I started on the ketogenic way of eating on January 1, 2018. I was overweight, exhausted, and desperately wanted to feel good and beautiful again. Keto seemed very doable. Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, cheese, bacon, and butter are yummy. Switching from half-and-half to heavy whipping cream for my coffee sounded nice. Only one thing though, giving up sugar would be a big sacrifice.
The backstory of me and sugar:
I had a big sweet tooth. I ate sweets of some sort every single day. Lunch wouldn’t be the same without a cookie or something sweet at the end of the meal. A big bag of chocolate candy would not make it a week. M&M’s were eaten by the handful and a pound bag of them would be gone in a couple of days.
For years I was making sweets like ice cream and candy along with baking cakes, cookies, bars, and bread to frequently post recipes on my former food blog. I received hundreds of pounds of assorted sugars from a sugar company to use to promote their products. Not only did I consume sugar, I also promoted it. I was a sugar social media influencer.
I had almost every form of sugar in my pantry: white (coarse, extra-fine, and super-fine), light and dark brown, powdered, turbinado, muscovado, cinnamon-sugar, decorator sanding sugar in multiple colors, corn syrup, and honey.
I never used sugar substitutes. No way was I substituting my beloved sugar for chemicals or alternative sugars. Also, I believe the brain and body react to substitutes the same as sugar. Sweet is sweet is sweet. Now before you get all riled up about that statement, remember it is my belief. I didn’t state it as fact.
Then I started Keto…
Sugar is a big NO with Keto. I knew I’d have to give it up to be successful with getting into ketosis. Because of my belief about sugar substitutes, that meant kicking off my Keto year without sugar of any kind.
The first two weeks were awful. My brain and body were putting up the biggest fight to get me to break down and eat some sugar. Keto flu is real and it sucks. Sheer will and determination got me through it.
Then it got easier. Sugar cravings decreased as time went along. Then one day I realized I was craving cheese instead of sweets. Something had switched in my mind. Months went by and I remained steadfast with my decision to stay away from sugar.
Then one night I dreamed about chocolate cake, vividly. I could taste it too – a double whammy with both chocolate and frosting. I woke up wondering what set it off. Was it from watching my family eat birthday cake? Seeing it on TV or on a menu? Or a test of my willpower? No matter why. I was determined to stay strong.
More months when by and I reached my goal weight. It was time to increase my calories and go into maintenance mode. I could have added in Keto sweets and see how I did. I decided against it. Instead, I increased calories with protein, fat, and vegetables (still not exceeding 20 carbs per day).
A new goal emerged: to go an entire year without sugar.
BIG NOTE: I know forms of sugar exist naturally in food. What I’m referring to is sugar as an ingredient. That includes all sugar substitutes including Keto ones like stevia and monk fruit.
What happened to me physically in my year without sugar? Lots of great things. Before the list, here’s a disclaimer:
Do not take any of this as health or medical advice. This is only what happened to me. I am in no way whatsoever stating or implying any of it will happen with you if you cut out sugar or go on Keto.
- I lost weight. I’m thinner than ever before. In fact, I’m underweight according to most weight charts. Oh, and during the year I went on two trips: to Las Vegas and New York. Both times I indulged by eating more and still lost weight. How great! (See before and after photo at the end of this post).
- I gained energy. I used to be completely exhausted by mid-afternoon. I was taking naps almost every day. Now I rarely feel that tired in the afternoon or feel like I need to take a nap.
- Sugar shakes stopped. For all my life, my hands would shake and I’d feel weak if I didn’t eat within a few hours. Sugar would stop those shakes. It was a vicious cycle with the highs and lows of blood glucose levels. Now I can go for longer periods of time without eating and the only thing I feel is hungry.
- My GERD got better. It’s almost completely gone. Occasionally I get some stomach acid reflux mucus in my throat. Even that is getting better as time goes along.
- My blood pressure dropped. I was at a point where my medication needed to be increased. Now it is at a healthy level. There is a possibility of lowering my medication if it continues to drop. I doubt it though because my high blood pressure is hereditary. It runs in my family on my dad’s side.
- Inflammation went away. Redness around my eyes disappeared and so did my knee pain. Good-bye knee brace!
- My skin rash cleared up. No more itchy, red splotches on my underarms.
- I stopped sweating profusely. Now I only sweat when I’m doing hard physical activity or outside for a long time on a really hot and humid day.
- Less tartar and plaque build-up on my teeth. Confirmed at my last checkup. The bacteria that makes tartar and plaque feed on sugar. Easier dental cleanings is a triple bonus! (FYI – I’m terrified of the dentist).
- My eyes got better. Both my eye pressure and astigmatism measurements went down.
- I didn’t get sick with a cold, sinus infection, or bronchitis. Before I could count on it being sick at least twice a year. I’d be sick for months along with having to take multiple rounds of antibiotics and steroids. Not a single sniffle all year!
WOW! So many positive things happened to me in my Keto year without sugar. I’m healthier than I’ve been in decades. It was totally worth it. Was it easy? Mostly yes, sometimes no. I intend to keep it going. I don’t want any of those things in my list to come back.
Now for some of my observations on sugar:
Sugar has a powerful stronghold on people. It’s an addiction and something people can’t fathom giving up.
Sugar is everywhere and in almost every commercial food product. Take a minute and read the ingredients and you’ll see. Or you won’t because you don’t recognize all the different sugars and substitutes. Perhaps take another few minutes to learn about them. Oh, and be aware of sugar in restaurant food including savory items. Check out a restaurant’s nutrition guide if available. I’ve been shocked at some of the things I’ve discovered such as carbs in ground beef (from sugar in the seasoning).
For Keto, the most frequent inquiries I see in groups are about sweets. The majority of posts in my Keto social media streams are recipes for desserts or sweets. Nearly every Keto product on the market has a sugar substitute as an ingredient. Even Keto chocolate bars have soluble corn fiber which is highly processed corn syrup. Sneaky how they hide sugar in so many ways.
Related Article: My Keto Diet Experience
Many thanks to all who supported me throughout the year, especially my husband. I wish strength and determination to anyone who decides to go without sugar or decrease your consumption of it. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have and will support you fully. Cheers!