The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular of--what some refer to as--the “fad diets.” People who have tried the ketogenic diet and found success will probably vehemently object to calling their beloved keto a fad.
On July 5, 2018, I began my ketogenic lifestyle. To me it wasn’t just a diet but an attempt at trying to be better. Over the years, I had dabbled in a low-carb diet and never saw any long term results other than my misery. Upon downloading the Lifesum app, I took an assessment based off of my eating habits and goals, and it determined Keto was the best path forward for me.
Armed with this knowledge, I began to research the diet and found that I was already close with my low carb eating. But the best draw for me was the elimination of sugar. That was what pushed me to begin on July 5th. Earlier this month I hit my goal weight. As of the writing of this post I have loss 24 pounds. Friends and family ask me, frequently, am I going to go back to my non-keto way of eating. The answer to that question is probably not, and I have five unexpected benefits that have factored in my why.
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1. Intentionally, eat more vegetables and actually like it
In full transparency, I never really cared for vegetables. Yes I ate them because I had to, but I never really ate them consistently, and definitely not in diversity. Meaning, I would have a salad once a week, on what me and a co-worker dubbed Salad Tuesday. Later on in the week I would throw a handful of spinach in a smoothie. The peppers, onions and garlic that I cooked with totally counted! But that was the extent of vegetables in my diet.
However, since engaging in the Keto WOE (way of eating), I find myself needing and craving my veggies, particularly the leafy green kind as they are lowest in carbs. I eat and enjoy cauliflower rice and cauliflower mac n cheese. Before July you would’ve had to force feed cauliflower to me. Broccoli is my life’s blood as it helps keep me regular, and I love me some chicken and broccoli. Loaded squash has replaced my loaded fries, and zoodles are my new ramen. Veggies, veggies, and more veggies.
2. Feel emotional stability
This is a big benefit for me. Most of my adult life I have battled with my emotions and depression. I can have stretches where I don’t want to get out of the bed and just want to sleep all day. Over time, I had begun to recognize my feelings and learn ways of coping. However, that inner struggle of dealing with my emotions never really went away. But around my second week of being keto, I realized that this inner struggle felt more different. It felt less. It felt quieter. The anxiety and loss of will along with my highs and lows seemed to wane. The longer I stayed keto the more quiet I felt emotionally.
One day I was speaking with a nutritionist, and she asked me if was I on the keto diet. Her initial reaction was negative (which is not new for me). Nonetheless, I began to explain to her how I felt both physically and more importantly emotionally, and she responded that the changes I noted made sense. She said, “a lot of people don’t get how much their diet can affect their balance of emotions.” That one conversation validated my feelings and helped me to continue to surge forward.
3. Brain fog is lifted
You may be wondering, what could I possibly mean by that. I know because I used to wonder about it too, when I would read people’s comments in the online keto communities. “I am always operating at full cognitive capacity”, was the fallacy that I believed. But just as in the other two cases, after a few weeks (probably when I was fully fat adapted and in ketosis) I began to notice a sense of mental clarity that wasn’t there before. It was akin to when I got lasik surgery done for my eyes.
For over 15 years, I walked around squinting at things when I was too lazy to put in my contacts. Then I had my surgery, and I opened my eyes and realized not only could I see, like I could with my contacts, but I could see even better! I’ve got 20/10 in one eye and 20/15 in the other. My husband refers to my vision as bionic eyes. Everything is super clear, and I can see sharp images, far away. That’s how my brain feels. I could operate before, like seeing with my contacts. Now my mind, thinking and processing is sharp and focused like my 20/10 vision. I’ve had two cheat days that knocked me out of ketosis and within hours of my carb indulgence I could feel the difference. I was “squinting” again.
4. Pay attention to food
Why should I care about non-GMO food? This was my attitude. Don’t even get me started on my lack of caring about organics and whole foods etc. I was of the mindset that food is meant to be enjoyed, and who cares about all the other stuff. Guess what now I care. I read food labels and don’t eat overly processed foods. Grass fed beef does taste better. Yes I can taste the difference between an organic egg and a non organic. Avocados are priceless and full of good fat. Find out more about the benefits and calories of avocados.
And can I get some nitrate free bacon?
The realization here is I allowed my body the opportunity to have real good natural food, not something cooked up in a lab, and once I did that, food actually tasted better because it was better...go figure. I shop at places like Trader Joes and at online venues like Thrive Market. Previously, I never found the need for these kinds of markets, but now I love them.
5. Conquer the Sugar Addiction
This one is last because it’s the most straightforward benefit, at least in my opinion. Firstly, sugar is almost in everything, of which I wasn’t particularly aware. One word motivated me to go all in on keto and it was Diabetes. I have watched people close to me deal with this, and I was and am determined to not play that hand. Breaking my sugar addiction was ten times harder than my love for bread and pasta. I had to cut out sodas, candy bars, most salad dressings, even ketchup and barbecue sauce, as they all have sugar. Even most fruits have high quantities of sugar (granted it is the healthy kind of sugar) and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. King-sized Snickers bars used to be entire meals for me. Now they are a comforting memory.
Yes, now I indulge in healthy sugar alternatives such as Swerve, stevia, and erythritol, but initially I couldn’t even have those because I had to sacrifice my sweet tooth on the keto alter. I’m here to tell you that it was totally worth it. Food tastes so much better now since I can actually taste and appreciate the natural flavors not the sugared down counterfeits. Sugar free ketchup and bbq sauce that doesn’t taste awful exists on the market, and I even found my way back to my beloved chocolate bars. Just the ones that have been sweetened with stevia.
Mindset on Benefits of Keto WOE
The ketogenic WOE has its critics and its die-hard believers. Some have lost dozens of pounds and achieved healthy goals. Others have tried it and found that it wasn’t for them. I didn’t lose a large amount of weight quickly as many do, but that could have been due to various factors. Nevertheless, weight loss wasn’t the only thing I was trying to achieve, and the best part is that weight loss is not all that I have gained!
That's Cynthia's Mindset on the benefits of keto!
I've been on the keto diet for some time now, but I still love food! I also love to stay fit & healthy. Here is where I write about healthy eating and living. I hope you're hungry and ready to go!