Hey there! My name is Tiffany and I’m 27 years old. I followed the keto diet since January 2019 after deciding once and for all to change my lifestyle for the best. I tried a lot of diets and strategies (even exercising daily) but only found results with the keto lifestyle.
My keto before and after results: From being overweight at 121 pounds, I went down to 106 pounds. This happened in 2 months, from January to March this year… And I’ve never felt more energetic and mentally focused.
Unlike many people who try the keto diet, my main goal wasn’t to lose weight although a part of me wished I would lose a little to stop getting fat shaming comments from my relatives. I was at my heaviest.
The MAIN REASON why I wanted to transform my lifestyle habits was that I was so hooked on sugar that I would crave a dessert after meal time, like EVERY SINGLE DAY. After finishing a dessert, I would literally take a nap.
This addiction to sugar for 3 years made me physically and mentally tired. The fact that I also work from home as a writer made it so easy to crawl into bed and spend the day sleeping and slacking off instead of being productive.
All because I couldn’t stop bingeing on sugar. 😞
I hated the fact that I could no longer focus at work. I couldn’t ride on the elliptical for more than 10 minutes because I would easily run out of breath. My clothes no longer fit — this one worried me a lot as well because personally, I think buying new clothes is a waste of money!
Oh, and did I mention that I had PCOS? I wished I could attach a photo of my ultrasound report here so you could see the follicles in my ovaries, but sorry I threw it away before I even planned to write this article since I didn’t like what I saw.
In 2015, my dad suffered a stroke that left him in a vegetative state for a year. I lost him. In 2017, my grandmother who’s a diabetic suffered from complications. I lost her too. As one of the nurses in the family, I actively participated in their home care. I did that on top of trying to fulfill my responsibilities as a wife and freelance writer who works from morning to night.
So I turned to sugar for comfort. And screwed myself over. 😣
Taken in February 2017, after begging my husband to buy me donuts.
Before you continue reading this section, please don’t think that I’m discouraging anyone to try the things I tried that didn’t work out. Our bodies are unique in that what works for me may not work for you. We respond differently to lifestyle interventions, and that is why keto isn’t for everybody — I’m fortunate that it is for me. 🙂
Here’s what I did before I got introduced to the keto diet. I’ll explain why I failed with each strategy:
Egg yolks, full-fat milk, cheese, nuts… you name it. I used to think that foods that were high in fat cause heart disease because the fat would clog my arteries. Not just that, I also ate too much protein from to keep myself full like tofu and lean meat. But my hunger pangs never went away.
Fat is your best friend on a keto diet. Never shy away from it. By eating more fat, you train your body to run on your stored fat as opposed to carbohydrates.
What I did to get rid of my sugar cravings was to replace my favorite pastries with fruits. (because fruits contain natural sugars, right?) Since I live in the tropics, my top fruit choices were mangoes, rambutans, papayas, and bananas. It sounded like a good plan at first.
- Mangoes (half cup): 15g total carbs
- Rambutans (half cup): 14.5g total carbs
- Papayas (half cup): 11g total carbs
- Bananas (1 medium): 27g total carbs
I thought I was being smart about my choice to substitute white rice with barley. Although I felt more satisfied with barley than white rice (and barley did help me have regular bowel movements), it didn’t really feel like my cravings for carbs and sugar went away.
Aside from barley, I also tried black rice and red bulgur. These options cost me more money than white rice but they didn’t help.
I stocked my fridge with barley. As you can see, the pack to the left remained unopened — that’s the time I learned it was no good for keto.
My mom advised me to drink diet Coke instead of regular Coke. She tested diet Coke for sugar at the laboratory where she works and told me that it had no sugar at all. This increased my confidence, so I drank diet soda whenever I craved a sweet drink!
Little did I know that diet soda, though sugar-free, still increases your cravings for highly palatable foods because it destroys your taste buds. I also recently came across a study where I learned that diet soda damages your gut health, causing obesity and diabetes.
