Slightly-longer answer: Yes, but your social schedule may take some hits.
I first heard about intermittent fasting, or ‘IF’ as it’s often lovingly referred to by a bounty of health bloggers, through the same place I hear about most of my other future health endeavors: the internet. It seemed as though, out of nowhere, IF was mentioned by every single one of my favorite health youtubers and sites for its mind-body benefits. I’m not above ignoring my biases, so after Whitney Simmons, one of my all-time favorite fitness queens, hailed the benefits of a week of IF, I was sold.
With a lineup like lower inflammation, regulated hormones, weight loss, lowered insulin resistance, and improved cognition, I found myself skeptical and intrigued (there’s that ‘scientific mindset’ I was taught in the 4th grade at work). Sure, I could spend another few hours sucked into the black hole of Healthline articles and bodybuilding forums trying to sort through the testimonials of others, but I felt that a much more efficient use of my time would be to cut to the chase. There was only one way to truly see how my body would truly react: test it myself. I made a plan and set out for the week.
I’ve never been much of a ‘dieter,’ per se. I’m not a fan of the restriction that often lives hand-in-hand with promises of certain physical or mental benefits here and there. Isn’t the preservation of your overall sanity worth more than any (often short-lived) pride you get for turning down dessert?
A month ago, my answer would have been absolutely. However, 4 weeks into doing keto and I was amazed at how my sanity didn’t even seem tested. All the negative connotation associated with ‘dieting’ seemed to fade into the background, along with my cravings for sugar and pasta.
But that’s skipping way far ahead. There’s a lot to go over about this way of eating that’s suddenly sparking major interest in the health community. Let’s begin with the basics.
What is keto?
A ketogenic diet is one comprised primarily of fat and next to nothing in terms of carbs, with moderate protein. In legitimate macro terms, that means that my daily caloric intake would need to come from 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein, and a *minuscule* 5-10% carbohydrate.
Once you’ve been eating this way for a week or so (duration varies from person to person), you enter a state of ketosis. In this state, as opposed to running on glucose derived from carbs, your body begins producing ketones for energy.
Essentially, your body runs on fat, not sugar.
This switch in energy source is supposed to come with a slew of health benefits: increased energy levels, sharper mental focus, weight loss, hormone and blood sugar regulation, and glowing skin are just a few of the features that drew me in.
While all grains, sugar, fruit, and root veggies are a no-go on this plan, most keto-aficianados stick to meals filled with meats, high-fat dairy, avocado, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and tons and tons of vegetables. The closest cousin I can think of to this plan is paleo, as meat and veg seem to be its staples.
For the first week or so, keto followers experience something called the “carb flu” or “keto flu,” where there body, so accustomed to running on carbs, isn’t quite sure where to look for energy. You also lose quite a bit of electrolytes through this process (sodium, potassium, and magnesium are the big three), so every keto website on planet earth recommends taking supplements to ease you through the transition.
Honestly? It seemed like a challenge. To actually manipulate the body to run on an entirely different fuel source seemed like a crazy experiment almost too good to be true.
Not to mention I dragged a solid partner-in-crime into doing it with me, my dad. Having someone to keep me accountable and answer all my questions made the process run a bit more smoothly (cue the daily phone calls: is cauliflower a carb?)
The first shopping trip: Went terribly. I loaded my cart up at my nearest Whole Foods with items I had been conditioned to avoid for years: bacon, butter, heavy cream, ghee, cheese, you name it. I flipped flopped about keto so many times I turned a 15-minute grocery trip into about an hour (several calls to my dad for advice contributed to this time-suck. And also checking out all the pretty, overpriced things Whole Foods has to offer). After filling my cart with heaps of veggies to qualm my anxiety about clogging my arteries, I checked out and decided to dive in.