‘My mood has changed dramatically since going keto’
Despite exercising intensely and following official dietary advice, Sonia did not see the results she was expecting.
She couldn’t lose weight, experienced symptoms like sciatica and painful periods, and felt tired most of the time. Her doctor wanted her to start taking medication for IBS and cholesterol, without explaining what the root of the problem was.
Out of frustration, Sonia started searching for answers on her own. She came across the keto diet and decided to give it a try.
“The biggest thing is, my mood has changed dramatically since going keto. I don’t feel down or unmotivated anymore, I’m full of energy, and I feel very happy most of the time,” Sonia says.
In this interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, Sonia shares all the ways in which her health has improved, why adding back carbs didn’t turn out to be a good idea, and how removing temptations from the house has helped her.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
My name is Sonia. I’m 46 years old and live in Manchester, UK.
How did you discover keto?
I discovered keto after numerous unsuccessful visits to my doctor and feeling unsatisfied with being put on medication despite having no proper diagnosis.
I began investigating for myself and came across The Magic Pill on Netflix. The movie highlighted the ketogenic way of eating to me, and I found Diet Doctor soon after.
Did you have any health or weight struggles before going keto?
I suspected something was not right even though doctors did not see me as being ill.
I was exercising up to six times a week: weight training, running, sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga, and playing squash.
As active as I was, I could not get rid of the fat around my waist and stomach, and I was constantly bloated. (My kids would sometimes laugh at me, saying I looked pregnant!)
I felt so tired all the time and did not want to get up in the morning. I had long and painful menstrual cycles, and I began suffering from depression and sciatica.
What were you eating before making this lifestyle change?
I thought I ate pretty healthily, following the UK guidelines of low fat, high carb. I tried to cook with fresh foods as much as I could.
A typical meal usually consisted of protein (most meats, occasionally fish), carbs (rice, potatoes, bread, pulses, pasta), and many veggies followed by fruit.
My running club and trainer encouraged more carbs for energy before every run, or weight session. For example, a pre-workout snack often included peanut butter on toast or malt loaf.
When did you start keto?
I started keto in April 2018 after taking some basic blood tests at my doctor’s office.
In what ways has your health improved?
The biggest thing is my mood has changed dramatically since going keto. I don’t feel down or unmotivated anymore, I’m full of energy, and I feel very happy most of the time.
One thing that did surprise me was that my sciatica stopped after a month or two, and I can now lift weights again.
My periods are less painful and shorter, and the bloating is gone. There is just a small amount of stubborn belly fat that is slowly diminishing.What does a typical day of eating look like for you now?
I do 16:8 fasting and start the day with a coffee and cream. Then two meals within the 8-hour period, and I get the recipes from the Diet Doctor website.
Maybe twice a month, I fast for 24 hours, but only if it comes naturally. I never force this, and I only eat when I’m truly hungry.
Have you made any mistakes on your journey?
In the first few months, I did not add the amount of fat recommended in the recipes out of fear. I had been super strict on my fat intake for so many years that it scared me. It took a while to trust this fully, and once I followed the Diet Doctor recipes completely, I saw better results.
Then, only a few months ago, after my last blood test showed that I had reversed my insulin resistance, I thought I could re-introduce more high-carb foods, and my body could process them properly again. But within days, I felt awful. I felt tired, down, and my weight crept up a little.
Do you think exercise is necessary for success on keto?
I don’t think exercise is necessary for weight loss. I have gone long periods without training and still lost weight. However, I would say it’s excellent for your mental health. I always feel so much better after a nice walk or a workout.
What are your top three tips for people starting keto?
- Understand how carbohydrates affect the body. Learning this has helped me stick with keto without feeling deprived since I realized I didn’t want carbs.
- Forget all you think you know about healthy eating (including calorie counting) and trust in the Diet Doctor process.
- Clear out the foods that harm you. Having them around is difficult in the beginning, and if they are not around, there is less temptation.
Congrats on your success, Sonia! I like your top three tips, especially forgetting what you have been taught about healthy eating and controlling your environment to reduce temptations. Those are two crucial steps in getting started. Keep up the great work!
/ Dr. Bret Scher
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