Make healthy choices. Listen to your body. Talk to your doctor.
Where to Begin
Q: I’ve been reading a lot on the web about low carb eating and honestly, I’m confused. Where do I start?
A: It is a struggle to find a reliable source for low carb and ketogenic information when you don’t know where to look or what to ask for. That’s why we created our eBook, 7 Steps to Prepare for a Low Carb Lifestyle, with extensive references so you’ll know where to look for more information. To receive our free eBook, sign up for the newsletter. After that, you will receive an email with a link to the eBook.
Also check out our blogs on mj-theketocoach.com. The blogs range in topics from “Net Carb Fallacy,” “One-word New Year’s Resolution,” to “What is Keto?”. In addition to the eBook, our newsletter contains relevant research, newsworthy low carb articles and a low carb recipe.
A few other sites and groups with credible information are:
- Diet Doctor which contains highly researched information vetted by medical doctors
- LowCarbUSA® maintains a library of all the research to date
- Nutrition Network’s online newsletter also contains the science behind low carb eating.
Read through our information and assemble your questions. When you are ready, reach out to us through our Contact Us form and we will take it from there.
Q: How does MJ the Keto Coach’s program differ from other weight loss programs I’ve tried?
A: Some of the most popular programs are Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig. and Nutrisystems. Each of these is based on the Standard American Diet which is 50% carbohydrates, 20 % protein, and 30% fat. They are “diets” which means once you’ve hit your goal, you need to figure out what is next. Only 11% of those on Weight Watchers are successful in keeping the weight off. Eighty-nine percent of us fail. The low carb high fat or keto lifestyle teaches us how to live for the rest of our lives. Unlike other programs, you do you own grocery shopping. It consists of only 5-15% carbohydrates, 20-25% protein and 60-75% fat. Once your goals are met you move into maintenance, still adhering to a low carb life. All along your body is healing from the inflammation caused by carbohydrates. Resuming eating as you had will only get you back to where you were and cause increasingly more inflammation and injury to your tissues. The low carb life is so gentle on our bodies and gives our cells exactly the nutrition they crave. Your body will reward you with increased energy and feeling good.
Q: Many popular weight loss programs use the same approach for everyone. That doesn’t work for me. How customizable are the MJ the Keto Coach programs?
- 1:1 coaching experience
- Develop a program with you that is based on how you live and how you learn
- Based on your health history, look for deficiencies in essential minerals and look for interactions between medications and the supplements you take.
- Review food allergies and dislikes and remove these from your program
- Personalize your macros based on your biometrics.
- Teach you how your body works
- Teach you how to build your own wellness plan using healthy eating and fasting; natural moving and playing; relaxation and sleep; and positive emotions.
Q: What information is in your eBook, 7 Steps to Prepare for a Low Carb Lifestyle?
A: What a great question! It contains the information you need to start thinking about a low carb life. After all, unlike other commercial diet programs, low carb or keto are not a diet. They are for life. This is from the book’s introduction:
- Step 1 is an emersion into your “why am I interested in this diet?” Take your time with this step and go back if you need to.
- Step 2 is your chance to evaluate how your current diet looks. Are you already eating a low carbohydrate diet or are you closer to the Standard American Diet?
- In Step 3, you’ll learn how to read a United States Nutrition Facts Label. After all, we need to understand what products our bodies are using for fuel. Even if you are already comfortable reading Nutrition Facts Labels there may be something here that is new for you.
- Step 4, the Planning step, gives you information about the best way to start. Will you ease in or jump in? There is lots of information in this step to help you decide.
- Step 5 introduces Time-Restricted Eating as a strategy for healing. You may have heard people who live keto talk about intermittent fasting. However, if you dive into the term “intermittent fasting,” it is not fasting at all, but a form of time-restricted eating. This step will explain more about time-restricted eating so that you can decide if this strategy will work for you.
- Step 6 walks you through how to Clean Your Pantry. It’s an eye-opening experience to clean the pantry, even if keto is not for you now. It’s a most rewarding activity.
- Step 7 is about finding support. This step is just as important as your “Why.” It’s essential to have someone who can support you and keep you committed as your body heals, your shape changes and even when your weight stalls. We advocate hiring a keto coach, someone who understands the science of keto and behavior change.
