Keto Diet Update

I have 4 months in the books now with my Ketogenic food plan and I’m still progressing towards my goal to be able to see my abdominal muscles.  At this point, I’ve hit a high weight loss of 17 pounds on this food plan.                                     I don’t like to use the word diet all the time, because this new way of eating has become a long-term proposition for me.

I don’t see any reason why I would stop this plan because I continue to show progress.  My weight has leveled off, but that is most likely due to a switch in my exercise plan and an increase of approximately 200 additional calories.  Basically, I decided to start engaging in weight training again.  After losing a lot of body weight (mostly fat, but definitely still some lean mass) I started to feel a bit sloppy and even a little weak.  I started up with Beachbody’s Body Beast workout plan with the intentions of adding some muscle back, all while maintaining and even working on my progress of fat loss.

I’m currently alternating Body Beast weight workouts with a cardio-style workout, every other day. On the weight workout days I strive to keep my calories higher, then back down about 100 or so when I do cardio workouts.  I’ve been doing this plan for about 3 weeks now and I’ve been able to maintain my weight and continue to get leaner.  My muscles feel tight and my strength is good, so it all seems to be working well so far.

I’m still in the low 12% body fat range, but continue to progress to my goal of 10%.  I feel really good on the Keto food plan and I highly recommend it.  It’s not for everyone, but it is very effective for fat loss and much more health benefits long-term.

Would you like to learn more about this food plan, or even about my journey?  If so, contact me via this site or my Facebook page at Forever Be Healthy and I’ll be happy to share more about what I’ve learned so far.

 

 

My List Of Keto Diet Must Haves

There is no doubt in my mind that the ketogenic diet works and is very effective for body fat loss.  I know because I’ve made some good progress myself with this food plan.  At about the 11 week mark, I’ve lost 12 pounds and 3% body fat.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a goal to lose enough body fat to actually see my abdominal muscles.  I can honestly say I’ve never been able to get there no matter what I’ve tried;  different types of workouts, eating less, switching up my macronutrients, I always ended up back at the same place.   I’ve tracked my body weight and body fat percentage for at least 7 years.  During that time, I only came close to 13% body fat one time.  Now after 11 weeks on this diet, along with some recently added cardio work with Beach Body’s Core de Force workout plan, I’m closing in on 12% body fat.  I anticipate I will need to get close to 10% to really see sharp definition in my ab muscles, so I still have a ways to go.

So, up to this point in my journey I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned that might be helpful in your venture with a ketogenic diet.   Here are some of my recommendations to stay on-course with this food plan:

  1. Learn as much as you can about the diet.  Get educated and research everything you can by reading books or doing internet searches for ketogenic information. One of the best books I’ve read was Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore.  It’s a really good read and you can learn really all you need to know about this diet with this one book.
  2. Understand how to control your macronutrients.  You absolutely need to know what your percentages of fat, protein and carbohydrates are every day.
  3. Track your food intake and macronutrients.  I use MyFitnessPal on my Android phone.  It’s really easy to use and it only takes me a couple minutes each day to put all my meals into the tracker.  There are lots of good apps/tracking tools out there, but this one works great for me.
  4. Get a food scale so you can measure your portions.  Do not guess at this because you will likely be wrong with your quantities of each type of macro you are taking in.  Even 200 calories off one way or another will alter your weight loss goals.
  5. Keep measurement tools handy.  Along with the food scale, I keep a 1/4  measuring cup, and both 1/2 and 1 tablespoon measurement spoons right on the kitchen counter so they are ready to use for all my meals.
  6. Get coconut oil and/or MCT oil to use for some good fats.  Either are really easy to add to coffee in the morning or use in cooking a lot of your favorite foods.  When I first stated with the diet I had a hard time trying to understand how to add good fats.  These two things are a staple for my daily intake now.
  7. Have the right foods available and easily accessible at all times to make it as easy as possible to stay on-course.  Focus your shopping cart on foods you will need for each day.  Read the labels on everything!  Stay focused on no/very low carbohydrate foods.  Instead of really lean protein sources like chicken or turkey, use more pork or beef instead.  If you can tolerate dairy well, use full fat dairy products like cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese and heavy whipping cream.
  8. Will power.  You must be disciplined and stay with the plan.  If you do, you will reap the rewards of this diet and you will feel so much better all around.  No more bloating and gassy stomach, less joint aches, more focus, less food cravings and better energy.  There are many more documented benefits with long-term health and wellness, read all about them in Jimmy Moore’s Keto Clarity book.

