Before we jump into any of the fatty goodness, I just want to be 10,000% clear that I am in no way, shape, or form a doctor or nutritionist or any type of medical professional. I’m just someone who has radically changed her health through a ketogenic diet and am sharing my experience. Please be sure to do all your own research.
Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of the ketogenic diet by now. Maybe you’ve heard some bad things about it. But maybe you’ve also heard some good things about it and are curious. I’m going to attempt to give you a basic, easy-to-follow run down of keto. I’ve done an embarrassing amount of research and am going to try to condense it down for you in a question and answer form.
If you’re looking for a list of some good ketogenic resources, be sure to stay tuned to the end – I’ll be linking a bunch!
My experience with keto
I’m just gonna come out and say it, all right? I’ve been fat for all of my life. I don’t have any memories where I’m not fat. It was just part of my life. I’ve tried to lose weight for most of my life but was never successful. Literally never. In fact, I’d try to lose weight with all the standard health recommendations and I’d actually gain weight.
At the peak of my frustration, I signed on with a personal trainer to help me lose weight before I got married. I just wanted to feel beautiful on my wedding day. I spent a lot of money, followed all of his recommendations, worked out at 5:30am because that was the only time that worked in my busy schedule between work and college and lost a total of… zero pounds. I got married at around 220 lbs.
It wasn’t until August of 2017 that my husband and I made the switch to keto. I had tried everything else and this was my last ditch effort to finally gain control of my weight. I started at 240 lbs. I was in shock when I lost 11 lbs in the first month.
I never looked back.
I continued to work hard over the next 10 months and lost 65 lbs. I regularly cycled and lifted weights while fueling my body with fatty foods. It was life changing, to say the least. Not only because I was finally losing weight, but because I was finally finding my health.
In May of 2018 I weighed in at 175 lbs.
And then my husband and I celebrated our 5th anniversary a little too well and we conceived our son, Lincoln. During my pregnancy I fell off the keto wagon. Food aversions hit hard and once they finally passed I was unwilling to go through carb withdrawal during pregnancy. I gained back most of the weight and delivered at 230 lbs in February of 2019.
By March of 2019 we were back on the keto train and chugging along. Losing the weight has been harder this time around. Making the gym a priority with two kids is hard and nursing throws in a whole other curve ball. At this point in my journey at 7 months postpartum (September 2019), I’m currently stuck at 190 lbs. I think my problem is that I’m not consuming enough calories, which is a problem I’ve never had before. But I’m still chugging a long, because I’ll definitely never get there if I quit.
Yes, I still have excess fat I want to lose, but in this season of my life I’m choosing to give myself grace. Between all the chaos of two small kids and a husband who works a lot, I don’t need the added stress of fat loss. For now I’m fueling my body properly and exercising when I can. I know the fat loss will follow eventually. “Consistency is key” is my mantra.
Plus, I’m still reaping many other health benefits with how I’m eating!
- Keto has cured my acid reflux. I had acid reflux for years and took Tums daily. Sometimes multiple times a day.
- My hair is thick and lucious. Ask other moms if they can say the same at 7 months postpartum.
- My complexion is clear and supple. I first started breaking out at 12 years old. In high school I went on Accutane because it was so bad. My acne eventually came back in young adulthood. Now at 29 years old my complexion is the best it’s ever been.
- Cured my chronic ingrown toe nails. I’m not 100% sure why this happened, but my bet is because my inflammation is down.
- Cured my asthma. My husband and I tried to run a 5k once over 4 years ago and it was one of the most miserable and embarrassing experiences of my life. I couldn’t even run a short distance without my asthma flaring up. I now run a 5k in the gym 1-2x per week.
- I’m literally never gassy, bloated, or uncomfortable after eating.
- My mental health has improved 10x. Literally. Ask my husband! There is a night and day difference to my overall attitude.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a way of eating that focuses on lots of healthy fats, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates. It’s a diet as in the foods you habitually eat. It is not a diet as in you only eat certain foods to lose weight. Keto is a lifestyle change!
