This is one of the meals we ate during our keto journey. Grass-fed beef pattie with cheddar cheese from grass-fed cows, sauteed mushrooms and onions, homegrown organic tomatoes, butter lettuce wrap, cauliflower rice, kale, and butter. Yum!!
The Ketogenic (or Keto) Diet. You’ve probably heard of it somewhere or know someone who’s following it right now. Some say it’s just another fad diet while others swear by it and make it a way of life. Throughout my training to become a Primal Health Coach, I learned about the keto diet but never tried it myself. I eat clean, nutrient-dense, whole foods most of the time. When I occasionally indulge in non-primal foods (i.e. desserts, pizza) it’s made with high quality ingredients and gluten-free. I do love me a good slightly green banana by itself or in a shake with chocolate collagen protein powder or roasted sweet potatoes with butter and salt.
For those of you who are not familiar with the keto diet, it’s a way of eating in which you eat real nutrient-dense foods and keep your carbohydrate consumption at 50 grams or less per day. There are many health benefits to a ketogenic diet (many of which I will get into more detail in another post) including starving cancer cells. Cancer cells feed off of glucose so when you consume a super low carb diet the cancer cells have no food and they die. It’s also been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes. Of course, everyone should continue working closely with their doctor while treating a disease naturally.
I was inspired to do the keto diet for six weeks (this is the length of time Mark Sisson recommends in his book The Keto Reset Diet) for two reasons. The first reason was to conduct a personal experiment on myself to see how my body reacts to a super low carb diet. The second reason was to experience the keto diet so I can coach my clients who want to follow a keto diet.
I wanted to journal my personal six week keto journey with you. Enjoy!
The first two days were surprisingly really easy for me. I believe this is because I had never consumed less than 50 grams of carbs in one day, I have been following a primal lifestyle for six years already. I was also really excited to try new recipes. As an artist in the kitchen, this was a way for me to express myself and expand the menu of meals that eat.
There were two challenges to the first week.
Number one: I was REALLY hungry all the time, even after I ate a meal full of healthy proteins and fats. I was tracking my macros using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone which was extremely helpful. I learned that I was eating a bit too much protein and not enough fat. Fat is more calorically dense than protein and carbs so it keeps you feeling full longer.
Number two: I felt really fatigued during my workouts, especially during sprint workouts. I did ride my bike to and from work one day and I felt a little fatigued but not as much as during a sprint workout.
At the start of week two I was still feeling hungry most of the time and struggling to get through my sprint workouts. I decided to temporarily cut out my sprint workouts and stick to my strength training and low level cardio.
I increased my fat in take and decreased my protein and that seemed to help me feel more satiated. I was craving bananas and sweet potatoes just about every day. The interesting thing is that I was not having any sugar cravings. This was surprising to me because I have a big sweet tooth. Put a dark chocolate gluten-free cheesecake in front of me and I’ll devour a piece while making weird noises.
This was the week that I would be tested. We were heading up to Reno for my friend, Stephanie’s wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. Stephanie and I have been friends for many years and I was truly honored to be a part of her big day so I wanted to celebrate as much as I could with her.
The morning of the wedding, the bridal party went to get pedicures at a really cute boutique nail spa called Soak. After we sat down and our feet were soaking in a warm bath of soapy water we were offered an adult beverage. Whenever I do a strict primal eating challenge I usually avoid alcohol. However, I gave myself permission to make an exception since it was Stephanie’s wedding. I promised myself I would not go overboard. I’m not a big drinker to begin with so going overboard would not have been an option even if I wasn’t doing a keto.
So, I ordered a Bailey’s and coffee with whipped cream. It came in a giant mug with lots of whipped cream. I only enjoyed half of it before it became too sweet for my taste. Later on I had a few glasses of champagne while we were getting ready.
I may have exceeded 50 grams of carbs (though probably not by much) that day but I wasn’t hard on myself because of it. I knew the next day I would get back on track and that’s exactly what I did.
At the beginning of week four I started to get a sore throat and it became a full blown head cold within a few days. This was most likely from the lack of sleep from the previous weekend. I’ve learned to pay attention to what’s happening in my life when I get sick (which is not that often). If I’m eating clean when I get sick, I’m usually feeling anxious or not sleeping enough and my immune system shuts down.
Whenever I’m sick my go-to comfort meal is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. Of course my craving for this made it very difficult to stick to my keto challenge. I was very tempted to go to Trader Joe’s and buy all the ingredients. Instead, I ate some tomato soup with broccoli to help me feel better. We tend to eat comfort foods for psychological reasons rather than the fact that our bodies actually needing the nutrients. Even though the tomato soup was not that low carb, the ingredients weren’t too bad.
Week five was a real challenge for me because I knew we were over half way done. By this time, I was really craving a banana every time I laid eyes on one. Especially the bananas that are still slightly green and when you bite into them they’re the perfect consistency: not too hard and not too soft. This week felt like the never ending trail when we hiked Mt. Whitney last October. After hiking 11 miles with 6,000 feet in elevation gain up to the summit of Mt. Whitney we still needed to hike 11 miles back down to the portal. We had about 3-4 miles to go and it felt like the trail was never going to end. Every time we turned a corner I expected to see the signs at the trailhead and all I saw was more trail. I kept walking (eating keto aligned foods) and I knew eventually I would get to the finish line.
And the finish line was in sight. During week six, I was reflecting on my keto journey. I learned a lot about myself and my body the past six weeks. Toward the end of the week I gave myself permission to give in to temptation and enjoyed some gluten free toast and white potatoes.
1. My favorite workout workout to do is sprints, preferably hill sprints. When I ran sprints during my keto challenge I did not have as much power as I usually do. I learned this the first week and thought maybe my body just needs to adjust. During my sixth week I still didn’t have as much power. I learned that my body does better during a sprint workout when I’m eating clean starchy foods like sweet potatoes and bananas.
2. It was more difficult for me to fast during keto. I rarely eat breakfast since I’ve switched over to a primal aligned eating pattern so I’m not hungry in the mornings. While eating keto I was usually always hungry in the morning. I like getting the benefits of fasting.
3. Before our keto challenge, I was getting a little lazy with my food intake and eating more non-primal aligned foods than I should have been. I definitely felt very energetic and had a clear mind while eating keto. Even though I’ve chosen not to eat keto 100% of the time it was a good reminder to be more mindful of what I put in my body. Even as a Primal Health Coach it was a really good reset for me.
What I Ate During My Keto Journey
Breakfast: Coffee shake with Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel protein powder, MCT oil, and cacao powder or eggs and veggies.
Lunch: HBK Salad with healthy proteins (sardines, grass-fed sausages, hard boiled eggs) and fats (HBK Ranch Dressing, olive oil, avocado, etc).
Dinner: Healthy protein (salmon, mahi mahi, grass-fed burger, grass-fed sausages, grass-fed bison, or eggs) and non-starchy veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, or spinach).
If you’re interested in seeing if keto is a good fit for you, please feel free to reach out to me for coaching. I’m happy to help!
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