It’s hard to deny the temptation when you see haven’t seen your friend for a few weeks and then you see her and BAAM - she’s 20 pounds lighter and looks AMAAAAAAAZING. Of course she is also happy and excited - she is fitting into her clothes from five years ago and has a new sense of confidence you haven’t seen her have in years or maybe EVER. You begin to think, “I want some of that and I don’t care what it costs or what I have to do. If she can do it, I can do it!” This experience is enough for many of us to pull out our checkbooks and sell our soul to the devil to get those results. You continue to build your hope as you tell yourself, “I can do ANYTHING for 3 weeks!” So you ask your friend, “How did you lose the weight?” and your friend says, “I’m doing the keto diet.”
The standard ketogenic diet is VERY high in fat, EXTREMELY low in carbohydrates. As a matter of fact, the total daily carbohydrates is about 30 grams, making it more restrictive than both the Atkins and Paleo diets.
Ketosis is a SURVIVAL MECHANISM your body uses to survive when adequate amounts of carbohydrates are not available (such as in a famine - which is not the reality of our Western civilization). This biological process allows fat to be used for fuel (instead of the preferred source of glucose) in order to supply energy to muscles and the brain. The side effect is a build-up of a byproduct called ketones or ketone bodies. In small amounts, these should be able to be expelled through your urine, but at high amounts, your blood becomes acidic which can put unnecessary stress on your kidneys.
So, you may be able to drop 20 pounds but you will also be increasing the acidity of your blood and possibly damaging your kidneys - not to mention feeling starved, lethargic and moody while negatively stressing all of your other bodily systems. As with any restrictive way of eating that is not in alignment with how our body was designed to function, eventually you will feel so starved for carbohydrates that you will give in and succumb to an all-out binge which will strip you of your self-esteem and leave you feeling like a failure. Sounds totally worth it, right?
The feeling of being out-of-control (that follows any restrictive diet) is a biological and psychological mechanism to protect you because you ARE DESIGNED to eat and utilize healthy, whole food carbohydrates as your primary fuel source. There are no free rides, people. There is always a price to pay when you take a short-cut.
Here’s where the world of fantasy meets reality. So let’s say you “hang in there” and lose the weight. Your weight (and health) is not a one shot wonder. You don’t just “get thin” and then stay there because you achieved the number on the scale or size you wanted. This reality is exactly why the DIET industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry - because it depends on REPEAT customers. Think about it. You commit to the diet (and then un-commit) over and over and over and over again - gaining and losing the same weight. The collateral damage of this cycle is out of whack hormones, imbalanced gut flora, even more weight gain, an inability to lose weight, low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.
I teach a fitness class and had a woman come up to me and voice her frustration that she was “doing” the keto diet and had initially lost weight, but now she felt exhausted, cranky, moody and was STARVING. She was working out five days a week BUT she wasn’t losing any more weight. I could see the confusion and desperation in her eyes. She couldn't understand how it was possible to not be losing more weight - she was starving AND working out like a mad woman.
Let’s park here for a second. Your body is no dummy. It’s designed to PROTECT you, not just allow you to wither away to nothing. Diets STRESS your body. Diets tell your body that adequate food and nutrition are not available and so your metabolism slows down and your body HOLDS on for dear life (this includes holding onto fat) until normal, healthy conditions return.
Back to the woman in my fitness class. I listened to what she was eating and encouraged her to add CARBOHYDRATES to her breakfast (100% rolled oats with some blueberries and walnuts or perhaps some sprouted whole grain toast with peanut butter.) I talked her through the rest of her day and strategically added on some quality carbohydrates. The result? ONE WEEK later, she came up to me with a huge smile on her face. She felt AMAZING and couldn’t believe her energy level - especially during her workouts. She said that her clothes were already fitting better and she felt FREE to just eat and not obsess.
I come from a history of diets (and eating disorders and excessive exercise). Here’s the place I live now. I live beyond the shallow reasons for wanting to lose weight (to look good in a bathing suit or pair of jeans - although these are bonuses), because deep down I want to live a life full of energy and vibrancy, don’t you? I want to play with my sweet daughter and some day my grandchildren and pass on a legacy of health that doesn’t involve yo-yo dieting. What legacy do you want to leave? I desire to enjoy the beautiful nature God has created and live out my purpose and destiny He created me for with no physical, mental or emotional strongholds. I am committed to living a long life independently so as to not be a burden on the people I love. Do you want this too? Because the truth is, no diet is EVER going to give you this life, but you can claim it for yourself.
The bottom line, you may experience what looks like “success” in the short-term doing a diet like the keto diet, but if you don’t realistically see yourself doing it for a lifetime - the weight will come back and it will bring more of it’s little friends. If you are ready to stop spending time, money and energy waiting for the next “diet” to fix you, I invite you to schedule a free coaching session with me, just like the woman in my fitness classes, so I can empower you and set you on a path of moderate, healthy living based on sound nutritional principles so you can use more of your energy and resources on what really matters in life.
God bless you!