Ketosis and Meal Replacement Therapy: How Low To Go?

How Low Can To Go?

Ketosis and Meal Replacement Therapy: How Low To Go?

How Low Can To Go?

What's My Goal?

The numbers on the bathroom scale get all the attention, but isn’t our real goal to reduce our body fat? Fortunately, that’s exactly what happens when your body doesn’t take in enough energy to satisfy its needs. First, it burns the glucose reserves (glycogen) in your liver, and muscles, which can be depleted in less than 24 hours, before switching to “fat-burning” mode.

Fat-Burning Mode (aka Ketosis)

In “fat-burning” mode, your body breaks down fats into ketones and uses them for energy. This process is called ketosis, and it’s the reason you hear so much about ketogenic diets, also called keto diets or simply keto. When you achieve ketosis, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. 

In fact, it’s so good at it that it will preferentially burn fat for energy over glucose (carbs). This not only results in rapid weight loss, but also has a host of other health benefits, including improved mental clarity, decreased inflammation, stabilized blood sugar levels, and a feeling of well being.

...mental clarity, decreased inflammation, stabilized blood sugar levels

Very Low-Carb to go Keto

The key to achieving ketosis is to severely restrict your intake of carbs. When you do this, your body has no choice but to burn fat for energy. The problem is that most people don’t know how many carbs they should be eating, or what the right balance of fat and protein is. 

Further complicating matters, the human body requires adequate protein and will canibalize its own lean tissue if your diet does not provide enough protein. Extreme dieting can be dangerous to your health, and in some cases even fatal.

Medical Weight Loss

This was addressed decades ago in the medical community with the creation of Very Low-Calorie Diets (VLCD’s), which allowed patients to consume 500-800 calories each day, while eating low-carb (less than 70g) and low-fat (less than 15g), while also eating high-quality protein (75g or more). 

Patients routinely achieved significant weight loss, averaging as much as twenty pounds of weight loss per month for extended periods of time. 

In a study we conducted for WEA Trust Insurance (NAASO 2001), VLCD patients and bariatric surgery patients had comparable weight loss results at five years, which highlights the success of VLCD therapy.

...averaging as much as twenty pounds of weight loss per month

Popular Treatment Trends

Over the last two decades, VLCD’s have become less popular than a more balanced approach which includes both meal replacement therapy and traditional whole foods. This is sometimes called a “modified” or “partial” meal replacement plan, and there are many variations, both medical and commercial.
There are a number of reasons for the rise in popularity of these modified plans. First, VLCD’s are difficult for most people to sustain. This is because they are restrictive by nature and require a high level of commitment and self-discipline. Second, there is now a better understanding of the role whole foods play in maintaining gut health, which is fundamental for overall health and wellness.

Most approaches use shakes, bars and other nutritionally designed products, with one or two additional meals per day. This meal plan can still lead to rapid weight loss; however, The ketogenic effect is less pronounced and the rate of weight loss will be slower. Regardless, many find the less restrictive plan to be easier to follow.

How to Measure Ketosis

The most precise way to measure ketosis is by blood testing with a glucometer, which can be done in both medical and non-medical settings. Urine testing isn’t as accurate but may provide complementary information when used alongside blood tests. However, for the majority of people dieting, the amount of ketones present will not show up on an at-home urine test—that’s more fit for diabetics testing for ketoacidosis.

In most cases, it will take two to three days for the transition to a fat-burning metabolism. Over the first 24 hours you will burn up your carb reserves and shed water (think frequent bathroom breaks). You may get dizzy or lightheaded, and headaches are also a possibility. Stay hydrated and follow your nutrition plan and within the next day or so, you will begin to feel better. Your energy level and lack of appetite will be the best indicator that you are on track.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that if you want to achieve ketosis, you need to restrict your carb intake. However, there is no need to go to extremes. A more balanced approach, which includes both meal replacement therapy and traditional whole foods, is more sustainable and can still lead to rapid weight loss.
So, how low should you go? It really depends on your individual goals and preferences. If you’re looking to lose weight quickly and don’t mind being restrictive, then a Total Meal Replacement plan may be right for you. If you want to lose weight at a slower pace and are interested in maintaining gut health, then a Modified Meal Replacement plan may be a better option. Ultimately, the best approach is the one you can stick with long-term.

If you’re ready to make lasting changes in your life, our team is here to help. We have the experience and expertise necessary to help you create a personal plan that fits your lifestyle. Let’s get started today!

Change For Good: Making changes that last

Why is change hard?

Change For Good: Making changes that last

Why is change hard?

Why is it a struggle to make lasting changes?

It’s not easy to make lasting changes to our behavior. We often start out with the best of intentions, but before long we find ourselves slipping back into old patterns. Why is it so hard to change? And more importantly, how can we make changes that actually stick?

What do we mean when we say "lasting changes"?

When we talk about making lasting changes to our behavior, we’re referring to changes that are permanent and sustainable. This means that the new behaviors we adopt need to be something we can stick with for the long haul, not just for a few weeks or months.

It’s important to be realistic about what we can accomplish in the short-term, and focus on building habits that will eventually become second nature.

The difficulties of making lasting changes

Making lasting changes to our behavior can be difficult for a number of reasons.

Requires Patient Determination

First, we often have a hard time breaking old habits and replacing them with new ones. Second, even when we do manage to change our behavior, it’s not always easy to maintain that change over the long run. And finally, it’s often difficult to see tangible results from our efforts in the short-term, which can lead us to give up prematurely.

Must Break Old Patterns

One of the many challenges we face when trying to make lasting changes is overcoming inertia. Our natural tendency is to stick with what’s comfortable and familiar, even if those behaviors are harmful or no longer serve us. Breaking out of our comfort zone can be daunting, but it’s essential if we want to make lasting changes. And to really succeed in making those changes, we need to replace our old behavior with new habits that are positive and productive.

Remain Calm - Stay Balanced

It’s also important to respect the power of emotions when it comes to staying motivated. When things go wrong, or we face setbacks (which is inevitable when pursuing ambitious goals), the negative emotions we feel can undermine our determination and quickly turn a minor slip into a major relapse.

Tips for creating a personal plan that works for you

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating a personal plan that will help you change your behavior. What works for one person may not work for another, and what works in the short-term may not be sustainable in the long-term. That said, here are some general tips that can help you get started.

  1. Start by identifying the behaviors you want to change.
  2. Set realistic goals that challenge you but are still achievable
  3. Create a timeline for reaching those goals, and break them down into specific steps
  4. Make a commitment to yourself and be willing to put in the effort required to make change happen.
  5. Find positive ways to reward yourself when you reach milestones.
  6. If you experience setbacks, don’t let them derail you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

Be patient with Yourself.

Just remember that lasting change takes time, so be patient with yourself and don’t give up too soon. You might not always see the instant results that you seek, but in the end it will all be worth it when you’re in better shape, feeling healthier and living a happier life.

In summary

Despite the difficulties of modifying your behavior, changes can be made and sustained over time. We can help you set realistic goals and form a personal plan that works for you. We will provide support and encouragement when setbacks occur, and together we’ll celebrate your success!

If you’re ready to make lasting changes in your life, our team is here to help. We have the experience and expertise necessary to help you create a personal plan that fits your lifestyle. Let’s get started today!

Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holiday Survival
Holiday Survival

Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holidays and special events should be times of great joy, but dieters approach these occasions with fear and panic. Why? Because a celebration’s not a celebration without tons of high-calorie, tempting foods. Does this mean that you have to become anti-social to avoid temptation? Not if you plan a “survival” strategy beforehand and stick to it. This strategy should address actions before, during, and after the event.

Holidays and special events are usually non-stop cues for eating. Trays of nibbles are set out, alcohol is served in abundance, and meals are served that could feed an entire army battalion. Besides physical food cues, stress of preparation, the letdown after the event, and the depression triggered by sad memories, often prompt emotional eating.

Holiday Survival Tips

On the day of the event, there are several ways you can control your eating. These tips can reduce stress and associated eating cues before they happen.

✅  Eating a betterMD nutrition product or high-bulk foods, such as an apple, salad, or bowl of whole-grain cereal, can fill you up beforehand so you don’t overeat.

✅  As soon as you get to the function, look over the food and pick out a few “special” foods to eat and skip all the others.

✅  Eat slowly and savor every bite to maximize your enjoyment. By allowing yourself selected delicious foods, you can enjoy yourself without needing to pile on everything in sight.

✅  Just to be on the safe side, you might want to cut back your intake for a few days before and after so you can have a little extra at your celebration.

What you do on Thanksgiving is far less important than what you do before and after the party.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

If You Are Hosting an Event

Plan Ahead – If you’re doing the entertaining, the preliminary work can be especially taxing. With hectic schedules, there never seems to be enough time to plan, clean, shop, and cook. You can help yourself by practicing time management and getting help from others. To plan your time, sit down and write out daily schedules for the weeks before the event. Determine what you can reasonably do in that time frame and when you plan to do it.

Accept Help – Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your spouse, children, and other relatives involved with the cleaning, shopping, and cooking. For example someone can go to the grocery store, while others clean assigned areas of the house, and your guests are probably happy to bring some of the food. If it’s in your budget, consider hiring help to clean, cater meals, and serve food.

Menu Planning – In planning the types of food to serve, why not choose healthier, low-calorie alternatives? You don’t necessarily have to give up traditional favorites if you modify recipes to cut down on sugar and excessive calories. For instance, turkey stuffing can be made with sauteed onions and celery in broth rather than butter. A simple way to cut calories in gelatin molds is to use sugar-free gelatin. Take a look at your recipes to see if you can eliminate or decrease some ingredients or substitute lower calorie alternatives. You can feel good about helping your friends and relatives eat healthier!

It’s also a great time to establish new traditional dishes. There are lots of low-calorie, gourmet cookbooks on the market. Look through some to see if any of the delicious dishes would fit into your entertainment.

Leftovers Can Be Challenging

Try these strategies to minimize “leftover hangover”

👍  Too often food goes into your mouth rather than the storage container, even if you’re already stuffed. Chewing sugarless gum or asking others to help in cleaning up can decrease your chances of nibbling on leftovers.

👍  You can prevent next-day, high-calorie consumption by giving take-home packages to your guests, taking food into work, or dividing leftovers into small-portion homemade TV dinners.

💯  Probably the best way to avoid the leftover problem is to not cook so much food in the first place. Everyone will be satisfied and less “bloated” afterwards if you cook only enough to serve your guests.

Holiday Goodies and Treats

What do you do if your friends and family traditionally give baked goods, gourmet food baskets, candy, or alcohol for gifts? Beforehand, tell everyone about your diet and ask them to forego food gifts. If you still get them, thank the person, but later give the food away to friends, neighbors, or co-workers. This way, you won’t hurt the giver’s feelings, and you’ll eliminate temptation.

The Reason for the Season

The final suggestion for handling holidays and special events is to return to the original intention of these occasions. They’re intended as social gatherings with friends and families, not food orgies. Start emphasizing the social interactions. Plan group activities that everyone will enjoy. If possible, include group walks or physical activities that are fun and burn calories! By enjoying the company of others, you can focus on fellowship instead of food.

Blessings and Well Wishes 🙏 from betterMD and the Murdy Family

Beating the Holiday Blues

sad woman
sad woman

Beating the Holiday Blues

In the real world, many people experience the holiday blues – feelings of sadness or loneliness. These feelings often stem from the stress and fatigue of trying to do too much during the holidays, or from setting unrealistic expectations. For many people, the inability to be with family can lead to the blues. Still others feel the loss of loved ones more acutely during the holidays, making even the most festive celebrations difficult.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help beat the blues this holiday season:

☑️. Be realistic – Every holiday season doesn’t have to be your best ever. Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Don’t overestimate what you can and will do. Instead, pace yourself, organize your time, and make a list and prioritize your most important activities.

☑️. Practice moderation – Excesses can take their toll. Whether it’s food, drink, parties or spending, be conservative. Make your celebrations healthy by including low-calorie snack options and alcohol-free beverages. Get plenty of sleep and keep up your activity level. Set some specific limits to spending, and consider gifts of time or handmade presents.

☑️. Let go of the past – Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by thinking everything has to be just like the “good old days.” Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Look toward the future. As families change and grow, traditions may need to change as well.

☑️. Try something new – Experiment with new ways to enjoy the holidays. Create some new traditions. Go on a family vacation or volunteer your time to a favorite charity.

☑️. Seek out the people you love – Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Reach out to make new friends if you are alone during the holidays. Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.

☑️. Do something for someone else – Getting involved and helping others can be a great way to lift your spirits. It’s also a good way to make new acquaintances. Try searching for volunteer opportunities in your area, there is no shortage of people in need.

☑️. Consider your health – Get plenty of sleep and schedule time for activity. Not only will increased activity help fend off extra pounds; it will make you feel more refreshed and less fatigued. Also, find personal time for yourself.

Remember the reason for the season... be kind to everyone, and be especially kind to yourself.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

☑️. Be realistic about others – People do not change just for the holidays. Set differences aside, and try to accept family members as they are. Leave old grievances or discussions about differences until a more appropriate time. It makes no sense to hope that somehow “this year will be different” only to feel resentful when it is not.

☑️. Reflect on the season – Take a few minutes every day to reflect on the joy of the season, and to be thankful for your family, your health and the blessings of your life.

☑️. Don’t ignore your feelings – If you suffer from the holiday blues, don’t avoid your negative feelings. Talk with someone you trust about what you are experiencing, and try to get another perspective on it.

When you’re feeling worse than blue…

Don’t ignore severe symptoms of depression, because it is the holidays. The “holiday blues” are relatively mild, time-limited and non disruptive vs. Depression, which has a significant impact on your ability to cope day to day.

Be aware that prolonged or severe sadness accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy, diminished interest in activities, significant appetite and sleep changes or thoughts of suicide may signal a treatable problem that should be evaluated by a mental health professional. If you, or someone close to you is suffering from depression, seek help from a qualified mental health professional.