During quarantine, I lost my grip on moderation. I had a lot on my plate, literally and metaphorically. Boredom, stress, lack of exercise, and working within feet of a fully stocked kitchen really took a toll on my healthy eating habits.
I only really noticed this once lockdown was over and I came to put on my jeans for the first time in so long; they barely closed. This led me to the ketogenic diet. My social feeds have always been flooded with keto posts and its presumed miraculous effects. I wanted to know what all the crack was about and was hopeful that it would help me gain discipline again.
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, higher-fat diet. The decrease in carbohydrate consumption puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, where fat, from your diet and from your body, is burned for energy as a result of the short supply of blood sugar (glucose). This aids weight loss among other benefits such as increased energy and improved focus. Sounds promising? Yes, I know.
Before starting my keto journey, I sat down and researched all the meals and ingredients I’d be eating for the next month. I did a massive grocery trip with everything I needed and took off with the diet immediately. Here is what happened:
1. The hunger was REAL but it quickly faded away.
It did not matter if it was right before my meal or after, the word “hunger” defined my first week on keto. I was ready to eat whatever was in front of me, whether it was edible or not. However, once I entered ketosis and my body adapted to the diet, my appetite went from 80 to 8 – it was extremely suppressed. This is because ketones suppress ghrelin – our hunger hormone – and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.
2. I felt thirstier than never before.
I wasn’t only hungry during my first week on keto, but also thirsty, which isn’t the most pleasant combo. I probably drank an ocean’s worth of water during the diet. This is a side effect of water loss and the high level of ketones in the body. On a positive note, the amount of water helped my skin a lot.
3. The “Keto Flu” hits hard.
Before starting keto, I was warned about the flu-like symptoms. And true to warning, by the second day, I felt like I was hit by a rock. I was extremely lightheaded, tired, weak, nauseous and constipated. I stayed in bed for 2 days unable to move – but that was only until my body had started adapting.
4. My taste buds altered.
I went out a couple of times to bars during my diet (yes, you can drink certain alcohols!). And, I realised that my palate was affected. I started finding sugarless caipiroska – and other cocktails – sweet, which anyone would find very bitter and I would’ve never dared to drink off keto. This is a positive side effect of keto, which is usually not talked about and discovered from my own experience on the diet.
5. They do not lie: it is a great weight-loss method.
By the end of the first week, my pants felt looser and my body a bit lighter. I had basically gone back to the weight I was before quarantine began. However, it is worth noting that this was probably all due to water weight.
Unfortunately, I only lasted two weeks on the diet before I cheated and therefore could not unveil more myths and facts related to the diet. The ketogenic diet was both a mental and a physical challenge. It was worth it, but not for me, as I am not a big egg or meat-eater, and I am lactose intolerant. Thus, I felt very restricted as those are the food items that are most consumed during the diet.