By guest blogger Helen Hatton (Hands On Superhealth)
6 years ago I lost a lot of weight via a high protein, low carb diet. 30kgs in fact. It was the first time I’d ever counted macros (carbs, protein, fat) NOT calories. And with great results.
However, it was difficult to sustain the amount of protein I needed to maintain this eating plan without the use of protein powders and protein bars – what I called “fake food”. I wanted to eat real food again AND maintain/lose weight as I needed.
Now that I was familiar with macros, percentages and keeping track on an app (like My Fitness Pal) I started looking into the Keto diet. I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE full fat dairy like Greek yoghurt, cream and cheese, as well as eggs and veggies. I could easily go without meat, especially after a year of following a high protein and high meat diet that often left me feeling lethargic, like I was “processing” the meal for days!
What is the Keto Diet?
When I looked into the macros around a Keto diet, it seemed like the perfect solution to me – 70% of your calories from healthy fats (eggs, avocado, olive oil and nuts), 20% protein (eggs, meat, chicken, fish) and 5-10% carbs (green leafy veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant – basically anything grown above-ground, a few berries). As I was already used to a low carb profile, going without grains and starchy veggies was not a problem. The big plus side was purely psychological – being able to eat foods that seemed like a “treat” – as many eggs or egg based meals as I liked! And why not throw in a little cream with that? Or perhaps a rasher of bacon with your egg and avocado for breakfast?
I looked up recipes on Google, found a few sites that I liked and drew up a menu for the week for my family of five. Most of the meals were well-received by the non-Keto members of the family. The only thing difficult for me was a lingering mindset that fat was bad for me, a legacy of the low-fat 70s and 80s I grew up in.
I managed to stick to the program and in a matter of months I had lost the 10kg I had gradually re-gained. The best thing about it was that the high percentage of good fats in my Keto diet was making me feel full for the first time on any eating plan, much more so than the high protein diet I had followed. So no hunger pangs meant no snacking (or snacking on a handful of macadamia nuts, a treat!) which meant my pre-planned, balanced macros were not being compromised.
As with anything “strict” it’s hard not to break it sometimes, and I did find it difficult at times to stick to the macro breakdown. Like out at a restaurant or worse still, a food court with the kids, or visiting friends and relatives. The cheese platter was great! The pasta, rice, bread and other grain-based dishes, not so much!
“Keto” comes from having your body in a state of ketosis, where you change your energy source from carbs to fat and therefore burn more fat. Great! But it takes several days – weeks to achieve ketosis and if you go out of ketosis it can take another several days – weeks to get it back! I needed a way to dip back into Keto effectively if I’d eaten a few too many carbs on the weekend.
Last week I tried a 5 day Egg Fast!
Now if you don’t like eggs, this sounds like torture! But for me, it was relatively easy. I had to have a tablespoon of fat per egg and only snack on cheese in between meals. Rather than just 2-3 scrambled eggs as a meal, I made it interesting: Egg and cream cheese pancakes with Mexican spices. Crepes with cinnamon and sugar-free maple syrup. An omelette filled with mozzarella, parmesan and Italian herbs. Mashed boiled eggs with mayonnaise and dijon in cos lettuce cups. I’ll admit by day 5 I was desperate for some cauliflower or broccoli, but I can truthfully say that I was never hungry, never tempted to snack outside the fasting guidelines.
At the end of the week I felt refreshed, focussed on staying healthy, re-joined the gym, did a Body Balance class for the first time in three years and slept really well. I also lost 3kg, 6cm from my waist and 4cm from my belly.
To me, this is proof that a high (good) fat Keto diet can be beneficial to your health, if it’s the right thing for your body. And this appears to be right for mine.