Operation Keto - Week One
Today marks the completion of one week on the Ketogenic Diet. I asked you on Instastory if you’d like to see my week by week journey and for questions you wanted answered and be updated on. A lot came in and a lot of them revolved around the same ideas, but before I jump into answering all those questions let me first outline what most of these posts will and will not contain.
Putting any type of “diet” experience on the internet is an extremely vulnerable task, especially if you’ve struggled with body image for most of your life, so I’m planning to wade into the waters here slowly; and by that I mean I won’t be sharing progress photos or my actual real time weight (at least not for now). This decision might frustrate some of you, but please try and put yourself in my shoes and think about posting images on the internet when you’re not feeling your best. Progress photos certainly help with accountability, but I’m hoping that writing a weekly blogpost will fill that role.
When it comes to weight loss, I will be tracking my weight every Wednesday morning and I will share with you any losses or gains, just not the actual number. I’ve had a long and arduous relationship with the scale and pretty much cut ties with it all together more than a year ago. That number has influenced how I have felt about myself for most of my life and very rarely has it ever made me think positively (yes, even when the scale showed a loss!). Giving up the scale for over a year has helped me so much and now when I look down and see a number I don’t necessarily like it doesn’t hurt me anymore because I’ve learned to be more gracious with myself — which is incredibly freeing! When I think of weight, I mostly just think about how my clothes are fitting and how I feel. If you’ve struggled with body image and seem to be a slave to the scale I HIGHLY recommend ditching it all together, it doesn’t have to be forever but I promise even after a few months without it will help your personal wellbeing deeply.
With weight loss or gains I will also share with you favorite recipes and snacks that I have been discovered that week and if you’re curious to see what recipes look like on Keto just search on Pinterest and you’ll be given thousands to browse through and I’m sure a lot of them will even surprise you! Higher energy levels are one of the beneficial side effects to Keto, so I’ll be sure to update you on that each week as well. If there are any other specific things you’d like tracked just tell me in the comments below!
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
This can be answered in a very long explanation, but the short version is that the Ketogenic Diet is designed for the body to live in a state of ketosis which is when your body uses ketones (made in the liver with fat) instead of glucose (sugar and carbs) for energy. To achieve ketosis you eat a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. If you want a more long form explanation read this helpful and well researched article from Healthline.com.
Is your goal weight loss and physical change or positive side effects?
This is a great question and I could easily sit here and type that I am doing it for overall health but to be honest I’m doing it for weight loss and the positive side effects (more energy and mental alertness, better sleep, lower cholesterol, lowers risk of cancer, etc) are just a bonus. In fact most of my friends who have started the Keto Diet for weight loss (and reached their goals) are still choosing to live this way because they love how they feel, so that is also my hope at the end of this. Weight loss is my main concern at the moment because I have been at a plateau for longer than I’d like and chaining up my workout routine and my eating has done nothing.
I did try the Keto Diet last year for about two weeks, but I stopped when I started to experience more anxiety than usual. One of my biggest and most irrational fears is that my arteries are clogging and will close at any second (yes even as I type this I am laughing about how crazy that sounds). So changing from a low fat, high protein, moderate/high carb diet to a super high fat one was a very hard mental hurdle to overcome. Thankfully I have not felt anxious one bit since starting and I think that is mostly due to the deeper research I have done. Knowledge is power is my friends! (P.S. If I do experience anxiety I will be sure to report in a update post!)
What is your Macro Ratio?
While most diets are about calories, the Keto Diet is centered around macros (aka macronutrients). Macros are fat, protein, and carbs. The Standard Keto macros are 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. This is the macro ratio that I am following. If you’re not educated on the Keto Diet those percentages probably sound crazy unhealthy (they did to me my first try — hence the resulting anxiety), but I promise the science is there! I highly recommend watching the documentary The Magic Pill on Netflix. It follows people on a 10-week Keto Diet overhaul and also goes into the science behind the “diet.” I will warn you that the music in the documentary is laughably horrific. Whoever was the music supervisor is clearly tone-deaf, because that can be the only explanation to why they chose the music they did. Music aside, it’s a very good and interesting documentary. Another good documentary to watch which focuses on sugar and diabetes is Fed Up, which is incredible and will make you want to get rid of all sugar forever!
