As someone that has struggled with their weight since the age of 16, I have always been conscious of my calorie intake and the foods that I eat. I had tried various weight loss plans which have worked, but only in the short term. I often find that within the space of a year after finishing dieting, I’m back to where I started, with fat reappearing around my hips, arms and face. My cupboards are full of healthy cooking books and ingredients I’ll never use again because weight loss plans simply aren’t sustainable.
Now, Miss Rona has done many of us dirty and with lockdown restrictions predicted to be completely abolished by 21st June, we’re all starting to panic about our bodies. I know for one that after nearly a year of living in joggers watching Netflix and swiping Tinder, I don’t feel like I’m in the best shape. I tried on my jeans a couple of months back in preparation for a post-pandemic pub visit and ended up breaking the zip. This was the moment that I decided there was nothing quite like the present and proceeded to calorie count and go on daily walks. Four weeks passed of me eating 1200 calories a day and to be quite honest, I felt absolutely dreadful. I had no energy, I experienced low moods and I just felt unmotivated to do anything. This wasn’t helped by weighing myself weekly and discovering that I was still continuing to gain weight even though I spent most of the day hungry.
I rang the doctors for some help, as what I was experiencing wasn’t normal for me. I mean, it’s common knowledge – ‘the less calories you eat, the more calories you burn and the quicker you’ll lose weight’. I suspected maybe there was something wrong with my thyroid, but blood tests showed that I was completely normal (well, at least in terms of my health!). I’m glad that the tests came back normal, but it was so disheartening to learn that what I was doing in terms of my diet and exercise wasn’t making any difference to my physique.
One morning, I stumbled across a video on my Facebook feed which was shared by a family member. The concept of keto didn’t make any sense to me (although I study a science degree) – how could it be that I would reach my weight loss goal whilst eating more than 1200 calories? I literally was willing to try anything at this point. At the time of writing, I am only 3 and a half weeks into my diet and I’ve already lost half a stone (3.2kg)! If you would like to learn more about ketogenic diets, and the first week of my journey then please keep on reading.
What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, otherwise known as ‘keto diet’, is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet which was originally used in medicine to treat epilepsy in children. Since then, the keto diet has become a trendy lifestyle choice for those wishing to lose weight, with potential health benefits including reduced risk of certain cancers, improved heart health and improved acne.
So how exactly do keto diets work? In short, the keto diet forces your body into using a different type of fuel, putting your body into a ketogenic state, or ketosis. In this state, the body primarily uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, increasing ketone production and weight loss.
However, it is pretty tricky to get your body into a ketogenic state. In order to reach ketosis, a person must eat between 20-50g of carbohydrates a day (which is nothing compared to the 225-325g of carbs that the average person eats daily). It also takes a few days for your body to reach a state of ketosis – many people experience so-called ‘keto flu’ two to seven days into their new lifestyle with symptoms including: headache, fatigue, nausea, irritability and foggy brain.
Day 1 – Tuesday
So, I woke up this morning and decided today was the day I was going to start my weight loss journey! Weigh-in this morning made me feel ashamed, and I started to regret scoffing a Kinder Bueno the night before. But at least I was going to do something about it. I weighed in at 181lb or 82kg, which is nearly 13 stone.
I was searching for recipe ideas on the web when I came across Keto Cycle – an app which tracks your calories, water intake, steps and weight loss all in one. I paid £30 for a 3 month subscription (which was relatively cheap compared to other plans I had tried in the past). Of course, I could have tried to follow a keto diet without the fancy app, but the best bit about Keto Cycle is that it gives you a meal plan based on your likes and dislikes. This app literally plans your diet for you, and you can create a shopping list based on the recipes you have selected which is super handy. Keto Cycle predicted that I would reach my target weight of 141lb, or 63.5kg, by mid-June but I’m not convinced.
It was weird doing my shop this morning, mainly because my trolley was filled with all of the foods I’ve been avoiding on other plans for years – cheese, oils, full-fat mince and of course, gin. Yes, on a keto diet you’re allowed a drink which is great for me because I love a good tipple. My first keto shop came to £31.81 which was pricier than my normal shop. I think this was because I would usually make a pasta bake which would last a few days so I wouldn’t have to shop for as many fresh goods such as veggies and meat.
Today was the first day that I’ve eaten all 3 meals in a long time. I even had snacks in the form of cheese and beef jerky. I must admit, I really did not enjoy the beef jerky but all of the other meals were really nice, especially dinner which was a chicken, bacon and cheese chicken breast on a bed of spring greens. The only problem was that I couldn’t have an ice lolly before bed, which is usually my treat after dinner so I went to bed craving something sweet. I think that keto is more of an American diet, because I can’t seem to find any of the ingredients for the Keto Cycle recipes in the British supermarkets. For this reason, I had to order some water drops from Amazon, as well as sugar-free BBQ sauce, which are both coming tomorrow.
