First week on keto

Last Friday, I started the keto diet. I had meant to blog every day and keep a record, but obviously that didn’t happen, and I’m not going to start now. But I did want something I could look back on someday, so here we are.

I get an annual physical from my doctor, and last year (October 2016) when talking about my weight, he suggested I substitute coconut oil and coffee for my regular breakfast of eggs, bacon, and coffee. Not that eggs and bacon are unhealthy, but he was recommending some intermittent fasting and increasing fat content. We had talked about how I hadn’t been able to keep my weight down, and how I was going to try Whole 30 in January, and what advice did he have? Not much at the time, though he did direct me to a few different diets that weren’t all that different from what I was doing.

April effectively eats a paleo diet, so when we eat together, I tend to do the same. But I also like to go out for Chinese food a lot, and I can have ice cream, and other things that are high in sugar. I don’t drink soda, but I don’t avoid cake or cookies either.

When I did Whole 30 earlier this year, I lost 20 pounds. Then, over the course of three months, I traveled for two of them and gained all 20 pounds back. Eating healthy while traveling just wasn’t feasible for me.

So when I had my physical last month, my doctor was much more explicit and referred to keto by name. I had heard of it before, but hadn’t seriously looked into it. My impression was that it was pretty extreme, but the benefits he described really appealed to me.

  • Its emphasis on burning fat rather than carbs tends to contribute to more mental energy, which I have really been feeling a need for. My job is very mentally intensive, and after about 7 hours, I’m just done. I can’t think anymore. But it’s only 4 p.m., and there’s still so much to do! So if keto would help me work my full day and still have some mental capacity in the evening, that’d be swell.
  • Because our body can store way more fat than it can glucose (carbs), this facilitates fasting. Once I adjust to the diet, he said, I could probably skip meals when traveling until I could find a more healthy option. This is particularly relevant in airports and when on flights when options are sometimes very slim.

It has been a week now (I started last Friday). I’m logging every meal to MyFitnessPal, eating no sugar (not even on Halloween!), and keeping my carbs low (between 17g and 40g every day this week). By way of comparison, a typical day for me in the past would be around 200g of carbs, +/- 55.

Fat, on the other hand… is actually only a bit higher than it was. And protein is probably going down a bit. Apparently, too much protein is problematic, though not as much as too many carbs.

mfp-daily-nutrition-goals

I’m reading The Keto Reset Diet as my guide and have found it somewhat helpful. Since I was already on a near-paleo/primal diet, the adjustment to keto has been super easy for me. No keto flu, and only a couple of days of cravings to push through. Being able to eat cheese and dark chocolate really helps with that.

This is the easiest diet I’ve ever tried; it just works for me. I have always struggled to hit the macros (carbs, fat, protein) that MFP set as my goal, but on keto, it’s coming naturally.

And in the first week, I’m down about 7 pounds. The vast majority of that was water; keto tends to eliminate foods that cause inflammation, and also cuts out all sugar, which decreases water retention a lot. But I’d wager that 1-2 pounds of it was fat, which is great.

  • Starting weight: 240
  • Goal weight: 190
  • Current weight: 233

At 240, I was just over the line for “obese” with a BMI of 30.8 (obese is anything above 30). Overweight is 25-29.9, and 190 should put me around 24.4. Of course, BMI isn’t just about height and weight, but for now, these numbers suffice. Once I get to 190, I might decide to shoot for 175 or 180, but I’m not sure.

I weighed 160 when I graduated high school, which I think was too low. Based on the numbers it wasn’t, but when I look at pictures from back then, my cheeks look sunken and I don’t think I was as healthy as I could be. One of my main struggles with food is that I love having the opportunity to eat. When I was younger, I couldn’t always get a full meal when I wanted, and was often hungry. Now, I can eat whenever and whatever I want, and I rejoice in that freedom.

But I also feel strongly that it’s not healthy. I worry about diabetes as I get older. I worry about the additional weight on my joints. I worry about the impact my diet has on my mental faculties, and some of the recent research that links diet to degenerative diseases like alzheimers. So I need to make a change.

Hopefully this is one I can stick with. I started it last week so I can get through the 21-day reset before Thanksgiving. I’m going to do my best (and I think I’ll be successful!) to stick with it through Thanksgiving. Right after Thanksgiving, I fly to London for two weeks, which will be the real test. Can I avoid alcohol, avoid sugar, and stick with high-fat and high-protein while dealing with ~20 hours of travel each way and being in a foreign country? We’ll see.

For now, I feel pretty good, and I’m sticking with this one. Whole 30 felt like a slog and I was pretty happy when the 30-day commitment ended. I felt better at the end of it, but I never felt satisfied. On keto, I feel satisfied while also eating foods I like. (It helps that Aldi provides avocados and cheese and nuts at a lower price than other places.)

In week 2 of this reset, I add in exercise. Next week, I’ll write about the 21 day reset’s focus on stress management, sleep, and movement.

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