My transformation & exploration of the Ketogenic Diet
My transformation and exploration of the Ketogenic Diet began 6 months ago on July 3rd, 2015. I had an idea what to expect from reading the FAQ section from the Keto subreddit several times but I still was surprised that it works. And it works for me!
I’m 5’2.75″ and my start weight was about 167.5 pounds (I didn’t have a scale at home so my start weight was taken on July 6th when I was at work). This worked out to a BMI of 29.9 which translates to the Overweight category and was only 0.1 point away from being obese. On this journey, I started at a size 14.
I started the diet for a few reasons, some personal (high blood pressure along with headaches plus realizing that I really need to take care of myself or else I’ll be in bigger trouble later in life) and some superficial (trying to fit into a green dress that I wore 4 years ago). To get into the edge “normal” weight BMI, I needed to loose 28 pounds to reach a weight of 139.5 pounds.
-Fit in Green Dress by October 10th for a friends wedding.
-Lose 30 pounds to get to 137.5 pounds because 30 pounds sounds like a nice round number that’s within the “normal” BMI threshold. [NOTE: at the time of this publishing, weight was at 138.1 pounds! Getting there!!!]
This wasn’t part of my original goals but when I saw that the ketogenic diet was working with amazing results, I realized I could set a goal for my “pipe dream” weight! One that I never thought would be possible.
-Get to 125 pounds, then move to the next stage.
To calculate my macros, I followed the advice given in the r/keto subreddit FAQ and used the recommended Keto Calculator. Set Net Carbs to 20g, Activity to Sedentary (it can over estimate calories used when adding different levels of activity), adjust the protein midway resulting in 0.8 g protein per pound of lean muscle, then chose no more than a 30% deficit. (Getting closer to “normal” weight, % deficit should decrease. Which is why currently macros are set to a 17% deficit.)
Net Carbs=20 g
Protein=78 g (note: these were calculated before the formula was tweaked in the fall)
Net Carbs=20 g
[An interesting read by Martin Robbins, a writer for the Guardian, weighed himself every hour he was awake over 3.5 days and also recorded the mass of his food intake. The results are quite fascinating!]
Start weight 167.5 lbs – weight after 6 months 142.4 = 25.1 pounds lost! That’s about a pound a week which is quite reasonable for healthy weight loss.
Over at my brother’s place, he has a really cool WiFi Withings Scale and I had used that a little more than I should. The values highlighted in yellow were from his scale (the others were from my NEW scale…deets below) and you can see how weight can vary considerably throughout the day. These values weren’t included in the above graph, it was supposed to sync in but it didn’t.
A friend recently asked about the two scales I use and mentioned that I should actually compare the results.
I placed them side by side and stepped on them one right after the other. There’s a difference of 4.2 pounds between the two! Now when just using one scale, you just note the difference (if applicable) from one measurement to the next. But with this new information….it would skew my graph unless I took a correction into account for my previous data. (My head hurts!) I’m not going to make a fuss over the difference between the two scales even with the appearance of gaining weight on the Withings. Another variable is that at home, I’m wearing less on the scale than I would at work. (Sooo….I weigh more on the Withings with less on…GAH!!!)
The Withings scale is much, much newer and I’m sure it’s been calibrated when it left the factory. I’m even within the normal BMI range according to the older scale *sniff* but I’m just going to carry on using the results the Withings from December 27th and on, rather than confuse myself. Again, as long as everything is moving in the proper direction I’m not going to fret over it.
Waist Measurement Progress:
Hip Measurement Progress:
Left Bicep Measurement Progress:
Left Thigh Measurement Progress:
Right Calf Measurement Progress:
Bust Measurement Progress:
Side View Progress:
Blood Pressure Progress:
Blood Work Progress:
I haven’t had a chance to get blood work done in the new year with holiday closures and now that the semester has started it’s tough to find a moment to visit the Doc. I plan to get it done soon (when I find the time to go to the doc) and will compare the results of blood work from July and October.
5 Key Points for Success:
- Finite Macro Tracking
- Make Meals
- Trust the Process
- Keep Sight of the Goal
-I knew to watch my electrolytes when I first started. I just couldn’t believe that when I was feeling a headache coming on, having a “foggy brain” or just not feeling “right”; how fast it went away after drinking a cup of water with salt in it. I must admit I’m a little more lax nowadays as I haven’t had a headache in a while but when my body craves salt, I’ll salt my food. I even carry around little salt packets from fast food places just in case. (Side note: check those salt packets! I’ve seen some WITH sugar in it. *sigh*). I do enjoy drinking a bowl of homemade broth which does the trick nicely.
-Now, I didn’t anticipate the leg cramps (OWWWWWWW!), I found that taking magnesium citrate would help immensely. If I knew I was going to hit the pool, I’d make sure to take a magnesium citrate supplement before I left and I’d be good to go.
– Whenever I was at home, I’d weigh my food as much as I could. The scale I use weighs to the 1g. It didn’t give me the accuracy I was looking for so I purchased another scale that went down to 0.01g and now use both. Sure it’s tough to get an accurate count whenever I ate out and I realize this but that didn’t mean I shouldn’t be as accurate as I could be at home. (it’s my analytical side showing here!)
