Sooooo, I had decided a few months back that I was going to give Keto a trial run. I’d bought a few books, I’d done my homework, I picked a meal-plan that included a 3 week “keto-ish adjustment period” followed by a 3 week full blown keto meal plan with some intermittent fasting. I did it for one week and for one reason or another, it just didn’t take.
Actually, I know exactly why it didn’t take. I wasn’t all in. Making a drastic change to your life-style and diet requires a mental commitment and if my head isn’t in the game 100%, I tend to go off-book after 8 – 11 days, and it just goes downhill from there.
I decided to give keto another try after I got back my from last vacation, that also corresponded with the beginning of my marathon training. However, I decided to wait until I was two weeks in to blog about it. Once I get past the 8 to 11 day hump, I know I’m good and committed.
Before I start talking about how things are going, I think I should start with what a ketogenic diet is and why I decided to try it. I’m not going to get into a big explanation on what it is – Google works just fine if you’re interested in the details. Basically, you eat a diet of approximately 70 – 80% fat, 15 – 25% protein, and 5% carbs and after a few days, your body will go in ketosis. This means that your body realizes that there aren’t enough carbs to burn as energy, so it starts burning stored fat to product ketones, which your body then uses for energy.
So, why Keto? Well, I had two goals I wanted to achieve that were diet related. I wanted to lose some weight and reduce my body fat. I also really wanted to move away from using sugar carbs for fueling. I had tried that briefly last season but ended up going back to Tailwind and Chia Gels. A ketogenic diet seemed to work for both of those goals (at least according to what I read and researched.) . Plus, I really prefer a fattier diet. I love pork and beef (and bacon.) I love grass-fed butter. I love sauces and dressings on food. A high fat diet goes right along with how I like to eat. Fun fact, I tried to do a raw, vegan cleanse once. It lasted exactly 12 hours. Eating that way just does NOT work for me.
I’d picked the Keto Reset because I’d read the Primal Blueprint and I also read Mark’s Daily Apple blog from time to time. He’s an athlete that follows a paleo/primal diet and was familiar to me. I think I’d bought the Maria Emmerich book based on recommendations from bloggers I follow, although I can’t honestly remember. In both cases, I liked the idea of having a meal plan to follow. I don’t mind counting macros, but since keto is so dependent on getting them right, I kind of wanted my meals laid out for me in the beginning. Meal planning takes some time and thought and adding in macros definitely makes it more involved. I figured I should try and make it easy on myself.
I ended up going with the 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse, primarily because the initial plan had no dairy (I wanted to keep it paleo) and because the meal plans were built closer to my daily caloric intake of 1,400 calories. The Keto Reset Diet’s meal plans had a much higher daily caloric amount and also included dairy. I didn’t want to have to worry about making adjustments to offset that. I’ll be blogging soon on my thoughts/opinions about the 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse book, probably after I’m done with my initial 30 days.
It was important to me to stay Paleo while going Keto. I buy organic when I can and always do for the dirty dozen, I take pains to buy pasture and grass-fed meat and dairy, I stay away from processed foods, artificial sugar and try to eat as much real food as possible. I want to eat healthy and make sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need and not eating a bunch of crap. I’ve seen some post of people’s keto meals that are certainly high fat, low carb but they make me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit because they have no nutritional value and are all made from processed, crappy food. This post I read awhile back from from Dr. Anthony Gustin really sums it up well. I wanted to keep the base of my paleo diet, just increase the amount of healthy fats I was consuming to replace some of my carb and protein content.
OK – so I’ve talked about WHAT keto is, WHY I wanted to do it, WHICH book I picked and HOW I wanted to approach it in terms of staying paleo. I think I’m ready to talk about how things went.
The meal plan on the 30 Day Cleanse is comprised of two meals and a snack. The intention is that you fast from after dinner for 12 – 18 hours and the have a “break the fast” meal. You then have the snack and second meal as dinner. I will get into intermittent fasting another time, but it was something that I was willing to try.
The one thing I didn’t love about Maria’s book was that there was an overwhelming number of things she suggested that you try that was beyond just food consumption and intermittent fasting. You can’t eat less than three hours before bed, you can’t drink water a half hour before or after eating, you should try eating ice at night to cool your mitochondria, activate brown fat, start oil pulling….it actually put me off to the book initially because it was way too many rules to follow. Debra doesn’t do so well with too many rules and feels strongly enough about it to talk in the third person when she encounters it.
I decided I would try the intermittent fasting, with an eating window of 12 PM – 7 PM. I’d get through the morning with coffee, collagen or MCT oil. That was just going to have to be good enough. I’m not keto-adapted (my body isn’t trained to use stored fat for energy yet) and with the amount of working out I do in the mornings at times, I knew I’d likely need something to get me through until noon. I also decided to try to wait the three hours before going to bed after eating. The rest of the suggested rules, I opted out. I’m making enough changes for myself. Plus the fact I have to give up wine for a month – I feel I’m giving PLENTY.
Day 1 was great! I fasted until noonish – no problem. The lunch meal was DELICIOUS. I did an Orangetheory workout in the afternoon and kicked ass. I had two chicken wings and a burger topped with bone marrow, onions and mushrooms for dinner. Just YUM. How great is this keto stuff, right? I did a book/real life comparison pic of my burger just for fun because it was sooo not even close.
On Day 2, my system had a minor revolt. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I started a diarrheathon that was pretty unpleasant. Maybe my body was reacting to the drastic fat content change? I had read that this could be one of the side-effects and thankfully things calmed down after a day or so.
I was using SmackFat Keto test strips (you pee on them) to test for ketones. While the test strips are known to sometimes be inaccurate, I wasn’t willing to spent a lot of money for the more reliable ones at this point that require you to stick your finger. I was planning on following a plan to the letter, so I should go into ketosis without much issue. On day three, I started to register ketones (small amounts) they increased gradually over the week and then plateaued at a moderate level.
The next few days were tough. I would get headaches periodically and definitely felt run down. I found that I was able to get through morning workouts (both runs and Orangetheory) while fasting but I felt like I was dragging. That I couldn’t possibly run any faster, or dig deeper to put in more effort.
The meals on this plan are incredibly good, although the portions are smaller than I’m used to. I guess it makes sense that since I’m eating higher fat, I don’t need to eat as much and I found this to be true a lot of the time. But not all. There were times that I would fast until after 12:00 after a hard workout and be absolutely fine. Then there were times I’d skip fasting and eat in the morning and be hungry an hour after eating a meal of 3 eggs with roasted bone marrow (don’t even get me started on how good that is.) A few nights, I wasn’t hungry after my pre-dinner snack, so I skipped the second meal altogether. Overall, I don’t really seem to have fallen into a predictable hunger/eating pattern yet over this first two weeks.
I’m dealing with it by listening to my body. If I’m hungry and not to my eating window, I try to keep myself with coffee and MCT oil. If it persists, I eat – regardless of the time. If I’m not hungry, I don’t eat. I take contingency snacks with me when I’m going to be out, when I go to work, or on longer runs. I try to drink lots of water and I’m drinking herbal tea every damn night.
I’m starting to hate that damn tea. I wish it was wine.
By the end of the first week, the physical symptoms had subsided. The second week, I went a little of plan due to some personal preferences and a ruined Ropa Vieja that was supposed to be three of the meals. I still kept with recipes from the detox cookbook, though. Since I had to do some meal planning adjustments, I found that the easiest way was to enter in all my planned meals for the week ahead of time to see where my macros were – then I could add beverages, MCT oil, collagen powder, additional snacks as needed.
Week 2 was better. While I still hit some low energy points, I did feel better and stronger during my workouts and the fasting was a little easier to take. As I mentioned, I still wasn’t necessarily consistent as to when I would or wouldn’t get hungry. I think it’s just going to take some time for my body to adjust, especially given my activity level right now. My biggest encouragement was on Tuesday when I stepped on the scale. To see everything going in the right direction was a HUGE boost for me.
By the end of Week 2, I was feeling more normal – but better “normal” than I’ve felt in awhile. I’m feeling strong and healthy – better than I have in a long time. Granted, I’m also exhausted from my workout schedule but I’m still able to roll with it as it gets tougher.
So, two weeks in and I’m feeling pretty positive about my decision to do this cleanse. It definitely was a little jarring to up my fat consumption to 75%, but so far it seems to be working well in terms of how I’m feeling physically and reducing my overall mass. And I got to be honest, the food on this plan has been AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME.
I’ve already droned on too long, so I’ll just leave you with some of my food pics. I’ll be checking in next week and talk in more about exactly what I ate now that I’ve gotten caught up to my current week in the plan.
This was one of my absolute favorites. I made in twice in two weeks.
Dinner: Chicken Avgolemono topped with fried chicken skins. It’s like this creamy (but no dairy) chicken, lemon goodness in a bowl. It was on the plan last week and I liked it so much I made it again. Served with asparagus topped with a not-so-soft-boiled egg and keto bread that I toasted in a pan with olive oil. YUM.
One of my off book snacks – instead of lemon pepper wings, I just went for old fashioned buffalo wings.
One of the fancier breakfasts, although I learned that making hollandaise without butter isn’t very good.
The hollandaise sauce I made was not very yummy, so I improvised on my Eggs Florentine with a dollop of guacamole instead. Honestly, this wasn’t my favorite breakfast off the plan this week, but in all fairness I don’t think I’ve ever ordered Eggs Florentine in my life. It’s not really my thing. Breakfast really needs bacon. Always. Still, it was pretty yummy – and did like the keto English muffin on the bottom.
Spicy Kimchi and Eggs – YUM!! (kimchi recipe was not in the Cleanse book)
So, I’d made some kimchi a few days ago and now it was time to try it out. In truth, I was a tad nervous to try it. I wasn’t sure if it would be good and I haven’t ever eaten plain kimchi before. I don’t know what it should taste like! 😂 So, I brought it over to @littlexln ‘s house and we had kimchi and eggs for breakfast. The verdict – DELISH!! And she told me it’s the best kimchi she’s ever had. Just call me the #kimchiqueen 👑
And my very, very, very favorite – Bacon and Eggs Ramen: