Keto, ketones, ketosis
Keto is quite the buzz work right now. With touted benefits like effortless weight loss, no cravings, improved brain cognition and disease prevention. Why wouldn't we all want to try? With this popularity comes a whole slew of new products from keto protein/fat bars to MCT oil and all the way to just adding straight up ketones to you drinks.
Low carb has hung around in the diet vernacular for decades but keto took this to a more painstakingly detailed extreme. High fat, moderate protein and low carb. Carbohydrate is viewed as the one non-essential macronutrient and its main purpose is energy. Cutting it out is seen as a great way to tap into the huge energy stores already on our body in the form of fat.
Die-hard keto converts have an answer to everything. Their answer to why it didn't work for someone is that they didn't keto “hard enough”. But let me tell you that keto didn't work for me and I’m ok with that.
Our bodies are all unique
Bio-individuality. There’s that word again. There is no one diet that can work for everyone. If you hear someone say that keto is great for everybody then run a mile in the opposite direction. Someone thriving on a diet like keto doesn't mean everyone will have the same experience or that I failed when I couldn't make it work for my body. When I saw it wasn’t beneficial for me I quit which is key when playing around to find your optimal diet. Some people are likely to stop seeing the desirable results they did at first but instead decide they need to go harder, cut carbs more and be more strict. The answer to their stalled progress could just be more carbs.
My very own keto fail
I decided to try out keto after my sister was experimenting with it so I jumped on the bandwagon and bought the keto pee sticks. I counted my macronutrients to make sure I was low enough in carbohydrate and protein to be in ketosis. I sandwiched slices of butter between slices of cheese for a snack. I weighed my vegetables and stuck to the lowest carb options available. I blended my bulletproof coffee with butter and MCT oil every morning at the office and fielded the stares and questions from co-workers that come with it. I got busted for taking my own butter to a restaurant to add to my soup to increase the fat content. I tested my ketones regularly and yes, I was in ketosis. I read online about all the benefits, listened to podcasts and absorbed the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore cover to cover. Who needs carbs I told myself, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate like there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Why it didn't work for me
Deep down I never agreed with limiting or counting non starchy vegetables. This is necessary with keto to stay below the designated carbohydrate gram total for a day of around 60-80 grams or even lower. Carbohydrates happen to come with a countless variety of micronutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants which are necessary for optimal health in ways science still doesn't fully understand .
I was active, climbing multiple times a week with a focus on performance not just moving my body. I noticed at first I felt great, I experimented with a small amount (like a couple of dried apricots) during my session and felt amazing for months. Until I didn’t. After a couple of months feeling great my performance began to tank. Some endurance athletes swear by keto tapping them in to a bottomless pit of energy called your body’s fat stores. But fat is only a great fuel for long slow burn type exercise. Where power and explosive energy are required it just doesn't perform like glucose.
Did I lose any weight?
Many people try keto purely for weight management. I wasn't overweight when I tried it but I definitely hoped that I would lean out on the diet. Surprise, surprise. I didn't. Keto has been shown to be great for people who need to lose a considerable amount of weight. It isn't so great with tackling the last 3-5kg which your body probably doesn't want to lose anyway.
Who might benefit from keto?
Those looking to lose a considerable amount of weight
Those dealing with blood sugar dysregulation, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
People looking for help with controlling sugar and carb cravings.
Those dealing with PCOS, specific neurological or mental conditions.
Keto is definitely not for everyone
Keto is definitely not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children. It’s also not recommended for people dealing with adrenal dysfunction or hypothyroidism.
Check with a healthcare professional before undergoing any drastic diet changes.