Day 2 – Wednesday
This morning I felt cold whilst I was plodding along with my dissertation work. At first, I thought it might be the lack of heating (after all, I am a student) but even once the heating came on, I still didn’t feel right. I decided a cup of tea with ‘Keto Cheesy Egg and Spinach in a Cup’ would help to warm me up and it certainly did. As weird as the egg in a cup sounds, it was actually pretty tasty and really easy to make. Although, it was an absolute nightmare to clean the mug that I’d made it in…
At around 11:45am I decided to tuck into some cheese cubes. This was the first time that I felt unwell over the past couple of days – my muscles felt weak and I was drained of energy. I chose to spend the rest of the day relaxing, and then later on in the evening I went for a walk on the beach to get some fresh air. Once I came home, I made the same dinner as the night before but added the sugar-free BBQ sauce from Amazon to my chicken breast. It was just as nice as the night before, although I think I prefer the chicken without the sauce.
Day 3 – Thursday
I think yesterday my body went into ketosis because I woke up today feeling more refreshed. I had ‘Keto Hot Dogs’ for breakfast this morning – fried sausages stuffed with onion and cheese, and wrapped in bacon. I really did like breakfast, although it felt weird eating such a greasy meal, especially after being told on diets in the past to avoid cheese and oils at all costs.
I did a small shop today as I didn’t purchase enough cheese and meat to keep me going for the whole week when I did my first shop on Tuesday. This shop came to £17.00, bringing my total spend for the week so far to £48.84. I’m hoping I won’t need to spend any more this week and that the blocks of cheese that I’ve now got in my fridge will last me for a few weeks. One thing I’m finding is that keto is expensive to start with, but once you’ve got all the ingredients then it becomes a lot cheaper.
The breakfast I had this morning definitely left me thirsty for most of the day, meaning I met my water goal as suggested by the Keto Cycle app for the first time since I started my diet (2 litres). I also met my goal of 8000 steps in a day and I feel amazing.
Day 4 – Friday
I woke up tired this morning as I had to attend a lab session at uni – the first face-to-face contact I’ve had this semester! My stomach was a bit sore today, probably because my body is getting used to eating loads of oil-rich foods. I had ‘Keto Meat Lovers Egg Scramble’ for breakfast, and my god, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted!
There wasn’t much time for snacking today as I was at uni, but I was sure to have a late lunch once I arrived home. I definitely didn’t drink enough water today; my head was sore!
Tonight, we decided that we would have drinks as a house. On keto, you are allowed a drink but it is recommended that you have soda water instead of sugar-free lemonade as this can contain sweeteners that can throw your body out of ketosis. However, I did decide to have a gin with slimline lemonade as I couldn’t stand the taste of soda water.
They are right when they say that you get drunk more quickly on keto. I’m a lightweight without keto, so you can imagine the state I was in after one drink now I was on plan. I’m dreading the hangover in the morning…
Day 5 – Saturday
As suspected, I woke up absolutely hanging. Luckily, ‘drunk Emily’ had already prepared my cuppa for the morning so I shuffled through to the kitchen, made up my tea and then crawled back into bed.
Normally I would have biscuits the morning after drinks to tide me over until I was ready to make breakfast. However, on keto, you’re not allowed any sugary carb-filled snacks. I didn’t stay in bed long as I needed to eat, so after an hour I made up some bacon and eggs to settle my stomach. There’s honestly nothing better than a greasy fry-up the morning after the night before!
I felt a lot better in the afternoon after taking some Nurofen and chilling out. I’m really proud of myself for avoiding carbs in my drunken state. I would’ve gladly walked up to ‘The University Plaice’ for a cheeseburger but I resisted temptation and settled for a few slices of pepperoni.
Day 6 – Sunday
This was the first day I had noticed a change in my physique. My stomach looked flatter and my skin was surprisingly less spotty. I honestly felt great.
After my daily exercise and a day filled with cheese and uni work, I decided to try and make something a bit different for dinner. I opted for ‘Cauliflower Mash Shepard’s Pie’ which was actually pretty nice, however, it wasn’t the same as a potato-topped Shepard’s Pie. It almost had a bitter taste to it – the cauliflower on the top was raw when made into mash, and then was baked in the oven for 20 minutes. I’m not big on cauliflower anyway but after this meal I’m less of a fan.
Day 7 – Monday
Today was the day of reckoning! After a week of following a keto diet, I decided that it was time to weigh myself. At the start of the week, I weighed in at 181lb or 82kg, which is nearly 13 stone. The Keto Cycle app predicted a weight loss of 5lb this week, or 2.3kg, a target which I thought was virtually impossible to meet in a single week.
In my first week of keto, I lost 4lb, or 1.8kg, making my overall weight 177lb or 80kg! I was so pleased with this result that I nearly cried. After trying to cut back on my calories since Christmas and not losing any weight, I was chuffed that I had found a diet that worked for me. I’m super excited to keep following the keto plan and hopefully I continue to see results up until 21st June!
I am still following the keto diet and I haven’t touched carbs for nearly a month now. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss pasta and potatoes every now and again, but it’s definitely worth it for the results I’m getting. I’m really enjoying all of the foods I’m eating and I continue to follow a ketogenic diet until I’ve reached my goal.
Once I’m at my target weight, I hope to start adding carbohydrates back into my diet. However, this will be a slow process and I plan to eat carbs that are high in proteins and fibre to ensure that my progress is not reversed.
Overall, I would recommend this diet to anyone looking to lose weight and feel great about themselves. You can still eat loads of yummy meats, cheeses and veg on this diet and I forget I’m on a diet plan half of the time. It’s really great for anyone that enjoys cheese and a drink as you don’t have to sacrifice these to get results.