The Most Important Thing Keto Does for You

White Owl with Orange Eyes
The most important thing Keto does for you
isn't weight loss. Keto is an opportunity for self-discovery. 

There's a lot of talk within the low-carb community about the state of ketosis. Some of it is factual, and some of it is hypothesis. However, these dietary discussions never bring up the most important thing that Keto does for you.

Instead, they focus on the physical changes that you can expect or how good you will feel once you're thin, rather than drilling down into the heart of what's really going on. And why.

I think it's time to change that -- right now!

Some of the constant questions I run into about Keto are actually about hunger:
  • "When am I not going to be hungry?"
  • "When is Ketosis going to kick in so I won't be hungry anymore?"
  • "I've lost 2 pounds this week, but I'm still hungry."
The lack of hunger or appetite is considered a beneficial side effect of Keto, and the word hunger has created a lot of confusion and misunderstanding among those who are new to the low-carb world.

Even those who have been at this for a long time are confused because hunger is often interpreted as meaning absolutely no hunger -- ever.
  • "My hunger didn't go away. I still get hungry at mealtimes."
  • "I woke up really hungry, what's up with that?"
  • "I can't seem to get my calories down below 1,000 or 1,200 (or whatever number), because I get hungry. Have I fallen out of Ketosis?"
I do know the feeling, because when I was first investigating Kimkins and all the threads and stickys about it at Low Carb Friends, I was having a hard time figuring out how they were eating so few calories.

Over the decades that I have been involved in the low-carb movement, what I've come to understand is that we each come to the Keto lifestyle with a different set of interpretations for the words being used. We have different habits and different needs, depending on our purpose for wanting to ditch the weight.

But we also have a different history that influences what we believe.

For example:

To one person, hunger means that "nothing sounds good" so you just don't feel like eating anything today because there's no pleasure in the act of eating.

To someone else, no hunger might mean "flat-out forgetting to eat."

A third person, who is emotionally attached to food and used to receiving instant gratification from eating, might interpret no hunger as the "wanting or desire for food will completely disappear."

Ketosis is a physical process. It switches you from predominantly burning glucose for fuel into a metabolism that oxidizes mostly fatty acids and ketones instead. This switch allows the body to easily tap into your fat stores when your glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates, runs low.

On a glucose metabolism, when glycogen reaches a certain level, you get very hungry and have strong urges to eat because the liver wants to refill those glycogen stores as soon as possible.

On a fatty-acid metabolism, you have an over-abundance of fat stored, so there's no feeling of urgency and no stress to eat because you have more than enough energy to spare.

Keto also helps to stabilize your blood glucose level because what you're eating doesn't take a lot of insulin to process it. Your insulin level plunges below normal, which keeps your glucagon level a bit on the high side, enabling gluconeogenesis to kick in, as needed.

In turn, ketosis takes away the nagging hunger that comes when your blood sugar drops too quickly or when it dips below normal because you over-secreted insulin in response to what you ate. You use the triglycerides in your bloodstream for fuel, so Leptin is able to get past the blood-brain barrier to communicate accurately with the hypothalamus in the brain.

The body knows exactly how much viseral and body fat you have stored and how much is available for use. For those with insulin resistance, the stress of being out of balance goes down and your body begins to heal.

Going into a slight caloric deficit does upset the balance cart a bit. The body doesn't like anything to be out of balance, especially energy, so it begins to make adaptions that will eventually correct the imbalance.

However, most low-carb plans don't require you to eat at a huge deficit to work, and if you have plenty of body fat stored, the adaptions will be implemented more slowly than if you only have 10 pounds to spare.

What it can't do?

The mental and emotional work that has to be done for your weight loss to become a permanent condition. So it's the mental and emotional work that I want to discuss in today's post.

Pinterest Image: Shrimp and Red Pepper Stir-Fry

Why Normal Weight is a Minority Today

Group of People of Various Sizes
In today's society, normal weight is a minority.
Most people are overweight to some degree.

Look around you. Two out of every three Americans are either overweight to some degree, or obese.

Two out of three!

While some of the problem can be traced to the food industry's drive to get all of us addicted to a particular product, the reason you are in your current condition didn't start with the food industry.

Yes, additives are warring with the body.

And yes, the Food-Giants are putting high-fructose corn syrup, GMO corn, and all kinds of nasty things in your food, including foods you believe are natural or organic.

But blaming them for your current condition will only paralyze you to act in your own behalf. All of those things are about the physical body, and the physical body is a master at adapting to even the worst environments imaginable.

Look around you!

People are not dropping like flies. The body adapts.

What isn't experienced is a conscious, rational mind, especially if you have identified with your physical body. Your worries and fears will be centered on what your physical body is or isn't doing. And its these fears, resentments, worries, and unrealized anger that makes you FAT.

You're fat because you believe you're fat.

You're fat because someone told you that you were fat, and you believed them. You're fat because you became worried that you might get fat, and then, suddenly it just happened.

You might also be fat because you're worried about the direction the world is going in and you're afraid you might get into a situation where there's not enough food to eat.

Fat is a surplus of energy that the body has stored in case of famine or because you were not able to use that incoming energy at the time, but for some reason, you believe that storing energy is bad.

