If you’ve not been following along – I’m a macro queen. My macros for three straight years have been high protein, moderate carbs, and low fat. During off-season when I’m trying to pack on muscle, I can easily get 200g of carbs into my day and burn it all up at the gym. So for me, keto was… well, kind of silly.
I am a firm believer in the power of carbs. As someone who is borderline obsessed with lifting weight and putting it back down, I know that I need carbs to hit my lift goals. But people all around me were starting to make me doubt my process. I heard over and over how a ketogenic approach to eating has helped thousands of people drop excess weight, can help burn fat more efficiently, and is frankly, a more fun way to eat.
On keto you feel like you’re eating all those foods you’ve been pre-programmed to believe are bad for you. Cheese? Yes! Bacon? Heck yes! Heavy cream? Errryday.
But, truthfully, after three straight weeks of keto (with two cheat meals squeezed in there), I am growing tired of the fatty foods. What I crave now is my oven roasted veggies; my plate of fruit with whip at the end of the evening; and my oatmeal. Oh lord I wish I could have a big warm bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, and a giant blob of jam in the center.
Now that I am “keto-adjusted” with very few lingering side affects or symptoms of keto flu as I suffered through the first week, I have regained a little strength in the gym although I still cannot out perform myself from three weeks ago. My lifts are still lacking in power, and my stamina is lost somewhere between the house and the commute to 24 hour fitness. Although I’ve overcome most of the keto fatigue at this point, I get worn out easily when I work out.
My assessment so far is that keto works for weight loss for most people, but perhaps not all.
Here are third week stats:
Starting weight: 160 lbs
Week One: 153 lbs
Week Two: 152 lbs
Week Three: 152 lbs
For the most part I only saw a loss on my scale in the first week when my body initially dumped the carbs and the water, and it was a big drop. An exciting drop! But the excitement was short lived as I went day by day, week by week, seeing no change to the scale. But I will say this, and this is important: I felt amazing. I felt lean and tiny and kind of magical, even without the scale reflecting it.
Along side me in my support corner is a friend and weight loss client, who has been doing keto for the same amount of time and has lost a whopping 14 lbs over the last 3 weeks – also with two cheat days included, and her losses have been consistent each week. Beckiee and I do not have the same starting stats, so my inkling here is that we’re just at different metabolic places and as with most things in life, results vary.
Here’s what I love about keto so far:
The lack of carbs feels good. I do feel lighter on my feet even though my athleticism in the gym is less than up to par. Having less sugar in my system gives me better clarity and focus. The nice thing about ditching carbs and sugar is once you get past the hard bit in the beginning, your body learns very quickly that these things are not necessarily needed and the desire sort of fades away.
Eating the yummy foods! Saying ‘yes’ to all the fatty foods that I have spent three years avoiding like the plague is a completely new and exhilarating concept. Usually I won’t even eat more than 3 olives a day due to their fat content. Pesto? Heck no. Cheese? In moderation! Now it’s like I am searching everywhere for what has the most fat. I am putting oil in my morning coffee for goodness sakes! And it feels so naughty and great!
So much water. I usually intake quite a bit of water – the majority of it gets chugged in the morning when I wake up and then throughout my hour at the gym before work. Throughout the rest of the day I sip and sip. On keto I am getting watered like a broken dam. I’m not sure if it’s all conscious effort on my part because I’ve been told the excess hydration is needed, or more because I am constantly thirsty and craving water. Either way, it’s a great side affect for me and my body. Not so great when you have to pee three times a night instead of getting a full nights sleep though.
Immediate and fast results. I say this only in reference to my first week on keto where I dropped an insane 7 lbs. I have not dropped that much weight in a single week since I started this weight loss thing three years ago, and I can likely attribute that same result to the same thing – bye bye water weight. For the last two weeks, although my macros stayed the same (in fact, I even dropped them a little in week 3!), my body has not responded to the calorie deficit or to keto for two weeks. I have continued to verify that I am definitely in ketosis, so color me stumped on that. However, I do think this diet style can have long-term positive affects on someone who has more weight to lose. I have run into this problem frequently for the last year and a half. Once I am around the 150 lbs mark it is remarkably hard for me to get lower than that, and even more of a struggle to maintain anything in the 140’s. This sort of lends some substance to the idea that your body has a level of comfort in which it performs at it’s best. For me, it may just be hovering around that 150 lb mark, but for others with more to take off, I have no doubt that keto can be really effective.
It’s easy to stick to. Well yeah, of course it is. You eat fat all the time! It’s also easy to eat out, if you like steak and broccoli or a good cheese plate!
The downside to keto, in my opinion, is the lack of strength to maintain a power lifting type workout. This morning I got on the squat rack for some back squats but the bar was significantly lighter than what I’m used to. And at some point you miss the food groups you’ve eliminated from your diet. Even if you binge yourself on all those delicious fatty foods, at some point you’re gonna wish you had some garlic bread, a pancake, or some warm oatmeal. And there will be days where you really feel like you need it.
I don’t believe that being in a state of ketosis burns fat any more effectively than any other calorie restriction and cardio routine would; but it’s a way of eating that’s a little easier to stick with if you’re just starting out. Because you get to eat those fatty foods, it doesn’t feel quite as strict as a low fat diet would.
The thing about these kinds of dieting methods is that while they do produce results, most people would agree that they work because eliminating a food group from your diet automatically reduces calories, and any reduction in calories should produce a weight loss no matter how you get there. At the end of the day, weight loss will always come down to CICO (Calories In vs. Calories Out).
So what’s my plan now?
Well, with one week to go I’ll stay on this keto train for 7 more days just as I said I would. It has been nice to have some relief from my normal low-fat routine and I’ve definitely enjoyed the ‘fat bombs’! I can’t see myself going without veggies, fruits and grains on a permanent basis, so a go-forward strategy for me might just mean being keto-ish.