Product review: Keto Creamer (360 Nutrition)

I’ve noticed products popping up in stores branded specifically for the keto diet. Companies are bound to jump in as this lifestyle gains popularity and more people try it, and succeed with it. I’m in Canada but follow many American keto instagram accounts and bloggers. Though we’re slower on the uptake some keto-branded products are making their way north.

This particular product is a powdered creamer for coffee and other such beverages. It’s named very directly Keto Creamer and contains MCT oil powder. I found it at Winners for about $10.

Note: I find lots of interesting food products at Winners including most of my keto-friendly baking supplies. #winnersfabfind

I assume the reason it’s marketed as ‘keto’ is because of the fat content from the MCT. The packaging boasts about its power as ‘fuel for your brain’.

This product is a fine white powder with brown specks.

The issue I have with this so-called ‘keto’ product is it’s sweetened with coconut sugar, and has added palm oil. Everyone must do their own research and figure out what they will or won’t allow in their diet. I’m ok with a little bit of these ingredients but I know some folks would give this a hard NO.

Looking at the nutrition content and ingredients is important. Please don’t be fooled into supporting products just because they are labeled certain way. I see online this company does make unsweetened creamer too FYI.

So now that you’re aware of the product and content, what about how it actually performs and tastes? Well I did try this product out several times and ways over the past few weeks. Here is my take:

It is sweetened but not too sweet in my opinion. There is a slight coconut flavor. It doesn’t blend well into just straight coffee. If you take a spoonful and stir it into a cup, it does whiten or cream the coffee but doesn’t fully dissolve. I think it’s the oil which tends to float on top like a crema, but mixed with some of the powder so it’s unpleasantly chunky.

It did blend very well in a blended boosted coffee. I tried it several times with my usual morning bulletproof coffee, both instead of straight MCT oil and in addition to it. This powder doesn’t have enough fat for me to outright replace all the oil/butter in my boosted coffee. And often I don’t like a sweetened coffee if I’m fasting.

So what is this product good for? I ended up taking it to my work office and am using it there. I can make coffee at the office but don’t have a fridge. So I haven’t to been able to have cream for my coffee (I don’t like plain black coffee). The product was also useful a few times when we ran out of cream and butter at home (I know, gasp!). I use about 1tsp powder for a cup of coffee, which is an ok sweetness and cream for me, and that’s 2g carbs which is still less than regular milk.

Do I recommend this product? Yes and no. If you’re serious about a ketogenic lifestyle then you probably have (or will get) the real things in terms of coconut oil, MCT oil, or other coffee additives. But this is good if you are in a pinch or want to start dabbling in adding fat to your drinks. As I’ve said, just be aware that not all products beaded as ‘keto’ will be right for you and proceed only if it fits your macros.

Old clothes/new clothes

As I’ve lost weight and my body changed I have gotten rid of a few pieces of clothing. Mostly an item or two that I didn’t really wear anyway. And they were just to throw on a donation pile filled with other household stuff of my kids’ outgrown clothes.

I haven’t done a big purge. But this is it. Today I halved the clothes in my closet. This pile contains my favs, my go-to outfits, my best clothes. It also contains some items I optimistically bought when they didn’t fit me yet but now are too big! Hopefully they’ll help somebody else via my donation to the local charity second-hand store.

Why didn’t I do this sooner? I had fantasies of losing weight and going on a shopping spree for fashionable, smaller clothing. But I think it takes time to come to terms with a new reality. Losing 40lbs and being in the smallest size since high school (or before!) is quite the new reality. Plus our family isn’t flush with funds at the moment and new clothes cost serious cash. I’ll definitely be browsing that thrift store for myself after I make my donation.

I encountered a bigger mental block about clothes. Probably should have been expected but I didn’t prepare – not do I think I really could have prepared. I was set in my ways for years and had lots of deep-rooted behaviors around clothes and style due to my size. Instead of automatically going for the largest size, I now have to try items to find the right fit. Instead of assuming nothing in certain stores fit me I can shop pretty much anywhere. Heck, I would get undergarments from plus-size specialty stores. I didn’t recognize how big I’d gotten. And it took me a while to recognize how far I’ve come with my changes. To be honest it’s an ongoing process, isn’t it.

But purging these clothes will be a giant step in the right direction. As will getting some new duds that actually fit and make me feel fabulous. Listen, I know size and clothes aren’t everything. But they make up who we are, show our style, and they can help especially after a long (and ongoing) journey.

Weight update

It’s rewarding to check in and acknowledge accomplishments. Losing weight has been a great side affect of getting healthier by following a ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve been living this way for just over a year. And I’ve lost 40lbs.

