Thursday, December 6, 2018

My Keto Experiment

Waves.

Hi. I don't really want to write this post, but here we are, so let's just get it over with.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Talk to your doctor. Blah, blah, blah.

I am about to roll over on a year since I started this weird keto journey, and I guess that I look different enough that people are starting to ask me what I am doing. Kicking my own ass, mostly. But we'll get there in a minute.



Back in December of 2017, I was tired of being tired. Frustrated with not ever being able to lose weight, no matter what I did. Facing a diagnosis of diabetes and looking at going on meds after struggling to keep my blood sugar down for nearly two decades. My a1c was creeping higher and higher, along with the number on the scale. I started to do battle with my pancreas a very long time ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest kid. He's 17, so that tells you just how long it has been.

I'm not the type of fat person who can legitimately claim that they were fat and healthy. I wasn't. I had high blood pressure too. I couldn't do a lot of things that involved too much exertion. Last summer at Disneyland, on top of having a bizarre allergic reaction, I dealt with blisters and some serious chub rub that made the trip hell for me. It was awful. I don't want to be that person anymore.

I also have been through my mom dying from complications of Type 2. I knew that I didn't want to end up like she did, I knew that I wanted to be able to watch not just my kids grow up, but their kids too. And I knew that something seriously had to change.

I have struggled with my weight for my whole entire life. I was the fat kid. I've always been your fat friend. And before anyone starts to angrily type a comment about how "we" aren't fat and fat is just a thing...I know. I'm aware. I've lived in this fat body for my whole life. Trust me when I tell you that the world treats fat people differently. It just does.

Anyhow, I've tried damn near every diet known to man. Even the ones with the celebrities and the ads on tv. I've exercised until I passed out. I have dealt with anorexia a few times along the way, and I know my propensity to just stop eating when life gets too complicated. I STILL fall back into these damaging patterns of behavior, even at 41 years old. I was never very good at being anorexic, though. Still fat.

Which just fed the vicious cycle of self loathing.

Hooray for having shitty self esteem.

I saw a couple of friends make progress with keto and figured what the hell? I'll give it a shot, and maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. It was literally either this or accept my fate and go on meds.

I am also probably the most skeptical person you know. I assumed it wouldn't make a difference. Nothing else ever has.

I have done a ton of research on health and nutrition. I have had a few lectures from nutritionists. I have been told by endocrinologists to keep eating carbs, believing that I had to eat them because all these experts told me I had to. Nothing got better. It only got worse.

And really, humans are not designed to digest wheat. We aren't supposed to be eating processed foods. We just aren't. We just fell for the idea that we are. I include myself here.

The ADA still recommends that people with Type 2 diabetes eat a whole bunch of carbs, just that they use medication and/or insulin to maintain their glucose levels.

It doesn't have to be like that.

(Type 1 is a VERY different situation, requiring insulin, and which cannot be managed by limiting carbs alone. Nothing I write here should be deemed any recommendation to attempt this way of eating for someone with Type 1).

When I started it, I jumped in with both feet, committing myself to really going all in. This isn't the kind of lifestyle that you can ease yourself into exactly. In order to reach a state of ketosis, you essentially have to go cold turkey on sugar and refined carbs. And I won't lie to anyone. That first week SUCKS. Like, you're going to feel like shit. Your body is going to punish you, and it will attempt to demand that you eat the bread or sugar or whatever because you've basically become addicted to the stuff.

Once you get past those first few days, it gets better. I promise.

To cope with those initial days, and the "keto flu" that comes with them, drink a ton of water. Up your intake of electrolytes. And wait. Honestly, you've just got to ride that part out.

Once you do, though, you'll likely start to feel better within a few days. I know it sounds hokey, but I think clearer now. I am better able to regulate my emotions, less likely to be dealing with severe anxiety. I sleep a whole lot better. No longer take antacids.

When I started, I did what is usually referred to as lazy keto. I didn't make a bunch of fancy recipes. I didn't make special food. I sure didn't buy anything special. I didn't take a bunch of supplements. I didn't invest in a whole bunch of shakes. If I was out at a restaurant, I just asked for meals to be made a little differently. Sauces on the side, no bread, no croutons. Sub rice or pasta for vegetables.

I've never worried about my macros aside from keeping a running total of my net carbs. My goal is to have 20 net carbs a day or fewer. Some people can do this and get away with as much as 50 grams. My pancreas is an asshole though, so I keep them lower.

Oh, and a net carb is just total carbs minus fiber.

You will want to try and spread them out throughout the day too, because if you ate all 20 (or 50 if you're one of the lucky people), it might be enough to kick you out of ketosis.