I have a major sweet tooth. should i even try?
You don’t get nicknamed the Soda Queen as a child without having a substantial sweet tooth. In my dream world which I will affectionately call, Loganland, ice cream and sugar cereal would have the nutritional content of kale. But since Loganland does not and will not exist, ice cream and sugar cereal is off the menu. Thankfully Pinterest does exist in this world and you can find a recipe for any sweet treat you are craving! I’ve already pinned over ten Christmas cookie Keto recipes on my food board. Keto has become so popular over the past few years that there are so many companies creating Keto-appliant baking ingredients now and lots of Keto cookbooks! My favorite is Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan who lost over 100lbs in just one year on Keto! This cookbook is also a great resource to understanding the Keto philosophy better.
Do you think this diet is hard to stick to?
I honestly believe it is not and that’s because you actually get to eat the foods you like! No more green juice or gross protein bars that taste like chalk. No more restricting yourself on cheese (hallelujah!). No more flavorless, chicken, brown rice, and steamed broccoli bowls! I get to eat burgers loaded with blue cheese and bacon and cooked in butter with asparagus also cooked in butter and topped with parmesan! Now of course my burgers are bunless, which might be an adjustment to some but I’ve actually been eating my burgers “protein style” for years now. When it comes to being “hard to stick to,” this only happens when I’ve created a habit of bad eating. For example, when we were leaving Disneyland on Friday I got a huge craving for a churro and that’s because I always grabbed a treat on my way out. So even though I wasn’t actually hungry, the pattern that I had built my whole life was screaming like a mega-phone in my brain!
Another big reason I don’t find it hard is because it’s not a black and white diet like Whole30. On Whole30 you are eliminating major food groups entirely to hopefully figure out what causes discomfort and inflammation once you reintroduce them (i.e. dairy, beans, etc). You have to be extremely rigid with yourself for those 30 days because one slip up means you have to start all over again. Keto is more of a lifestyle diet. Getting into ketosis only takes 3-5 days usually (for some even faster!), so eating a non-Keto meal like on Thanksgiving, Christmas, vacation, etc, isn’t that big of a deal. Even Suzanne Ryan says she’s eat 90-95% Keto and 5-10% not on Keto, because life is too short and not to eat sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. It also comes down to what your goals are. If you want to go 100% Keto until you reach your goals that’s totally fine and you’ll definitely succeed faster than those who eat non-Keto every once in a while.
Do you have cravings for carbs?
This is a very obvious question when someone says they are on the Keto Diet and I get it. With only 5% of your calories allowed for carbs, that pretty much seems like nothing. But the nice thing about Keto is that the carb count is your net carbs not your gross carbs. To calculate your net carbs you take carbs - fiber - sugar alcohols = net carbs. Most all Keto Dieters try to stay under 20 net carbs a day so it’s key to find carbs that are high in fiber like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, celery, avocado, ect. An easy Google search will show you lots of Keto-Approved fruits and vegetables. Also many recipes in cookbooks have lot net carbs when sugar alcohols substitutes like Swerve Confectioners Sugar is used instead of traditional sugar. While I do have the occasional carb cravings I find there are lots of substitutes to curb them, also the high amount of fat I’m eating truly keeps me satisfied for a long time which helps with overall cravings and not overeating.
Weekly Update Q’s
Weight loss or gain
After one week of Keto I can report that I have lost 5 lbs. While I definitely don’t see the five pounds gone (it’s probably water weight), I’m encouraged!
How do I feel?