But my insecurities and deep-rooted body issues often prevent me from seeing this as a ‘win’. I think, others have lost more in a shorter period of time. Or, I’m stalled so maybe this is where I’ll stay. My lifestyle is not about the weight but that is a huge part of our identities, isn’t it? Being overweight shaped my reality for as long as I can remember. And now I’m technically not overweight anymore. I had to buy new clothes. I got rid of all my underwear for new ones. Heck, I even had to get new glasses because my regular ones were falling off my face. I’ve not just lost weight; my body shape changed and is changing. In my head on most days though I’m still overweight.

Then this happened: my 4yo daughter jokingly stepped on my scale and asked what’s her number. Now I’m careful about scale talk, weight watching, or body comments around my kids. I know the seeds of unhealthy eating and self-imagine are often planted early. My daughter was Ted to know though and she has no concept of those numbers yet.

I looked down and said 42. She is 42lbs. I can barely lift her up for hugs anymore. She’s growing like a weed! Then it hit me…she weighs approximately as much as the amount of weight I lost. I was carrying around that weight. The equivalent to a four year old kid.

I think of that moment when I’m not feeling confident or am discouraged. I know keto has many other benefits but the weight loss is a big one. And I need to recognize that and celebrate it.

Keto diet different ways

Not all keto is created equally though every approach shares a common goal: to promote ketosis. There are a few different ways one can “do keto” or live a ketogenic lifestyle. Some people keep steady to just one type consistently. And some individuals move around to follow two or more of these lifestyles form time to time.

The main types of keto are:

The standard ketogenic diet
This is the most common, classic ketogetic diet and what you should start with if a beginner. The basic recipe for a keto is your daily diet is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. With this diet, carbs are limited to 20-30 net grams per day.

Targeted ketogenic diet
This type is similar in form to the standard ketogenic diet but involves targeting your carbohydrate consumption in timing with workouts. Some do fasted workouts prior to any carbohydrate consumption. Others time carb eating right before exercise. This type is best for those who are ‘fat-adapted’ or been following a standard keto diet for some time. That way the body is already used to using fat for fuel and can run on ketones.

High protein ketogenic diet
This type of diet increases protein consumption from the standard ketogenic diet ratios. That looks like your daily calories coming from 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs. Typically, those who engage in higher protein diets are doing so to build muscle mass.

Cyclical ketogenic diet
Or keto cycling. This type means cycling in and out of ketosis with some days being lower carb, and other days involving ‘carb-ups’ or higher carb allowances. Most who practice cyclical keto on purpose plan a schedule such as five days keto and two days of higher carb intake. Many (myself included) follow a cyclical ketogenic diet without such purpose because staying strict keto can be difficult unless you plan and measure constantly. Personally, I know I come in and out of ketosis a few times a week but don’t ‘binge’ on high carb foods. So my cycling is more dipping below the standard ketogenic diet ratios every now and then. If I go too far outside the standard ratios, and over-indulge in carbs, I experience inflammation (usually skin, but sometimes in my joints) so try to be as on-the-ball as I can, But the cyclical approach does allow more flexibility and it’s good for those of us (ahm, like me) who deal with disordered eating so can get carried away with measuring, guilt, etc.

Lazy keto
This type of keto follows the standard ketogenic diet but individuals don’t count ratios or amounts that much. Instead, the approach is more about focusing on high-fat, low carb foods in general. Additionally, ‘lazy keto’ or ‘dirty keto‘ can refer to those who eat out a lot and don’t make homemade or fresh foods priorities. It is possible to remain ‘keto’ and eat fast food every day! It is healthy? No, but you can technically remain in ketosis depending on your choices from that drive-thru menu!

Different approaches
Each type of ketogenic lifestyle can be approached in different ways. There’s If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) which means you can eat whatever as long as sticking with your fat, protein, and carb (ie. macro nutrient) goals/ratios. This is definitely a more relaxed approach but can run you into trouble with nutrient deficiencies. There’s the Purist approach which is more methodical and involves staying away from keto ‘junk foods’ in pursuit of whole, nutritious foods. This way can get complicated and pricey. There is also Protein-Sparing which isn’t recommended for many (or for long). It involves keeping your ratios for protein and carbs steady but dropping your fat amount drastically. This can help you break out of a weight-loss stall but can cause your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat.

You can also add intermittent fasting to any of these for more variety and added benefits. IF is where you eat only during a specific period of time, your ‘eating window’. The other time you’re not eating or fasting. Most fast overnight while sleeping and into the morning. A typical IF plan is 16hrs fasting and an 8hr eating window. That can look like fasting before bed, starting 8pm and not eating again until lunchtime, say noon or 1pm.

Does all this sound interesting (it does to me!) or too complicated? If the latter, don’t fret because living a ketogenic lifestyle can be approached simply and maintained easily. Unless you want to, just stick to the basics of the standard ketogenic ratios. Once fat-adapted or burning fat for fuel then you can explore different options to meet your needs or goals. Or just keep on keto-ing on!