I hope this list helps.  I know people that have “tried” this food plan and claim it didn’t work for them.  If you do this right, it will work and it will reduce your body fat.  It just takes patience, will power and a good overall knowledge of how it all works.  Once you’ve got these things down, it’s really not hard to maintain.   Good luck!

 

No Time For Exercise?

It’s interesting, I tend to hear the excuse “I don’t have time to exercise” a lot.   I realize we all have busy schedules, but this excuse doesn’t sit too well with me.  When I really start looking into people’s schedules and asking questions, I really can’t find any reason why someone couldn’t spare an hour, half-hour, or even just 15 minutes of time for their health and well-being.   Instead, some would rather choose to watch TV or surf the internet with their spare time.

I guess it all comes down to making the choice to want better health.  It’s not always easy making this choice, especially after a long day at work or running the kids around to school, sports or whatever else they’re involved in.

I know how hard it is to try and get motivated after a long day at work.  I work 10-hour days, with an hour drive each way, going to and coming back home each way.  This makes up for a 12 hour work day for me, and the long drive in rush hour traffic just wipes me out coming home each day.  I can’t find the energy to work out before I get ready for work at 4:30 am, so the only option I have is to make time when I get home sometime after 6pm.  It normally takes me at least 30 minutes to get in the door, get changed and try to get myself energized enough to start a workout.    I try and start my workout by 7pm and have it done by 8pm so I can cool down, eat dinner, and get ready for bed by 9pm.   Then I start the whole process over again the next day, until I hit the weekend.

It’s not always easy, but it’s a choice I make for myself and my fitness goals.  It takes hard work and dedication, but there’s nothing more gratifying than success with your goals, especially when it comes to your health.

Just remember, all that working out won’t do you much good if you aren’t eating towards your goals either.  Whether you want to loose weight, gain muscle, or whatever your goals are, your eating is the most important part of the equation.  The Ketogenic (keto) diet is my current choice for weight (fat) loss.  Now that I have the food plan in place the exercise has definitely complemented my goal for fat loss.  There are so many different options out there, but for me the keto has been the only plan that has targeting hard-to-loose body fat.

It’s all about making the choice to eat better, then adding exercise to complement what you are doing with your food plan.  Set your goals for both and stick to it.   Make the choice for you and your well-being long term, you’re worth it!

 

 

Great Workout With Core De Force

I’m now a big fan of Beachbody’s Core De Force workout! 

This is an awesome workout plan.  It’s easy to follow…. just pick the workout, hit play and follow along with the instructors.  The workouts are fast paced and challenging, but still easy enough to follow along with. It’s basically just plug-n-play and the workouts aren’t too long, that’s one thing I really like about them.

It’s amazing how sore my body was from kicking, punching and doing other MMA style moves.  That’s the best part of the workout, doing these types of exercises that work muscles we don’t use regularly.

Give this exercise plan a try, it’s an awesome cardio workout and I guarantee you’ll see results.  You can pick up the DVD set HERE, or even better, sign up for BeachBody on demand HERE and get unlimited workouts from every workout plan they have!   What a sweet deal that is!

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Michael Hartley

A Day In My Keto Diet

I admit eating a keto-style diet takes a little practice to master.  For me, the best chance for success at this diet was to make it as easy and convenient as possible.  After a couple weeks of experimentation I was able to get a decent plan of action.

I wanted to share an example of my daily meals to give you an idea of what has been working for me.  Keep in mind I’m not a cook by any stretch of the imagination, so if you really like to cook and prepare meals, this diet has endless possibilities.  I also purchased a really good keto cookbook on Amazon.com for some great meal ideas to keep the possibilities open when I decide to try new recipes.

As I mentioned, I like to keep things as simple and easy as possible, all while staying in my target caloric and micronutrient ranges.  Once you get in a rhythm of tracking these foods and portion sizes, it gets a lot easier to put together your meals daily.

