I’ll be the first to tell you that, if you have a diet that works for you, and you’re healthy, fantastic. I will never be the person to come to you and say “oh that’s dangerous” or “oh I heard that’s bad for you.” Honestly, I’m not a Doctor. My degree is in political science, not nutrition. I have not seen your blood glucose levels or whatever the fuck would be required to measure your health.
That being said, I’ve had a few thoughts on keto/paleo lately that I thought might be worth sharing.
First, some definitions. For those not familiar with them, the keto or ketogenic diet is the latest trend in diet and weight loss. It’s a diet focused on lean protein and putting your body into a state of ketosis. Paleo is a diet focused on eating unprocessed and natural foods - think what our cavemen ancestors eat. I’m discussing them together as they have similar restrictions, though are not exactly the same. My apologies in advance if I offend anyone - none is meant! I’m discussing them both here together because they’ve both appealed to me in the past, but I don’t follow them for similar reasons.
In the past I’ve bashed both of these, but recently a couple folks I follow have had great success on them (keto specifically) and it got me thinking. One woman I know has lost almost 10 pounds a month following keto, with no exercise. Another is down 30 or so. Both have struggled with this for a long time, and I’m glad it’s worked for them. For one of them she’s even starting on fertility meds to get pregnant, which is absolutely wonderful.
My weight has been pretty static around 200 for the last month and a half, unfortunately. There are a lot of factors here, but it’s gotten me thinking about looking at my strategy for weight loss, and seeing a post yesterday made me ask myself, should I give this keto thing a try? Among the CICO community, these diets are often spoken of with a bit of disdain. CICO (Calories In/Calories Out) is all about finding ways to eat, essentially, whatever you want, as long as you balance it out. You wanna have a giant plate of fries, cool, but you’re probably eating celery for dinner. Recently there were a few articles putting down this idea, and they made some good points - if you did eat fries and celery every day you might lose weight, sure, but you’d be grossly unhealthy. It was a bit of a straw man argument though - no one in their right mind is arguing for that on a daily basis, just that it’s something you can do. Realistically, you’ll feel better if you have a smaller portion of fries, say, and then follow it up with some roasted chicken and a green salad. You’ll feel more comfortably full and get good nutrition. That’s the point of CICO - finding ways to eat what you want in a healthy way.
One of the turning points in my weight loss journey was the sad realization that there was no real way to do what I wanted to do, which was continue to eat enormous portions and lose weight. To be bluntly honest, there are few things I enjoy more than a giant plate of pasta, or a burger and a ton of fries. You can say all you want about salads and “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” but I think whoever wrote that quote has never had a sausage egg McMuffin and three hash browns. But at one point a year and a half ago I realized that if I wanted to lose weight I was going to have to give up this notion that I could find a fun, pleasant way to do it. The only way I was going to do it was to give up that joy - at least as often as I wanted it. To accept eating smaller portions of things I loved - or not eating them at all, occasionally.
And in the end that’s what leaves me a bit uncomfortable about keto and paleo - dropping those things entirely from my diet. In general eating fewer sugars and carbs are great - mostly because currently we tend to eat too much. Eating things in their most basic form is often great too. But I worry if I say no, never again, I’ll fail completely one day and just go off it all entirely.
This is why CICO has worked well for me. Everything in moderation - including, occasionally, moderation. Let’s be clear though - I’m very much an advocate of whatever works for you, as long as it’s healthy. I’d encourage anyone eating keto or paleo to check with their medical professionals that the high levels of fat are okay on your heart, as that’s the one that scares me a bit, but I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea if that part is scare tactic or actual science.
But really, though, I like my bread, my pasta, my wine and my beer too much to go keto or paleo. It might be easier in some ways - just say no to them, cut it out. I’m sure I’d lose weight quickly. But my idea here is to find a way I can live, not just lose weight, and I don’t see that as working for me, personally, long term.