I honestly didn’t think I’d be back here. I rode the keto train for a year and a half. I was strict, lost a ton of weight, and generally felt pretty good. Probably not coincidentally, I was also more active during that period than I’d been since my twenties. I know shocking, isn’t it? Low body fat and active every day… and you feel great. But I finally burnt out on keto. I was sick of paying attention to everything food related. I constantly craved mashed potatoes, fries, and pasta. I wanted to enjoy a beer once in a while.
So, I decided to “take a short break” from keto. And here we are almost three years later. I put back all the weight I’d lost, plus some. Fatigued all the time. Lost all the cardio I’d had and struggle to mountain bike and can’t run. And I’m now dealing with some serious gut issues. So now what?
My gastroenterologist wants me on a low fodmap diet for a minimum of a month, while we do some other testing. Looking at the foods you can’t have I realized that keto with some changes to veggies I’d normally eat, covers the fodmap diet. I know keto well. I know that I can make keto stick. So the words I never thought I’d say again came out of my mouth – It’s time to go back to keto.
I do not believe all the hype about keto. You don’t burn any more fat than you would with a carb based diet. I don’t think, for most people, it addresses insulin resistance magically. Studies show that you get the same impact simply losing weight, improving blood pressure, and exercising – regardless of which diet you choose.
Keto worked for me because it is restrictive. The act of counting carbs and daily blood tests forced me to pay attention to calories. As I started losing weight I exercised more. The more I exercised, the better I felt. Before long I was burning so many calories running and cycling, I struggled to consume enough food. Eventually, I was dropping 2-3 pounds a week. This was not a miracle of ketosis. There’s only so much steak, chicken, and broccoli a guy can eat. It was a calorie deficit, made easy by the lack of food choices.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some benefits to keto for the average person. The big one for me was becoming fat adapted. Moving easily into ketosis when glycogen stores are low, prevented the massive hunger pangs and cravings I’d have when my fuel was primarily carbs. It enabled me to exercise in a fasted state and avoid the “bonk” when glycogen ran out.
For whatever reason, I lack the willpower to maintain a calorie deficit with carbs. There are too many things to eat, and the hidden calories keep adding up. I find myself constantly hungry and snacking. Some people have the willpower to simply count calories and lose weight. That’s clearly not me.
So here we are. Back to keto. Back to my love/hate relationship with the diet. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I have a choice at this point. It will be interesting to see what I think about it this go-round, since I’m doing it for a different reason. My strength trainer is going to hate me. He’s not a fan. But on the plus side, I’ll finally be eating the amount of protein he wants me to consume.
Today is day one. Ketones were 0.3 mmol/L this morning. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes me to get back into ketosis. Will my body remember fat adaptation? Or am I starting from scratch with a week-plus of keto flu before dropping into ketosis?
It’s only been a few hours and I’m already craving pesto sauce pasta and nachos. The struggle is real.