Atkins

What is Keto?

I realize I should have done a post with kind of an explanation about the keto diet. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it. I didn’t know a lot about it before I started doing research and making a meal plan. The best website to start out with is Diet Doctor. My doctor recommended it.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or expert and I’m fairly new to this diet, so I suggest you talk to your doctor before starting it and do your own research. This post is just to give some information to people who may not know much about it (like I didn’t know much!).

What is the Keto Diet?

Before I started, I assumed it was basically like Atkins. High protein, super low carb. I was way wrong! The reason the Keto diet works better than just low carb is because you eat higher fat and that keeps you from being hungry or feeling run down.

Keto is high fat, low carb. But we’re not talking fat like Cheetos and pizza and cake. The fat needs to be “good fats”.

“On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused. (source)”

Low carb, high fat/protein: This will soon put your body in ketosis, which means you will burn fat for energy instead of relying on glucose.

What Are “Good Fats”?

Olive Oil

Avocado Oil

Avocados

Nuts and Nut Butter (in moderation)

Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds

Butter/Ghee

Coconut Oil

Cheese (some of it)

Cream

Carbs on Keto

The easiest way to figure out if you are on track on the diet is to track all of your food (even things like olive oil and butter) in an app like MyFitnessPal and check the macros and nutrients. The “Net” Carbs are your total carbs for the day minus your fiber intake. For example, one day I had 35 carbs but I had 13 grams of fiber so I was at 22 net carbs for the day.

How many net carbs should you eat on keto? I’ve seen different numbers on different websites. The doctor I spoke to about my own keto diet suggested I try and hit 20 net carbs for the day. I’ve done that about half a dozen times so far but I am usually closer to about 25 net carbs. On days I work out, I am often around 30 net carbs. I’m not sure yet how that will effect my weight loss goals.

The tough part of the carb part is that there are carbs in EVERYTHING. Even vegetables. So you have to find the lowest ones possible. Things like spinach, kale, zucchini, asparagus and broccoli. The middle of the road veggies are cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, green beans. Then there’s a bunch of vegetables that are just not allowed–sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc.

Fruit is limited, which is hard. Like raspberries and blackberries are low. Blueberries are a little bit higher. All other fruits are basically off the table. 🙁

Is Keto Healthy?

Is any “diet” healthy? My doctor recommended this diet. I don’t know yet that it will be a lifestyle change. I definitely feel BETTER on this diet than I have in a few years. I feel less bloated, I feel less run down. I don’t have the sugar crashes or food cravings. Eating a lot of sugar and carbs is NOT healthy. So whatever diet you choose, those things should definitely be limited anyways.

“Doctors may put children who have epilepsy on a ketogenic diet, a special high-fat, very low-carb and protein plan, because it might help prevent seizures. Adults with epilepsy sometimes eat modified Atkins diets.

Some research suggests that ketogenic diets might help lower your risk of heart disease. Other studies show specific very-low-carb diets help people with metabolic syndromeinsulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers are also studying the effects of these diets on acnecancerpolycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. (source)”

I think this is a diet that should be discussed with a doctor first. I think if you are prone to things like kidney stones or gallbladder issues, a high fat diet might cause issues. But I’m not a doctor so definitely talk to YOUR doctor. I will say it’s super important to drink a LOT of water on this diet.

FAQ

Can I drink alcohol? Yes, obviously in moderation. And there are only certain things that are allowed. Whiskey, vodka, red wine. Those are low in carbs or have no carbs. But of course this shouldn’t be an every night kind of a thing because alcohol will slow down your weight loss no matter how low in carbs they are.

Can I have chocolate? The super dark chocolate. 72% dark has 4 net carbs in it, 86% dark has 3 net carbs.

How do I know if I’m in Ketosis? They have monitors (I’m not going to go that hardcore). Some other signs: decreased appetite, bad breath, dry mouth, short-term fatigue, increased focus and energy, digestive issues.

Do I need to buy a lot of supplements? Not really. They sell a bunch of stuff but is it necessary? Probably not. I suggest fish oil just in general. Magnesium if you find you are constipated from the keto diet. A lot of keto websites push collagen and while I’ve been taking a collagen vitamin for a while now, I have yet to see any real difference so I have no idea why it’s necessary. MCT oil is one that I would recommend. It goes in your coffee and is a good way to get some fat in your diet with breakfast.

Where can I find keto friendly food? It’s hard at first. Looking at labels is really important. There are brands out there that are keto friendly. And check out Primal Kitchen. They have keto/paleo stuff.

Final Thoughts

Every body is different. I know so many people that have tried different diets out there and did well on certain things and they didn’t work for me. My body did not work well on a vegetarian diet. That’s MY body. But I know several people that are super healthy vegan/vegetarians. Not every diet works for every person. That’s why this is such a personal thing.

When I lost 110 pounds I counted my calories and ate everything in moderation. That worked well for me. It wasn’t restrictive. But I was also obese, I was in my 20’s, I was single and didn’t have a family, my time was my own and I could focus 100% on my goals. This time around, it’s been a lot harder to lose 30 pounds. You’d think it would be easier to lose 30 pounds compared to 110. But my body is different after having a baby. My hormones are different. My life is different. I’m almost 40. I had to try something different to see if that worked.

