I Tried the Keto Diet for One Month and This Is What Happened
** For an updated post on my Keto journey (hint: I ended up losing a lot more than I had when I wrote this one!), click here.
I hate to say this, but today’s post is not an “I lost twenty pounds in one month” kind of post. Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish this were the case. When I started the ketogenic diet four weeks ago, I absolutely believed I’d be dropping pounds left and right. The ketogenic diet, by the way, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that’s designed to put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis in which your body burns fat for energy, rather than sugars and carbs.
I have read and heard so many success stories from this keto diet, and after years of carrying around an excess of forty pounds since my first pregnancy, I thought surely I’d see success on it, too. But even though I did everything I was supposed to do — stayed on top of counting my macros, ate a ton of healthy fats, kept myself hydrated, etc. — I found that I had only lost FIVE pounds by the end of my first month. And those five pounds were from the first two weeks alone. In other words, I only lost water weight.
Yeah, I cried a little.
I mean, isn’t this supposed to be the miracle diet? Why else am I giving up breads and cookies and analyzing every stinking food label?
See, I told you this wasn’t an “I lost twenty pounds in one month” kind of post.
Today’s post is actually more of an “I learned something about my body” kind of post, and I honestly think that what you’re about to read is way more informative and helpful than hearing that I shed a ton of weight and got super skinny.
Because what the ketogenic diet has been revealing to me about my body over the course of this past month is so extremely valuable, especially for other women whose bodies are dealing with similar issues and are struggling to lose weight, as well.
So, here we go. Without further adieu, let’s dive into what actually happened:
1. I discovered just how full of carbs and sugars my previous diet really was.
If you had asked me a couple months ago if I was eating a healthy diet, I would’ve say yes with zero hesitation. And the truth is, I was eating a lot of healthy foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Good, healthy meats like chicken and fish. Low fat this, low fat that. Nothing but whole wheat. The problem with this, though, is that my body’s metabolism had slowed a loooooong time ago, so instead of efficiently burning carbohydrates, it had essentially become a storage facility. Even eating a banana wasn’t doing me much good because one banana alone has 25 carbs. And just to put some things in perspective, when people begin the keto diet, they’re expected to eat less than 20 carbs a day.
I’ll be honest. Day one of the keto diet was pretty awful. I had what people call “the keto flu”, which is basically when your body exhibits symptoms similar to a normal flu while it’s adapting to a diet with little carbohydrates. After spending so many years burning carbs (AKA sugar) for energy, taking carbs away is like forcing your body to go through withdrawal from a drug. For me, this looked like extreme tiredness, throwing up, and a terrible headache I just couldn’t shake. And all of this happened on my first day. My body was completely freaking out. “Where’s that English muffin you usually eat with your breakfast?!” “Why aren’t you eating any fruit?!”
Now the keto flu can last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks, and I’m so glad that I only had the worst symptoms of it for one day. By day two, I did feel a lot better and was only having to deal with the tiredness factor. Which brings me to the next thing that happened.
2. My sleep drastically improved.
And when I say drastically, I mean that I went from laying awake in the middle of the night for two or three hours every night to sleeping through the night like a baby.
For about six months I have suffered from terrible middle-of-the-night insomnia and to this day I still don’t exactly know why. People said it had to be stress, but I didn’t feel stressed. It was suggested that I might have insomnia, but I never had any trouble falling asleep. I just couldn’t convince my body to stay asleep. And this truly was a source of so much emotional turmoil in my life. There were many nights I would lay next to my husband, who was sound asleep, and just pray and cry because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t sleep like a normal person.
But then I started the keto diet and within the first week I was getting the best sleep ever. And even though I don’t know for sure, this is my theory of why:
I was just that dang tired.
It can take a while, several months even, for your body to become fat adapted, meaning that it effectively burns fat for energy. I will tell you right now that I’m still not fully fat adapted. Another common problem associated with the keto diet is that it can cause you to have depleted levels of electrolytes because of the amount of water excretion that happens (think: Gatorade and why athletes drink a whole ton of the stuff). When you’re not getting enough electrolytes — namely, sodium, magnesium, and potassium — your body feels weaker and more tired. This is almost definitely what was happening to me.
