Sooooo… This quarantine or ‘shelter in place’ has given me a lot of spare time and opportunity to try things in a controlled environment. One such thing is going Keto. The reason why I thought it was a good idea is that, after reading a lot about it, it seems like I could drop fat mass pretty quickly, which was my goal. I also, it seemed an excellent opportunity to clear my liver. As well I wanted to get away from that ‘food off-limits’ mentality I unconsciously built during the time I was doing Noom (which I recommend if you can spare the money).
If you want to understand what’s the ketogenic diet, there are tons of videos online; the following one is my favorite.
People who preach and swear by the Keto diet claim some benefits: Enhanced mental clarity, more stable mood, automatic calorie intake control, being able to enjoy those fatty treats, and more. Medically, it is used to treat epilepsy and diabetes.
My post intends to confirm or bust some of those claims, and show how it has affected me during these last three weeks that I’ve been doing it. For the eager reader, I’ll say that so far, it’s not for me, but since I’ve been only in ketosis for a few days, and I’m just getting ‘fat-adapted,’ I’ll continue for a little bit longer to see how it goes.
I’m going to jump into the topic by explaining how I started moving to Keto.
When I decided to start, I was counting calories and measuring my body composition, without paying attention to the ratios of my macronutrients (macros for short). The first step was to stop and think about these macros and reduce the carbs; this was a week before I started. At the same time, I started researching about Keto from different resources and bought a cookbook in Amazon.
During week one, I went only intuitively off carbs, by taking out grains, rice, cereals, fruits, and starchy vegetables. There are some fruits like berries that are still ok to eat. By doing this, I started noticing changes like:
- Increased thirst.
- I visited the bathroom much more often.
- I didn’t have any trouble reaching my calorie goal.
- I struggled to eat enough food because I was feeling full and satisfied.
At the end of week one, I also experienced the ‘keto flu,’ which I thought it was regular flu, and I even was a little scared of the possibility of having the coronavirus as I had visited several airports. It all started with a 5-mile hike on the snow, where I felt awful. But where the cold shortener, fluids, the high doses of Tylenol, and the two days in bed with the shivers didn’t do any good on me, a very salty Thai soup made me feel better instantly: I was very low on sodium.
Week two came with the shelter in place, so I decided to shop for groceries and follow the meal plan from my book, so I went Keto to the T. It was just today where I broke it while working out but only to experiment.
The Findings (So Far)
- I dropped a ton of weight in water, but at the same time, my body composition went the opposite way I wanted: lost lean body mass and gained body fat mass. My research tends to suggest this is part of the fat-adaptation process, so more to come.
- This diet broadened up my cooking spectrum: I got to experience with ingredients I don’t typically use and made foods I didn’t think of making before.
- I can claim my mood is very stable, but I don’t have any added mental clarity. If anything, I realize it’s harder for me to focus. My research says it’s also part of the adaptation process, so more to come.
- My appetite and eating patterns have changed. I do three meals and no snacking in between, and I feel satisfied most of the time. If I don’t force myself to eat more, I end up having like 1400 calories a day, which is way below my BMR.
- I feel weaker: I can barely do ten push-ups at the time; at the gym, I felt my usual weights more challenging, and while cycling, my legs feel tired in places that before were not that challenging. On the flip side, I felt much more resistant; I could ride 100km on my bike while eating very little food.
- It’s much challenging to find keto-friendly snacks in grocery stores, and keto snacks typically need refrigeration; this makes it especially hard to take these snacks on hikes or bike rides. You end up only carrying Jerky, nuts, or packets of almond butter. And still, the nuts might cause you to exceed your daily carb intake. Virtually everything has sugars, and if you want to follow it by the T, then you need to be a good planner.
Going Keto was the right decision from the learning perspective. It drove me to gather a lot of information on nutrition, and I learned about my own body. It also showed me that it’s impractical if I’m not at home and controlling every aspect of it. Would I do it again? Possibly not, at least not so far. Unless something great happens during this final week that I’m doing it. I would recommend it only for people who want to learn how to control their calories and lose the fear of having oils and healthy fats. If you already know how to manage your hunger and have your calories in check, then intermittent fasting with a Mediterranean diet seems to be a better long-term sustainable solution—my two cents.
Please feel free to leave your questions or comments in the section below.