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.”
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.”
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.”