It's Easy...Until It's Not...And then it it's Easy Again

(G. Andrew Duthie) #1

Wanted to offer some encouragement, as well as a dose of caution, to folks who are new to the Ketogenic way of eating (WoE).

Going Keto, particularly if you’re not coming from a similar discipline like low-carb, or paleo, can have its challenges.

Those of us who’ve been doing it for a while can be pretty enthusiastic in our promotion of keto, which may at times make it seem easier than it really is.

Here’s the thing. Keto is easy, until it isn’t, and then it is again.

What do I mean by that?

Any time we start something new, particularly something that we perceive to be good for us, we’ve got a deeper reserve of willpower and enthusiasm that will carry us through the first phase of trying to build that habit. And, as it happens, keto has some seriously yummy and satisfying foods to sample, so between those two things, the first week or so of keto can feel like a breeze. Most people drop several pounds almost immediately as they burn off glycogen (and dump water), so there’s a short-term “win” feeling, too.

Then, things can get hard. Many people hit the dreaded “keto flu” when their bodies aren’t yet fully-adapted to making and burning ketones instead of glucose, yet they’ve drastically cut back their supply of glucose. This can include tiredness, dizziness, and generally feeling crappy. Most of these symptoms can be eased with some bone broth, or supplementing salt (salt water), etc., but it still stinks.

On top of that, if you don’t have a ready store of keto-friendly recipes, the meal plan can get a little boring. While it sounds wonderful to have bacon and eggs every morning, most of us enjoy some variety, too.

And at the same time that the keto flu hits, for many folks the weight loss stops, or slows significantly.

This is the point where many people get frustrated, and some quit, thinking that Keto doesn’t work.


Once you get past this point, things start to get easier. When you have become fat-adapted, you will have more energy, and feel better, and probably far better than you did eating carbs.

And when you have been eating keto long enough for it to become a habit, something that is simply how you live, you won’t struggle with cravings (not as much, anyway), and you will be healing your body.

As has been observed in many threads already, each of us is slightly different. Younger folks, in general, will probably find it easier to lose weight more quickly on keto, while those of us who are a little more…seasoned…sometimes need to throw in intermittent fasting, or extended fasting, to get the fat mobilized.

At the end of the day…if you’re just getting started, be prepared for there to be challenges along the way. You may have some slip-ups where you indulge in carbs and end up regretting it. Or you may just be wishing that you didn’t have to eat defensively at restaurants, or read the labels on everything carefully to avoid hidden sugars. That stuff is a pain. But it’s worth it. Keep Calm, and Keto On, and you will be building a habit that promises good health, and a hopefully longer, healthier life.

It’s worth it.

(G. Andrew Duthie) unlisted #3

(G. Andrew Duthie) listed #4

(Joel Pippin) #5

I’m starting my second week after eating ketogenic, took just under a week for the flu effects to hit and it’s been tough. This helps. Thanks,

I started eating Keto back in May, I stayed in it for 4 months losing 45 lbs total. I got bored and came out, I ate pretty good at first, but it wasn’t too long till I was back to my old habits. So about another 4 months later, I gained about 13 pounds back. (I’m not a die hard at weighing myself) My first go at Keto was really easy. I hit the flu on day 3 and was through the effects the same day, I was testing positive for ketones from then on. This time has been tougher, has anyone else had a hard time after coming out of Ketosis for a while?

I wonder if it’s all the carbs and sweets over the holidays, December was really bad.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #6

I’ve certainly found that to be the case in the past. There have been years where all was going fine until Halloween, when I’d decide to indulge in candy, and end up on a binge through November (Thanksgiving, plus several family b-days) and December (Christmas and New Years), and wonder what the hell happened.

This year, not so much. I refuse to hand out candy at Halloween, both because avoiding any potential temptation is important to me, and because the more I know about the role of sugar in devastating disease, the less I feel sanguine about encouraging its use.