A ketogenic diet puts your body into a state known as ketosis or ketogensis. That basically means your body is producing and running on ketones, instead of sugar, for energy.
What’s special about a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet throws your body into a state known as ketosis. What this means is that your body burns stored fat and ketones instead of sugar (glucose). Glucose is a quick and easy fuel source, which is why sugar crashes happen. Ketones offer a much more stable fuel source.
Furthermore, while in a ketogenic state, your hormones, such as insulin, leptin, and grehlin, are able to level out and start working for you, not against you. Don’t worry – there will be more on this later!
Is the keto diet safe?
Absolutely. 100%. An enthusiastic yes! One of the keto doctors I closely follow refers to keto as “the proper human diet”. He claims keto to be safe for all, minus a small set of people with a specific disorder/disease/ailment (forgive me – I cannot recall exactly the name). And he says you will definitely know if this syndrome ails you, as you would have had a long history with it growing up.
And in my two years on the keto diet, I’ve seen people with all types of ailments successfully do keto. People with high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, pancreatitis, thyroid malfunctions, blood disorders, no gall bladder, etc. If you do have a specific ailment you are on medication for, please find a ketogenic doctor in your area who can monitor you and your medications while making the switch.
Does the keto diet require any special products or supplements?
No! And that’s one of my favorite things about the keto diet! You don’t need special shakes, drinks, coffees, etc. There are exogenous ketones on the market and you don’t need those either. More on this later…
And since keto features whole, real foods, there’s no need to supplement any vitamins or nutrients either. The only supplementation you may need is electrolytes, AKA salt. It’s recommended to consume about 2.5 teaspoons of quality salt a day, such as pink Himalayan salt. And that’s not because the keto diet lacks electrolytes – that’s because we need that much.
Do I have to work out while doing keto?
Nope. If done properly, plenty of people do not need to work out to lose weight while doing keto. Exercise is good for you, so if you can then I recommend it, obviously. But I know it can be hard to make lots of big changes all at once.
Do calories matter on keto?
Short answer: no.
Do I need to track my calories or my macros?
This is a very personal decision. I personally hhaaattteee tracking. I find it to be too time consuming for my lifestyle. I’m also sightly convinced that macro tracking and calorie counting is what goes on in hell, so I don’t count. I was able to lose 65 lbs without tracking a single thing.
However, I do recognize that tracking can be a healthy tool of accountability for some people. I do believe that tracking your intake isn’t the science we’ve been lead to believe it is, but having an estimation can be helpful in some circumstances. Especially if you’ve done damage to your metabolism and need to repair it.
What’s the keto flu?
“Keto flu” is the name given to carb withdrawal. Carbs are addictive, just like other addictive substances. Yes, like drugs and alcohol. So when you cut your carbs, you experience legitimate withdrawal symptoms. Fatigue, nausea, lethargy, shakiness, cravings, headaches. It’s your body basically demanding carbs now. And if you give into it the cycle starts all over again. The best way to get through it is to get through it. Make sure to take your electrolytes, grit your teeth, and get through.
Honestly, the long term goal is a ketogenic lifestyle, so if you find cutting carbs cold turkey too overwhelming, there is absolutely no shame in weaning yourself off. Cut carbs out of one meal for a week at a time until you’ve eliminated them completely – something like that.
What are exogenous ketones and do I need them?
Exogenous ketones are ketone supplements. You can find them at local health food stores or supplement/vitamin shops. There is also an MLM out there that sells them.
The draw of exogenous ketones is that you can reap the benefits of a keto diet without actually maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle. So having your cake and eating it too – pun intended. What’s that saying again? “If it sounds too good to be true then it is.” I firmly believe that refined carbs and sugars are bad for everyone, so if someone tells you you can just take this magic powder and continue to consume a high-carb diet, I tend to be a little skeptical.
Honestly, it’s up to you if you want to purchase these. I find them to be expensive and unnecessary. And from what I’ve observed, people who are keto and use exogenous ketones aren’t nearly as strict with the keto way of eating because they fall back on the exogenous ketones.
