Having now been on a ketogenic diet for almost a month, I thought it might be an interesting (if slightly morbid) exercise to run down the various side effects and inconveniences that come with the way of life change.
As a beginner to the diet, I had certainly underestimated the physical and mental hardships that come with a life of keto living. But that’s what makes it great; the humility that comes with self-awareness and a desire to improve comes more naturally when following a diet plan.
One of the biggest perks of being on a ketogenic diet is how much energy you get; I find that I get tired of waiting for the kettle to boil for my coffee in the morning, as I often end up doing anyway because of the energy boost. I get a lot of enjoyment out of huffing and puffing around the house as I cook or clean, something that rarely happens when I allow myself to become flabby and dependent on sugary snacks and drinks. At work, I’ve found that I can get through longer and more tiring hours than usual because of how much more energy I have. It’s basically like getting a full days work done in an hours work time (which, let’s be honest, is what most of us spend most of our working days doing anyway).
One of the other big changes that comes with going keto is how much my short-term memory has improved. I find that I can now remember things more easily and can process information more quickly. If I read a recipe or article and something confusing happens while I’m cooking (like, say, a crucial step happens while I’m in the middle of something else), I find that I can pull my attention away from the stove to deal with it, and then quickly remember what I was doing when I decided to check on the progress of my chicken tikka masala. I know that this is probably a common issue for anyone, but it’s amazing how quickly something as small as taking a short break from what you’re doing can improve your mental processes while on a ketogenic diet. Anecdotally, I’ve also noticed that my long-term memory has improved too, as I can now remember things quite clearly from when I was a kid (not just stuff that I’ve recently learned).
Another big plus of the ketogenic diet is that it has a beneficial effect on depression and anxiety. For those that suffer from clinical depression and anxiety, the low carb and high fat content of the diet help to raise your serotonin and melatonin levels, which in turn improves your mood. My anxiety has been reduced by around 80% and my depression by around 65% (these are just rough figures as I’ve only been able to track it over the last few weeks, following my keto initiation), which is pretty amazing considering I had such low expectations going into it (I had expected to feel worse, considering what I’d been through in the past and how I’d been living my life).
So, all in all, going keto is certainly not all bad. While it’s true that there are a lot of inconveniences that come with it (mostly related to your pocket book, as you have to buy a lot of new kitchen equipment to accommodate your dietary restrictions), it’s also true that as an overweight person with type 2 diabetes, it was the only option I had left if I wanted to save my life. The only question is whether you want to go through the changes for the sake of your health, or whether you want to do it for weight loss. For me, the answer is quite simple: I’d do it again in a heartbeat (and I’m not alone in that sentiment, as many people that I’ve talked to about the diet feel the same way too).