food, Lifestyle

Is Keto Really Worth It?

keto-diet

Last year in November I decided to try the Keto diet. I managed to lose 6kg (11lbs) in 6 weeks. So is Keto really worth it? I guess that depends. Here is my experience with the diet and some info as to what it entails.

Keto is short for Ketogenic which is when the body goes from being dependent on carbs for fat-burning to then burning body fat. This is a process called ketosis. The body uses glucose for energy and stores that as the body fuel. Most glucose is sourced from carbohydrates in our food. If there aren’t enough carbs for the body to use as glucose, our bodies then begin using¬†triglycerides for the glucose by breaking down fat stores.

It takes around 2-3 days on average, for the body to get into a state of ketosis. The transition can be difficult, especially if you’re a carb-lover, like me. In fact, one of the main reasons I decided to try the Keto diet was because of my addiction to carbs. I was big into pasta and potatoes, white bread and rice. I figured it was best to try and cut them out completely so I gave it a try.

I looked up the list of foods that are allowed and not allowed on the Keto diet and wrote them all down on a piece of paper. It is very restrictive but it appealed to me because you are allowed to eat fats. This meant that you can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast which was a big plus! It also meant that you are left feeling fuller and more satisfied after a meal, unlike sometimes boring salad-based diets.

Just to break it down for you, you are allowed/expected to eat 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein and just 5-10% carbs per day as far as calories go. You can eat plenty of meat, above-ground veg, full-fat dairy and eggs. This helped a lot with the initial stage.

Here is a food pyramid showing in more detail an idea of the Keto diet plan –

Keto food pyramid

 

Once the body goes into ketosis after a few days, you’re body will be burning fat for energy. You may lose a few pounds quickly, but don’t get too excited because this is generally water weight. You need to keep well hydrated at all times on Keto, as the body is discarding excess water and sodium. You can tell your body is in ketosis when you get a metallic taste in your mouth and are peeing a lot. Like every 30 mins in my case! If unsure, you can buy tester strips online to pee on that indicate ketosis.

Some people can have a bad reaction and end up with flu-like symptoms such as grogginess, headaches, tiredness, runny nose and muscle aches. I know, sounds awful and thankfully it didn’t happen to me but it sounded off-putting. Red flag alert! I also disliked not being allowed to eat fruit apart from berries.

Being obsessed with losing a few kgs actually made me put that aside and trudge on with the diet, however I always knew it was never going to be sustainable. I mean, you are expected to give up carbs forever for Christ’s sake! Uhm, I don’t think so!!! Sugar is off the menu too which can be hard although I was eating a square or 2 of dark chocolate whenever I had a craving and it didn’t seem to set me back.

I was going on holidays in 6 weeks and I just wanted to feel slender enough to look ok in a swimsuit so that was my motivation. Having seen so many online testimonials and pics of people who lost a large amount of weight in a short time, I said it was worth a try!

Here is how it went for me –

I lost 2 kg in the first 2 weeks, going completely cold turkey on the carbs, then each week I gradually dropped around 1 kg (2lbs) on average. Some weeks there wasn’t any difference and so I ended up losing altogether 6 kgs. I really noticed a difference around my stomach area and hips. Bear in mind this included little or no exercise.¬†

I was over the moon to finally fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I was so happy to feel ‘back to normal’ weight-wise. However, I didn’t notice an increase in energy levels that people spoke of. I actually felt somewhat unhealthy. I felt quite sluggish and just a bit malnourished actually.

I had been trying out the Mediterranean diet previously and had felt way better on it, more energetic and in tune with my body when eating properly. I guess that is just my own experience as everyone is different and some people swear by Keto as a lifestyle choice.

I decided to forgo the Keto diet while on holidays as I wanted to enjoy all the foods and not think about it. I definitely noticed a feeling of being more full and satisfied after eating a meal of carbs and realised I missed that. I think my body genuinely missed carbs too. I started to feel way healthier and ultimately better in general!

That was 2 months ago and unfortunately, as I had been warned I have put the weight back on! I did eat what I wanted on holidays although I have to say cutting out sugar did help me crave it less. At least until Christmas when I was surrounded by chocolates and desserts. Ooops.

On the plus side, I am still managing to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans and not really sure how that is. I have recently started using kettle bells (weights) as a kind of strength training so the weight could also be some muscle. I hope!

So is Keto really worth it? In all honesty, my answer is no. It did help me lose weight in a short space of time but all that effort was soon wasted as I piled back on the pounds unfortunately. I think depriving the body of a whole food group is unsustainable. Unless you have diabetes, epilepsy or a brain condition where a Doctor recommends it, I would say steer clear.

It is a very hard diet to stick to and it is boring. With so little foods to choose from, it makes eating out, food shopping and feeding a family (whilst maintaining ketosis) hard work! All the nice foods have carbs and when you eat them again you will most likely want to binge on all the yummy food you have been missing out on.

Life is too short!

I am currently back on the Mediterranean diet and combining it with the New 5:2 by Michael Mosley in order to lose the weight healthily and keep it off for good. Read all about the diet here.

If you want to read more on the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, see this post.

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Keto is short for Ketogenic which is when the body goes from being dependent on carbs for fat-burning to then burning body fat. Here is my experience!

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  1. Jutta Jordans
    September 2, 2019 at 8:39 am

    I did the keto diet for about two months last year and my experiences were a bit similar to yours. Even though I must say that I did not do it to lose weight (even though the 3 kg or so I did lose were a nice side effect), but because I wanted to try if it would help with my regular migraine headaches.
    I am not crazy about carbs anyway and normally prefer savory foods over sweet ones. I had also already gone sugar free for a while, so the transition into the keto diet wasn’t all that difficult for me and I did not fnd the food restrictions quite as hard. I did miss fruit, though, and certain vegetables which are restricted (like carrots, red bell peppers etc.) They are normally a staple of my diet and having to cut back on them felt wrong, somehow.
    I had a few minor keto flu symptons for a day or two (mostly tingling in my legs and a light fatigue), but I just added more salt and some magnesium supplements as well as more water to my daily intake and it went away.
    I was strength training at the time and could feel a noticable drop in performance there. My body just did not recover from a workout as quickly as it does with carbs. But apart from that I felt pretty good for the first few weeks, so I just reduced the loads a bit during training. And I really did not have a single migraine attack during that time.
    After about two months I started to feel more and more fatigued though and started to crave carbs. Potatos, mostly. So I decided to do a cheat day (I also had my period at the time and thought that maybe that was what brought on the carb craving). And the moment I broke protocol, the migraine did come back with a vengance. But my body felt so much stronger with carbs. So I slowly reintroduced them to my diet.
    I have now decided to use keto as a temporary thing for a months or so once in a while, about once a year, when the migraines get too bad or I feel that I have to switch gears in my body for a while, but it is not a long term solution for me. Now I just started a 5:2 intermittend fasting lifestyle (this time actually to shed some weight) and that feels pretty good so far.

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