A lot of people assume that I have changed everything about how I cook and eat, and it isn't actually true. I still make most of the same dinners for my family that I always have. I just substitute ingredients or serve the carb-dense stuff on the side instead of incorporated in the dish. For example, I still make spaghetti and homemade meatballs on a regular basis. I just eat mine with zucchini noodles or shiritaki noodles instead. I do make my own pasta/pizza sauce because nearly all commercially available sauces are full of sugar. It's literally the easiest thing, though, and tastes so much better. Crushed tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and some red pepper flakes. There.

There are some super health conscious people who will claim that you can never have fast food on keto. I'm not one of them. I have 5 kids and we are super busy people so there are times that I am nowhere near home and need to eat. I just get burgers without ketchup or the bun, with extra lettuce and tomatoes.

I keep a bag of roasted almonds in the car for snacks. Peanuts are fine too if you prefer, but more likely to cause inflammation and carry more net carbs.

I drank bulletproof coffee for a while, but stopped mostly because it was too much effort. I just drink it black now...and I drink a whole lot less of it. I used to guzzle the stuff by the gallon, and now I find that I only need one cup a day to get going.

So, then...what do I eat? I know that this is the question that a lot of people want answered. I eat food. Just food. All meats and fish, poultry and cheese will become your best friend. There are some keto people who literally live on bacon, and while I do love bacon, I cannot eat it that often. I stopped eating dairy aside from cheese and occasional Greek yogurt a long time ago and my digestive system has been so much better ever since. Eggs. I cannot tell you enough about eggs. Most people are conditioned to believe that eggs have a lot of cholesterol and therefore will raise your cholesterol levels, but that's not actually true. My cholesterol has dropped pretty significantly, and on an average day, I eat at least 2 eggs. (whole thing, not just the egg whites). All green leafy vegetables are great, tomatoes in moderation. You're going to want to avoid most root vegetables since they are starchy and full of carbs. And fruit is generally a no-go except for berries and the almighty avocado. ALL THE AVOCADOS.

I make ice cream sometimes if I really want it, from coconut milk, cocoa powder and Stevia. Peanut butter fat bombs cups from sugar free chocolate and chunky peanut butter with coconut oil. There are a million cookbooks and websites devoted to these recipes, so I won't bore you here.

My husband recently started eating keto as well, and makes killer bagels using Fathead dough (again, the interwebs are full of these recipes). They're seriously so good. Keto bread...well, it's not real bread...but it'll do. Swap out regular flour for almond flour or coconut flour, and you're going to want to make sure to grab xanthan gum for anything doughy you want to make.

I do have exogenous ketones in drink form that I use very rarely if I've had more carbs than I should. I've experimented with intermittent fasting as well, and have found that once I adjusted, I'd stay fuller longer anyway. It's weird. I can't really explain it. I do drink protein shakes now, and it took me a while to find a keto friendly mix that didn't taste like dirt. Optimum Nutrition chocolate if you're interested. Costco sells it. No need to pay some exorbitant amount of money for special keto-marketed stuff. I usually toss some powdered peanut butter in there too, with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

For the first 9 months on this journey, I truly did keto only without adding any extra exercise. In September, for reasons that defy explanation, I started running too. But there are tons of people who have great success with this way of eating who don't do any exercise at all.

Thing is....what you put into your body is a whole lot easier to control than trying to burn it off, even if you were going to work out all the time. I don't honestly know why I started running, but I kind of love it now. (gross)

This weekend, I will hit one year with this way of eating. I can say that I will never go back. I have lost a whole bunch of weight. My cholesterol is lower. My blood pressure is normal. My a1c is too. My skin is even clearer.

It has changed my life.

Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't...but maybe you want to try too.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing with us! I've been considering it for a while now, but being a pescetarian, it's hard to figure out enough protein if I'm not allowed to eat beans and lots of cheese.
    My weakness is wine and chocolate and the occasional cookie, but I'm fairly certain that giving up breads and processed carbs will be easy for me.
    I may just cut out that stuff and continue with teverything else as is, and see where that takes me.

    You're such an inspiration, Kelly. I'm so grateful for your friendship and presence in my life, even if it is just on fb.
    Love to you and continued success! Xoxo

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  2. Thank you, I suffer from a lot of the same things and recently I had my mother test my blood sugar after fasting and it was over 200. I have been putting off starting a Keto diet, Because I love carbs, the bad carbs, The really bad carbs. But I have to change or I may not be here much longer. Its wonderful to hear that it worked for you. I think it will work for me if I just stick to it. BTW, you may have been 'curvy' but you are also beautiful. especially those eyes. Best wishes for continued success Wonder Woman. A nickname that my second son gave me btw, but not for my looks. <3

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