As I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t my first time in the ketogenic rodeo. It’s been 5 months since I’ve restarted to this way of eating. I figured it would be a good time to write a post about it since I have two instances of this diet to compare.
I’ve decided to write down a few of my observations, some of which I plan to expand on in future posts. Here they are in no particular order:
1. The first time is always the hardest.
When I said this wasn’t my first time entering ketosis, I didn’t mean this was my second time. Or third. After a year of very strict keto, I waffled between ketosis and glycolysis about half a dozen times. Each time after the first was much, much easier.
The first time I tried to enter a ketogenic state, I was paranoid I’d mess it up. This manifested itself into really vivid dreams of binge eating carbohydrates and then immediately regretting it. I was also lethargic, cranky, and I missed carbs from time to time
I even had pretty intense calf cramping that would wake me up at night. I discovered that I need to keep my salt and water intake up while transitioning to keto.
Now I just start eating this way again and about 5-7 days in I can tell I’m in ketosis. No pee strips, no testing, no weird dreams, and no cravings.
This is probably due to experience, but I like to think it’s because I’ve eaten like this before. Maybe body’s OK with being fed primarily fat, so the transition isn’t as hard. Of course, this is just a theory!
2. I found it harder to hit my weight loss stride.
The first time I did this diet, I lost 20 lb (9.1 kg) in the first month. This time I lost about 14 lb (6.4 kg). Subsequently, everything just felt like it took longer.
I’m sure there are many different contributing factors, perhaps even the fact that my starting weight was lower the second time. One thing I noticed is that I can’t just ‘lazy keto’ my way though, I’m far more strict with what and when I eat. If I’m not, my progress starts to wane.
3. Keto is harder in Australia vs. the USA.
Despite the ‘low fat’ dietary guidelines originating in the US, it’s easier to eat a high fat diet there than it is in Australia. It seems the Australian people (or government?) really took those guidelines to heart.
The US is the land of plenty and the land of choice. They’re always going to have the advantage when it comes to a variety of keto-centric foods, like the convenience foods that small companies are coming out with.
What kind of irks me about Australia is that you have to find a butcher to get untrimmed steaks, ground beef is leaner in general, lard is a ridiculous price at the grocery store, you can’t find chicharrones (pork rinds) fried in lard unless you want to pay an online premium or make them yourself. By the way the ‘pork crackle’ from Coles or Woolworths is pricey and full of stuff you shouldn’t be eating.
And most tragically, if you go to a restaurant and get a bunless burger (or you just skip eating the bun on a regular burger), it’s generally dry. This is predominantly because leaner ground beef is used.
4. I’m too lazy to track everything.
I tracked my food and macros when I first started, but I don’t feel the need to do it anymore. Partly because I know what I should and shouldn’t eat, partly because I’m lazy.
5. Diet Coke is a hell of a drug.
I’ve had a Diet Coke habit (addiction!) for a long, long time. I’ve quit in the past and it’s always been quite difficult. This time I quit all sweeteners (or rather all sweet tasting things) at the same time and it’s helped. Also, the increased water intake is always good.
Now I just drink black coffee for my caffeine fix. And mineral water if I desire something bubbly.
6. Cooking for two makes me cook more.
When I was in the US, I was living alone and working full time. I just didn’t want to cook a lot of the time. So I would grab a lettuce wrapped burger at In-n-Out or something.
Now I don’t really have the luxury or the option since I’m not currently working. Plus the eating out situation is dire here! Well, at the very least, it’s expensive. So I have to cook for my partner and myself and make sure there is enough that he has something to take for lunch the next day. I suppose the increased responsibility makes the task more important.
7. Replacement recipes are fun, then they get really old (fast).
Keto pizza is never really the same. I don’t care how much of a ‘fathead dough’ convert you are. Neither are any of the breads.
To be honest, a lot of keto recipes don’t measure up to the sugary, carby original they’re trying to imitate. At the beginning of keto diet, I make a lot of ‘replacement’ keto foods to keep cravings at bay. Eventually that just gets annoying and my palate starts to prefer fatty animal products. This happened to me the last time I did keto and it happened to my partner and I this time as well.
Now we eat mostly meat, eggs, cheese, and leafy greens. To be honest, I don’t even care for the greens, so I’m trying the carnivore diet in January.
8. Intermittent fasting is your friend.
I did a lot of unintentional intermittent fasting when I was working and that really helped with cravings and weight loss. This time I found it hard to fast until I started to eat more of a meat-centered ketogenic diet.
9. Seed oils are bad.
I like fried foods, as do many people. Two years ago, I read that vegetable and seed oils should to be avoided on a ketogenic diet, but I didn’t look into it much. So when I fried things, sometimes I used oils like canola.
Recently, I read The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. I was surprised at how seed oils affect the body and how prevalent they are in packaged foods. I avoid seed oil as much as I can and favor animal based oils like butter and lard.
10. My skin prefers low carb/high fat.
I’ve had dandruff since I was a kid and I’ve had issues with some kind of psoriasis/seborrheic dermatitis for a long time as well. On keto, my dandruff went away and the psoriasis was contained to a few localized areas. When I left keto for a short period of time, both came back with a vengeance. I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten it until I started keto again and saw a vast improvement.
11. My period normalized.
My last post was about this, you can read it here.
And for those of you who like numbers:
- February 2016 to July 2016 – I lost 41 lb (18.6 kg)
- July 2018 to December 2018 – I lost 37.6 lb (17.1 kg)
All in all, I’ve lost roughly the same amount of weight in the same amount of time. During 2016, my weight loss was rapid at the start and it tapered a bit, but was pretty steady. This year it was fast for about a month, then I was hitting stall after stall. I really had to focus on what I was eating and intermittent fasting to get a steady loss rate.
I really had no intention of leaving a low carb/high fat diet in 2017 and I do regret it.
The more carbs I eat, the more carbs I want, and that was basically my downfall. I definitely prefer how I feel when I’m avoiding most carbohydrates and all sugars, so I’m determined to stick with it this time. One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is keep myself on track.
Have you/do you followed a low carb or keto diet? What kind of benefits did you see? Have you been able to maintain it?