If you’d like a copy of the eBook, it’s free. Just sign up for our newsletter, and you’ll be able to download it.
Q: I’ve read on social media that keto is a fad diet. What do you think?
A: A fad diet is one that is not researched or well-researched that claims to produce quick weight loss in a short period of time. These generally limit food and calories to just a few items like the hot dog diet, cabbage soup diet or the egg fast. They are nutritionally void of the nutrients our bodies crave for healthy living and the diets are, generally, not sustainable. Diets are temporary with the person stopping shortly after they started and resuming how they ate prior to starting the diet. Most often the weight comes back and then some.
The low carb lifestyle is a safe approach to maintaining a healthy life that reduces inflammation in the body. Many people report how good they feel after one week of reducing the carbs. Their pain is starting to lessen, and they state they have more energy. There is a growing body of research that supports this lifestyle and its sustainability. With mounting evidence, the low carb lifestyle is becoming the standard for people living with chronic conditions. Many practitioners recommend a low carb lifestyle for their patients with metabolic challenges such as Insulin Resistance, Pre-diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes. Guidelines and Deprescribing Protocols have been developed for doctors by doctors to help guide them heal their patient’s metabolism.
Q: What does a health coach do?
A: Health coaches guide people who desire change to achieve amazing relationships in the areas that matter most. An example of an important area might be health. A health coach is trained in research-based techniques that support behavior change. As you embrace change, you will find that the support of a health coach is invaluable especially when making change is hard. We invite you to schedule a free health coaching session with MJ to see if it’s right for you. Read more in our blog, Why Choose a Health Coach to Make Change or take a look at this short video, Why Do You Need a Keto Coach?
Q: What is the best part about keto?
A: Once you understand how your body works and what you can eat, it becomes second nature. Of all the diets we’ve been on, we have lived on Keto the longest. No hunger. Feel full and no need to snack either. It’s been 18 months now and we feel the healthiest ever.
Q: What is the best advice for someone interested in keto?
A: Hire a keto health coach. Someone who provides the support you need, can answer your questions about a low carb and keto life, someone who knows what happens to your body when you switch from sugar burning to fat burning and someone who can keep you going when you get stuck.
Q: I am not interested in cooking at all and wondered if there was a way to follow a low carb high fat diet while eating out?
A: Yes, you can do keto if you are not into cooking. There are some simple guidelines to use while you are eating out. You do not have to give this up if it is something you enjoy. Secondly, there are many options for creating beautiful, colorful, bountiful, no-cook meals at home. For example, a chacuterie plate or a cobb salad, if you’re fine with minimal cooking like boiling eggs — but even these one can get these from the store already boiled and peeled. Thirdly, there are at least 10 low carb frozen meal delivery services across the country. This option would take some leg work and analysis to get a program with the types of things you are looking for. So, make your list of requirements and see what you can find on the internet before calling. Finally, incorporate time-restricted eating into your day. This might look like skipping breakfast and waiting till lunch. This means one less meal you need to plan for. When our bodies do not have to constantly digest and metabolize food, they do a lot of cellular clean-up and rebuilding. Keeping your body’s circadian rhythm humming adds a lot to longevity.
Q: Is a low carb diet sustainable?
A: Yes, a low carbohydrate and ketogenic lifestyle are sustainable. In addition to anecdotal reports from our patients who have embraced this way of living, these research studies describe how people have been living a low carbohydrate life for several years.
- A Low-Carbohydrate Survey: Evidence for Sustainable Metabolic Syndrome Reversal
- Effectiveness and Safety of a Novel Care Model for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes at 1 year: An Open-Label, Non-Randomized, Controlled Study
- Long-Term Effects of a Novel Continuous Remote Care Intervention Including Nutritional Ketosis for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-Year Non-Randomized Clinical Trial
A: Yes…That is the opinion of many doctors in support of the LowCarbUSA®’s Clinical Guidelines and the Nutrition Network as well as many other physicians around the world. What we hear about people with T2D is that many of their symptoms lessen or completely disappear and, in some cases, reduce or eliminate the need for medications which can be a significant cost savings. We invite you to review the research on sustainability above as well as the following if you would like to know more.
- Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base
- Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on glycemic control in outpatients with severe type 2 diabetes
- Nutrition Revolution—The End of the High Carbohydrates Era for Diabetes Prevention and Management
Q: What do the people who succeed have in common when it comes to living low carb life?
A: This is a great question. The two most important themes we see in successful people are a) having a plan and b) also having support and accountability in place. When someone has a plan, they know exactly where they want to go and how they will get there. Instead of jumping right in and making a wrong turn, they have mapped out the journey with their keto coach and created an action blueprint. Secondly, successful people are greatly supported by their coach. Questions, side steps, and frustrating emotions are all managed with the help of their coach. By working with a coach, our clients also learn how to tackle tough situations, manage emotions, and how to manage being social while choosing low carb foods.
Counting Calories and Carbohydrates
Q: Looking to go low carb. Should I be counting total carbs or net carbs?
A: To answer this question, we need to back track a little. Anything with a food label on it is a processed food. The low carb and ketogenic lifestyles are about eating whole foods like a steak or cauliflower or minimally processed foods like cheese and roasted almonds. Rarely will we see a food label on foods eaten on a low carb or keto lifestyle. Manufactures developed “net carbs” as a way to market their products as well as their special calculation for deriving net carbs. Honestly, our body does not recognize net carbs. So if you are seeing a food label on a product with a lot of ingredients that are hard to pronounce with several names of sugar in the ingredient list, and a net carb value on the front of the package, return it to its place on the shelf and walk away. Read more about the fallacy of net carbs on our blog.
Q: For every diet I’ve been on, counting calories was important. How important are calories on a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle?
A: Calories are only important when we are talking about quality calories from whole foods. On a low carb and ketogenic lifestyle, it is about getting the right amount of quality proteins and fats from foods as close to the source as possible. Forget the calories and focus on the quality of your food.
Q: I have been on so many diets that I cannot count one more calorie. Is there a low carb approach that will work for me?
A: Yes! One of our programs allows you to select foods from a low carb food list. There is no counting. Just eat until you are full.
Q: I heard its expensive to be on a low carb diet.
A: I suppose part of the answer to this question is about what expensive means. There are ways to live on a low carb and ketogenic diet while on a budget. Step 6 in our eBook is about Cleaning Your Pantry. In this chapter, you will find a section on sustainability with lists of inexpensive protein and fat options. Sign-up for our newsletter and grab the eBook.
Q: I’ve been in other weight loss programs that required I buy their foods. Do I have to buy special foods on a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet?
A: No…there are no special foods. You’ll want to purchase whole foods as close to the source as possible. If you see a product labeled “Keto” or “X net carbs,” it is NOT KETO. These are manufactured products and not part of a low carb or keto life. They are expensive and will likely stall your efforts to feel better. If there is something you are missing, talk to your keto coach about alternatives.
Q: I get bored with eating the same food over and over. I’m concerned I’ll get bored with this too. What kind of food will I be able to eat?
A: There are lots of low carb and ketogenic foods to choose from which provide variety. Our programs include recipes, shopping lists, a meal plan and a list of pantry items. Also consider preparing food differently. For example, broccoli can be eaten fresh, steamed, microwaved, boiled, roasted, sautéed, or grilled.
Q: Does the brain need sugar to run?
A: Yes. Parts of it do. The brain needs glucose for rapid firing cells, because of the faster burn. However, two-thirds of the energy needed by the brain can come from ketones. We do not need to eat carbs to make the glucose needed by the brain. The brain is happy with the glucose our bodies make. For more information, read Dr. Georgia Ede’s blog, How sugar may damage the brain.
Q: My dietician says I need to eat carbohydrates to nourish my brain and muscles. How can a low carbohydrate diet be good?
A: Our bodies only need 4 grams of glucose circulating at any given moment. This is a little less than a teaspoon. In a fat-adapted body, ketones are the primary fuel source, and this is what has helped us survive as a species. It’s also a fact that the human body needs essential fats and proteins. There is no essential carbohydrate. None.
Q: What kind of snacks can I eat?
A: Satiety is one of the signs that you are eating the proper amounts of proteins and fats. When we eat enough fat, we feel full and satisfied and find there is no need to snack.
Q: I’ve grown up with people telling me I need to eat a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, some protein, and little fat. The keto lifestyle has no whole grains or fruit. How can that be balanced?
