I have been on a pretty strict Ketogenic diet for over two weeks. It all started with the necessity for a breast biopsy and the possibility of either cancer or precancerous cells. Diet is the first thing I turn to when there is a health issue, and my search led me to a Ketogenic diet.
I gave it a good go for a full two weeks. There are several things about it that I have found to be positive, but I think I have realized (and am not afraid to admit it) that keeping my carbs under 50 grams per day is not for me. And here's why ...
1. I am BORED! with my food choices, and I feel deprived. I am eating the same things every day for every meal. I realize that to be true Ketogenic your mindset is supposed to be that food is only to be thought of as a way to fuel your body. But if I am not enjoying my food then I don't want to eat it at all. So I am finding myself having to make myself eat enough calories each day so as not to lose weight, which I don't need to do. And I have to make all my foods separately because my family is not on this diet. Planning and fixing my meals has become a full-time job.
2. It really grosses me out to concentrate on eating so much fat. I do prefer coconut and olive oil, butter, and full-fat creams for my fat sources, but deliberately soaking everything in it makes me nauseous to think about it. I have to force myself to do it and eat it. And I don't like eating fat just for the sake of eating fat. I mean, "I need to eat something that I can smother in butter because I need to get my fat content up today." That's just weird.
3. I feel the same away about eating meat. Concentrating on meat and fat at every meal just makes me not want to eat. I am not a huge meat eater, usually sticking to lean proteins. But with a high-fat diet you need to eat fatter pieces of meat. And it's yucky to me. Plus you don't want to go over on your proteins so you have to be careful about how much meat, etc. It's mind boggling.
4. I have just always believed in eating a balanced diet and that completely cutting out entire food groups isn't good. I understand the science behind a Ketogenic diet, especially for therapeutic reasons. I have been giving it a try based on an idea of decreasing the glucose I consume each day in the form of carbs and sugars. But I am not an overweight, sedentary person. I am pretty lean and exercise every day. For this reason I am not sure I need to limit my daily carbs to less than 50 a day. If I was actively battling a disease, such as cancer or diabetes or if I was overweight, I might stick with it longer. Other than some precancerous cells in the past, I do not have any of those diseases (my breast biopsy showed no precancerous cells). I know that I could do it if I had to .. I just don't want to.
5. I desperately miss sweet potatoes and black beans. And I want to eat them but this diet says I "can't". The diet has made me actually fearful of carbs, and then I obsesses about them. That can't be good. Vegetables are good for you but when counting every single carb I find myself even cutting out green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli because I might go over my carb limit for the day. And I love avocados but since it's one of the fattiest fruits/veggies you can eat, I have eaten so many of them that I am sick of them!
6. It's too strict for me. I cannot imagine doing this diet for a lifetime. So if I know I can't stick to it long term, I need to find a way to modify it to make it work for me. Brynne asked me the other day, "So you can never have a cookie again?" And I thought, of course I can! This is too much!
7. I don't like the message I am sending my children. Instead of showing them a healthy balance of eating and how to make good food choices, I am showing them an obsession regarding food. It's just not healthy.
I have learned a lot while preparing for a Ketogenic diet, and there are a lot of positives involved with it.
I do know that I have an addiction to carbs and, therefore, sugar. And with this Ketogenic diet the past couple of weeks I have found that I can live without many carbs, especially grains.
I see that Macros of 50% Carbs / 30% Fats / 20% Proteins is not for me (those were my Macros from before the diet). And I have learned that going over the 20% of proteins is not really okay, either. Too many proteins, which I thought were good, can turn to glucose also. I need to say UNDER the 50% carbs, stay UNDER the 20% proteins, and allow myself to go OVER the 30% fats. I have learned how to change my mindset.
I do see that a cutback of carbs and increase of healthy fats has made my body leaner, and I really like the way my clothes are fitting.
I have learned some techniques for making sure I get enough potassium and magnesium in my diet. I had not been conscious of that in the past, and it's a good thing to watch.
So what is my plan?
I have done some additional research and have determined that I would like to keep my fat intake at 50% of my calories per day (concentrating on healthy fats), increase my carbs to 120 grams per day (at 30% of my total daily calories, instead of 5-15% under Ketogenic or 50% under my old dietary guidelines) and keep my proteins at 20% of my daily calories.
I will still stay away from all grains the majority of the time (not just gluten). But I will not be afraid to have grains in some of my meals. (For instance, I do prefer spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. But if we don't have any then I am not going to be afraid to have some pasta!) Grains will not be where I get my carbs, if I can help it.
My first choices will be always be low-carb, lean proteins, healthy fats, and no grains. But occasionally coming off this plan is not tragic.
My carbs will primarily come from vegetables and fruits. I will also choose lower glycemic foods.
I am going to keep away from sugar as much as possible. I just don't need it. My sugar source is pure Stevia, and I like it. But, again, on a special occasion I am not going to stay completely away from a sweet dessert just because I have put myself on a strict diet.
I will continue to use My Fitness Pal daily because it is the best way to keep me accountable in whatever diet plan I follow. I will also continue to run three days a week and workout with my women's group two afternoons a week.
I will continue to drink a minimum of 72 ounces of water a day.
Is this Ketogenic? No. But I have developed a diet that will work well for me and keep me satisfied and a happy with my food choices. And it is still much lower carb than what I have eaten in the past.