There’s been a great disturbance in the force….have you felt it?
In a galaxy far far away The forces of good and evil are engaged in a never-ending battle over what it means to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and what the most effective approach to lose weight really is. These can be roughly divided into two camps; the traditional mainstream diet approach where saturated fat is considered public enemy #1 and fruits, veggies and whole-grains take center stage, and what’s come to be known as low carb, high fat (LCHF).
In contrast to traditionalists, proponents of LCHF diets attribute much of societies unwanted weight gain to ’empty’ low-quality processed carbohydrates found in processed foods and fizzy drinks. What’s more, they view LCHF as something of a health and weight loss panacea whereby problems like obesity, diabetes, metabolic disorders and inflammation can all be reversed by simply filling up on fat of all varieties.
This resurgence of fat in our diets has attracted staunch resistance from nutritionists, dieticians and food companies from all over the globe. After all, LCHF diets are daring to disrupt the status-quo, which begs the question, how much of what we’ve been taught is based in fact? Is fat really as bad as we’ve been led to believe? After reading greenrunnerbean’s 28 day keto challenge review, I decided to take the plunge to see for myself.
The 28 day challenge
To make this a success I felt I needed a challenge, something I could sink my teeth into (literally). Keto resource’s 28 day challenge was the perfect excuse to try everything keto had to offer and a way to quickly report back with my findings. The program essentially holds your hand from start to finish over the course of each28 days with tips, strategies and fully-fledged meal plan laid out in front of you, so all you have to do is just follow along.
1. Getting started
So you don’t actually have to wait around to receive any book or program in the mail, everything is done online instantly. Signing up took less than 5 minutes and after payment I received my login details via my email signup address. There are a total of 10 e-books which you can download, each covering a different aspect of the Keto diet.
Before starting, I took the time to read the beginner guide which explains the basics – how/why it works, what to eat and how to stay on track. Armed with the knowledge, I then dove headfirst into the meal plan.
2. Carbohydrate challenges
If you know anything about Keto you’ll know that one of the biggest challenges is drastically reducing your intake of carbohydrates in favor of high fat foods. I’ve never been a carb-lover, but like most people I do enjoy bread and whole grains and never really imagined a life without them, so the thought of axing them from my diet caused some apprehension in my mind. I did experience some of the often reported side-effects, like headaches and lower energy, but they were (thankfully) short-lived. The tips in the ‘staying in ketosis’ handbook really helped and made things more manageable.
If you simply can’t live without carbohydrates, I see no issue with occasionally substituting in healthy options like squash and sweet potato. These will fill the void while not significantly affecting ketosis.
3. What did I eat?
The 28 day keto challenge goes to courtesy of providing a full meal plan for each day and lists a variety of foods you can enjoy. I found the variety to be excellent, though I mainly stuck to the basics and didn’t venture too far out from what I didn’t know. A typical day of eating would look something like this:
- Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with a few bacon rashers
- Lunch – Thai beef salad with tomato, avocado and peppers
- Dinner – Homemade chicken casserole
4. What happened?
During days 1-7 I could feel my body adjusting; changes in bathroom habits, the amount I could eat, feelings of fullness, my mood and energy levels all fluctuated quite heavily. Days 8-15 I noticed my body growing accustom to what I was eating and had no real complaints besides feeling a bit drowsy in the afternoon, which isn’t uncommon. Days 15-28 were the easiest, I had noticeably more energy to do things and I noticed I wasn’t hungry when I normally would be. I also didn’t crave carbohydrates, which I thought I would.
5. What were the downsides?
While eating a low fat diet I did notice that I had a few digestive issues; namely burping, some stinky breath and occasionally feeling nauseous after finishing a meal. These weren’t enough to deter me from the program, but they were noticeable. I found drinking hot tea with ginger and mint helped keep things fresh and quieten any tummy troubles.
6. Did I lose weight?
After 28 days I had dropped almost 14lbs from my starting weight of 188lbs; about 3 dress sizes. I lost most of my weight from my tummy and hips, which was pretty amazing. One interesting point is that unlike other diets, I could almost ‘feel’ the keto diet working; like my fat stores were actively being depleted. Interestingly, this isn’t too far from the truth and shows keto really does have the power to change the way the body metabolizes and stores fat.
7. Final thoughts
If dieting has taught me one thing it’s that you need to enjoy it to succeed. Keto’s fondness for fat makes it easy to see why it’s appealing to so many people. Despite a few bumps in the road, I felt well nourished and satisfied on keto, more so than any other diet and while it may not be for everybody (expectant mothers and those with diabetes) it’s clear that LCHF diets are here to stay.