Two years have passed since I started the keto diet and intermittent fasting (IF) as a woman over 60. So what new things have I learned between year one and year two?
Be sure to read about year one here.
Not only did I lose a bit more weight, I learned some important keto diet tweaks that I’m revealing in this article. You will also see before and after photos from the first and second year. And I am posting pics of a full day of keto eating.
Keto weight loss results
Okay I’m going to start with the good stuff because most people are looking to lose weight.
In May of 2017 I started IF without dieting and lost no weight. In June of 2017 I started the keto diet (with IF) and that’s when things began to happen.
My starting weight was 150 and by June of 2018 it was 130. (I’m 5′4½᳓.) So I lost 20 lbs in one year.
I went from a size 12 to a size 6.
During the second year I was mostly in maintenance but then decided to lose a few more pounds. So I lost five more pounds and went from a size 6 to a size 4!
I’m happy with these results and I’ve gone back to maintenance.
Electrolytes are important
Sodium, potassium and magnesium are even more important on a keto diet because they are easily flushed out of our bodies.
I had been getting muscle spasms in my toes/foot once in a while at night. Eventually I realized it was only happening after dancing on Saturday night. I tend not to drink very much water when I’m out and after several hours of dancing I became dehydrated. And that caused me to lose more electrolytes which then caused the spasms.
So I got this electrolyte supplement that I only take Saturday night before I go to bed. Problem solved! I haven’t had any more spasms since then.
And I got some NoSalt as a potassium supplement. I use it along with sea salt when salting my food. (I get enough magnesium from vitamins.)
I also learned that the keto flu I experienced when I started keto could have been eliminated by having more sodium. Now if I start to feel a bit sluggish I reach for the salt shaker and consume about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Other people make something called solé water with pink himalayan salt, but I’d rather just put the salt in my mouth.
Experimenting with keto macros
The difference between keto and a low carb diet is the amount of carbs you can eat. To be keto, carbs are limited to 20 grams a day. Then you can play with your protein and fat macros to achieve the results you want.
Much of the time my carbs are around 10 grams per day.
Keto is touted as a high fat diet. But you don’t need to consume excessive amounts of fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Fat is a limit not a goal. It’s more important to get the protein in first and top it off with fat. You should have at least 50 grams of fat if you’re losing weight and more if you’re trying to maintain.
During my second year of keto I ate fewer and fewer vegetables, and sometimes none at all. The reason for this is I had noticed some “adverse effects” from certain vegetables. However, I do try to eat a small amount of homemade sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits.
I also tried upping my fat intake, sometimes as much as 84 percent. And I have to say I felt really good with that much fat.
But was I getting enough protein?
Protein, the underrated macro
I practice lazy keto which means I don’t track my macros every day. Once in a while I do it just to see where I’m at. (However, I do always keep a mental note of how many carbs I eat.)
Because of the IF, I was only eating two meals a day. I felt really satisfied but didn’t think the 50 grams of protein per day, suggested by conventional wisdom and online macro calculators, was enough. Almost everybody says not to worry about it but I still did.
I didn’t want to look like so many older people I’ve seen with droopy, flaccid skin that hangs off of their bones. Every time I see that I think to myself, that person isn’t getting enough protein.
After a lot of digging I found this amazing YouTube channel, Keto Chaos, who’s done extensive research and explains the protein situation very well.
And I learned a new word: sarcopenia, the loss of muscle tissue in older adults. Aha! That explains the flaccid skin!
The secret to getting enough protein
Basically, the older we get, the harder it is for our bodies to utilize protein. That means we need to eat more of it.
But there’s a trick to it. You have to eat 30 grams at a time for protein synthesis to occur. And it takes three to four hours to complete the process before eating again.
There is some debate as to whether eating more than 30 grams in one sitting will do you any good.
I’ve been experimenting with three 30 gram protein meals a day during my eight hour eating window.
It was hard going from 50 to 90 grams. To make it a little easier, one of my meals often consists of whey protein. It’s pretty tasty in my iced coffee.
I’m working my way up to consuming more protein. I think 100 to 120 grams would be preferable.
To make things easier, I got this sleek little food scale to measure my protein.
What I eat in a day
Here are some pics of one full day of keto meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Keto cheat days
As I did in year one, I have one cheat day a week. I feel like it makes the diet more sustainable and has given me metabolic flexibility. That means my body can run on glucose that day and the next day it switches back to burning ketones.
I know this because of how I feel the next day. Some people feel crappy but I usually feel normal, like I can delay my eating if I want to.
Will I stay on keto?
This way of eating has been so effective and almost effortless for maintaining my weight so I intend to keep going.
I also intend to keep experimenting with macros and cycling between keto and low carb. Limiting carbs will always be necessary for me.
And I never get tired of bacon!
Older adults, double your protein intake for better health. I’m with them up to the point where they start recommending plant sources of protein. Humans need meat!