This past week, I started a keto (ketogenic) diet. I spent ages reading about it on Facebook groups and on Reddit, and finally decided it couldn’t be worse than other options, and it might help with my chronic fatigue and mood issues. I try to be body positive and don’t suggest that weight loss in and of itself is a good thing necessarily, but I also wouldn’t mind the side effect of losing some weight for myself. So here we are. This is kind of a long, rambling diary with some ideas; future posts will be more focused on helpful tips, but I thought it might be encouraging to see an exhausted mom’s experience just diving in. (Amazon links are affiliate links.)
I arbitrarily picked the day after Labor Day to get started with keto and, in spite of completely mismanaging the grocery shopping due to the holiday, I actually did it. I was pretty impressed with myself. Maybe you do the “but it’s not perfect” thing too – I get so hung up on details and making sure everything is just so that I never actually take action. It’s something I’m working on. (As a small aside, that’s true for this blog, too; it’s not laid out or set up exactly the way I’d like it, but I wanted to get it off the ground and THEN worry about the fiddly bits.)
So. So! I forgot that day one was also my son’s first day of preschool. Instead of the delicious cream cheese pancakes I’d anticipated, I ended up drinking Bulletproof Coffee instead. That’s black coffee thrown in a blender with butter and coconut oil. I think you’re supposed to use MCT oil, but I don’t have that, so. I added some Ez-Sweetz since I already had it on hand – I really like it for sweetening beverages; it doesn’t have a weird aftertaste, at least to me – and you know, it was pretty good. I was not at all convinced that it would be. I mean, really? Emulsified coffee? I think I liked the coconut flavor, though, so I’m not sure how I’d feel about the MCT oil version. (This, apparently, is better because it’s all medium-chain triglycerides. I don’t know. Again, I’m going with the “sort the details later” approach!) I also wasn’t hungry until lunch time, in spite of running around doing errands. Wild.
Lunch ended up just being eggs cooked like a crepe, since there was much fussing and screaming. We had nice horseradish dill chevre from our CSA. Both kids were happy to eat “egg pancake,” though honestly B will eat anything. I had some arugula or spinach with mine, I can’t remember which now. The baby eats spinach. The preschooler does not.
For dinner, instead of delicious wings (because Aldi was sold out), we had cheeseburgers. I ate a big salad with mine, and everyone else got a bun. Snacks were cheese and turkey sausage sticks, also from Aldi. (You’ll notice a theme around here, which is: I love Aldi.) I felt pretty good all day and thought, hey, this won’t be so bad! I wasn’t even tempted to buy the Jaffa cakes. Well, for like ten seconds. Keto had me feeling pretty boss, I have to say.
When I woke up on the second day, I felt hungover and generally awful. Keto flu, apparently, is a thing. I thought some caffeine might help, but it didn’t, really. So for lunch I ate tomatoes, spinach, chicken, and put lite salt on everything. Lite salt has potassium to spare, and is an important tool in the keto arsenal, it seems. I didn’t believe this could actually help but it did. I felt human again. Lesson learned: Keep up on the electrolytes. Apparently they’re really important if you are burning fat instead of carbs, as in a keto diet.
I totally had another cheeseburger for dinner, because they were around. So I need to work on meal diversity a little; this is another point where I could have thrown in the towel but decided instead to make do with good enough and use what was in the house. I can’t get over that I actually did. This is not typical for me.
After dinner, I found I was still pretty hungry, and I needed some serious fat grams and basically no carbs. I ended up making cream cheese frosting with Kerrygold butter, cream cheese, and Swerve confectioners-style sugar substitute. I bought a bundle on Amazon with granulated and powdered, basically hoping they’d taste OK, and they absolutely do. I couldn’t pick up any aftertaste. So, I love Ez-Sweetz for beverages and Swerve for baking/cooking, so far. Anyway, then I ate a quarter cup of frosting. I felt completely ridiculous, but hey, just following the macros, right?
So day three, I started the day with a 40oz Hydroflask filled with ice water. I added orange-tangerine Mio (that squeeze flavoring stuff you can buy at the grocery store) and like 2tsp of lite salt. It tastes like saltier Gatorade, but I put extra salt in margaritas and drink pickle juice, so that’s all good by me. I drank lots of this all day long and didn’t end up feeling gross. G likes it too but I don’t want to give him too much because I don’t know about salt load and young kidneys. Keeping it away from him constitutes exercise, I think. At this point my weight had actually gone up 2 pounds, but whatever.
I grabbed breakfast at Taco Bell since I didn’t have time to eat before taking G to preschool. It turns out you can order anything on their menu as a side, so I got eggs, steak, and cheese in a bowl. The mild sauce packets are free, too. It was tasty as heck.
Lunch and dinner were just simple; pastrami and cheese, and rotisserie chicken with lotsa zucchini and mushrooms.
Lunch was great. I used my Tupperware Smart Steamer (on which more anon, but it’s on sale right now; here’s my Tupperware site) to make cod and spinach. I put unsalted butter on it and pretended it was lobster (cod is good for that). It was actually quite tasty and both cod and spinach have lots of potassium. I actually missed breakfast – I definitely have to do some make-ahead stuff like egg bakes.
So here I am on day five. I haven’t given in and eaten a strawberry Pop-Tart yet, which means I just might make it. I weighed myself this morning and, from the highest point during the week, was down 9 pounds. Now, I am significantly obese and have a lot to lose, and a lot of that is water weight. But still. I should’ve signed up for a Dietbet, eh? I wouldn’t say I’m feeling a lot of energy, but I feel… okay. My face has started to break out like crazy, and I don’t know if it’s detoxing or what. Hopefully that goes away. I’ve read that going carb or gluten-free can result in clearer skin in the long term. I don’t see any difference in my face or anything but I’m sure I will eventually.
Today I plan to try a low-carb cheesecake. I’ll be sure to share it with you!
Have you tried a keto or low-carb diet? How did it work for you in terms of energy and mood, especially?