With all the buzz lately around the Ketogenic Diet, I figured it was a good time to share the lifestyle experiment I’ve been doing. Since the first of the month, Mr Never Cooks and I have been following a high-fat, low-carb diet — or HFLC if we want to start digging into the lingo (and there is so much of it). You could say it was our New Year’s Resolution to shed a few pounds, but as a scientist I also love trying trends out.
It’s so easy to shrug off the newest diet craze as just a fad. But the more I’ve dug into the history of how sugar has snuck its way into American food, the more I’ve wondered about our current high carbohydrate lifestyle in the US.
So What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
There are tons of places that all have slightly different numbers, but scientists generally agree that “low carb” means eating less than 50g of carbohydrates each day.
Now, that’s only 200 calories.
So what does the rest of your food look like? It’s going to be split between protein and fats, and the more important number here is actually the amount of protein you eat.
There are plenty of protein calculators out there that will give you a pretty good estimate, using your goal weight. I really like this one because it tells you what official organizations like the CDC recommend. Plus, you’ll see how they each have slightly different numbers. Why? Because nutrition is difficult to study and bodies are so individual.
Now that you know those two numbers, you simply fill in the gap with a whole lot of fat.
Why are you doing all of this?
You’re trying to get into a state of ketogenesis, where your body burns fat instead of new carbohydrates for ready energy. Pretty cool, huh?
Except for the first few days.
Do You Still Have to Cut Calories with Keto?
Again, the science here is still young but the long and short of it is yes, you do probably have to cut calories to lose weight.
How much of a deficit you need is still up for debate, but apps like My Fitness Pal are great at giving you a starting point. You can fiddle around with the macro (protein-fat-carb) ratios and set your calories higher if you’re not feeling great or if your doctor thinks you should (because, duh, don’t do this kind of thing without talking to your doctor).
Then Why Should I Bother?!
I know, if you’re a chronic dieter then you’ve likely thrown up your hands at this point. If you wanted to count calories you may as well be able to indulge in oreos for dinner.
But hear me out.
There are a ton of reasons why this sucks less than other calorie-restricted diets.
For one, fat is amazing at making you feel FULL. Like actually full, not pretend-I’m-full-at-a-fancy-restaurant full. And the second reason may not apply to everyone but it certainly appealed to me.
Maybe even the whole damn avocado.
Sugar might be tasty, but nothing beats biting into a crispy slice of bacon without the guilt.
Can You Have “Cheat Days?”
Well aside from the fact that cheat days are usually what lead to cheat weeks for me (and those 10 extra pounds over Christmas) you really can’t cheat much on the Keto Diet.
Since the goal is to stay in ketosis, any big changes in carb intake are likely going to throw you right on out of it. And then it’s Keto flu all over again.
For people like Mr Never Cooks with his all-or-nothing mentality, this actually works really well. If I’m being honest, it’s been the easiest lifestyle change I’ve tried to stick to as well.
So is Keto the Holy Grail of Weight Loss?
That’s the big question. Is Keto the only lifestyle that will help someone lose weight? Nope. Will it work for everyone who tries it? Also no. For all the amazing success stories out there with people effortlessly losing a hundred pounds in a year, there are also people who hated it. As with every single choice in life, your mileage will vary.
But I can tell you this. I’ve never felt so good in my life! I had to cut back on coffee because I’m TOO awake, I sent Mr Never Cooks a message the other day that just said “I’m so smart,” and I’ve lost all my holiday weight and then some. Oh, and I did it all by eating butter and avocados and even bacon. So yes, it’s a little weird, but maybe Keto is worth a try.
Remember, all of this is based on my own research and experiences, so definitely check with your doctor before diving into something like this.
Follow my blog and Instagram @thismisscooks to come on this journey with me!