I get asked a lot of questions about keto, weightloss and diabetes, so here is my list of answers. I will be adding to this as the list gets longer. If you have any question that's not listed on here, please feel free to leave it in the comments.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. None of the posts on this blog are meant to replace medical advice and you should consult your doctor before starting a diet or exercise program. I am simply sharing my own experiences on this blog.
1. How did you lose weight eating THAT?
I follow a ketogenic diet, usually just called "keto". It is a Low Carb, Moderate Protein, High Fat (LCHF) way of eating that basically eliminates all processed carbohydrates from your diet. I stay under 25g of carbs a day and I count the amount of carbs I eat by reading food labels and generally being aware of what goes into the food I am eating. This means that my diet consists of a higher fat percentage than anything else as that is my main source of energy. As a diabetic I believe this is the best diet for tight blood sugar control because I no longer have insulin spikes. So yes, I eat a lot of butter, cream and fatty cuts of meat BUT I also eat a lot of vegetables.
2. What's banting and how is it different from keto?
Banting is a low carb, moderate protein, high fat (LCHF) diet, named after William Banting. It's been made popular by Tim Noakes in his book The Real Meal Revolution. The idea is that this way of eating makes your body switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat. Keto is similar in the basic LCHF principles but keto is more structured. Calories and macros are counted and it is recommended that you track your meals. Banting follows general guidelines about food (red, green and orange lists) and some of the "orange foods" (seldom foods) are higher in carbs than recommended for keto. Personally I believe the biggest difference is that people who do keto typically stay under 25g of carbs a day. Banting is still VERY LOW CARB but not as strict about that set number.
3. Do you track your macros or calories?
I don't track anything except how many carbs I eat daily because lazy keto works for me NOW. But when I started doing keto I tracked everything. I believe it's very important to do this when you start because it will give you a solid idea of what your daily meals should look like. A lot of us start this journey with a messed up relationship with food and it takes a while to relearn good habits. I do track for a few days every two months to make sure I'm not over eating but I struggle to eat a lot and my calories are usually under 1300.
"Macros" or macronutrients is shorthand for saying the percentages/grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat that you eat in a day. A good rule of thumb for keto macros is: 5% carbs, 25% protein and 70% fat. I'm not going to share my macros because everyone is different and my body works differently to yours but the macro calculator is really easy to use. It's also important to redo your macros when you lose weight because as you get smaller your calories will change.
4. Why does weight fluctuate a lot? How often do you weigh yourself?
Weight loss is not linear… you will never have a constant downward trend. Bodies retain water for all sort of reasons, and one day you can suddenly be up to 2kg more than the day before - there's no constant solid state where we weigh the same all the time or we lose ALL the time.
I am a bit of a scale addict. I weigh myself daily, sometimes I forget (or in winter it's less cos it's cold!), but it's fairly regular. I know that sometimes I am going to weigh more because I retain more water at certain times of the month (I can weigh up to 2kg more when I am on my period, yay shark week! But I also notice that half way through my cycle I also retain a lot of water) but after a year of seeing the trends I know how my body works and it doesn't freak me out. If you get worried about the fluctuations I would recommend weighing once a week or even twice a month.
You'll also notice that my weight loss is starting to slow, and while I really miss the days of 3kg or more a month, this is perfectly normal.
5. Did you stall in the beginning?
I did not stall in the beginning but as I get closer to my goal weight my weight loss has slowed down - I don't consider this a stall, it just is what it is. I'm quite lucky in that my body reacts really well to low carb, it almost feels like it’s resetting to where it wants to be. But that’s my body. Yours may be different. Stalls are normal, weight loss is not linear. Also… no weight loss in 3 weeks is not a stall - 2 months is the usual benchmark. I usually have only one week in a month where I lose weight and three weeks where I want to pull my hair out in frustration.
6. Do certain keto foods slow down weight loss?
Not that I have specifically noticed. I love making new keto desserts, and that obviously means I need to eat them too. And I can tell when I've had a month with more sweet treats than usual - but nothing so far has ever set off a stall or slowed me down dramatically. There's also no definitive way to prove that either. If you are worried that sweetener is slowing down your progress, then try giving it up for a month or two and see. I did it and my weight loss did increase that month, but I have also had months where i ate a lot of keto treats and my weight went down a lot. Some people are also sensitive to dairy so if you think it might be that, try a month or two without it. The trick here is to figure out what works for you.
7. Do you have cheat days? Have you ever cheated? Do you take breaks?
Here's an answer that's not going to be hugely popular... no I don't. Not ever. For the first 3 weeks after my diabetes diagnosis I was the grumpiest person on the planet. I was in denial and I was only halfheartedly attempting to do "low carb". I stubbornly refused to stop drinking Appletizer because: "I just cant". I'm pretty sure I frustrated all my friends as well. But I quickly realised it was all or nothing and so I quit sugar cold turkey. I couldn't cheat - in the beginning I was worried that once I did there would be no going back (I have so many "weightloss successes and then just gaining it back" stories) and then after a while I just stopped wanting that stuff. If I crave non keto food (and this is usually more the power of suggestion than an actual craving- damn MasterChef) I find a way to make it sugar free. I get my sweet fixes through my sugar free baking and I don't miss bread or pasta at all.
I am not saying I will never cheat because I don't know what the future holds, but for now I don't and I don't think I ever want to reintroduce sugar into my body. I also don't judge people for their food decisions because my pet peeve is people policing what I eat so I try not to do it to others.
8. How's your hair?
Most people who lose large amounts of weight go through this and yet we all feel like it's just us. My hair started falling out when I stopped taking the pill. That was august 2015. Then I lost 27kgs. So I think it's in shock. It slowed down in November 2016 but full speed ahead in January 2017 again. It happens. Yes, I'm talking pills for it. No, I'm probably not going bald but it's still terrifying and it feels like it's going to go on forever but how did I have this much hair to start with?? It's one of the realities of losing weight. Much like all the other things we have to relearn or adapt to... your body will eventually adjust.
9. Why don't you eat xylitol?
When I first started keto I was over the moon about the local banting market and all the sweets I could eat! I mean they had xylitol ice cream! But then I started feeling weird and after testing my blood sugar I realised xylitol spikes me just as much as regular sugar. And I've heard the same from a few other diabetics. Sad. But I prefer erythritol anyway, it has a better taste to me. Also, I'm a messy baker and my dog is fast like lightning so I can't risk having xylitol in the house, it's toxic to animals. So erythritol is my sugar substitute of choice.
10. How do I start doing keto?
I wrote a post about how to start keto. You can find it here.