Try the Keto Diet–Even If It's The Last Thing You Do

Dieting has a bad reputation and a stigma of deprivation. I know little about dieting culture or its general following, but I am a proponent for the keto diet. When I reference the keto diet, I am using the term “diet” to describe the kinds of foods I habitually eat, not “diet's” meaning as a restrictive meal plan someone reluctantly imposes on themselves. I explicitly clarify this because diets are difficult to perfect and rarely show results. I believe they ultimately discourage healthier eating and lifestyle choices because of their delayed successes. However, changing the way you think about your diet could change the way you consume food permanently. Adopting a keto diet means exchanging high-carb food for high-fat foods. After years of following health fads to their grave, I am here to preach the benefits of my newest lifestyle choice.

As people don't generally cut or change their food intake without good cause, the reasons for turning keto are abound. In a high-carb diet, the body takes carbohydrates and turns them into sugar to use for energy. In a strictly high-fat diet, the body turns to the fat to burn for energy. If your body enters this stage of fat burning, it is called ketosis. The name ketosis comes from the word ketones, or the organic compounds your body makes and uses in ketosis. There are ways to check if your body has entered the stage of ketosis by taking at home urine tests which detect the raised level of ketones and usually turn the test strip a shade of purple.

Cutting out high-carb foods will not immediately launch your body into ketosis. A healthy keto diet doesn't necessarily cut all carbs from your diet; it simply cuts back on high-carb food intake. If you continue to eat carbs, even a lesser amount, your body will always choose to burn carbs for energy before fat. The people reaching for and achieving ketosis usually see a lot of weight-loss benefits. Once the body begins burning fat for energy, fat cells release their water retention causing the initial first drop in weight. Then the fat cells are turned to ketones and used in ketosis. This being said, the goal of a keto diet doesn't have to be ketosis. Any move away from a high-carb diet is plenty beneficial. There is evidence to support an increase in brain functioning, diet control, and preventive action against type II diabetes and high blood pressure while eating in a pattern similar to keto. Whether it be to reap the benefits of weight-loss or just to make a step in a healthier direction, I recommend the keto diet as a lifestyle choice.

As a university freshman, I am somewhat reluctantly participating in the mandatory campus live-on for all first-year students. My place of residence comes with a dorm meal plan and consequently communal dining halls. Feeding students by the thousands is not facile nor cheap and often the dining halls feature types of food easy to make in bulk, like pasta, rice, beans and pizza. Though adopting the keto diet while living in the dorms may seem too daunting of a challenge due to the lack of availability to keto-approved foods, rest assured it can be done. Being able to identify high-fat foods is a useful tool while selecting dinner in a dining common. Eggs, salad bars, broth-based soups, breves instead of lattes (steamed half-and-half instead of steamed milk), and protein are a few of the keto options available at University of Oregon’s dining commons. I can't speak for other universities, but wherever there is a salad bar, there is hope.

Since changing the way I eat and think about food, years of food-related issues I’ve been afflicted with have faded away. Before eating keto, I was fully reliant on an afternoon caffeine fix to attend my 4 p.m. classes and had snacks littering my backpack for my inevitable 3 p.m. hunger pang. Today I don’t have an afternoon energy crash and my high-fat diet prevents a need for intermittent snacking. Consequently, I spend less money (dorm points) sustaining my diet. I am energized for an entire day and less reliant on consumption to function.

Switching to a keto diet should be regarded as any major change any other diet would. Though I preach its advantages and the miracles it works for me, not every diet is suited for everyone. If you are particularly concerned about how you would handle the shift in eating, gradually eliminating high-carb foods and introducing the high-fat diet could ease you into the diet. To many, the keto diet eliminates “fun” food. It rules out pizza, pasta and every other 30-second microwavable meal available. The mindset needed to be successful in this diet is one of successful performance. What should you fuel your body with to see its best physical and cognitive performance? What food shows your body you care about its longevity? The answers to these questions can most likely be found in a keto meal plan.