“I felt ashamed of how I had changed from a veteran Army soldier into someone who I wasn’t proud to be,” Root, 35, tells PEOPLE for the 2018 Half Their Size issue. “When I transitioned out of the military, I was pregnant with my son, and that loss of structure meant I was eating what I wanted to with no regard, and being pregnant I just found myself eating a lot more than usual.”
The ketogenic diet has received a lot of attention this year, probably because celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Megan Fox, and Adriana Lima are among its devoted followers. (Halle Berry even recently shared a rundown of her daily ketogenic meals with her 2.7 million Instagram followers). It's officially replaced the Mediterranean diet as the most popular diet of 2018 with nutrition experts, wellness bloggers, and regular health-minded individuals analyzing its benefits and downfalls, so to say it's simply "buzzy" would be an understatement. It would be more accurate to call it a dietary movement.
Many dieters get so bored with bland “diet” foods they end up eating more of them to feel fulfilled. Instead of eating for quantity, focus on the quality of your food. “You may notice that the first few tastes of the food are the most satisfying—your taste buds are on high alert,” says Steinmetz. “Buying small quantities of high quality food and concentrating on taste will help you savor small bites. Stop after the first four bites so that your taste is not ‘saturated’, and then try a different food.”
Sugar cookies are perfect for Christmas cookie exchanges and this healthy twist on the classic holiday favorite does not disappoint. Despite their name, they are indeed sugar-free (not to mention they're also gluten-free and paleo)! And the low carb glaze is optional, but really adds to the festive look of this recipe and would be a nice touch if you've decided to gift them.
“My biggest hurdle was the shame I felt from being a fat man running. In the beginning, I only ran on a treadmill because I was too ashamed to run outside. I thought I looked like an oaf or an ogre. As I got to know the regular patrons of the gym, they complimented me on my consistency in training and the changes in my appearance. That’s when I realized that the only person who felt any shame about my appearance was me.”
The ketogenic diet forces your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. Don’t let that scare you. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state. Ketones are produced when you eat minimal amounts of carbohydrates and moderate amounts of protein. When your body doesn’t have carbohydrates to burn for energy, it burns fat. Simply put, on a keto diet, you are changing your body into a fat burning machine!
Takeaway: It’s possible to be vegan and do nutritional ketosis but you will need to do some research, planning/calculating, and self-experimentation to make sure you are meeting all of your requirements. You may also want to include a multivitamin containing vitamin B12 and a vegetarian omega-3 supplement (such as flaxseed oil or algal DHA such as ‘Neuromins’) to ensure you are meeting all of your nutrient needs!
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I’ve also heard some of my vegan friends say that they’re going to give a keto lifestyle a try to help them lose weight. Personally, Travis and I don’t follow a vegan keto diet, we just live a very simple and easy vegan lifestyle and eat whatever we want (within reason). However, I wanted to put together a list of vegan keto recipes to help anyone thinking about trying a keto diet this year.
While it hasn’t been formally studied, “it is generally observed that, if you are keto-adapted,” says D’Agostino, “it is easy to fast for prolonged periods of time. This has practical benefits for occupations where stopping to eat would be an inconvenience—such as for military personnel—and jobs where you do not want to lose the flow of productivity.” If you do get hungry during a fast, D’Agostino recommends taking a supplement that provides ketones (known as exogenous ketones), which will help sustain ketosis and energy. “I typically take a ketone supplement late afternoon and follow up with a whole-food meal in the evening,” he says.
Preliminary studies have also linked the keto diet to certain diseases, including diabetes. A study published in September 2016 in the Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorders, for instance, found the presence of ketones in the blood can lower HbA1c levels, potentially by way of ketone bodies decreasing glucose metabolism, and benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
There are other side effects as well when your body is first adjusting, like difficulty focusing, flu-like symptoms (keto flu), drowsiness, frequent urination, constipation, diarrhea, and reduced strength and physical performance. Most of these symptoms occur mainly in the first few days, while others can come and go depending upon how many electrolytes you are getting and your macronutrient intake.
There are plenty of plant-based fat sources but in order to meet your protein needs you will need to incorporate high protein, vegan friendly foods such as nuts and seeds, tempeh, tofu, and vegan protein powder. Food companies such as Beyond Meat are now providing alternative meat products that are a great source of protein while still relatively low in carb. Unlike meat, some of these vegetable based proteins do not contain complete proteins but if you are good about eating a variety of plant-based foods you can meet all of your essential amino acids needs.
