I’ve been on this keto journey for 1 year now. Actually more as I started at the end of November 2018 and by the time I’ve written this post (yes I’ve been lax!) it’s end of January 2020. So it’s been 14 months. And I’ve been ketoing ‘hard’. Or low carbing it hard. I’ve had only a handful of “cheat” days. Once for my birthday and then other times have just been on trips when I’ve been doing tonnes of walking and only for one treat rather than days or weeks. Oh and once for a friend’s birthday.
It’s definitely gotten easier but also I’ve become a lot more relaxed and there is no measurements of either ketones or carbohydrates. Generally when I eat I tend to eat leafy green vegetables plus protein with fats. I’ve since tapered off with keto treats and have standardised on a mix of berries, coconut yoghurt and nuts. I’ve learned to eat dark (very dark!) chocolate and that’s not even because I love chocolate anymore but more to have some chocolate. 🤔 I really need to get my FOMO under control!
Oh and just in case you are wondering — no I haven’t lost much weight but the reason I started keto was for general health and I do feel so much better. And there are other benefits…
Benefits of Keto 1 year in
These are somewhat random benefits given that I haven’t lost much weight. And I would think it’s because I’m not in much of a calorie deficit as I do eat meat and fat… even if I have given up the carbs!
Mental capability – I just feel that I can think so much better and don’t seem to forget as much. My brain definitely is firing a lot better than it has been. I use to complain about goldfish memory. Whilst my memory for faces/names hasn’t improved that much, keeping on top of things seems a lot easier nowadays.
Skin – my skin seems to need less moisturiser. This could be a combination of other things as well but I do think my skin health is a lot better. A friend of mine who hadn’t seen me for a while definitely thought I looks a lot healthier skin-wise than before. Not that I had terrible skin before but it was something she noticed.
Body odour – I don’t think I stunk before but certainly I don’t feel that I get that ‘waft’ of BO I use to… I have also transitioned to using a healthy deodorant rather than an antiperspirant.
Lack of hunger – a year before doing keto I had been doing fasts two days a week (36 hour fasts) so this isn’t that new. Generally I just don’t feel hungry. I still love food but even that is being somewhat more controllable as I continue this way of eating.
Food tastes – water tastes sweet. I drank water before as my choice of drink but now it tastes sweet! And I’ve been having less and less sweet foods (as in using different sweeteners in keto treats). I don’t even do treats as much anymore. I just don’t need them as much. It also helps when I’m not entertaining or needing to take foods over to friend’s places. As mentioned I am happy with berries with yoghurt (coconut as I’m trying to cut dairy).
Energy – I’ve found I can do activities I haven’t been able to in the past without training up for it. Stairs, hikes and other activities just seem easier. I don’t think it’s just physical health as much as a result of my eating/diet. Over 10 years ago I did the Oxfam Trailwalker event and had to train up for it so on weekends when I did 30km hikes I would be very sore the next day. These days I can go for a 30km hike and be fine the next day and I don’t feel as tired at the end of it. Even if I haven’t been building up to it! I’ve never really felt hungry on hikes so that hasn’t really changed but I don’t feel like I need to “gu” up (we use to buy packs of carbohydrate filled gel packs to have before any huge climb). I do find I do need magnesium tablets when going up a hill as I cramp up terribly otherwise (leg cramps).
Things that haven’t been fixed
The main thing I’m bummed that keto hasn’t helped with 1 year in is my weight. I’d love to be svelt. But I think I need to do more movement activities and I think there is something else that I’m missing. My main ‘laziness’ is not wanting to ‘diet’ (yeah I know it’s a keto diet but I’m not seeing that way and rather just having a list of foods I do and don’t eat.).
My period – it’s still all over the shop. Sometimes super heavy. Sometimes super long. And never consistent in cycle. Argh. So still working on this one.
Things that are negatively affected by doing keto
There are two main things… first is my hair! I lost a heap of hair. I assume from keto. It’s coming back but I’m not sure if it’s from my body adapting to be keto (as mentioned on some Podcasts and YouTube videos and blog posts) or something else. The real bummer is that I’m not losing hair and losing weight. And apparently it’s meant to be growing back after 12 months. This could be happening now but I was so sick of losing hair that I’ve been adding extra treatments such as Aloe Vera + Castor Oil. And eating sesame seeds and l. reuteri yoghurt.
The other thing is inflammation and food sensitivity. I’ve found I’m affected by suspect foods. One time I felt really unwell after eating at a Thai restaurant when having some pork belly. It looked pretty keto. Wasn’t sweet but I think was coated with flour and possibly cooked in bad vegetable oil. And then once when I celebrated with a friend and joined in on the carb up… with a couple of pieces of gnocchi and followed up with a scoop of gelato. I didn’t feel well. My head was stuffy feeling and I just didn’t feel good. It was a good lesson in not veering off course!
What I do now
At this point I’m just eating mostly keto-esque. I usually skip ‘breakfast’ and have lunch of either a salad (with some protein of either egg or fish) or duck or some other protein (e.g. Pho with no noodles). Dinner I have at home and it’s usually Asian greens (stir fried) plus some protein. I’ve been loving eggs recently so often have eggs with vegetables with maybe some mince pork. Or just veges with tofu and an egg. I also do ‘bone broth’ on weekends when I make a batch of bone broth although mine is still pork mostly. And it’s not necessarily the best quality pork. But it seems to be ok to me although I’m sure the grain being fed to the pigs aren’t going to be great for me. I really should transition to pastured pork.
Coffee is still a drink I do but now with no cream. I’ve only recently decided to go dairy free. No cream, no (minimal!) cheese. I’ve learned to like black coffee. I have a batch brew which is a lot smoother option than espresso coffee. I’ll have tea with almond milk (yeah I know!!) or sometimes if I feel like treating myself I’ll find a barista that has a keto friendly almond milk and do an almond flat white. Unfortunately a lot of baristas use the ‘good’ almond milk (Milk Lab) but that’s not keto friendly. Almond Breeze (Barista blend) is a good one to look out for. I think Vitasoy is another one but I always end up looking at their carton if I’m not sure to check before ordering my coffee. Macadamia nut milk is usually OK but last time I checked a carton I recall asking for it to be black so maybe not!
Relaxing carb intake
In recent weeks I’ve also been trying to relax my carb intake. Not with anything crazy but rather things like more keto foods that have higher carb counts. More berries. I’ve added a fig to my berries in the last two days. I’ve also had a coconut water + espresso ice coffee today. I do want my way of eating to be sustainable so things like this make it so. I love fruit so I want to be able to still have some in limited quantity. The figs this week was a start of that. I’ve also been reading Super Human by David Asprey and he advocates a cyclical ketogenic diet. So maybe one day a week when you are out of ketosis. I don’t know if I’m in ketosis or not. I just know when I feel good or not. And if I fast for a day I know I’ll be ketosis. So try and do 1 day a week of 24 – 36 hour fast and one day a week where I ‘carb up’ (with fruit or possibly some rice or something else).