3 Months of Keto

I mentioned in November that Bart and I decided not to eat any treats during the 4th quarter of the year.

When I’d first floated the idea to Bart in late September, he said, “What if, since we’re not going to eat treats anyway, we try keto?”

His dad and stepmom has been on a keto diet for more than a year and a half with great success, and Bart had been curious about trying it himself.

So that’s what we did.

Here are a few of the things that I learned during 3 months of eating keto:

  1. Our levels of exhaustion went WAY down. This was kind of the craziest side effect that I wasn’t expecting at all. I’ve always felt like I needed about eight hours of sleep per night (and Bart felt like he needed more like nine), but when we weren’t eating sugar or lots of carbs, suddenly we could squeak by on more like 6 or 7 and not feel the results the next day (we still try for close to 8 hours per night, but it didn’t feel as life or death as it has in the past). Both of us commented on how we no longer feel that afternoon slump either or that bone-weary exhaustion at the end of the day.
  2. We realized how much sugar and carbs are in EVERYTHING. During the summer and early fall, I’d started eating a nut bar every day when I was working. Once we started eating keto, my eyes bugged out of my head a little to see how much sugar and carbs were in those. It was pretty eye-opening to see how many empty carbs we were consuming day in and day out.
  3. You don’t think all that much about food. One of the things I loved best about not eating any treats was that I didn’t have to think about it at every gathering all holiday long. Cake at book club? Easy no. Mini lava cakes that I made for Ani’s 7th birthday? Nope. There was no decision making, so it wasn’t something we even really thought about.
  4. Doing it with your spouse makes it MUCH easier. It would have been SO much harder to do this alone, but since Bart and I were both doing it, it made it feel pretty easy. Plus, it’s nice to have someone to play “guess how much sugar is in this thing we used to eat daily” with.
  5. You find new things to eat. I already ate a pretty low-carb/no sugar breakfast, so it didn’t change that, but for lunches, snacks, and treats, I had to figure out new alternatives. Here were some of my go-tos:
    • Cheese Whisps. My mom introduced me to these and I LOVE them. When you want something crunchy, they really hit the spot. I usually sprinkle a few on top of a salad, instead of croutons. I’m also a huge chip lover so this gives me the same sort of satisfaction, although I get tired of eating these WAY before I would get tired of eating chips.
    • Frozen raspberries and cream. I’m an ice cream lover (probably my favorite dessert) and so many many nights, when I felt like I wanted a little treat after dinner, I’d put 5-6 frozen raspberries in a little bowl, cover them in whipping cream and then let them sit for 15 minutes or so. So delicious!
    • Super dark chocolate. I started buying a couple of 90% dark chocolate bars (sometimes 92%) each week and having a couple of squares a day. They do have SOME sugar in them, but it was so low, I gave myself a pass. And when you’re not eating any other treats, it’s amazing how sweet 90% dark chocolate tastes.
    • Sugar Snap Peas. I already ate these, but they taste pretty sweet and are crunchy, so they really became a favorite during our three months of keto. I also added them to my salads to give them a little more texture.
    • Babybel Cheese. You can only eat so much string cheese, and these were a nice change. I also love Laughing Cow wedges (although I did miss spreading them on a Wheat Thin).
    • Roasted, salted almonds. You don’t want to go crazy with nuts on keto, but almonds are one of the better options, and we suddenly became connoisseurs of nuts, with roasted salted ones being about ten thousand times better than the raw variety.
  6. I realized how many treats I was mindlessly eating. In mid-November, Bart and I had one night where we seriously considered bailing at Thanksgiving instead of continuing on until the end of the year. As we discussed it, I said, “What will you MOST miss eating during the holiday season” and neither of us could come up with many things we’d be just DEVASTATED to miss. For me, the thing I was #1 most sad to skip were these Salted Caramel Christmas Crackers. But overall, most of the treats I was eating during the holidays were because they were THERE, not because I just loved them so so much.
  7. I missed baking a LOT. Probably because it fell over the holidays, but the thing I missed most, even more than eating treats, was baking.
  8. My skin looked the BEST ever. I don’t struggle with my skin all that much and never have, so it wasn’t super noticeable to me that it looked better than normal until I started eating a little more sugar after Dec 31st and INSTANTLY noticed how much less even and smooth my skin was.
  9. Our whole family’s sugar consumption went down. The girls certainly didn’t eat Keto, but when Bart and I weren’t suggesting having ice cream after dinner and I wasn’t making cookies just because, everyone ate a little less sugar. And when our dinners were more focused on packing in vegetables and protein rather than a lot of carbs, naturally the girls all ate more of those too.

The thing about not being tired and not thinking about food non-stop and recoginizing how much sugar you were eating is that it’s hard to want to go back to eating like we did before. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what our plan is going forward, but I think we’ll aim for a low-carb diet overall and definitely significantly less sugar.

Any questions about this? I’m certainly no keto expert, but I’m happy to share!

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  1. I have been doing Keto since Jan 1. I always do some kind of diet reset in Jan and I was interested to try Keto. I had the “keto flu” in the first few days and felt pretty awful but now it’s better. Gonna have to check out cheese whisps because I am missing chips! My fave so far might be bulletproof coffee. Holy cow, that is good. The last time I ate super low carb, I had trouble getting fiber so I have been researching that….what do you do?

