Because we’re trendy and on top of what all the cool kids are down with, let’s take a moment to explore what seems to be about the diet du jour (that means “diet of the day”): Keto.
So, let’s talk about what keto is and what it is not.
Keto’s best explained as an ultra low-carb diet. The idea is that after you stop ingesting the majority of your diet’s macros from carbs — between 20-50 net grams a day — your body will stop using glycogen as fuel and will begin to use fat as fuel, thus releasing ketones. (Also, “net” means after you subtract out the grams of fiber and — sometimes more controversially — the sugar alcohols.)
With a keto diet, not only do you eat very few carbs — whether that’s breads, pastas, rices, sugars, etc. — but you also eat a whole shitload more fat, like 60-70 percent or even higher.
Also it seems like a fairly new diet, keto’s actually been around since like the late 1700s. (Warning: That’s a Wikipedia link, so take it for what it’s worth). Some rando doctor put a couple of soldiers with diabetes on the keto diet, and thus, the fad was born. … OK, not really. In the 19th century, keto was usually the treatment for diabetes.
Then, in the early part of the 20th century, keto became a treatment for kids suffering from epilepsy. Keto reduced the number of seizures epileptic kids would have — often by at least half — even after they stopped the diet.
In the 1960s, Dr. Atkins hit the scene and started pimping keto as a weight-loss diet. Then, in the ’70s through early ’90s came the low-fat craze, and keto largely took a back seat. In 1992, Atkins re-released his book with some better packaging and slick marketing. Though it’s had some ups and downs, its popularity has been steady-. And that’s despite some controversy and a lack of long-term studies to determine if the diet actually works or if it’s sustainable or what kind of impact it can have on someone’s health for the long haul.
What’s All the Hype Anyway?
As with many diets, lots of folks hate them some keto. They say it’s not healthy, there’s too much fat, it’s not sustainable, it’s too restrictive, the side effects are too unpleasant. And many also point to the lack of long-term studies that would determine the diet’s effectiveness.
All of those are good points, so think hard about whether you want to travel down the keto path.
Both AJ and Hillary opted to try keto again because of previous successes. But they also both recognized that you best have a plan once you decide to go off keto. Otherwise, that weight’s coming back, and it’s bringing friends.
5 Tips If You Decide to Go Keto
Tip No. 1: The keto flu is just as real as the struggle. Prepare for it like you did for your SATs. Unless you blew them off, like AJ did. The SATS, not keto. She studied for that shit. Bought books. Took practice exams, broke into the flop sweats, suffered through Fresca-induced migraines, listened to coach pep talks over and over … and she puked. … Wait, are we talking about keto anymore or the SATS? Anyhoo …
The symptoms of the keto flu can include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive sweating
- Bad breath
- Gastro issues
- Aches and pains
None of that is fun. You can get through it, but you can lessen the severity and/or shorten the duration by:
- Taking electrolytes. Have a stash on hand in the car, office, purse. And if you are still feeling the “blehs,” try increasing your sodium intake. There are some keto nerds … uh, “experts,” who say that “When you adopt a low carb, high fat diet like the keto diet, insulin levels are much lower and your body excretes more salt since there are no carbohydrates present in your body to spike insulin and hold onto the sodium.” We don’t know if that’s true, because again: not scientists or nutritionists. But hey, if you feel like hot garbage, try more salt.
- Get your fiber in. You’ll be eating a lot of meat and cheese so … enough said.
- Drink lots of water. Like maybe what might seem like a ridiculous amount. Some of the “keto experts” recommend as much as half your body weight in ounces of water. Yeah, that’s a lot of peeing throughout the day and night. But the point is: Stay real hydrated.
Tip No. 2: Goddamn, is it just us, or were there like 37 tips in that first one? Blame AJ. Tip No. 1 was her area of responsibility.
Let’s try shortening some shit up here.
So, exercise a bunch, or at least more than maybe you normally would. The idea is to drain your glycogen stores as quickly as possible so your body switches over to fat-burning mode more quicker.
When you exercise, you burn through glycogen faster. Obviously, don’t go crazy; there’s no need to take up CrossFit or run a fucking marathon here. Unless that’s your bag. But do a little more cardio maybe or some high-intensity interval training, if that fits with your activity ability.
Tip No. 3: Prep yo’ food. That’s a key to a lot of eating better success. It removes your excuses and helps when your energy and willpower are low. Picture it: It’s Thursday after a hard day. You’re exhausted, and your mind is strong, but your flesh, it is weak. Well, with food already prepared in the fridge, bam! Easy peasy.
Tip No. 4: Hold out on the “keto treats” for as long as you can, indefinitely if possible. You have to give your taste buds time to adjust, and that takes a couple weeks. Also, there’s the small detail of eh lot of keto treats taste like hot garbage and play havoc with your guts because of all the sugar alcohols and added fiber. Plus, the fake sugars in them could make you crave the real stuff and derail your progress. So, if you can hold out, do it. Be strong, grasshopper.
Tip No. 5: Plan ahead before you eat out. A lot of restaurants these days are offering more and more low-carb options. Make sure to do a lil’ online research before you chow down outside your home and figure out which meals will help you stick to your goals.