In Categories: Patient Voice

By Victor, a Virta patient

I joined Virta in June of 2018. Within four months, I had already lost 30 pounds and lowered my A1c by 3 points. There have been many changes since I began dietary changes with Virta. It took only one week for my mind to feel different. It was so strange—I had never felt so peacefully calm before. Could this strange feeling be the new normal? It turns out it was. My hunger level in general is greatly diminished and my mind is no longer obsessed or preoccupied with food. It is a wonderful feeling.

Victor, before Virta and after 3 months on Virta

When I joined, I was worried about my food options. Would this be expensive? Would I have to spend more time cooking? Would I be able to eat out? It turns out I did not need to worry about any of these considerations. Virta has a complete library of resources that removed a lot of the difficulty involved in meal planning. While the dietary changes are just one aspect of the Virta Treatment, it did take some time to adjust to the dietary changes and figure out some of my new favorite meals.

All our kids are grown, and I live with my wife in our empty nest. I do the majority of the cooking, so it was important to me to figure out ways to adapt Virta to my busy lifestyle. But once I got used to the new eating plan, I figured out easy ways to prep my food for the week.

How I feel about my food options on Virta

I love swapping out my old, unhealthy favorites for new versions. Cauliflower and zucchini are my new friends—I use them to make low carb replacements for rice and pasta! I’ve learned to make a convincing and delicious lasagna using thin strips of zucchini in place of the sheets of pasta, and I love making zucchini noodles with marinara sauce.

Victor’s zucchini noodles and stuffed meatballs in marinara sauce

I’m amazed that the most filling foods I now enjoy fit very well with the Virta high-fat regimen and do not sabotage my metabolism! I am discovering how easy it is to cook with butter again.

I am learning “bread” can take many forms. A Virta lifestyle has always been based on science and while my math is adequate, I am learning again to enjoy the chemistry-art that is bread-making. In my single-parent days, I would bake two loaves a week, so the kids could enjoy hot bread in the mornings before school and sandwiches made with fresh bread for lunch. I found a microwave recipe for bread that takes only a few minutes to make. While I am not a fan of microwave cooking, this was just so tempting to try. After an initial test, and toasting the bread on the stovetop, I wound up producing a week’s worth of sausage, egg and cheese muffins that served as our breakfasts.

Victor’s low carb bread

How I meal prep for the week on weekends

My weekend prep day involves arranging breakfast and lunch for the week. Each day I thaw the meat we choose for dinner—we grill or bake it and add some veggie sides. Weekday dinners are usually easy meals that I prep beforehand. Weekends are for experimenting with new dishes!

Dining out

We prefer to cook, but we have no issues dining out. There are several nearby places that have just what we need for a quick dinner if I run out of time to cook. Virta has a resource that breaks down compatible meal options at many restaurants.

It can take a little extra effort to find meals without hidden carbs when we dine out, but fortunately, the Virta team has already taken the time to analyze menus at many restaurants in my area and major chains. I can always check with my health coach to get menu suggestions for new restaurants, and she’ll take a look and tell me my options.

Experimenting with new recipes

I love to cook, so I’m always looking for new recipes to try. I use the resource center inside the Virta app and Pinterest to find new recipes. We do have to be very diligent because not everything that says “keto” is actually Virta-friendly. As a patient, I get to be a member of Virta’s private patient community, so I get many recipes and ideas from my peers. I’m excited for more patients to join Virta because we can share more of what works for each of us with each other. One of our great finds is a stuffed meatball recipe we tried. My wife found this in a recipe book.

Victor’s cheesy meatball recipe

My advice to people starting Virta

My best advice to people figuring out what to eat on Virta is to absorb every bit of knowledge you can from the resources (videos, lists and cheat sheets) Virta offers. In addition, don’t be afraid to experiment with recipes and add whatever spices enhance the flavor for you.

And don’t hesitate to share with the community! We all benefit when we learn from each other.

Don’t beat yourself up if you try something that has a negative impact on your biomarkers. Just document that this is a new boundary for you and resolve to find something else that helps rather than hinders you. And lastly, don’t be ashamed for taking care of yourself! Sometimes even our families, well-meaning though they may be, may think they know what is best. With a little planning, we can avoid things that are problematic for us and still enjoy family time together.

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for sharing. I live in Canada, so I am not eligible to become a Virta patient. However, I do consult their website frequently for new recipe ideas and, most importantly, the science of a WFKD

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      Im Canadian too, from Hamilton Ontario . I’m looking for a physician in the área. Any help ?

      Reply

      1. Virta Health

        You could try searching online for low carb physicians in your area.

        Reply

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    Can you post some of your recipes please?😊

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  3. Avatar

    This has been so spot on for me thanks for sharing!

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    Great info!!! Thank you. 👍🏼

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  5. Avatar

    I want the meatball recipe?
    Did you post it? Day 3 and going shopping tomorrow, kit coming too!
    Thanks, a great post

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    Maria Eugenia Lima de Sa April 2, 2019 at 5:39 am

    Great for you Victor! I’m happy that you have recovered your life and surely improved a lot your diabetes.
    Diet Doctor has a lot of recipes that you can use in your benefit besides all the resources in Virta.
    Have a great new life!!😃

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    If you are an accomplished baker you should try FiberFlour, a ketogeninc flour substitute loaded with 7 sources of prebiotics. Use yeast fermentation to reduce carbs even more and yeast makes all sorts of vitamins and nutrients out of starch and sugar.

