By Adam Perkinson
Disclaimer: Take everything in this article with a grain of salt. I’m going off of my research and what works for me, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to work for everybody.
Everyone has their own reasons why they might want to lose weight. For me, it was because my career aspirations require me to have good physical conditioning. But whether it’s for that glamorous summer body or because their doctor told them to, one thing is for certain — being obese is extremely hard on the body. Bettering your health is one of the best late gifts you can give yourself, and it’s a shame that close to 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken less than 2 weeks into the new year.
But why do so many people fail? Two reasons — bad diets and unrealistic standards. Weight loss is a slow and steady battle, but not everyone knows that. You can’t go into a weight loss journey expecting to lose 15 pounds in the first week. As a matter of fact, losing more than 2-3 pounds a week could actually slow down your metabolism and lead to other serious health risks, such as muscle loss, gallstones, and other nutritional deficiencies. Bad diets only emphasize the potential for health risks, but especially fad diets in particular. Take the “Cotton Ball Diet” for example. No one in their right mind would actually eat cotton balls soaked in lemonade and iced tea, would they? Apparently, it was enough to get mentioned in a 15 worst diets list, but I digress.
In February 2019, I weighed 310 pounds following 2 and ½ years of weightlifting and playing football. Seeing as I wasn’t planning to play my senior year and that my career aspirations were beginning to take shape, I decided that I needed to take responsibility for my physical health. I turned to Reddit, where I found a subreddit dedicated to keto. When you’re on the Keto diet, you can’t eat carbs or sugar (which your body turns into carbs) and instead, you replace it with fat. It sounds counterintuitive, but doing this puts you in a state of ketosis, which is when your body starts to burn fat instead of carbohydrates through the use of ketones produced by your liver. It sounds easy, but one of the things I found out the hard way is that *everything* has a surprising amount of carbs. Take something like milk for example. I usually drank a glass or two of it a day, but one day I decided to take a look at the nutrition facts to find that there are 12g of carbs per cup. For reference, you’re technically not supposed to have more than 15-20g of carbs per day. However, that’s not to say you have to cut dairy from your diet completely. For example, cheese has 0g net carbs and yogurt has 6g. While that’s not great, it’s extremely difficult to consume exactly no carbs, and as such I’ve learned to take what I can get.
While Keto can work great by itself, it works wonders when combined with something known as intermittent fasting (IF). I use a free app called Zero to track myself. For 18 hours of the day, I don’t eat anything. The only thing I consume is black coffee and water, and for the remaining six, I eat whatever I want within the keto diet. Some other popular IF schedules are 16:8 (16 hour fast, 8 hour eating window), 20:4, and even 24:0. The first week or so of intermittent fasting is the hardest as your body takes time to adjust to what is, for most people, a completely different eating schedule. However, once you’ve adjusted, it’s no different than eating 3 meals a day.
But one of the biggest things someone doing IF for the first time needs to remember is to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right (and you’ll know what it is if you feel it), ending a fast early doesn’t mean you’ve failed and that you’ll never lose weight.
If you really want to shed the pounds off, however, combine Keto, IF, and a regular exercise regimen. While I wouldn’t recommend doing anything super intensive, I like to go on a semi-long run, focusing more on distance and consistency of pace rather than pure speed. When I get home, I do some body weight exercises, usually a few sets of push ups, sit ups, and squats. Don’t forget that this is all while on a 18-20 hour fast, but just like doing IF for the first time, once you adjust to working out on an empty stomach, it’s smooth sailing relatively speaking.