Carbs · Keto Journey

Week 4 Results

It’s been nearly one month. I’m down from approximately 23% body fat to 17.3% body fat. I’ve lost an inch on my waist and I feel great!

This weekend is a tough one for me as I’ll be traveling to a convention with limited food options. I will likely take a Keto break over the next four days, indulge in sweets and things I gave up, and return to Keto on Monday. The benefits I’ve obtained from Keto far outweigh the “cost” of giving up carbs and sugar. It has definitely helped me change my eating habits and my lifestyle.

Besides, I just bought a super cool food and body composition scale. I can’t just stop now!

body comp scale
Body Composition Scale

taylor food scale
Food Scale

I’ll let you know how I feel after a weekend of carbs.

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Keto Journey

Week 3 of Keto – Time to “Carb Up”

Sweets just aren’t the same. They’re too sweet. My taste buds have definitely adapted.

My weight loss has plateaued. It’s entirely likely that’s because I’m at my “normal” weight. I could use some more exercise in my regular routine, but I’m at a calorie deficit every day. My Keto coach found some interesting information about carb-up days to kick my body out of ketosis. From what I understand, a carb-up day consists of white flour-based carbs only. Blah blah science.

I’m using today as an all-out cheat day. Screw it. I had some of a Dr. Pepper earlier. Back to my original statement — sweets just aren’t the same. Don’t get me wrong; they’re still delicious. I’m thrilled, however, that I don’t crave them. It’s quite a huge victory for me, given that I used to drink (at times) 60-90 ounces of soda per day. I fully believe my brain was addicted to sugar.

I’m not going to binge on Dr. Pepper or carbs today. I’m having some pizza and soda, sure. But I’m not going to go overboard. Tomorrow I’ll start back into the Keto diet and continue. Plus, eating Keto is a habit by now. It’s mostly what’s in my fridge anyway!

Keto Journey

Getting through your first week(s) of Keto – “Couldn’t finish the sausage” and other struggles.

In my first 6 days of Keto I…

  • Lost 7.9 lbs,
  • Experienced consistent energy levels throughout the day — something I haven’t experienced in years, and
  • Have a higher level of mental clarity and focus.

In my first 13 days of Keto I…

  • Lost 11 lbs, getting me to my doctor-suggested target weight,
  • Had little-to-no desire for sweets, sodas, and other carbs, and
  • Continued to feel everything in the bullet points above.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but these results definitely motivate me to stay true to Keto. I will go into more depth later, including how I was able to make it through my first week successfully without cheating. But first…

“Couldn’t finish the sausage.”

After my bromance (and Keto Coach) helped me pick out Keto-friendly foods at Super Target, I went home and prepared my first Keto meal. It consisted of chorizo sausage, organic chipotle mayo, eggs, and cream cheese. I’m not really a fan of sausage. I can eat small quantities of it before my body begins rejecting it. I tried it again that night and could only finish 3/4 of the sausage I prepared. Here is the text message I sent him, as well as his response the next morning:

couldnt finish the sausage

Well played… and also hilarious. A true bro response.

After collecting myself, we continued our conversation and he coached me through my day and throughout the week. The list below outlines my largest Keto week-one struggles and how I overcame them.

My (Biggest) First-week Struggles

  1. Cravings. Cravings. Cravings. Mostly for sugary foods, sweets, and some breads. This was, by far, the hardest struggle.
  2. Not feeling full after meals.
  3. Identifying keto-friendly fast food meals.
  4. Drinking enough water.
  5. Feeling “foggy” or “unclear” with my thoughts.
  6. Meal prep and meal variety.*

1. Cravings are real. Sugar addiction might be too.

I wrote about Honey Chex and El Maguey in my last post. I wasn’t joking. The cravings are real and fierce. Chocolate, peanut butter, soda (especially soda), coffee creamer, ice cream, and more were ALL very tempting to me this week. It was extremely hard to say no.

I consider myself a strong-willed person. I’ve learned, over time, how to curb that mindset socially so people don’t absolutely hate me. (It’s true. Ask my Keto Coach how I was 10 years ago.)

However, being strong-willed has been advantageous several times in my life. For example: relentlessly pursuing my college education (I took two freshman-level math courses three-times each), finding a significant other, and competitive athletics.

It turns out, that strong will is also helpful when dieting. But… I’m not entirely positive I could have made it through the week purely on willpower alone. In fact, research shows “excessive sugar consumption increases the dopamine levels in a similar way to other drugs such as cocaine” and “humans exhibit ‘addicted-like behavior’ towards sugar.”

More about sugar addiction, and how I overcame cravings in a later post.

I wanted to cheat multiple times this week. I didn’t cheat, but I wanted to.

