So this is now going to be a triology with Part 3 being either 'Getting Back on Track' or 'F**k it, I love Carbs'. I am writing this after just consuming 4 pieces of bread, most definitely not keto! I managed 24 days being very strict but I have just had a friend visiting 5 days so I decided to relax and enjoy eating and drinking whatever I fancied and then get back to it (hopefully) after they have gone.
Back to the task at hand, explaining how to do the ketogenic diet and my own personal experience. Annoyingly, the book I ordered from Amazon called 'The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Valek & Phinney still has not arrived so I may not have done things as well as I could. I do know that I felt amazing by the end of the first week though and I tested my ketones on the 24th day (my friend brought me a ketone reader) and I was most definitely in ketosis.
A quick summary of how you go about it, basically, you don't eat any carbs. You should restrict your carbohydrate intake to 30g-50g (I went for 30 to make sure it worked but I am sure you can be a little more relaxed and still achieve ketosis). Please note this is net carbs which means you subtract your fibre intake from your total carbs, the more leafy greens you eat the better. You have to be very diligent and track everything you consume. I have always been very against recording my calories and macros because I didn't want to live like that but actually I found it really fun! I used My Fitness Pal which is a free app, here is a link to it https://www.myfitnesspal.com/. It's very user friendly and you can even scan in a lot of items with the barcode. You get a break down of your macros as well as nutrients. You may be very surprised by how much (or little) you eat.
Here is the data you can use to keep track of your carbohydrates and macro split:
As long as you are strict with your carbohydrate intake and also don't eat too much protein, you should get into ketosis within a week. How long it takes for your body to adapt will depend on your body and also what your diet is currently like. As I already limited my carbohydrate intake I found my body adapted quite quickly whereas my friend Bianca, who was doing it with me, found it was more of a struggle during the first week.
The first day was really easy, mainly because I had plenty of glycogen stores so didn't really notice anything. Bianca and I did a monster workout in the morning which would have definitely depleted all of our glycogen stores (200 wall balls, 150 cleans, 100 burpees!). I was very tired in the afternoon but couldn't sleep that night. Not being able to sleep for the first few days is a common side effect because the body thinks it is in starvation and under stress, biologically we are designed to stay awake under such circumstances to allow us to hunt for food. It took about 4 days for me to sleep like I usually would. Most days I woke up feeling good and then had a massive crash in the afternoon and even lying down felt like an effort! My workouts had to be toned down a little as my body felt heavy and I found myself more out of breath that usual. I still did quite a lot though and in hind sight I should have really calmed it down a lot more or even had a week off. Oh well, I survived and maybe it helped me to get into ketosis quicker?
Friday was by far the worst day of all, I think I expected to be OK by then so wanted a good workout. I got up early to go to the gym and had some coconut oil in my coffee to give me some energy. Because I felt quite tired and heavy I decided to go on the bike as I always find in more manageable because at least I am sat down! I should have stopped after 15 minutes but kept pushing myself and did about 50 minutes of my spin class. I had to stop a couple of times because I thought I was going to be sick which I never get when I workout and gave me more understanding of how people feel when come to the gym for the first time and have to sit on the floor (sorry guys!!). When I had finished I got off the bike and had to sit down before I was able to walk to our staff room and eat something. I felt awful, at this point I didn't think I would be able to carry on as I thought maybe this was how I would always feel however I didn't want to give up as I had come so far. Somehow I perked up after eating and then taught my classes and felt OK but very tired, I had a very early night and then as of the Saturday I actually felt pretty good, my body had got used to the diet and from here I just felt better and better.
Each day I woke up easily and looked forward to my morning bulletproof coffee (coffee with coconut oil and butter). I have not been hungry the whole time I have been on the diet and some days even struggled to eat enough calories. My energy levels have been consistent throughout the day without the post lunch crash. I felt slimmer and never bloated whilst my flexibility also increased which I believe is a bi-product of the water lost when glycogen stores are released. I felt so amazing I didn't want to break the diet, I didn't even crave anything sweet and didn't fancy drinking. My brain felt clearer and I was able to focus on tasks such as studying and writing my blog.
But, as with all extreme diets, it is hard to sustain. My friend came to visit and whilst I had planned to just drink vodka and soda which was meant to be carbohydrate free and remain in ketosis while they were here, I checked my ketones the day after drinking and I was out of ketosis (this could have been because I tested in the morning though). From this point I decided to just relax while my friend was here and then get back to it once they had gone. It will be a good test to see how easy it is on the second time around after 5 days of eating normally.
The other thing I noticed is that it can become obsessive which is something you need to be careful of. I can see that doing this long term I would get so addicted to feeling good that I wouldn't want to break it which could make me obsess and never want to drink. Although, maybe not drinking isn't such a bad thing. Having had 3 weeks off alcohol I really noticed how anxious I felt the next day and also my stomach was really bloated, I felt so full despite not eating that much the previous evening.
So, part 3 will be coming soon, I am hoping it is easy to get back to feeling great without the tiredness and sleeplessness. I may drink a couple of times over the next month to see how think impacts on the diet so I can test if it is sustainable long term for most people. It is now 14.20 on Monday and today is my first day back being strict. I don't feel hungry and it feels like a relief to be back on track so I will keep you posted on how it goes.
Please drop me a message if you have any questions or would either like to give or receive advice on this topic as I would love to hear your thoughts.