Celebrity diets tend to come and go like the wind, but some are actually worth testing. The ketogenic diet is one such trend. After the holidays, I came to the realization that I’d lost my willpower when it came to moderation and my diet. Increasingly, I’d started turning to junky, processed foods as a source of mental support, energy, and, honestly, happiness.
Sick of my “I’ll start over on Monday” foolishness, I tried keto for 120 days. And, even with a few cheat days — OK weeks — in between work and travel, I lost 20 pounds. Trust me: keto works. It works so much that I’m still on it as of today — and I’m down another 5 pounds.
Thinking about trying keto? Here’s how the diet works, what you need to do to have success, and what you can expect in terms of results.
What Happens on Keto
The keto diet relies on inducing ketosis. Ketosis is a naturally-occurring metabolic process that your body relies on when you don’t have enough carbs or sugar (the body’s most natural energy sources). Basically, if you don’t have enough carbs to burn for energy, your body switches over to ketosis to burn fat reserves. During this process, the liver produces ketones and releases them into the bloodstream so that your muscles and tissue can break them down for fuel. Keto is essentially a way of hijacking your body’s natural systems to burn fat 24/7.
The keto diet induces a constant state of ketosis through a strict regimen of low carbs, no sugar, moderate protein, and high fat. About 70% to 80% of your calories come from fat, another 15% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbs. While fish, eggs, healthy oils, dairy, and green veggies are staples, carbs (even healthy complex carbs like potatoes, rice, whole wheat pasta, and fruit) are off limits.
Just like most of you, I thought all I could eat while on the keto diet was bacon, burgers, and avocado. The art of eating (and enjoying) keto is stocking up on the right foods. You can adapt staples (bulletproof coffee, anyone?) or you can go off the beaten path with totally new foods, like I did with the help of keto groups. By discovering new recipes, I avoided missing the foods I could no longer eat.
For a keto-friendly sweet fix, Nui cookies and Lillys Dark Chocolate were my go-to. Keto-friendly sandwich thins and pizza crusts from Outer Aisle saved my life –and my carb count– on more than one occasion. When I felt like I should be rewarded, or honestly when I didn’t plan my meals properly, my staples were McDonald’s low-fat soft serve, a Bojangles kids strip meal, and a kid’s fry with a half/half sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A. Yes, I know.. drag me. You can also reach for egg white chips to sate your snack craving.
If you need total guidance like I did when I hit a plateau for my last 5lbs, subscribe to this keto meal plan which takes the guesswork out of everything.
Dealing with Keto Flu
When you’re first starting the keto diet, you may experience something know as the keto flu. Because your body isn’t used to using fat as its primary fuel source — and it certainly isn’t used to a constant state of ketosis — you may have to push through the following symptoms:
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
You can deal with keto flu in one of two ways. You can move out of ketosis and switch back to a regular diet, which wasn’t a choice for me. Or, you can stay the course like I did and make your body adjust. If I woke up with a headache, that meant I was in ketosis. To counter this, I walked 2 miles as soon as I awoke and another 2 miles before dinner. While this wasn’t fun, it helped my body adjust. This was the only workout I did outside of dancing to Beyoncé’s Homecoming.
Finding the right food to eat helped with this too. Probiotics, sparkling water, and products from Perfect Keto were especially useful for me. These items not only kept me in ketosis but kept me hopeful when I didn’t see the weight coming off as quickly as folks proclaimed it would.
Making the Most of Keto
Keto might sound extreme at first, but once you convert and see the benefits, you’ll never want to go back. Forget what everyone tells you about it and try it for yourself. There is more than one way to experience keto. Adjust when needed and make it work for you.
Check out our blog for more great posts on what to eat and how to make the most of your food, like this post on date night foods.