Sweet Geek

Thoughts on Health and Nutrition

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Why Am I Still Hungry on a Ketogenic Diet?

One of the first things I hear from others about their experience with a ketogenic diet is usually that they aren’t hungry. Suddenly many are able to cut out snacks entirely or even eat just 1-2 meals a day. It saddened and drove me crazy that I was NOT one of these lucky people!

Well I think I may have finally figured out why I was still hungry even on a ketogenic diet! Before I share, I’d like to start from the beginning.

food bowl ... ran out... haven't eaten... in 5 min...
Courtesy of icanhascheezburger.com

Over Christmas, I decided to eat some desserts that contained gluten. Well one meal turned into a few more… you know how it goes and by New Years, my digestive system was seriously pissed at me. I was in a ton of pain and things were not working right in the poop department. :) So I decided to give my guts a break. My husband had recently brought home a protein powder that tasted very good so quite arbitrarily I started a protein shake “reset”.

The first day I had 2 shakes, each shake is 12g carb / 27g protein / 52g fat, about 600 calories. I was hungry and cranky in between meals but I was ready to do whatever it took to get my digestion back in working order. The second day, I had my first shake in the morning and then lunch rolled past… and I WASN’T HUNGRY!

By the third day it finally sunk in that something about my silly reset had completely nuked my constant gnawing hunger, cravings and thoughts of food. I was eating 2-3 shakes a day with maybe a small snack of bacon or some faux chocolate mousse. In total it has been between 1,400 – 1,700 calories a day. Which is a huge reduction from what I have been doing lately, which has been around 2,200 (all the while still hungry I might add!). This was absolutely NOT originally a diet attempt. I was simply suddenly not hungry and this just happened to be how much I felt like eating.

I have been trying this for 2 weeks now and am still experiencing the same freedom from the constant hunger. As I have been transitioning from the shakes back to normal food, I think I know why the shakes were so successful. With the shakes, I am 100% confident that I know exactly how much carb/protein/fat I was eating. There just isn’t that much variation in either the powder or the heavy cream I was mixing it with.

The same can’t be said about what I usually eat, e.g. deli ham, pork shoulder, beef brisket, pork chops and ribeye steak. All are considered high fat foods and according to my food logs, I was getting at least 75% of my calories from fat when eating these foods. But really there is a lot of variation, sometimes I get a great piece of meat, well marbled and it’s amazing. Other times, maybe it’s leaner or when I cook it, much of the fat renders and is lost. What I am saying is that I am not nearly so confident in my macronutrient ratio when eating “real food”. I would not be surprised at all if the amount of fat is much lower and the protein much higher than expected.

My theory is that I was hungry because despite my best weighing, counting and logging efforts, I wasn’t really eating as high fat and low protein as I am currently with these shakes. Which could also explain why I was having such a hard time getting above the mythical 0.5 ketone reading….

I am not perfectly sure if that is really what is going on but for the moment I want to just bask in the glory of not being hungry for the first time in months. Oh dear lord what a difference it makes to be able to have my stomach shut up and get some peace and quiet. It feels absolutely wonderful and I am just hoping like crazy that I can figure out how to replicate this with real food.