When it came time for New Year’s resolutions last month, I made the same ones I’ve made for years – eat healthier, work out more, lose weight. Each year when I’ve made that resolution, I’ve put time, energy and money into planning meals, using apps like MyFitnessPal to log meals and workouts, discovering new workout plans and reading about the latest diet fads. And each time, the frenetic pace of my life as a full-time working mom with a husband and three busy kids eventually led to me grabbing a convenient box of crackers or handful of chips while I was on the go. Finding time to grocery shop and plan meals was always difficult.
One of the latest diet fads, the keto diet, was something that I’d heard about for a few years but made lots of excuses to myself about why I couldn’t try it, most of which boiled down to my thought that cutting carbs that drastically wasn’t healthy. But the more I researched and read about how much of the standard American diet relies on carbs – mostly “empty” carbs, not whole grains but starchy processed potatoes and wheat – and the more people I saw who had experienced significant weight loss and success with the keto diet, the more curious I got. But I was nervous about being on a diet that was so strict, and wondered how I would know if I was in ketosis. Would I have to be constantly doing blood tests?
I’d started to read online about some people following a more relaxed version of the keto diet – “lazy” keto. Instead of being meticulous about documenting macros and blood tests, this version is just a reduction in overall carbs combined with the knowledge of which foods are ok and not ok to eat. The more I read about it and saw others’ results, the more interested I was.
I decided to go full keto the week leading up to the Super Bowl. I made some lower carb choices at lunch that week, but the most challenging part was always eating at home. Cooking healthy dinners for my family of three kids, my husband and I had always entailed a protein, a veggie and rice or pasta. The prospect of making separate meals for myself was not something I was looking forward to. I needed to stock up on low carb options. I prepared a big spread of Super Bowl foods – keto-friendly dips and gluten-free chicken wings tossed in low-carb sauces.
One of my biggest shocks when I started buying low-carb, keto-friendly foods was how many carbs are contained in typical foods. A bowl of cereal has 30 to 50 carbs, depending on how much sugar it contains. I’d already tried to lessen the amount of processed grains in my diet, but I hadn’t considered sugar that much, mostly because I don’t really have a sweet tooth and have always enjoyed savory foods more. But when I started really looking at the number of carbs and the amount of sugar in most foods, I was blown away by how much of both the typical American eats. A “normal” American day of eating – breakfast cereal, a sandwich and some chips for lunch and a moderately healthy dinner of protein, veggies and pasta or rice – introduces far more carbs and sugar than our body needs to function. This excess of carbs and sugar is reflected in the obesity epidemic in America today.
The more and more I read, the more I learned about the link between gluten and sugar and inflammation, and how inflammation can cause a wide range of problems, from arthritis to endometriosis and more. I watched The Magic Pill on Netflix, and I thought about how much of modern life involves sitting or standing in front of a screen, as opposed to our ancestors’ way of life with hunting or heavy manual labor. We simply don’t need as many carbs for energy as our forefathers did.
So I stocked up on low-carb foods: berries, nuts, cheese, meats, celery, cucumbers, cream cheese, and found replacements for many of the foods I’d enjoyed before: cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, zero carb bagels and breads. I discovered snacks that would become my go-to’s: celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter, Whisps cheese crackers, blackberries and raspberries with almonds, string cheese and a couple of slices of ham. I learned how to modify restaurant orders to be low-carb: ordering a burger with lettuce wraps instead of a bun – “hold the fries!”
This is my third week on lazy keto. Around the third day after drastically cutting my carb intake, I felt a little run down. I’m guessing this was the “keto flu” that I’ve heard about. Once that passed, and every day since then, I’ve felt better than I’ve felt in a very long time. I started drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning – coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil – and I have sustained energy all morning long. I eat until I’m full, but I don’t ever get that bloated, too-full feeling that I used to get after eating a meal based on bread, pasta or rice.
I can already tell that I’m losing weight. I’ve never been big on weighing myself, but my clothes are fitting much better. Have you tried the keto diet? What are your favorite keto-friendly snacks and meals? Stay tuned for more updates and for recipes that are keto-friendly!