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The Ketogenic Diet is trending - and there are so many reasons why!
This high-fat, low-carb diet touts an array of health benefits - from neurological support to weight-loss.
Because I get so many questions about the Ketogenic Diet, I decided to give it a try! I followed Dr. Josh Axe's Keto360 Program for 30 days to experience keto for myself.
Below you'll read about this 30-day keto experience - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In this post, I go over:
My First Keto Experience
Would I Do Keto Again?
Would I Recommend Keto?
My First Keto Experience
So, this wasn't my first time doing keto.
Several years ago, I signed with a modeling agency in LA and was working with a personal trainer who put me on a ketogenic diet to help cut body fat. This trainer was really good at what he did, and with one of his typical clients this probably would have been the perfect for strategy. But, for me, it was a disaster.
This was before I knew about my food sensitivities and was still learning how to listen to my body. Because keto is a high fat diet, I was eating more dairy than I was used to...and more than my body could handle.
Needless to say, this was hard on my body and a miserable experience.
After studying nutrition at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, learning to listen to my body, and coaching clients, I felt I was better equipped and prepared to jump into the Ketogenic Diet again in a way that would work for me.
So, let's jump into it! The good, the bad, & the ugly...
One commonly-reported benefit I experienced for myself was a boost in energy! Within just a few days, I noticed I was able to work through my day without a typical afternoon slump. My focus and concentration levels were up, and I felt super productive.
Never hungry/always satisfied
I also never once felt hungry, which surprised me because I was also integrating intermittent fasting (which, in the case, involved only eating solid foods within an 8-hour window, essentially skipping breakfast). While doing the Ketogenic Diet, I didn't experience cravings like I thought I would and was almost always satisfied.
With all my newfound energy, I also found myself diving into my work with more creative focus! I experienced a significantly great mental clarity and found myself approaching problems with more creative solutions.
While on the Ketogenic Diet, I didn't experience any digestive discomfort and things seemed to run pretty smoothly. Keep in mind, I did this round of the Ketogenic Diet dairy-free, Dr. Axe's Keto supplements included plenty of gut-friendly ingredients (such as bone broth, adaptogens, and probiotics) and I also integrated appropriate supplements daily for added support, including:
On the downside, I did notice that I was intaking A LOT of caffeine. More than I was typically used to.
While intermittent fasting, healthy fats and liquids are generally permitted, so I would have my morning superpower coffee with Dr. Axe's Keto Protein, and sometimes I would have another cup or two of coffee throughout the day if I felt like it.
Above, I noted that I felt a boost in energy and creativity...while some of this may have come from the fact that my body was in a state of ketosis due to my diet, some of that energy could also be contributed to an increase in caffeine intake.
Negative side effects I experienced: jitters, anxiety, and poor sleep quality.
After I finished my 30-day Ketogenic Dietprogram, I decided to do go 14 days without coffee (limiting my caffeine intake to the occasional matcha or green tea), and found that most of these negative side effects went away.
A week and a half into the Ketogenic Diet program, I also experienced the dreaded Keto Flu! 😷
Because the Keto Diet involves strictly limited carbohydrate intake, sometimes there can be some negative side effects. Some symptoms I briefly experienced during my Ketogenic Diet program included:
Fatigue/lack of energy (like flu-like symptoms)
Muscle weakness or pains
Moodiness (just ask my boyfriend 😝)
I also experienced a flare up of acne and inflammation on my face, which I attribute to a lack of fiber & enzymes, skin problems
When I consider all of the different dietary protocols I've tried (candida cleanse, Whole30, etc), the Keto360 program has been the most expensive one for me. Note, do to the nature of blogging and being a wellness influencer, I did not pay for everything I used, but if I were to take the retail value of the products I received plus what I bought, it was more than my typical food/supplement budget.
Exogenous ketones, bone broth protein, high-quality dairy-free fats, ketone test strips, pricy store-bought snacks...the costs add up! If I had the time to do more meal preparation and had planned ahead better, I could have cut down my expenses a bit, but since I was so busy grab-and-go items were a lifesaver while doing this program.
Now, pardon my French, but I found that after doing the Ketogenic Diet for a while that it was a bit of a mindfuck.
My typical diet and nutrition is flexible and intuitive (with some set structure and avoiding foods that are inflammatory to my body), and the Ketogenic Diet involved a lot more thinking, tracking, and numbers-crunching than I care for. I tracked every single bite that went into my mouth for a month, and it STRESSED. ME. TF. OUT.
In the right context, these metrics like calories and macronutrient ratios can be great and useful! But, psychologically, when you start obsessing over what you put into your body and it has a negative and stressful effect, that's no bueno.
Would I Do Keto Again?
All things considered...yes. And I probably WILL do it again.
But, under certain conditions.
Time and Place. In retrospect, trying the Ketogenic Diet when I did wasn't necessarily good timing on my part. January 2018 was a very stressful month for me (phsyically, emotionally, spiritually) and adding on a strict regimented diet protocol on top of everything was pretty intense! I also didn't need to lose any weight or cut down my body fat percentage (I'm not doing figure competitions or modeling), so from that perspective doing the Ketogenic Diet when I did was unnecessary aside from the fact that I wanted to do it as an experiment.
Not Long-Term. I would never do the Ketogenic Diet for longer than 30-60 days, and I would never recommend doing it long-term (unless under specific conditions or as directed or prescribed by a licensed medical professional). The host of benefits come at a price, and adhering strictly to the Ketogenic Diet could result in some nutritional deficiencies without proper supplementation.
I am currently working with a personal trainer, and I could see myself getting to a point where I have very specific body fat percentage goals to achieve a certain aesthetic. In that case, the Ketogenic Diet could be a great avenue to achieve those goals. But when it comes to natural mood support, weight management, or nutrition, keto currently isn't a protocol that makes sense for me.
Would I Recommend Keto?
I get a lot of questions and inquiries on my social media accounts regarding my "official"opinion on the Ketogenic Diet and whether or not I endorse it. I can break down my response into three main points:
Keto is generally accepted as safe. But, just because something is generally accepted as safe doesn't mean it's appropriate for everyone.
In most cases, treat it as a reset. Treating something as a reset means short-term. And I stand by this for most cases.
In special cases, use it for a long-term lifestyle shift. When applied appropriately, the Ketogenic Diet can be a great protocol for losing weight, natural mood support, and great for those with specific autoimmune diseases and disorders.