Years ago in my early twenties, out of interest and curiosity I read Dr Atkin’s book New Diet Revolution. It’s only worth mentioning because Dr Atkins explained the metabolic shift (that takes place when you eliminate carbs) exceptionally well to my young, inquisitive mind.
While both Atkin’s and Keto are low-carb diets, The Atkins diet differs from keto in that it advocates high protein, while keto advocates high-fat (and moderate protein).The Atkin’s diet is also outlined in different phases where after an induction phase of extremely low-carb, you gradually increase your carb intake over time. On Keto, you never re-introduce carbs: it’s a lifestyle not a ‘diet’.
After applying the knowledge Atkins shared, I pretty much tried to live low-carb most of my adult-life. However, with not being dedicated enough, and still fearing fat, I gradually gained weight and bid farewell to my skinny jeans. It was just like I was warned…. Sometime in my thirties, I realised Santa didn’t leave me Nigella’s latest cookbook for Christmas, he left a lard-ass in my stocking and another chin under my tree. He didn’t take the cookies and beer I left him either – the bastard took my youthful metabolism instead!
I tried several ways to shift the weight, yo-yo dieting my way into misery. Switching from low-carb diets to low-fat diets, back and forth (I even tried doing low-carb and low-fat at the same time! If you are even considering this, I can tell you how it ends: Not Great, its completely unsustainable) … it was just losing, gaining, losing, gaining. The flabby ass always came back and it brought another belly-fat roll for company.
By May of 2018, I was crying myself to sleep because I had to Amazon-order a pair of size 14 UK jeans (US 12; Europe 42). My bingo arms were embarrassing and I spent Monday mornings un-tagging myself from Facebook pics. It was time to make a change.
Still following the news back home (I am originally from Cape Town), I learnt of the controversial South African Prof Tim Noakes who had made waves about a Low-carb, High-Fat lifestyle / LCHF (dubbed the Banting Diet in South Africa). It was like a light-bulb moment for me. I recalled everything Dr A taught me about low-carb but was intrigued by the high-fat element Noakes was advocating. I also learnt of other trail-blazing medical professionals around the world who were advocating a lifestyle that was polar opposite to government guidelines on nutrition.
On a recommendation, I watched the documentary THE MAGIC PILL (and I highly advise that you do too.) It was what I needed to hear: Keto results in fantastic weight-loss, but it is also about overall health. Pushing 40, this was a sobering thing to consider.
I begged Funnyman to watch it. At the time, he was going through much the same thing: he was sporting a hefty gut and a low self-esteem in the lead up to his 44th birthday. The documentary had the same effect on him as it did with me. He wasn’t even reluctant – he firmly said he was On Board. (I suspect it was partly because I promised his sweet tooth would be satisfied, and partly because I think he was intrigued that he could still eat steak and bacon on his wife’s new suggested ‘diet’… and bless that man – he has ‘juiced’ with me, drank ‘shakes’ with me and even went ‘vegan’ for a month with me. Interesting side note: Hand-to-heart honest: I loved the month we went vegan because it was a great culinary challenge for me. I loved creating interesting 100% plant-based meals for those 30 days. And, they WERE delicious. But… (and I shit you not), we actually GAINED weight. With the knowledge I have now about carbohydrates – I realise now why that happened.
Anyway, we committed to start our keto journey together around the last week of May in 2018.
We took pics of our flabby guts, took measurements of our giant asses and threw away all non-keto food in our house. We stocked up on keto-friendly ingredients and bought Fitbits to track our physical activity (yes, exercise is wonderful and highly encouraged. You should continue to exercise!) On keto, you will have so much energy you will WANT to exercise.
Two weeks in, we were still committed. Our keto sticks were showing we were in ketosis and the scales were dropping. (Most of it was probably water loss, but we knew that it might be. It was still encouraging and that is all that counts.)
After two months, we were still going strong! After three months, we were blown away. (We don’t use the keto sticks anymore, and a good blood glucose monitor is much more accurate, but it certainly helped us keep track in those early months.)
We are now more than two years in and will never look back…
We are 25kg (4st / 55 lb) down between the two of us. Our body fat is down and muscle is up. We are stronger, fitter and have improved energy and mental clarity.
We limit our carb intake to no more than 20g carbs per day and enjoy a lifestyle feasting on fatty biltong, salmon, steak, chicken, avocado, bacon and coconut oil – along with plenty of high-fibre, nutritious vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and spinach. We have fry-up breakfasts on the weekend – but skip the toast. If we go out to eat, we ask for no fries. Burgers? Double-patty-with-cheese, please – hold the bun.
We avoid processed (inflammatory) foods as much as possible – even if they are low in carbs. I am referring to the things that the keto police are vehemently against. And, I agree with them: Its a NO to vegetable oils, NO to soy, NO to peanuts etc. However, sometimes they are unavoidable. I am certainly NOT going to question my friend at a dinner party whether she fried our chicken stir fry in vegetable oil, or interrogate the cook when holidaying in Thailand. Get what I am saying? Do the best you can with what you can control. I see far too many people freaked out about this. MAKE THE BEST CHOICES IN THE SITUATION YOU ARE IN. Funnyman and I went on a cruise holiday recently – around the East! Carbs everywhere. If it interests you, click here to see how we did the best we could on that holiday.
Do we still drink alcohol on Keto? Of course we do. We simply switched beer and cider for spirits and sugar-free mixes, or the occasional red wine or dry Prosecco. Its important to remember however, that even though a Scotch-and-soda or Gin-and-sugarfree-T will be zero carbs, alcohol is metabolised differently. Immediately, actually. Consuming alcohol on a low-carb diet will therefore slow down your weight-loss journey, so its best to limit it to special occasions. More importantly, we must remember that the liver is a very important, hard-working organ: don’t give it more to deal with than it already must. This is a great article on Alcohol on low-carb diets on the (brilliant) Diet Doctor website.
Don’t just take my word for it, see these other SUCCESS STORIES.
We hope you enjoy your journey as much as we have enjoyed ours!
Fats of Life® is a blog that I run as a hobby, but did you know that I am also the author of two cookbooks? My first book Keto Kitchen (published by Kyle Books in 2020) is available worldwide (and has remained one of the best-selling low carb cookbooks in the UK). My second book Lazy Keto Kitchen (coming mid-year, 2021) is currently available to pre-order.
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