We do most of our cooking on Sunday’s so we will be prepared for the entire week.  I also really like to use “grab-n-go” style foods to keep things really easy and quick.   I work 10 hour days and have an hour drive on each end, so I need to prepare for a 12 hour day away from the house.  Here is one example of what I eat on any given work day with a 1700 calorie target range and macronutrient percentages of: 70% fat (minimum), 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates.:

Breakfast:

  • two whole eggs, cooked in 1 tablespoon of Kerrygold butter
  • two pieces of thick-cut bacon
  • 1/2 cup of Jimmy Dean ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (any variety)
  • coffee (usually 2 to 3 cups…I need it at 4:30 in the morning!) with a teaspoon of coconut oil in each cup.
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream split between the 2 to 3 cups of coffee.

Lunch:

  • 4oz of pork shoulder roast
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (any variety)
  • 1 tablespoon of MCT oil over the meat

Snack:

  • 10 slices of Genoa Salami deli sliced (small round-thick sliced) Private Selection, Kroger brand.
  • 1 slice of American cheese

Dinner:

  • large serving of salad
  • two tablespoons of Italian-style dressing (high in fat, < one gram carbs)

 

I track each food item with MyFitnessPal app, so I know the total calories and macronutrient breakdown for the whole day.  I also weigh my food so I know exactly how much I’m taking in.   I realize this sounds like a lot of work to do all of this daily, but I found that once these foods are logged into the app, it only takes a couple of minutes to put all of the information in my phone for the entire day.   You can also scan most foods right off the product label with the phone app, this makes it really quick and accurate to track.

The main goal is to keep your carbs low and fats high, with only moderate protein intake.  I always shoot for 70 to 80% fats and try to keep my carbs to less than 20 grams per day.  This seems to work good for me.  You can find a good macro/calorie calculator like the one on ketogains.com and setup your daily routine around these numbers.  After a little practice you will be able to really narrow down your foods to each category and keep things very accurate.  Once you get to that point your body will start to change and ketosis will begin.  Be patient because this process takes time and you need to be disciplined to stay on course.

Read the labels on all foods and drinks, carbs are in just about everything it seems!

 

My Keto Journey

It’s been about six weeks or so into my keto diet and I’m happy to say that I’ve seen some good results so far.  Looking back a couple of months ago, I would have never imagined I would be eating the way I am now.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve eaten a pretty clean diet consisting of moderate to high carbohydrates, very low fat and high protein. The truth is, I never really made much progress eating this way.  I pretty much stayed the same and didn’t get any leaner.  Now that I’ve switched to a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and very high fat diet, I’m actually seeing body fat drop for the first time in years.

It wasn’t an easy switch for me to eat this way, mentally or physically at first.  I really had a hard time eating high quantities of foods like butter, whipping cream,  cheese, bacon, sausage, salami, pepperoni, coconut and MCT oils, etc.  Once I got my mind past the fear of eating this way, I started to really enjoy it and my body started feeling much better.  I noticed no more bloat after eating meals and best of all, absolutely no gas (the wife loves that the most)!  Of course there was a lot of changes that my body went through to make the “switch”.  By the switch I mean, “switching” your body from a sugar burner to become a fat burner.  Once you remove sugar from your diet, your body starts to utilize its fat stores for energy.

Ketosis is a natural state for the body, when it’s almost completely fueled by fat. This is normal during fasting, or when on a very low-carbohydrate diet.  The word keto in ketosis comes from the fact that the body produces small fuel molecules called “ketones”.  This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.  When the body produces ketones primarily for energy it’s said to be in ketosis.

I admit I was very skeptical when I starting this food plan.  The first couple of weeks experimenting with a low carbohydrate diet was frustrating and really confusing to get my head around what I was supposed to eat.  I’ve been pretty good with tracking my food with apps like MyFitnessPal for a long time, so I knew how to track my macro-nutrients (carbs, fats and proteins), but trying to plan it out to line these macros up with the correct percentages of each, then to stay under a target caloric intake was challenging.  After about the third week-in I felt pretty comfortable about what I was doing and I’ve made some decent progress so far; just over eight pounds lost and down 1.5% body fat.   I know for some people these numbers might not blow you away, but for me I haven’t been able to drop a significant amount of weight or body fat in years eating the way I was.

