Author: Jordan Vezina
Jordan is the founder and co-owner of Average To Elite Performance in Palo Alto, California. A former Marine and bodyguard Jordan is now a Z-Health Master Trainer and kettlebell specialist who spends his spare time writing novels and watching his dog sleep.
I started working with the ketogenic diet in April of 2019. This was after a long history of studying nutrition and trying all sorts of different approaches. Why did I become interested in the ketogenic diet? Specifically i was drawn to it because of the body of research indicating that it may help with rehabilitating PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, two conditions I had been suffering from for years.
SPOILER ALERT: It worked. After my first couple of months on the ketogenic diet my heart rate and blood pressure stabilized for the first time in years and by four months in I was down twenty pounds.
I think we can all agree that those are some pretty remarkable improvements. Prior to keto my resting heart rate was in the high 80s and my blood pressure was all over the place. These two signs of autonomic dysfunction are common presentations in TBI/ PTSD. I had also seen some significant changes prior to this by doing a lot of breathing work, but it seemed that this dietary alteration made the changes stick.
Despite this,I do not think that the ketogenic diet is right for everyone. As we start to go through these five common mistakes you’ll see why.
- Not knowing the science/ history: I’ve worked with a lot of people who failed on the Ketogenic Diet. Why? They weren’t taking it seriously enough. The Ketogenic Diet was developed at the Mayo Clinic in the 1920s as a therapy to treat children with epilepsy, and it worked remarkably well. Additional research on the neural rehab effects of this diet have shown improvements in other conditions to include schizophrenia. However, it is important to understand that you are changing your bio-chemistry, so it should be approached with the same seriousness you would apply to any therapy.
- Your training will change: You will not have glycogen (fast fuel) to tap into, so things like Crossfit, Orange Theory etc. are off the table. Keto favors long slow distance work that uses fat as its fuel (aerobic) such as running, cycling, rowing etc. ideally staying in a range of 60-70% max heart rate. You can use a Targeted Ketogenic Diet if you still want to do more intense work, but we’ll get into that another time.
- You need to track your food: This is often a challenging one, but if you want to get the most out of this diet you can’t really “wing it”. It is crucial that you use a tool like Myfitnesspal.com to track your intake. That way if things aren’t going in the right direction you can review that data and find out why.
- You need to test: It’s important to know if you are actually in ketosis. You’ll hear people talk about urine strips but those aren’t really reliable. Ideally you would do blood work but most people won’t want to do that. A comfortable middle ground is the breath meter. A value over .5 will mean you are in ketosis but ideally you want to live between 1.5 and 3.
- Hydrate with electrolytes: This is a BIG deal. In my experience the keto flu can be mostly avoided if you amp up your water intake and use electrolytes. I use this mix from lyte show as it has no weird flavorings and is super easy to use.
Hopefully that was all pretty clear cut and you feel like it can help you navigate the often confusing waters of the ketogenic diet. If you want to go even more in-depth you can sign up below to download our Ketogenic DIet Quick-Start Guide!
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