Health is very important to me. After all, life is a journey that’s much better if you feel well. I’ve always found the subject of nutrition and health interesting. The reason for that is simple. It’s one of the few things in the world that is intensely personal.
The nutritional basics are fairly rooted and static. Everyone needs X vitamins and X minerals and as such, the group health dynamics are settled. However, the idea of good individual health is a more personal matter. At the end of the day, we all want to feel good. That’s why I feel it’s important to have a good gauge of what your body needs to get there.
There’s some basic things you can do to get there. Eat your veggies, get the right vitamins and minerals, eat real food. However, there’s also a lot of variability in what makes people hum.
I’ve tried a few different diets in my life. I use the term diet in the sense of a way of eating. Something you do on a daily basis instead of a temporary respite from that with a certain goal, usually weight loss.
After all, I never really felt like I was in a spot where I felt great all the time(or even most of the time). It made sense to try some other things to see if I could improve my sense of well being.
More than a year ago, I wrote about the diet I’ve been on the past few years; the keto diet. It was a long post that detailed the keto diet and how I had not long ago fallen out of it. It was a call to arms for me to get back into it.
The reason was simple. I felt good while I was on it and now that I had strayed, I was feeling crappy again. Remember how I said nutrition and individual health can be personal? Well, it took me a while, but I had finally found that personal diet that worked for me.
The benefits of keto for me were wide ranging. However, I needed to get off the diet to realize it. You don’t appreciate feeling good until you feel mediocre again.
Well, now it’s been over a year since then. I have been back on the keto train and I want to revisit the topic again. Have there been some slip ups? Sure, especially if you read my series of Hawaii posts. There’s a lot of shave ice and non Keto friendly treats out there. Honeymoons!
However, for the most part, I’ve been in ketosis for the majority of the time since then. This isn’t a topic about what the keto diet is, you can read my first post or check this out for that. Instead, I want to talk about the personal benefits of keto that I’ve experienced in the last year and why I love it.
The Benefits of Keto
Note that these are personal benefits. Everyone is different and you should discuss with your doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions. Also note that often this diet is used as a weight loss management tool and it works great for that. However, I am already a skinny dude so that’s not why I used it.
It has made my anxiety almost non-existent
This is a huge deal for me. If nothing else, this diet changed my life because of this.
All throughout college and the early years of my career, I was an anxious mess. Anxiety is no joke and it made me avoid so many situations because I knew my body would fall apart under stress. I had physical symptoms that would debilitate me at times; stuff like dizzy spells, fatigue, racing thoughts and nausea and more. I also avoided social situations because I hated talking to people.
I was a real ball of fun!
For some reason, avoiding carbs changed all that. I don’t know what it is about my mental make up but carbs do a number on my brain. I feel like a completely different person when I avoid carbs and I like that person much more. In fact, I can probably thank this diet for my ability to take on more rewarding challenges at work. It would have never happened before!
It has improved my medical conditions
I have epilepsy(yay)! Seizures are not cool nor are the random jerks or space out moments that can come with it. However, since starting the keto diet, those are much better. This benefit was actually one of the reasons I initially started the diet. However, I found that the other benefits caused me to stick with it. The keto diet is often used in certain epileptic conditions when medicine doesn’t work especially with children.
I will say that I am still on my seizure medication. However, before I started the diet, I was still having some symptoms that weren’t being controlled with drugs. Those are no longer an issue. I also experience them more often when I do stray off the diet and drop out of ketosis. I’ve discussed this with my neurologist and she’s very happy with the results I’m seeing and urges me to continue with it!
My great genetics also blessed me with POTS. It’s this condition where your heart doesn’t get enough blood when you stand up. It can cause fainting and dizziness. It’s not life threatening but it does suck sometimes.
I find that the condition is MUCH more manageable if I stick to the keto diet. Part of it might be due to the high amount of salt and water I take in while on the diet. The standard treatment for POTS is to just drink more water and take in more salt so it’s like, hey I’m doing that already!
I get less sick
Colds or the flu used to hit me a few times a year. I had the immune system of a…uh guy with a weak immune system.
Now, I rarely get sick. I did catch some stomach bug a few weeks ago that knocked my ass out. However, that was the first time in a while where I’ve gotten anything. It’s really nice to go through a winter without multiple colds!
My blood work is top notch
There’s some metrics that doctors use to diagnose certain diseases. You’d think that a diet of fat plus fat would make certain metrics worse!
Not so, my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure are the best they have ever been. Blood pressure was always an issue for me. It might have had something to do with my anxiety and being in a doctor’s office. However, now I’m rocking perfect results each time I go in despite all the salty goodness I’m eating.
Blood sugar is super stable too, probably a reason why I feel much better most times.
