The Keto for weight loss diet has become an incredibly popular eating plan in recent months. A Ketogenic diet puts you into a state of ketosis which allows you to use your body fat for energy.I Tried Keto for Weight Loss and This Is What Happened

This spring, I tried Keto for weight loss for 2 months and this is what happened.

 

What is Keto for Weight Loss?

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last year, you have probably heard of the Keto diet. You probably have some idea that it’s a low-carb diet.

But what exactly is the Keto diet when you are trying to lose weight and why is it so amazingly popular? More important, is the Keto diet healthy and does it actually work?

I decided to find out.

The Keto diet started as a medical diet to control seizures. Gradually, other benefits of the diet were recognized and so more people are using a Keto diet, including a Keto diet for weight loss.

Using the Keto diet for losing weight involves eating for certain “macros” (macronutrients) so that you maintain a balance of 70% of calories coming from fat, 25% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.

If you haven’t tried a low carbohydrate diet before (I hadn’t – this was my first time), let me inform you that 5% of calories from carbs is VERY low in carbohydrates, or about 10-20 grams of total carbohydrates per day for most people.

People vary in how they count carbohydrates in order to follow a keto diet specifically to lose weight, but you have 2 basic options:

  • Total carbs – Total carbs is counting the total amount of carbohydrates in foods, as seen on the nutrition label or from reputable sources, and limiting the total amount per day.
  • Net carbs – Net carbs is counting carbs minus fiber. Because the body does not digest fiber, some people believe these carbs can be subtracted from the total amount.

(For more information about how to start the Keto diet for weight loss, see the Resources and Infographic sections below.)

Do You Recommend the Keto Diet for Weight Loss? {Video}

Keto vs Paleo vs Atkins

How does Keto compare to other low carb diets?

Is a Keto diet similar to the Atkins diet that was popular in the 1970s? Yes, Keto for weight loss and Atkins are both low carb diets.

Keto fans argue that a Keto diet is a healthier version of the Atkins low carbohydrate diet, but I found them to be quite similar in practice.

Paleo tends to be higher in carbohydrates, although still lower in carbs than the standard American diet. A person eating Paleo may eat 50-100 grams of carbohydrate a day, while a person eating Keto will typically eat between 10-20 grams per day.

Also, the Paleo diet also focuses on whole, organic foods while the Keto diet typically does not.

Why I Tried to Lose Weight with a Keto Diet

You might not be terribly excited that one more person has tried Keto. After all, it seems like everyone and his uncle is going Keto these days.

But my story is a bit different. As someone who has lost 100 pounds and been maintaining it for the last 10 years, I don’t tread lightly into new nutritional territory. I work too hard at maintaining my weight loss to try just anything.Sara Before and After weight loss

I’ve always been a big believer in choosing today what you will choose for a lifetime. Especially with my history of compulsive overeating and binge eating, I don’t do master cleanses, juice fasts, or anything too extreme.

I lost most of my weight using the Weight Watchers system and I’m still a big believer in Weight Watchers overall healthy approach.

Yet I’ve continued to struggle with maintaining the loss of these last 10 (okay, 20) pounds, and while going back to Weight Watchers has been helpful in getting me on the right track, I can’t say I’ve made much of a dent as far as actually pounds are concerned.

In the Christian weight loss program I run called Faithful Finish Lines, we focus on the faith aspects of weight loss as well as general healthy eating guidelines, so women come in our program using a variety of eating plans such as Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Weight Watchers, and more.

Several of our members have used Keto with great results and I admit it got me intrigued. (I wrote about Julie’s amazing weight loss story with keto here.)

Perhaps one of the most inviting things about Keto for me is that members say they are rarely hungry. In fact, people doing Keto often even delve into intermittent fasting because they simply don’t have an appetite.

I WANT THAT because my appetite continues to gnaw at me most of the time. I feel like my hunger dial is cranked up to extra high and it’s gotten stuck.

The more I learned about a Keto diet, I wondered,

  • Could keto really help my appetite?
  • Could I lose weight?
  • Would I feel good for my workouts and busy life schedule?

Hence, it was time to try it for myself.

 

Do Your Keto Research

Before I started any type of food changes, I researched Keto.

I asked friends who eat Keto to tell me about their experiences and to point me to the experts in the field. I watched You Tube videos and read blogs. I joined Keto Facebook groups. (See the resources section below for some of my favorites.)