And speaking of working out, if you’re a gym rat or avid runner, prepare for your workouts to suck for a while until your body fully adapts to the diet. If you’re cutting out carbs for the first time, your body will need two weeks or more (and sometimes months) to fully support the demands of exercise with ketones. And if you’ve been relying on animal products, you may find it difficult to recover without the full array of amino acids that every serving of animal protein provides. You’ve chosen a hard road to travel, nutritionally, but don’t lose heart. Time and persistence will force your body to accommodate just about any regimen you subject it to, and there are plenty of people whose performance has thrived on unconventional diets.
Anybody here who doesn’t love mac and cheese? We thought so! This creamy, cheesy pasta radiates a deep sun yellow as a result of the turmeric, mustard, and cheddar cheese. It looks startlingly similar to the boxed variety you’ll feel like you’re really naughty when, actually, you’re enjoying a bright and warm keto dinner. The recipe is pretty straightforward, and you can put the cheese sauce together while the cauliflower is cooking.
How it works: Intermittent fasting requires you to eat within a certain window of time and fast during the rest. There are several different methods for intermittent fasting, some of which are more restrictive than others. The 16:8 method, for example, requires you to eat within an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours. You would only eat two meals a day, for example, your first meal starting at noon and your last around 8 p.m.
A fast includes any period of time in which you consume 0 calories. This includes drinks, snacks, and all of that. In addition to water, coffee and tea are extremely common drinks that you can rely on during a fast. The two drinks’ caffeine works as an appetite suppressant while allowing consumption of some type during the fast. The key with drinking during a fast is to not include any milk, cream, or sugar (unless it’s one of the keto-friendly sugar alternatives and is calorie-free).
Fat is important on the keto diet, but especially so if you are vegan or vegetarian. “Aim to get 75 percent or more of your calories from plant-based fats like coconut oil, coconut cream/butter, MCT oil, olive oil, avocado, and—in lesser amounts—nuts and seeds,” says Dr. Axe. “Keep nut and seed consumption to about 1/4 cup per day (or two tablespoons of nut butter), since these do provide some carbs and can also be hard to digest in large amounts.” To help with absorption of minerals, he recommends soaking or sprouting nuts first.
What about diet soda or sugar free energy drinks? Well, considering these drinks use non-sugar sweeteners, they shouldn’t, in theory, knock you out of ketosis. Always check the nutrition label to make sure you’re not accidentally taking in some sugar. In addition to this, some experts predict that these sweeteners may increase your cravings for other sweets. Technically, though, these drinks should be fine for keto consumption. Let the buyer beware.
“I love how our bodies are designed to respond to exercise. If I am willing to be consistent and work hard, I’ve learned my body can accomplish amazing things. I enjoy hard work and running as fast as I can, for as far as I can, in the most efficient way possible. Because I haven’t always enjoyed good health, I really appreciate being able to run and exercise. Each day I am able to run and be active fills me with gratitude because I personally understand how so many others aren’t as blessed.”
In addition to a plant-based keto diet being limited in nature, Dr. Axe explains that there’s also a high probability that someone on this diet would struggle to consume enough calories and essential fat-soluble vitamins. This could potentially lead to certain nutrient deficiencies and side effects, like fatigue, as a result. “If you’re at all open to the idea, I would highly recommend that you consider a vegetarian keto diet instead of a vegan keto diet. Include at least some animal products in your diet, such as pastured eggs or fermented cheeses or, even better, wild-caught fish like salmon,” he says. “These goods are great sources of protein, fat, choline and fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A and K) that are very difficult to get from plant foods alone.”
One of the coolest things that intermittent fasting does is trigger a phenomenon in your body called autophagy. Autophagy is a process in which your body recycles and consumes its own cells and proteins in a healthy manner. Often it means that damaged cells are turned into energy for your body, which is the equivalent of cleaning out the depths of your kitchen cupboards. For more on this check out this article.
If you're looking to lose weight, fiber really is your secret weapon. High-fiber foods like legumes, nuts, and whole-grain products help to keep you full after a meal. They also stabilize your blood sugar, protecting you from the temptation to crash-snack. Erika Kaufman, R.D, a registered dietitian at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, advises eating 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, aiming for 3 grams in each bread serving and at least 5 grams of fiber in your cereal.
That said, a recurring mistake among vegetarians who go keto is incorporating too many vegetable-based carbohydrates, without even realizing. You’ve got to be quite vigilant of all your carb and protein sources following a vegetarian keto diet meal plan, as most vegetarians tend to source their protein from foods like legumes and grains, which aren’t supported on the vegetarian keto diet. If you’re following a diet that’s strictly plant-based, then you’ll have to be even more mindful.