I should start by stating that I’ve done every diet known to humankind. I’m that girl.
That “No thanks … I’m not eating fruit after 7 p.m.” girl. That “time for my sixth mini-meal of the day” girl. That “Yes, this cayenne and lemon juice drink does kind burn on the way out, but I dropped 12 pounds in 3 days” girl.
So, it should come by no surprise that when Pinterest told me about keto, the newest fad diet, it sparked my interest. And, after seeing actual people I knew lose copious amounts of weight eating bacon, I just had to jump on board.
Healthline describes the keto diet like this: "The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels."
I will admit that my main motivation to start keto was the draw of the food. For me, it has always been food. Food has been my comfort, my nemesis, my reward and my punishment.
The idea of being able to eat bacon, cheese, butter and steak — all things that are usually so sadly restricted on most diets — and lose weight fast sounded almost too good to be true.
But true, it was! I dropped eight pounds in my first seven days and continued to drop pounds week after week. I stuck with it, having very few hiccups or “cheats” for months, continuing to lose weight and feel amazing.
Moreover, while my initial goals had all circled around weight loss, I was also thrilled to find that I felt energized all day, slept better than I had in years, never felt bloated or gassy and rarely felt hungry.
Fast-forward to Christmas 2018.
I entered the season feeling better about myself than I had in ages. I was slimmer, more energized and happier than ever before. I’d worked hard for this and decided I deserved a bit of a break. I told myself that I would try to stick to mostly keto foods and have those yummy holiday treats in moderation. Sounds reasonable, right?
I thought so, too.
That is until I weighed in on January 1 of this year and had managed to gain a whopping 12 pounds in two weeks with this attempt at "keto moderation.”
“Kind of Keto” will make you fat.
The thing I didn’t realize was this: While the idea of 80/20 (i.e., eating on plan 80 percent of the time and allowing treats 20 percent of the time) works for a lot of diets, on keto, it makes you fat. The reason behind this is that keto success relies solely on keeping your body in a state ketosis. One cheat will knock you right out of that low-carb window.
I was eating extremely high fat, as you're supposed to with keto, but also adding in high carb treats once in a while. Thanks to the “moderation” of those Christmas goodies, my ass was nowhere near ketosis, yet I continued to down my bulletproof coffee every morning, eat steak topped with Kerrygold butter and enjoyed fat bombs as usual.
The result was massive weight gain.
While my weight gain wasn’t ideal, I’m eternally grateful that I only attempted to eat “kind of keto” for a few weeks and found out relatively quickly what effect it would have on my body.
Lesson learned: There is no such thing as “kind of” following keto. Keto with cheats is not like other diets with cheats. “Kind of keto” will make you fat.
But I also know from experience that this diet, if followed correctly, likely will help you lose massive amounts of weight and feel better than you ever dreamed possible. So, if you're just contemplating taking the keto journey, really consider if this is a lifestyle you can stick with forever. If it is, happy, delicious eating to you!