Should I try keto? Yes? No? Probably not.

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If I had a dime...for every time...someone asked if me if they should "go keto"...

The ketogenic diet is the hottest, spiciest topic in the diet field right now, so dammit, it's time to address it.

The good, the bad, the I-haven't-eaten-a-carb-in-4-days-I'm-homicidal. Let's discuss.

I think the easiest way to write this blog post is in the form of Q&A. Sort of like a little conversation with myself, which feels very natural for me, and you can follow along. Ready?

Q. WHAT IS KETO? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

Keto is short for ketosis, which is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketones in the body that is caused by eating very minimal carbohydrates.

In very, very simple terms, when your body is in a state of ketosis, it's burning fat for energy instead of sugar (well duh! without carbs, there is no sugar). Which is cool, except that the only way to get into ketosis is through maintaining a super low-carb diet. SUUUUUUPER low carb.

Q. OK SO LIKE, I DON'T EAT CARBS, I JUST EAT PROTEIN AND FAT? LIKE CHICKEN WINGS AND CREAM CHEESE?

A. LOL, um, kind of, but not really. First of all, to get into a state of ketosis, your primary focus has to be on fats, not lean proteins. I'm talkin coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, and seeds. Some cream cheese is ok, but in general, dairy is limited on a ketogenic diet because it does still have some carbs and really, cream cheese is not exactly a health food.

To make this diet really effective, you must focus on HEALTHY fats and getting in lots of greens and fiber, not JUST straight up fat. This can make it tricky and is why I highly highly recommend working with a professional (aaaay!) if you're going to do it.

Q. CAN I DRINK ALCOHOL?

A. Yeah, if you check my post on alcohol you can pretty much drink whatever I suggest there. The usual suspects. Vodka, tequila. But it will slow ketone production and weight loss. And if you black out and get Taco Bell, you're on your own.

Q: HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?

A: Done right, it's pretty effective. (key: done right!!) When your body is in a state of ketosis, its first choice of energy is fat, NOT carbs (duh - they're not present) or protein (which is super cool bc this means we won't lose a bunch of muscle during weight loss).

We also stop releasing a lot of insulin, because we don't release insulin unless there's sugar in our blood, which means our body is consistently releasing glucagon. Glucagon is a fat burning hormone.

Q: IS THE DIET SAFE?

A: Pretty much, yeah. But there are definitely some people with certain diseases or conditions (including pregnancy!!) who should not do keto, and you can find out more about that here. And, of course, ALWAYS consult your doctor before starting a rigorous diet program such as keto.

Q: WHAT ARE ALL THE BENEFITS OF A KETOGENIC DIET?

A: Well, fat loss - we've established that.

More than that, though, the ketogenic diet gives your body and brain clean energy AND it's super anti-inflammatory. Many people report a lot of mental clarity and long-lasting energy when they're in ketosis. Other benefits include high-quality sleep, more endurance during long workouts (note: you must be in full ketosis for this benefit, which can take up to a week), and reduced cravings/appetite.

Q: BACK UP A SEC, HOW DO I EVEN KNOW IF I'M IN KETOSIS?

A: You gotta buy the strips to test your pee. If you're doing this willy-nilly you're going to fail and you won't even know what it takes and what it doesn't take to stay in ketosis. Everyone is different. I can't give you an exact plan that will put you into ketosis, it's trial and error. Pee on a stick or bust.

Q: WHO SHOULD TRY THIS TYPE OF DIET?

A: Fun fact: Before the ketogenic diet become a major diet craze, it was (and still is) used as a therapeutic diet for brain trauma victims since ketones, which are produced for fuel for the brain in ketosis, can cross the blood-brain barrier and give your brain energy (hence the reason this diet is awesome for mental clarity and brain power!). 

But for the general public, I only recommend this type of diet if you are generally very healthy. Like, if you don't have your health shit in order, you don't need to be goin on some crazy diet. You need to get yourself right first.

Talk to your doctor, or to me, to find out the best weight loss path for you.

On top of being healthy, I also only recommend this diet if you are hardcore trying to lose fat over a short period of time. A short period of time meaning 3-6 weeks.

Why? Because while the short benefits are pretty clear, long-term benefits aren't. It may be perfectly safe to do long term, but for your mental health, it's important to be able to maintain or lose weight while also eating like a normal human.

Q: WHO SHOULDN'T TRY THIS TYPE OF DIET?

A: Well, obviously anyone listed above. But other than that, anyone who isn't strict af and ready to make a serious, serious commitment.

It's not a diet that you can pop in and out of and do half ass and still see results. You can't "mess up." Here, let me explain this a little better.

To get into a state of ketosis, it takes 48 hours - 1 week depending on your current diet (if it sucks, you're looking at a week). "Getting into ketosis" is nasty. You experience flu-like symptoms and as I understand it, you can feel pretty homicidal.

Like, y'all, you're not eating carbs. You think your body is just gonna be like "ok cool, time to burn fat!" Nah. It's gonna hate you for a minute. We adapt, but not that quickly.

So if you come out of ketosis because you couldn't keep your paws off a pizza crust, you've gotta start the process over. This is why this such a serious commitment.

Q. WAIT, SO ARE YOU GIVING KETO YOUR STAMP OF APPROVAL? GIRL, YOU'RE ALL OVER THE PLACE.

A: Ha - ok. Let me summarize my thoughts.

Yes: It does work. There's no doubt about that. It's science. Ketosis = more fat burn. Ketosis = more mental clarity. This isn't an opinion. It's a fact. And any of those anti-diet accounts out there (hell, I'm an anti-diet account so I can talk shit if I want) telling you it doesn't work is ludicrous. If you're a healthy person, it works and it's (probably) safe.

No: This isn't a fun diet. I can't say from experience, but you do have to be diligent, you can't cheat, working out can be a challenge for some people, and it can definitely put a damper on your social life. You have to test your ketones daily, and suddenly you become a science project instead of a human.

While I know keto works, I've had *countless* women comes to me who have done the diet, and are now absolutely horrified of carbohydrates.

Ketogenic Diet Real Talk

Being scared of a food group is no way to live.

The diet culture - even diets that work - is causing a food anxiety epidemic. I feel confident saying this because 98% of the women I work with have it.

So now not only are we overweight (or just struggling with extra weight), but our mental health is being compromised as well.

I wanted to give you the facts - which I did - but before attempting a diet that completely eliminates a macronutrient, I want you to understand that it's possible to achieve results without being this extreme.

My approach to weight loss is centered around increasing your metabolic rate, and it works. So whether that's through the 30-Day Metabolism Makeover program or working with me 1-on-1, I can help you get where you need to be without your life having to suck.

You can also learn more about my methods, which have helped thousands of people lose weight without giving up any of their favorite foods or social life,  here and here.

K I'm tired - that was a lot. What do you guys think of the keto diet? Have you tried it? 

Have a good weekend, babes!

Meg

Megan Kober, RDN, LD