I’ve wanted to do a Keto diet for a long time already, and I told my wife about it. But we didn’t know how or where to start, until recently. Sometime in March of 2021, she came across a YouTube video of Dr. Sten Ekberg. Dr. Ekberg is a former decathlon athlete who’s won Swedish championships in both decathlon and heptathlon events. He represented his home country, Sweden, in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He earned a Doctorate in Chiropractic and is now running a Youtube channel on eating healthy.
Thanks to Dr. Ekberg’s channel, we were able to learn a lot about the Keto diet, as well as concepts like intermittent fasting. From there, my wife and I started our Keto journey and we’d like to share it with you.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto diet (short for Ketogenic diet) looks at reducing carbohydrates and increasing fat and protein intake to force the body to burn fats instead of carbs. Originally conceived as therapy for epilepsy, this has recently been used for weight loss and to fight against insulin resistance.
Based on our research, the benefits of Keto matched our situation. My wife’s family has a history of Diabetes. Meanwhile, my family has a history of heart disease. And I’ve been wanting to lose a few pounds and inches, so we decided to try it out. We learned that Keto is a commitment, and we needed to initially prepare for two things for this journey to become successful: our goal and our budget.
Our Keto Goal
Weight isn’t really a major concern for us, but we’re guessing that we’re either insulin resistant or already becoming that. My wife weighs somewhere between 50 and 70 kilograms (let me put it in range or else, I will eat food deliveries for the week). I think I weigh 80kgs. I’m not that conscious of how my wife physically appears in terms of her weight, and she doesn’t mind my weight, too. So, for this journey, our goal is simply longevity and to become healthier.
Step One – Sugar Reduction
To help us attain this first goal, we’ve had many trade-offs. First, we significantly cut down on our sugar consumption. My wife has a sweet tooth, and she really loves eating chocolates. I indulge her as much as I can, buying her the chocolates that she craves for. So, doing away with sugar and chocolates was definitely a struggle at first.
We also stopped drinking instant coffee because that has a lot of sugar. Now, we drink “sad coffee” which is basically ground coffee or brewed coffee plus creamer. It took me a long time to adjust to drinking coffee without sugar. We tried what keto enthusiasts refer to as “bullet proof” coffee, but we couldn’t get all the needed ingredients. We used some alternatives like store bought butter and ended up with what we refer to as “Bulalo coffee”. “Bulalo” is beef bone marrow and is usually served in a soupy dish. So yeah, our “bullet proof coffee” tasted like a bland version of beef bone soup.
Step Two – Carb Reduction
We also cut down on all types of carbohydrates especially, you guessed it right, rice! Rice is a staple in our country. For us, the smell of cooking rice makes the home a little homier. And to cut down on rice is harder than we thought. We first traded white rice with brown rice.
The taste and smell of brown rice is actually better and feels heavier in the tummy! Before this diet, we usually cook two cups of rice for the entire day’s meals using white rice. When we started with our Keto diet, we cut down to one and a half cup of rice for two-day’s meals using brown rice. From “unli-rice” (unlimited), my wife now eats just three spoons of rice once a day. I used to eat two cups of rice, but now I eat around ten spoons of it.
We also cut down on pastries and breads. I can’t remember when we last ate local “pan de sal” or bread loaf. I bought a sandwich maker late last year. Now, it’s just accumulating dust in the cupboard. Oh, how we miss grilled cheese and pizza bread!
Pastries and brick oven pizzas or burgers are sometimes part of our weekend treats though. We agreed to let the steam off on weekends otherwise we will feel too deprived and just relapse and eat a lot. Although, we try to follow intermittent fasting windows (more on this later). We just give in to whatever our cravings are for that weekend!
Step Three – More Vegetables and Beef
By consuming lesser sugar and carbohydrates, we needed something to fill this huge gap. We started putting in vegetables in the grocery list weekly. My wife learned to cook a lot of vegetable dishes. Most of our dishes have vegetables or are plain vegetables like chop suey. Usually, we don’t need to cook rice anymore since the dish is filling enough.
I guess this is one of the benefits we liked about Keto, our satiety improved tremendously! We become full faster and eat lesser. We also cook in big batches then refrigerate and just reheat when it’s time to eat. This way, we save time and effort in cooking per meal.
During the height of African swine flu, we switched from consuming pork meat to beef meat. Then when we started on Keto, we stuck to eating beef. Usually, we buy a lot of beef shank parts and braise it with vegetables. She adds a lot of turmeric and ground black pepper in these dishes. The beef is partitioned into three servings and stored in the freezer. In case we have a craving for beef soup or creamy mushroom, the meat is already cooked. We only just need to prepare the base or the sauce and add vegetables.
Step Four – Intermittent Fasting
We also tried intermittent fasting in combination with Keto. My wife is following what they call the “18 by 6” plan. What this means is, she only has a six hour window for eating. The rest of the day (eighteen hours), she fasts. I try to do a “16 by 8” plan as best as I can. It’s a little hard for me, because our work has different time schedules. I work at night while my wife works during the day. We try to have at least one meal together every day, because my wife doesn’t have much of an appetite when she’s eating alone.
In case we get hungry outside our eating window, we munch on nuts as a snack. We also have squash and pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecan nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Dr. Ekberg has tons of videos on nuts that are Keto-friendly and won’t break your fast. We just mind the carbohydrate content of the nuts and its capacity to trigger joint pain! Other than that, we nibble on it while watching, while in a meeting, or while writing on this blog!
Sometimes, we drink an extra cup of “sad coffee” to help us survive our fasting window. It helps both of us a lot. My wife’s eating window usually starts six or seven hours after she wakes up, so “sad coffee” helps her get through that without breaking her fast. Meanwhile, my eating window ends five to six hours before I sleep. So one cup of warm “sad coffee” helps me sleep easy.
Other Adjustments and Changes
Aside from coffee, we stopped drinking soda and fruit juices. In their place, we started taking green tea and Japanese cultured milk (Yakult). My wife also has me drink weird concoctions, like this Mosbeau branded health drink. She calls it “sexy juice” but I call it “yuck juice” because it tastes like pond scum. It’s supposed to be a powdered vegetable supplement. My wife forces me to drink one glass every day on weekdays.
She also makes me drink what we refer to as “guhit” juice. “Guhit” in our dialect means to draw a line, and that’s exactly how it feels like when you drink this. This concoction is really just brewed fresh ginger extract with Yakult. From time to time, she sprinkles turmeric and ground pepper which makes the “guhit” stronger, mimicking the burning feeling of drinking soda! Smart right?!
Turmeric and ground pepper is in all our cooked meals by the way. Fried? It’s in the breading! Sautéed? With Sauce? They all have a teaspoon or so of turmeric and ground pepper! It’s either turmeric plus “malunggay” powder or turmeric only. My wife drinks green or black tea almost daily, but I’m not a fan of them. On weekends, “guhit” juice is a must for us! So instant coffee and flavored drinks are banned in our pantry, but on cheat days, my wife gives me a pass and let’s me drink “guhit” juice. Not much of a cheat to be honest.
We also switched from using vegetable oil to extra virgin olive oil. We also have MCT oil that we were supposed to use for the “bulalo” coffee. Now, we’re using it as a supplement, or for light sauteing. We also purchased an airfryer for cooking convenience and to lessen deep frying using oil as well.
Impact of Keto to Our Budget
Like what I have narrated so far, we did a lot of switches and replaced most of our staple food. Unfortunately, the replacements are a little more expensive than non-Keto diet ingredients. So we really had to adjust, not just mentally but financially as well. We would want to continue on this diet for as long as we can, since our main goal is for longevity and to become more healthy.
Fortunately, my wife is very good in finding good deals. We take advantage of sales and bargains for other expenses so we can allot more funds on our food. Luckily, I’m not that of a picky eater. So whatever my wife cooks, I eat! Heck, I even drink yuck juice, right?!
But so far, the changes we did to fit Keto in our life and budget have actually worked in our favor. Although more expensive, since we are buying and cooking in large batches, we are saving on other aspects. First, we are saving on efforts in multiple meal preparations. Secondly, we are saving on lesser wastage. We have minimal food wastage now since our grocery list became shorter since we only cook two to three times a week. So the ingredients we buy is just for two to three cooking.
Lastly but most importantly is the change in our appetites! We lost our appetite for junk food, so we are no longer buying and consuming potato chips or other chips. We also are no longer consuming sodas and other artificially flavored juices. Chocolates are also out of the grocery list. More funds for healthier meat parts, healthier coffee, and healthier cooking oil! That also gives us more funds for our cheat days!
From our research, lessening sugar and carbohydrates are key to help our body effectively transition from utilizing stored carbohydrates to accessing stored fats to generate energy for our day-to-day activities. As hard as it was, we started to distance from sugar and carbohydrates. We tried to replace it with protein and vegetables that are accessible to us. And the tradeoffs are actually very worth it.
Our palate and satiety greatly improved! Before, my wife can finish an entire 150 gram bar of chocolate in one sitting! But now she can only eat one or two small bites. Sometimes, it’s already too sweet for her. We can also tell if our food is way too salty. Dr. Ekberg has videos regarding the recommended portion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats one can intake per day.
With us, we are not very strict with it but noticeable results include lesser appetite for me and my wife. We don’t eat as much as we did before the Keto diet. As for our weights, we really don’t mind it, but our appearances have changed, include smaller tummies for the two of us! Shifting our diet was a challenge, but so far we’re able to manage it well.
Are you on a diet, too? Let us know in the comment section below what works and does not work for you!