Last month I wrote about Keeping Fit in a Desk Job—going through what I do to try and stay in shape. My next step was to take the diet a bit more seriously and step up the running. In the end I decided to start the Keto diet which is maintaining a state of ketosis by keeping my carbohydrate intake under 25g per day. I’ve just started week five, having started the diet on Sunday 10th August. Here’s what I’ve done, learned and been through.
The Keto Diet
A Ketogenic Diet causes ketones to be produced by the liver. It’s basically just phase one of the Atkins diet, all the time. This shifts the body’s metabolism away from glucose, and towards fat. Whilst on a fairly high carb diet the body uses glucose for fuel but by restricting this on a Keto diet it switches to fat burn mode. Having such a low carb diet lowers your blood sugar, and with this controlled sugar level you experience less hunger and cravings once your adapted.
I used a Keto Calculator to work out what I should be eating. This gave me my targets to hit which I track through MyFitnessPal. Sadly my Jawbone UP doesn’t allow me to alter the ratios I was aiming for so I couldn’t use that.
Here’s my daily goals. This is what I try to hit every day. There are no cheat days as they would send me out of ketosis—not what you want whilst you are still trying to become adapted.
Daily calorie intake: 2,262 kcal
Protein allowance: 120g (using 21%, 480 kcal)
Fat allowance: 187g (using 75%, 1682 kcal)
Carb allowance: 25g (using 4%, 100 kcal)
What I Eat
My diet now consists of high fat and medium protein foods such as meats, eggs, cheese, cream and selected vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. My typical day looks like a protein shake for breakfast, my lunch is a curry, and my dinner is usually steak with cauliflower and cheese. I snack on cheese, pork scratchings and sometimes peanuts although they are pretty addictive and high in calories so I try to limit this.
Each day I take some supplements to make sure I hit what I need. These include krill oil and glucosamine sulphate for joins. Multi-vitamins and electrolyte salts for nutrition I might miss from some foods. And for training, I take creatine and whey protein which also has a blend of vitamins. I got these from My Protein. If you shop there, using code MP25212173 will let them know I sent you (thanks).
In the last four weeks I’ve had little to no bread, rice, fruit, sweets, potatoes, tea cakes, or even jelly babies. As a rule, if it grows underground I can’t eat it. I cut my coffee intake in half as I can’t really have milk—although I do have a tiny amount in a small flat white most days. I went cold turkey and just stopped it all one day.
What I Drink
Water. Loads and loads of water, and I should probably be drinking more than I do, which is about 3 litres on average. The water intake not only keeps me hydrated, but helps flush out excess ketones. I don’t really drink anything else other than a coffee or two a day.
Week 1 & 2
The first few days were fine. I then hit three or four days in a row of feeling really tired. At football I was dead on my feet. My arms felt really weak and I couldn’t really be bothered doing anything. This passed though, and I felt my energy was about 75% of what it was.
Shopping at first was hard, as I had to read the label on everything. I kept checking some foods I liked before just to see if those sweets or biscuits just so happened to have zero carbs and be the hidden holy grail of keto food. That didn’t happen, they put carbs everywhere! Now though, I know what to go for and don’t really need to read many labels.
Week 3 & 4
Things got a bit easier at the start of week three, I felt my every was up to about 90%. I was enjoying the food, and started to really get a taste for it. The cravings were minimal, and noticed I snacked way less than I did before—I just didn’t really get hungry between meals.
Towards the end of week four, and up to now, I feel like I have more energy than before. Despite giving myself a bit of a calf strain from football, all is well. You could unwrap a tea cake and sit it next to me and I wouldn’t eat it.
It’s tough going at first. It took me about three weeks to become adapted to ketosis and deplete all my glycogen stores. In this time I got the odd craving but it wasn’t too bad, I never cracked. I did get the odd headache and dizziness, known as “keto-flu”, but I think I got off pretty lightly. My body was used to burning cheap, fast energy sources but once it was adapted to burning fat as fuel I felt stronger.
But I Need Carbs!
I thought I did too. I never thought I could cut out sweets, bread and milk. Like any addiction though, when you become adapted and get used to it, it’s easier. Your blood sugar sorts itself out the cravings go away completely—especially the longer you stay in ketosis. It’s shown me I actually have more will power than I thought. How’s your will power?
Here’s some little tricks that have helped me.
- I cleared my cupboards before I started the diet, so there was nothing in the house that was bad for the diet.
- I bought some ketostix from Amazon to test my ketone levels. This helped me track how my diet was going and would have let me know if I accidentally dropped out of ketosis.
- For something sweet, I make fat bombs. They are basically melted butter, coco powder, sweetener, and other random ingredients like vanilla. Frozen into ice cube trays. They’re great to increase the fat intake, which I found hard to get high enough at times.
- If I feel I need to snack I have a slice of cheese, about 30g is enough for me.
- I switched to shopping at Aldi from Tesco. I actually prefer the fresh veg and meat there, and it’s cheaper. The keto diet can be a little expensive, so it really helps.
- When eating out, I usually need to go off menu but it’s not really a problem—I just go for a mixed grill or a curry without rice.
I’ve lost nearly a stone in weight in these four weeks. A lot of that will be the initial water weight. I think my body fat percentage is around 13% just now. I feel stronger, and feel like I can go for longer. I’ve also learned a lot about cooking, and what goes into foods—stuff I’ll keep with me even when the diet ends.