My Keto Journey… So Far

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If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been following a ketogenic diet for some time now. My keto journey actually starts back in late August 2017. I was sick for some time. I ended up going to the ER and being diagnosed with pneumonia. It seems like I get pneumonia every 2-3 years, so this wasn’t particularly alarming, but what was alarming to me was that my blood sugar was pretty high.

I have a family history of diabetes that is as long as it gets. My father, grandmother and uncles are all diabetic. I have uncles, aunts and cousins down in Puerto Rico who are diabetic. My grandfather and aunt (his daughter) struggled with diabetes until the day they passed away. Turns out that prevalence of diabetes in Puerto Ricans (and Dominicans) currently stands at 18%. The Illinois Department of Public Health states: “Hispanics are more likely than the general population to develop diabetes.” 

I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. I tried multiple diets and exercise programs before with some success, but the same seemed to always true… I ended up sliding back to where I started. So, with weighing in at my highest in 10 years and having blood sugar results that raised red flags for both myself and the doctors, I knew it was time for a lifestyle change.

What is keto?

A ketogenic diet is one that focuses on lowering carbohydrates to as little as possible, focusing on dietary fats and supplementing with protein. The focus is on a macro-nutrient ratio that might be jaw dropping for some. The typical ratio of macro-nutrients for a ketogenic diet are 75% fat / 20% protein / 5% carbohydrate.

A typical day for me looks like this. I track my food intake and exercise expenditure through MyFitnessPal.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to enter your body into a state of ketosis. “Ketosis is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood.” The idea is that by being in a state of ketosis instead of burning carbohydrates for energy, your body will utilize fat either from food intake or fat cells from your body to provide you with the energy you need.

Why go keto?

The reason I chose to go keto was because with the focus of limiting carbohydrates there is an inherent limit to the exposure to foods that are on the higher end of the glycemic index. I have tried lots of diets before, but I felt like this could be one I could follow. I did Atkins before, but I found the cycling to be complicated.

Following a ketogenic protocol feels more regimented and feels more like a total lifestyle change. The issue I had with other diets was that they always felt temporary and didn’t feel like they addressed the underlying issues that led to my obesity to begin with. I feel through following a keto diet which focuses on whole foods is something I can succeed in.

What do you eat?

I follow a IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) strategy when it comes to a ketogenic diet. I am the only one in my household who follows this way of eating, so I try to work around our typical family dinners as much as possible.

If we are having spaghetti, I will break out the spiralizer and make zucchini noodles. Burgers are now bunless. Instead of mashed potatoes it’s mashed cauliflower. There is a keto-friendly substitute for just about anything you can think of even sweets… just Google it. When in doubt add dietary fat to a protein and focus on low-carb, low-glycemic vegetables. The key for me is to hit my macros as close as possible by focusing on keeping my carbohydrate intake below 20 grams of net carbs.

How’s it working out for you?

Since starting keto I have lost a total of 35 lbs. I was wearing a size 38 jeans and a size 40 dress pant. I am currently down to a size 34 jean and a size 36 dress pant. I’m starting to ease my way into large T-shirts.

I go to the gym every once in a while, but I’m not a super athlete. Happy Rusev Day, by the way. I figured the lower protein would not affect me much. I did notice a decrease in strength and pop at the gym. To compensate for this I focused on higher reps than heavier weights. Besides… intake of too much protein could lead to gluconeogenesis, which if you have protein turning into sugar in the blood stream would kind of defeat the purpose of limiting your sugar intake.

I have learned that I can solve just about anything with electrolytes. Bone broth and Powerade Zero have been my best friends some days. Flushing your body with electrolytes has almost the same effect caffeine has for most. If you aren’t feeling your best, you will notice an increase in energy and mental clarity following a cup of beef broth.

For me keto has been an absolute game changer. I get asked all the time if I plan on going back to a “normal” diet. Why would I? Look at where a “normal” diet got me before. It made me overweight, gave me high blood sugar and a slow metabolism. So, I will continue to soldier on through this journey.