Americans are always finding the “best” way to lose weight, hence the wide variety of diets we have available to us. There’s “raw-til-4,” Paleo, juice cleanses, the blood type diet, cabbage soup diet, and more. Now, another diet, or as people like to call it now, lifestyle, is emerging called keto, which is very comparable to the popular 1970’s Atkins diet.
Keto requires you to severely limit your intake of carbs to 25 grams net carbs a day, have a moderate intake of protein, and a high intake of fats. This will set your body to run on ketones instead of glucose. There are so many pros and cons to this diet, and no one can seem to come to a definite conclusion, partly because it hasn’t been studied long enough.
As a society, we go through waves of fearing a certain macro nutrient, to all of a sudden praising it. Keto could just be another phase, or maybe it actually provides the health benefits it claims to from simple weight loss to curing cancer.
I decided to try it out myself for one week to see what would happen. My goal wasn’t to lose weight, or to reinforce the health claims. I just wanted to experience what it would be like, and what people go through when practicing keto.
The Night Before
I did my research, calculated my macros, and prepped some meals that I can have. The amount of eggs I have in my fridge right now is ridiculous. I also got avocados, Earth Balance vegan butter, low-carb vegetables, and cheese. My goal is to hit 25 grams carbs, 75 grams protein, and 137 grams fat. I love peanut butter, eggs and cheese for sure, but…yikes.
I dragged my boyfriend to do it with me so I’d be encouraged to finish out the week. He was ecstatic for it, though, and kept talking about how much butter and steak he was going to eat. I joked about how I’d bring pats of butter with me to school for a snack, but I was actually really dreading it. Coming from a Vietnamese background where the food is light and fresh, I wasn’t used to eating meals dripping in butter or oil. All I could think is, “Why did I volunteer to do this…?”
After prepping my meals the night before, I got kind of excited. But calculating out my macros for the day was a lot more challenging than I thought, even though I used to be obsessed with calculating macros. After I entered some meals, I was at only half of my fat goal, but already hit my carb goal. I did make a bomb egg casserole and egg wrap that were as delicious as they look. Overall, I felt pretty good, and it wasn’t that hard as I thought it was going to be after coming up with some more meal ideas to hit my macros.
My boyfriend enjoyed his first day, too, and hit his macros easier than I did. Although, he doesn’t recommend butter in coffee.
Today I decided to give working out a try on my lower carb intake. I found my energy level was completely normal, which I was happily surprised about. However, towards the end of the day, I was feeling pretty tired, and I couldn’t concentrate in my last class. But that also might be due to how tired I was from running around all day. I went over my protein goal, and under my fat goal, but not by a terrible amount.
My boyfriend started his day with coconut oil powder and MCT oil coffee instead of butter, and he liked it a lot better. We both get hungry pretty often (I even eat 5 small-to-medium meals a day), but we find ourselves satisfied after every meal. He said he couldn’t concentrate as well today, too, but we’d both had late nights working and studying.
I woke up this morning haaangry, which I was surprised about since the day before I wasn’t hungry in the morning. I almost reached for some juicy looking watermelon my roommate bought, but remembered fruits were off-limits since it takes up a lot of your carb intake. Instead, I scarfed down a hard boiled egg, and ran off to class with my keto meals for the day.
My boyfriend and I both noticed we might have lost some water weight too. He noticed it in his face and stomach, while I noticed it in my stomach and possibly legs. We also were more energetic than the day before, which was a pleasant surprise. I had a great workout despite not having many carbs for a few days now, and got tons of schoolwork done. I still had the countdown clock in my head for how many days I had left of this experiment, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
The morning didn’t start out bad. I still didn’t experience any headaches, a common side effect after a few days of restricting carbs. But this time I noticed my workout wasn’t as great, which made sense since carbs are the main source for fuel. I still had a good workout, but I found myself getting tired quicker, which forced me to lower the amount of reps I usually do. Then, towards the end of the day, I felt just a tad off balance.
I ate a super delicious dinner of cauliflower rice, various other veggies, and lots of vegan butter, but I couldn’t wait until I could go back to my usual meals.
My boyfriend felt great today still. He got a quick little headache, but it went away fast. He started his morning with his usual coconut oil powder coffee with MCT oil, and loves it. He said he didn’t feel any decrease in energy. Lucky.
3 more days.
After I closed my computer for the night last night, and studied a little bit before I went to bed, I started to feel pretty lethargic. My muscles felt a little weak, and I couldn’t concentrate on studying anymore. I decided to call it quits and went to sleep. In the morning, I felt completely back to normal, but I wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the day. I was planning on working out, but it didn’t seem like my muscles could carry me through a workout, so I skipped it. Just the thought of biking to school, which I usually look forward to, made me tired.
My egg casserole that I’d been having for lunch every day started getting pretty monotonous. Even though I wasn’t craving carbs (shocking), all I wanted was a spinach wrap from Starbucks. And I questioned if this many eggs in one day was good for you.
Again, my boyfriend felt great. I need his secrets.
The morning was pretty difficult for the both of us since we start out our mornings taking pictures for our own Instagrams. He was craving the food he made for his own account, and so was I. But we both made it through all the temptations, and the rest of the day wasn’t as bad as the past couple days.
But later, I was studying for a test and found it pretty difficult to concentrate even though I was actually trying my best to focus (for once). I ended up getting a lot done, but it was way more difficult than it should’ve been.
My boyfriend got a burrito that night for dinner with carne asada, cheese, guac, and pico de gallo, and was bummed he couldn’t eat the tortilla. But I kept reminding him we only had 1 more day, and so he unwillingly sacrificed his tortilla.
I didn’t mention to him that his keto efforts were more voluntary than my efforts.
I couldn’t even express how happy I was that the week was over. I chowed down on my scrambled eggs and cheese breakfast happily knowing this is my last keto breakfast.
I’d noticed the past couple days I’d been craving carbonated and flavored drinks like no other. Diet sodas, diet teas, and coffee had been my saving grace to keep a little more sane. I’d also been craving protein bars (don’t judge me, some of them are actually tasty), and I assumed it’s because I worked out this week. My body wasn’t getting any carbs to use as fuel, so it was trying to get the next source of fuel: protein. But this diet isn’t a high protein diet either, so my insides were all just fighting with each other to get ketones to fuel me.
I’d been feeling pretty lazy this weekend too, and not being active at all, yet finding myself wanting to eat more. I read that this is fairly common, and often called the “keto flu,” but I wasn’t really willing to brave through this “flu” any longer to feel normal in ketosis.
My motto of life is everything in moderation, and it couldn’t be more true right now. While this diet may work for some people (I do know quite a few), it’s not for me at this moment in time. Or probably in any other time in my life.
I need the carbs to fuel my day-to-day activities as a college student. The water weight loss, which was super minimal, wasn’t enough to encourage me to go longer. I’m happy with where I am, and I don’t need any diet to “fix me.”
It was fun to say that I actually completed a keto diet for a week, but then again it’s fun being able to eat this Starbucks wrap again that I may or may not be eating right now (spoiler alert: I am).