intake – Try to drink around the same amount each day.
- Added Sugar intake – Watch your added sugars and make good quality food choices for 80% of your meals.
- Stress and Sleep (7.5-9 hours ) – Minimize stress and work on your rest.
- No alcohol month 1 but incorporate in moderation after 30-45 days.