Keto is not a diet to start without research. Maintaining the proper macos requires dedication and understanding the nutrition behind the approach.

Is the Keto diet safe? There are doctors and nutritionists who believe the diet is unhealthy and even outright dangerous.

These are some of the concerns about a Keto diet, especially when used to lose weight:

  • Any time you eliminate a food group or food groups, it becomes harder to get the needed nutrition.
  • Digesting high amounts of protein and fat can be hard on the kidneys.
  • There are doctors who also believe people with low thyroid function (which includes me) should not follow a ketogenic diet.

I read the concerns and decided to move forward with the Keto diet, if cautiously. I had just had bloodwork done and knew that except for low thyroid, which is under control with medication, I am healthy.

I exercise more than the typical person (15-20 hours per week), but I am not currently training for a long-distance running or cycling event to where I am concerned about a drop in performance.

The time had come to get the Keto party started. (Bring on the bacon.)

 

Sara’s Keto Diary

Week 1

Saturday – Here we go!

After weeks of research, I decide now is the time to start a Keto diet for weight loss. I write out a sample menu (listed below) and begin to look at the carb count on food labels.

While I’ve counted calories (or points for Weight Watchers) and even protein for my son’s metabolic condition, keeping track of carbs is new to me. I have a general idea of which foods are high in carbs (bread = bad, meat = good), but beyond that I am clueless.

I know that eating low carb means fruit is going to be rare treat, but I’m shocked at just how rare. My carb limit for the day is 20 grams. A medium banana is 27 grams of carbs. A small apple is 25 grams of carbs.

While vegetables tend to be lower in carbs than fruit, the carb counts still add up quickly. With most vegetables having about 12 grams of carbs per half cup, I see that most of my day’s carbs will be taken by veggies and I need to limit my portions.

Foods like rice, beans, and bread are pretty much out of the question.

Using an app for tracking carbs and macros definitely makes eating Keto more manageable. (See below for recommended apps for Keto.)

 

Sunday – Today’s grocery shopping feels amazingly indulgent and slightly scary. Into my cart goes full fat Ranch dressing, 2 kinds of cheese, and the grand-daddy package of eggs. I go light on the produce, mostly buying fruit for my kids. Normally I spend half my time in the produce section loading up my cart with every fruit and vegetable I think I can fit into a week’s meals and snacks, so this feels totally bizarre.

Keto Sample Meals

This list of Keto meal ideas hangs on my fridge for the 2 months I follow a keto diet for weight loss.

Monday – Going Keto is weird and wonderful. I cook my eggs in butter at breakfast and loaded up a salad at lunch with cheese, chicken, and olives, then topped it with ranch dressing. I could get used to this.

Tuesday – This tastes amazing, but really it can’t be healthy to eat so few veggies, right? I eat a carefully measured half cup serving of broccoli with dinner, which takes up almost all my carbs for the day.

Wednesday – The scale is moving and it’s moving fast. I had read to expect to lose water weight and that proves true. Several pounds are gone.

Thursday – I’m not hungry. Like, REALLY not hungry. Is it ketosis or simply eating all this fat? I’m not sure but the feeling is fabulous.

Friday – I resist Paula’s doughnuts at a work meeting. These doughnuts are fabulous little bits of heaven here in Western New York. It’s not so much not eating doughnuts this one time, but more worrying that Keto will actually work for me and then I can’t ever eat doughnuts again.

Saturday – I feel fine. I’ve read all about the Keto flu, which actually isn’t the flu at all but is symptoms that can happen when people switch to a low-carb lifestyle. I decide I’m not going to get that – mind over matter.

Sunday – Chicken wings are delicious.

 

Week 2

Monday – As of today I’ve lost 10 pounds. Ten pounds! I know it’s fluid loss but still, my pants do feel looser. It’s incredibly encouraging.

Thursday – My last few workouts feel a bit off. Nothing is too terrible but I notice I’m not quite hitting the mark like usual and afterwards it is taking me longer to recover.

Friday – I decide not to do any type of testing for ketosis. (Keto urine strips, Keto breath analyser, Keto blood test strips are the common ways people test for ketosis.) I want to keep this simple. Over time, the scale will tell me what I need to know.

