So, here we are! After a whole month on the Keto diet, its been eventful to say the least… Firstly I just want to start with saying that I am by no means a dietitian or keto expert. This is the first diet I have ever tried and suck with, and this post is entirely my personal experience and how I found the keto diet. Results will be different person to person. I also want to say that however pleased I am with my results, they were most certainly swayed in some way due to an event in my life that lead to me having absolutely no appetite for about a week, and then 4 days off of the keto diet while I was out of the country, which will have taken me out of my ketosis state. The effect of eating little to nothing for a week might have been evened out by eating ‘normally’ for 5 days, but it also might not… which is why I am eager to do this diet again in Jan and Feb, so keep a look out for that in the future!
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I started the Keto diet on Wednesday 31st October, I chose this random middle of the week date because the last Great British Bake Off episode of 2018 aired on Tuesday 30th and I didn’t want to miss out on having some baked goods while I watched the show, but I also didn’t want to wait until the following Monday because I feel like diets that start on Monday end up falling into the ‘I’ll start tomorrow…’ mentality.
I listen to The Joe Rogan Experience and The Fighter & The Kid podcast and have done for over a year and this is where I first heard of the Keto diet, as its something the host’s of the podcast have all tried and will regularly discuss with guests. Keto is basically a diet which entails removing all sugar and carbs from your diet, and upping your protein and fat consumption. Naturally, the body can process fats and protein really well, but doesn’t process carbs or sugar that great. When you’re eating carbs and sugar regularly, as we usually do, the body uses the carbs and sugar as energy, and doesn’t get chance to use your fats as energy because we are constantly topping up the carbs. When you take carbs and sugar out of your body and they are all used up, the body goes through a transition where it learns to use stored fats as its source of energy, and this is called Ketosis.
When your body starts to run out of carbs and sugar, and is starting to switch to using fats you can go through some unpleasant side effects, which will vary person to person and will also vary depending on how high your carb and sugar intake was before you cut them out.
Side effects can include the following:
- Frequent urination – as your body starts burning through the glycogen it has stored all over the body you need to urinate more, and carbs also store A LOT of water in the body, so when there are no carbs you don’t need to hold in all the water and your body gets rid of it (or this is my understanding anyway… either way, I pee’d a lot during the first week!).
- Dizziness – As your body gets rid the excess water is also gets rid of minerals that you need, so to avoid this you must make sure you’re still eating enough and drinking a lot of water to replace the minerals your body is letting go of.
- Low blood sugar – This is especially true for people who had a very carb and sugar heavy diet before starting the Keto diet. Your body needs to produce insulin to handle the carbs and sugar in your body, so when these are suddenly removed your body doesn’t adjust as quickly as we would like, so you can experience short term low bloody sugar until your body gets used to your new diet. Low blood sugar can make you feel tired, hungry and shaky.
- Sugar cravings – I mean, yeah. Gimme all the donuts. Stick this part out though and you will be amazed at what comes next…
- Toilet issues – Including constipation and diarrhea. Lovely.
- Flu symptoms (often referred to as Keto Flu) – Headaches, tiredness, low energy and irritability (basically all the symptoms of been hangry, right?).
- Heart palpitations – This is usually caused by not having enough salt and water, so make sure your diet has enough salt included and that you’re drinking plenty of water.
Of these symptoms I definitely experienced the frequent urination, sugar cravings in the first week or so, and the dizziness within the first week. The dizziness came over me all of a sudden a few times and then once I drank some water it went away really quickly. Basically I just wasn’t drinking enough and since getting rid of carbs and sugar my body wasn’t storing as much water as it used to, so I had to up my water intake to make up for this.
I will say that if you’re vegan or vegetarian I think this diet will be really, really hard to follow. Vegetarian would be possible, as you can have as much cheese, (most) veg and full fat cream and milk as you want. But if you’re vegan I think this diet would be virtually impossible and don’t think it would be possible to get the amount of nutrients that your body needs (I might be wrong, but from somebody who isn’t vegan looking at the things you can eat on this diet it seems quite unlikely).
So, what can you eat? Below is a simple, easy to reference Keto pyramid, which I found here. And if you follow this link you will find a full list of foods you can have, and which to avoid. I really should have looked into this part more before I started! For the first few days I was still eating bananas and oranges, dried fruit, carrots and hummus etc thinking it was Keto, well, I quickly found out that they weren’t allowed and had to find alternatives very fast! But Keto has a lot of perks, your Sunday fry up that you love so much? You can still have the eggs, bacon, sausage and if you add some avocado then its still the stuff dreams are made of! Its easy to still enjoy your favorite things, you just might just need to make a few alterations. I enjoyed fajitas with lettuce instead of wraps, burgers with cheese and no bun, steak and salad, there so much you can have and if I can give any advice it would be to focus on all the things you CAN have rather than what you CANT have.
