Everybody has a different carb and protein tolerance, so there is an inevitable amount of trial and error that needs to occur to find out what your personal levels are. These tools (especially the ketone meter) took a lot of the guesswork out figuring out what percentages would get me there.
Was it challenging to get into ketosis and stay there? Yep!
Has it been worth it? You bet.
So let me fill you in briefly on what I've experienced these last 23 days.
First of all, attempting to get your body into a ketogenic state is not as simple as just restricting carbs. A lot of thought goes into every single meal you eat. In fact, many meals no longer look like "meals" once you start to realize that you have to make fat the center of attention. I use to think of my protein first, then my side. Now I have to consider what low carb foods I can use as vehicles for fat. Literally, everything I eat includes some sort of fat from coconut oil or grass fed ghee and minimal amounts of raw dairy. I've been able to tolerate some amounts of butter again, and I basically use it like the ranch dressing of my previous junk foodie life. If you seek out a high quality source (my current fav is Kerrygold), the taste of the creamy butter pairs wonderfully with perfectly seared steak, among other things. Yum!
Other than that, my menu is quite simple and my percentages are somewhere around 75/15/10 % Fat/Protein/Carbs. I make sure to have a fatty cup o'joe daily (take your cup of coffee, add some fat, blend and enjoy), snack on things like coconut oil or macadamia nuts, eat plenty of fatty meats (preferably from grass fed sources) and even a square of 85% dark chocolate a couple of times a week. I took a tip from Jimmy Moore's book, Keto Clarity (affiliate), for when I eat out and now I always ask for a large side of butter to go along with my meal. That or I'll take some coconut oil with me and eat some during my meal to increase the overall fat content. It takes some planning, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes mindless.
However, the most important thing I eat are my daily dose of Magic Liver Pills. You may turn your nose at the idea, but by including at least 1/2oz per day into my diet I have completely deflected any symptoms of the common "carb flu" that many people report of during this induction period. At first I thought I might just be lucky and that I was less likely to experience things like head ache, fatigue, brain fog, or muscle cramps because I had done a ketogenic diet once before. However, after feeling absolutely drained after also forgetting to take my pills on 3 separate days, I don't think it was merely a coincidence. I truly believe eating high quality organ meats that are dense in nutrients have kept me feeling like super woman during this initial induction phase.
How long did it take me to get into ketosis?
I believe it was about 9 days before my evening readings were 2.1mM and a total of 17 days before my morning readings were above 1.5mM. My goal is to get my morning ketone readings above 2.0mM and I should also clarify that in order to remain financially practical, I am not testing my blood ketones daily.
So what have my results been?
Well, every day I'm less and less hungry. Without even trying, my daily caloric intake has gone from around 2400 down to 1500 cals and on days I'm more active, it's slightly higher. It's amazing that the body pretty much knows how to regulate it's needs all by itself. Imagine that.
I'm also sleeping incredibly well. While I do notice an increased amount of energy, I don't have this uncomfortable level of it that keeps me up all night counting sheep. I have the energy to get through my long days (as long as I take my liver) and while I'm not exhausted by the time I get to bed, I sleep incredibly hard, soon after my head hits the pillow.
Lastly, I didn't weight myself until I registered 1.5 on my morning ketones. I took "before" pics and have tucked them away to share on a later update. I have had numerous people comment on some weight loss, though I don't think it's been more than a couple of pounds. I can say that my pants are fitting more comfortably and I noticed that I went down a notch on my work belt when I got dressed for work this morning. While weight loss is part of the ultimate goal, it was not intended to be my main focus during this keto experiment.
Are there any downfalls to being in ketosis?
Yeah, quite frequently (especially in the mornings) my mouth tastes like poo. Seriously, they weren't kidding about the keto breath. I more so feel sorry for those on the receiving end of my conversations. If my breath has offended you recently, please accept my sincere apologies.
I should also note that I haven't been super active these past 3 weeks. I've been keeping Cross Fit on the back burner (I'm a newbie) and focusing more on my fundamental movements and mobility. At the point that my activity hits a certain level, I imagine it will be time to reassess my carb needs and increase them accordingly. Until then, I feel comfortable where I am at in regards to that.
So where do I plan to go from here?
Well, I'm feeling great so far and I haven't noticed any red flags in terms of hormone dis-regulation or any compromise to the progress I've made in healing my gut. Because of this, I feel comfortable saying that I will be continuing my keto experiment beyond these first 30 days.
Around day 30 I'll be taking the weekend off of my ketogenic diet to eat some carbs and drink some adult beverages at a friends wedding. You won't see me anywhere near a box of donuts or anything like that, though. I still like to keep things clean, even when letting loose a bit, and I'll probably be whipping up some amazing yuca recipe by my friend Jennifer over at Predominantly Paleo.
After that I'll get back into ketosis to see how much weight I can lose during the month of October. At that point I'll share my progress and announce what the month of November will hold for me.