“Did you eat yet?”
“I gestured at my empty tupperware, “I just finished my meal.”
“That’s not a meal. I’ll make you something right now.” She walked into the kitchen.
“Mom, I can’t eat anything else. I’m on a diet,” I said, as I followed her into the kitchen.
“Why? You’re not fat…I’ll cook arroz con pollo and potatoes, that’ll make you strong.”
“I’m trying to lose bodyfat for the summer.”
“What’s that mean? Are there steroids in your chicken? Are you taking drugs, Jason?”
My family would always offer me delicious foods, but I could easily turn them down. When my friends were going out drinking, I joined with my red solo cup full of water.
But bacon. Many of my past attempts to diet have been foiled by bacon. Just the smell of bacon cooking in the morning has a way of bringing me to my knees and throwing weeks of hard work down the drain. When I was in college I came across “Epic Meal Time” on YouTube. It was a channel dedicated to wrapping different kinds of foods in bacon. It was around this time that I adopted the “PermaBulk” lifestyle, no longer watching what I ate. My only concern for the next two years was to get as big as possible. While I didn’t eat bacon everyday – only because I couldn’t afford to – I did feast on all things fatty and carb dense.
Finding the Keto Diet
When I first got to Korea I joined a Kakao group (like AIM for Koreans) which was made up of people who were competing or looking to compete in bodybuilding or powerlifting in the near future. Among those was the leader of the group who had done very well in recent physique competitions in Korea. I had initially intended to do powerlifting in Korea, but after finding out that the only way in was through classes, I switched focus to bodybuilding. Looking back at how I cut In the past, I was determined to make this time different. It was then that the leader of our Kakao group suggested I follow a Ketogenic diet.
Purpose of the Ketogenic Diet For Me
Unlike most people, I was not starting a Ketogenic diet looking to make a lifelong change. I was not about to give up carbs forever; just for a little while to jump-start my cut and hopefully become more sensitive to carbs. The Keto diet has been known to help people with epilepsy and those who are at dangerous levels of obesity. Although not mainstream, keto diets are being adopted by more and more bodybuilders for their quick results.
In the image are all the ingredients for the meals I ate on my first day on a Ketogenic diet. I weighed in at 81kg (178.5lbs). I can’t even begin to explain how happy I was to be cutting. A day full of great foods: bacon, omelette, bacon with cheddar cheese melted on top, pan fried salmon with spinach and avocado. And did I mention bacon? As a snack I even had a tablespoon of peanut butter. My biggest mistake was that I ate literally the exact same meals every day for the entire week. I didn’t think I could ever get tired of these fat-filled meals, but the taste of spinach had me gagging by the end of the week.
Besides getting increasingly sick of salmon and cooked spinach, I noticed a few immediate side effects. I was peeing every 30-50 minutes. It was as if everything I ate was accompanied by a gallon of water. Because I was indeed drinking a fair amount of water, I ignored it for the first two days. But frequent urination became concerning, so I did my research and it turns out my body was just getting rid of all the stored glycogen in my liver and muscles.
Which brings me to my next side effect: I was flat. My body didn’t look as full in the morning. This effect was great for my core…but the rest of my muscles had also lost their roundness. This lack of glycogen also caused me to feel increasingly tired; before keto I would feel sleepy around five pm most days, then I would get a second wind after work to go to the gym around nine pm. But the second wind never came during my first week on Keto.
Oh, and do you know what else never came? My bowel movements. I was constipated for three days, but my stomach remained flat and un-bloated. I started to get worried, and wish for my old regularity. But be careful what you wish for. On the fourth day until the morning of the seventh I was wishing to be constipated again.
Overall it was a “shitty” week. I was ready to go into the old school cutting form of eating dry asparagus and flavorless chicken breast, but I felt the need to give it just one more week. This time around I spent my weekend looking up keto diet recipes to add more variety. I also bought a multivitamin and fiber supplement to help keep things more regular.
This week I made sure to not eat the same thing more then two days in a row. In the image is an example of one of my better days: deviled eggs, cream cheese omelette, and chicken thighs baked with butter, bacon, and mushrooms all covered in mozzarella cheese. My favorite keto find was “bullet coffee,” which is coffee blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil, butter, and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was the closest I could come to a latte and was surprisingly filling.
I had Ketostix mailed to me from the U.S; though they’re highly debated, it did give me some peace of mind about whether or not I had reached Ketosis. This week I felt a drop in strength in all of my presses. The only thing that seemed to be able to handle more weight was my legs.
Overall it was a much improved week. I had already lost 5kg (11lbs), mostly water weight but it was starting to make me look leaner in some areas. Throughout the day and in the gym I had improved sustained energy, but all of my pressing movements took a dive. I’m not sure if my sudden loss of strength was due to the Keto diet or not, but It did happen. I also found myself daydreaming about vegetables, fruits, and rice.
One of the often ignored obstacles of dieting is social gatherings. In the image is my Keto attempt to be included in a pizza and cookies night with my friends. I found great recipes for Keto pizza and pumpkin cookies all while fitting my macros. The popularity of Korean barbecue also makes it easier to be social, seeing as samgyeopsal (three layer fat pork) fits right in with the high-fat keto diet.
Before starting the Keto diet I had done very little research. I went in mostly blind, trusting someone who had success with it in the past. I learned more about it while I was doing it. For me, the negative side effects only lasted about a week. My strength and energy came back with a vengeance by the third week.
By the end of the third and final week on Keto I looked better then I had in a long time. Even though I was flat, I looked increasingly lean every day. I did fear that I was not getting enough nutrients though, since I was unable to eat many fruits or vegetables. Some people deduct the carbs in fiber from most vegetables, but since it’s a debated topic I opted to just cut all carbs out. I never felt hungry on the Keto diet. I also never felt bloated, even on the days that I couldn’t go to the bathroom. By the end I had dropped 6kg(13lbs) in three weeks, while not losing strength or mass overall.
Life After Keto
For me, Keto was a jump-start to my cutting season. Because I had a few vacations coming up, I wanted to start sooner and more drastically then I had when cutting before. I began to reintroduce carbs at a slow pace thereafter. My first day out of Keto began with a small 60g of carbs, but it felt like I just drank four cups of coffee. My vascularity and roundness were now better than they had ever been, and my energy had increased. As of January 9, 2017, I am up to as much as 350g of carbs and still not bloated and losing body-fat little by little. Being on Keto was the body reset I needed to make the most of what I was putting into my body.