With people like Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry being fans, the keto (ketogenic) diet is having a big moment RN. It’s essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet where you eat so few carbs that your body goes into ketosis and, according to the propaganda, becomes a ‘fat burning machine’.
I became interested in this diet after doing research and discovering that not only is it supposed to be good for your body but going keto has positive benefits on your brain too. People who swear by the carb-free lifestyle say they have a crazy amount of energy and feel super clear-headed. It’s also been linked to helping with major health issues like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, memory loss and brain function in general.
I signed up with Diet Doctor, where a compelling and good looking Swedish doctor makes the keto diet uber accessible and easy to do (I know uber is German but I don’t know any Swedish so just let me have this, okay?). Here you will find infographics of what foods to eat and what to avoid, recipe ideas and testimonials from people whose lives changed after they stopped eating potatoes. You can create your own weekly meal plans according to your tastes and the Diet Doctor will produce a shopping list for you.
This diet involves no carbs; that means bread, potatoes, bananas and other things that taste good. You’re allowed lots of high-fat food, like cheese and butter, vegetables that grow above ground and meat. I went to Pick n Pay, bought some kale for the first time in my life along with the other listed ingredients, and went keto for a week. This is what I found:
The best bits about going keto
Although this diet is restrictive, many of the foods that you are allowed are amazing because they’re all high in fat and fat is delicious, and you can eat a lot of them. Technically in a day you are allowed to eat an infinite amount of meat, up to 30 eggs, 7 avocados, 20 kilos of butter and glug as much olive oil as you want (before throwing it all up ‘cos WTF, why did you glug all of that olive oil?). Food highlights for me included eating lots of halloumi, thick and creamy Greek yogurt and cauliflower mash.
I wanted to track my progress but don’t own a scale because nothing good ever comes from weighing yourself, am I right? Instead, I measured my waist like the Swedish Diet Doctor man suggested I should. In just a week I dropped 5cm around my waist, which is just enough to make putting on your skinny jeans when they’re fresh out of the wash not feel like you’re trying to perform a magic trick. I also didn’t feel exhausted or grumpy, which I had kind of expected to happen when going cold turkey on my triweekly cinnamon doughnut habit.
…and the not-so-good bits
According to the memes your mom shares on Facebook there’s no such thing as too much cheese. After my week of keto though I beg to differ. It’s more like: there’s no such thing as too much cheese, provided it’s paired with some kind of delicious carb-type thing to balance it out. After my second cauliflower pizza covered in cheddar and feta I was sick of cheese TBQH.
I also felt low-level nauseous most of the time. Apparently, this is part of the so-called ‘keto flu’, which passes if you stick out the diet for long enough and by upping your water intake. The nausea meant I didn’t feel like eating that much, which could have played a role in my weight loss.
Most of all, this diet is boring as hell for a vegetarian. I imagine it would be way more fun if I had been stuffing my face with salmon or ordering bun-less burgers at Hudson’s all week instead of pretty much eating boiled eggs three times a day. If you have more time to cook there are definitely delicious vegetarian keto meals to be had though. I’m a bit lazy in the kitchen, however, and missed the ease of a simple and classic peanut butter sandwich. Sure, I could have pre-boiled a bunch of eggs for the week, but no one wants to be that person in the workplace who makes the whole office smell like Eau de Egg.
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Will I be keeping it up?
Because I don’t want my friends to stop inviting me to dinner parties I won’t be sticking as strictly to the keto diet. I will, however, try my best to follow it when I’m just cooking for me because replacing carbs with vegetables is definitely a good life choice I’d like to keep up. I liked how I didn’t feel bloated during my keto phase, and the smug sensation I got from making an effort to become healthier. And for me losing a few centimetres was definitely worth it.
This has also made me more aware of how carb-heavy different foods are, like fruits or cashew nuts. Not that I believe Tim Noakes that carbs are the devil, but it’s good to become more aware of the fact that even though something is grown naturally and unprocessed you probably still shouldn’t eat a whole bag of bananas in one sitting.
Perhaps the biggest change of all is I went from someone who had at least two flat whites a day to a black Americano drinker. Huge, I know. I didn’t realise how much of a difference all that delicious frothy milk made; a black coffee is carb-free while a latte has 15g of carbs. Pretty significant seeing as you’re only supposed to consume 30g of carbs a day on the keto diet.
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