Yo what’s happening everyone. I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but hey no better time than now. So after my 3 year keto anniversary where am I at with keto? Am I still a believer or have I dropped off the keto bandwagon?
My last blog was April 22, 2019 so just over a year ago, so what’s been cracking since then. I’ve still been doing keto in maintenance mode, not overly strict but most of the time sticking to core keto.
However, during this period I had two physical events that provided some interesting challenges. First, earlier this year while pushing rubbish down in a bin I put my hand through a glass drinking dispensener. It required stitches and a cast for a period of time. The second, recently I had a gout attack in my knee for two weeks, the longest stretch that I’ve suffered from gout.
Something’s gone wrong
Admittedly eating right and doing any exercise during those periods was a struggle. I couldn’t do any exercise at all but I was cutting loose with my eating too. Pretty much eating whatever and whenever, especially when I had gout. Once the gout was gone I thought let’s do a quick weight check as I wasn’t feeling the greatest. This was the result:
So as you can see from the image above things got a bit crazy leading up to my 3 year keto anniversary. For reference:
- 82.5kg on 23 Jul 2019: The very first weight marker on the graph.
- 79.6 kg on 8 Oct 2019: The lowest dip in the graph above. This would be my last weight recorded for 2019.
- 83.8kg on 18 Mar 2020: The last weight recorded before the spike. In fact the four weight markers before that were from the beginning of March 2020 and showed some consistency. These were the results a month after I had my cast removed.
- 89.5kg on 13 Aug 2020: This is just a month after I recovered from the gout in my knee.
- 87.7kg on 6 Sep 2020: This weigh in which was after a meal unfortunately, was when I started writing this blog.
Crunching the numbers
But what does all this mean?
- First of all, as I mentioned before weight is not the greatest indicator of being healthy. It is however an easily measurable one for some accountability. As a numbers and data guy, this weight graph helps to indicate something is not right.
- I don’t suggest weighing yourself everyday because it will jump up and down everyday. Plus you’ll drive yourself crazy tracking those movements daily. However, recording weight maybe once or twice a month might help to check if you’re on track with your goals.
- I’ve mentioned previously that I was happy to maintain between 80kg to 85kg (the goal line in the graph above). The graph also indicates that since July 2019 I’ve been pretty consistent. It also shows that it’s possible to maintain weight loss with keto long term.
- Finally, the graph also confirms how easy it was to get wrecked during that period I suffered with gout.
So this blog is going to look at what I did to address this spike before my 3 year keto anniversary.
4 week challenge
When I weighed myself that day in August it was a wake up call for me to snap out of the funk I was in. It literally was a funk, I was feeling a bit yuck, sluggish with low energy levels. I even recognised that I needed to get back to eatting better, I was eating more fast food than I normally would.
Not long after that I also got back into social basketball too (shout out to the TuiyaaTribe 4v4 team) and my overall fitness had taken a dive too. I was huffing and puffing, calling for a sub in a few minutes. Slowly I got back into my exercise routine and it felt like any progress I made before my gout attack was gone and I was back to square one again. So even from a fitness perspective things were regressing.
Considering that this weigh in of 89.5kg was just a month away from my 3 year keto anniversary I thought why not set up a 4 week challenge to get my health back on track.
What’s the plan to correct course?
At that point my thoughts were to get back within my goal range (80kg – 85kg) for this 4 week challenge by doing the following leading up to my keto anniversary:
- Get back to eating better, cut out the fast food and snacks that crept back into my menu.
- Do better at adhering to intermittent fasting intervals.
- During work days from Monday to Friday, where possible practice OMAD (One Meal A Day).
- Try to improve electroylte intake.
- Do exercise routine at least 2-3 times a week.
4 week challenge results
Well this is what happened after 4 weeks as I reached my 3 year keto anniversary:
Although not exactly within the goal range I set, I was pretty close. But I definitely think I could have done better. Let’s see if I stuck to the game plan and review what went right and what went wrong:
1. Get back to eating better
During the weekdays at work, the eating was on point. Lots of salad, chicken, fish, almonds, dark chocolate, with a bit of cheese and sugar free yoghurt. Getting back into the keto groove during the weekdays at work was pretty easy. On the weekends I was mostly good but there were a couple of weekends I ate out and got a bit loose. In fact the upward bumps in the start graph above show those loose weekends. Those weekends definitely impacted the progress made during the weekdays.