So for me, I think it’s at least partly about breaking that pattern. Once having held out through Halloween, the other occasions in November that might have led to non-keto eating are easier to manage. I did eat some non-keto stuff on Thanksgiving, but made the conscious decision to limit that to one meal. Next year, I’ll aim to plan ahead with keto-friendly recipes that will allow me to avoid even that (I’ve got a pumpkin cheesecake mousse recipe that is outstanding, as well as an egg nog recipe that’s a knockout).

The reality is that even for those of us who’ve been doing this for a long time, there are still challenges occasionally. And there’s no one perfect answer to them, because each of us may have our own complications or additional conditions to deal with…for example, there are several admins who deal with thyroid or autoimmune conditions, on top of the usual metabolic derangements.

One of the reasons that it’s best to build the habit and stick with it for a lifetime is that there is a cost when we bounce back and forth between keto and the SAD. We pay the price in inflammation, in added weight and body fat, in the disappointment and frustration we often feel, etc. And the effort required to get back the ground we’d gained can increase as well. For most of us, it’s MUCH easier to just stay keto. Unfortunately, sometimes that lesson has to be learned the hard way a few times before it sticks. I know that’s been the case with me.

Good luck!

(Laura ) #7

Today is my one month mark so I’m excited that I’ve stuck with it but also worried I’m doing something wrong. I keep telling myself that each of us is different based on age, health, starting weight and many other factors so I guess I really needed to read this post about newbies today. Because one month in and other than feeling cold and tired for a few days about two weeks ago I don’t recall getting the Keto flu and I haven’t really experienced the Keto breath I’ve read about either. Although there have been random days where my mouth tasted nasty so I steered clear of up close and personal conversations! I’ve kept my carbs down to fewer that 5%, I’ve consumed gallons of water, I’ve replaced carbs with fat and I’m tracking everything while I learn about this new WoE. I lost 5 #'s at the beginning and maybe 1 # since. The only encouraging sign I’m feeling is that my clothes fit better and I don’t feel bloated anymore. Without going even longer winded and listing my daily food intake can you tell me anything else I could do or should be doing?

(G. Andrew Duthie) #8

Those all sound pretty good. The one thing I’d offer some caution on is using a % for carbs. As long as that % ends up being under 20g/day, you should be good to go, as most people will achieve ketosis at that level.

At one month in, the amount you’ve lost sounds about right. Some lose more, some less. The fact that your clothes fit better is a great sign, so I’d say keep things as they are for at least another month or two, and see how things progress. You’ll have plenty of time to tweak as you go along.

(Michelle) #9

Wow - sounds like you are doing great. I am only on day 9, but I wanted to ask you about your starting point. Did you get into Keto to lose weight? I am really trying this WoE for disease prevention and anti-aging benefits. But, if I can lose about 10-15 lbs, then big bonus.

Also, I wonder if I’m doing things right. Definitely keeping carbs under 20g a day (according to LoseIt app), sometimes at 19g, but still under 20. I haven’t had any “symptoms” yet of getting into ketosis or starting to get keto-adapted. I really want to get keto-adapted as soon as possible so I can start multi-day fasting.

(Laura ) #10

Definitely tracking the number of carb grams and other than when I first started (first week) and wasn’t using MFP I stay below 20 grams. Actually most of the time, fewer than 15. I plan to keep going. I guess I just needed encouragement since most of the people who know I’ve changed my my way of eating don’t understand it or are completely against it.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #11

Don’t. Rush.

Fasting can be a great addition to the keto WoE, but it isn’t something you need to race towards. Build the foundation of habit(s) you need for keto, and then think about new things. A great book on the topic of habits is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit:

It takes time to change habits, both to rid ourselves of bad ones and to turn good practices into habits themselves. And trying to do more before you even have the keto habit ingrained is likely to make it more difficult, not easier. Give yourself at least a month to settle into the habit, longer if you find you have any setbacks. Then, you can give thought to what else you might want to change to push yourself farther or faster.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #12

That’s part of what we’re here for. :smiley:

(Paul Maeda) #13

Hey everyone! I’ve been off and on (mostly on) keto since the Summer. When I first started my body reacted great as I lost weight quickly and I felt great. I lost around 20lbs, but a little less than half of that crept back during the holidays. I started again strict about 2 and a half weeks ago and for some reason it feels different and there’s little to no progress. It’s not difficult at all for me to continue this woe so I’m not too worried about it. Should I just continue to keto on or is it time to do a fast or change something up? Any advice?

