The keto diet is still just as popular now as it was a Way back a few years ago when the craze first hit! People often ask me what I think about the keto diet, and if I support it, and my answer is…yes and no!
To clarify, I support the overall concept of the keto diet, but not how extreme it can be. After all, you have some people trying to get themselves in a very extreme state of ketosis by eating nothing but meat…not only avoiding fruits and grains, but even avoiding vegetables all together!
What is the Keto Diet?
If you're not familiar with the keto diet, it's basically the idea that you want your body to burn fat for fuel instead of burning carbs. And what's even better is that you burn fat in dangerous areas, like visceral (stomach) fat, which is the type of fat most strongly linked to not only heart disease and diabetes, and cancer but, you may be surprised to learn, Alzheimer's and strokes! This diet was initially intended to be a diet for normal people. Isn't that crazy?
So this idea of using a special diet to get rid of fat and especially target that dangerous visceral fat is something I can 100% get behind.
Basically, when you consume a minimal level of carbs and live on a diet of mostly healthy fats and protein instead, you can get your body into a state called ketosis. This is because your body isn't getting its energy from glucose, but instead starts getting it from stored fat, a type of energy called ketones.
That's why it's called ketosis, and that's why it's called the keto diet!!
Most experts on the topic agree that in order to stay in this beneficial state, you would need to consume less than 50 carbs a day, even better if it's under 20.
You might be thinking … "OK, that sounds hard, but, awesome!"
Well, that's actually exactly why I don't support the keto diet.
Let me explain:
I just don't think this diet is very sustainable for most people. And when a diet isn't sustainable, and therefore you can't make it work as a long-term LIFESTYLE, then what's the point?
Personally, I don't think a diet should FEEL like a diet. I think it should feel like something you have to learn and adapt to a bit at first, but that it shouldn't mean never splurging on yourself. It shouldn't mean radically changing your lifestyle from any other healthy person's.
It should mean enjoying your food, and reveling in and craving healthy food, including copious amounts of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits and whole grains. If you are counting the carbs in your favorite vegetables, that just doesn't seem like a very sustainable or enjoyable route, to me!
So then, my second thought was, "If you're eating healthily, but not in this perpetual state of ketosis, can you still reap similar health benefits??"
It turns out, just eating a somewhat low-carb and conscientious diet has actually been proven as beneficial as the keto diet. Super good news, right??
For example, take a look at these two studies. Study #1 is about how much the keto diet reduces a specific inflammatory molecule that leads to all types of diseases.
Study #2 is about how a LESS RESTRICTIVE low-carb diet (20% carbs) reduced that same inflammatory molecule…by the same amount!
Once you adjust for the duration, with study #1 taking place over 3 months and study #2 taking place over 6 months…both the diets reduced this molecule by around the same amount, over 3%.
But the keto diet wasn't any better when it comes to the most important benefit, reducing inflammation, and thus encouraging a long life!
So overall, do I support the keto diet for people who want to do it? Sure thing! But I want to stress that if it's getting too overwhelming for you, and you don't feel like you're able to keep up with it…you can get essentially the same exact benefits just by consuming less carbs, and lots of veggies and lean meats.
Like most things in life, killing yourself over it doesn't give you better results than just putting in effort!!
I'm curious, so let me know in the comments. Do you follow a keto diet? Did you ever try it and then quit? Do you follow a low-carb diet?
And if you'd like to learn more about what diet I personally follow, check out this blog post I wrote about the flexibility of the 2B Mindset program! (Yes, you can still go out to eat anywhere on that plan!)