Increase in energy. Increase in cognitive function. Increase in well being. All of this plus the added bonus of shredding fat and building muscle? Count me in!
I’d heard of the ketogenic diet two years previous when two friends had successfully converted to ‘ketosis’ (when the body converts fat into energy).
It seemed to pose no problem to them and they continued living on meat and fat until they succumbed to the irresistible sight of pizza and doughnuts many weeks later.
‘Well if they can do it I’m sure I can,’ I decided. Not that I need to lose any weight, but a bit more muscle definition and the idea of having a sharper mind and consistently more energy was appealing enough.
First, I prepped for the beginning of the new diet, eating up pasta, rice, and any other carb based food in the cupboards, whilst stocking up on coconut oil, eggs, and nuts.
Next, after reading up on shortcuts to get into ketosis quicker I did a one and a half day fast, then went for a fast paced, five mile walk to and around the local park.
I continued by putting off eating anything for as long as I could. I generally don’t get to hungry so this wasn’t so difficult but eventually I broke the fast by devouring a ham and chicken omelette with obese related portion of cheese on top.
The following day I pee’d on a keto stick and sure enough I was in Ketosis.
I’d expected to feel quite tired and sluggish but surprisingly I felt pretty good. I strutted out for the day like John Travolta in that scene from boogie nights, but I didn’t point and wink at anybody. Instead I just smiled, happy in the knowledge that I was now ketogenic and it was easy as pie.
After another day of nuts, scrambled eggs, and coconut oil coffee’s I went to bed smiling at how easy it had been to make the metabolic shift. Only to awaken in the early hours feeling, well, shit. Extremely tired and barely able to keep my line of thought on anything. I tried to go back to sleep but it didn’t help. Instead I got up and trudged through the day, keeping human contact to a minimum. I simply couldn’t be bothered to make conversation with anyone. It was a stark contrast to the day before.
Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough, but the next day wasn’t much better, but finally on day seven I started to perk up a bit. The ‘keto flu’ it seemed, was over. Hallelujah.
Each proceeding day after that became more normal, and by the end of the second week into this thing I was starting to see some changes.
My energy levels were more stable for sure, but they weren’t high, in fact I had less energy than if I was on a normal carbohydrate style meal plan.
Dreams became more vivid and although I felt like I was having deeper sleep, the reality was I looked and felt more tired, and certainly wasn’t any smarter. Possibly more creative maybe, but my memory seemed worse.
After doing as much research as possible I had no option but to see it through and hope that I was still going through some kind of transitionary period.
However, nothing seemed to change. The days passed and my energy level stayed consistently low. Unlike when I tried a biphasic sleeping pattern I did seem to just get used to feeling a bit sluggish, so had no intention of quitting. In fact, I got so used to it that I almost forgot what life was like on a traditional diet.
The real drag was the limited number of foods to eat. At the beginning it was great, lashings of oil and butter on everything. Binging on a block of cheese whenever I felt like it. I even learnt how to make no carb bread with coconut flour, but it wasn’t the same as a slice of Warbuttons by any stretch. My sweet cravings did go away but I still yearned for the taste of galaxy chocolate minstrels melting in my mouth.
After closing in on the 30 day finishing line it became obvious – for me personally – that the ONLY benefit was the anabolic effects.
I was ripped.
However it was fool’s gold because had I went on with the diet I’d have actually LOST muscle mass due to poorly executed workouts. That ‘stable’ energy was not conducive to the gym, it was more like fatigue than explosive.
By the time the 30 days was up I’d already decided to go back to normal eating habits.
Clearly I’d have made a pretty pathetic caveman, but I think part of the reason I never fully adapted to it was the fact I’m an ectomorph. By nature people who are naturally slim need more sugar, and since sugar is not allowed, the body does it’s best to burn ketones (fat) for energy, but perhaps it’s to much of a radical change after a lifetime of chips and sweets.
If you’re overweight, I think it’s a great diet that should be adhered too if it doesn’t tamper to much with your hormones, but otherwise just stick to enjoying your fruit and bread, you’ll miss it to much otherwise.