 

Week 3

Monday – My weight stabilizes. I know it’s to be expected, but it was sure more fun when the numbers were moving downward steadily. Still, I know what it takes to make lasting change so I brace myself to settle in and do the work.

Thursday – I’m grouchy. I’m having something similar to hot flashes. My mood and my energy are all over the map. And no, it’s not PMS.

Sample Keto Easter Dinner Menu

Here’s what I fix for Easter dinner while eating Keto.

On the plus side, I’m not hungry – and that’s amazing.

Sunday – Easter! I get through the holiday with very little sugar. I indulge in a few bites of a sugary dessert but stop quickly. I try new Keto friendly recipes, like Keto lemon squares, Keto “corn” bread, and Keto cauliflower bake. The holiday goes much more smoothly than I thought it would.

 

Week 4

Monday – My weight is slowly by steadily moving back up. This is not good. I’ll keep a close eye on this.

Wednesday – I sneak 2 very small bites of frosting out of the can that was leftover from an Easter dessert. After I eat them, I discover that each bite was the whole day’s worth of carbs. Oops.

Keto Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a wonderful Keto holiday and treat food.

Week 5

MondayBullet proof coffee, or Keto coffee, is all the rage with Keto for weight loss fans. I haven’t taken the plunge. I have enough calories in my life, I’m just not sure I need to start the day with 300-500 calories in a coffee mug.

Same with Keto fat bombs – I avoid them for fear of packing on the pounds.

Tuesday – My weight is back to my original starting point and stalled out. I’m starting to get concerned that I’m doing Keto wrong.

Friday – I spend more time researching why I’m not losing weight. The Keto Community has all kinds of advice:

  • Eat more protein and less fat.
  • Eat more fat and less protein.
  • Give up artificial sweeteners.
  • Give up dairy.
  • Cut carbs lower.
  • Eat more calories.
  • Eat fewer calories.
  • Give up eating – only kidding but not totally – Keto followers are big fans of IF, or Intermittent Fasting.

Saturday – Considering my history of binge eating, I’m not one to jump quickly onto the Intermittent Fasting bandwagon, but I’ll willing to give it a small try. I start with skipping breakfast. A few hours later I am headed right into the kitchen to chow down everything in sight.

Intermittent Fasting isn’t for me, but I have almost totally eliminated snacking. I eat 3 big (some would say huge), high fat meals per day, but I am not snacking in between them.

Week 6

Monday – I feel better than I have since I started using a ketogenic diet to lose weight. I’ve read that once you are fat-adapted, your body runs on fats as its primary source of fuel and this puts you into an almost hyper-alert state of focus and calm.

I don’t feel any of that. I just feel…normal. I felt pretty good before I started keto, so maybe that’s why I don’t see a drastic change.

Tuesday – There’s just one problem – I’m not losing any weight. Zip. Nada.

Giving up all bread, potatoes, rice, and sugar seems like a pretty darn high price to pay if I’m not going to lose any weight at all.

Friday – Before I totally throw in the low carb towel, I decide to get some expert advice. I review a number of online Keto coaching programs and choose one that gives weekly nurse consultations.

As someone who runs an online weight loss program myself, I recognize the power of asking for help. I cringe a little putting in my credit card information, but decide my health is worth it.

Week 7

Monday – The Keto coaching program I’ve chosen is similar to the diet I’ve already been following, except that carbohydrates are even more restricted to total (not net) of less than 20 grams of carbs per day. (These are the keto guidelines I follow.)

Thursday – I meet with the nurse for a phone consultation. She admits to being surprised I’m in the program. They mostly work with people who are diabetic and having trouble getting their blood sugar under control.

We review my diet and she’s impressed by how I’m eating. She says I’m doing all the right things. But why am I not losing weight?

Right away she says cut calories. Still use plenty of fat, but use less fat. Cut down on the amount of cheese. Make portion sizes smaller.

I’m skeptical if I can manage it, but willing to try.

Week 8

Monday – I’m frustrated.

While I feel fine, the scale is not moving. I watch You Tube videos about Keto and scroll through Facebook Keto for weight loss groups. When I see dramatic before and after weight loss pictures other members post, I feel defeated.

I don’t need to lose 100 pounds (I already did that) but a few pounds would be nice.

