I’ve had so many friends (and even some strangers!) asking me recently about the posts I’ve been making on Instagram and Facebook about my keto lifestyle change, so I thought I’d put together a quick little introduction to what it is, and answer some of the questions I’ve gotten so far.
Keep in mind that I’m not an expert and I haven’t been doing this for very long – but for the time I have, it’s been pretty great and I’ve learned so much and feel awesome! 🙂
What is ‘keto’?
- Keto is short for ‘ketogenic’, as in my new ketogenic diet. Known as a low carb / high fat diet, the basic premise is that you limit your carbohydrates (ie, grains & sugars) and increase your fats, with medium protein intake. Normally, people try to stay below 20g of carbs per day on the diet – and once you start paying attention to how many carbs things have, you’ll probably be pretty shocked at how quickly these daily carbs add up. It’s honestly not horrible though, like a lot of other diets that you’ve probably tried or heard of – lots of delicious things are recommended, and you’re meant to eat full fat versions of everything from sour cream to cheese. Mmm, cheese.
Why would you want to eat more fat?
- When you eat sugars and grains/starches, your body produces glucose and insulin. These work in tandem to provide energy to your entire body, helping you… well, function, really. When you limit your carbs, you’re forcing your body to switch from getting energy via glucose to getting energy via fat (or ‘ketones’) – which is normally just stored around my hips since it’s got nothing better to do. Once your body is running off of fat (or in ‘ketosis’ — see where the ketogenic comes from now?), you have to eat a lot of it to keep things going smoothly – but once you’re what’s known as ‘fat-adapted’ and keep that up, you’re golden!
What about healthy carbs? Aren’t whole grains good for you?
- As far as grains, there are a bunch of documentaries you can watch that sort of sound like conspiracy theories about our government – but also make scientific sense – about how our ancestors’ bodies worked way better before the big agricultural boom we had awhile back, and how the food pyramid was created not to maintain our health, but to increase the money spent on those who profit from things like corn, sugar & wheat being produced. We ate lots of meat and veggies – and not packaged foods or breads – ages ago, and research has shown that bodies have gone a bit downhill since switching things up for ourselves! I’ll link a few below in the resources, but basically, your body doesn’t much know the difference between glucose made by eating a spoonful of sugar, or eating a piece of whole wheat bread because of its glycemic index. I’m not great at explaining science stuff, but other people are – go look at my resources!! 😛
- Actually, a few months before this change, I reattempted vegetarianism to try and help my consistent stomach issues – which have plagued me for years and recently cause me to throw up blood almost daily – and my stomach got worse! I was eating lots of ‘healthy grains’ and things that are widely seen as being good for you, but I was sicker than ever. It was terrible and I was close to having to go to the hospital!
“Yo, you throw up blood? What’s wrong with you?”
- This was an actual Instagram message I got recently, lol. I’m not really sure what’s wrong with me – I’ve spent over $2,000 on specialists and medical tests, and I still don’t have concrete answers. I’ve been on medications, I’ve tried eliminating tons of different foods or things from my diet and life, I’ve visited the emergency room more times than I can even count – and I’ve stayed sick. I’ve lost nearly 100 lbs in the last couple years and until this recent change, honestly hadn’t had more than 24 hours pass between throwing up in months.
- For people who do know what’s wrong with them, the keto diet has been recommended by healthcare professionals for various health issues, from diabetes to high cholesterol to PCOS. There are so many health benefits to eating this way for a lot of people, but it goes against the way most of us were taught to eat which can be difficult to unlearn.
And are you fixed now?
- Not completely, nope! I still have bad moments of nausea or dizziness, but I’m definitely getting better. I haven’t thrown up blood since I cut out sugars and grains/starches completely, which is amazing by itself – but in addition to that, I’ve had so many other health benefits:
- More energy! I sleep better at night and need less coffee in the morning.
- I’m eating for fuel and it really feels like I’m doing something good for myself when I have a snack, yay!