Talk to your doctor, try it out and make your own decision and see if it works for you. Sometimes change is good!

How Much Food Do I Really Need?

Trying to lose weight post-partum has definitely been a struggle (as I’ve written about many times here). The fitness aspect hasn’t been the struggle for me. The food has.

I feel like part of the problem is that for nearly 10 years I was on a “plan” that worked. After losing 110 pounds, I kept the weight off by working out consistently and by counting my calories. I logged my food pretty diligently for almost a decade. With a few blips here and there, I kept the weight off. I could splurge on treats or go out to dinner and still maintain my weight with about a 5 pounds fluctuation up and down.

When I got pregnant I did not eat for two. I increased my daily calories per my doctor and I still worked out. And then after Logan was born, (after taking about a month off from counting calories) I was back to logging my food but I was still eating a lot of calories. Every time I tried to lower that daily number my milk supply was effected.

I am pretty proud of myself for staying “on track” while pregnant. But I admit, I did give in to foods I didn’t really eat. I had managed to mostly kick my candy habit while losing and maintaining my weight loss. Sure I had treats and dessert (homemade cookies or ice cream, or chocolate) but I stayed away from the candy bar type stuff that was always a trigger for me.

While I was pregnant I craved two things: orange juice–which I started drinking a glass of with breakfast every day (probably 150 calories worth–and I COULD have drank several glasses of juice, but controlled myself) AND Reese’s Pieces candies. I have NO idea why those were the two cravings I had while pregnant with Logan but they were. Once he arrived, I cut out the juice.

The candy? Not so much. I am still eating candy on occasion and I absolutely hate that it’s so hard for me to kick that habit. It’s no secret I’ve always struggled with sugar but…dammit, why is it so hard this time around to STOP the sugar??

Let’s get back to that.

So I am still hovering around the 13-pounds-left-to-lose-mark. Ideally I’d like to lose 20 but 13 is my goal. I talked to my doctor recently and she suggested I reduce my daily calorie base to 1400. (She also suggested I try going vegetarian, but that’s a whole other conversation. 🙁 )

I decided to give it a try and went from around 1600 calories a day to 1400. Sometimes I eat back some of the calories I burn in the gym but I am trying really hard not to eat all of it and try to stay around 1500 or 1600 total on work out days.

Reducing my calories to 1400 was a bit of an adjustment at first. The first week it felt really stressful because if you break it down, 1400 calories is NOT that much food. So 400 calories for breakfast, maybe 100 for a snack, 400 for lunch and 500 for dinner. Yikes! I’d see my number of left over calories getting smaller and smaller…and I’d feel discouraged and sometimes I’d beat myself up. But after the initial hunger and getting used to that number, it wasn’t that bad. And sometimes I even found that I’d bring snacks to work and I didn’t really need them.

Since going back to work full time, I’ve started working out a few days a week during my lunch break. The gym at work can be kind of crowded, especially on bad weather days and Mondays. So I’ve adjusted my lunch hour around in order to work out earlier. In the past I would have a snack before working out –fruit or Greek yogurt or a low carb protein shake–and then work out, shower, and eat lunch at the normal time. But shifting to an earlier lunch hour to workout, I noticed that I didn’t need my morning pre-workout snack anymore.

So I wondered, How much food do I really need?

I decided I could probably skip my morning snack on workout days and just workout. Then eat lunch later. And I’d be fine. And it helped me stay at my lower calorie range.

I have no idea how many calories are the “right” number. I mean, I workout a lot and pretty intensely. So how do you find the proper balance between how many calories you need to not completely crash and still get your good workout in? I pose that question because I honestly don’t know the answer.

Recently I decided to give it another shot. First, I decided to try doing the lower-carb diet again. I kind of gave up on it this summer. I lost about 7 or 8 pounds on it when I first tried it in the spring but I stalled out and just felt like I was torturing myself and not seeing any results–so I stopped and just counted my calories every day and didn’t care about limiting carbs.

Second, I decided to try and cut out the candy. Recently at the store I did not buy ANY treats! None. I am going to try going cold turkey on the dessert/candy/treats and see if that also helps.

UPDATE

Last week in addition to cutting out candy and sweets (other than fruit and my coffee creamer), I decided to give the lower-carb diet a try again. So last week I went back on the bandwagon.

I stopped buying sweets and desserts and was surprisingly able to give up the candy without noticing too much of a hardship or craving. The carbs? I was somewhere between 50-75 grams of carbs for each day. I felt like crap all week, honestly. I felt run down and like I had the flu–but I didn’t. I just felt exhausted and burned out and my workouts suffered and my mood suffered….I’m sure it was cutting out carbs.

So no bread, pasta, rice, etc. No potatoes, reducing the fruit I eat (I had raspberries for dessert two nights). I’m eating more protein and fat. I’m hoping this second week will be better–and that I will feel less run down. I know that’s pretty common in the beginning when you go low carb….UGH.

The good news? I weighed myself over the weekend and was pretty happy to see a 2 pound loss. I have no idea if that’s the low carb diet or cutting out sugar or both. But if this trend continues, hopefully I can relax and just be in maintenance mode in a few months! I do not believe a low carb lifestyle is the right choice for my body type…but I’m willing to give it another try.