(G. Andrew Duthie) #14

I’d give it a little more time, if it was me.

One thing that we all should keep in mind…while it varies from person to person, getting back into keto can get harder if you repeatedly switch back and forth between carb burning and keto. It also (typically) gets harder with age. So building the habits to stay keto, and avoid the temptation to “take a break” can avoid the challenges of re-starting.

For example, I went out last night for a geek gathering at a local food court. I knew from past experience that while I can get a bunless burger easily (Five Guys), the fries tend to be a temptation. To forestall that temptation, I brought along some pork rinds from home. Satisfied the desire for something salty with my burger, saved some money, and kept keto.

I’m not the perfect example of keeping keto all the time, just sharing what I’ve learned, and what helps me.

(Carol Motsinger) #15

I think I’m in the “doesn’t work” phase. :confused:( I’m in my 4th month, in the 2nd I lost almost 20# and felt the no hunger, more energy part then it stopped. I did not fall off the wagon or start eating carbs again. The next month only lost a pound, now I have gained back 4! I hate tracking but try to, when I track I don’t go over the carbs, and I am always way under on calories. I have not been able to fast because I am hungry all the time now. But I can’t eat a large amount at one sitting, I am a life long grazer and really fighting to change the bad habits of inbetween meal snacks. Getting discouraged.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #16

Been there. Try to be patient with your body. Often, it’s just a matter of consolidating the gains you’ve made.

Try to be attentive to what you’re eating. If you’re hungry all the time, it may be that some “hidden” carbs are making their way into your diet (sauces and condiments, particularly commercial ones, can be a problem here), or some other food or beverage is triggering hunger for you.

Gaining back 4 pounds may seem like a lot, but overall you’re down around 15 lbs in 3 months. That’s worth celebrating!

Hang in there, pay close attention to how many carbs you’re getting, and from where…if most of your daily carbs are coming from sugars/starches, that could easily be enough to cause hunger and cravings.

(Carol Motsinger) #17

thanks, I have been tracking strictly this week and not going over on carbs but way below the calorie limit. Maybe my system is storing fat thinking I’m starving. lol From years of being told you have to eat less to lose when I stopped losing I stopped eating. But yesterday I made sure to get all my calories in, I felt so full! Didn’t need the evening snack or have any extra hunger. This morning I am down 2 lbs!

(Guardian of the bacon) #18

Snacking and frequent meal eating really can be a major hindrance even when total calories are =.

Every time you take in food there is an insulin spike. You will see much better weight loss success when you can limit your eating window to just a few hours a day. Don’t eat less, just eat less often.

(Jennifer ) #19

Love this! Even after a year, it’s easy…until it’s not…and then it’s easy again. You’re so right! I find my “not easy” times usually stem from not having any convenient keto-friendly food in the house, and hunger that makes me unable to think logically. Luckily, those days happen less and less frequently all the time!

(stacey kersting) #20

If you choose to (yes, the emphasis is on CHOOSE TO)…you cd try the stricter version. It may speed along results…I did not get into ketosis until I did this. I’m a 64 yr old woman, with decades of metabolic damage behind me. That made it important for me to really get down to business to get results! I swear by Stephanie Keto Person…she’s 50 yrs old and has been in ketosis 10 yrs! Worth checking her out on FB. She’s coached over 2,000 ppl n really knows her stuff. Just an option. I know plenty ppl get to ketosis w/o being so strict about things, but it didn’t work that way for me.


This was my experience too. Dont listen to your head, eat when you are hungry, give Your body what it wants, and trust the process. Eating more when hungry brought me out of a stall also :slight_smile: