What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The idea behind this diet is to use ketones as fuel by metabolizing fat instead of sugar (carbs).
What Can You Eat?
The Keto diet is high in fat, moderate in animal protein, and very low in carbohydrates.
You are encouraged to eat green, leafy vegetables like spinach.
You may eat moderate amounts of cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage).
Small amounts of nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers) and berries (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) are OK.
You must cut out all grains (wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.) and sugar (added sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.) from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to soda, juice, sports drinks, candy, chocolate, bread, pasta, cereal, cakes, pastries, oats, muesli, and quinoa.
Only high-fat dairy is encouraged like hard cheese, heavy cream, butter, and mayonnaise.
Can you snack?
While there is no set meal timing, snacking is discouraged to reduce the spikes in your insulin levels which increase cravings. They also suggest you go to sleep on a light stomach.
Maybe you’ve heard of the “keto flu.” When you restrict carbohydrates, your body reacts in a way that feels like the flu. Symptoms include sugar cravings, dizziness, irritability, poor focus and concentration, stomach pains, nausea, cramping, confusion, muscle soreness, and difficulty falling asleep.
How long does this last? It just depends. It can last for days or weeks. It really depends on how strict you are about truly limiting your carbs enough to get into and stay in ketosis. You can check to see if you are in ketosis by using kits sold at pharmacies (urine test strips).
Should You Try the Keto Diet?
Any diet gives you the 3 A’s: Awareness, Accountability and Action. You will very likely lose weight at first when you have those three things. At first. The reality is, can you commit to this for life? Is this a lifestyle you can live with?
I think there are some very positive things about this diet. Eating whole foods. The emphasis on eating lots of non starchy vegetables. Avoiding sugar and processed food. But in my experience, completely eliminating carbohydrates or any macronutrient from your diet just doesn’t work in the long term. It is also extremely difficult to stay in ketosis. The feelings of low energy and irritability often last a while and just make daily life difficult.
I agree that limiting your carb intake to healthier carbs such as vegetables and fruits is very beneficial to your health. I agree that limiting sugar and processed foods is something you should do if you want to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. But I feel that trying to fit your life into any strict eating plan is not sustainable.
The best way to lose weight and keep it off is slow and steady. Begin with upgrading what you are already eating. Add in healthier food. Then work to limit the food that doesn’t support your efforts. It doesn’t have to be so incredibly drastic and such drastic efforts don’t often last in the long term.