So far here are some of my observations with this eating plan experiment and the state of ketosis:

Pros:

  • Less hungry – the fats keep you much more full all day long so I don’t need to eat nowhere near as much as I used to.
  • No bloating – this is amazing because I was always bloated and gasy after eating my meals
  • My body just feels a lot better and lighter
  • My joints feel better
  • Good energy
  • I enjoy eating the different foods in this plan once I got my head around eating that way
  • Easy to follow once you understand how it works and pay attention to your food/drinks.
  • Finally losing stubborn body fat

Cons:

  • Decent energy, but lack of strength – some of my bigger weight lifting moves (compound movements) have suffered, not all, but some like the bench press and squat have declined.
  • Occasional stomach issues like diarrhea when I’m kicked out of ketosis by eating too many carbs or even too high of protein levels.  This has happened only when I went over too much in one or more of my macros.  I have heard reference to the transition between coming in and out of ketosis as being the “keto flu”.  I’ve had some of these flu like symptoms (diarrhea, headaches, no energy, lethargic, etc.).
  • Definitely have to plan your meals or at least understand what you are eating all the time.  Read the labels on everything you are about to partake to see if there are any carbs in the food or drinks.  Carbs are in tons of food and drinks!
  • Potential to loose muscle unless you take in the appropriate amount of calories, along with the correct macros. There are many good macro/calorie calculators available.  I like the one on Ketogains.com.
  • No Beer!   Ah, this one stinks, but it’s really impossible to have beer unless you have an occasional super low carb beer here and there.  That’s what I do when I have a craving.  I use Michelob Ultra, Bud Light or Miller Light.  You still have to really watch your carb intake though.   Beer will easily ruin your ketosis state. If you need an alcoholic beverage, use vodka, whiskey, rum or tequila.  These have no carbs, just be careful of what you mix with them!

My goal with the keto experiment is to do this eating plan for at least three months, then assess my progress.  If everything still feels good and my body fat continues to drop, then I’ll  probably stay on it indefinitely.  I guess we’ll see. Tune in for the next update soon.

 

 

 

 

Muscle Builder Workout

As I took a few weeks off from working out, I decided I needed to come back and focus on building some muscle. We normally do circuit type workouts so I felt it was time to change it up and focus on our cardio elsewhere, at least for a while.

Here is what we did yesterday, which after week of no weights, it killed my body. But in a good way! Sure did miss my weight workouts! I hope you enjoy it too!

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We used 45# BB for the squats and lunges. I know we could use a lot more on the squats, but since it was the first time we did the workout, we eased into it. We did decide to add on a 4th round of the legs next time though. So maybe the 45# might be ok! 😉

We used 20# for the presses and did decline instead of incline presses, but it’s your choice.

If you do not have access to the pull up bar or TRX, you can do Bent Over Rows and/or Inverted Rows instead. Renegade Rows would be another good option.

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5x5x5 Workout

We did this workout last Friday and I can honestly tell you that it kicked my butt! My heart rate was elevated through the entire workout and I had sweat dripping off my nose! My abs were still sore from both Monday and Wednesdays workout so Up and Downs and Overhead Toe Touch combo about killed me! At the end, I felt like 5 minutes would never end!

BUT, these are the kind of workouts that I love. The ones that push me to the limit and make me dig deep and force myself to push through to the end.

What kind of workouts do you like?? Post below and we will try some out to share with you!

Give this workout a try and come back and let us know how much you loved/hated it! 😉

5x5x5 Workout

 

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Trying To Lose Weight? You Must Eat Right First!

Food portions

If you are trying to lose weight, you must understand that it’s really all about what you are eating.  Let’s forget about exercise for second and discuss the simple most important thing you must do to lose weight….eat good!  You absolutely need to feed your body with good healthy foods, with the right quantity of food, for long-term success maintaining your weight and overall well being.  With that being said, in order to have this success, you will really need to think about what/when you are eating and plan your meals and the timing of your meals daily.

