Back when I had my first son and the weight just wouldn’t come off, I tried the Keto diet—the high-fat, low-protein, zero-carb diet that has all of Silicon Valley raving. It worked like a charm and the pounds melted off, but after a few weeks, I quit because I missed fruit (many of which are pretty carby) more than I ever knew was possible.
Fast-forward three years and there I was again: 40 pounds overweight despite eating well and swimming every day during my second pregnancy. The fast-fat-loss lure of Keto was too strong to resist, but just a few days into the diet, I found myself drooling over my Whole30-loving Instagram friends' posts. Cauliflower? Berries? It looked divine.
Since I had just started my latest round of Keto, I was still counting my macros—the amount of permissible calories, grams of fat, protein and carbs you can eat every day—and I noticed there was some wiggle room for carbs. I also noticed that a lot of Whole30 recipes used low-carb fruits and veggies, so I decided to give a Whole30-Keto hybrid diet a go.
How I did it
Doing a Whole30-Keto diet was a lot more work than simply doing Keto, because the best parts of Keto are dairy, peanut butter, bacon and natural sweeteners like stevia or monkfruit. All of these—and preservatives—are forbidden in Whole30, so overnight, my diet went from annoyingly indulgent to annoyingly strict.
That being said, eliminating these foods also meant that on top of reaping the rapid weight-loss benefits of the Keto diet, I was also able to improve my overall health. The added benefit was that these foods also tend to be more caloric and carby, so by eliminating them, I made more room for healthier foods than previously anticipated.
One thing that was much harder than I thought was moving away from sweeteners, a savior in Keto and a no-no in Whole30. Fortunately, bringing small amounts of fruits into my diet helped with those cravings.
Now that milk was off the menu, I also had to make my own almond milk, which was really bland until I discovered that a pinch of salt and cinnamon can sweeten it up ... a little.
The true revolution came when it was time to cut preservatives, which actually ended up having the biggest impact on my weight-loss journey: I hadn’t realized just how much preserved meat I was eating. Eliminating snacks like sausages and beef jerky made an immediate impact.
What did my average meals look like?
For breakfast, I usually had matcha or coffee with coconut oil, two fried eggs with half an avocado, almond-flour blueberry pancakes, or a bowl of ground chia, berries, cinnamon and soaked overnight in almond milk.
Lunch was usually sautéed greens with garlic and chilis (my personal favorite), topped with some fatty fish or steak.
For dinner, I usually had another salad or some sautéed low-carb veggies (think greens, asparagus, broccoli), a stir-fry (no soy sauce!), zoodles with meatballs, etc.
For snacks, I would carefully ration out a few nuts and pieces of fruit, which was not quite as satisfying as a stevia-sweetened Keto hot chocolate or fat bomb, but surprisingly, digging into a small cup of blueberries was so much more satisfying.
And the results?
With my original Keto diet, I lost 18 pounds in about 2 weeks before plateauing and giving up.
With my Keto-Whole30 hybrid diet, I lost about 15 pounds in 3 weeks, but unlike my first run with Keto, I was able to stick with it and didn’t suffer any Keto side-effects (such as wild cravings, headaches and constipation).
In the long run, the hybrid diet allowed me to lose more with less effort and to stick with a healthier diet overall—which is what I would definitely call a win.