The first two days I felt great and totally normal. I was full and satisfied after meals, didn’t having any huge cravings for carbs, and wasn’t bloated as . On day three though I felt exhausted, nauseous, had a headache all while at Disneyland, which is my favorite place ever! I was so exhausted I couldn’t even fake enthusiasm and Brett kept asking me if I was about to cry because my eyes looked so sad and tired. While my mother suggested I was pregnant (lol, I’m not for the record), I was merely experiencing the “Keto Flu” which happens in the early stages of the Keto Diet when your body is withdrawing from the lack of carbs and sugar. I’m very thankful my “flu” only lasted that one day, but even if you experience longer that’s okay and totally normal!
What are you go-to’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?
Most days I’m not really a breakfast person so I’ll stick to just coffee with heavy cream or half and half. Heavy cream is carb free but beware of having too much because it is high in calories and you don’t want to deplete your calories for the day with just one drink! Coffee usually keeps me satisfied until about 11 or 12, but when I do wake up hungry I love cooking two eggs in Kerrygold butter, with feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, and chopped fresh basil (sometimes I even eat this for lunch or dinner — it’s that good!). If you are craving waffles of pancakes there are SO many Keto recipes for those on Pinterest.
For a quick lunch I’ll have deli meat like turkey, or salami with cheese, and some berries. My favorite cheeses are Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar and Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joe’s, just one serving (1 oz) is way bigger than you'd think. Another good lunch option that is easy if you are out is Chicken or Salmon Caesar salad with no croutons. Caesar dressing and romaine lettuces is almost carb free and with chicken or salmon you get your fat and protein and then even more with the parmesan on top! Another good go-to is 80/20% grass-fed ground beef burger cooked in butter with any type of cheese your hearts desire and if you want you can even add bacon on top too for even more fat and protein. I promise you will be surprised at how easy this diet really is.
Our go-to dinners this week have been salmon with pesto (check the labels for the carb count or make your own) and asparagus with butter and parmesan, and bun-less burgers. Next week I plan on trying out meatballs or meat sauce over zoodles and parmesan cheese. Again you can find so many delicious recipes on Pinterest or in Keto cookbooks.
I am a big snacker, too big a snacker to be exact so this is definitely the most challenging part of eating for me…until I discovered amazing options! Spicy pork rinds are not only incredibly cheap they are also great for filling a chip craving. Another crunchy craving can be satisfied with Moon Cheese!! Sounds weird but it’s delicious and addicting. Also bite size caprese skewers are delicious and perfect for appetizers (beware careful with balsamic though, always check your labels for sugar and carbs!). Another yummy and delicious snack that also curbs a dessert cravings are fat bombs. I’m made the Raspberry Cheesecake Fat Bombs from the Simply Keto Cookbook and I’m addicted! They are basically ice cream balls that help you get to your fat intake goals. If you start Keto make sure these are one of the first thing you make!
Overcoming temptations to break the diet…
Thankfully because of the high fat it’s very rare I feel hungry/hangry. Usually that is what puts me into temptation territory, but I’ve noticed that when I do get hungry sooner than I thought, it usually means I made too small a portion or it didn’t have enough fat in it. Finding alternatives to cravings (see above) saves me a lot! I’ve also read that after a while your tastes do change and you crave less and are tempted less. I’ll end with saying that any lifestyle change specially with food requires discipline and it’s usually the hardest in the beginning weeks because you are working against habits that are deeply ingrained in your mind. But it’s also very important to allow yourself to live! So I would choose your “cheats” strategically and actually not think of them as cheats. Thanksgiving, Christmas, your birthday, or a vacation are all good times to not be fully Keto. So much of life is experienced through food, so let yourself live!!
So that completes Week One! This is the first time I’ve ever been excited about a “diet” and I’m even more excited to bring you along! Please please please let me know what you want to know or see in these weekly posts. I want to be both helpful and lend support where you need it. And most importantly have a very Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy those potatoes because you won’t be eating them again come Friday morning!!