12 Surprising Things I've Learned About Keto

Two weeks down, my lifetime to go.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

1. If you don't track your food, you could be doing it all wrong.

Especially in the beginning, you've got to put that shit into My Fitness Pal or whatever tracker works best for you. Too many of us fall into the trap of grabbing meat and cheese on the go and assuming we’re good.

Big nope. If I pick out my food before tracking it, the macros are never quite right. I have to track that food as I pick it just to get those macros right.

2. You probably need way less protein and a lot more fat.

There are definitely different ways to do and, but a lot of keto folks basically do low carb without any Atkins phases like induction. But keto isn’t a high protein diet--you’re supposed to build your meals around fat and only consume moderate amounts of protein.

My protein target is only 60 grams which definitely doesn’t amount to all the meat and cheese you’d like. In some cases that’s like seven flimsy slices of cheese. Seven.

3. It’s the macro grams that matter and not the percentages.

This is one of the big mistakes I was making in the past. I thought I could just plug my food into My Fitness Pal and look at the little macro pie chart. If the carbs were less than 5% and the fat was at least 70% I was golden.

Whoops. My bad. You are supposed to go by the actual fat, carb, and protein grams--and there's a helluva lot of different methods for figuring out your specific targets. (I let a coach fugue mine out.)

4. You really can't eat that much meat on keto.

Back to the too much protein issue. Those protein grams add up fast. If your diet is structured around meat, it's not really keto. You've got to structure it around fat, and that's not necessarily as easy as you might think.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most of us get twice as much protein than we need, even when we aren't doing keto. One large chicken breast contains about 53 grams of protein, while a 4-ounce chuck steak gives you 23 grams.

So no, meat isn’t the staple.

5. You really might not be too hungry, even if you’re a typically ravenous eater.

So... this is pretty damn weird, but I haven’t had a binge. I haven't even wanted to. Sure, I want to eat without worrying about my macros.

And in my head, I do want to have a full-on binge. In fact, emotionally, some personal/professional stuff has been picking at me and I feel like shit.

I want to say fuck it, and binge. I want to eat pizza. Real bread. Get drunk. But you know what? I want to stay on track more. There’s no compulsion to binge lately.

6. Drinking enough water can kinda stink.

I’m still not good at this. My appetite is down. So…is it any wonder that my thirst has gone down as well?

I have to force myself to drink water now when I used to have no problem chugging it all day long. Not only that, but I feel the effects of dehydration long before I actually think about feeling thirsty. That’s kind of a drag.

7. Egg Whites are overrated.

My daughter doesn’t like egg whites and will only eat the fried yolk. You know what? She’s onto something.

I finally quit messing with the egg whites myself, and now it’s not uncommon for me to fry up 4 yolks instead of the whole eggs. With keto, you need the extra fat, not the extra protein.

8. Cream cheese has carbs.

I repeat! CREAM CHEESE HAS CARBS! Who are these people going nuts over “cloud bread?” Plain cream cheese has at least 1 carb per tablespoon.

Plus that protein adds up way too fast again. Bacon and cream cheese do go great together, duh… but have you checked out the nutrition label? You still may need more fat and less protein. *Tear.*

9. Halo Top ice cream isn’t actually "keto friendly."

Don’t kill the messenger because I am just as bummed about this one as you. For years people on Reddit have been going on and on about Halo Top. Sure, it’s “dirty keto,” some say. But IIFYM (if it fits your macros)?

How does it honestly fit your macros? It’s reduced fat (um), high protein (what), and most varieties I’ve looked at have some real sugar as an ingredient.

None of that is keto.

10. Net carbs can be a dangerous lie.

When people count net carbs, they subtract fiber or sugar alcohols from their total carbohydrate count.

I’m on a keto program that counts total carbs, not net. One reason for this is because your carb count can quickly get out of hand with fillers like psyllium while you eat crap like Halo Top. Just saying.

The net carbs mentality is how you get some really fucked up diet food. Like Atkins candy bars. Not everybody can stay in ketosis with such cheats.

11. A keto coach might be a good investment.

It's been good for me. My coach figured out my macros and gave me some guidelines that keep me from getting lost in my own indecision. All we really do is check in--I email her my food logs and she answers my questions. But it's been an immense help.

Is it working? To be honest, I haven't stepped on the scale yet to check my progress, but I did wear jeans today for the first time in a week... and they fit more loosely! So something seems to be working.

On top of that, my calves suddenly feel better--softer, and less tight. All welcome changes in my struggle with lipedema.

12. If you think you love butter... this diet might just change your mind.

Honestly, I never expected to get burned out on butter, yet here we are. I add butter to everything, and lately, I realized I've got to start mixing up my fats because butter--even Kerrygold--has gotten old.

That said, I suppose it isn't the worst problem to have. Needing to eat a lot of fat is far better than struggling with zero progress at all.