Actually, it’s been almost 4 months. In december 2015, I started reading about keto eating and LCHF lifestyle after being gluten-free for half a year. You can find out why I had switched to gluten-free in the About me section. I then started a low carb, grain-free lifestyle on January 3rd, 2016.
So, back then reading about ketogenic way of eating, I thought to myself I could never ever go completely grain-free. I enjoyed my millet porridge every morning for breakfast soooo much … Corn tortilla nachos for occasional weekend dinner, not to even mention sushi! I thought I would feel close to dying in the first week of even trying to go under 40 g of carbs per day. Since I work out on most days of the week, I decided to read online articles about highly active people being in stay in ketogenic state even with 100 g carbs per day. So, I started calculating, and came up with an idea that if I tried really hard, I could stay under 100 g of carbs having corn nachos for dinner. I laugh at those thoughts now. I guess, for some of the tall and quite masculine people the 100 g carb intake and ketosis can actually coexist, because it probably does calculate out to be the 5% of carb intake for them. Well, I’m not one of those. I’m pretty short. I like to believe my body fat is in good range, though, since I have no problems with body weight. Besides, I lift quite often. Still, I am short, and I believe that 100 g of carbs would never let me enter ketosis.
Why did I even want to do it? Because of so many health benefits I had read about. Because I’ve had some weird symptoms that resemble MS (neurological exams excluded the disease, luckily), and I wanted to see wether they go away completely if I go grain-free. And because I like challenges, and wanted to see how my body would respond.
The first week was contrary to what I had expected. I felt absolutely awesome! Working out, I felt strong like never before. And I thought to myself: This is it, this diet is perfect! But, in week 2, keto flu kicked in. My workouts started suffering, I felt dizzy all the time, but generally, I was in a good mood. I knew that the keto flu should pass. When it did pass, I still needed a couple of additional weeks for my workouts to get back to somehow normal. Now, I feel as if I have been back on the “strong” workout track for only a month or so.
I’ll never forget my first “keto” dinner. It followed a 24-hour fast, which was not that difficult to go through. I then even took a pic of the dinner, and am posting it here. The combination of food on the plate tasted awfully, and there was pretty much everything wrong about it. No matter how much I had read about what to eat on a keto diet, I still did this the wrong way at the time. My first keto dinner was one egg, mackerel, spinach, lots of fresh red pepper (high in carbs!), and only a teaspoon of mayo on the side. It was a high protein, low-fat plate. I find this pretty funny today.
Later on, I started doing it right. By right I mean what I’ve felt has been right for me. We all know (or should know) that no diet fits all. Every now and then I still try to figure out my optimal protein intake, considering the amount of exercise I do. I don’t feel I get kick out of ketosis with moderate intake of erythritol and/or fiber. I’m a fan of green vegetables, and am not willing to cut those out just for the sake of controlling the total carb intake. I don’t own a blood ketone meter or anything, I do this pretty much by heart. Most of the time I feel fabulous. What does kick me out of feeling great (and maybe even out of ketosis?) is more that one glass of wine and/or too many keto desserts. The keto desserts I prepare, usually get distributed among like-minded people, including my significant other. Or, I place them in the freezer and save them for later. This is how I try to control their intake. It is difficult sometimes. 😉 Everybody loves them anyway, even people who have never heard of LCHF or ketogenic diets.
My weird neurological symptoms have mostly disappeared in the last 4 months. I get them occasionally (once a month or so), usually when I’m very tired and/or have had consumed some alcohol. That means more than one glass of high quality red wine with dinner. So I don’t drink too often. I find the quality of thoughts better when completely sober, anyways. And, since living LCHF lifestyle, I have been thinking more clearly, am able to focus better (even follow a monotone set of instructions), relax faster, and get less nervous in highly stressful situations. As for my body, it’s getting nicer, showing more and more muscle definition. But of course, as a woman, I wonder if I’ll ever be happy with my butt.
Nevertheless, what inspired me to write this post the most, is the fact that I haven’t been feeling tired after my night shifts. You see, I sometimes work nights, following a working day, and it’s an active and stressful position that I manage. When I don’t work nights, I go to sleep at around 11:30 pm, and wake up at 6:30, before my alarm goes off. I feel highly energetic in the mornings, and, if at all possible, I hurry to the gym or go mountain biking in a fasted state. It’s one of the greatest feelings, ever. If you knew me personally, you would know that months ago I would wake up tired pretty much every morning, no matter how long I’d sleep. Truth be told, even going gluten-free has done a lot for me on this issue, but going keto has done miracles. Now, even after a long stressful night shift and sleeping for maybe 5 hours the next morning, I am able to function normally, go to the gym, run the errands, and all that stuff. Before going keto, I would feel tired for at least 36 hours after a night shift.
Oh, if you’d like to know, I currently weight 117 lbs (53 kg plus/minus 1 kg of daily fluctuation), am 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm) tall, and consume up to 22 g net carbs daily. Yes, and sometimes I cheat. Or live, whatever you want to call it. So far I’ve done it twice in 4 months, and I think that’s just fine. I’ve done it with my favorite dish of all – sushi, and with my favorite person of all. I don’t think I should ever be sorry for that. For me, indulging on a high quality sushi plate, inside a high quality Japanese restaurant, is not the same as falling off the wagon because I’d be craving carbs. Sushi will always have a special place in my heart, and if I have no medical reasons to never ever eat it again, I will not stress about it much.
Besides, the next time I travel to exotic places on Earth, I’ll try local specialties, carb or no carb. Heck, I really hope I’ll have a chance to do so this summer. And if I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!