Every body is different and because our guts are like unique chemistry labs, what works for one person might not work for another.
I remember reading a study where one person who ate a tomato had their blood sugar level spike as high as another person who ate a tub of ice-cream!
Cutting out the majority of carbs from my diet has resulted in many shocking surprises for me (including no more body odour and not being bitten by mosquitoes anymore!).
What is Keto?
Before I start sharing how Keto has impacted my life, I’ll quickly explain what Keto is.
The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy.
Your body has two fuel sources to keep you alive and functioning: Sugar or Fat.
Think of sugar as like 91 unleaded petrol and your body as the vehicle. When you’re eating carbs and your body breaks it down, it essentially becomes sugar and your body uses this as fuel.
Because your body is built to survive, whatever excess fuel you haven’t used in the day, your body stores that as fat (in case you’re ever starving and your body needs a reserve fuel source). As we go on each day not using up our fuel sources, this stores up more and more fat.
Now think of fat as 95 unleaded petrol (or even some eco-friendly super fuel) for your vehicle (body), it’s a premium fuel source and your brain actually prefers using fat as fuel to function more optimally.
When you don’t have anymore sugar to be burning as fuel for your body, your body goes through a deep transition to start burning fat as fuel (there’s a whole complex transition that goes on inside your entire body).
This is when your body enters a state known as ketosis where it’s always burning fat as fuel, even when you’re sleeping and your body produces what’s called ketones which can be measured in your urine or breathe.
Now that you’ve got a basic of keto 101, let’s begin.
Getting Rid of Belly Fat
For many years, no matter what diet I tried, no matter how much I counted and reduced calories, I could not for the life of me get lean around the abdomen and waist area. It seemed as if I was doomed to be stuck in the “skinny fat” category.
I was living in the Himalayan region of India for 6 months and happened to have an expat nutritionist as a neighbour who challenged me around the idea of carbs and proposed I try out reducing/cutting it out from my diet.
I resisted and dismissed the idea because carbs were life.
For a period of 3–4 weeks, I found myself unintentionally eating meals without carbs since we shared roles where she’d do all the cooking and I’d do all the washing up.
After a period of approximately 2–3 weeks, I noticed my abs were appearing without having to tense — something that I’ve NEVER experienced before.
This was a huge eye opener for me and was the pivotal moment for me to consider cutting carbs out of my life and researching thoroughly (although I still fell back into eating lots of carbs for the rest of my trip — couldn’t resist those delicious naan and roti’s)
After staying in India for 6 months, I relocated to Thailand where I was committed to trying out the Keto diet seriously. Having heard from several friends who speak about the keto diet with the highest level of praise really motivated me to give it a shot as well.
After strictly eating no carbs for about 2 weeks, I woke up one morning and immediately knew something wasn’t quite normal…
It felt like a strange high where my mind was very focused, very sharp and I was much more aware of things around me.
I figured that this was the moment where I had finally entered the state of ketosis and now my brain was using fat as fuel to function at it’s optimal performance.
I had read before about people experiencing this mental clarity but had thought it was exaggerated (and I don’t know if everyone experiences it to the effect I did or not), but the difference in state that I experienced was like night and day.
The next few days were quite a wild ride as I was blasting through and organising multiple projects and events with ease — multiple friends even reached out wondering how I was managing to do so much.
Experimenting With Carbs Again, Uh Oh…
After a few months of a sustained no carb diet, I wanted to see what would happen if I’d have carbs again so I had all the naughty carbs (donuts, cheese cakes, sandwiches, etc) for lunch one day.
Within 15 minutes I felt like I was having a food coma and feeling very sluggish and tired. This feeling stuck with me for at least 24 hours.
After getting back on a clean carb free diet, I decided to test again several times by having pizza, burgers etc and sure enough, each time after I’d go back into a sluggish, food coma type feeling which would last for about 24 hours.
A shocking discovery I had after some experimenting was that this “sluggish” and slow state I was experiencing was actually what used to be my ‘normalised’ state! It only felt very slow and sloppy for me now because I had gotten so used to operating in a peak state that the optimal state had become my new normalised state.
Nowadays I’ll still have carbs every once in a while, but try to keep it to a minimum or focus on non starchy carbs such as quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, etc.
No More Body Odour & Mosquitoes!
This was probably the most surprising outcome for me from being on the keto diet.
Throughout my entire life, whenever I’d work up a sweat I could expect some body odour. My solution to this over the past few years was to use baking soda which would keep my arm pits odour free for approximately 1–3 days at a time.
After several months of being in a state of ketosis, I realised my sweat was completely odourless, no matter what — hiking or even camping for several days without a shower and I’d still be odourless. It boggled my mind.
Now for mosquitoes — I was one of those people who‘d be an all you can eat buffet for mosquitoes. Whenever out with friends, I’d be the one getting eaten alive while everyone else would be relatively mosquito free.
One evening I realised…wait a minute, it’s been several months since I’d been bitten by a mosquito and don’t have any mosquito bite scars anymore (which was very common for staying in Thailand). This was a huge bonus for me.
What Do I Eat?
This is the most common question I get so for the last part of this article I’ll address food.
Most people have developed an emotional attachment to food, because it’s fun, it’s social, we grew up with many happy memories associated with food and this usually involves sugar and carbs — think cakes, desserts, all those yummy delicacies for special occasions that we were rewarded with.
This makes it difficult for many people to stick to a keto diet unless you have a strong motivator for why you’re willing to greatly reduce carbs from your diet and to adopt it as a lifestyle.
For me, I still enjoy food in social settings, but generally see it more as fuel for my body now to keep me fit, healthy, smelling fresh and to repel mosquitoes :D
Each day I usually have a mega shake which includes things like:
- Pea + Rice protein (I’m lactose intolerant so I usually avoid whey and these two combined provide the complete amino acid profile)
- Coconut Milk
- Peanut Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Nuts & Seeds (Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Chia Seeds, Sesame Seeds, etc)
- Superfood Powders (Cacao, Maca, etc)
- Sometimes I’d throw in a Banana, Blueberries or a Date to sweeten it a bit (these do naturally have some sugar which is fine in moderation)
This provides plenty of healthy fats and most of my daily protein needs.
For cooked meals, I’d normally cook a meal that looks something like this:
- Lots and lots of Greens and Veggies (Kale, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Spinach, Mushrooms, Eggplants, etc)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Greens, veggies and natural herbs and spices are how I normally mix up the dish for variety.
I’ve now decided to flexibly adopt this diet as a lifestyle mainly because of the health benefits, feeling extra energised, improved mental clarity and to keep the mosquitoes away haha. It also just feels really good and nourishing to be consuming clean, whole foods daily.
Have you tried the keto diet?
Are you interested in trying it out?
Let me know in the comments below.