To Keto or Not to Keto?

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My name is Sunny (yea that's me right there), and after careful thought and contemplation I took a 2-Week Keto Challenge. I believe that I eat a pretty balanced diet. My diet consists mostly of plant-based products, but I do eat grains and other foods that contain enriched flour and stuff. I take a multivitamin every day to ensure I receive all the vitamins and nutrients I need for the day. Especially, I since I am iron-deficient most of the time. It was so bad when I was younger that I would suffer from faint spells and extreme fatigue. This is why I switched to a mostly plant-based diet when I was in my early twenties. It helps to keep my iron levels balanced so that I don’t have to take those awful Ferrous Sulfate pills. They did more harm than good in my eyes.


I work out regularly and have maintained a weight of 135-140 lbs. for the last 5 years (or so). My workout routines vary but I do mostly cardio and kinesthetic exercises in my home gym. I’m also a big fan of multiple Beach Body programs. They helped to get me back on track after I had my son, 9 years ago. I'll talk about that in another post though...


I am currently a Special Education Teacher and usually commute 3 hours daily to get to and from work, but due to COVID-19 I have been working remotely from home. I love my job as an early childhood educator, and my students keep my on my toes every day. However, I have been living a sedentary lifestyle since social distancing took effect. So, I thought to myself, what better time to start a diet challenge than now! I have heard a lot about this diet, but I was curious how it would be trying it for myself.



After doing my own research from a variety of online sources (and friends who have tried Keto) I learned that a keto diet is an eating plan that focuses on foods that provide a lot of healthful fats, adequate amounts of protein, and very few carbohydrates. The goal is to get more calories from fat than from carbs. The keto diet works by depleting the body of its sugar stores. As a result, the body is forced to break down fat for energy.



I know this sounds like a magical creature or some sort of scientific process. It is actually pretty simple really! Ketosis is a metabolic state which is characterized by the elevated ketone bodies in our blood or urine. Make sense? In simpler terms, it is the point in our metabolism where our bodies switch from using glucose (which comes from consuming carbohydrates) to using fat as fuel for the body. In order to achieve this state one would need to lower their carb intake drastically to the point that the body is forced to create Ketones (cells created when the liver oxidizes fatty acids into ketone bodies), which are then used as fuel for energy.


There are actually two main types of keto diet, which include the Standard Ketogenic Diet and the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. The Standard Ketogenic Diet consists of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% (or less than 50 grams) of carbs per day. The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet involves following of the Standard Ketogenic Diet for 5-6 days per week followed by 1-2 days of higher carb intake. The second method is said to reduce keto flu symptoms, promote muscle growth, and boost athletic performance. The problem with the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is that it forces the body to slip in and out of ketosis which can be achieved and maintained while on the Standard Ketogenic Diet. If I’m going to do something, I have to see it the whole way through and do it the right way, so I have committed to the doing Standard Ketogenic Diet for the next two weeks.



Ok… When I heard there could be side effects, I thought they can’t be that bad, right? Well, upon further research I found that this thing is no joke. It’s not the kind of flu that leaves you bed-ridden with a runny nose and body aches. The Keto Flu is a group of symptoms that can appear anywhere from two to seven days after a person starts the Keto Diet. These symptoms range from foggy brain, headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, nausea, and constipation. Ironically this condition is not recognized by medicine. So, I’m either going to get it or not. We’ll find out soon enough!



Now that we know what the Keto Diet is, how exactly do I plan to do this. Well, I needed a starting point which means I had to prep for success. So, for the two weeks prior to my scheduled start date (April 26th), I planned out everything. I put together a 1-week meal plan to make sure I stayed on track with the meals I was supposed to eat while on Keto. I even planned the meals based on what I could use as leftovers from the previous day to make lunch for the following day. I wanted to make sure I had no excuses to fall off the wagon. There was a lot of repetition to ensure that I wasn’t buying too many items that would either go bad or I would not enjoy eating. I also tried to use items I already had in the house to minimize costs.

I shopped around at my local grocery stores to find the best prices. I purchased all the items I would need to successfully complete the 1-week plan, because I also had to make sure I cooked for my family. My fridge was not going to fit all that food for the 2-week challenge so I had to be thoughtful and buy for everyone. They were ok with me trying Keto, but there were no volunteers to do this challenge with me. The general consensus was that it took too much time and prep work. That is not a lie. I spent 5-6 hours of my Saturday morning prepping certain things like bacon bits (which I baked to keep tender and not too crispy), cleaning and seasoning meats, making tuna salad (which I made enough for the everyone in the house) and other foods for easy access.



So, there is no way I can just dive into a restrictive diet without taking my last bites of the food I enjoy. I know the moment I tell myself I can’t have that, I’m going to want THAT! It’s all a mental control thing. With that being said, I had my last hurrah and ate some Sesame Chicken from our neighborhood Chinese restaurant (no rice though), an Egg Roll, Nilla Wafers and Twizzlers. I’m not a take-out person but I was exhausted from prepping all my Keto foods for the week and Sunday’s dinner for the rest of the family. Take-out it is! So, now I’m ready for this 2-week Keto challenge. I will be posting my journal entries including my ups, downs, successes and challenges. Wish me luck, now let’s do this!

If you are interested in reading more, stay tuned for the How To Be Successful on the Keto Diet.

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