Wednesday – I miss fruit. Summer is coming and I cannot imagine not eating watermelon. When someone in one of the Keto Facebook groups mentions that yesterday she stood in the produce aisle and cried because she couldn’t buy cherries, I totally relate. Why are we giving up these healthy foods?

Still, I keto on. I promised myself I would give this a solid effort. I feel like I’m close to my goal of using keto for weight loss, but not quite touching it.

Thursday – I meet with the nurse for my weekly coaching. She’s concerned that I haven’t lost any weight and suggests another cut of calories.

“It’s not unusual for us to have people eating 800 calories a day in order to lose weight,” she tells me.

Huge red flags go up in my brain.

800 calories per day?!

That’s not happening for me, I can tell you that much.

Week 9

Monday – Once again, I cut back on calories. I keep my carbs in check. I’m eating 2 eggs at breakfast instead of 3, with half the butter I used before. My lunch salads have less cheese and less dressing.

Tuesday – I find myself snacking between meals again, which I haven’t done the whole time I’ve been eating Keto.

Wednesday – I’m tasting little bites of things that I previously ignored – 2 potato chips. A few grapes.

Thursday – The scale hasn’t moved.

At my weekly coaching, the nurse tells me, “You know we don’t like to tell people this, but sometimes Keto just doesn’t work for some people.”

She suggests I cut back one more time on calories plus eliminate all artificial sweeteners. I’ve already cut back drastically on sweeteners (rarely drinking diet drinks or using diet foods) but I have sugar free jello with whipped cream as one of my go-do sweet treats, and my daughter made me Keto brownies that I keep in the freezer portioned off in tiny sections for times when I just need a little something sweet.

Hmmm.

Sunday I might be one of those people that isn’t created for Keto. My time of going keto is coming to a close.

Week 10

Thursday – When I meet with my Keto coach this week, I let her know this will be my last session.

I’ve learned so much about carbohydrates during these last weeks. I’ve learned about myself and what I’ve capable of changing.

But I also know using Keto is bringing me endless frustrating and food obsession, which is not the direction I want to go.

 

Does a Ketogenic Diet Burn More Calories?

A ketogenic diett is said to give you an advantage for weight loss because being in a state of ketosis burns more calories. Does science back up this theory?

Does being in ketosis actually burn more calories? While the debate continues, one informed doctor says it does, but that benefit is small – about 100 calories per day.

Granted, over time 100 calories per day adds up to 700 calories per week and several thousand calories per month, so it’s not nothing.

But it’s also not the great panacea of fat burning that some experts claim. Keto leads to weight loss when you eat fewer calories.

The satisfaction derived from high-fat foods, coupled with the elimination of several categories of food, leads to weight loss over time – not a magical state of fat burning.

 

What I Learned from Doing Keto for Weight Loss

Here are the key lessons I learned from the time I used a keto diet:

  1. Keto is strict. I don’t care what anyone says, keto is a strict diet. If your goal is to go into ketosis, you need to eat a very low amount of carbs. When I say low, I mean very low – eating an apple would be totally out of the question, let alone a piece of toast.
  2. Keto is low produce. There’s a lot of debate about this one, but the hard truth is if you are eating strict keto, you aren’t eating many vegetables and you certainly aren’t eating much fruit. Fruits can only be eaten in strictly controlled amounts and even vegetables need to be limited.
  3. Keto offers dramatic results for many people. There’s no question that many people have had success with a ketogenic lifestyle. While I didn’t end up being one of those people, I understand that this eating patterns works for them.
  4. Should athletes go Keto? After an initial period of decreased performance, it seems that athletes who are fat-adapted can perform almost as well as those who run on carbohydrates. Even the thinnest athletes have unlimited fat stores, so in theory these athletes have a limitless supply of energy. Is this energy as good as or better than that from carbohydrates? Time and more research are needed.
  5. Americans eat junky carbs. While I ultimately decided not to stick with a Keto diet, I’m glad I learned more about carbs in the American diet and how I can lower mine. There’s no question that most of us eat too many of the wrong types of carbs that are not good for our long-term health.

 

Best Keto Apps for Your Smart Phone

While you can attempt to manage the Keto diet on your own, I found an app to be incredibly useful, especially because I wasn’t used to counting carbs.

Best Keto apps for Smart Phone

Here are the apps I used while I was following a Keto for weight loss eating program.

