Attempting a Ketogenic (Keto) diet and why I stopped
Just a disclaimer before I start:
This post is not meant to influence your diet decisions and you should always do what’s best for your body regardless of my opinion. I am neither a Dietitian nor a Nutritionist and do not claim to be. These are my uninformed opinions.
With that being said, yeah, I stopped eating Keto.
What is Keto?
The Keto diet (short for Ketogenic) has been growing in popularity recently and having tried it myself for about 2 months I can say that it’s not for me. I am not writing this to explain the Keto diet to you but rather tell you about my experience.
Basically, the Ketogenic diet, or “Keto” as it’s commonly called is a diet consisting of high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates which in theory, causes your body to use fat as energy instead of carbs. That means when your body uses fat as energy, it encourages your body to burn body fat.
Well that’s the most simplistic definition I can provide.
There’s a lot more to it but that’s the simplest description I can explain. There’s more science to it, I assure you, but that’s the layman’s gist.
Read the Wikipedia entry if you want to get into the food science of the diet and be even more confused.
You want a your diet to consist of mostly good fats such as fatty beef, cook with lots of coconut oil or butter, and eat avocados with practically every meal. In moderate amounts, eat protein and for God’s sake, stay away from any carbs while staying calorie-conscious overall.
I still follow some of the Keto recipes that I learned but I am not so concerned with following the diet any longer.
Here’s a few reasons why…
- Options when dining out are limited: As with any diet, certain sacrifice is necessary but carbs are everywhere and when your goal is to keep your daily carbs below 30 grams a day, this severely limits your food options. I imagine others have felt this with similar diet such as Atkins. That means no rice with your Butter Chicken, no bun on your burgers, and no beer…ever. While attempting the diet I found only 1 thing on the McDonald’s menu that was filling and adhere’s to the rules of Keto. (If you’re interested it is called the Loaded Lettuce and may only be available in New Zealand) Also, while travelling the world you cannot prepare every single meal.
- It took forever to prepare meals: Bacon wrapped, cheese-stuffed, chicken breast sounds pretty awesome but it just takes so long to prepare and make. After a long day at work and the gym after, I had to prepare a meal for the night and the following day’s lunch. Food preparation just took longer than normal because of diet restrictions. As I mentioned in #1, because of all the food preparation, this is not a traveller-friendly diet. Carbs are usually quick and easy forms of snacks
- I was following the diet wrong: Most days I was following the diet correctly but in general I found it hard to get all the fat that I needed and instead was following a more moderate fat, high protein, low carb diet as a result. You’re supposed to have HIGH fat, moderate protein, low carb because that’s what the diet actually is. The vast majority of your calories need to come from fat.
- The “Don’t Eat” list of foods is large: I found the core of the diet was to avoid carbs but it’s a bit more complex than that, see #6. Almost all fruit is to be avoided and I love fruit too much to let that go. They also say avoid milk products which I have from time to time.
- The idea of the diet is fat loss: I’m already pretty lean with a body fat percentage hovering around 10-15% so I don’t really need to lose much body fat (unless I want to look jacked). That doesn’t mean I don’t have some body fat that I’d like to lose but it’s not a high priority for me right now. That’s not to say that I don’t want to look jacked but the incredible effort that goes into the keto diet is not for the faint of heart.
- No cheat days: It’s all about a bodily process call ketosis where your body produces keytones that it uses for fuel instead of carbs. It’s complicated food science mumbo jumbo but eating too many carbs or protein will take you out of the bodily process called ketosis which explains why I was doing the diet incorrectly. I thought I could spare my 30 carb macros a day into a few unhealthy sweets but no, that ruins ketosis apparently.
- Carbs are needed for testosterone production: I’m an avid gym-goer and am concerned with my natural testosterone production so when I read that low-carb diets are not good for testosterone I because skeptical of my choice of diet. A personal trainer I follow on twitter, A.J.A. Cortes has a good post on raising testosterone levels naturally.
While these are the reasons why I don’t participate in the Keto diet anymore there are some redeeming qualities about the diet.
My favorite part of the Keto diet is that I get to eat some of my favorite foods in high quantities like grass-fed beef, chicken, bacon, butter coffee, avocados, fish, cheese, fresh vegetables, etc.
And some of the recipes are amazing but it’s not enough for me to keep going with it. Instead I’ll have all the rice, bread, and fruit that my heart desires.
But as the saying goes, “everything in moderation”
Have you tried this diet or any other low carb diet? Let me know in the comments below.
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