    Reply

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    Cindy Contreras April 2, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Your bread and meatball looks yummy. Thanks for sharing! Would love it you can share recipes

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    I enjoyed your article and am sending it to friends, families and a doctor or two.

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  10. Avatar

    You look fabulous Victor. Love your blog!

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  11. Avatar

    Can you share the low carb bread recipe?

    Reply

    1. Avatar

      Do you mind sharing low carb microwave bread recipe please

      Reply

  12. Avatar

    I’m new to the site and concept and I get the low carb, higher fat theory. But not being a cook, I’m struggling with how to increase my fat intake. How can i get a list of high fat foods that i should learn to like? Any help would be great

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Marty! Thanks for joining us. I would head to this page and enter your email address for a PDF of our grocery shopping guide. You can print it out and put it on your fridge and use it as a guide to what to eat! https://blog.virtahealth.com/low-carb-keto-grocery-shopping/

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    2. Avatar

      Hi there! To consume adequate fat I simply add more olive oil, butter and/or avocado oil to my meals.

      Reply

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    George Hargreaves May 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I have been following a LCHF diet regimen for approximately 5 years now, after seeing Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney lecturing on YouTube revealing the science behind the theory. Since then I have felt so much more motivated to make sure I get my daily exercise as well as having the energy to do the more mundane daily routine stuff. However I would advise people to resist the urge to do too much strenuous exercise and build up slowly as I ended up injuring both my ankle tendens one after the other by running up the hills near our home (I’m a slow learner) which was very frustrating. Over the last year or so I have become an intermittent faster which I slipped into easily and without hunger because of already being in ketosis. I also have an occasional 3 to 7 day fast, my last fast of 8 days over the easter holidays went quite well, no hunger even while preparing food for others and after having eased myself back into eating I was feeling pretty good with myself. I didn’t want to put the weight I’d lost back on so I kept the carbs very low right from my first meal back eating, I felt good, 4 days later my daughter and I went up a little mountain called Dodd Wood, by a lake, only 1648ft but steep, I was a bit breathless at times but it was exhilarating. The following morning I felt a little pain in the joint of my big toe on my right foot. After sitting at my desk for a couple of hours writing my foot felt very warm and it was throbbing. When I checked it out it looked swollen, red and was very painful to walk on. I thought that I must have damage my foot on the walk some how and not realised. It was the Easter Holiday weekend and didn’t want go to the out patients at the hospital so did what I could myself to ease the pain and swelling (ice, elevation and ibuprofen gel) and hobbled about all weekend. I finally had to give in and make an appointment at the infirmary, saw a doctor and was totally gob smacked (very surprised) when she said she thought it was gout (after testing my blood and ruling out infection), she gave me medication for it but couldn’t tell me much about it apart from that “they” say it’s caused by a rich diet. I was shocked! I loved my diet, I hadn’t had any problem like this over the previous 5 years, was this a flaw in LCHF diet, I wondered. Over the next few days I researched gout it’s causes and prevention. Apparently when you fast your body produces a large amount of uric acid for a period of time and then levels drop away naturally. I haven’t been able to find out why or what it does yet but I am assuming it’s for our own protection and I imagine may have something to do with autophagy. Maybe because of this uric acid build up we are in an acidic state which upon re-feeding we need to neutralise by eating alkaline foods (leafy greens) in abundance to avoid the build up of uric acid crystals in the joints (mainly the big toe). As well as our bodies producing it the research mentions purines in food that break down into uric acid when eaten and that people who suffer from gout and arthritis should avoid them but that includes some vegetables like cauliflower and asparagus which people on a ketogenic diet would assume were benign and these were some of the vegetables that I ate along with meat which is high in purines and so is acidic and fat which I believe is neutral. So, do people who fast or are on a LCHF diet need to be assessing the acid/alkaline value of the food they eat or is that supposed to be covered by the well balanced part of the diet. I have learned a valuable lesson which needs much further investigation if indeed the research is out there. It has been said that there is no dietary necessity for carbs (leafy greens and other very low carb veg) and yet protein is high in purines and fat is neutral, will that create in us an acidic environment in which yeast infections and cancer thrive? I know the ketogenic diet is anti-inflammatory diet and yet it did not prevent this bout of gout. I had to come out of ketosis for a few days and eat fruits and veg without purines that were alkaline and would switch my blood acidity back to alkaline as quickly as possible to relieve the inflammation and pain. I ate things like pineapple and banana smoothy, blueberries, lemon juice, apple, apple cider vinegar in water and leafy greens like spinach and kale. I was diagnosed on the Tuesday and by the Wednesday evening I was able to walk without pain. I have benefitted enormously from the keto diet and the protection it provides and will never go back to eating the way I used to with the pasta, rice, potato and bread (I might have the occasional slice of sourdough toast before a walk) and I realise that it was the fast that started this chain of events but maybe there should be an open discussion about body ph values and evidence of benefits being either: great, of some benefit to some, negligible or of no benefit. I know you don’t sanction fasting and Steve has spoken out against it but it seems to me that intermittent fasting with keto is the next natural step on from keto unless you’r under weight. Thanks for your patients.

    Reply

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