The ketogenic diet has been quietly developing a cult following online. Maybe you’ve heard about it, or maybe you haven’t. The main thing you need to know about “keto,” the popular nickname for the diet, is that it’s high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb. Many people who have tried the diet say the results are unbelievable. It’s known to help with more than just weight loss, too, and has been credited to helping with diabetes, Lyme disease, epilepsy, and anxiety.
If you’re interested in trying the diet, here’s what you need to know first.
1. SAY GOODBYE TO CARBS. ‘Cause you can’t have ’em! Technically speaking, you will have carbs — about 20 grams (of net carbs) per day. The source of these carbs will be vegetables, probably. But the point of this diet is to get your body to stop running on carbs. So prepare to trade in pizza, bread, pasta, and even quinoa for salads, olive oil, avocado, and meat. BUT, before you say, “hell no, I won’t go,” know that you can have some of your favorites, like bacon, ranch dressing, and even butter.
2. FAT IS YOUR FRIEND. Fat is your new fuel. You’re going to need lots of it: roughly 90 grams per day, depending on your body and weight loss goal. Finding sources of good fat isn’t too difficult, though — just reach for some almonds, macadamia nuts, and avocado.
3. IT’S GOING TO SUCK AT FIRST. Think about it: Your body has to adjust to starchy carbs going MIA. You’ll probably experience something that people refer to as “keto flu.” Basically, when your body is going through the transition into ketosis, you’ll feel some flu-like symptoms—mostly headaches. But don’t worry, it won’t last too long.
4. BUT THERE’S BACON! Bacon will get you through. Of course, having bacon every day isn’t a healthy choice, but having it at brunch will make you feel like you’re still a human while your friends scarf down waffles, home fries, and toast.
5. YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HALF-ASS THIS. If you think you can just eat keto-friendly foods and that will be all it takes, you’re in for a real surprise. The truth is, you have to weigh everything you eat so that you can calculate everything you eat and keep track of your macronutrients. You’re going to have daily goals of how much fat, protein, and carbs you should eat, and if you don’t reach them, you won’t see any results.
6. YOU’RE GOING TO BECOME OBSESSED WITH READING LABELS. As part of the diet, you’ll have to check for net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber) on food labels constantly. It’s not really a bad thing, but get ready to be the person who says “there’s way too many carbs in that!”
7. YOUR SOCIAL LIFE MIGHT TAKE A HIT. Going out to eat isn’t the easiest thing in the world. There are absolutely keto options on almost every menu, but you’re always going to be wondering, “what kind of oil was this cooked in?” Or “were these chicken wings breaded?” And nights out drinking with your friends? Be careful.
8. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND. It’s hard to explain keto to others. If you want to fully emerge yourself in the diet, you need to a lot about it. And trying to regurgitate all of that info to someone who isn’t on keto can be difficult. People will ask you why you want to deprive yourself of carbs, but you just have to keep your mind set on your goals.
9. YOUR STOMACH WILL THANK YOU. I don’t just mean your abs — which will feel slim and less bloated. If you have stomach issues, like bloating, IBS, or just chronic food comas, you’ll feel so much better on keto. You won’t eat just to eat, you’ll eat to reach your daily intake goals. For a lot of people on keto, they say they don’t even feel hungry.
10. YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN … THE INTERNET. If you feel like none of your friends understand the diet, don’t worry about that. Not only can you google all of your burning keto questions, but you can find communities online of other people who are doing the diet. You can share recipes and success stories, struggles, and setbacks. You’re never alone.