A: The low carb and keto lifestyles fly in the face of everything we’ve been taught about “healthy” eating. When eating low carb, a balanced diet is still important, but not in the context we were originally taught. Originally, the food pyramid was developed in 1977 by politicians in support of agriculture and a politician experimenting with a vegetarian diet. There is absolutely no science behind the pyramid at all. There is, however, science behind the low carb lifestyle with the focus on macronutrients and micronutrients the body does not make. Balanced, in this context, means getting the right percentage of healthy proteins and fats and essential micronutrients such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, and chloride so that we feel in optimal health. As long as we have the right mix, everything in our body works together from digestion to metabolism.
Q: How do I make sure I’m get enough fiber?
A: On a low carb diet you do not need fiber to keep the “trains” running. Instead focus on getting enough protein, fat and micronutrients such as magnesium. As Paul Mason, MD puts it, would you add more cars to a traffic jam? So why add more bulk to a sluggish colon? We carefully monitor how you are doing on our programs. If the trains” have slowed or stopped, we have many things you can try without resorting to fiber. If you are taking fiber for medical reasons, continue doing what you have been doing and account for the total carbs in your daily count.
Q: Are cheat days OK?
A: There are “no cheat” days in Keto. Cheat days are never the reward we think they should be because they encourage overeating of high carb foods and leave us regretting that we cheated at all. They send our efforts back 3-7 days. In addition to cycling us back through the “keto flu,” cheat days cause blood vessel damage and insulin spikes. A recent 2019 study from the University of British Columbia found blood vessel wall damage from the spike in blood sugar from one cheat day. And finally, for those with a carb addiction, the smallest amount of processed foods or sugar can lead them to overeat and make it difficult to recover.
Q: What is a carb up day?
A: There are no physiological processes or activities that require the addition of carbs. None. A Carb Up day refers to a day where one anticipates doing activities or is experiencing hormonal changes that require more carbohydrates.
- We do not need carbs to make serotonin, the hormone our body uses for mood and sleep. Our bodies produce serotonin in the brain and the gut.
- We do not need carbs for energy. Only those athletes that are participating in endurance and record-breaking events need some additional carbs and medium chain triglycerides per hour.
- Carbs generally cause hormone issues and cholesterol governs the production of hormones not carbs.
- Our gut bacteria do not require carbs except for a very, small amount of prebiotic to feed on. They change every 24 hours regardless of diet.
- Animal proteins are some of the richest sources of vitamins, so we do not need carbohydrate rich fruits and vegetables to provide vitamins.
Q: Where am I getting my vitamins from if I am not eating fruits and vegetables?
A: This is a very, common question and relates to the jargon we were taught about a balanced diet. Three things to keep in mind. There are many vitamins in protein and naturally occurring animal fats such as the fat-soluble vitamins of A, E and K. Meat also contains water-soluble vitamins B and C. Animal organ meats are especially rich in micronutrients and vitamins. On a low carb diet, we actually need less vitamin C than when we are eating carbs. On a low carb diet, our bodies use glutathione to make Vitamin C. Glutathione is made in the body from three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. We get these amino acids from the protein we eat. Glutathione is also available in some non-starchy vegetables such as avocados, asparagus, and spinach. Vegetables provide us with a variety of different textures and colors. Be assured that many non-starchy vegetables can be eaten on a low carb diet. If you are concerned that the amount of vitamins in your diet is lacking, take a daily multiple vitamin with some fatty food.
Information and education provided by MJ the Keto Coach are not intended as medical advice as it is based on her personal experiences and preferences. The information and education contained herein does not replace your relationship with or medical advice from your doctor or nurse. MJ the Keto Coach recommends you talk to your doctor or nurse before making any lifestyle or diet changes.
Furthermore, the information these frequently asked questions should not be used to diagnose or treat any illness, medical condition, or health problem. If you develop a medical condition, please see your doctor or nurse. It is your choice and at your own risk to use the information included in this guide. MJ the Keto Coach encourages health care decisions in partnership with your doctor or nurse. Direct all medical question to your doctor or nurse.
MJ the Keto Coach shall be held harmless of all liability of any kind from any act of omission and misinterpretation wholly or in part on anything contained in the information and educational material herein and in any format provided by MJ the Keto Coach.