Keto is Neato! (5 days and counting)
So today marks our 5th day on the Keto diet. I started it Saturday, with a 6 mile run during which I burned off my last delicious meal of carbs that I had enjoyed the previous night at our local Thai Buffet. It was my way of saying one last goodbye to curried chickens and rice, sweet coconut milk rice dessert, delicious Pad Thai. There was a tear in my eye as I left stuffed to the gills.
I have been using MyfitnessPal (MFP) on my iphone linked to Garmin Connect and my (formerly Trex’s) Garmin Fenix 3HR to track my calories, macro nutrient percentages, and my runs (+ general movement). I set MFP goals to 1lb per week which put me on a roughly 1600 daily calorie limit to reach my goal weight loss of 10lbs. I set my daily macro percentages for fat (70%), protein (20%) and carbs to (5%). Then using the app I scan barcodes and input amounts consumed and track my food down to the macro level. A trick to doing this is to preload foods to see how they will affect your numbers. That way there are no surprises or oopsie overages.
As of this morning I am 7lbs lighter than what I weighed after my run on Saturday which has been my average weight since about this time last year. That’s way more than I had expected to lose so if the trend holds I will increase my calories. I am only looking to cut 10lbs of fat and no more simply to allow for muscle gain over the course of our ultra training and to offset the gear we carry on trails. Mostly the same reason as Trex. But I also am undiagnosed as a pre-diabetic. Since I have started running again and eating a much less calorie rich diet on the regular I have seen vast improvements, but I am(was) still affected by the blood sugar crashes and spikes and based on reading the ‘internet’, Keto can help treat issues such as these. I make no claims as to whether there is real science to back this, but it’s worth observing whether it has benefits, and so far in just a few short days I am going to give a resounding YES. Here are some observations I have made about how it is working and affecting me thus far and why I would say its been beneficial, although this could change come Sunday after my first serious long run on the diet.
TL:DR Summary of my experiences:
Rapid weight loss with no significant issues with energy, sugar highs/lows, or cravings throughout the day. A slight notable energy decline in the first two days, but nothing like what I was counting on. I tend to want a sweet flavor following the fatty more salty foods, but that’s kinda normal so that doesn’t really count as a craving for carbs. I am able to stave this off by chewing sugarless gum or saving room in the calorie budget for a fat bomb. So far I like the diet, enjoying fattier foods like cheese and peanut butter has actually been a relief mentally as I feel guilty for eating those on a normal calorie diet. It feels decadent and cheese, PB, avocados, salami, etc are just delicious!
Heart Rate seems to be a bit high during runs but that could just be the heat. Feel like run energy is higher than normal on a work day, but the biggest improvement is that I am not totally wiped out after my runs/work day when I get home. Tonight is a prime example. It’s 9pm and I am still fully energized even on the computer and I haven’t had caffeine since my morning cup.
A slightly more detailed account of my experiences thus far:
Day & Evening 1: I didn’t really notice much energy loss during the run I think because I was still burning off residual sugars from the prior days meals. I ate on plan through the day but did have a little more caffine after my run as I was feeling a tad run down. Ha!
Day 2: (Massively sunburned after lounging by the pool on day one, Banana Boat Simply Kids Spray totally failed even with multiple reapplications) I chose not to do a long run, both to recover fully from the Marathon from the previous weekend, and primarily because it was Father’s Day and I gave my DH a dad day off. So I caffeinated a tad more throughout the day. It’s notable that I felt a tab peckish throughout the day but was satisfied with on-diet snacks and didn’t feel deprived or hungry, just that I had a slightly higher craving to eat. Normal tired by evening, not a major crash as I was expecting
Day 3: I was a tad sluggish and drank far more caffeinated coffee drinks both to add “Fat” using real cream, and to keep me perky. Being that it was also a Monday, that is a general contributor to the sluggishness of the day. But I didn’t feel hungry between meals and ate quite well on plan. Late evening, after kids are asleep I did a tad bit of exercise, my PT leg exercises with the elastic bands; afterwards I had a headache and crashed immediately in bed. The headache was probably on account of slightly more caffeine than normal and well my sunburn.
Day 4 (Yesterday. Here’s where it gets a little more interesting?): Technically I ran my first real run without carbs to fuel it. Unfortunately my Wahoo HR monitor(also formerly Trex’s) was deplete of battery juice, so my HR data is inaccurate as it came from the Fenix, which is just not reliable. I was way over into z4 in several segments in the run and was a steady z3 for the rest and we were doing a moderate to slow pace. I felt out of breath for most of the run at our normal pace so there was probably some validity to the higher HR, just not clear if it was the heat or the diet or both.
During the run, aside from feeling out of breath, I actually felt pretty good. I didn’t feel sluggish, or tired, I actually felt like I had sustained energy, much like how the eGels make me feel; not supercharged like on caffeine but just right.
After my run was a MAJOR improvement. Normally by the time I reach the house after my drive in the car I am run down and sluggish after a long day at work followed by hot sweaty run in the Oklahoma heat. I typically reach for a Yerba Mate Revel Berry to perk up so I can wrangle kids into tubs, and help with dinner and bedtime etc. But I can’t drink those on Keto as they have too much sugar; but I didn’t need it. I felt like I had drank one and was able to last all night without feeling like a total zombie. HUGE PLUS!
That brings us to today, Day 5: Much the same as yesterday, during the day I felt pretty good. I actually didn’t drink any extra caffeinated drinks today, just my normal cup of freshly roasted, and ground French Pressed delicious Papa New Guinea with coconut oil, heavy cream and xylitol to go with my egg fried in a tablespoon of butter. The best part of waking up! I recall that yesterday I did have a 20 calorie High Brew mid-day, but I can say I could have lived without it. But today nada extra. We picked up some keto friendly Tru Lemon drink mixes at the nearby supercenter and I can say they will do for now as something better than water when you just want flavor. I ate well, hitting my target fats for the first time really, and didn’t feel hungry. I did snack a bit after lunch but I think that was less hunger and more boredom driven. During our run today I was feeling pretty good. We did Fartleks, which I am hence forth calling ‘Running Roulette’ as we take turns picking when to start the intervals so you don’t quite know when your next sprint is coming or how far/long. My HR was through the roof during the sprints but I wasn’t as out of breath today as yesterday. I feel like the run was slightly easier than I expected. Same story as yesterday when I left the trail and came home. Plenty of energy left to finish this article after the nightly routine; no crashes, sustained energy. Liking this very much so far. Oh and I weighed myself when I got home just before my shower and after tanking up on water to rehydrate and I am actually down another lb. That may fluctuate but I will keep a close eye and adjust calories as needed. Stay tuned for more observations/experiences on the Keto Diet. Or don’t, IANTBOY