Having seen my elderly parents suffer with health issues, I wanted to do the diet because I was attracted to the potential health benefits in later life - I felt I had nothing to lose. I was only able to do at home rather than on the retreat and was concerned about being able to fit it into working life and having young kids at secondary school - but I decided to give it a go anyway.
I realised quite quickly that it is very much a detox diet. My husband wanted to do it with me but he had a work event mid week and this is not a diet that you can dip in or out of (ie a sneaky glass of wine or snack or even licking the spoon when cooking!). It's all or nothing - but on the plus side it is only for 5 days. Which fits nicely into the working week and leaves the weekends free! Or if you want do to enjoy the detox side of it you could organise it over a weekend so you have two days of relaxing time.
The keto part of the diet was a struggle to start as I wasn't able to go low gl for a few days before and I ended up with a headache at the end of day 1/start of day 2. I knew this might happen and you just have to sit it out. It subsided at about 10am on the second day. The headache seemed to be an indication that I had gone into ketosis. I did a quick ketostix urine strip check and I was. Because the diet was a trial and is so prescriptive I kept the testing simple and cheap, but it might be worth investing in one of the recommended pieces of testing kit in the book if I was to do often. I had occasional hunger pangs at the start but very few in the later days of the diet. I didn't really feel hungry often although I did get tummy rumbles. I was expecting to feel different running on ketones but I felt freakily the same and I felt like my cravings and blood sugar were under control.
You do have to plan well. There is quite alot to think about and meal and snack timings are important. If you are taking stuff to work you need to think about what you are eating each day, but it's like with everything - once you've done once, it's much easier second time round. I kept everyting in one bag unless it needed to be in the fridge and took the whole bag out with me. I set the timer for snacks as it's easy to lose track of time and not take things when you need to. I had one day travelling/on the road and needed to be pretty organised for this to work.
There are a range of supplements and other foods now easily available (like no carb almond milk) that make it possible to do this type of ketogenic detox in a comfortable and healthy way - which I guess wouldn't have been possible in the past. You have to remember to take the supplements at the right times. It's a very carefully thought out detox and really important not to miss out any of the supplements. Also the meals and snacks all need to be timed accurately. I found the level of fibre in the diet worked fine for me.
There were recipes I struggled with so good to know for next time, as it's ok to repeat the recipes you like and leave out the ones you don't like. You do need to like Kimchi. I loved all the soups.
I lost 2 and half inches from bust and waist and one and a half inches from hips so was good for love handles. I've lost about 6lbs which was my goal for this but would like to lose more. For me the weight seemed to come off starting around my neck and working downards. To lose more off my hips and belly I will continue on with the weight-loss version (daily GL counts) of the Low GL part of the diet and then go on to the maintenance daily GL count when I'm at the weight I want. I didn't crave sweet things after.
I’m planning to do the keto part of the diet twice a year in the months when I like to have a fresh start like May and October and when the weather/light are good.
For anyone thinking of trying it I would offer the following recommendations:
Read the book carefully first and decide what's for you (there are some food choices) or you may buy some things unnecessarily. There are things you have to do ahead eg buy specific foods on the web, go low gl a few days before to reduce the chance of a headache and a good workout the day before you start the diet.
Other tips would be:
- Don't just follow the Shopping List and buy everything. Look carefully at the recipes and what you know you'll like if you are looking to make cost savings. I don't think you have to have a different soup every day although it gives variety, your sweet snack and morning snack are either/or - you don't need both.
- You can get Kimchi in supermarkets but not the brand and maybe 'heat level' in the book.
- For the soups you could double up and make enough for the next session and freeze. I just made all the soups in one evening and put them in Sistema soup mugs and the doubled up amounts I put in the same mugs and put in the freezer ready to go for October.
- I had the soups for lunch as easy to take to work and the other daily recipe for dinner at home.
- I wasn't keen on the sea veg which tasted from the sea as I'm not keen on shellfish etc so I made up the home made kale alternative although this didn't work out that well. I now know the secret for the crackers is to soak the chia and flax seed in water (150-200ml of cold water) for 5-10mins until it forms a thick consistency - the other ingredients can then be added and formed into a dough. It will be a slightly wet dough which is then easy to spread into the baking tray with your hand. The other trick is, once they have cooked, cut them along the lines scored so you have individual crackers and pop them back in the oven for 5-10mins.
- You have to get used to the portions being small eg you only need one packet of the lemon/coconut bites as you only have one for dessert pr day.
- Warm up the Hybrid Latte in a pan. I preferred the ingredients together rather than separated.
- The special diet drink was better taken like a shot rather than in lots of water over a period of time.
- If like me you are a tea drinker get hibiscus and ginger tea as you are allowed them on the diet and it's good to keep up your fluid intake.
- Do the magnesium salt baths. I don't know the importance of this within the diet but I slept incredibly well after every time and maybe that was the main goal. I did the diet on week days which wasn't very relaxing but next time I might try a more 'retreat' style detox experience and do either the first or last two days over a weekend - and plan in some yoga etc.