How Four Months On The Keto Diet Made Me Lose A Ton Of Weight — & Made Me Miserable

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As I stared down at the scale in April 2017, I was disappointed by the number shown by those menacing digital dashes. I knew in my heart that they truly didn’t matter, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that I needed to lose weight. Moreso, I felt like I needed to lose weight as quickly as possible.

It’s not that I was extremely overweight. I was roughly twenty pounds over what would be classified as a “normal” BMI for my height and gender. At the time, I ate relatively unhealthy. I indulged in fast food on a weekly basis and the occasional night out drinking, much like any other college student. I loved pasta and bread, and definitely still do to this day. When I decided to start losing weight, I realized that I would need to drastically change my eating habits.

While many people choose to cut back on unhealthy foods and implement more exercise into their daily routines, I was averse to doing this. I have never enjoyed working out. When I began my weight loss journey, I decided that I would try to exercise more often. I started doing cardio two days a week for roughly twenty minutes on the elliptical. I also started going to yoga, and eventually began taking hot yoga classes once every two weeks. Due to my busy work schedule and taking summer classes, I found it difficult to incorporate more serious workouts into my schedule. Although I certainly felt more toned after incorporating some sort of exercise into my schedule, it wasn’t making the pounds drop off as quickly as I wanted them to. Trying to cut back on fast food and more carb-heavy foods was helping, but I wasn’t seeing any dramatic changes.

The Keto Diet

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It was then that I heard about a trendy new diet called the ketosis diet or “keto” for short. The basis of the diet is that it’s extremely low in carbohydrates, the nutrient found in foods like bread, pasta, starchy vegetables, sugary foods, and even fruits. The diet is mainly based around meats, leafy green vegetables, some fruits, and dairy products. For example, if you wanted to turn a typical burger “keto,” you would remove the bun, tomato, and any condiments besides mustard.

The “keto” diet intends to make your body go into a state of ketosis, where instead of burning carbohydrates and sugar as fuel, your body burns fat instead. According to Harvard, “in essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream.” These ketones store fat instead of sugar or carbs, making you burn and lose fat more quickly. Thus, the keto diet is among the most effective weight loss diets on the market. Its fat-burning qualities can result in major weight loss very quickly.

In the first month alone, I lost 15 pounds.

Much of this was water weight because carbohydrates tend to retain more water than other nutrients. So by the second month, the weight loss had evened to roughly five pounds per month.

Soon, It Began To Take Over My Life

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After I began to see the weight finally coming off in the second month, I admit that I went a little insane. My daily food intake consisted of a matcha latte with almond milk for breakfast, a cheese stick rolled in one slice of lean turkey deli meat for lunch, and usually zucchini noodles or an arugula salad for dinner. Using the MyFitnessPal app to track my carb intake and calories, I set my limit to 800 calories per day. Most days, I fell below that extremely low-calorie limit.

The average woman should intake around 1,500 calories per day in order to lose weight or 2,000 calories per day in order to maintain their weight. Intaking even 800 calories a day is considered an extremely low-calorie diet, and not recommended without the careful supervision of a healthcare professional. This kind of extreme diet is reserved for people who are very overweight, not an average-sized woman looking to drop 15 or 20 pounds.

Tracking my calories and macros began to spiral out of control. I would eat 500 calories per day during the week, and binge-eat on my “cheat” day. I was emotional, easily irritated, and irrationally jealous of other women’s bodies. Whenever I was in a public place, I would literally size up the room to determine who was skinnier than me and who was bigger than me.

In the end, my effort to lose a little weight on Keto turned into an eating disorder.

The diet was taking over my life, and affecting my relationships with my family and friends. I couldn’t go out to eat with friends because I couldn’t track my macros or calories exactly. I felt like I was consumed by my weight loss journey.

Stopping the Diet

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After the end of my fourth month on the keto diet, I hit my “goal weight” — a healthy BMI for my height and weight. Though I still wasn’t “skinny enough” in my warped mind, I decided that I needed to go off of the diet for my mental and physical wellbeing. I’ve gained a couple pounds back since going off the diet, but am overall much, much happier than I ever was at my lowest weight.

I lost 30 pounds on keto, but I would never do it again. When it comes to losing weight, people tend to focus on the happier side of things. They show glowing before and after photos, where the before picture looks miserable and the after photo couldn’t be happier. This isn’t the case for everyone. In my experience, I was “happier” before the diet than I was while I was on it.

Moving Forward… The Healthy Way

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However, now that I’m able to incorporate healthier choices into my life, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I definitely don’t eat fast food as much as before, or binge-eat pasta and bread like it was the end of the world. Instead, I eat these foods in moderation and try to exercise once or twice a week.

If you’re looking to lose a little extra weight, try to incorporate healthier foods into your diet. Find healthy foods that you enjoy, like avocado, eggs, or a variety of vegetables. After starting the keto diet, I realized that I actually enjoyed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Even though the diet restricted these foods, I now enjoy sweet potatoes and tomatoes instead of my usual greasy fast foods. Try to find an exercise routine you like, like hot yoga or group dance classes. And if you don’t want to lose weight but feel like you “should,” try to reframe your thoughts and remember that how much you weigh or the shape of your body doesn’t define who you are as a person.

Finding a healthy balance isn’t easy, but it’s the only way to live a truly happy and fulfilled life.

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