My Story with the Keto Diet
I’ve always been changing my diet
When I started at college, I was on a meal plan so I would go eat at a cafeteria.
As most people who go to college do, I gained the freshman fifteen. Well, the freshman seventeen to be honest. I was kind of horrified at how fat I had gotten.
Putting two and two together, I realized that perhaps eating pizza and cereal wasn’t the best as far as diet - so I started trying to eat healthier.
Over the years I’ve tried a bit of everything - vegetarian, vegan, the Mediterranean diet, the Okinawan diet, primal and paleo and slow carb and the Whole 30 and the raw diet.
Let me tell you, it gets a bit exhausting to try all these different diets! But, the most important thing is that I’ve learned a lot from all these diets, and have taken away a lot in learning about how to achieve good health through diet.
Keto is one of those diets that is always going to work for people. I think there are some areas where it can be improved upon, but it’s a good diet because it changes the way you think about food and macros, as well as incorporating fasting, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
I had been doing the paleo diet for eight years prior to the keto diet. Although I had heard about the keto diet from some friends who had been trying to lose weight, I hadn’t considered it at the time because the paleo diet seemed to be working well for me.
I like the paleo diet because it is focused on food quality. The fact that I had already learned about high quality foods (grass fed meat and butter and vegetables) and bad quality foods (bad quality fats, grains, sugar) was a great basis to the understanding of the keto diet.
Paleo = The type of food you eat
Keto = The amount (macronutrients) of the food you eat
You can still eat terribly on the keto diet - you’ll see results, but it comes with other consequences - which is why I think that keeping the high quality of food from paleo combined with the macro ratios of keto is the perfect match for achieving optimal health.
This is one of the reasons why I continued to eat a paleo diet after coming off the keto diet (more about that in a minute)
What got me to try keto
Like I said, I was always “keto-curious” but never went as far as to actually try it myself.
To be honest, I felt that it was too restrictive. I liked the fact that paleo still allowed you to eat fruit and starches. The idea that I would have to count leaves of kale and the number of almonds seemed really fussy, silly, and kind of missing the point of a whole food diet.
Yet, I realized that it had its merits. I also started hearing more and more about it every year until 2017, when it seemed to really hit the mainstream.
Curious, I really sat down and looked at it. I realized that it wasn’t going to be as restrictive as I thought (and that you weren’t limited to keto pizza and fat bombs on the diet) and I realized as well that it was going to help with my SIBO issue by eliminating any source of sugar for the bad bacteria.
I decided that I was going to give it a try. If nothing else, I would just go back to a paleo diet like I was doing before. I had nothing to lose in that respect, aside from the ability to eat a lot of sweet potatoes.
Transitioning to Keto
I had a relatively easy time with transitioning to keto - very little keto flu, and only some muscle aches.
My husband also did the keto diet with me and unfortunately he didn’t fare quite as well. Despite both of us following the same protocol, he ended up with extremely painful and achy muscles and a headache one day - a severe case of the keto flu, which we now know how to avoid and combat.
The diet itself wasn’t bad - I ate a lot of broccoli, cheese, ground beef, avocados, coconut oil, heavy cream and a lot of coffee. Occasionally I would splurge my carbohydrates on half a grapefruit or a couple of pecans or a bit of half and half, knowing already that I reacted well to these foods prior to starting the diet.
It was a lot of fun. I noticed that my mental clarity was pretty good, my energy levels were better, and my digestion also was really good. I liked how simple the diet was.
Yet, there were still some issues I was having. I was still having some food sensitivities, still getting some weird acne, and my SIBO was still reacting.
That’s when I decided to add in intermittent fasting - to an extreme.
Now I don’t recommend this for everyone. I know my body well and what I can handle and the ways in which I can push the envelope. I have been fat-adapted for seven years, and I knew that I could probably give my body a gentle shove to get it to where I wanted it to be.
I decided to perform a keto fast for three days - only consuming fat - then eat for two days, then keto fast for another three. I basically drank keto coffee and tea for three days, then would break the fast the end of the third day, eating the next two days until it was time to fast again.
This time I was met with success. My SIBO cleared up quickly, my food sensitivities were gone, my skin was perfect, my seasonal allergies were gone, and my mental clarity had achieved Nirvana-like levels.
After doing this for three weeks, I realized however that it all had to come to an end. I was driving my husband nuts with not eating, and I was starting to get weird questions at work if I actually ate food or if I just drank coffee.
However, having met my goals, I was satisfied and ended both the keto fasting and the keto diet.
Life after the keto diet
To be fair, I am not completely off the keto diet. I still cycle through every other week as far as keto - I’ll do one week lower carb, then one week higher carb. Of course lower carb meaning daily 50g of carbohydrates, and higher carb being 100-150g of carbohydrates.
This is less restrictive, so allows me to eat more vegetables, some fruit, and some safe starches like sweet potatoes and white rice. It also allows me to have more flexibility in my eating and having more dietary satisfaction through having a wider variety of foods to pick from.
Interestingly enough, my body is much more adept at going into ketosis now - it’s like a groove that my body finds to be comfortable in - and it reacts well to the higher carbohydrates without causing the issues it had before.
I’m very happy with my experience with the keto diet, and I plan on doing it again as needed. The funny thing is that I’m trying to add more carbohydrates in since I’m not matching my activity level - which is important! Although keto was great for weight loss, I don’t want to lose too much weight now, so it’s important for me to add more carbs for me to maintain what I have now.
If you’re interested in starting on the keto diet, I have written a beginner’s guide to the keto diet. Check it out and see if it’s a good fit!