What I Learned From my "Keto-ish" Reset

Orange one-piece swimsuit | Love, Lenore

Hi guys! I talked about this on Instagram stories a few times, but I recently tried the Keto diet (more of a “Keto-ish” reset) for 4 weeks. I saw an astounding amount of success, so when 96% of you on Instagram (whoa!) wanted a blog post about my experience, I was extra excited to write this post! This is a long post, but I’ve divided it into a lot of different categories.

Why did I make a diet change/background?

I dove quite suddenly into the Keto diet one weekend in April after reaching a point of desperation with my hormonal acne. I’ve struggled with acne off and on since age 13, but suddenly, just weeks shy of my 27th birthday, I had the worst acne of my life. Not only did I feel ugly, but my face was also in pain. Over the past year I had been eating my cleanest ever yet was struggling with hormone and blood sugar imbalance, so it was becoming clear to me that the status quo wasn’t going to work anymore.

ribbed one-piece swimsuit | Love, Lenore

Why did I choose Keto?
+ My friend Jo’s fiance has eaten Keto for months, and his cystic acne has completely vanished. When Jo told me that I knew I had to give it a try.
+ I wanted to eliminate grains for a while to see how my body responded and to do a reset of sorts
+ In college I discovered I had a gluten intolerance, and ate strictly gluten free for two years to essentially heal my gut. I slowly added it back over the years (got lax and my stomach felt fine), but that definitely could have been contributing to my acne.
+ I’ve been reading Body Love by Kelly Leveque and Womancode by Alisa Vitti, and both discuss eating for blood sugar stability. In Womancode, it talks about how you can balance your hormones naturally through eating for blood sugar stability. While she does recommend eating some carbs, it’s low on grains.
+ As I cut dairy and reduced meat over the past year, I was eating more carbs and my acne progressively got worse. I’m sure my blood sugar was unstable. For this reason, I felt like I needed to detox myself from carbs and try something completely different! So I liked that this plan made it okay to eat animal protein and dairy (I always choose the highest quality available).
+ Grains and high-carb foods often cause inflammation and bloating, and I wanted to look and feel my best going into summer.
+ I liked the emphasis on healthy fats, and knew I needed more of them in my diet.

How I went about doing “Keto”:
+ I didn’t make any “Keto” recipes or follow a premade Keto meal plan during the 4 weeks as I felt a lot of  them weren’t actually healthy! Yes, cream cheese is high in fat, but I didn’t feel it was a healthy option for me. I’ve called this my “Keto-ish” Reset because I didn’t go crazy with Keto-specific meals.
+ I put my eating focus on lean and clean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of veggies.
+ I tracked everything I ate in the MyFitnessPal app to keep an eye on my macros. I kept my net carbs (total carbs - fiber) at 30g or less per day, and also tracked my fats, proteins and sugars.

Barton Springs in Austin | Love, Lenore

What I ate:
+ I ate eggs every single morning! Here are some examples of my breakfasts:
  • “Denver Omelette” inspired scramble: ½ tablespoon butter, sliced mushrooms + diced green pepper and white onion, ham (make sure to find one without sugar), and 3 farm eggs. 
  • 2-3 fried eggs + 3-4 strips of a clean, uncured bacon (the Never Any! brand from Aldi is awesome)
  • Scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and feta + 2 strips of bacon + some smoked salmon or ½ avocado
+  I didn’t have to snack a ton once my body adjusted, but my main snacks were raw almonds and mozzarella string cheese! I would also mix in smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, Quest bars and veggies dipped in guacamole.
+ Most fruit has a lot of carbs and sugars, so I stuck to small servings of berries.
+ Lunches were easier when I had leftovers, but here are some things I fixed quickly when starting from scratch:
  • Tuna or chicken salad using canned tuna or chicken + organic, clean mayo (love this Primal Kitchen mayo). I would eat it with cucumber slices, which was a tasty pairing!
  • 3-4 strips bacon + ½ avocado + a salad (with Primal Kitchen dressing) + ½ cup cottage cheese (and if I was still hungry I would supplement with some almonds or a string cheese)
+  Dinners were pretty easy, especially since it’s grilling season! This time of year we mostly eat meat and veggies and a salad anyways, so that’s what I made! I also made a lot of things where Trey had a “normal option.” Here are some examples of what we ate:
  • Grilled burgers: Trey did his on a bun and I did mine on top of a salad with some cheese and ½ avocado. 
  • Taco salad was another easy favorite, and Trey could supplement with tortillas or corn chips if he didn’t want only a salad. My Keto taco salad was comprised of organic, grass-fed ground beef cooked with diced onion and bell pepper served with lettuce, sour cream, avocado, pico de gallo and hot sauce. 
  • Organic & clean chicken Italian sausage, assorted roasted or steamed veggies, salad
  • Also, I would sometimes make a small batch of rice for him to eat with his dinner, and I would just skip that part! 
+ Eating out takes a bit more effort, but it’s not impossible! I leaned toward burger places and Mexican food (and Trey never complains about either!).
  • With burgers, I’ll just get a cheeseburger with lettuce instead of a bun, and I’ll add bacon or avocado if it’s available, then eat a side salad. 
  • At our favorite chicken spot I got grilled chicken strips or a grilled chicken salad, and used Primal Kitchen salad dressings for my dips and dressings (most dressings and dips at restaurants have added sugar!). 
  • At Mexican places I simply ordered fajitas without the tortillas, rice, or beans, and made sure to get lettuce, sour cream guacamole and salsa on the side - so yummy!
+  Specific food brands/items that helped were: Quest bars (not perfect ingredients, but they’re low carb, gluten free, and come in handy when you’re nowhere near your kitchen), Primal Kitchen salad dressings and mayo, Miracle Rice and Miracle Noodles, guacamole, and dark chocolate for dessert (Theo’s and Green & Blacks are some of my favorites).

