Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet, by Dr. Eric Westman and Jimmy Moore

I’m not your mom. I’m not a doctor. I’m just somebody who went to the doctor and found I was back at my peak weight and it made me mad. I’d been working out and dieting without “too much” cheating. I’m built like just about everyone in my grandmother’s family and at an age where I don’t burn off calories just by watching TV like I did in my 20s.

I made an appointment with a trainer to talk about diet and showed him a food diary. He pointed out some problems and offered two suggestions, either Paleo or Ketogenic. I knew a little bit about Paleo but the little I knew about Keto was mostly a remnant of Atkins, which worked for me in my 40s. Because Amazon can read all your cookies this book popped up on my “you might be interested in” list and I picked up a copy. I began applying some of the principals and, once I was brave enough to face the scales again, had lost 10 pounds since the doctor appointment and lost another 5 on a weigh-in a week later. Whether this will continue is anyone’s guess but this was a convincing book in several ways.

While it carries a doctor’s imprimatur most of the writing is done by Jimmy Moore, who has a podcast with several hundred episodes all about Ketogenics.

The concept actually surprised me. Unlike “protein” diets (which still require quite a bit of greens if you do them right) this diet really turns the nutritional pyramid upside down. It’s generally designed so that 75% of calories come from fats. And we’re not talking those sissy omega-3 fats either. Saturated fats are king. Coconut oil, something I hadn’t heard of called MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides), butter. Most of this reads like a cardiologist’s nightmare, especially when you hear Moore talk about “fat bombs” to increase ketosis, such as a slice of cheddar cheese wrapped around butter. Another 20% of calories from proteins. You could do this diet fairly easy as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I think you’d struggle as a vegan. The remaining 5% comes from carbohydrates, normally 50 grams or less per day.

If you check the diet on Wikipedia (which medical students often use for study, I’ve learned) you find that the diet was first developed in the 1920s to help children with epilepsy, and that it worked fairly well. The basic idea is that carbohydrates are used by the body to create glucose which causes insulin levels to jump all over and is stored as fat when the body has more than it needs. When the body is robbed of carbohydrates, like our ancestors experienced every winter, the liver transforms fats into ketones, which are used efficiently by the brain and other organs and are a good source of energy. Ask an Inuit, living winters on whale and seal blubber while rarely experiencing heart disease or cancer. Your liver is as happy to drain your own fat stores as it is to use whatever you ate recently. Since the chubby side of my family all hailed from either Sweden or Norway I figure that I’m genetically pre-primed for the diet of someone who doesn’t see green or sunshine for half the year or more. Add the exercise instincts of a compulsive reader and it’s a wonder I could pass through my own front door before now.

Jimmy Moore offers his own experience as someone who had reached 400 pounds when he began using the plan. He also has the passion of a convert, which many diets like this seem to engender. I was at a church lenten soup dinner next to a lady in her 80s tonight. She’s diabetic and says her granddaughter nags her endlessly about Ketogenics. I don’t normally tell people what I eat, other than avoiding starches and sweets, because I don’t want to come across as a fanatic. According to Moore this eating plan can prevent Alzheimer’s, cancer, general inflammation, depression, and a dozen other ailments that seem to have become more common. Some contentions made sense to me, others seemed to need a little more science.

I can say now that eating the plan seems strange and, sometimes, messily greasy. I’ve picked up a few recipe books as well. I’ll review those and keep updates going of my progress as I go along.