- I’ve lost about ~10 lbs in 2 weeks. A lot of this is definitely water weight since high water intake is needed for your body to stay healthy on the diet (and in general!), but it hasn’t creeped back on (despite shark week and intense chocolate cravings, awwyeah) and my clothes all fit so much differently than they did before. Jeans I’d just gotten a couple of months ago are now a big baggy on me! (Note: My wardrobe may not be able to keep up with the new diet, but I’ll power on! 😛 )
- I’m learning new ways of cooking, baking, and preparing food. I’m eating out less, planning meals more, and really enjoying what I’m eating when I do it!
So… What do you eat?
- I eat a lot more meat than I did before, which is a huge change because I’ve never been much of a meat-eater. It’s strange snacking on little meat slices with cheese — but I’m not complaining!
- I eat lots of avocados! Mmmm, avocados.
- Cheese! Cream cheese, string cheese, shredded cheese, melted cheese, baked cheese, cold cheese, warm cheese, so much cheese.
- BREAKFAST! Ron Swanson would be so proud of the amount of eggs & bacon I’m eating.
- Plenty of veggies! Some of my favorite things are now off limits (like sweet potatoes and potatoes in general because honestly I could just write an ode to potatoes as a whole for being so varied and diverse and wonderful, but 1 medium potato = 37 carbs which is basically 2 full days of carbs, so NO PLS) – but I can eat leafy veggies, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and lots of other things! I made zucchini noodles recently – zoodles!
Don’t you miss the foods you can’t eat? Is it very restrictive?
- Honestly, while I do miss things like pasta and breadsticks, I can easily find keto friendly versions of these things and indulge to my heart’s content – within my macros!, while still following my diet! There are replacements for bread, cookies, doughnuts, taco shells, cakes, holiday dishes, everything! So far my favorite replacement has been Fat Head Pizzas – pizza dough made from cream cheese, mozzarella, egg, almond meal, and seasonings!
- I was extremely addicted to sugar before starting this and had no idea. I put so much in everything without really thinking about it adding up – and that’s just the intentional stuff! There are secret sugars in so much stuff we eat, even things we wouldn’t think of as being ‘sweet’. When I compare the amount of carbs in things I’m eating now to what I was eating before, I’m amazed at how high my intake was – even though my calories and fat were relatively low each day. So, not having sugar has been a bit of a change – but I’ve found replacements (shout out to granulated monk fruit, you da real MVP) and it’s really cool to learn how to make things I used to love without the normal ingredients I’m used to.
- There’s a whole thing called “lazy keto”, and if you’re worried about being super restrictive, check that out! It’s a bit more lenient and honestly, even small adjustments in life can add up to big changes!
Okay, I’m in! Sign me up, how do I start?
- Do research! This is my biggest piece of advice. Google is wonderful and lots of people on the internet want to share the knowledge and experiences they’ve had while following a ketogenic diet. Learn about macros, net carbs, MCT oil, anything you can! The more you know, the more informed you can be about whether you want to make this sort of change and how invested you’ll be – which determines your ultimate success!
- There are resources to make this diet adaptable for nearly everyone! You can be keto and be vegetarian or vegan, and you can also easily make it work for you if you’re a picky eater.
- Once you’ve done a bunch of research, make a plan of meals you can use / try – there are SO MANY on the internet and there are even some really awesome cookbooks I’ve found recently that show off some excellent and delicious options for all sorts of occasions.
- Create a support network! The keto Instagram community is really great, as are the folks over at /r/keto. Make friends and share recipes, goals, excitement, and progress! There’s so much inspiration and help out there, you just have to look. 🙂
What else do you have?
Here are some additional resources if you’re interested in learning more about the ketogenic diet. Remember that I’m not a doctor and if you have specific health concerns/needs, you should probably consult yours before making any big changes to your eating habits!
Websites for Research:
- A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet – Ruled.me
- Ketogenic Diet Beginner’s Guide – Keto Connect
- A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners – Diet Doctor
Cookbooks to Check Out:
Documentaries to Watch:
- Fat Head: The Anti-Super Size Me (YouTube)
- Fed Up (Amazon)
- The Magic Pill (Netflix US)
Good luck & feel free to reach out if you have any questions! I’ll be sharing a lot of keto recipes soon! 😀