.Wow! Jason and I have both been doing the Keto Diet for two straight weeks now! While I would love to say that I was confident we’d make it this far, it would be an utterly bald lie. I am, however, quite impressed! Neither of us has ever been much for dieting, so this is a genuinely happy surprise!
Time for the 2-Week Update!
I’m not going to write the same kind of update I did last week, listing individual days and basically everything we ate. If you’d like an idea as to what eating on the Keto Diet is like, you can go back and check out that post. Instead, for today I’m going to outline some thoughts, feelings, lessons learned, and so forth.
P.S. Yes, if you’ve been paying attention you may have realized that day 14 was, in fact, Monday the 13th. Let’s not worry about that, shall we? Keto-Geek-Mama has been busy!
First things first: what were the results of week 2?
The answer to that question, my friends, is a grumpy grumble of annoyance. The truth is that week 2 of the Keto Diet wasn’t particularly kind to either myself or Jason. We both stalled, as far as weight loss is concerned. Jason in particular actually went back up a few pounds, which was really frustrating for him.
Myself, I wasn’t stymied by the weight stall as much as I was by the fact that I was suddenly insatiably desiring everything I couldn’t have. There’s no doubt that it’s a common reaction to dieting that you’ll crave the things you’ve given up. I, however, found myself craving absolutely everything, from foods I’ve always loved, to foods I literally never ate normally. On day nine I actually found myself standing in the grocery store just staring at a display of oranges. You guys…I’ve never been a fan of oranges. I may have eaten three dozen of them over the entire course of my lifetime. But on that particular day I can tell you that I’ve never desired something more powerfully.
Cravings, cravings, everywhere!
My cravings throughout week 2 honestly nearly sent me into madness. I drove past a Taco Bell and considered gorging myself on Big Bell Box Meals. Wandering past a display of chocolate meal replacement shakes at Walmart I imagined myself chugging the entire case right there in the store. I overheard Jason’s aunt mention something about Tim Horton’s cappuccino and almost cried for not being able to have one. The entire experience, I felt, could be likened to being pregnant while having massive dietary restrictions set on me. I was craving everything and couldn’t have any of it, and it was making me seriously, genuinely depressed.
And while I don’t think that Jason’s plight was quite as dire as mine, emotionally, he certainly wasn’t immune.
Our friend Dani – our resident Keto Diet expert – had told me that she couldn’t stand to be in her own skin during week 2, but I’d honestly thought it was an exaggeration. I now know better.
This too, shall pass…
Fortunately the insatiable urge to eat anything and everything seems to have passed now that we’ve reached the beginning of week 3. I’m not saying the cravings have completely disappeared, but on day 13 I seriously, seriously considered quitting. The words were in my mouth, waiting to come out. I was ready to go home and eat an entire bag of Veggie Straws, and follow them up with an entire container of sugar cookies. Now I seem to have caught up to myself emotionally, and my willpower has gotten a huge boost. We can do this! I believe in us! (Sorta…kinda…a little bit. :P)
The Ultimate Test
I knew that I was going to be alright after surviving to the end of day 14. I experienced one of the most grueling tests of my willpower since starting the Keto Diet: a child’s birthday party. Adrianna and I went to her cousin’s birthday knowing that it was going to be rough on me to be there, but I totally underestimated how rough.
Right off the bat, I forgot to take my pre-made dinner with me, and the party was a 2-hour drive away in each direction. In other words, I ate breakfast around 9 am, popped a couple of small fat bombs in my mouth at around noon, and then didn’t have anything to eat until 9 that evening. And in between that I was surrounded by treats. Chips. Wafer cookies dipped in chocolate. Pepperoni pizza. Garlic fingers. Rainbow unicorn birthday cake. Hell, I was even drooling over the Minute Maid pink lemonade while I cuddled in a corner with my water bottle.
But I survived! I really, truly, honestly survived! Adrianna didn’t help by constantly asking me if I wanted some chips or cookies, but in the end I didn’t sneak a single bite! In fact, I even filled up my water bottle and went for a nice, long walk while the kids were busy with party games, cramming in some much-needed exercise!
I. Am. Amazing. Modesty be damned.
But then why the weight loss stall/weight gain?
So despite massive cravings and a near-emotional-breakdown on my part, Jason and I did actually get through the second week without cheating in any way. Why, therefore, did we both stall, and Jason even go back up a few pounds?
Well, the simple answer is that no diet will allow you to lose consistently, every day. That’s just foolish. There are far too many factors playing around in the human body to be able to guarantee weight loss on a constant basis like that.
The more involved answer is that it turns out there’s a lot more to the Keto Diet than we were anticipating. Jason started reading up on things like insulin production and how the body actually produces ketones, and how counting carbs isn’t enough…you have to count calories too. To be honest, it all made my head spin.
