It’s been a year and the conversion is well underway.
Right around 16 May 2018 or so is when I first really entered ketosis, if urination and weight loss are indicators. At that time I did not have a blood meter and I had been experimenting enough so that I wasn’t totally on top of my own dietary reactions, but the steep declines associated with keto and water loss and all the other good stuff began there. You can flip through parts I-V to get the backstory as needed.
Now, one year later, and with no shortage of “keto cheato” days when I visit mobile vendor events (Food Trucks, farmers’ markets, etc), and holidays, and just regular old “I feel like having some gelato” days, I can say with a substantial amount of confidence that a “keto diet” is my normal, which I will likely follow in the least-draconian way possible, for the duration.
I’m not going to insert graphs and charts or tons of links to useful info, I’ve done those things already (again, see previous posts). This is more of a conclusion to the beginning of the story, which I shall offer here:
Everything I have learned over the year gone by, and the bits I learned leading up to that point, applies to me. There is simply no way to trust the opinions of the experts on the internets or looking over your shoulder or sitting at the table with you, the data is all over the place and with so many definitions of what “low carb diet” might be, well, I must first suggest the thing I didn’t want to do because I thought it would lead to a certain amount of personal insanity.
Get a scale, get a blood meter (I have the Keto Mojo, it’s fine and has glucose strips also, though their support people get a D grade from me, which is another story), get a fasting timer application for your smart phone or your smart speaker or whatever, and keep track of what is working and what isn’t, with the knowledge that both of those gross data bins could move around over the course of your adaptation process. That is, what works initially might not work later, or vice versa.
I did not have a meter at the time, but today I can say with some small confidence that consuming something like ice cream or candy or something that is just straight sugar would, in the early days a year go, cause me to feel ill, with headache and a sort of cold-sweaty feeling and general discomfort. Today, I know that my glucose readings will recover from outrageous cheats like that in about 30 hours. I know the effects are less intense initially, they subside more quickly, and I show light ketosis readings in about a day (now, 36 hours after an exceedingly-rare sojourn in ice cream and apple pie territory… it had been a very long time… my ketone levels show 1.2 mmol/mL, which is typical for me at an 18 hour fast without a workout in there). Normally I would have fasted to recover, but this time I actually had some smoked salmon and cream cheese in there… more experiments.
Since I have kept track of these things along the year-long journey that lead here, I know what happens, I know how long it takes to get back on the rails, I know that the weight gain is mostly water, and so on. I know how an 18-hour OMAD fast works for me, I know that I would normally hit around 2.2 mmol/mL ketone reading on the K-M meter after 30 hours of fasting, and that I’m usually around 1.2–1.5 if I’m drinking coffee and working at my standing desk all day.
Today, aside from these measurements ahead of jotting down these notes, I really don’t worry about it so much. I do have my bathroom scale, and I check now and then, but I’ve lost confidence in the scale at my gym and I know that water makes a substantial difference anyway, so I really don’t watch that so closely, except that I am still keeping an eye on one thing.
Weight Loss Progress.
Well obviously, that’s what a bathroom scale is for, right? As I’ve written above, I check it now and then, and I actually factor in cheats and water and weight change, and I haven’t been doing so much experimentation over the last few months. However, I did set out to achieve a couple of parallel goals, which was why I first began to experiment with my day-to-day diet in the first place.
I wanted to lose weight, and have learned how a ketogenic diet and regular exercise combine to lead directly to weight loss. For me. I know that one or the other typically leads to a stable weight, which I have definitely proved to myself since the winter holidays and the cold weather (I usually walk 5km each way to the gym late at night, so the Vegas cold, wind, and snow, and now rain and wind and cold again, make that less fun).
I also wanted to become more healthy, which to me says increased strength and endurance, increased flexibility, better sleep, general increase in energy, etc. This had to pause thanks to these weather challenges, so my exercise program is nowhere near where it was leading up to, say, December 2018. This means I had 6 good months of keto+exercise, the remainder has been less focused.
To answer the question many ask, I recently dropped another 10–12 pounds since about March (again, not really graphing much anymore), so I’m down a stable 70 pounds since I began last May. “Stable” because the keto cheato impact fades in less than two days and I return to that stable weight with the usual behaviors I’ve grown accustomed to. I would like very much to get back to the gym on the regular and see how things proceed, but obviously with far less drive to check the scale.
Since I know how “cheating” effects me in the short term, and how I can maintain my overall sense of well-being over the medium and long term given that (or, obviously, without a cheat now and then), I can say that maintaining a ketogenic or at least keto-friendly diet day-to-day gets me to where I want to be when it comes to weight maintenance, overall sense of well-being (rather than feeling full and sleepy on eating a big bowl of mac-n-cheese, etc), and pretty much any other factor.
I do enjoy gelato and ice cream, and I have come to enjoy coconut milk ice cream with erythritol or similar, and now and then I go nutty and have cookies or cake. Or pie. I also, and more typically, have something more carb-heavy when I patronize food trucks and other mobile food vendors, and now and then I have beer. I had long since drifted away from soda and other super-sugary items, so I’ve settled on what works for me.
A ketogenic diet, especially one with a lot of vegetables and probably a bit more protein once I’m back in the gym more regularly, suits me and is not a sacrifice. It is a completely rational choice with completely acceptable “detours” and equally acceptable recoveries. I will almost certainly consider a ketogenic diet my “completely normal diet” for the foreseeable future.