…and here’s what happened.
If you know me at all, you’re probably shocked to your core that I cut carbs out of my diet for an entire month. I’m the queen of pasta and garlic bread (there’s an adorably embarrassing story about Olive Garden breadsticks and a very confused waitress from 2014 that my friends still don’t let me live down), but somehow I managed to go an entire month without both. And it’s all because of Tori.
In November, my brother and his girlfriend (Tori, I’ve mentioned both of them lots on the blog since they also live in Nashville) announced that they were going to be cutting out carbs from their diet and maintaining a Ketogenic diet. While Chris wasn’t able to stay on the diet because of his weightlifting program, Tori has seen great success with cutting out carbs (Go, Tori, Go!).
If you haven’t heard of the Ketogenic (or Keto) diet by now, you’ve definitely been living under a rock, but I’ll do my best to explain it. If you’re really interested in it, check out this article from Healthline.
The Keto Diet Explained
“The ketogenic diet is a low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet which puts the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.” — Keto Dash
Basically, you cut out carbs — which is almost impossible to do since carbs are in everything — and your body starts using fat and ketones for energy instead. Most people stick to eating 30 grams of carbs or fewer a day, which is an astronomically small amount of carbs considering the normal human consumes between 200 and 300 grams of carbs A DAY. I think most days I managed to stay under 50 grams (It’s really hard guys! Have 8 strawberries and all of a sudden you’ve consumed 8 grams of carbs!).
While it’s surprising what you can’t eat on a Keto diet, it’s also surprising what you can eat. You obviously have to stay away from pastas, breads, rices, and potatoes. You also can’t have anything too high in sugar like fruit (apples are a big no-no). But, you can eat basically any type of meat (not a great diet for a vegetarian), most vegetables, salad dressings high in fat, nuts, and a ton of cheese. Here’s a list of the top 16 foods to eat on a Keto diet from Healthline, but there are tons of other things you can eat as well.
Let’s get to what you really care about — how much weight did I lose in this month free from carbs? From February 1 to February 28, I lost eight pounds. EIGHT POUNDS in a month. That’s actually crazy to me. I’ve been working out and eating relatively well since September, and I only lost about two pounds in that time span, so there’s no denying that this diet has successful results. My weight did fluctuate a bit — a big drop at the beginning and then a big drop at the end of the month, but still — eight pounds is eight pounds.
I cut myself off cold turkey. There was no period of slowly cutting out carbs, I just did it. A lot of people experience Keto flu when they first start the diet, which is just kind of being foggy brained and a bit more sluggish than normal. This is because your body is adjusting to getting energy from fat instead of carbs. I didn’t experience this too badly, which I’m super thankful for because I started this diet when I was switching projects at work. It also didn’t impact my workouts in a noticeable way, which I was concerned about in the beginning.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t go an entire month without a single carb. That’s an impossible standard to meet, and an unhealthy one at that. Like I said, I ate between 20 and 50 grams of carbs a day. Sometimes less, sometimes more. To be honest, I only started tracking my food toward the end of the month, but my diet didn’t fluctuate much since I mostly eat the same things on a daily basis. (I actually tried to film a “What I Eat In a Week” video, but it was basically the same thing every day, and I didn’t think that would be fun to watch, so I nixed the idea.)
I also allowed myself cheat meals. Typically, I stuck to one cheat meal a week, but my brother’s birthday was at the beginning of the month and a surprise party with buffalo dip and a decadent dinner out meant a little more carbs than normal for me in one week. After cheat meals, I made sure to detox a bit with lots of water with lemon, cups of tea (I love the Detox Tea by Yogi), and fewer carbs than normal. Cheat meals are important though! Give yourself a little wiggle room — be patient with yourself in the process of dieting and you’re more likely to keep to the diet and lose the weight than if you restrict yourself completely. I will warn you that going from 30ish grams of carbs a day to 100ish with one meal does affect your body. I always felt bloated, and needed a good day to get back to feeling like myself after a cheat meal. But I’ll tell you, every lick of ice cream I had at Disney was worth it.