The toughest time

TW; This post focuses on mental illness. It is personal but I’ve wanted to write it forever.

My brain makes me feel sad, apathetic, and numb when there is no external cause for those feelings. Then, at other times, I’m jubilant and racing with energy. Often been called moody and those difficult-to-control moods negatively affect my life.

It’s something I can’t quite explain though I’ve tried many times. I’ve tried to explain the way my brain works to myself, to friends and family, to doctors, to counselors, and it feels like I’ve never been able to get it right. The closest I’ve come to explaining myself is when I say I have depression and anxiety. But even then I’m not sure that captures it. My symptoms don’t present as typical depression symptoms like crying or feeling worthless. I’ve been tested for mood disorders but came up clean. Maybe cyclothymic disorder or maybe I’m just melodramatic and whiney (at least that’s what the unwanted negative voice in my head sometimes says).

So far I haven’t taken this laying down even though I’ve had plenty of days when I don’t want to get out of bed. This sickness is something that’s part of me and I try to deal with it head on. And I’m learning to have more patience wit myself and others.

The message to reach out for help has come across loud and clear. End the stigma and everyone has mental health, and all that. But there hasn’t been much education or discussion about what the receivers or listeners can do to help. I’ve reached out countless times only to be told everyone has ups and downs, that lots are fighting battles behind closed doors, it’s normal to feel anxious, etc. Conflicting messages around mental health are confusing at the best of times. When I’m in a dark place they’re too much to handle. All I can think is if everyone feels like I do then the world is seriously screwed up. We shouldn’t be indignant or competitive. Shouldn’t we be searching for answers to why we’re all fighting with our own minds?

There are theories about modern society and stress affecting mental health. There’s also a growing concern that sugar negatively impacts our brains. I believe that!

My reality is that I look like a ‘normal’ well-functioning adult. I have a full-time office job, I’m a mother and a partner, I have interests, and I feel OK half the time. But the rest of the time knocks me down and leaves me feeling helpless and weak. My mind relapses to unwanted negativity and feeling inadequate. I grab supports like my CBT training, family, movement, and slowly try to haul myself out of the hole. Even when I’m feeling good, I know there’s a part of me that’s uneasy with expectation that I’ll trip or fall down again. It truly feels like I’m taking one step forward and two back with everything.

It’s a recognition that that there are a million ideas running around my head but I feel paralyzed to act on them. Or I’m discouraged by the false starts and lack of confidence. I swing from wanting to take over the world to hardly having the confidence to function. I have missed opportunities because my brain tells me I’m not good enough. I’ve not applied for jobs (even ones I’ve been sought out for), cancelled interviews, and given up on endless good ideas. My depression and anxiety rob me of confidence and energy, and trying to help myself with all sorts of interventions is so tiring. My mental health is my main hobby.

This is a post about how a difficult time in your life can be called the toughest time – not because of how hard it is but because of how tough you are. Or how tough you have to be. This may seem idealist or trite but I’m going to put it out there anyway because I think it’s true: we are all more capable and have more endurance than we think. Find the strength to change the narrative in your head and spin your situation into a positive light. It’s easier said than done but so worth it. And each time your flip your perspective is practice for the next time. So each time gets a tiny bit easier, faster, you retain that muscle memory, and that’s how habits are formed.

It all starts with recognition of a negative thought process or bad feeling. Identifying it is the key to turning it around. I have found mindfulness meditation and CBT beneficial but, like most good things, they took time to develop and grow to something intuitive and useful for me. I’m still learning and adjusting.

Following a ketogenic lifestyle has also helped tremendously. There are clear links between keto, fasting, and improved cognitive function. I also struggle with disordered eating so keto has been a powerful tool to help with that, too.

After the struggle and work, it’s far too easy for me to get complacent when things are okay, or give up when they’re bad. Rerouting thought pathways can work wonders but it’s a constant battle. I know when I let my guard down during a good streak, or find myself suffering in a dark time, I need to put in the work. You too may need to work harder or differently to not fall into that hole, or to pull yourself out. It’s in the dark times that I need to stay the course with my ketogenic lifestyle, self care, and health practices. When it feels easy to give up is exactly when I (and you) need to keep going.

If you’re struggling, I encourage you to check out a group that’s helped me: Sick Not Weak or find your own support to get through the toughest times.

Video talk on food addiction

Be the buzzkill: Food addiction is just as powerful as drug addiction. This video came up in my YouTube feed because I’m subscribed to YouGotThis aka Dr. Kathleen Hallinan. I encourage you to watch it if you relate at all to food addiction or having little control over food in your life.

