My personal KETO experiences
The last 10 years of my life I have devoted my free time to exploring nutrition, lifestyles and its correlation to my weight, energy levels and general wellbeing. It’s a neat process of reading scientific studies, experimenting in the kitchen and slowly but surely discovering nutrition and lifestyles that match my liking. I’ve been eating low carb for about 5 years now and used to eat Jake Light for lunch, as a low carb basis. Then, after a handful of meetings with medical specialists who had developed a lifestyle programme, Keto came back on my radar. I’ve read about this more often, but had never gone in depth with the matter. When 2020 began, I told myself to start the ‘experiment’, under supervision of these medical specialists in order to make a solid and healthy start. To lose weight? No, that wasn’t necessary. I just wanted to experience this Keto diet/lifestyle, and was curious to discover the physical effects: would I maintain muscle mass, would I have sustainable energy sources, etcetera.
March 2020, Good timing
My plan for March 2020 was to switch from a low carb diet, to a Keto diet. This happened to align with the first lockdown in the Netherlands, due to Covid-19. A blessing in disguise. It suddenly became a lot easier to maintain a strict diet, without having to resist pastry at work, another business drink or any other tough health choice. When talking about a healthy to unhealthy ratio, I generally aim for 80 – 20. However, to reach full ketosis and to experience it fully, my body had to follow these strict rules for quite some time.
The hidden carbohydrates
According to the Ketogenic diet (I prefer calling it lifestyle), you need less than 50 gr carbohydrates per day, in order to maintain Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body mainly uses ketones as fuel instead of glucose (blood sugar). More on the background and the basic principles of Keto, here. In order to reach full ketosis, I had set my goal on eating less than 30 gr carbohydrates per day for the next 2 months. That’s a lot of micro managing and to help myself out, I’ve used a few apps. You could for example use FatSecret or MyFitnesspal to keep track of what you eat. Partly using data from the apps, but also adding extra own products, based on the lab-sheets with nutritional values. I noticed that with a lot of products, the apps don’t have their macros right.
It was quite the puzzle in the first few weeks. A lot of vegetables happened to have hidden carbs (netto carbs, after deducting the dietary fibres). I had to cut down on carrots, beets, pumpkin, etc. And yes, Jake was very convenient with my busy lifestyle. I love cooking food and do enjoy it, but the practical idea of having a shake lunch, knowing that was everything your body needed, suddenly was out of option. The result? A lot of weighing, puzzling, measuring… Meal preps every morning!
The first few weeks
People often say they experience a so called Keto Flu when transitioning in to Ketosis, I have not experienced this myself – fortunately. My guess is that my years of low carb experience, together with intermittent fasting (16 – 8 variant) played a big part in this. In other words: my start was quite smooth. I enjoyed my diverse and tasty Keto meals that, despite the effort that goes in, were a great variety to my normal eating habits. With fat being an excellent tastemaker, great opportunities had risen. Pretty soon I noticed the challenge in living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in combination with keto. I’m not 100% vegan, but try to do this for at least 60-70% of my meals. Unfortunately, ‘supplementing’ my dietary needs with animal products was inevitable in order to maintain a great nutritional profile.
You measure, you treasure
Next to keeping track of my nutrition, I was keen on learning my body’s response. Once again, not to lose weight, but to notice the effects of ketosis to my body. Within a week, I lost 2 cm waist circumference, where my chest, arms, buttocks and shoulders remained the same. Two weeks in, these numbers went up even more: I lost 5 cm around my waist and the other figures remained steady. The last bit of belly fats and even fat that gathered around the organs, disappeared rather soon. Muscle mass isn’t effected – great!
Besides the visible bodily changes, I was keen on knowing what happened behind the screens. That’s when I started measuring my ketone contents in my body, using a bloodtest. You can read more on this in this article. After circa 8 weeks the test showed 3.5mmol, which is way up there in ketosis.
What else did I notice? A lot of energy! A clear mind! I had no cravings of sweets or carbohydrates in general. Actually, skipping meals was easier than before. I ended up doing a 3-day fasting period to ignite a bodily reset, to clean up the rest of my body. This was in effect quite simple en created a lot of energy, because of my body not spending energy on digesting other foods.
In the present day? I try to stick to a 90% keto diet, but loosened up on the amount of carbohydrates per day. I no longer ‘have to’ stick below a 25 gr carb intake. My new maximum intake of carbs is 40 to 50 gr per day. The other 10%? Dinner with friends, having a nice wine in the evening or having some cake once in a while. I’m in control now, and aware of my body to an extend that when I go out of ketosis for a day, I can come back to it within a few days. I really enjoy the keto meals and snacks I prepare. The moments I do choose the ‘less healthy’ option with more carbs, I ask myself this: do I really want this and is it worth the effort of it all?
Specialists label this as metabolically flexible. Your body, once taught how, is very much capable of switching between burning of fats and burning of carbs, the body can actually choose which energy system to use.
The transition in to this lifestyle has become easy and I really enjoyed it. What do I miss? The convenience of a Jake shake or vitaminbar in the afternoon. The ease of eating vegan, but still getting all the nutrients my body needs. I’m not alone in this, Keto has taken flight this past year. A good reason for us, to develop the perfect Keto Shake! After a long period of development and testing, we finished our first Keto Shake, in chocolate-coconut flavour!
There are various Keto meal shakes available on the market as of this day, but they all didn’t meet my needs. What did I notice?
If you start calculating and converting the amount of kcal and carbs per shake to your daily intake, a lot of these shakes will still result in a carb intake greater than 50 gr. The Jake Keto shake contains, based on a 2000 kcal day (5 shakes), only 30 gr carbs per day!
One of the more important things being the fat source, especially for Ketogenic products where it is essentially the primary resource for nutrition. A lot Keto shakes are not vegan, and if they are vegan, they are most likely using sunflower oil as a basis. Although it naturally sounds healthy, this specific type of oil contains a lot of Omega 6, which is linked to inflammation (amongst others). The Jake Keto shake has palmfree MCT powders as a basis of C8 and C10 fat sources.
In summary; I’m proud of the wonderful product we’ve put together. A first step to more flavours and in the long run: more Keto products. I look forward to eating my daily Jake meal shake. 100% vegan, 100% convenience, 100% nutritious!