With all the crazes in dieting over the years, it can be tough to keep up on the “in” diet. People from all walks of life seem to gravitate towards looking at diets, especially this time of year. We all know we are going to be indulging in our favorite meals, grandma’s pies and cookies and of course all the sweet treats at the office from vendors and spouses stopping by. Most of those treats contain carbs…LOTS of delicious, comfort food carbs. Too many of them, and we end up looking the food we just shoved down our throats; bloated, doughy, human replications. One diet that has been around a while and quite frequently in the news is the keto diet. This diet is the opposite of those comfort foods where it limits or completely negates any carbs. Is the keto diet right for me, you may be asking. How involved will I have to be, is another. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll have a general thought about the keto diet and if it is something that you’d be comfortable with trying.
What is Keto?
The ketogenic diet, (typically known as keto), is a high-fat, VERY low-carb diet. This is also a very tough diet to start. Most of us are used to eating a diet that is high in carbs and processed foods. Keto will stop that dead in the tracks. With that, our bodies try and burn fat. Keto is designed to put our bodies into ketosis which is the state of burning fat instead of burning carbohydrates for energy. Ketosis can for sure bring on weight loss and some doctors accredit this type of diet with controlling diabetes. For some this could be deemed a “cure all” for them, helping to get their body back into a reset mode and help them lose weight and inevitably feel better all around.
So, with this diet, as with any diet, you may be asking, “what’s good to eat? What should I avoid? Can I meal prep? Will my diet change affect social eating?” All good questions and ones that typically make or break a person and their diet change. Let’s dive deeper into the world of keto.
What Foods to Eat and Which Ones to Avoid?
Keto will limit carbs in a way that your body is not used to. A typical American diet, for example, contains high carbs, processed ingredients and very little of good fats (yes, fats can be good, we will get to that!) and protein we need. Most dieticians will say that those starting the keto diet, should limit their carbs to 20-30 grams a day.
When planning foods to eat for the day and week, you’ll want to keep in mind what foods are high in carbs, protein and fats. Don’t just assume that because it is a healthy fruit or vegetable that it will fit into your new diet. Fruits and vegetables are notorious for containing mostly carbs. Most people will assume that if they stay away from breads, pastas, chips, cookies and other sweets, they will be fine. Not the case. Bottomline, the only foods that don’t have carbs are proteins like meat and pure fats, like butter, and oils.
Are You Comfortable with Fats?
As mentioned before, the keto diet is designed to use fat, not carbs, as the energy source for your body. So if you are not comfortable taking in more fats than you are used to, the keto diet option may be a challenge. The problem with fats is that we all have been conditioned to avoid fats, that all fats are bad for us. This is not the case and this diet helps to prove that theory wrong. Again, it will be a struggle to condition the body to like fats and avoid carbs so start slow. Order a burger with no bun but use lettuce as a bun. Instead of mashed potatoes with a hearty meal, use mashed cauliflower. Cook with more oil on your food and not just make everything plain (see the classic old school diet of plain, boneless/skinless chicken breast with rice, yuck). Just don’t fear fat and learn to accept it as a friend, otherwise the keto diet will not be a good match for you.
Talk to Friends and Family
Eating with friends and family is something most can’t avoid. Just because you are changing your lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to cut out your loved ones. Talk to them and let them know ahead of starting the keto diet. Make them aware that they will see you eating differently and prepare them to know and what to expect with your new eating habits. The last thing you need is to feel like you are an exhibit in a zoo when your ordered meal is a radical change from your usual. You want positive enforcement with your new lifestyle, no need to shock and awe those closest to you. Also let them know that this is temporary. The keto diet is not supposed to be a “forever” change. Typically, the keto diet is used for body reset, lasting 3-6 months.
Closing Thoughts on a New Beginning
Remember, the keto diet is designed as short-term fix for a long term solution. Even after leaving the keto diet, you should not just fall back into old routines. Your diet now should consist of eating less breads, pastas, starches and sugars and learning to eat healthier all around. Have a plan for after this diet is done. Learn during the time of being on the diet as to what foods you like and maybe incorporate more of those into your future meals after keto. Use keto to rethink how you eat and drink, what exercise can do for you and most importantly, how you felt during your time on keto.
If feeling good and reconditioning your mind and body in the short term that can affect your long-term health, then the keto diet might be worth checking into.