Sharing my short-lived experience with trying out the Keto diet! Why I tried it, what I used to track my macros, and why I ultimately decided not to continue.
I had originally planned to share my experience with Keto on Instagram stories, but I figured a blog post would be the best place to organize my thoughts!
At the beginning of July I was feeling worse than I had in a LONG time. I think the combination of a pandemic + kids home all the time + not having time to work + eating and drinking all of the things had me stressed out, moody, and almost 10 lbs more than I have been in a couple of years. I decided I needed some sort of reset. Normally I would turn to a Whole30 (30 days or just a mini reset) to get some healthy habits back in place, but I decided I wanted to see what Keto was all about. I’ve heard it’s great not only for weight loss, but also for mental clarity and just feeling good overall. Also it seemed like a good distraction and something new to focus on to make me feel like I have control over something during these crazy times. What did I have to lose?
I want to preface this by saying 1) I only truly did Keto for 16 days, which probably isn’t long enough to reap the full benefits. I still felt like I wanted to share my experience, though! and 2) I realize I don’t have a ton of weight to lose. I am (sadly) always chasing those last 5-10 lbs to get to my “happy weight” – and I think this stems from the fact that I’ve gained 25+ lbs since my Celiac diagnosis. While I am so grateful to know the root cause of my health issues and be so much healthier now, gaining that weight was a little tough for me over the last 3 years. I look back at pictures of myself 4 years ago and think wow if only I could get back to looking like that – but then I have to remind myself that I WASN’T HEALTHY. I was 112 lbs because I wasn’t absorbing nutrients and I was pretty malnourished, even though I was eating a ton. You can read more about my health journey here.
So… on July 17th I decided I was going to give Keto a shot. If you aren’t familiar with Keto, it’s basically a very high fat, low carb diet with moderate protein intake. I used an app called Carb Manager to track my macros. Once you are in “ketosis”, your body starts to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. I decided I was going to implement some dairy into my meals since that is allowed on Keto. Usually I avoid it (except for the occasional gluten free pizza here and there) because it makes my eczema flare, but again – it was part of my experiment.
So What Did I Eat?
I still had my coffee every morning with Vital Proteins Collagen and Nut Pods. Most days I had eggs, avocado, and a protein like sausage for breakfast. Not much different from what I was eating before, minus the occasional avocado toast on GF bread. Lunch was usually my Buffalo Tuna on tomatoes or a sandwich using Outer Aisle Gourmet Sandwich Thins as the “bread”. In the afternoons I got hooked to my friend Natalie from Taste Lovely’s Iced Keto Mocha – it’s so good! Dinner is where things really changed for me. I am so used to including a carb of some sort with many dinners, whether it’s spaghetti squash, potatoes, rice or GF pasta. I did enjoy lots of meals like my Instant Pot Buffalo Tuna Casserole, Shrimp and Grits, and Grain Free Chicken Parmesan, but I still found myself feeling like something was missing after a lot of dinners. I did enjoy a few alcoholic beverages like spiked seltzer (Crook and Marker’s have zero net carbs), vodka soda, and Scout and Cellar wine.
How Did I Feel?
On days 3-4 I got a major headache and experienced some digestion issues, which I am pretty sure was the Keto flu. This is what can happen while your body is adjusting to this new way of eating. Nausea, constipation, headaches, fatigue and sugar cravings are common in some people who are adapting to a high-fat, low-carb diet. It’s important to stay super hydrated, since Keto can cause you to lose a lot of water quickly. Once I got over that hump, I started to feel pretty good. I was clear headed, but I did notice that I would hit a wall around 11 am – 12 pm. I started turning to caffeine a lot more than normal to get me through the day during the first week. The digestion issues kind of resolved but not really. Some days would be fine, and other days I would be running to the bathroom (TMI – sorry, ha). I just felt kind of empty – it’s really hard to explain. I didn’t feel up to working out as much. I started to feel myself getting more energy on days 10-14 and feeling like some of the inflammation I had been experiencing was getting better.
On day 14 we left for vacation at the beach. I packed a ton of Keto friendly food and stuck with it until Day 16. At that point I had lost 6 pounds, which was surprising. It happened FAST. On day 16 I decided to eat a crepe from one of my favorite restaurants at the beach. Simply because I wanted to. I was mad at myself for breaking my streak of how “good” I had been – but then I realized, for what? What was the point of all of this? I could have easily enjoyed the GF crepe and hopped back on the Keto wagon, but I decided I didn’t want to. Nothing about this was bringing me joy.
What I learned:
I realized I felt pretty sad and anxious throughout the entire time I was doing Keto, I think because I knew I didn’t really NEED to be restricting myself. I worked really hard to get to a happy place of not counting calories after a few rounds of Whole30 and just eating what makes me feel good. And it felt like I was betraying myself in a way. And not practicing what I preach.
Food is one of the things that brings me a lot of joy, especially right now, and if anything this made me realize how much I don’t want to do anymore restrictive diets. Having Celiac and having to be gluten free 100% of the time is challenging enough – and I don’t really want to put additional pressure on myself. If anything, doing Keto for this short amount of time made me realize how many carbs I do eat on a regular basis. I think there can be a happy medium of maybe cutting back on the amount of carbs I eat, while still enjoying my food freedom. Eating when I am hungry, stopping when I’m full, and eating a diet comprised of lots of real food with the occasional treat. Everything in moderation – right?
Will I never eat a Keto meal again? Of course I will – lots of the recipes on my blog are Keto friendly. Same with Whole30 – just because I am not doing a round of Whole30 doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy these types of real food meals intertwined with “non compliant” treats, drinks, and indulgences.
Also, in terms of the dairy I seemed to do ok with it. It’s hard to know if the negative side effects I was experiencing were just from my body adapting to keto, or from dairy (or both)? My eczema around my eyes and around my elbows and knees is still flaring a bit but nothing terrible. I think I will continue to have dairy on special occasions but avoid it for the most part.
Would I recommend trying it out?
I think this is totally a personal decision. I think it can be good for some, but also not for others. You really have to be diligent about tracking your macros, at least in the beginning, otherwise you won’t have any way to know if you’re getting the right amount of fats/protein or over eating carbs. I think it can be great for weight loss, if done the right way. For me, it just didn’t feel sustainable and I wasn’t motivated enough to keep it going!
I am still a work in progress when it comes to loving myself just the way I am and also realizing there is so much more to life than losing those last 5 lbs. This was a good wakeup call for me, so overall I am glad I did it!
Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or message me on IG!