Stupid Simple Keto – Nice pictures and layout for finding common foods. (This app uses symbols for common foods vs. a long detailed list.) However I found it took me a bit longer to find foods compared to other apps.

Atkins – While not specifically Keto, I actually used this app the most because it’s easy to track total carbs and the layout is super-simple.

Cronometer – Easy layout to use, but not my favorite of the choices.

Carb Manager – This is the app I used second to Atkins. I like the way it clearly shows daily macros on a pie graph.

Keto Finder – Find Keto food choices at common restaurants – including fast food, sit down chains, coffee shops, and more.

My Fitness Pal – While not specifically Keto, it’s easy to use and you can adjust the settings to keep your diet low carb.

 

Keto Diet Resources When Your Goal is Weight Loss

Free Keto Workbook – Download our Keto for Beginners: A Workbook for Weight Loss Success by clicking here. Free Keto Workbook

Healthful Pursuit with Leanne Vogel – Leanne is considered one of the experts in a Keto diet for women. She has tons of great resources on her website as well as helpful guidebook and recipe books. Check out her Keto resources here.

Healthful Pursuit with Leanne Vogel is a go-to Keto resource for women.

Healthyful Pursuit with LeAnne Vogel has tons of helpful Keto resources, especially for women.

Keto Freezer Meals with Once a Month Meals – I’m a huge fan of Once a Month Meals, which gives you everything you need to cook a few weeks to a month’s worth of meals at once. Their Keto menus are awesome and fully compatible with a Keto lifestyle.

Getting Started with Keto – A simple guide to starting Keto – Helpful blog post with getting started information

Free Printable Keto Friendly Food List – One page free printable Keto-friendly food list

15 Keto Instant Pot Recipes – Keto + Instant Pot? Yes, please!

Maria Emmerich – Maria writes about following a grain free, dairy free Keto lifestyle for health and wellness.

Dr. Eric Westman, Duke University – Getting Started with Low Carb

Dr. Eric Burg – Getting Started with Keto

Dr. Fung – Fasting, Keto and Weight Loss

Should Endurance Athletes Go Keto? – Keto diet for athletes is hotly debated. While in general a low carb diet slightly decreases performance (especially at the beginning), these athletes can learn to use fat stores for fuel.

Getting Started with Keto Video

Out of all the videos I watched about Keto (which was many hours worth), this one made the most sense to me. It’s not the most fancy style of video, but Dr. Eric Westman from Duke University has a clear approach that is reasonable and direct.

Keto Meal and Snack Ideas

Breakfast

Eggs with butter or oil

Coffee with heavy cream

Keto smoothie

Bacon, ham, or sausage

Lunch

Lunch meat & cheese

Pepperoni

Tuna with mayo

Deviled Eggs

Egg salad

Salad with cheese and Ranch

Dinner

Meat

Low carb vegetable

Salad

Snacks

Hard boiled egg with mayo

Pepperoni

Sugar-free Jello with whipped cream

Dark chocolate (limit)

Rotisserie chicken pieces dipped in Ranch dressing

Celery with cream cheese

Cucumber slices dipped in Ranch dressing

Olives

Recommended Keto Products

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Should You Try the Keto Diet if You Need to Lose Weight?

After trying Keto for weight loss for several months, do I recommend it?

Ultimately this is a decision for you and your doctor to make together. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program.

While some people have had great success with a Keto diet and I respect that, overall my advice about Keto for people who want to lose weight would be NO. Keto is not the best diet choice for weight loss for most people.

Do Americans need to eat fewer carbs? Yes.

Should we eat healthier carbs? Absolutely.

However, I don’t see the Keto diet working for weight loss for the majority of people. The strictness makes it extremely difficult to follow long-term. I am concerned about the elimination of so many healthy foods like plenty of vegetables, fruit in moderation, beans, and healthy whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.

If you do choose to follow a Keto lifestyle, talk with your doctor, do your research, and choose the most healthy foods possible. Save those precious carbs for salads, vegetables, and the occasional fruit.

Have you tried Keto for weight loss? I would love to hear about your experiences. Share in the comments below.

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I Tried Keto for Weight Loss and This is What Happened I Tried Keto for Weight Loss and This is What Happened

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Ketosis Infographic

This infographic outlines how to use the Keto diet for weight loss.

Keto diet infographic

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