Keto is also not a cheap diet. I tried to make it more affordable by eating the same things frequently and foregoing a lot of the fancy recipes that call for random ingredients (almond flour is super expensive). I finally broke towards the end of the month and made a recipe that required some of the more expensive ingredients, but this is definitely not necessary to be successful on the Keto diet. My most expensive shopping trip was the first one because I had to stock up on items like unsweetened Baker’s chocolate and coconut oil. But after that initial grocery shopping trip, I was able to maintain a more even grocery budget. For comparison, I’ll typically spend about $200 on groceries ($50 a week) when I’m eating my normal diet, but during February I spent about $300 sticking to a Keto diet plan.
I learned a lot about myself and my body while I was on this diet. And while I don’t think it’s a sustainable diet for the rest of my life (I’ll get to that in a minute), I did want to document some of the lessons I learned from this experiment.
- I am the queen of leftovers. I’m a surprisingly lazy person, so I don’t love cooking every night after a day spent at the office when I’d rather be reading or working on blog posts. So, I like to cook all at once. I also like to cook the same things because I know what I like, and after I’ve made it a few times, I can alter the recipe to best suite what I’m feeling that night.
- The key to a healthy diet is making small changes. My favorite thing to order when I go out with friends is a burger without the bun. Not only can I eat the entire patty (which I can never do when I have the bun), it also doesn’t leave me feeling sick after. From this diet, I’ve definitely learned that it’s small changes (like no bun or replacing pasta every night with veggie noodles every so often) that make the biggest impact.
- I have a love affair with fruit. What can I say — I’ve missed fruit. It’s actually the thing I’ve missed most on this diet, to be honest. Not pasta, not bread, not cookies — fruit. Which is a really good thing to miss, in my opinion.
- I hate protein powder. It’s gross and gives a weird texture to an otherwise lovely smoothie.
- Cook your food, and you’re automatically eating healthier. By cooking your food, you already know what’s going into your meals and into your body. I think the biggest lesson I learned during this month is to avoid prepackaged snacks as much as possible because they hold a lot of junk in them that your body really doesn’t need.
Why I Won’t Be Eating Keto For Forever
While I had success on the Keto diet, I don’t think it’s a forever diet for me. That doesn’t mean it’s not for you, it’s just not for me. For one thing, I’m spending a bit more money than I am comfortable with on food. I’d like to keep it to $50-$60 a week while I only have one mouth to feed. Also, if you didn’t know, I have been an off-and-on vegetarian since I was about 13, and this is the first time in my life I’ve ever consistently cooked meat at home. Though I love the results I’m seeing, I think I’d rather stick to a low-meat/animal product diet in the future than a carb-free diet. And ultimately, this diet is just incredibly restrictive for me. While you can still enjoy a good amount of food on this diet, I felt like I was missing out on many other opportunities to cook and try new things (I mentioned I missed fruit, right?). In the end, I think this experience taught me a lot about healthy alternatives and being conscious of what I’m putting in my body, but it’s not a manageable long-term commitment for me. AND THAT’S OKAY. Just because it isn’t for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. Some people might view this as a failure since it wasn’t the perfect diet for me — I view it as an opportunity to incorporate lessons learned into my daily life.
I love living a healthy lifestyle, and cutting out carbs, for me, was a great way to kick-start those healthy habits I created and hope to maintain for the rest of 2018. If you’ve got questions about my experience eating Keto, feel free to leave them in the comments below or reach out to me personally. And, if you’re wondering if the Keto diet is for you, I highly recommend talking to your doctor about it. Check out some of my favorite Keto snack and recipes below!
Happy healthy living,
Favorite Keto Meals, Snacks and Desserts
- Breakfast Bake
- BLT Salad with Ranch Dressing
- Salmon with Broccoli
- Zoodles with Meat Sauce
- Spaghetti Squash with Baked Chicken and Alfredo Sauce
- Salami and White Cheddar Cheese
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Keto Bars
- Strawberries & Cool Whip (While not technically keto, it’s a way better alternative to ice cream and chocolate sauce)
- Coconut Keto Macarons