I have had a history of natural magnesium and potassium deficiency in the past so I wasn’t too surprised when I was exhibiting symptoms of somebody who was low on electrolytes. After doing some research online, I ended up making a homemade “keto-ade” made up of water, NoSalt (basically just potassium), magnesium citrate, salt, and Mio water flavoring, and within the first two days of drinking a large bottle of this stuff (which I think tastes delicious, despite my husband’s insistence that it tastes like vomit), I noticed a HUGE difference. I felt more energized and alert during the day and was even more productive. I cleaned more in those first two days alone than I had in the past six months!
Now I did worry that my sleep would somehow be affected by my increased energy and I would go back to having long nights of laying awake for no reason, but I’m happy to report that I have only had one or two nights of crummy sleep since. Besides this, I’ve continued sleeping better and am now waking up feeling less groggy than I was before.
So now I have a new theory for why I’m sleeping better:
I already knew that my hormones were imbalanced, thanks to having two back-to-back pregnancies, many months of breastfeeding, and over a year of interrupted sleep. But after doing a lot of research on how the keto diet can effect our body, and especially our hormones, I’m realizing that my hormones may finally be getting a chance to regulate again now that my body is adjusting to not needing the same amount of glucose it thought it needed before. And this includes my level of cortisol (“the stress hormone”), which is linked to — get this — middle-of-the-night insomnia.
This, my friends, is a non-scale victory.
3. I got to celebrate non-scale victories.
Am I sad that I didn’t lose more weight in my first month? Of course! Losing weight is the whole reason I started this whole eating keto thing. When I realized by week three that I wasn’t losing as much weight as I had expected, a part of me considered throwing in the towel. But this is when I started reading articles and forums about ketosis and informing myself on what exactly it does to your body, and what I found is that this “stall” in weight loss is completely normal, especially for postpartum women, menopausal women, or women with any sort of hormone imbalances. And it’s in fact this keto diet — or as some call it, keto lifestyle — that can regulate your hormones and begin to heal your body.
By the way, if you’re looking for a super informative podcast on the keto diet that’s specifically for women, check out Leanne Vogel’s The Keto Diet Podcast. She covers a lot of questions dealing with hormones, intermittent fasting, exogeneous ketones, the health benefits of the keto diet, and more.
I was reading stories of women dealing with PCOS, infertility, thyroid disorders, and even severe mood swings from menstruation who saw a huge improvement and experienced healing as a result of switching to a ketogenic lifestyle. These are the hormonal benefits of the keto diet that I had no idea about — because it’s not what people are mainly talking about. These sorts of non-scale victories aren’t as trendy as losing fifty pounds, and yet I can’t help but think that these are just as newsworthy.
Non-scale victories deserve to be celebrated.
I have needed to remind myself of this over and over again. Whenever I felt discouraged because the number on the scale wasn’t changing, I would think about the long nights I used to spend laying awake. The change that I’ve seen in my quality of sleep is a huge non-scale victory I get to celebrate! This alone is worth continuing on my keto journey.
Other non-scale victories I’ve observed this past month:
I’m no longer always hungry.
There’s two reasons for this. The first is that being in a state of ketosis naturally suppresses your appetite. Instead of experiencing blood sugar swings or always going from one carb-heavy meal to the next, my body is instead filling up on healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter, which are able to slow down the absorption of whatever I’m eating.
For years I’ve found myself feeling hungry just a couple hours after eating a heavy dinner. Even worse, I’ve habitually woken up hungry in the middle of the night and have had to have a midnight snack almost every night since I was pregnant with my firstborn. Now I find that I only need a midnight snack once a week.
The second reason I’m no longer always hungry is that I actually KNOW and ENJOY what I’m eating. I used to struggle with finding snacks that I actually wanted to eat because my natural craving was always bent toward sweets and sugars. Because I knew that this wasn’t the healthiest for me, I would oftentimes just let myself go hungry until I’d finally cave and eat some sort of fruit or yogurt or a “healthy” (but not really) bowl of cereal.
Now I have a strict meal plan I stick to that dictates exactly what keto-friendly snacks I’ll be eating everyday, and they are all highly enjoyable: cubed cheese, an avocado, a hard boiled egg, a few slices of salami, pistachios, sliced cucumber, or even a small portion of strawberries.
I’m not starving anymore. I don’t wake up hungry anymore. I’m not giving in to cravings anymore. These are the sort of non-scale victories that have the power to change the entire trajectory of what I eat, how I eat, and WHY I eat.
