Julie Mazziotta
February 12, 2018 10:49 AM

Jen Widerstrom only started the ketogenic diet “as a joke,” but was impressed with her results — with some caveats.

The Biggest Loser trainer initially dismissed the keto diet as a fad, and felt like she knew enough about nutrition to eat well on her own. But when she promised a friend she would try it — and took a “day 1” photo for accountability, Widerstrom realized she needed the diet.

“There’s been a lot of stress in my life over the last six months: a move, a new job, a breakup, health concerns. I’ve had a lot going on, and I don’t think I realized how much I was subliminally turning to very unhealthy habits to cope: drinking more, eating comfort food,” she wrote in a blog post for Shape. “So I saw those before photos, and it was a kick in the teeth. Like, ‘Wait, this is not my body.’ ”

Widerstrom added a disclaimer that she knows she’s not overweight in the photos, but she wasn’t feeling comfortable in her body.

“It’s not that I think I’m fat — but it’s knowing my body and knowing that something was wrong.”

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For Widerstrom, the first day of the keto diet meant “headaches, grogginess and digestion issues,” but she immediately felt better because she was eating better. Over the rest of her 17-day diet, she focused on eating tons of vegetables, watching her healthy fat intake and making her own adjustments, like treating herself with grapes.

“No, they’re not totally keto, but it was natural sugar, and I knew I needed a little something, because that something is what kept me on track the rest of the time,” she said. “And I’ve gotta tell you — a grape never tasted so good.”

I begin Day 5 of 17. As promised, here’s a progress pic of my first few days of trying #keto. It’s pleasing to see such a difference in the outward distention of my belly and that line coming down the side on my stomach on my profile shot, BUT I am aware a lot of this is just water weight so I’m going to stay dialed in and be patient for real results. ❌ Main changes I made: •I removed all sugar and additives out of my coffee, only drinking it black or with a little unsweetened almond milk. •I removed all protein bars replacing them with fat/protein-based snacks like avocados and nuts/seeds. •All starch carbohydrates have been removed with ZERO exception and have been replaced with green vegetables ==> On that note, I will say it’s been a struggle to do a workout and then not have a carbohydrate post (something I very strongly believe in). . ❤️ What I’ve noticed: •With the exception of my first day, I haven't had any cravings but I am however operating with a mild headache the second half of the day, everyday. •I find the amount of water I normally drink is not enough anymore so will make that adjustment this week. ••Mentally I’m amazing!! The discipline it takes to stick to this has actually been quite refreshing- it’s been nice to have set boundaries that eliminates that negotiation with myself about meals… So now the normal temptation I’d have to grab random food here & there has been removed and it feels great to have a focus!

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At the end of those 17 days, Widerstrom was “shocked” at the difference in her body — but thinks it had more to do with better nutrition than the keto diet itself.

“I can’t tell you for sure that I was in ketogenesis, so I can’t give keto the credit, because I don’t think I actually hit that point,” Widerstrom said. “Ketogenesis takes a long time to achieve. I do think I cut a lot of bulls— out of my nutrition and rewarded my body with vegetables and quality meats and quality fats.”

But she liked how clear the diet is on what you can and can’t eat.

“I also don’t think I realized how much I needed the boundaries,” Widerstrom said. “Discipline is one of the hardest parts of going keto, but it was also one of the greatest assets of the diet. There are no question marks. I knew what was allowed, and I liked that clear boundary. I felt really grateful to know exactly where I stood with my food and my fuel.”

17 days of #keto complete. MY GREATEST TAKEAWAY: If you read nothing else below please read this: I have the power to do something about the way I feel and I also get to decide how to move through what happens to me. I do not have to be a victim but I do but I do get to choose how I cope with my stress. It’s up to me on whether I check out or not— and through this experience I’ve chosen to participate everyday of my life going forward. YOU HAVE THE SAME POWER. 🥩🌱 The actual diet feedback: PROS -Fast response. Keep in mind the first week is really just water weight but if you stay in it the body continues to drop weight pretty rapidly. (make sure you’re eating enough though because you don’t want to lose muscle!!) -No cravings. I had no energy drop and nice energy flow throughout the day. -CLEAR food/fuel boundaries. There is no guesswork and no negotiation that happens—you know exactly what you’re allowed to eat and what you’re not and it takes away any emotional eating or conversations in your head. . CONS -As you all know, I strongly believe one size does not fit all… Making keto NOT for everyone. It’s not for me for sure- even though my body does respond well to high fat and protein fuel, given my mental and physical demands. My body NEEDS starch so I choose not to live in ketogenesis. -It takes VERY high discipline to do right and adapt correctly. -The precision of this diet is critical. Inspired by a conversation with my colleague @dunamisarp, “you risk not actually being in ketosis and instead just adopting a restrictive carb diet with too high of protein leading into gluconeogenesis. It takes a while to be fully adaptive into ketosis even though the scale and clothes will change earlier. There is always a cost to everything.” -Chris Knott #mondaymotivation

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Overall though, she thinks it can be an effective diet for some people, but not everyone (including her).

“But I’ll stand by what I said in the beginning: One size does not fit all,” Widerstrom emphasized. “You need to do what works for your body. I really don’t like to advocate nutritional programs that aren’t sustainable for your life. Some people can live in that extreme, but I’m not built for that, so I chose not to. If you feel like you could do it, go for it, and listen to how your body responds.”

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