Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
I was intrigued by the diet that promises improved mental and physical health, all while allowing you to indulge in high-fat, whole foods. After years of following a healthy-ish diet – interspersed with frequent intervals of strict clean eating — I jumped on the keto bandwagon.
You can reach the state of ketosis through either adapting your nutrition or prolonged fasting. I chose the former, and simply cut all carbs outside of leafy green veg, started adding coconut oil to my coffee, and generally upped the good fats in my meals. The technical stuff was just the start, though, once I got over the initial three days of profuse sweating, bad breath, dull headaches, and a constant sweet taste in my mouth, I found out that the keto diet really is as transformative as its followers claim. Read on for the four major ways going keto changed my life.
Source: Florie Mwanza
I Lost Weight
The keto diet isn't a quick fix for weight loss. That being said, I managed to drop a whopping 8 lbs during my 3 weeks of ketosis. I'm convinced that one of the things that makes a keto diet easy to stick with in the long run, is how instantaneous your results are in the beginning. Within a few days of my first keto strip testing positive, I lost 2 lbs. Although I knew it was water weight that could be regained in a day, seeing that initial drop in the number on my scale made me even more eager to put all thoughts of bread and chocolate out of my mind in anticipation of losing a few more pounds.
I find tracking weight loss through scales to be a demotivating exercise, so instead I took weekly measurements of my waist, hips, and bust, and only weighed myself at the beginning and end of my 21-day experiment. Amazingly, I ended my diet about 2 inches down on my waist, which is usually the last part of my body to lean out.
I Gave Up Sugar
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I have to say that giving sugar up is one of the hardest struggles of my life. The sweet stuff might taste great and give you a momentary burst of energy, but the downsides of a sugar addiction far outweigh all the delicious snacks. After 10 days of consistently eating keto meals, I realized I'd reached a milestone I'd never done before — I'd been sugar-free for longer than my previous record of 5 days!
One of the great things about keto is the amount of variety the lifestyle adds to your daily menu. I was so busy enjoying my meals, I didn't have time to think about all the things I was missing, like chocolate bars and glasses of rosé.
Essential fats are incredibly filling, so loading up on that and fiber from vegetables such as spinach and kale meant that on most days I was too full to eat dinner, let alone raid the snack drawer for something sweet. Not only was I technically barred from eating sugar, I also didn't want it.
Souce: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
My Relationship to Food Changed
Following the keto diet helped me to rid myself of the notion that foods should be grouped into good and bad categories, which is a habit I developed as a consequence of following strict diets for so long. Going from having to limit how much avocado I could have and closely guarding every grain of salt used to season my lean chicken breasts, to eating eggs scrambled in ghee felt liberating.
My keto journey gave me the freedom to enjoy the foods I like without having to confine them to "cheat day" indulgences. All the things I previously obsessed over and gorged on as treats became regular additions to my diet. It feels freeing to know that I can have a piece of bacon or cheesy eggs without feeling guilty for cheating myself out of my progress.
I Stopped Working Out
As someone who's on a constant quest to lose the final 10 lbs, working out — although fun — can be very regimented for me. When I found out years ago that fasted, early morning workouts were great for encouraging your body to burn stored body fat, I became obsessed. As a result, I've developed a tendency to opt for high intensity, a.m. workouts because subconsciously I feel I get the most out of them, despite the fact that my energy levels and coordination are at their best later on in the day.
Being in ketosis means your body is naturally burning its fat stores for fuel, knowing I was working off body fat whether I worked out or not allowed me to loosen up on my obsession with early HIIT circuits. I replaced my regular workouts with an evening yoga practice everyday, which is something I was normally too tired to do because of my early gym rises and lunchtime spin classes.
The Next Steps
Being on the ketogenic diet is more than just eating a certain way, it's a lifestyle change. I didn't feel comfortable going cold turkey on my keto journey, because I enjoyed the mental clarity and hunger-curbing benefits too much. Instead, I slowly reintroduced carbs back into my diet as and when I wanted them. Despite the slight increase in my carb intake, I've yet to fall out of ketosis if my keto test strips are to be believed.
I've also adapted my approach to keto meals: rather than eat my fats through foods such as cheesy omelets and bacon bits, I take a tablespoon of coconut or avocado oil before a "cleaner" grain bowl with peanut butter and berries, or boiled eggs and Parma ham.
Although there's speculation with regards to how healthy or harmful a long-term keto diet is, I intend to follow the lifestyle for a few more months while continually adapting it to suit my body's needs.