So here are a few issues, specific to our experience and research thus far. Hopefully anyone having the same issues with their diet will be able to learn something here.
You can’t burn fat instead of carbs unless you’re, you know…burning.
Jason and I have both been what you might call…sedentary…for a while now. I tend to get most of my exercise when I’m on shift out West because there’s lots of walking, lifting, and carrying. On the same note, Jason gets most of his exercise during those same times since he’s home alone and has to take care of everything regarding the house and our little one by himself for two weeks at a time. Unfortunately (which seems funny to say, because I hate those jobs) I haven’t been on that kind of shift in nearly a year. As a result we’ve both been spending a heck of a lot more time just…not moving. The kinds of things we spend our days on – YouTubing, blogging, writing, etc – are mostly done sitting at a table or computer desk. In other words, we haven’t been burning many calories.
And here’s the thing: whether you’re looking to burn carbs or ketones (the latter being the target for a Keto Diet), it’s all calories. You have to be burning calories. To these ends we’ve begun keeping it in our minds to get at least a little bit of decent exercise per day. I’ve also done a bit of research on the matter, and it seems that ketones burn more dominantly at low-impact aerobic exercise. In other words, we’re going to want to do things like walking, light jogging, hiking, and cycling. Since I’ve never had the kind of high-energy required for high-impact aerobics, this is good news for me. For someone like Jason who hates walking without a destination, it might be a little more difficult.
Calories in VS Calories out is still important on a Keto Diet.
Something that dieters always look for is simplicity. Everyone wants to be given the ONE THING they need to do in order to lose weight. For people interested in Keto that ONE THING is to stay beneath 20 grams of carbs per day.
As with any dietary change, it’s always going to be more complicated than that, and it makes sense when you think about it. I could spend the day eating nothing but cheese and Keto-friendly bread until I hit my 20 g carb limit, but how many calories does that add up to? (That’s rhetorical; I honestly don’t know.) The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t just eat whatever you want as long as it stays in that carb limit, because if you’re eating 2000 calories and only burning 1000, you’re not going to lose weight. That’s just basic math.
This goes along with the “you need to actually burn something” note above, but takes it a step further. While you’re tracking your carbs you should also be tracking your overall caloric intake, as well as the calorie burn of any exercise you do. That certainly sounds like a pain, but the My Fitness Pal app is a great tool for making this tracking easy. You can scan the barcode of practically any food out there (or search non-coded items), and it even allows you to sync fitness trackers like FitBit. I’ve got mine connected so that my exercise is automatically tracked as extra calories burned and subtracted from my caloric intake so that I don’t even have to think about it!
Artificial Sweeteners…Yay or Nay?
It was a game-changer for Jason and I when I started discovering Keto-friendly recipes for sweets like pound cake, donuts, and danishes. We’d seriously missed being able to have anything sugary in that first week, so in week 2 we were overjoyed to be able to have little treats like these.
*Ahem* Hold on…wait for it…
Oh shut up, you liked them. *AHEM* Moving on.
Unfortunately, in order to make these kinds of treats actually taste like, well…treats, without adding a ton of carbs, the key ingredients are artificial sweeteners. We’re talking things like Splenda, Stevia, Swerve, etc. And here’s the thing: those types of sweeteners can really screw with your system.
Now I’m not saying that these sweeteners are evil and to cut them all out right this second, because on a low-carb diet like Keto you’re simply going to need to use them every now and then. But what I’ve learned is to keep them on a short leash.
Jason and I ate plenty of “Keto-friendly” sweets in week 2 while staying well within our carb limit. Yet we stalled and/or gained weight. I’m not saying that the treats I made were necessarily the culprit. When you do a bit of research into these sweeteners, however, you realize it’s a distinct possibility. Among other things, these sweeteners can spike blood sugar and insulin levels. This is something that can kick you out of ketosis. So, long story short: do not rely on these if you’re on the Keto Diet. Avoid them as often as possible, if possible.
Okay…learning things…making notes… Anything else?
I could probably continue to list numerous things to watch out for on the Keto Diet. I’ve been learning about things to avoid that you might think are healthy. I’ve learned about a few things that should be done or added in to the diet to help boost your ketone production. I even have several pages of scribbled notes of things to try, things to ditch, and where to go from here. But the truth is that I’m still learning, still doing research, and still testing things out. So for now I’m going to keep the rest of my notes aside for a future update post. Look forward to it!
Two-Week Keto Diet Conclusion:
It was a tough week. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. I very nearly quit, and I know that Jason would have been a fraction of a second behind me if I’d done so. But we did manage to pull through We’ve learned a lot, and I honestly think we’re getting used to the diet in general. That’s not to say that I expect it to become a way of life for us! I doubt we’ll ever persist through for months on end. But it’s good to know we’re capable of it. Here’s to week 3, and hopefully a renewed burst of weight loss! Wish us luck!