If you have watched many of Tristan’s Youtube videos or read Using a Ketogenic Diet to get Lean and Ripped: Benefits and Drawbacks, then you have an idea on the body composition benefits of being in ketosis and eating a low-carb high-fat diet. Now it is my turn- I want to give you my view on how this diet has improved my relationship with food, helped me lose weight, improved my mental clarity, and makes shopping and food prep a breeze. This is my testimony and personal experience, of course each person is different and may react differently to “diets” but after the initial adaptation phase I’ve enjoyed this way of living immensely. I’m not afraid of carbs, I don’t mind breaking my “diet” every once in a while, but I definitely enjoy a keto style diet and don’t feel any desire to stop at this point!
I have tried several different ways of eating (standard American diet, vegetarian, raw vegan, whole food with no concern for macros, and a probably a few more phases in between) all in the hopes of finding the optimal diet to lose weight and feel healthy. Fortunately, I have never had any diagnosable disease- no diabetes, no obesity… instead I suffered from general symptoms like debilitating migraines, inflammation, bad circulation, poor digestion, a seemingly weak immune system, fatigue, and mental/emotional imbalances. I would have never thought that eating a diet of protein and fats would improve all of these issues, but to my surprise, it did. Love it.
- I am never in the binge, feel guilty, binge again cycle….and I don’t crave those binges.
- My body composition has improved.
- My body feels efficient and energetic, my mind is more clear and emotions stable.
- Life in the kitchen is simple and straightforward.
- Biggest challenge: other people think what I eat is “weird”.
Healing a Broken Relationship with Food
As a kid I was pretty self-conscious and wanted to be in better shape, but was very naïve about how to achieve my goals. Other than monthly articles with catchy titles like “Lose Belly Fat in 30 Days” and “Get Ready for Summer Abs” from Seventeen magazine, I did not have any “fitness” influence in my life. Eating disorders were trendy within the group of my 14 year-old friends so my go-to solution was to start skipping meals. I thought that by eliminating lunch or buying a sugar-filled icy frappuccino sold by the school snack bar (right next to taco bell burritos and dominos pizza) I could lose weight.
Unfortunately my “baby fat” never melted off and I always ended up binging on ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies when my hunger rebounded from my restrictive habits. This failure to see food as a source of nourishment, to feel a direct correlation between what I put into my body and how I feel, continued for years.
After years of researching and experimenting with other ways of eating I’ve found something that WORKS and is sustainable for me. I’m so happy that I no longer get cravings for junk foods and if I ever did want to eat something out of the keto box, I CAN. I would eat it, enjoy it, and move on…I’ve found the sweets and “junk” just don’t taste as great any more and even when I do indulge in the occasional non keto food it doesn’t spark cravings – in fact it has the opposite effect and reminds me how much I prefer how I feel after savory fish and meat meals!
There are many different ways of eating and diets that one person can utilize to feel healthy and balanced. For me, thus far, there has never been a time when I have felt more stable or nutritionally satisfied than I do now. Eating a low-carb high-fat ketogenic diet has given me a solid nutritional base to stand upon more than any other diet I’ve tried. The ketogenic diet is a tool that has taught me how to fill my nutritional needs and makes it easy to not consume empty, unsatisfying calories.
Effect of a Ketogenic Diet on my Digestion
This is my favorite reason to stay in ketosis – my digestion works! No gas, no bloating, and no fear of going to the bathroom like I had in the past with constipation issues! The transition was a bit odd and for a couple weeks my system had to adjust to the new macro intake, but now I am on the other side and I can see that all the “weird” feelings were so worth it. I can not remember a time when my digestive system has functioned so well. I used to go out of my way to soak and ferment grains, sprout nuts, and make fresh juices, all in the hopes that it would ease my digestive discomfort – but it never did. Believe it or not, I used to be afraid of eating meat because I thought it was hard to digest. Without a doubt my number one benefit from a low carb keto diet is that my body can functionally digest, absorb, and eliminate food without discomfort.
Weight Loss with a Ketogenic Diet
Due to the satiating nature of protein and fat it’s easy to fill up with nutrient dense food AND lose weight without feeling like I’m restricting myself- I don’t need to count all my calories because I naturally don’t overeat! It is awesome. Contradictory to my previous understanding of weight loss, I’m getting lean without feeling hungry all the time. I’m overjoyed to see that the sticky love-handle zone and post-pregnancy belly fat are fading away. I don’t have a wonder story of losing 25 pounds in a week but little by little things are changing and the best part is that is consistent. It feels pretty effortless actually, I do resistance training a few times a week but with the goal of building muscle to get stronger, rather than burning fat to lose weight. This is an important distinction to make for yourself, what your goals are can effect your general self-perception. Why focus on breaking down, subtly insinuating that your body is wrong or “toxic”, when you can build up strength and switch out old dead weight for a new toned body?
Mental Clarity, Focus, and Well-being in Ketosis
You have probably heard it before, fat is good for your brain. Eating a diet high in DHA and healthy fats has certainly brought me benefits: I have decreased brain fog, higher ability to think clearly and brainstorm, enhanced focus, improved memory, and better overall mental acuity. I feel liberated from the biological “fight-or-flight” response of receding glucose levels – I used to get bouts of fogginess and lethargy, likely due to blood sugar dysregulation.
I also notice that my emotions are much more balanced. I never reach the point of intense hunger and the state of I -need-to-eat-now-or-else! I feel when I need food, but I never crash. I have sustained energy without constant feeding and love not being constantly preoccupied with bringing snacks and making time to prep food.
For all you ladies out there, I am happy to report I have NO premenstrual symptoms. Nothing. My cycle is regular and comes without cramping, emotional chaos, headaches, bloating, or food cravings…not sure if this is due to how I eat but the change did coincide with me dropping out the carbs.
Practical Implications of a Keto Diet
Shopping is easy. I know what we eat and I know what quality we want. My list is short and sweet. I buy what I can in bulk, prepare what I need and preserve/freeze/dehydrate the rest. I do not buy things and feel guilty after or not buy things and feel like I am missing out.
Food prep is simple. I no longer try to be overly gourmet. Our meals are basic and do not vary that much day to day – we enjoy this simplicity. Sometimes we eat out or dine with friends on some more refined dishes but the simplicity, awesome taste, and satisfaction I get from our meals is wonderful. We eat what we enjoy and focus on nutrient content over exotic flavor profile, though we occasionally do add some flair to our meals. For me, food is not something I reward myself with, it’s not a comfort item any longer – food is nourishment and fuel for my body to repair itself and thrive.
The Biggest Challenge of Being in Ketosis
The biggest challenge for me is handling how others react to my own personal decisions in a social setting. Although they used to be for me, get-togethers are not about the food, they are about spending quality time with the people I love and cherish. Whenever someone has a different diet, others can feel threatened or personally offended. Ultimately, I can not control how others perceive me or my choices and must learn to not let their perceptions affect me. I try to be neutral on the diet topic and I never judge what others eat or even talk about my diet unless someone asks. I am not defensive of my position and certainly not trying to convert anyone. I am happy to share my experience, but don’t go out of my way to change others’ minds or believe my way of living is optimal for everyone.
The relationship between body, mind, and lifestyle is in constant evolution. It is very exciting for me to have a better grasp over my health and vitality. A ketogenic diet addresses my nutritional needs, gets these physical demands out of the way and allows me to focus on other important aspects of life. I don’t know how long I will continue eating this way but at the moment I have no reason to want to stop.
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