It’s been just shy of a month since I posted my blog about ketosis, and at that point, I had only been on the diet for about a week. So…how is the ketogenic diet working for me one month in?
The first week
The first week for me was great. I immediately started feeling better and losing weight. A lot of weight. Like 10lbs. That’s the most weight I’ve lost in a week ever on any diet.
My exercise routine? Not much of anything. I think I spent 15 minutes on the elliptical…twice in that week…and I wasn’t putting much effort into it.
And let me tell you, nothing is more motivating than making a simple diet change and having it immediately impact your life.
The second week
The second week was awful. I felt sick, like I have the flu. Turns out, there’s a thing called “the keto flu.”
Much like an addict has withdraws during recovery, my body was not yet adapted into ketosis, and was withdrawing from the lack of carbohydrates. I was tired, felt nauseated, foggy, and couldn’t really think straight, and had zero appetite. This lasted about 3 or 4 days before it started to fade away.
To make matters worse, I lost ZERO weight. I almost quit. But, I’ve read about this happening; I’ve watched many a documentary about dramatic diet changes and learned that these hardships pass over time. So I stuck with it…and I’m glad I did.
The third week and beyond
On the third week, I woke up feeling refreshed. It was pretty sudden. I had energy, an appetite, I could think clearly, and just felt…good. I felt positive.
I also started losing weight again – granted, not quite as quickly as 10lbs a week, but more like 2-5lbs per week.
I felt so much better that I decided to pick up my workout routine. I went from working out 15 minutes once or twice a week, to working out 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes to two hours.
I also kept up with my intermittent fasting, which reduced my appetite overall and has allowed me to sustain my energy even longer, and burn fat more efficiently.
Where am I now?
As of this morning, I’m 21lbs lighter. I’ve gone from 206.6lbs to 185.6lbs. In one month. And the interesting thing is, I don’t see this weight-loss slowing down. Even on days where my weight stays the same, or even goes up, my body measurements consistently decrease.
I’ve lost 1.5 inches off my neck, 2 inches off my hips, and 2.5 inches off my waist. Clothes I got too fat to wear soon began to fit comfortably, and clothes I had been wearing became too big. In fact, the belt I had been using to hold up my pants is now too loose!
Tips and tricks for ketosis
So clearly, this diet is working quite well. I have no intention of abandoning it. And as you read this, you might be thinking, “I could lose a couple pounds, maybe I should try this”, or, “I wish I didn’t feel so foggy and had the energy to work out, maybe this diet will help” or,”I can’t do this diet because eating healthy veggies and organic stuff is too expensive.”
Well I’d like to let you know that…you CAN do it, it WILL make you feel better, and it’s NOT expensive. To prove that, I’m going to show you the things that I’ve done to help keep costs down, and keep those ketones up!
Tip #1: Make your veggies taste good
Baby kale and baby spinach mix is probably one of the most affordable and most common vegetable mixes you can get. Most boxes contain 4-6 cups – that’s 4-6 salads – and only it costs a couple dollars per container. Plus baby kale tastes WAY less bitter than regular kale, and is just about as nutritious.
Further, bear in mind you’re on a low carb diet, which means you can use fatty dressings – as long as they don’t include trans fat. So ranch, blue cheese, olive oil and vinegar are all excellent options to flavor up your salads. Adding cheese, meats, and avocado are great ways to add protein, healthy fats, and fiber to your meal.
Want some hot veggies, like steamed broccoli or cauliflower? Guess what, you can have butter! And cheese! And who doesn’t love buttery cheesy veggies?
Tip #2: Get creative with your meals
Ever have cauliflower pizza? Or pasta-less beef lasagna? What about jalapeno poppers with bacon or meatloaf?
You’d think you’d be missing out on some of your favorite types of foods, but really…you won’t! There are literally thousands of low carb, nutritious, protein and nutrient rich meals you can make at home.
Tip #3: Treat yourself once a week, one a month, or simply don’t cheat
Do not treat yourself or snack in between your meals, period. But once a week, plan to have a meal with some carbs, or a nice small dessert. And if you can, try to even make THOSE meals healthy. Don’t be quick to eat an entire Domino’s pizza and down a sweet sodi-pop. And certainly don’t cheat all day.
Instead, try to find something like no-sugar-added coconut milk ice cream, which is sweet, rich in flavor, and full of fiber. Or, have yourself your favorite carby meal, but follow it up with a hard workout two hours or so after. Why? Because getting knocked out of ketosis can be difficult to quickly recover from. You don’t want your cheat meals to be a roadblock for your progress.
