Keto diet 5 weeks in: What it is and how I feel
Hallelujah. For the first time in my life, I can say that I have stuck 100% to a diet for one entire month (+ 6 days)! This means that I have not touched bread, rice, pasta, legumes, fruit or sugar for almost 5 weeks. Something I simply didn't think was possible. But why diet and why Keto?
Let me first make it clear that I have never really seen myself as fat. But like many women whose bodies have changed due to childbirth or other circumstances, I wasn't entirely happy with my body. I've gained 7 kilos since we moved to China 3 years ago (arrived at 63 kg - went up to 70 kg). Funnily enough, many expat women I know have experienced the same: you think you're going to get ever so slim eating just healthy food in Asia - but you forget about the abundance of food from all over the world, the afternoon snacking and not least eating out very often - sometimes both at lunchtime and dinner.
The 7 kilos started to bother me and I started following some people on Instagram who had had amazing results with Keto. Not only had they lost weight, they also felt better!
So on November 5th, I decided to start the Keto diet.
I started off by downloading an app with recipe ideas and general info about Keto. It became my bible the first week.
What is Keto?
Keto is short for "Ketogenic diet". It is about minimising carbs and taking in as much fat as possible (60-75 % of your daily calorie intake). The whole point is, in fact for the body to start using fat as fuel instead of carbs. After 2-7 days after dropping carbs, you go into ketosis. This is when the body doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. When the body starts producing ketones, it will start burning fat for more energy.
So what is allowed?
Here is a random list - sorry I was too lazy to divide it into fat, protein and carbs:
Bacon, lard, butter, meat, full cream, meat, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, most vegetables (careful with the carb content), almonds, most nuts, fat cheeses, full fat yoghurt, sour cream and berries. Plus the occasional piece of dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa content).
What is not allowed?
Rice, pasta, bread, sugar, quinoa, lentils, beans, corn, potatoes, fruit, sauces with wheat, low fat dairy products
Easiest thing about Keto
On many diets you are told to just eat healthily. But that can sometimes be hard to define and hard to stick to. I find that the easiest thing about Keto (and what has made it possible for me to stick to it) is to say that certain foods are just not allowed. Once you know what is allowed, you avoid everything else.
Hardest thing about Keto
The first week on keto is rather hard to get through. When your body is trying to get used to a diet without carbs and sugar, you can get some pretty strong withdrawal symptoms - also called 'the keto flu'. In my case it wasn't too bad but I had 2 days of headaches and nausea. I also had some pretty strong mood swings and quickly bought multivitamins to tackle them (thanks for the advice Sasha).
Cooking is exciting!
You can make so many delicious things while on keto diet and I actually like to cook now! Something I have always hated. Cooking is necessary when on keto. There are no lazy solutions and quick fixes such as bisquits or toast when you're hungry.
Here are some pictures of things I've made on Keto.
Weirdest things about Keto:
No fruit: Every time I walk past our fruit basket at home, I feel like taking an apple. Then I remember that fruit is not allowed. Something that goes against everything we've learnt about healthy eating. But the natural sugar in fruit destabilises the ketosis. So you can just enjoy berries.
The healthiest of cafés serve non-keto friendly food: In Beijing we have some great western style cafés that serve delicious and healthy food. But I was surprised when I realised that there are almost no keto-friendly items on the menu.
Examples of healthy things I would have ordered before Keto (but can no longer have): Salads with quinoa, lentils, Chili con carne with beans, rye bread sandwiches, smoothies, noodles, salads with breaded chicken - and the list goes on.
There is most definitely a gap in the market waiting to be filled.
Inspiration: Thank you social media!
Since I started keto, I've seen some huge benefits of social media. Instagram remains my biggest source of inspiration for recipes, transformation pictures and stories. But so many friends on Facebook have also encouraged me and shared their stories and advice.
What you have been waiting for, I guess? So let's get straight to it!
I've lost 4.4 kilos in just under 5 weeks. My energy levels have gone up and I rarely get sleepy during the day. I sleep like a baby at night and my sugar cravings very limited !
The experts say you should not only concentrate on the scales - but measure yourself. I must admit that I haven't done that but I have seen some amazing progress pictures where the person had hardly lost any weight but had a completely transformed body after starting keto.
Sadly, I didn't really take a "before" picture but will dig some pictures up from my social media to make a comparison soon.
Keto is more than a diet. It's a change of lifestyle. And it's also a personal challenge that I'm quite happy to take on. On Keto you start doing things you never thought you would do. Like checking for any trace of flour in food - or peeing on keto strips that will confirm that you are in ketosis (yes I bought those on Taobao). I sometimes struggle not to become obsessed with keto. And trust me, I can talk about it for hours - which many Beijing friends can confirm :-) But there is something so fascinating about a diet where you stuff your face with bacon and cheese and still lose weight. But the best thing about keto is, by far, how your energy levels go up and how good you feel.
I'm roughly 3 kilos from my goal weight and have still not decided what will happen when I reach it. But I would be very surprised if I don't continue living a Keto life.