It has been an entire year since I made the commitment to eat a ketogenic diet! Today I wanted to share some insights on what I have experienced after 12 months on a keto diet.
Left: Sitting on my husband’s lap for a family pic Christmas 2017, weighing 157 lbs Right: On a cruise October 2018 weighing 127 lbs.
What is keto?
If you’re new to keto and wondering what the ketogenic diet is all about, I HIGHLY recommend clicking here to learn more about it: Keto Diet: What I’ve Experienced After Two Months. In this initial blog post, I break down for you what a ketogenic diet is and isn’t, link to other helpful resources, and answer many basic questions you might have! I also share a sample menu of what kinds of things I eat on any given day.
Why did you choose keto to lose weight?
Before I even dive in here, let me start with a disclaimer. I fully recognize that my fat loss story is incredibly insignificant comparatively speaking. I’ve never struggled with severe obesity, and I’ve maintained a healthy self-esteem and body image no matter what I’ve weighed over the years. My trouble with fat loss over the last decade has been in maintaining my weight. Like many of you, I tend to commit to a diet change for a few months, lose the weight, and then go back to my old eating habits. Exercise has been easier for me to stick with and I’ve worked out consistently at the gym for the last six years. The saying, “Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and built in bed,” definitely rings true for me! Healthy bodies require exercise, a healthy diet, and rest and a ketogenic diet has helped me succeed at all three!
Left: February 2018 after being on keto for a month. Right: September 2018 almost at goal weight.
How much weight did you lose this year while eating a keto diet and how long did it take you to lose the weight?
It took me nearly a year to lose 33 pounds. I know, I know. That’s an awfully long time to lose such a little amount, but please stick with me here! Could I have dropped the weight faster if I had implemented some stricter protocols for myself? Absolutely. I could have implemented intermittent fasting, been stricter on my net carbs, and omitted all of that 85% dark chocolate and raspberries. (Never!!) But this time around, I refused to fall back into the trap of the weight loss rollercoaster. I promised myself that I would make changes I could realistically stick to without feeling deprived. I would commit to staying in ketosis, avoid all non-keto approved foods, and keep my net carbs relatively low—but I wouldn’t suffer or ever get to a point where I was white-knuckling my way through.
I kept those promises to myself, stayed in ketosis with the exception of a few special occasions, and lost an average of about 3 lbs per month. The only time I strayed from keto-approved foods was on a cruise and at Thanksgiving dinner. Other than that, I was strict with my macros. I also did hard cardio every week for 3-5 hours each week. So why on earth did it take me so long to lose the weight?! I’m honestly not sure other than the reasons stated above. The good news for you is that my slow progress seems to be the exception and not the rule! However, if you are starting this journey I want you to feel encouraged. Don’t give up if the weight takes longer than anticipated to drop off. Trust the process, don’t quit, and just push through those plateaus!
Left: On a hike in October 2017 Right: Snowfall December 2018
Why did you stick with keto when your fat loss could have been quicker with (fill in the blank with your favorite Facebook MLM product or other known diet)?
It’s not a one-size-fits-all world so it’s important to find what works for you! I’ve tried several products from numerous MLM companies over the years and to their credit my short-term weight loss goals were almost always met with success with each program I tried. However, I would always end up putting the weight back on because I found long-term commitment to meal replacement products to be expensive and difficult. This time around I wanted to lose weight without being dependent on shakes and bars, or pre-packaged meals. I wanted something I could implement for the long haul that only required a normal trip to the grocery store. The reason I didn’t choose Whole 30 or Paleo is because I didn’t think I’d be able to commit to those long-term. Keto fits my lifestyle, eating habits, and food preferences. But the bottom line here is that I stuck with keto because of how much better it made me feel!
Don’t you miss eating sugar and carbs? Isn’t it unrealistic to commit to avoiding these long term?
Over Christmas, I was talking with my aunt who is 9 years my elder and has an enviable figure. I asked her what she does to maintain her weight and she explained that she eats a low-calorie diet most of the time and then allows herself to indulge when going out on weekends and on holidays. This sounds perfectly reasonable and healthy. The only problem with it is that I literally cannot seem to do it myself!
Without getting too dramatic here, carbs and sugar feel like an addiction to me. On keto, I finally feel “normal” in relation to food. For the first time ever, food doesn’t rule my thoughts and doesn’t hold me hostage. I now feel like what I imagine most typical people feel throughout their day. Like sure, a yummy treat would be delicious and pleasurable, but it’s fine if I don’t eat one today, instead of, I need to eat five chocolate chip cookies now and maybe three later in order to feel calm.
When I’m not in ketosis, I feel out of control and struggle with battling my cravings all day long. Over Christmas I indulged in a few sugary treats. Nothing major, but enough to kick myself out of ketosis. I was cranky, irritable, and craving alllllllllll the sugar for several days afterwards. I couldn’t stop thinking about the box of chocolates downstairs and had to talk myself out of eating another piece. I was miserable and was quickly reminded of how I used to feel all the time around sugar and carbs. My life with sugar and carbs before keto was all about white knuckling it each day to try and not over-indulge. I am so thankful for the FREEDOM to not feel like that any longer. I don’t feel deprived or like I’m missing out. I feel free from being a slave to my irrational cravings.
Left: November 2017 Right: December 2018
What are some of the non-scale gains you’ve received from eating a ketogenic diet?
My energy throughout the day is better, my mood is more stable, and my skin is so much clearer! Something I completely didn’t expect from eating keto is that my nasal allergies have all but disappeared! There is research to suggest that a keto diet reduces inflammation within the body so I’m guessing this has something to with it. I used to be severely allergic to cats, leaf mold, dust mites, pet dander, etc. However now as long as I keep my net carbs in check, my allergies are not activated. We even have a cute kitty who lives with us now!
Have you noticed any cons to eating keto?
Eating out and drinking socially is much more difficult for me on keto. It’s not at all impossible, but I do find myself being more tempted to indulge when out with friends and family. However, I think this would be the case no matter what diet I was on!
Do you have any favorite keto recipes?
I do, and I hope to be better about sharing more of my favorites with you this year! If you’re just beginning on this journey, I highly recommend buying the book Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. It’s a wonderful place to start with a practical selection of easy to follow recipes. I also really like the book Keto for Life by Melissa Sevigny. You can browse her blog I Breathe I’m Hungry for some of her best recipes. You can look through the few keto recipes I’ve created this year here.