It’s 1pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting in the living room in my fluffy pink robe, ignoring the boring Netflix comedy special I’ve started, in favour of scrolling through my generic Instagram feed. I’m at home and not at work because this pesky thing called uni is back on for semester two and I need to attend a class later on. Without a regular routine and busy schedule, I’m a bit of a mess. It’s probably been about an hour since I had my breakfast- a whole packet of chocolate cream biscuits dunked in coffee- and I’m thinking it’s time for something savoury.
As I rip into a packet of Shapes (chicken crimpy, takes me back), it hits me that I probably can’t continue living off packaged foods for every meal. Not only do I feel bloated and ‘blergh’, but I also notice that treating myself to a sugary-carby snack here and there leads to cravings for more only a few hours later, becoming a never-ending cycle.
I decide right there and then (right after I finish this box of shapes) that I need something of a “cleanse”. A fresh start to help me break the blood-sugar spike addiction and motivate me to practice the good eating habits which I know are buried somewhere deep down inside. Enter: keto.
What is Keto?
The ketogenic diet, ‘keto’ for short, is a high fat and extremely low carb diet (ideally <20g) that is *supposed* to change your metabolic chemistry so your body starts running on fat instead of carbohydrates- don’t ask me how it works.
I’ve been curious about this diet for a while, with a few of my friends (including a certified medical doctor) swearing by it for rapid weight loss, eliminated cravings and higher energy levels, all while chowing down on full-fat cheese, bacon, eggs and avocado.
On the other hand, going without any form of bread, potatoes or rice for an extended period of time not only sounds like some form of cruel and unusual torture, but raises flags around the safety and sustainability of this particular eating style. I decided to put these concerns aside and road test keto for myself. Here’s how it went:
Day 1- Wednesday: It Begins
Breakfast: I wake up and make myself scrambled eggs with cheese. So far so good. I enjoy it so much that I miss my train and arrive to my first 9am tutorial at 9:25. Luckily the tutor is Italian and seems to have arrived about 5 minutes before me.
Lunch: I leave the cosy cafe I’m studying in at and move outside in the sun to eat my lunch. I’ve brought half a packet of pre-mixed kale salad in a box and a tin of tuna (hence why I’ve moved outside). I also eat a few slices of Gimbap (a Korean version of sushi) which my cousin gifted me a few days before and subsequently realise I’ve just eaten white rice. Oops. I consider giving up for the day and starting fresh tomorrow but instead decide to just keep it up and act like that didn’t happen.
Afternoon snack: Protein shake while walking between classes.
Dinner: I’m super hungry when I get home but I can’t seem to locate anything without carbs or added sugar. I make a mental note to go grocery shopping tomorrow night to pick up some protein and veggies. I snack on cheese slices and roast beef in the meantime.
I go to the gym and then meet up with my best friend for dinner. except she’s having dinner and I’m eating a small tub of YoPro that I smuggled in, plus a pot of peppermint tea.
Day 2- Thursday: Struggles of Eating Out
Breakfast: Today I’m at work so I skip breakfast because I’m barely awake when I leave the house.
Lunch: Mornings are always hectic and I don’t get a chance to eat anything before lunch time rolls around. Today I’m having lunch with my team at a picturesque bowls club up the road from work. I order a chicken salad which is covered in dried cranberries. Not strictly keto because they’re high in sugar but I’m not going to sit here and pick them out.
Dinner: Tonight is date night! I resign myself to the fact that wherever we go and whatever I order, it’s going to be more expensive since this diet is all about the extra protein. After much back-and-forth (no Italian- can’t do pasta or pizza, no burgers, no ramen, no sushi) we decide on a Middle Eastern restaurant since they’ll definitely have meat. I ignore the basket of fried lebanese bread and hummus (actually my two favourite foods) and enjoy a filling chicken shawarma plate and some sujuk.
Day 5- Sunday: The MVP at Subway Saves My Night
Breakfast: By the time Sunday comes around, I’ve already noticed a huge reduction in my appetite and cravings. I’m not hungry this morning but it’s Sunday so I make myself scrambled eggs and sit down to eat with my family.
Mid-morning: My church is running a bake sale to raise money for a charity project. In the face of several tables laden with delicious home baked desserts, I feel absolutely no desire to have any. I give my little sister money to put in the donation bucket and laugh as she bites into a choc chip muffin that turned out to be a banana choc-chip muffin. Sucker.
Lunch: Our big group decides to head to the park for a picnic lunch. I bring a bag of meatballs and a packet of blue cheese from Woolies plus my mini bluetooth speaker because ⁓vibes⁓. We stretch out in the sunshine and play extreme Uno which makes everyone angry.
Dinner: With no suitable food in the house (I should probably get around to buying those groceries), we decide to head to Subway for a salad. I ask for a chicken salad with double meat, extra cheese, avocado and extra jalapenos. The server doesn’t charge me for any of the extras and I think he’s my new best friend.
Day 6- Tuesday: Chocolate Cravings Strike
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheese and ¼ avocado
Lunch: I set myself a long to-do list and then proceed to ignore it and instead go get my nails done and pick up some groceries. As I walk into Coles, I’m greeted by the amazing smell of fresh bread and melted chocolate. I casually realise in this moment that I NEED CHOCOLATE NOW. I head to the health food aisle and spend an eternity reading nutrition labels until I’m satisfied that I’ve found keto chocolate.
I try the protein stix (stick?) right away and while it’s not chocolate, it’s actually not bad. I save the sugar-free dark chocolate for later. I pick my sister up from school and we eat some left over roast chicken and green salad (no dressing for me). I snack on nuts throughout the afternoon.
Dinner: My brother and I head to the gym and I do a basic leg workout and go for a jog on a high incline treadmill. For once, I’m prepared for dinner tonight and cook up some atlantic salmon with broccoli. Simple, filling and definitely feels healthier than the fried halloumi I had for dinner last night.
Results after one week
While the first few days had some accidental carb-consuming hiccups, I’m actually feeling pretty good after one week following a keto style diet. According to the scales, I’ve dropped about 1-1.5kg and have definitely experienced a massive reduction in appetite and cravings. For now, I might keep it going to see just how far I can take it. So far so good right? Stay tuned for an update coming soon!
Pros: reduced appetite, reduced cravings, weight loss, easy to stick to after a few days,
Cons: limited food options, hard to find suitable food when out, low energy in first few days, expensive, requires will power at the beginning, can be low in fibre.
What have you heard about the keto diet? Let me know what your thoughts are by commenting below!