What I didn’t eat:
+ Any grains or processed carbs. These weren’t as hard to eliminate as I thought they would be!
+ Starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn)
+ Legumes (beans, lentils, hummus)
+ Fruits besides berries

Keto results | Love, Lenore

My Keto results:
+ I felt super, super lean throughout. My stomach was visibly flatter as early as day one, and I had zero puffiness or bloating, even on my period.
+ While I don’t know exact numbers, I definitely lost weight and inches. While weight loss wasn’t my primary goal, I’m definitely not mad about being leaner!
+ I wasn’t as hungry as usual (I’ve always had a huge appetite) and didn’t eat as much.
+ My skin most definitely improved. It’s glowing (I think from the healthy fats!) and my cystic acne is significantly reduced. I’m still getting some pimples, but my skin has showed a 75-80% improvement from 6 weeks ago, which I’m ecstatic about. Any progress is good, and these things take time!
+ I felt very even and calm throughout. No crazy highs or lows - I just had steady energy! I feel like it helped with anxiety and made me feel more clear-headed as well.
+ Going gluten free again made me feel fantastic.
+ My cravings for carbs and sweets decreased steadily throughout, and it got progressively easier to not eat them. There are a multitude of reasons to reduce sugar consumption, so I’m happy to be craving it less and less!
+ I got to eat things like mayo, bacon and cheese again, which made me extremely happy! These are things I’ve skipped for a long time.

My Keto cons:
+ Obviously you’re a bit limited with what you can eat. You have to do a little bit more planning ahead and a little more cooking.
+ You can feel a bit weak in the beginning as your body adjusts to fueling itself in a different way. My first spin class on Keto didn’t feel great. I also had a day-long headache about a week in, but after that I continually felt really really good.
+ I really missed my Fab 4 smoothies (Kelly Leveque’s smoothie formula focused on protein, fats, fiber and greens). I don’t even use much fruit in my smoothies typically (literally a couple of berries), but the carbs were still too high for this particular diet with the protein powder I’d been using. My smoothies were the first thing I added back into my diet when I was done with strict Keto!
+ I’m a big believer in the power of fiber (Kelly Leveque and Tanya Zuckerbrot share soooo much good info about it) and I felt like I struggled to get enough. Adding my smoothies back in has helped me to consume more fiber!

cute one-piece swimsuit | Love, Lenore

What I Learned:
+ I realized that I hadn’t been eating as clean as I thought I was. It’s easy to derail all of the good things you’re eating when you’re sliding in tortilla chips, burger buns and Girl Scout cookies. This was a good way to hold myself accountable and reset my cravings and habits.
+ I had been eating was more carbs than I realized. Rice is fine in theory, but not when you’re eating way more than one serving at a time. I was also combining too many carbs into one meal (for example, rice + beans + sweet potato).
+ I realized that I was definitely not eating enough protein or healthy fats before doing Keto. Incorporating more healthy fats (even though they seem scary) made me eat a lot less overall because they stabilize blood sugar and are satiating (versus carbs, which spike your blood sugar but then drop you to low blood sugar). Healthy fats like almonds, salmon and avocado are also amazing for your skin and hair! Eating more protein has made me feel stronger, and definitely helped to unveil more muscle tone.

So what’s next?
+ I decided to only eat Keto for four weeks as I think it’s a bit extreme and more of a reset option like Whole30 (at least in my mind). Research shows that it’s not the healthiest for women to do long term (this doesn’t apply to men because they have different hormone levels).
+ I am most definitely staying gluten free for the foreseeable future. I undoubtedly feel better, and it’s not that hard to do with so many gluten free options now.
+ I plan to keep limiting desserts and sugar to rare treats. My skin is so much better now that I’ve reduced my sugar intake and I really don’t crave it that much beyond dark chocolate anyway!
+ I plan to keep carbs and grains on the lower side, but won’t be tracking macros and keeping to 30 net grams or less on daily basis.
+ I plan to still eat mostly Keto/Paleo type meals, because that’s when I feel best, but will give myself some wiggle room a few times a week for things like sushi, quinoa or sweet potato.  

one-piece swimsuit with a lace-up back | Love, Lenore

If you’re still reading, then you’re pretty darn amazing and I appreciate you sticking it out through the entire post! I really did see amazing results with my Keto experiment, but I do want to include the disclaimer that there’s not one perfect way of eating and that this may not be the best fit for you! Different things work better for different people - we all have different DNA, weaknesses and strengths. If you are experiencing some health issues, I do encourage you to research the holistic/nutrition-based route! So many health concerns can be resolved through diet changes.

I tried to think of everything, but inevitably missed something, so if you have a question please don’t hesitate to ask! If you’ve tried Keto, I would love to hear your experience! Also, are there any wellness topics you’d like to read about next?

PS - my swimsuit can be found here (c/o | it's true-to-size and the quality is excellent)
Photos are by Jo Johnson Photo  

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xo, Jacy