“We’re low on buttercream!” said Kitty Vacha, rushing through her busy Nebraska bakery. It was the height of wedding season, and her team was hustling to make dozens of dream cakes. Kitty grabbed the order book, bracing herself against a counter. Her head was pounding and her back, knees and feet were on fire. Everything hurts, she thought. And I don’t have time to sit. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then another. It was a tiny moment of serenity, yet long enough for a voice in her head to say: It’s not stress or work causing the problem here. Your body can’t carry 329 pounds for much longer or it’ll give out. You have to lose weight. Kitty sighed. She’d been trying to slim down for decades; every diet on the planet had failed her. Now, as searing pain shot up her leg, she wondered: What am I going to do?
As the day went by in an achy blur, Kitty’s mind kept returning to the past. She’d already been struggling with extra pounds when she took her first fateful cake decorating class; after she competed on Cake Wars and Sugar Rush, her career took off and life got crazy. She’d been an exhausted single mom grabbing cupcakes and fast food, then she’d punish herself with extreme diets like cabbage soup or a doctor-supervised fast. Her kids were grown now, but her habits hadn’t changed much-though she spent more time worrying about her lack of willpower. There has to be a better way, she thought. I just need a few commonsense rules. I can make them up myself.
Kitty’s doctor had warned that she was heading for diabetes, so she figured it would be smart to skip sugar except when taste-testing recipes. Avoiding fried food was a no-brainer. Oh, and I’ll get on my elliptical trainer for at least a few minutes every day, she told herself. It was a good start.
The next day, Kitty began making easy meals with healthier ingredients like whole grains, veggies, fruit and lean protein. She entered everything she ate into a free app on her phone, hoping it would help her learn the right portion sizes. “My feet already hurt less”, she confided in her pal Jana after a couple days. In a month, Kitty had dropped 18 pounds and was smiling more than she had in years. Yet when she heard friends raving about the keto diet, she couldn’t help but wonder if she should try it.
What are keto bursts?
I’m bored, and my weight loss is stalled. I want to mix things up, Kitty decided after dropping 50 pounds. She hit the internet to learn the keto basics. Stay under 20 grams of carbs, she reminded herself as she planned meals for her keto experiment. If your body doesn’t have carbs to burn, it has to burn fat. It was a change for sure-no grains, fruit, potatoes. “But it’s delicious. I had a cheeseburger with avocado for dinner!” she bragged to Jana. Then came the “keto flu,” a headache and sleepiness that happen when the body switches to burning mostly fat. But when it lifted a few days later, Kitty was amazed at how sharp and energetic she felt. No hunger or cravings, either. And she was suddenly losing more than a pound a day!
Kitty kept at it until her progress slowed. I’m feeling a little dehydrated, she thought. Maybe my body is telling me to go back to normal healthy eating. Sure enough, a whole-wheat turkey sandwich sent her mood and energy soaring. “It feels like keto is a great little pick-me-up”, she told Jana. “Maybe I can use it as a tool instead of a lifestyle.” So she did. Anytime she wanted to speed her results, she’d go back on keto for a matter of days or weeks. When her progress slowed, she’d stop. Pounds poured off. “You drop weight rapidly”, Kitty shares. “And it’s sustainable because it’s for short periods.”
Today, 55-year-old Kitty weighs 168 pounds — half of her former size. Even better, she’s pain-free, diabetes-free, and full of energy. “I used to have trouble walking two blocks; now I’m climbing mountains and chasing waterfalls”, she says with a smile. “It’s amazing that this is my life!” And yes, that life still includes sweet treats. Though recent events forced Kitty to close her bakery, she still whips up cakes for pals-and indulges when the mood strikes her. “I’ve learned to sit down, pay attention to the delicious smells, the texture and taste. I eat less but enjoy it more.” Adds Kitty, “I’m proof you can have your cake and lose weight too!”
How do these bursts work?
Experts say occasionally going on mini keto diets gets results in largely the same way as full-time keto: “You cut carbs until your body can’t make enough blood sugar for fuel, forcing your system to turn fat into alternate fuel called ketones,” explains Columbia-trained keto expert Fred Pescatore, MD. Fat burn and weight loss both spike. Bonus: Cells damaged by excess blood sugar are able to heal, and metabolism naturally improves.
Yale keto researchers have exciting evidence that going keto triggers a surge of special gamma-delta cells that rev metabolism and help fight countless diseases. The hitch? After a week or so, levels of these cells dwindle again. “Keto may actually work best in small doses”, per Yale’s Vishwa Deep Dixit, PhD. That’s because every time you restart, you set yourself up for another flood of slimming super-cells! The Bulletproof Diet author and keto-burst fan Dave Asprey adds that periods of normal carb intake have also been shown to bolster brain cells and feed slimming bacteria in our GI tract. No wonder folks using the approach with keto bursts shed up to 10 pounds a week!
What kind of results can you see?
“I love the energy I get from short periods of keto. And the weight loss is fast!” raves Kitty Vacha, 55, who started using “keto bursts” without even realizing they trigger special cells that fight diabetes and many health issues. “My blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol are all great now. No joint pain, either.” Once too big for the biggest size at Walmart — a size 30 — she now slides easily into size 12s. “I feel fantastic, especially since I didn’t have to give up any food group forever!”
What does a day of eating look like with keto bursts?
If you want to get started with keto bursts, these recipes could help.
BREAKFAST: Eggs prepared with butter; optional veggies, cheese, and bacon or smoked salmon.
LUNCH: Grilled chicken or salmon over salad with avocado and no-sugar dressing.
DINNER: Steak prepared with no-sugar marinade and a side of buttered veggies.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.