My joints feel good
I felt like an old man moving into my 20s. My joint cracked and hurt and I was worried I had arthritis already(thanks anxiety for making me a worry wart!)
Well, it must have been my diet cause my joint pain is no more! I even stopped taking my daily glucosamine pills. In fact…
I stopped most of my supplements
Back in the day, I used to pop supplements a plenty in search of that magical cure for what ails me. I still take a supplement or two but long gone are the days of multiple pills. It’s a big money saver too since those magic pills are expensive(and probably weren’t doing anything anyway).
My skin looks better
In high school, my skin was the most popular club in zit town. All the oils and pimples couldn’t wait to visit it much to my chagrin. My skin eventually got better as I got older but it still wasn’t an award winning masterpiece. I had dry skin, redness and a few zits here and there.
Now my skin is rarely dry with a nice color and while I still get a zit here and there, it’s much less rare.
It’s possible that the tankards of water I now drink help with that too.
I sleep better and have more energy
I’ve laid out a few important benefits already but sleep is a key one too. In simple terms, I fall asleep faster and wake up more rested.
Thanks to that, I have a lot more energy throughout the day and just feel better overall. I’ve started some daily exercises and even started rowing to get in better shape.
I can still eat awesome food and feel like I can do this all my life
The diet isn’t too limiting. I was never a big sweets person so the lack of sugars wasn’t a big deal. On top of that, once you’re off the sweet stuff for a while, you don’t miss it too much. I think your taste buds adjust because I tried a sip of coke a while back and it was just disgustingly sweet.
On top of that, since keto is so hot right now, there’s a ton of keto based foods that are awesome and easy to make for us lazy people. A lot of restaurants are starting to cater to keto diets as well.
In fact, this is what I had for dinner tonight.
All these cool joints with their lettuce wraps make it easy to enjoy things like burgers. I still haven’t found a great pizza replacement but maybe one day!
Plus a diet that is basically steaks and veggies isn’t too bad. You can even have some nice fruit like blueberries from time to time!
The best part is that this way of eating forces you to eat real food more often than not. I eat way more veggies than I ever did, drink a ton of water and just feel like I’m getting more of those vitamins and minerals than I ever did.
Best of all, I always feel full and satiated after a meal. I don’t do this diet to lose weight(I’m a stick already) but I can see why it works for that too. Often, I can have one big breakfast and I’m full of energy until dinner. This is definitely something that is a lifestyle for me now and not just another fad diet.
All these benefits are great but in essence, they boil down to…
I’m happier and feel better
This is what matters most. I think all of the benefits above are great and they all wrap up into a healthier, happier me. The benefits of keto are great and they’re not just physical like weight loss or more energy. I feel better physically but also feel better mentally.
I assume a lot of that mental health improvement is simply due to the fact that I feel better in general. Life can be hard if you feel crappy or if you’re dealing with anxiety all the time and this change in lifestyle helped me on that front. Once that was gone and I realized some of my other issues started to abate, I had a much better outlook on life.
On top of that, my mind just feels more crisp most of the time. I used to feel like my thoughts were muddled often but now it feels like my brain is actually getting the fuel it needs. I’m motivated, more driven(still somewhat lazy) and think clearer. However, most of that is probably due to the lack of anxiety but it’s still nice!
Keto was a real game changer for me. I will say, that “for me” is the key part of this discussion. As I said early on, health can be an intensely personal thing. What works for one person may not work for another. I tried a few diets before this in search for that good health. None really did anything for me until I found the keto diet and experienced the benefits.
Many people get on this diet for weight loss. That wasn’t the case for me as I’m already a tall skinny pile of bones but the reality of these other keto benefits was a welcome surprise. I read about them before I started but rarely have I ever seen such a marked improvement with any lifestyle change.
However, keto certainly won’t be for everyone nor will it have benefits. Keto can be hard to stick with on a consistent basis. People love carbs and they love sugar. I get it, some of that stuff is delicious. I sometimes partake and drop out of keto here and there(chocolate is a weakness).
Also, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying those things are bad for you. Many people thrive on a diet that’s high in carbs and low in fat. That’s the beauty of the human body. It’s unique and can often adapt to new things.
It’s perfectly possible to be healthy and eat a ton of carbs. I’m not saying that keto is the only diet one should follow if they want to be healthy. I’m just saying that for me, the benefits of keto are obvious and it’s a diet that literally changed my life.
I could definitely tell the difference when I got off it before. Now, that I’ve been on it consistently for another year, I can tell that it’s something I want to stick with for the rest of my life. It’s not a diet for everyone but if you have similar issues, check with your doctor and check it out! The benefits of keto are countless and I hope it can work for you too!