My Keto Life: How I Lost Ten Pounds In A Month
Sluggish, gross, exhausted — three words that I used to describe how I felt in my own skin before June 1st, 2021. Like many, the perpetual state of “pause” I had lived in since COVID-19 made its way to Texas more than a year ago took a physical toll.
Let’s call it the “Covid 20.” Similar to the “Freshman 15,” but with more trauma-induced carbo-loading. But it had to end. I could no longer sit on the couch, eating my sadness and fear. For the sake of my sanity, I had to do something to feel better, both physically and emotionally.
After enrolling my youngest at a loving and safe Montessori school, I hit the gym with the same eagerness I had in the year before my wedding. But my regular regimen of elliptical, weights, and floor exercises wasn’t garnishing results. Add in a couple of tweaked muscles, and it was all too easy to let my inner critic convince me to give up.
I hadn’t considered all the life that has occurred — you know, new baby, lost loved ones, living through the spread of a deadly globe encompassing virus, normal stuff — would make getting into shape a completely different experience than ever before.
Long story short, the bod wasn’t responding like it once did. I needed a different approach.
Finding a safe way to see results relatively quickly was key to avoid the gravitational pull of the sofa. I had no budget for a mail-order diet program, nor the time to count calories and zero interest in living with an eternal pang of hunger.
A quick Google search brought me to the Ketogenic diet.
What is Keto?
With a Ketogenic diet, carbohydrates and sugars are dramatically decreased while the intake of healthy fats is increased.
According to Healthline.com, reducing carbohydrates causes the body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis, in which fat is metabolized more efficiently. In ketosis, fat is turned into ketones which supply energy to the brain.
In addition to creating a more efficient metabolism, the Keto diet can lower blood sugar and insulin.
A standard ketogenic diet (SKD) typically consists of 70 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 10 percent carbohydrates. However, the type of fat consumed is important. Not all fats are created equal.
You may hear the phrases “clean keto” and “dirty keto.” Healthline.com says, “Clean keto consists mainly of whole foods from quality sources, such as grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, wild-caught seafood, olive oil, and non-starchy vegetables.”
My Keto Experience
Since a grocery bill with anything grass-fed, free-range, or wild-caught can be quite high, I simply went for whole foods and avoided highly processed fats, pork products, and fast foods.
In addition to cutting my carbs to around 50 grams per day, I also chose to cut out products with added sugars. I even limited the fruits I consumed to those low in sugar, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
While cutting out alcohol is not required with a ketogenic diet, it was part of my keto adventure. However, I stopped consuming alcohol more than eight years ago, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. Because some alcoholic beverages and mixers are high in carbs and sugar, it is a step worth considering.
Finally, I altered my eating schedule, opting for a longer fast between the last meal of one day and the first meal of the next day. My goal was to have brunch at around 11 AM, a small protein snack such as almonds around 4 PM, and my last meal of the day around 6 PM. This helped to regulate insulin levels and curb food cravings, ultimately lowering my appetite over time.
Alright, time for real talk. While counting calories is not required for a keto diet, drastic changes to the foods you consume may be. Like any drastic change, a switch to keto can be challenging in the beginning.
I definitely craved my nightly, post-kid-bedtime serving of a cookie and/or ice cream — let’s be honest, sometimes both. When that craving cropped up, I allowed myself a small handful of almonds, enough to turn off the food-obsessed part of my brain. Over time, those cravings subsided.
Fasting also proved to be difficult on days when I was more active. When I found myself especially hungry before a specified eating time, I chose to listen to what my body needed and went for small protein snacks. But I limited those to no more than thirty minutes before or after mealtimes.
Navigating a restaurant menu is a tricky challenge that requires some flexibility and a little patience. Ordering food that is not prepared in my home is often a treat. On keto, I allowed myself some leniency in these situations while setting myself up for success.
First, I avoid high-carb and fast-food facilities altogether. I peruse the online menu beforehand, looking for healthy protein and fat options, as well as vegetable side dishes. Many restaurants even offer a keto option. Keep in mind gluten-free options don’t always equate to keto-friendly as some gluten-free ingredients are still high in carbohydrates.
In my experience, there was a learning curve with a keto diet. After about a week, I settled into a regular routine that I’ve been able to maintain.
The Keto diet gave me the results I needed. In a month, I was able to lose ten pounds. I built the strength, energy, and confidence needed to keep going.
Since starting the diet, my personal self-image has shifted. I feel more in control of my body than I have in years. The choices I make are deliberate. I listen to the nutritional needs of my body rather than to the carbohydrate and sugar cravings that once controlled me.
Because my appetite and food cravings are now under control, I only consume what my body needs, with or without exercise. This has allowed me to alter my approach to exercise. I no longer feel the need to lift heavy weights or spend an hour on an elliptical. Instead, I focus on a daily yoga practice that strengthens my core muscles and improves my flexibility.
Bottom line, I feel better than I did in my pre-wedding days, and I plan to continue this diet into the future.
Consult A Doctor
I am a writer (check out my CHW author page!), not a doctor. So I decided consulting one was pertinent. At a regular check-up with my doctor, I mentioned that I was trying keto. She asked questions to better understand what “keto” looks like for me.
She encouraged me to include healthy fats like avocados and olive oil and to steer clear of pork fat and butter. As appealing as “high fat” sounds, a package of bacon every day is not the healthy track.
She also suggested that I invest in keto test strips or a blood monitor to check the level of ketones in my blood. If too many ketones build up in the blood, the body can go into ketoacidosis, and insulin levels drop dangerously low.
I made a plan with my doctor to track the long-term effects of the diet on my cholesterol at my next annual wellness exam. If you are interested in trying the keto diet or any diet, talk to your doctor first. Make a plan to monitor the changes in your body with the help of a health professional.