WEEK 1 (Wed-Sun)
The first week of my Keto diet I found it quite hard to get my head around the things I couldn’t have, and really wanted sweet treats more than anything! I was peeing about 10 times a day for a few days towards the back end of the first week, and I was feeling the dizziness after I had been to the gym. I found that when I was doing cardio my energy levels were low and I was getting tired a lot quicker than I usually did, however I didn’t feel like my strength was effected at all and I could still squat the same weight etc. When I wanted a snack I made sure I had some nuts handy (you can have salted nuts, not just naked boring nuts!), and some cheese too, like Babybells. During the first few days I took a starting weight, but then didn’t weigh myself again. My PT also took my measurements during my first week, so by the end of the month I had quite an accurate reading from the full month :).
During the second week any sort of cravings for bananas, rice, pasta, bread etc all went away. I started to stop feeling hungry, I wasn’t having a rumbling tummy any more and no hunger pains, it was more a sense of ‘oh, its time for a meal and you should eat now’, but I didn’t feel starving or like I needed to eat, I just knew I should. Thats something I had never felt before! I am such a foody and I love to love and enjoy food, nothing has ever taken away my appetite (until the next week…) so it was weird not having that. I have been having full fat greek yogurt with frozen berries for breakfast, some sort of meat with greens for lunch and for dinner either meat and veg again or something more adventurous like fajita’s in lettuce leaves rather than a wrap – bizarrely there is barely a difference in enjoyment with that one! One thing I still missed as a sweet treat, I didn’t really want anything bad enough to break my diet, but I just wanted something towards the end of the second week as a half way point, so I made some Keto friendly blondies, which I blogged about and linked here!
WEEK 3 AND 4
This is where things went south. If you’re still reading at this point then I need to just add in that on Sunday 11th after posting my Keto Blondies recipe to my page I had some really horrible news that shook me to the core and altered my day to day life, and it absolutely took away my appetite for the next week. Because of this I feel as though its only fair to mention that the results I have seen from the Keto diet have most certainly been effected by the fact I barely ate throughout the week of 12/11 to 17/11, however I was still going to the gym the same amount as I usually do (4/5 times per week). Also, on 18/11 to 22/11 I went to Gran Canaria with work, and took a break from the Keto diet. This was partly due to it being hard to stay on track when theres so many tasty treats (and sangria) around, but also I felt like I should just let myself eat what I fancied, in moderation, seeing as my appetite had finally returned after a week of living on the bare minimum – I don’t feel guilty for this, I think given the circumstances it was necessary. I started the Keto diet again on Friday 23rd after 5 days off, and continued as normal.
After having 5 days off the Keto diet I’m not sure if 1 week of not eating much and 5 days of eating anything will balance themselves out, or if I have truly fucked up, but I’m continuing as normal and trying out new recipes! I made broccoli soup linked here which was amazing, so nice while the weather has been cold and also so tasty, I added chili flakes and strained the soup to make it super smooth and I promise it’s a winner! Broccoli soup isn’t something I ever thought I would like but its amazing. Another meal I enjoy making which was easy to make Keto is chilli, literally the only adjustment is not adding the kidney beans and not having rice, you can still add cheese on top and some chopped avocado and wallah! As a woman I don’t think this diet is too complicated or expensive to live on, but I have heard from a lot of men that they had to spend WAY more than they normally would on food to keep themselves full. I guess it depends how much you need to function on but when the hunger goes away with Keto I think you generally start having smaller portions anyway. Towards the end of the week knowing that I was nearly at the end of my month on Keto all I wanted was sweets again, I wasn’t hungry, I was just starting to have eyes bigger than by belly and was crazing Krispy Kremes, toast and beer more than anything! Let me tell you… when I came to the end of my Keto month that beer was the best pint of my life!
So, I don’t really want to announce what I did weigh and what I do now, but I lost 20lbs, which is 1.4 stone! Way more than I thought I had lost and way more than I feel like the measurements show, which was -2.5 inches from my hips/bum, and half an inch from my waist, chest, arms and legs.
I think the Keto diet really works for me, I found it just clicked and I think it makes sense. Counting calories can be a little deceiving when a bag of Quavers has less calories than a banana. Ive ‘tried’ diets in the past, as in just eating healthy, but its never reeaaaallly lasted. I don’t eat to excess generally anyway and have always thought that everything in moderation is the best policy. I rarely overindulge in rice, pasta and bread, and I do watch what I eat but I liked the way Keto was black and white and its the first time I’ve ever not felt hungry or had a rumbling tummy… that was the best feeling of it all! Usually I never ever weigh myself but seeing the pounds melt off was really crazy considering I was still snacking on brie and cured meats which are my fave! I missed pizza the most, and beer… I’m basically Homer Simpson in a women’s body! Another thing I have noticed on Keto, my nails grew?! I don’t know what craziness made that happen, but my nails NEVER grow, they always break off but for some reason they are now naturally longer than they have been in years. Go figure.
Have you ever tried the Keto diet? If I have written any incorrect information please let me know! Like I said at the start, I am no expert in this sector.
Love, Chelsea xxxxx