Yes! I signed up for a gym membership and had a trainer plan everything for me. That went on for two months. My program consisted of mostly strength training and I lost about 2 pounds plus I became stronger.
The problem was that I gained the minimal weight I lost right away. I had to quit the gym because I had to travel every day to the hospital and care for my grandmother who was in the ICU. My body needed rest.
Looking back, I could say the reason why going to the gym didn’t work for me was that I ate back all the calories I burned and was under a lot of stress. Remember during at that time, I still ate a lot of carbs.
Also, since I entrusted my fitness to an instructor, I didn’t develop the discipline I needed to exercise without someone pushing me to do the work.
In December 2018, my husband challenged me to do intermittent fasting with him for 3 days. I was on the standard American diet back then. We used the meal skipping intermittent fasting method, which was convenient because no longer did I have to prepare lunch. That meant more productive working hours for us.
But here’s what happened: We both had such a hard time focusing and we felt super weak. And boy could I hear my stomach complaining. When it was time for dinner, we ate at least two cups of white rice. I rewarded myself by eating ice cream after dinner.
While intermittent fasting is a great practice, doing it when you’re not keto-adapted is pure torture. A seasoned ketoer is more capable of going for hours without food than someone on the standard American diet!
Curious, I read their articles and developed an interest in the diet, especially after learning that keto is delicious and that there are many ways to do keto depending on your personal preference! This got me excited. 😃
“Eating fat won’t make me fat.” I learned this on keto. The belief that fat makes you fat is a myth. Many people, including myself in the past, believed it because we only consider the high-calorie content of fat (1 gram fat = 9 calories).
Eating more fat while reducing carbs helps boost your ketone levels, speeding up ketosis. One of the things I did was to take medium-chain triglycerides or MCT oil daily.
I take I tablespoon of MCT upon waking up and another tablespoon before exercising in the afternoon. Each serving (1 tablespoon) has about 14g of total fat. I’m lucky that the only health shop at the mall where I often go to sells MCT oil!
Other ways I increased my fat intake included choosing fatty cuts of meat. Chicken happens to be one of my favorites, so I go for chicken wings. When it comes to ground beef or pork, I steer clear of the lean versions.
I must not forget to mention eggs and pork rinds. 🤩They’re my ultimate life-savers when I like to save time or run out of keto recipes to cook. For sautéing, I use olive oil!
As a new keto dieter, one of the things I did was to ditch white rice and all so-called healthy rice alternatives. No, I didn’t drastically reduce my carbs (unlike many ketoers). Instead, I gradually reduced my serving of white rice or a whole grain alternative for two weeks until I could go without it.
To make myself full during each meal, I paired meat with cauliflower, broccoli, or asparagus. These vegetables are very low in carbs and high in fiber.
If you’re a rice lover like myself, you can make cauliflower rice on keto. I never tried cauliflower rice yet because I don’t have a food processor at home and the nearest grocery doesn’t have ready-made cauli rice, so I stuck with sauteed veggies, which was perfectly fine!
Eating out at a restaurant or ordering meals when you’re on keto is tricky — although it can be done with careful planning. As a keto dieter, I learned to cook meals at home and be smart about my ingredients.
I made a handy list on my phone of low-carb, high-fat ingredients so whenever I did grocery shopping, I knew what to pick and avoid. My grocery cart was basically filled with avocados, swordfish, tuna, eggs, lemons (for lemonade), cheese, ground pork or beef, and chicken wings.
The first keto meal I cooked was keto mushroom omelet with shredded cheese. It had 43g of total fat and only 4g of net carbs per serving.
Now, I can last on the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes. I also spend 15 minutes on bodyweight exercises or dumbbells. So that’s about a total of 45 minutes of exercise for each day.
Note: I do basic movements just to get my body moving!
