Welcome to Keto Love with Ali! Today I'm sharing the beginning of my journey to a ketogenic lifestyle and just an FYI although I refer to it as a diet sometimes I simply mean the things I consume as a natural part of my day. I consider keto to be my lifestyle, long-term rather than a short term diet.
Also please consult your GP before making any diet changes. This article is based on my experiences and in no way is meant to replace medical advice from your doctor.
Before we start....
I understand some people are triggered by talk of carbs when they are on a ketogenic diet so trigger warning: Non-keto foods as well as bodily functions are mentioned in this blog. If you want the real dilly on my experience with fat adaption then read on...
OK brave one 😉 let's start...
Thinking back on my keto journey I realise now that I had already started preparing myself for the ketogenic lifestyle prior to that fateful day in the Pak n Save car park which lead me to find a healthier lifestyle then the one I was leading. There's something about witnessing your possible future in a morbidly obese, older woman wobbling painfully to her car, looking very uncomfortable and unhappy that makes one rethink their life's choices. (you can check the full story out here: https://www.facebook.com/111598838026212/posts/140075081845254/)
From what I had researched, in the years leading up to keto I knew sugar wasn't good for me and that it was in most foods whether naturally or added. So in an effort to take small steps for lasting change I decided to ditch my low-fat milk and reduce my sugar intake. I replaced these items in my breakfasts with fresh or tinned fruit and used natural, unsweetened yogurt and/or honey for toppings or I'd opt for chunky slices of tomato on wholemeal toast and on super hungry days I would have all the above. Although it is undeniable there's sugar in the all fruit and bread I figured I was getting more fruit and grains into my diet so the compromise seemed a good one at the time. I found I didn't miss the creaminess of the milk in my hot drinks either because the sugar and tea/coffee flavor was still there which is what I enjoyed.
I'd always liked water as a means to quench my thirst but also loved sweet drinks like fizzy, cordials and milkshakes etc. so these went out the window quick smart. I also considered my water intake at the time. I knew I needed to up my intake and to do this I started by putting a glass of water beside my bed every night. Every morning I would wake and drink the glass full to get it out of the way. I could feel the difference in my body from the first day. I was hardly ever constipated and didn't feel sluggish like I normally would.
Fast forward a year or two and I discovered the ketogenic diet. During my initial research I would find that I had already made important changes as recommended by Dr Berg and Thomas De Lauer who I followed on YouTube. They were both my primary sources of information and according to both these keto youtubers there are two ways to start the ketogenic diet. Easing into it like I did or going 'cold turkey' and 'full hog'. I initially thought I had gone cold turkey but it was these important changes that I feel set me in good stead for the long-term.
With this accomplishment under my belt and through more research into the ketogenic lifestyle I chose to become fat adapted and work towards a natural fasting state. Fat adaptation, according to Wellpark College of New Zealand (https://wellpark.ac.nz/3495-2/), is when you eat a high fat, low carb diet in order for your body to use a greater amount of fat as fuel. I chose this option because I knew my body wouldn't be able to handle the fat intake necessary for a keto diet because prior to starting I could only have 2 or 3 eggs weekly, max. I loved eggs but they were far too rich for me to have any more than that and I wanted them to be a staple in my new diet regime.
To become fat adapted and aiming for a natural fasting state I planned and started the following eating regime with a 16:8 fasting window where I ate between 10am and 6pm...
* Breakfasts - as late as possible were keto/bulletproof coffee. * Lunches - A two or three egg cheesy, omelet made with fried greens such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage or celery and served with a large salad. * Dinners - Large salad topped with cheese and/or mayo and a variety of seeds, nuts, olives avocados etc. and my choice of protein cooked in coconut oil and/or butter with herbs and spices of my choosing. Keto coffee or walnuts for dessert straight after my meal, when required, to carry me through the night.
(My very first attempt at a keto dinner was low carb beef Nachos pictured below, I followed this with a keto coffee)
Other things I incorporated were:
* Only eating when hungry and if I thought I was hungry I'd have a drink of water first as it was sometimes my thirst calling not my stomach.
* Drinking lots of water throughout the day. Around three plus litres. I had a water bottle I carried around with me which took a while to get used to carrying constantly. * Himalayan pink salt on all meals for essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron that my body may otherwise not have gotten due to my change in diet (Don't be afraid to salt and pepper your salads 😁🥗🧂) you can also use electrolyte drinks to replace these minerals.
* A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water before meals. Needs to be sipped with a straw to protect the enamel on your teeth. This helped with my digestion.
* Keeping it simple was especially effective so there were no complicated recipes and the same main ingredients at every meal with the change of herbs, spices and toppings to make things a bit more interesting.
* I didn't measure my ingredients initially and just ate 'til I was full but tried my best to follow keto macrons of 70% fat, %5 carbohydrates and 20% Protein.
* Salads and vegetables were mainly cruciferous vegetables with mayo for the dressing.
* I cut out snacks but would ensure I ate 'til I was full, including some nuts after a meal if I needed to top myself up.
* ALWAYS having keto options available in case I got hungry. My favs were walnuts which have the added bonus of dealing with sugar and carb cravings quite nicely, pork rhinds and colby cheese. It's important to eat full fat foods so you feel satiated.
* If you can get rid of or hide carbs that you know you shouldn't have that will help immensely!
* Remember - If you fail to plan then you plan to fail so plan, plan and plan some more!
(Some of my initial meals and as you can see the portion sizes were huge to ensure I could carry over to the next meal without the need to snack. These really were salad mountains on a plate)
Following this plan it took less then a week for me to be able to enjoy eating eggs daily. I also went into ketosis really fast, within 5 days, and experienced the rise in energy and more clarity of thought that comes with entering ketosis. I was always really thirsty too which is another sign that you would typically see when in ketosis. The cruciferous veg and copious amounts of water also helped to combat fatty liver through their detoxing properties.
One thing to note, seriously, if deciding to become fat adapted like I did, stay close to the little ladies/men's room because you'll need it quick smart for the first few days as your body adjusts to the extra fat intake. This is all to prepare your body to go from burning sugar for energy to burning fat for energy. That is what hitting ketosis does for your body and health so ditching the sugar is vital in the lead up to a keto diet.
Another thing to be prepared for is the "keto flu". This can result in side effects such as headaches, nausea and explosive diarrhoea as already mentioned which occurs when your body switches fuel types from sugar to fats. Fortunately for me this process was relatively short and by day five I was able to eat 3 plus eggs a day with ease. All keto symptoms had disappeared bar my raging thirst which is a good sign you are in ketosis.
I strongly recommend you do your own research before beginning and again, please consult your doctor before beginning any diet changes. This has the added benefit of being able to record you blood pressure and weight etc to determine if keto is right for you.
I had had my gal bladder removed around ten years prior and it is not recommend to do what I did. Without consulting my doctor first I didn't know any better and was lucky it all turned out well!
So that was my beginning to one of the best lifestyle changes I have ever made. I hope you have found this blog post helpful in starting or continuing your keto journey. 'Til next time...