  2. When my husband was doing keto and we were facing Thanksgiving and all the sweet treats that come with (his mom makes Ah-mazing pies) I knew I needed to provide him with a substitute that would still be satisfying but not feel like it completely derailed his hard work. I came across this recipe I made a few times. It was so well received that I noticed our non-keto family members also sneaking some bites. Rich, flavorful and relatively low carb when compared to so many other sweet treats. https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/low-carb-cheesecake-keto-gluten-free-sugar-free/

  3. What did you eat for breakfast? this is my favorite meal mostly and crave sugar in the morning because I do not drive coffee. I have been wanting to try this. Did you happen to lose any weight during this 3 months?

    1. I did lose some weight (I think – I only weigh myself maybe once or twice per year and it’s been probably 6 months since I last weighed myself), but I was actively trying NOT to lose weight, so it was probably less than 5 pounds over those three months. But my family members who have done keto for weight loss reasons have lost a TON of weight (like 50 pounds in 6 months kinds of weight).

      I eat this for breakfast and have for several years because when I eat something sweet for breakfast, I just want sugar the rest of the day. Plus, it keeps me full much longer than anything sweet seems to.

  4. Do you think you will redo work any of your recipes? We are trying to reduce sugar for our kids, but your banana muffins are their fave!

    1. You could try swapping for natural sugars, like honey! Muffins are pretty forgiving when you play around with which sweetener to put in.

  5. When my third kid was born I did sugar once a month for one treat. It was amazing. I didn’t do keto as well, but j had a ton more energy and felt great. I just started back up. One treat a month was perfect for me to not feel like I was missing out and make me want to binge, but not so much that my cravings for sugar returned in full force.

  6. One thing I’ve noticed when social media friends have done something like Keto or whole 30 is that they spend all their time just trying to make carb free desserts. Which I think is sort of besides the point. So I’ve never followed any sort of “strict” diet rules (with an eating disorder 22 years ago, it’s just not emotionally good or smart for me to have to regularly think about or plan out my food even for a short time) BUT I like that you didn’t try to replace the sweet things you used to eat with various sugar free options. Right now we are doing a sugar detox where we are just avoiding straight out treats for awhile since we just didn’t love how mindlessly we were eating them over the holidays. My husband and I are intense runners so it’s not about a weight thing at all, but I didn’t like feeling like I didn’t have self control so it’s about finding that again.

  7. I’ve heard keto is great for weight loss but I’ve also heard that it’s unhealthy (particularly for your heart) long term… But I haven’t researched it myself. What research do you do before trying a diet?

    1. I wouldn’t want to do it long term – my goal was always to reduce my dependency on sweets and empty carbs. And I plan to continue doing that now without doing Keto.

      And to be honest, this is the first official kind of diet I’ve ever done in my life – I’ve been reading about Keto for the last several years since a couple of family members did it, so I felt like I knew enough to be comfortable doing it for the short-term, but I never planned to be Keto for life.

  8. I am wondering if you were actually in ketosis? Did you measure your ketones to check? It seems like if you aren’t, it is more avoiding carbs from grains and refined products than ketogenic. I mention it only because it seems that a lot of people are ‘doing keto’ but really just reducing carbs, while the real thing is quite extreme. Maybe not for you, but in wider culture there seems to be some fuzziness with the terms.

    1. We just decided to go through the end of the year and through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which worked out to three months.

      My plan is to continue to eat low-carb and avoid sugar almost entirely (probably one treat per week). Eating more sugar during during the week between New Year’s and this week made me feel so fuzzy and tired and sick to my stomach, plus break out like I haven’t in months, so that all felt like way too high a price to pay. Plus, I just read The Case Against Sugar which pretty effectively convinced me that sugar is one step away from poison 🤣

  9. We’ve done keto/low carb on and off since sept 2017. We feel so much better! We originally were very strict but over time we became just low carb and just avoid bread etc (unless it’s keto bread)
    We definitely feel worse when we consume carbs and sugar. Over thanksgiving Christmas break we relaxed a bit and we felt horrible. We are back at it.
    It’s very hard to do alone in a house with others. I quit at one point and my husband started straying because of me. Since I started feeling yucky i joined him again and we both know that we need to do it together. Our kids do not eat the way we do though.

  10. Your weekly menu plans the last few months did not seem keto! Were you baking for the kids but not eating them?

    1. Yes, I still made a lot of things for my girls that I wasn’t eating. And we didn’t follow those meal plans particularly (I wrote all the meal plans many weeks ahead of time and scheduled them).

  11. Can you share more about what you ate for meals like dinner while you were doing this? I’ve been wanting to try keto and yoour snack suggestions were really helpful for me. I’m just wondering about full meals. Did you eat more meat than usual?

    1. I wouldn’t say we ate a lot more meat than normal (maybe SLIGHTLY more) – I’d say we actually ate more vegetables in place of carbs, like more cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.

      I was surprised by how easy it was to make most of our regular meals keto friendly. Once you’re looking for it, you can just skip or swap out most of the carbs and keep the meat and vegetables.

  12. What are your favorite go to low-carb meals?? I’d love to go more low carb/higher veggie intake but I just feel like my entire menu would have to change. Which is fine, but I feel like I don’t know HOW or where to go without it being totally off of my regular routine (meaning cost a fortune to restock my pantry with other things).

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