2. Not feeling full after meals.

My body is PROBABLY accustomed to a 2500-3000 calorie diet. It was extremely challenging for me to only eat approx. 1700 calories each day. Feeling full was one of my biggest challenges the first three days. It’s important to remember that many carb-heavy foods take up more room in your stomach. Also, if you’re significantly lowering your daily calorie intake, there’s a good chance you won’t immediately feel satisfied after meals.

How I overcame not feeling full:

  • Eating slower, as suggested here.
  • Eat the pre-planned meal, then wait.
    • According to registered dietitian, Dr. Joanne V. Lichtentakes, it approximately 20 minutes after you start eating for your brain to signal you to stop eating.
  • Drink a full glass of water (16 oz. or more) during or after your meal.
  • Have a “later tonight” Keto-friendly snack prepared “just in case” you still feel hungry in a little bit. My prepared snacks were cubes of cheese, broccoli and a dipping sauce (usually ranch or mayo), and pecans.

3. Finding Keto-friendly fast food meals.

My Keto Coach was the biggest help here, but other contributions were the MyFitnessPal (MFP) app, Reddit, Google searching, and doing my own research.

It was important that I found Keto-friendly fast food meals because I knew my work schedule would leave me cramped for time. Also, I knew I was going away that weekend to see my grandparents. They usually want to go out for dinner and catch-up over a meal. A little menu scouring and a lot of searching in MFP helped me identify a few Keto-friendly fast food meals. It does depend what’s in your area, but my go-to fast food meals were:

  • Moe’s or Chipotle bowl. No rice, no beans. Double meat (pork or chicken for me, but chicken can often be too lean). Lettuce. Tomato. Double guac. Double cheese. Double sour cream.
  • Wendy’s Baconator without the bun. Make sure they give you the mayo in a cup on the side. They often forget.
  • Arby’s Farmhouse Salad with roast turkey.

4. Drinking enough water.

stur-e1501475528545.jpgI’ve been a soda addict for as long as I can remember. I refused to drink diet sodas and drank an excessive amount each day. Water, as a result, has always been hard for me. I always felt like I “needed more flavor” in my water.  I did find Stur, a water flavoring that helped and does not use artificial sweeteners.

Another source that helped me was pure lemon juice. Simply adding a good amount of lemon juice helped flavor my water where I would enjoy it. I still like using Stur and lemon juice from time to time, but over time I was able to begin drinking water out of habit and health instead of feeling like I was “forcing it down.”

5. Feeling foggy or unclear with my thoughts

Most of these feelings resulted from poor sleeping habits. A few days into Keto and being around 1600 calories, I was feeling naturally tired at night. Pre-Keto I would eat or drink something sugary or carb-based, stay awake half the night, lose sleep, go to work feeling tired, etc. I also experienced what some call the “Keto Flu” because I had an unclear headspace for a few days. It wasn’t all week, but earlier during my first Keto week I definitely experienced it.

The key to getting rid of (and/or avoiding) the Keto flu is to track your electrolytes, which are “Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and magnesium are all electrolytes. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016). After making sure I was getting the electrolytes, the mental murkiness subsided and I felt more clear than when I was participating in my (crappy, eat whatever I felt like) normal way of eating.

6. Meal Preparation & Meal Variety

I wasn’t used to carving an entire 2-3 hours out of my weekend to purchase and plan meals for the entire next week. It helped to keep a running list of both: a) what was in my fridge; and b) what my potential meals could be with those items. Instead of opening the fridge and staring blankly into the deep dark abyss known as “I’m hungry and nothing sounds good,” I planned my meals for the week so there were no surprises. This took getting used to, but I felt way more comfortable week 2 than I did week 1.

Along with meal prep, I felt like I was eating the same stuff over and over. Actually, I was. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t mind eating the same things all week, albeit mixed up and spaced through the week. My staples were pork (loin and thin strips) from the meat section or local butcher, eggs (lots and lots of eggs), cream cheese, shredded cheese (zero-carb, no sugar added; watch your labels), and bacon. I would vary the spices I used, sometimes including hot sauce, but overall I was content with just eating things as they were with a little salt and/or pepper.

Struggles from the Keto Community

I mentioned the Keto for Beginners Facebook group before. I asked members what they are struggling / struggled with their first week doing Keto and received over 55 comments. Here were some of the most common responses in order of their popularity:

  • Craving sweets (most popular)
  • Giving up fruit (2nd most popular)
  • Boredom eating
  • Feeling hungry
  • Loss of initial energy
  • No soda / beer
  • Meal planning
  • People telling me I was being stupid and unhealthy
  • Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start (imo get a Keto Coach!

What are / were your first week struggles? Reply below!

Keto Journey

The (Embarrassing) Start to my Keto Journey

Can I share a story with you?

I have a bromance. For the past 3 1/2 weeks, my bromance has been talking non-stop about his Keto dieting. “Have you heard of Keto?” he asked.

No. I hadn’t heard of Keto. The idea of following some “fad diet” repulsed me. I was always more of the “count your calories and exercise” kind of person. Knowing this to be true, he talked about how he can eat things like sour cream, eggs, steak, bacon. Wait. Bacon? On a diet? I was reminded of this picture I once saw on Facebook.

bacon post

I chuckled.

Alright. Cool. A diet where you can eat bacon. I could do that. I mean, if I was a dieting kind of person, that is.

Fast forward three weeks.

My buddy is down from 270 lbs. to 252 lbs. in just over three weeks. He’s my bromance, so of course I’m pumped for him. Over those three weeks he’s verbally assaulted me with Keto, as he immersed himself in the science, literature, and all that craziness. Being the good bromance I am, and a curious-natured person, I ask him a ton of questions over that period. Secretly, I was intrigued.

I stepped on the scale last week and instantly become dissatisfied. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. I saw the signs but refused to acknowledge them, because denial and Honey Chex are easier. My diet was loaded with carbs. I wasn’t counting calories. Four nights a week (or more) I was eating two bowls of Honey Chex right before bed. I was averaging 4-5 hours of sleep each night. Yet, I was still in denial about my health because “I’m not middle aged yet” and “I still have a good metabolism.” Reality check. I don’t have a teenage digestive system anymore, my stomach was getting bigger, and my pants weren’t fitting.

Right then I decided. I need to lose some weight and cure my sugar addiction. Overall, I need to be healthier and feel better. I’m going to try this Keto thing.

Naturally, I ask my bromance to be my Keto Coach. He’s my bromance, so of course he agrees. I mean, he doesn’t really have a choice. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bro Code or something. Plus, the dude has immersed himself in Keto so much he’s telling me all sorts of food science stuff and it’s taken over our normal conversations about work and life.

How it all started

I was planning on starting Keto yesterday. Instead, I’m on my way back from a softball doubleheader on Monday when I decide to start that night. I dash into the Super Target, call him up, and bombard him with food questions as I walk through the food section of Target. Even the college students passing by were looking at me with pity as I explained to the bromance that I don’t really know how to cook. You know you’re in bad shape when the Kings and Queens of Ramen noodles are judging you.

I also learned that heavy whipping cream isn’t just for grandma’s pie — it’s great for pansies like me who can’t drink coffee black. I couldn’t find pecans and I’m not into almonds. Their nut assortment was lackluster and not Keto-friendly, so I chose to get those later. He also recommended coconut oil or MCT oil. I elected for the MCT oil later as well. Go hard or go home, right?

After an hour, and several dozen food questions, I walk out of target with $54.11 of Keto food — enough to last me a week or more. Overall it was a successful haul.

I rush home, excited to consume my first Keto meal consisting mostly of eggs, sausage, cheese, cream cheese, and a delicious, organic chipotle mayonnaise. Somehow, for the first time in my life, I managed to break an egg onto the stove burner instead of into the frying pan. Don’t ask me how. I have no idea. Yolk and all started cooking sunny-side up on the stove itself.

In my first 24 hours I noted the extremely challenging cravings for carbs, after which my Keto Coach said something like “I said you can eat bacon. I never said the diet was easy.”

Touche. Also, you’re an asshole. But let’s be honest, that’s exactly what I need. A supportive encouraging coach (and friend) who can call me out when I need a no-bullshit reality check.

I’m 48 hours into Keto, though as I mentioned before I’ve been verbally assaulted with Keto for the past 3 weeks, thus, I’ve had a head-start at asking a bunch of crazy questions. The temptations are REAL. Honey Chex was calling my name from the cabinet yesterday. (Note: don’t put your Keto food next to your craving. In fact, throw away your craving food.) For me, it’s been hard to peel away from oatmeal, cereal, and hand-made, authentic tortillas from my favorite Mexican joint. (I’ll miss you, El Maguey.  I’ll come back at some point, Maria. I promise.) Someone gave me an Andes mint today and, without thinking I started eating it. Actually, I was thinking, “OMG I love these things!” Halfway through chewing it I realized what I was doing and spit it out into some facial tissue. I had already managed to swallow half of it, so I logged 1/2 of an Andes mint in MyFitnessPal today. (You can do that!? Yes. Apparently you can.)

Acknowledgements

Shoutout to fellow Keto peeps Ellen L. and Gillian D. for encouraging me to blog my Keto journey, Heidi L. for sharing my love for El Maguey, Bethany H., Jaime L., and Amanda M. for showing me I’m not the only one that’s severely screwed up cracking an egg, and everyone in the Keto for Beginners Facebook group for their encouragement. And of course, to my bromance and Keto Coach, Jeremiah T.