Some little voice in your head or someone you know told you that your body didn't do the right thing and that you have to fix it right now or you're going to have a heart attack.

Marketer Wrote on Chalkboard; Think, Plan, Act
Are you used to giving your power away to others?
Want them to solve your problems for you?

You don't like how you look because some marketing expert told you that you were ugly. You don't like how it makes you feel because someone made you feel guilty about overeating, so you gotta get rid of it. In your mind, that's the only way to feel better about yourself.

Someone taught you that being fat is bad, and being thin is good, so now you feel frantic and pressured into doing something about your condition.

You're afraid of getting obesity-related diseases, or you're afraid of what someone else is going to think of you if eat what you want and stay fat, or you've been programmed to automatically follow the advice of the media, health organizations, or your doctor -- without questioning.

You feel stressed when you don't obey those messages. Following is more comfortable because challenging authority and going against what the majority believes comes with consequences.

Most of our fear-based society doesn't diet because they know that changing their lifestyle is the right thing to do. People diet because they are afraid of something, and it's that fear of not pleasing others or thinking that changing your body will somehow make the world a brighter, happier place to live in that enables you to go from:
  1. Being 10 pounds overweight; to
  2. Being 40 pounds overweight; to
  3. Being obese
That was the weight-gain path I traveled, but it was actually the path to obesity.

This is the truth you have to SEE (that fear creates obesity) before you are ready to wake up and take personal responsibility for your robot-like life.

Mama Box Holding a Flame in Left Hand, and Baby Box in Right Hand
We live in a fear-based society where everything we
know and believe came from someone else.

How you see yourself and how you perceive the world is the problem.

Being fat isn't the problem.

Being fat is your body's solution to things you chose to believe or blindly react to in the past. What your body is now is not the problem. The body always does what's best for your survival at any given moment.

The problem is how you think.

What Keto Won't Do for You

Keto can help take away the physical sensations and desires you have for sugar and starches. It can help to correct hormonal imbalances, so you get on with your purpose for living, but it won't take away your emotional attachment to food or eating.

Your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, defense systems, attitude, and outlook on life will still be the same. Feelings of deprivation or being picked on by the world won't automatically go away just because you enter the state of ketosis.

Ketosis takes care of the physical stuff that is getting in your way. But the feelings that you are being singled out by the world and punished for some reason or feeling deprived because you can't serve the interests of the Food-Giants and get thin will still be there, along with your attitude about how unfair it all is because you can't eat like normal folks do.

You can't eat like addicted food-slaves do.

Can't Or Won't?

Permanent weight loss does require you to change, but the most important changes won't be physical. What has to change is:
  • how you think
  • how you feel
  • how you perceive the world
Saying "I can't" is self-limiting. It's nurturing a victim mindset.

You feel picked on, mistreated, and attacked because you can't do what you want. You can't exercise your right to eat like everyone else is eating, so you feel left out. You feel like you're entitled to eat what the Food-Giants are mass producing and you think you are missing out on something of value.

If you value what Keto can do for you, then you won't want to do what's not in your best interest, regardless of what other people think or do.

There won't be a crazy urge to serve the interests of the Food-Giants, and there won't be a crazy urge to deny the body of the nutrition it needs to function optimally. When you value something, you do what you do because it's best for all concerned. You, your family, and LIFE.

You don't do what you do because you're afraid of how others might react or because you want to fit into a particular group-set. You freely decide to do or not do because conscience won't allow you to do otherwise.

What Keto Will Do for You

When I retried the Atkins 72 Induction in 2007, I was eating a lot of calories. According to my old blog posts, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 calories per day.

Realistically, for someone who is only 5-feet tall and post-menopause, very sedentary due to vertigo, 1,600 calories is quite high for a weight-loss diet. But that's what I ate the first three days of Atkins 72.

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Cheddar Cheese Sticks for Breakfast
A 550-calorie Atkins 72 breakfast menu:
2 scrambled eggs, 3 slices bacon, 2 oz cheddar cheese

These 1,600 calories were quite a bit less than what I was eating on the ANA version of Atkins 2002 (called Atkins 20 today).

I don't know what my maintenance calories were back then, because I'm not sure exactly when Graves' Disease kicked in, but 2,100 was maintenance for 180 pounds. At 200+ pounds of scale weight, it was only a little more than that, which explains why I was only losing a couple of pounds a month.

Even though I'd been already eating low carb for months by this time, within three days of dropping my carbs to Atkins 72 levels, it was like ketosis had suddenly kicked in. Hunger dropped like a rock and my calories fell naturally to around 800 calories a day! I just couldn't eat more than that!

It was as if the ANA version of Atkins 2002, with its mandatory 20 net carbs, was keeping me from going into real ketosis. 

I didn't do anything deliberate. I just listened to my body. I ate when I was hungry, and I didn't eat when I was not.

Most of the low-carb world would find this frightening because they believe a low-calorie diet is unhealthy, even though eating to appetite was what Dr. Atkins recommended. Low-calorie diets make them feel uncomfortable and stressed, as if they were doing something wrong.