The doctor talks about similarities between food addiction and her heroine-addicted patients. She talks about staying away from tiggers for the addictive behavior (incl. people and places). And she talks about denial. It’s a plain but powerful message. As someone who still struggles with food issues I found it hit home on a lot of points.

The point I found most interesting was discussion of the lack of social pressure to reform or heal from food addiction. I find a ketogenic lifestyle keeps me away from my triggers for the most part. And I’m learning so much about nutrition, my body, and my mind. I honestly believe sugar as persistent in our society is evil. But will I always do keto? I’m not sure. But right now it helps me fight my own battles.

Judgement and criticism

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing judgement, criticism, negative comments, and odd looks when some find out about my ketogenic lifestyle. Some people think it’s okay to care and comment on others’ diets. It likely stems from the same place judgement grows for other alternative lifestyles. Add to the situation that keto has been a hot topic in the media lately and is growing traction. More and more people out there know a little bit about keto and unfortunately that little bit can be negative or just wrong.

You could start by not explaining yourself at all. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of how you live or what you eat. If you’re in a situation where you feel the need to divulge some reason or info you could simply say you’re cutting out sugar, or cutting back carbs in your diet. Give limited information without adding any of your own commentary. I bet if you follow a ketogenic lifestyle for a while you will stop caring what others think. Thankfully, this is where I am for the most part and have my good results to rely on when others judge.

For those I’m closer with and feel would be open to some respectful discussion, I have gone into more details about my diet, why I decided to try it, and why I’m sticking with it. I talk about my unhealthy relationship with food including binging and hiding food, which was essentially an eating disorder. I had an addition with food and even found benefit in attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I’ve used the comparison that you wouldn’t say to someone with an addition to alcohol, “oh, just have a sip” or “one drink won’t kill you.” Same should go for someone in my situation but yet I have heard “just have a taste” or “treats like a cupcake or cookie are what [insert holiday or celebration] are all about!” Sometimes people honestly don’t realize how hurtful or triggering their comments can be to someone dealing with such issues.

Finally, if you get the nerve to just be brutally honest, you can give as good as you get. I don’t suggest being snarky but hold your ground. If someone says, “oh, I could never give up bread because it’s so good” tell them that no doubt, traditional bread, pasta, beer, etc. are delicious but your health is more important than a sub-set of delicious foods. There are plenty other delicious foods which you’ve found to not aggravate your inflammation, obesity, diabetes, depression, hormones, etc. If someone says flat out that keto is unhealthy then you could argue with them but I doubt it will be useful. Engaging with someone who who already has their mind made up or isn’t open to learning something is a waste of time. I’ve found it best to say something like, “we’ll have to agree to disagree,” and know they are as entitled to their opinion and behavior as you are to yours.

Now, I totally understand this judgement goes both ways. Search about keto online and there are countless articles, blogs, videos, etc. telling everyone that this is the the way to go. Do I personally think a low carb, high fat diet would help many, many people? Yes. But I’m not going to pew pew anyone for how they chose to live their life. I’m here if anyone wants resources, to chat, to learn about my experience, etc. But I’m not badgering anyone to adopt keto. It’s not ‘my way or the highway’!

We need more acceptance in this world. I don’t comment much in online forums, but I recently felt compelled to make a comment when I disagreed with something – from the great Dr. Berg no less. On a recent Instagram story, Dr. Berg recounted seeing a family in a restaurant when a mother gave a young child juice in a bottle. He urged people to not do this, and (this is what made me concerned) to step in and say something to any mother who gives their child high-sugar food so they could be educated about sugar’s negative effects. I commented and said something along the lines of: please do not encourage shaming mothers because everyone has bad days and moments. That juice might have been the only thing holding everything together that day. I’m a mom and know that sometimes the day, my kid’s behavior, or my sanity can be hanging by one small thread. And it’s not just mothers who have responsibility for nutrition and education in a family so don’t pick on us.

I hope Dr. Berg keeps his up with his teachings and more people do jump on the low sugar train. But please don’t publicly shame someone or get on your high horse to criticize if you see something you don’t agree with. Kids are given sugar everywhere including in schools. I argue that we’re all trying to do what’s best for ourselves and our families. It would be amazing to see advocates like Dr. Berg lobby government and industry to change their ways instead of shaming or attacking individuals just trying to live their lives. I’m hugely supportive of not giving kids sugar. But there are times I let my own children have a juicebox or even candy depending on the context because parents need to pick their battles carefully. Or they have rice or such if we’re dining with friends from a different cultural background and higher carb offerings are on the table. I hope public figures in the keto world understand this and use their publicity and knowledge to help us navigate our sugar-laden society better and advocate for bigger changes. Let’s not sink to the level of those who criticize us for following a ketogenic lifestyle. We can act better and smarter. Everyone: please be tolerant of others, lead by example, and petition for change in systems and regulations instead of wasting energy in comments sections or gossiping.