When I think about food and maintaining my weight/body fat percentage, I do what works best for me in just about everything in life, and keep this process as simple as possible.  So first off, you need to know what you are feeding yourself.  How do you this?  It’s easy, you read the labels of the foods you are eating and/or drinking.  You also must understand and pay attention to the amount of food you are eating in any one particular setting or meal.  Remember what I said earlier, to have long-term success with this, you need to control the type of food you eat and the amount of food you eat at every meal throughout the entire day.  It’s amazing how many people I talk to that think they can just not eat anything all day long and lose weight.   They struggle with this “diet” and never really get anywhere with their weight loss.  Not only does starving yourself not work for weight loss, it’s extremely unhealthy and flat out dangerous.  I’ll say it one more time….you need to eat to have success with maintaining your weight!

At my work, people see me constantly going to the microwave to warm up another meal.  They wonder, “how can he possibly eat all day long and never gain any weight”?  The funny thing is, If they actually looked at what I’m eating they would be surprised that I don’t eat a lot of calories in any one setting/meal.  I do however, eat a lot of small meals throughout the day.  This brings me to my next subject, which is meal planning.  In order to have success with your weight management you need to plan your meals and daily schedule, as best possible.

As I said earlier, I like to keep things simple, so I plan my meals daily.  At home, we always do our cooking on Sunday to prepare for the work week.  We cook up portions of proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates in large quantities.  We cook up protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, beef or eggs and either roast or steam large quantities of fresh (or frozen) veggies.  For carbs, I really like to use brown/wild rice or sweat potatoes most of the time.  After we cook up large quantities of these three categories of foods, we store them in containers for easy access to create our meals every day.  Every morning I package enough food for three meals and a mid-morning snack to get me through the day at work.  Each meal will have one portion of each of these categories of foods.  I also add a small portion of good fats, like almonds, a teaspoon of sun flower seeds, or maybe a tablespoon of either almond or all natural peanut butter.

For example, I will have one chicken breast, a good serving of veggies, 1/3 cup of brown rice and a small portion of good fats.  I try and eat one meal every 3 to 3.5 hours throughout the day.  I work 10 hour days, so I need to make sure I bring enough food to give my body good energy all day long.  It’s very important to not go without food (especially if you are active and/or exercise a lot) for more than 4 hours during the day.  This constant source of energy will keep your food cravings to a minimum, without making you feel too full all day long. It will also help keep your muscles and brain fueled and functioning at full capacity during the day.  Once you get used to eating regularly during the day and understand how to maintain a routine of meal planning, you will start to see results AND you will be able to maintain a healthy weight level long term.

Obviously, there is so much to know about different types of foods and how they can effect your “diet” that far exceed the scope of this article.  But, if you start to really understand food and track your eating habits daily you can see results quickly.  First things first, start by understanding what you are feeding yourself.  My first recommendation is to eliminate sugar (simple carbs) from your diet.  Read the labels of products before you consume them.  Not only food, but all beverages as well.  Keeping things as simple as possible by first eliminating sugar, you will lose weight AND you will feel a lot better.   Have you ever wondered why you or your family members are sick a lot?  Take a look at sugar consumption in your household.  Not only does sugar promote weight gain and multiple serious health issues,  it also contributes to many other diseases, even cancers.  I see people that I work with everyday that are constantly sick.  Some are sick regularly, maybe even as much as two to three times a month! Then I look at what they are feeding themselves and it’s easy to see why their body struggles so much to fight off germs or even a common cold.  Fast food, soda, cookies and candy all day long, no wonder they are sick!

Overall good health and weight management starts with food.  Eliminate sugar and simple (fast digesting) carbs in any/all meals and drinks, plan meals daily with portion sized quantities, and eat often throughout the day.  If you do this you will be able to lose weight and maintain a healthy life style.  The goal for all of us should be to keep body fat down to a minimum and consistently work on adding and maintaining lean muscle mass.  That’s where exercise comes in!  Eating right and exercising….wow, you get the best of both worlds, plus you accelerate the fat burning ability.  That will be a subject for a whole different article.

For more information and tips or examples of healthy foods and eating habits, go to ForeverBeHealthy.com.  It’s our goal and passion to maintain a healthy lifestyle and overall well being.  Join us in our own personal mission for long term health and longevity.

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