Instead, if you’re going to cheat, plan your cheat meals around your way of living. If you like to go to the bar with friends on the weekend, maybe have your cheat meal be Saturday evenings.
Tip #4: Get the healthiest foods you can afford
Let’s face it, the food industry is just that…an industry. And while it’s often more affordable to raise crops and animals ethically and organically, it’s way too expensive for a lot of us.
Don’t break the bank just to be healthy. It’s not necessary. Buy organic as you can. Perhaps start in phases; replace your eggs with pasture raised eggs, and your butter with grass fed butter, but buy cheaper veggies.
I’m lucky to live in an area where we have farmer’s markets every week. If you have access to farmers market, buy your veggies there. I literally filled my fridge with vegetables for less than $20 shopping at the local farmer’s market. So if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere within driving distance from a local farmer’s market – do spend your money there!
Tip #5: avoid sugar as much as you can – even in fruits
An apple a day keeps the doctor away might be true if you’re not trying to lose weight, or if you’re an insane athlete who needs to eat 4,000 – 5,000 calories a day just to stay fit. For the rest of us, it’s best to just stay away from sugary and carby foods in general.
Stay away from bread, tortillas, rice, whole grains, and pastas – whole grain or not.
Keep away from apples, oranges, dates, figs, even bananas are filled with tons of sugar. “But I thought fruits were full of vitamins, minerals, and have all kinds of health benefits.” Don’t get me wrong, fruits do have lots of vitamins, but fruits are not the only source of nutrients – and not all fruits should be avoided! There is just a misconception that eating fruit helps with weight loss, when it simply doesn’t.
The level of sugar in those fruits I mentioned is far too high to stay in ketosis, and far to high to not become quickly dependent on insulin for energy. As long as insulin is in the body, you will not lose fat.
So what fruits can you eat? Berries, strawberries, raspberries, avocados are great options. Yes, some of them do have sugar, but have a much higher amount of fiber than bananas, apples, or pears.
Tip #6: stop snacking
Doesn’t matter if your snacks are “healthy”. Avoid snacking as much as you can. Instead, stick to eating 2 to 3 nutritious, hearty meals per day. There are many benefits, from self discipline, to higher energy levels over time.
But the main reason you, as someone who wants to lose weight, should avoid snacking is this: every time you eat, your body spikes in insulin. This insulin spike can last up to two hours after you finish eating, which means during that time you aren’t burning any fat. So if you follow that traditional “eat every two hours” meal plan, guess what…you’re not burning any fat until you sleep. And even then, your body may be so reliant on insulin for energy, the amount of fat you could burn is reduced to very little or nothing.
Snacking or simply eating to often might be the reason you keep hitting a wall in your diet. So stop it 🙂
Tip #7: start tracking your calories, nutrients, and macros
This is important. Your macros are crucial in determining what you might need to eat in your next meal. This can be difficult to do on your own, so I suggest you use a calorie counter and food tracker like MyFitness Pal, or something similar. These apps let you scan the barcodes of the foods you eat, search for foods from restaurants, or build your own meals and recipes so you can keep track of every single piece of food you eat.
Not sure if you’re getting enough potassium? The app could help.
Using an app like this can also just give you a realistic picture as to how much you actually eat, and help you to discipline yourself to be healthier.
Tip #8: enjoy eating out at restaurants
One of the seemingly most difficult things to do on this diet is eat out at restaurants. Friends invite you to the bar to grab a bite and a drink. What do you do?!
You’d be surprised to find that most restaurants have low carb options, or will happily substitute or remove high-carb items in your meal. 5 Guys Burgers and Fries – one of my favorite burger joints around – serves their burgers bunless in a bowl, which I actually prefer over In-n-out’s protein style burger, which is basically an entire head of lettuce with some cheese.
“But my friends just invited me for pizza! What do I do?” Well, if there are no salad options available for you, then I’d suggest…go eat pizza. Just don’t overdo it, and do a good hard workout and eat as healthy as you can after. One meal is not the end-all-be-all of your diet, but you should do your absolute best to avoid these kinds of slips.
Having said that, your social life and life enjoyment shouldn’t suffer because of a diet.
That’s it. Pretty easy, right?
Ok ok, I know, you just heard me talk about compromise and how I felt like garbage for almost a week at first, but…realize, if you experience the same, it’s because your body is not in a healthy state. It’s important you stick with this diet, cheat as little as possible, and eat healthily.
Once you’ve disciplined yourself in those three areas, everything else falls into place. 🙂