The idea of the keto diet is that it puts your body in a physiological state (ketosis) where your body is producing ketones. Exogenous ketones just circulate in your system for a few hours – and then you need another dose.
I think exogenous ketones have their place though. Such as if you have a young child on the autism spectrum or perhaps a belligerent elderly family member. Sneaking some ketones into their diet anyway possible is a good idea when you can’t change up their diet so easily.
Here’s a couple links for further information…
- Do exogenous ketone supplements work for weight loss?
- Do I need exogenous ketones to do keto?
- Exogenous ketones – the big test, do they work?
Isn’t fat bad for you?
No. Fat is bad for you when consumed in conjunction with a high amount of carbs. High fat + high carbs = standard American diet.
Don’t I need carbs?
Carbohydrates are the only non-essential macronutrient. From all my research, I haven’t found a single thing that carbs do for your body – other than supply it with energy. Fat and protein are responsible for so much more in your systems.
Think about it: if we needed carbs, we would have died out long ago! What did humans do before carbohydrates were readily available in mass quantities? Carbohydrates are a relatively new concept within our history. Even certain vegetables and fruits are new. Lots of the vegetables we consume now actually don’t grow out in the wild. And we have ruined certain fruits by cross-breeding them to optimize their sweetness.
The point is that we as humans have never consumed carbohydrates in the quantities we do currently, so to claim we need them for survival when it wasn’t only until very recently that we had them is just… silly.
Will the keto diet give me high cholesterol?
This varies within the keto community. I’ve seen some people with a rise in cholesterol initially and then it tapers back down. But for some people it never goes down.
However, after lots of research, I’ve personally come to the conclusion that high cholesterol isn’t something to fear. In fact, Dr. Ken Berry often says that the higher cholesterol equals a longer life expectancy. Why? Because cholesterol is responsible for so much in our bodies, including brain health.
Here’s some more information for your reading pleasure:
- Reducing the serum cholesterol with a diet high in animal fat.
- A closer look at cholesterol.
- Keto increased my cholesterol!
What is the carnivore diet?
The carnivore diet is a subset of the keto diet. Those who live a carnivorous lifestyle eat animal products exclusively. This looks a little different for everyone. Some include eggs and cheese in their carnivore diet. Some consume organ meats and fish. The only commonality is that they don’t consume any produce. That’s right – literally zero veggies or fruit.
*cracks knuckles* Okay, let’s get into this! This is going to be a list of all the people I follow in the keto community! Some of these people are doctors, nutritionists, and medical professionals, but some are people just like me who have changed their lives with keto!
Dr. Ken Berry is the first keto doctor I discovered. Honestly, I didn’t know keto had so much science behind it until him. He has a great YouTube channel that is very beginner friendly! You can also find him on Instagram. Dr. Berry also wrote a very good book called Lies My Doctor Told Me.
Dr. Paul Saladino is another keto doctor who I found on Instagram. He lives a carnivore lifestyle. He helps patients optimize their health through keto. His podcast, Fundamental Health, is a wealth of knowledge!
Judy Cho is a nutritional therapy practitioner who specializes in carnivore/keto, fasting and children’s dietary needs. She’s a fellow mom and always has great ideas for kids! Her Instagram is one of my favorites! She also has a YouTube channel too.
Kait is a health coach who wants to optimize human nutrition. Both her Instagram and her YouTube channel are very informative. She also has this amazing page on her blog that is filled with various low-carb, high-fat studies.
Laura Spath is your everyday mom who radically changed her health by eating two ribeyes a day for 18 months! She lost like 120 lbs and is now concerned with fixing her relationship with food.
Vanessa Spina is the woman behind @ketogenicgirl on Instagram and the Fast Keto podcast. She is a nutrition specialist and biomedical student.
Podcasts you should be listening to.
- Fast Keto
- Fat Fueled Family
- Fundamental Health
- The Doctor’s Farmacy
- The Keto Diet Podcast
- Keto for Women Show
All right guys, now that my back hurts from sitting so long to type all this out – I think that’s about all I have to share! If you’re interested in seeing how all of this translates into my everyday life, be sure to follow me on Instagram!
Wishing you health and wellness,