As a healthy eating advocate, I’m always looking for the best food and the best diet to feed my body.
Recently, I’ve seen a ton of info online about the Keto diet, or the Ketogenic diet. People are raving about how it can treat everything from epilepsy to cancer.
It’s a high fat, low carb diet. I’d heard of diets similar to this, mainly the Atkins diet.
My problem with some of these diets is that they weren’t plant-central. You know me and my greens!
But with so many people going on and on about the benefits, I decided to do some more research.
The research intrigued me – quite a bit actually. So, I decided to give this high fat, low carb diet a try.
I’ve been experimenting for over a month. I wanted you guys to know how my body responded to the diet and whether I think this is a healthy way of eating.
What Is the Keto Diet and How Does It Affect the Body?
Like I mentioned, the keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet. The purpose of eating this way is to get the body into ketosis. According to the Diet Doctor, ketosis is a state in which the body is fueled only by fat. Basically, it becomes a fat burning machine.
The liver produces ketones when there aren’t sufficient sugars for the body to use as fuel. Once they’re made, the body then uses them as fuel.
Insulin levels drop because you’re eating fewer carbs. This makes it a popular diet choice for anyone who is diabetic, pre-diabetic, or who has a family history of diabetes. And it’s popular for anyone who wants to lose weight because the body burns fat much more efficiently.
The diet also offers other benefits, according to AuthorityNutrition.com, and it can also improve the following:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Liver Disease
- And more
My Experience with the Keto Diet: Why I’m Not 100% On Board
I’m used to eating a mainly plant-based diet. But I’m not opposed to eating organic meats from time to time.
This diet was a change for me.
I started off by following the tips provided by AuthorityNutrition.com, including eating fewer carbs, eating healthy fats, and staying active.
To get to ketosis, you have to eat less than 25 carbs per day. One banana has 22 carbs!!!
Eating a plant based diet, I consume my share of carbs in fruits alone. I definitely had to eat more strategically.
I watched my carb intake closely and was finally able to reach ketosis. And of course, I was one of the people who ended up with the keto flu.
The keto flu is a bunch of symptoms you get as your body switches from burning sugars to burning ketones. It takes awhile for the body to get used to this new way of burning fuel.
My symptoms of the keto diet included nausea, headache, runny nose, and fatigue.
I finally made it through by keeping well hydrated. This is the best way to work through it according to many who’ve gone before me, including those at Tasteaholics.com.
My goal with this diet was to get leaner – I don’t really have to lose weight, I just want to look lean and strong. And of course, I wanted to feel great. You know – lots of energy, good sleep – the usual stuff.
What happened to me in the first week, though, was kind of disappointing. I actually gained weight – five pounds in a week.
I also found the diet kind of hard to stick with. As someone with a young family, I’ve got to take every family member’s tastes and needs into consideration, as well as their schedules. This diet didn’t really fit that well into our daily lives. Changes needed to be made.
How I Made the Keto Diet Fit My Needs
The first thing that had to change was the weight gain. I didn’t want to keep gaining weight, and I definitely didn’t want to keep gaining at a rate of five pounds a week!
So, I reexamined my diet and found that I was still eating too many carbs and actually consuming too many fats via nuts and seeds.
I decided that, overall, I liked the idea of the keto diet, but I didn’t want to be in ketosis all the time. I went back to AuthorityNutrition.com and found a great article about why some people have a hard time losing weight on this diet.
I realized that I was paying attention to my macros (good for me!) but I wasn’t paying attention to my calories (oops). My workouts weren’t what they needed to be, either.
During this revelation, we were in the process of planning a trip to Florida, where my daughter was entered in a cheer competition. We had less than a month, and I had a goal.
The next 21 days would see a dietary transformation.
Photo taken in Florida after my 21 day experiment.
I started watching my caloric intake as well as my macros, and I started lifting weights more throughout the week. Well, I should say that I started lifting more weights. (Just a note: If you want to make life easier – track your calories and macros with cronometer.)
My wife, Jodi and I decided to give Autumn Calabrese's program, 21 Day Fix a try on Beachbody On Demand. The weekly program includes 4 routines with weights.
The results have been awesome. Since I’ve tweaked the keto diet I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.
As you can see in the pic above, I have abs now. I never had abs before. :-) (Not a big fan of sharing pics of yourself, but I thought it would be important to show you the results <insert red face>)
Was I strictly keto? No, but I was still following a high fat, higher protein, and lower carb diet.
In order to feel like my family and I were functioning at optimal levels, I made sure I kept my carbs at around 50 grams a day. Sometimes I would get up to 100 grams. The rest of the diet looks like: 60-70% of my calorie intake made up of fat and the other 20-30% made up of protein.
One of the things I noticed on a plant based diet was that I was constantly hungry. The increase in protein and fat makes me feel satisfied longer.
The diet is still a work in progress, but changing to a low carb diet has produced some pretty amazing results.
What My Daily Diet Looks Like Today
If you want to give this diet a try, here’s what my daily meals look like.
I start the day of with lots of water (with lemon juice, of course), as well as some coffee with butter (2 tbs), coconut oil (1 tbs) and a dash of vanilla. This concoction is similar to what people call Bulletproof coffee.
It helps you boost brain power, build muscle, lose weight, and increases overall performance.
I then have a low carb smoothie with berries, spinach, Green Power, peanut butter, and coconut milk.
Struggling with keto recipes for breakfast? Check out Tasteaholics Breakfast in Five. They have 30 low carb breakfast recipes all using just 5 ingredients and 5 net carbs or fewer!
At lunchtime, I have a protein-rich lunch, usually a tuna salad or cheese omelet with avocado and hot sauce.
If you are looking for more recipe ideas, which I was, Tasteaholics also has a Lunch in Five cookbook as well.
I finish the day with more protein, typically some chicken or fish.
For snacks, I eat a ton of nuts, mainly almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and walnuts.
You Have to Find What Works for You – Otherwise, What’s the Point?
I think we have to take what we read online and in diet books with a grain of salt. As a society, we’ve started relying so much on what other people tell us about healthy eating that we’ve almost turned it into a religion.
I mean, go onto social media and start a conversation about food and diets.
I dare you. It won’t be pretty.
You’ll get a lot of people who are genuinely confused by all of the information out there. But for the most part, you will find a lot of people who are adamant that their philosophy on healthy eating is law. Anyone who eats differently is not only wrong, they’re downright offensive.
I say – hold up! This is food we’re talking about people! And science, too – both of which are based on theories and experimentation. Yes, there’s a lot of good information online about chemicals in food, the harsh effects of too much sugar, and so-on.
But when it comes to what we eat on a daily basis – that’s still up for debate.
Look at the people and cultures in the world. There are so many different ways to eat food, and one way is not necessarily healthier than the other. That is, of course, unless you’re eating a diet made up of nothing but processed foods.
As for a healthy diet, my advice to you is what I told my family: we’ve got to find what works for us.
That’s why I took the parts of the keto diet that I liked and I tweaked them until I found what works for me.
It wasn’t until I made the diet fit me that I ended up in the best shape of my life.
And I think you should give it a try. Find a diet that makes sense to you. If it doesn’t quite work, don’t give up – just tweak it.
Keep experimenting until you find something that makes you feel awesome.
You won’t be sorry.
Which diets have you tried recently? What were your results? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page.