I am over 70 years old and lead a delightful, sedentary lifestyle. Until recently, I was noticeably overweight, some would say grossly overweight, and yes, I had a beer-belly. I got back to a healthy weight and lost the beer-belly by following a keto diet combined with intermittent fasting.
Altogether, I lost almost 30 kilos in less than a year.
Along the way, I also increased my level of exercise, though I would say my lifestyle would still best be described as sedentary.
The combination of keto plus intermittent fasting worked fantastic, with no periods of starvation or lack of energy from dieting.
But there was one aspect of the keto diet which created a problem in the early days — I was often constipated.
One of the things I loved most about the keto diet was that many of the recommended foods were my favorites — think avocado, and especially cheeses.
Many males in my family on both sides — mother and father have had bowel problems, some have died from it.
So I have long been aware of the necessity of keeping my bowel movements regular.
Keto Diet, Constipation, and Fiber
Still, keto seemed to be causing a problem.
I remember my mother always said that cheese was a “blocker”, and maybe that was part of my problem.
But I worked out that there was something else more important than what I was eating — it was what I wasn’t eating.
I’d always been aware of the necessity of keeping my fiber intake up to adequate levels, even though I couldn’t tell you what that level was on a grams-per-day basis.
Yes, I know it now, and for me, it’s around 40 grams per day and 25 grams for my wife.
Then, moving onto the keto diet made a massive change in the types and quantities of food I was eating.
Even though I tracked my calories with the Nutritionix “Track” app, it didn’t tally up my fiber intake in any convenient way.
So I lost track of how much fiber I was getting.
The regular periods of constipation forced me to review what I was eating.
For a couple of weeks, I kept a separate note of my daily fiber intake, and it soon became apparent that I was in trouble.
The Search for a Solution
I was averaging less than 20 grams per day, under half the recommended level.
I didn’t feel any signs of ill health except constipation, but I knew this situation couldn’t be allowed to continue.
Things could not be going well on the inside.
So I went back and searched my regular sources of information — primarily from articles in Medium.com.
I found virtually nothing about getting proper fiber levels on a keto diet.
The nearest I could find was the recommendation to get “enough” fiber, but no mention of how to do this.
Was there a form of high-fiber cheese I should be eating?
The answer to this is no — unfortunately.
I have long noticed that nearly all health and fitness advice I read is for millennials and their parents.
That’s my grandsons and my daughter, not my wife and I.
My Health is My Responsibility
Still, that’s no excuse for omitting the importance of fiber in their diets, but I suppose it’s less of an issue for them than for us.
But I am aware that my health is my responsibility, so I kept searching for a solution to my keto problem — and I found it.
That’s why I’m writing this article because I think there may be a lot of people out there with the same problem as me, but they aren’t yet aware of it.
Here’s how I adjusted my keto diet to up the fiber levels.
I knew I needed to keep the carbs low, but this was especially true if the carbs were combined with high levels of fat.
Yet, almost all generous fiber sources were from carb-based foods, and it was virtually impossible to get a good source of fiber without blowing out the carbs.
So I started alternating days of low-carbs good days for cheese with days of low-fat good days for high-fiber carbs.
There were no days for high-carb or high-fat, I was just trying to keep the fat and the carbs separated, as much as possible.
On top of the alternating days keeping fats and carbs away from each other, I needed to optimize the days of low-fat to get more fiber.
I even found that I could squeeze in some fiber on the low-carb days — yes, there are fatty foods with reasonable levels of fiber, but they’re limited.
Success At Last
The outcome was that I could stay in ketosis on a virtually permanent basis.
Even on the low-fat days, I was keeping my total carbs and calories low enough that my metabolism still needed to burn some of that stored fat to get me through the day.
And remember, these are sedentary days for a senior — not a full burn-out for a millennial!
So, to recap, here’s how it worked for me:
Restrict the mix of fat and carbs do alternate days: (a) low-fat no cheese or avocado (b) low-carb no starch or sugar.
Concentrate on high-fiber for the low-fat day’s plenty of nuts and veggies.
Still try for some fiber on low-carb days
Check your intake from time-to-timeIt would be best if you did your own research on the best foods to suit your lifestyle and dietary needs.
But I added a shortlist of the foods I discovered can have a high impact on the keto: fiber balance.
High-fiber or low-fat carbs: Artichokes, beans, cauliflower, collard greens, lentils, peas, raspberries. Cheeses to avoid: Fake or over-processed cheeses. American, colored cheddar, ricotta, cottage cheese.
Ricardo Testori He is a full-stack developer taking a turn at writing.