2. Sticking to intermittent fasting intervals
Pretty much during the whole 4 week challenge I kept within my fasting intervals. Weekdays no meals after lunch. On weekends it was mostly OMAD but if not, it was a 16/8 window. I honestly believe intermittent fasting probably buffered the damage of the weekend outings.
3. Try OMAD
In the past I’ve accidentally done OMAD during really busy days. Also I’ve never really pushed OMAD in my keto routine. Considering the time frame and the goal I set for this challenge, I thought I would give it a try. So how did it go? First day or two was tough, especially towards bed time when you feel the hunger pains. So I approached it the same way when I started intermittent fasting. That is drink lots of water and ensure lunch is a very solid meal. Over time my body adapted and the hunger pains disappeared. For me OMAD is a corrective intermittent fasting tool as opposed to a long term one. For example, if I have a horrible cheat day, OMAD could be used as a corrective measure the next day.
4. Increase Electrolytes
This was less hit and more miss. For me it was a time issue having to mix a drink every morning. I probably got around to drinking 6-8 electrolyte drinks during the challenge. Where I couldn’t I would try to load up on my salt during lunch and shot some apple cider vinegar. So unfortunately it was pretty inconclusive to determine if this assisted in the challenge. However, I did cramp up badly one night, and an electrolyte drink that day could have helped.
5. Exercise 2-3 times a week
This however was more hit and less miss. I was able to get in 3 work outs a week for most of the challenge. It felt good to get back into a routine and get the body working again. Currently I’ve been doing a variation of the 4 week body transformation workout by Calisthenic Movement. This a great workout that can be done pretty much anywhere.
Key takeaways after the challenge
Reviewing the data gathered during the year and overcoming those drawbacks through the 4 week challange, I learned the following:
- For the majority of the year before the obstacles I kept within my goal weight range. To me this confirmed that keto maintenance is a sustainable long term lifestyle. It’s not merely a quick weight loss fad diet, if you are happy with the keto lifestyle it is sustainable.
- It is super easy to fall off the keto bandwagon and revert to your old eating habits. Especially when obstacles cause us to detour from our goals. Plus there is an abundance of unhealthy food and drinks everywhere in Austalia and they are so cheap. Once you get the sugar and refind carbs in the body again, it’s easy to get hooked.
- Weekly cheat meals will slow down your progress. I’m not banning cheat meals altogether but if you have them frequently it will affect your results. When I first started keto I was pretty strict with very few cheat meals within the first 3 months. As a result I lost 15kg within that period. So if you want results quickly, don’t do weekly cheat meals. Going forward I will try to improve cheat meal frequency.
- Food sensitivity, ok what does that mean? I’m not really sure myself but I’ve noticed it more recently. I find that I’m more sensitive to the foods that give me gout. I can’t get away with eating any red meat or soft drink without getting gout. It now seems impossible to be able to sneak in one steak a week.
Well after hitting my 3 year keto anniversary one thing is certain, you will encounter drawbacks. The key is what do you do to address those drawbacks? Like everything, nothing comes easy, it takes work and dedication to overcome those challenges. For me those physical injuries really messed up my routine and it was easy to slip into some old habits. During my gout episode I got stuck in a rut overcome by pain and immobility for longer than usual.
For me feeling yuck and that weigh in at 89.5kg was the trigger for me to get back into a healthy routine. Again weight is not the key indicator of health but I did use it as a tool for easy tracking and accountability. And that 4 week challenge helped me to aim towards a goal and be more disciplined again. I had to reset and get back into the keto groove and mindset again. It became obvious that I was feeling much better returning to the keto lifestyle. Getting back into exercise also helped strengthen my body again too. However, the cardio at basketball still needs some work.
I think the main takeaway after three years on keto is that eating good nutritional food is the key to being healthy. Through research and practice I believe the science behind keto makes sense and is proven to work. For me keto is a way of healthy eating that I not only enjoy but can sustain. However I also believe it’s not for everyone because everyone is different. Some struggle to adhere to the limits of keto and it does require some discipline to get results. To be honest I believe the key is to find a healthy way of eating that you enjoy and can sustain. If you can’t sustain that healthy way of eating as a lifestyle then it becomes a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – case and point my 2020 keto drawbacks. If you can enjoy the journey you will definitely be more likely to stick with the journey.