If you’re not careful, you can experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies on keto. I was aware of this possibility in the first week of my keto journey, so I loaded up on foods that were rich in sodium, potassium, magnesium, B-vitamins, and calcium.
Sometimes I buy sachets of a keto protein shake (to support my workouts) at the same health shop where I get my MCT oil, and I’m impressed that my shake has lots of vitamins and minerals:
Keto is not just a diet. It’s a lifestyle. That said, it’s not enough to reduce your carbs and increase your fat intake.
Making sure that you get adequate, quality sleep at night decreases your stress, helps you make healthier choices during the day, and boosts your fat-burning potential. I felt all these benefits on top of being able to push through my workouts because I wasn’t sleep-deprived.
Some people go through keto flu for days. In my case, I experienced keto flu symptoms, specifically headaches and stomach cramps, only for 24 hours. I also had keto breath during the first week of keto, and this happened the day after I took MCT oil for the first time.
I was amazed at these changes, and I know that everyone who goes through keto flu may have a totally different experience!
So far, I’ve lost a total of 15 pounds while on keto for 2 months. I’ve gained more energy and focus, and finally ended my struggle with sugar cravings.
As a matter of fact, to prove to myself that I broke up with sugar for good, I drank three bottles of Yakult and to my horror, I had stomach cramps that lasted more than a day. (I used to binge on this sweet drink!)
I’m thankful that I gave the keto diet a chance. 🙏Before ending this post, I’d like to share the lessons I learned so far while on keto:
There’s always something to improve about yourself that will take you closer to your goals. Don’t settle for less. Each day, aim to be 1% better than you were yesterday.
In my own journey, I listen to a lot of podcasts on keto and self-improvement while I exercise on the elliptical. I love Jimmy Moore’s The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show and Elizabeth Benton’s Primal Potential podcast.
Educating yourself more about keto and how to improve your health in general helps you to be more patient and understanding of your journey.
Don’t be in the mindset of just cutting out carbs and eating more fat. Be mindful of the healthful substances in your keto food such as vitamins and minerals. By doing that, you avoid nutrient deficiencies that lead to serious health conditions.
One of the keys to succeed on keto is to be an adaptable person. It means being able to make healthier, keto-friendly choices regardless of where you are and who you’re with!
Some of my family members happen to be vegetarians and while they are vegetarians, most of their foods are high in carbs (like potatoes, corn, brown rice, and oats). So when I am with them, I try not to be a party pooper and at the same time respect my ketogenic self by choosing what’s available that’s lower in carbs and not going overboard!
Here’s another example: When I eat outside for convenience, I make better choices such as a bunless burger or bacon and eggs minus the rice that goes with them.
I’m a “do what works for you” kind of person because I find that it helps me feel less stressed about the choices I make.
Some people label the keto diet as “too strict” because they’ve already decided that it’s too strict! You can absolutely follow the keto diet by doing what represents an improvement for you given your current circumstances and resources.
For example, if cooking keto meals every single day is hard at this point in time because of an extremely busy schedule, then, by all means, have meals delivered to you! You just have to ask the meal delivery company to tweak your meal to make it more keto-friendly.
I’m going to admit that my keto journey isn’t perfect, and I think anyone else on keto is going to say the same thing. Keto dieters are still human beings and as human beings, it’s normal to want to have some pasta, drink beer occasionally, or eat a slice of white bread!
I refuse to see the world in black and white. So when I make a less-than-stellar choice, I choose not to be emotional about it and move on by making the next best choice that benefits my health.
My whole experience on keto made me realize that it is the diet for me. It doesn’t have to be the one for you, so please don’t think that my goal of writing this post is to convince readers to go on keto.
However, I hope that we can open our eyes to the scientific aspect of keto. It’s all about inducing a metabolic state called ketosis and priming your body to burn fat. The keto diet reduces your blood glucose and increases ketones which lead to many benefits from weight loss to better brain health to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
(To see what I’m writing about the keto lifestyle, connect with me on LinkedIn.)