Another non-scale victory: Even though I’m not losing too many “pounds" just yet, I have already lost some bloating and inflammation, which means parts of my body are actually looking slimmer.
I’ve received numerous comments on how my face is looking slimmer (I don’t see it as much, but hey, I’ll take it). My stomach still seems to have the same amount of sagging fat and yet my frame is a little smaller. I’m actually able to fasten my bra using the first set of hooks rather than the very last. This is a two-inch difference!
I suspect this has something to do with eliminating gluten from my diet, which many people have a low tolerance (but unfortunately, a heavy addiction) to.
I’m looking forward to seeing what other kinds of non-scale victories I’ll get to celebrate as I continue with the keto diet. And yes, I am definitely continuing, in case you were wondering.
It’s true that I’m not seeing a ton of results in the weight loss area, and this is pretty discouraging. But even just this one month of being on the keto diet has opened my eyes to new definitions of health and changed my attitudes toward food in ways I never expected. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be the same.
This is the last and final thing that happened to me in my first month of keto:
4. i learned how to trust god with my body.
For a large portion of my life, I have struggled with food. And I don’t mean that I was ever overweight or had an eating disorder of any kind. What I mean is that I put my appetite and cravings up on a pedestal and was willing to eat whatever I needed to in order to please them. I’m talking years of eating ice cream sundaes every night after dinner. Going out to eat and eating six breadsticks before the main course even arrives. Eating entire boxes of chocolate in one sitting. Never paying attention to what I was actually putting into my body.
It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my oldest child that my metabolism slowed and my body began showing the effects of my eating habits. I gained fifty pounds with that pregnancy, and even though plenty of people assured me that it would just “fall right off” after the baby was born, I ended up holding onto a majority of it and then quickly got pregnant again and gained another thirty.
If you’ve ever been overweight or have experienced drastic changes to your body, then you know how devastating it can be to look in the mirror and feel like you can no longer recognize yourself.
This is how I have felt for years.
And with this sorrow and disgust toward my body, I have also carried a lot of guilt and shame.
Because up until recently I STILL didn’t know how to curb my cravings. I STILL didn’t have the energy or willpower to take care of my body. So instead of losing the weight, I just let it sit there. I told myself that after I was done being pregnant and breastfeeding, I would focus on getting my body back into shape. And then my youngest weaned and it finally came time and I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this.” I just can’t. I felt defeated before I had even begun.
But praise God — and yes, I am crying as I write this because this, my dear friend, is a source of pain I have carried for so long and I know I’m not the only one — that I called up a friend one day and she explained to me what this keto diet had meant to her, which led me to start it myself three days later. And although I expected to just lose weight, what I’ve lost in this first month alone is actually entirely different and means so much more.
I’ve lost that sense of hopelessness. That feeling of powerlessness.
For the first time, I don’t feel enslaved to my appetite or cravings. I don’t feel stuck in a body I’m unhappy with. I don’t feel like a freak who can’t sleep through the night. I don’t feel as angry at myself and at God for all of the things about my body that I just don’t understand.
I’ve finally gained a new understanding of the design of both food and my body. I’m finding answers to my questions about my hormones and why I’ve struggled to lose weight and why eating has been a confusing, difficult subject for me — AND I’m finally sleeping!
I praise God for leading me here and for helping me see that I’m NOT helpless, powerless, or hopeless, and that there ARE answers and solutions to be found.
Listen, I will never tell you to put all of your faith in some diet. But I absolutely will tell you that it is worth it to put all of your faith in the Lord.
Because this body you have been given — this body you may be struggling to understand or take care of, this body you may even HATE or be unhappy with right now — was created by God’s miraculous design and there is NOTHING that is too big or confusing of a problem for him to address and help you work through. It might be through a diet or fitness plan that you find your answers and healing. It might be through doctors, medication, or supplements. It might even be through counseling. All of these things and more can be used by God to do even more than you can imagine.
It wasn’t too long ago I remember desperately praying for the things I have now.
You wanted to know what happened after I did one month of keto. Well, this is it. And I, for one, am excited to see what happens next.
Note: If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding and are considering trying the keto diet after reading this, please do your research before you make any drastic changes to your diet. Many researchers and doctors agree that the keto diet is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.