It’s been four weeks since I started my second diet roadtest. This time, I decided to try the Keto diet, because it’s become such a fad of late.
To recap, the concept behind Keto is that you cut out carbs from your diet and eat pretty much nothing but fats and proteins. In the process, your body is meant to respond by learning to process fat more effectively as an energy source, rather than carbs. You should go into ‘ketosis’, where your liver produces more ketones to break down the fat.
After four weeks of misery and feeling like I’m eating nothing but cheese and meat, this morning I went for a body scan to see what impact the diet has had on my body composition.
The results weren’t good, but they were what I expected
Here’s the short story:
- Yes, I lost weight – about 2kgs
- However, that weight loss came from losing muscle (even though I’ve added an extra strength training session to my regime, and I’m lifting heavier than ever before)
- My body fat percentage remained the same at 19%, meaning the ratio of muscle to fat in my body has gone in the wrong direction.
In short, I’ve actually become less healthy in the last four weeks by following this diet.
So that really sucks, but it’s pretty much what I suspected would happen. If you don’t have carbs, you will find it really difficult to build muscle.
Building muscle is critical!
Building and maintaining muscle is absolutely critical as we get older – from the age of about 30 onwards, we lose about 1% of muscle mass a year, unless you train to keep it. What that means is, that by the age of 60 (which is still young!) you could lose up to 30% of your muscle! You’ll be weaker, have less energy, and be less able to continue to live a long and active life.
So what’s the verdict?
Firstly, let’s look at the emotional and social side of this diet. A few things I discovered along the way:
- It’s really hard to find ‘keto-friendly’ snacks when you’re out and about – pretty much everything has carbs in it!
- It’s hard to enjoy a dinner or outing with friends if you have to avoid carbs (remember, there’s no ‘cheat meal’ on this diet).
- For the last four weeks, not one day has gone by when I haven’t craved carbs. I’m serious. My body wanted them real bad. And that just made me miserable.
- The ‘keto fog’ is very real – bouts of fatigue and just feeling generally spaced out were really common over the last four weeks. Not great for feeling on top of my game or being as productive as I could be.
Then let’s look at the physiological side:
- Yes I lost weight, but as described above, it came from muscle loss, not fat loss.
- Not everyone will reach ketosis – I didn’t, not even after following the diet religiously for four weeks straight.
- When you engage in a high-fat diet, there’s always a risk to your cholesterol levels.
- A lack of fibre – which is usually inherent in good carbs like green veggies – means your gut gets pretty unhappy (I relied a lot on a daily dose of apple cider vinegar).
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I would not recommend this diet.
Not only is it not sustainable (you can’t live like this for the rest of your life!), the health impacts just don’t add up to being worth the misery.
So what’s next?
I’m going to give my body a break for a few weeks (which is necessary and important given my social life over the next few weeks involves weddings, trips away, etc etc!), and then start my new diet roadtest in line with our next 8-week challenge at Raw by Bek (from 3 June) … which is when I’ll also be launching my new book, ‘Not Another #Fitspo eBook: The truth about getting fit and healthy, and how to avoid the bullshit’! Super excited about that and will be able to share more info soon!
The next diet I’ll be trialling? I’m going vegan for four weeks! The challenge with vegan is always getting enough protein, particularly when you are trying to build muscle and shred fat. I’m actually really looking forward to tackling this one.
In the meantime, we’ll return to our regular programming.
Thanks for coming along for the ride for the second diet roadtest!