– Track everything! That goes without saying. If I ate over my deficit (I accounted for a 20-30% deficit of my TDEE), I tracked it. If anything comes up in future you’ll be able to look back. I discuss this in more detail in the Challenges/Set Backs area below**.
– A few days after I had started, I found it really helpful to enter food in MyFitnessPal before eating it, you’ll know where you stand and can cut back or add more if need be. When I started, I’d track them AFTER I had eaten them. Um, yeah…that’s when I inadvertently ate my daily allotment of carbs for breakfast or even more than 3/4 of my caloric intake before lunch. I try to avoid those surprises! Over time, I have an idea of the caloric (as well as carb & protein) content of most foods I consume on a regular basis. If I’m unsure of a food, I’ll check it on MyFitnessPal or the USDA Natural Nutrient Database before consuming.
-I found that when I took the time to make a proper meal, I wouldn’t “snack” or graze afterwards. I often ate more when I’d be grazing on this or that trying to get my fill. So when I’d get that “munchie” feeling (different from hunger), I’d eat a slice a cheese (to tide me over) then put a plate together. (I’ve found too when I do get that “munchie” feeling, my body is looking for salt.)
-Meal plan ahead of time. This works really well for me when I’ve prepared something that will last a few days. It’s easy to adjust portion sizes to fit your macros when you know what you’re having. Some people meal plan a week in advance, that’s something to strive for especially during really busy times**!
– In my case I’m lucky that I didn’t have any underlying health issues (that I know of) such as diabetes, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, etc. to monitor very closely when I began this journey. When the weight loss seemed nonexistent or plateaued I had read enough to know to KCKO (Keep Calm and Keto On as the saying goes) to continue on rather than thinking it isn’t working and grabbing a slice of chocolate cake. That being said, I was making sure I was following the regime and keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary**. I am fortunate to have supportive doctors that I could go to if I felt the need.
-Seeing my goal, keeps me going. I had that “green dress” to try to fit into and it’s satisfying to see the changes. Now, that the green dress is no longer my goal, it was a little tougher to keep the process in check. Now that I realize this, I’ve picked up a few other items of clothing that I’m working on fitting into! (I just wandered into a thrift store and found a few pairs of jeans.) This works well for me.
This should be a given which is why I didn’t include it in the 5, HYDRATION! Keeping hydrated is always important, especially in nutritional ketosis. I always make sure to drink enough water when the thirst hits. There’s also a hydration calculators to get a rough idea how much water to drink a day. MyFitnessPal also has an area where you can log in your water intake too.
- Aside from weight loss, here’s the added benefits I’ve found being in nutritional ketosis:
- more energy – starting out I’ve had incredible energy, now that I’m keto adapted it’s leveled out
- clear thinking – less “foggy” brain (provided I get enough sleep)
- mood stabilizing – I feel much more rational and level headed, less mood swings
- decrease in hunger/appetite – no crazy chocolate, donut cravings and I don’t experience hunger like I used to. I can last much longer before eating and since starting keto, I don’t remember the last time my stomach “growled” from hunger.
- awesome teeth – they feel much cleaner without the sugar and starchy deposits, the dentist was pretty impressed (and my teeth are good as it is!)
- IBS gone – it was never diagnosed but I suspected it as such and it was gone not long after I started. It wasn’t until someone had mentioned that others had experienced the symptoms of IBS disappearing that I realized (aside from the first few weeks) things are going pretty good! No more mad dashes to the bathroom!
- being able to eat flavour rich foods that I once avoided on a traditional diet – butter, bacon, eggs, fatty cuts of meat, heavy cream, regular fat sour cream, regular fat cream cheese all delicious and wonderfully satiating!
- ability to stay on it – seeing good results (weight & body measurements), no constant nagging hunger and the feeling of being able to enjoy good food makes this “diet” easy for me to maintain.
- and of course…weight loss – now yes this is a benefit but I hadn’t seen loss results like this in a “diet” before! I can realistically shoot for my “dream” weight!
Now with all the wonderful results, I wanted to share some challenges/set backs I’ve had over the last six months.
The problem came when…I had to eat all my 1144 calories in an hour. Sure I could stretch out the eating window, that wasn’t completely the problem. Being mentally tired, I couldn’t figure out what to eat plus I’d eat until I was full and I couldn’t eat another bite. Sure my carb intake was less than net 20g and that’s what I paid attention to. I looked at my total calories and they were approximately 100+ calories less than what I should be eating. Some days were even half of what I should be getting. At the time I thought, well that’s okay, I’m a few calories lower today though it’s not everyday. It turned into almost everyday. And the one macro I should have kept in check but didn’t was PROTEIN. It was always really low. The body needs 0.8 g of protein per pound of lean muscle to do basic things such as fight infections, self repair, etc. Even with everything I had read, even with the amount of hair coming off in the shower, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was in an odd autopilot of sorts. When things settled back to “normal” at the beginning of December, I figured it out. Now I know, I need to pay closer attention, especially when work becomes crazy again, which it will.
MY overall thoughts and moving forward the next 6 months
With that, I’ll be KCKO! (Keep Calm and Keto On!) I look forward another transformation and further exploration of the ketogenic diet in the next 6 months!