If you've been indoctrinated to believe that carbs are the only thing that matters, you'll feel stressed and guilty if you try to do something else. Beliefs are extremely limiting because most of the time, they are not fact. They are just an illusion, something we believe is true because someone important to us told us it was true.

I did cave into peer pressure later on, so I honestly understand how difficult it is to peel away the false aspects of yourself. I understand how painful it can be to see yourself as you really are. I went back to a higher calorie diet because I was afraid that what I was being told about low-calorie diets might be correct.

I might have been putting my health in danger.

So I get it:

Humanity has been programmed to police each other and program each other to believe a certain way.

Salmon Going Against the River Tide
Daring to be different is like a salmon fighting
to return Home by traveling against the flow of water.

Waking up to reality and going against the norm is like a salmon swimming upstream. The journey isn't peaceful. It isn't meant to be pain-free. The journey is rough and torturous, and very circular at times, but it's necessary to develop the strength and self-discipline you need to remove all of the aspects of yourself that aren't YOU.

So what Keto does for you is this:

When you find the right carbohydrate level for you, it relieves physical hunger and all cravings for garbage. It gets the physical junk out of the way so you can get to work on the mental and emotional stuff, the roadblocks and belief-system hurdles and buffers that are hindering your growth and personal development.

What you might not realize is that for some people, the greater amount of hunger you experience comes from your emotional state, and not from your body. This is because your body isn't YOU. Your body is simply where YOU live within the vastness of the universe right now.

It's a temporary situation, like Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs.

Keto doesn't take real hunger away because real physical hunger comes when your blood sugar drops to a particular level. When glucose goes lower than what your body considers normal, you get hungry to encourage you to help the body bring it back up.

Hunger is the body's cry for fuel when your gas tank is getting close to empty. And on Keto, this occurs when your body needs at that moment are greater than what can be converted from body fat. You don't have time for the conversion, so the body wants food -- now. Or it needs something it can only get from food and not from body fat.

On Keto, you can go longer in between meals than you can when running on glucose, but you will still get physically hungry according to your body's needs.

Instead of removing all discomfort, Keto gives you back your life by helping you take your daily focus off of food and the physical body. Ketogenic foods are high in nutrition, so any malnutrition you had will be corrected, especially protein deficiency, so you won't be physically driven to think about food.

You can actually do things and go places without worrying that you might get hungry while you're out and won't be able to find something on plan to eat. Physical stress goes down because Keto takes away the constant focus on what you are going to eat next, and when. You know you'll be fine, even if you have to skip a meal or two.

This can be incredibly freeing for someone who has been addicted to food for a long time.

And when food is no longer the master, your world unfolds to include additional possibilities for creative adventures that you didn't have available to you before.

Rediscover Yourself

The river that you're swimming against is your mind and emotions, which can be quite cluttered with self-limiting beliefs and tons of bull-crap that isn't true.

In fact, most of what you believe you are, and most of what you believe about the world you see, has just been suggested to you or taught to you by others. Parents, school, church, media, and whomever you have decided is authoritative enough to follow has fed you a lot of lies throughout your life, stuff they acquired from someone else in the same way.

Now, it's time to put all of that clutter aside and rediscover the truth about yourself.

Rediscovering yourself is the real opportunity that Keto gives you. Rediscovering yourself is the way to create the life you've always wanted to live.

Kickin' Carb Clutter is here to offer you that opportunity, but we can't do the work for you. We can provide the environment for growth. We can give you the information. But, you have to do the work of applying that information in whatever way you feel is best.


  1. Vickie, I can identify with this. Ketosis isn't taking away the need to eat when my sister calls, or when work gets stressful, or in the midst of emotions after one of my patient's dies while I'm holding her hand. Ketosis isn't my "friend" in the middle of the night the way chocolate chip cookies used to be. It doesn't comfort or distract or amuse or medicate me.

    But it is helping me learn to deal with emotions like I've never had to before. That may be the hardest part of losing weight. And one of the most rewarding in the long run.....

  2. Very well spoken,
    Thank you for sharing that with us.

  3. Amazing article Vickie, you continually surprise me with your deep insights, and practical advice. Not only regarding Keto, but also the realities of releasing weight, especially for those of us who lived with a weight issue their whole life.

    As someone who knows for a certainty that weight loss is 90% mental/emotional, and 10% physical, I'm thrilled to see a post that delves into the bigger aspect of what it really takes to let the weight go, once and for all.

    I've lost 205 pounds, the last 65 on Keto, and it has given me freedom in so many ways. Instead of always feeling like my weight "issue" was a monkey on my back, it now longer feels like and issue but like my best teacher, my true strength. Dealing with my feelings about my weight gave me my power over it.

    And I've found Keto to be the answer to wanting to be able to "eat like a normal person", because Keto has become my normal, it feels right to me. And that truly is what it's all about, each of us individually finding what is "normal" for our body, for our life.

    Thank you for your truly valuable insights.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing all of your insights. I really appreciate it! And congratulations on losing over 200 pounds. Wow. That's great! This was definitely one of the hardest lessons I've ever had to learn, but having to re-do everything by using another way has taught me so much about individuality, as well as myself.


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