My Keto journey
Updated: Mar 27
For me, Keto started as a way to change how I fuelled myself during long swims. I had come out of a couple of marathons with serious stomach issues, all that feed mix swishing around my tummy made me bloated and seriously uncomfortable. I had heard of Keto for weight loss, and thought ok, that wouldn't be so bad either, but it really started as a way to change up my swim plan. Here a link to the MSF discussion that helped guide my way, Dan Simonelli's comments in particular.
Some would classify what I do a "low carb" rather than Keto, based on the fact that I aim to keep my daily net carb intake to 40gr or below, whereas strict Keto is usually 20gr or below. I only drop down around 20gr closer to a long training event or swim event itself, to make sure there are no slipups that could bump me out of ketosis. But, here's the thing, I can stay in ketosis fairly easily at 40gr and under, so it works for my body. I eat whole foods, and I also sometimes like to bake Keto breads and sweets when I feel like a little treat.
To measure my level of ketosis, I use a Keyto to measure the level of keytones in my breath. I've heard others say the only true way to know is finger-prick blood testing, but seriously, I need to keep this simple and the results I see from the Keyto are consistent with how I feel. And I feel great, my tummy is always happy, no more rumbles and bloating, my energy levels are consistent, and I really enjoy coming up with meals that fit this way of eating.
Know how I know it's working for me on long swims? Well. I'm a bit embarrassed to share this story, but it's a good one. During on of my 25km marathon swims, it was hot out, sun shining, beautiful day. Except that I stopped taking in as much fluids, my water was mixed with an electrolyte I really didn't enjoy the flavour of, I was sipping little amounts instead of chugging my entire serving of water at each feed stop. I was still consuming my fuel (UCAN) though, which was separate from my water, it was just the flavoured water I was sick of. My kayaker didn't notice, and I just kept doing it. Tired swimmers are idiots.
By the end of the swim, which took me just over 11 hours, I was pushing really hard, came into the finish, stood up, received my finisher's medal, smiled for a picture and promptly sat back down on the sand, feeling woozy. I asked for fresh water to try and clear out the awful taste of the electrolyte water mix, but I gagged it back up, and then laid down right there on the beach because I began to feel faint. I even disassociated a bit, I could hear voices asking if I needed a paramedic but I couldn't respond.
Don't worry, all ended well (and I never, ever made that mistake again), but it took a trip to the local hospital by ambulance for IV fluids to get me back on my feet. Here's the thing: while at the hospital, they took bloodwork, and found that my blood sugars were within the expected range, even after 11 hours of working hard in the water and consuming only moderate amounts of UCAN. I was just really dehydrated. It was a bad ending to a good swim, and in the end I got something in the way of evidence to tell me what I was doing from a feeling perspective had worked well for my body.