Why the Keto Diet Didn’t Work For Me - Public Goods

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Why the Keto Diet Didn’t Work For Me

Dieting has always been a trend in America, and keto seems to be the trendiest of the trend.

food and plants on kitchen counter feature image

It is a low-carb, high-protein diet that sounds easier than it really is.

You might be thinking, “I don’t eat that many carbs!” But the problem is that almost everything has carbs: that apple a day that keeps the doctor away, that delicious vitamin water you drink that staves off the thirst for sugary juices. Being completely carb-free is a lot harder than you would think, especially because carbs aren’t so obvious.

I have all but given up on keto and reaching ketosis – the state in which your body begins burning fat for energy because it is so low on carbs – but I really gave it the old college try. To ensure I had carb-free or low-carb meals ready to go in my fridge, I paid exorbitant amounts of money to companies such as HelloFresh, Green Chef and Sun Kitchen.

I also got a subscription to a keto snack service, Keto Krate, that sent a box of surprise, low-carb snacks for the low price of thirty-five dollars a month. I figured snacks were going to be my downfall. Because as prepared as you can be for meals, when you’re out and about, running errands and whatnot, it’s almost impossible to grab a quick, keto-friendly snack.

I wanted so badly to dive headfirst into this “lifestyle choice,” and I figured putting my money where my mouth is would be my best bet. Part of me doesn’t know where it all went wrong.

Meal delivery services, such as HelloFresh, Green Chef, and Sun Kitchen, are good for those who can afford it, don’t have time to grocery shop and can actually cook. I talked myself into it by remembering all of the ingredients that go to waste every time I try to make something a little complicated, something with more than four ingredients. I would have half a sliced tomato or something in my fridge for a solid week after I had cooked the meal once.

These subscription services remove both the trip to the grocery store — which can be such a chore in a city like New York where a walk-up is the norm — and the unnecessary waste of buying too many ingredients. Everything is measured out, so when the meal has been cooked, every item in the box has been used.

In an extra effort to consolidate thinking about my diet, I would cook four meals at a time, which ensured I always had something keto-friendly to eat. Being a single woman living alone, I was able to really stretch out the contents of each box, which are usually two servings of each meal, depending on the meal plan you choose.

It would take me a whole afternoon, and the kitchen would be thick with heat. I would struggle with just about every step, from the chopping to the slicing to the zesting, which I always skipped because I have no idea how to zest nor do I own a zester. I had never had to cook so elaborately before, and the meal plan service did not seem to account for my novice kitchen skills. It would always take me at least twice as long as the recipe said it would, and there were very few breaks in which I could fit in a quick episode of “Friends” while the meat was cooking. You are always on the go, preparing something while something else cooks. In the end, my fridge would be stacked high with tupperware, and I felt so productive, as if I were losing weight through the effort alone.

But then the inevitable downfall arrived.

But then the inevitable downfall arrived. I do not know about you, but when someone says I cannot have something, it’s all I want or can think about. My fridge was full of keto-friendly meals, but all I wanted to eat was bread and butter — that’s it, bread and butter. Even with the delicious salmon burgers wrapped in lettuce and Mediterranean salads with pork patties ready to heat up, all I wanted to eat was a greasy grilled cheese sandwich.

I could not get the thought out of my head, so I eventually caved in and got one from the corner store. I tried as hard as I could to resist the urge, but carbs were calling me all day, every day, and I could not seem to block the number.

I was right about the difficulty of keeping a “lifestyle change” when it came to snacks. The Keto Krate really came in handy, but only to an extent. There were a number of products I truly enjoyed, such as air puffed cheese snacks and meringue cookies. But then there were products I found inedible, such as this strange, squeezable chocolate that was incredibly gritty. The idea of a box of keto-friendly snacks was a godsend, but their tactic, that they claimed was to keep it interesting and fun, was a bit misguided given how much tastes vary.

When it came to going out with non-keto friends, the diet became quite the test of willpower, one I failed time and time again. I did my best to locate the most keto-friendly item on the menu, but when you are at a pizza place for a kid’s party, it can be difficult to resist those delicious carbs. There were also times when the keto option was legitimately what I wanted to eat, but I could not stay away from the carb-filled ingredient, such as buns on burgers.

I would often find myself thinking, “Is this the kind of life I want? The life where I deny myself the simple pleasure of carbs and agonize over every meal?” On other diets I would treat myself to a cheat day that would get me through every other day. I would be able to pass Dunkin Donuts for six days in a row, knowing that on the seventh day I would be able to indulge. With keto, one day off and you are thrown out of ketosis and have to start all over again. You have to fast for a bit to even have a chance at restarting the process.

It was not just the physical aspects of the diet that made it difficult. The emotional and mental aspects made it impossible for me. I could not stop thinking about how much I wanted what I could not have and about the implications of restricting my diet.

Oftentimes I would feel almost rude not eating everything I could — choosing to starve myself — when there are people who cannot even eat what they need to. It made me sad to think of doing this every day for the rest of my life, being so vigilant over what I eat and adamantly reading nutritional facts to keep track of my carb intake. I got so tired of trying so hard to do something that was supposed to seamlessly integrate into my life, and I just did not have the will to do it anymore.

As I’m writing this, I’m finishing off a pint of lactose-free cookies and cream ice cream, but I have not given up on changing my lifestyle. Keto may not have been for me, but it has worked for so many people. Finding what works for you is more than half the battle, and it is worth trying a trend or two.

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Comments (10)

  • It worked for me, but the carb restriction of eating no more than 20g is absurd. I was over keto after 2 weeks. Great diet is to keep carbs under 100g. I’m happier with the latter.

  • With Keto, the idea is NOT to consume too much protein. It isn’t a high protein diet at all. The point of the keto diet is to keep your insulin low. When insulin is low, ketones are released and this is your body’s way of burning fat instead of sugar. To keep your insulin low, you have to limit carbs and also limit protein. After digestion, if you have too much protein in your system, your body will convert it to sugar in order to store it, and then that sugar will raise your insulin. (That was the problem with the Atkins diet.) In the keto diet, protein consumption is “moderate”. So what is left? The answer is FAT. You can eat LOTS of fat on the keto diet because fat doesn’t spike your insulin at all and the more you eat, the more satisfied you feel – you don’t crave food all the time. The hard part, however, is that people have been conditioned to shun fat, so it is very hard to get people to eat fat on it’s own because everyone is conditioned to think about calories and arteries clogging etc.
    For me, I had to reduce my sugar/insulin significantly because of diabetes (and I was not overweight but I lost weight!). I am happily eating keto for over two years, med-free, doctor approved. With all this fat and low carb eating, my triglycerides went low low low. I have found keto to be the most natural diet because I am limited to eating unprocessed natural foods: meat and vegetables, slathered in olive oil 🙂

    • So… did you set macros and how did you get them right… i was told that i had to increase proteins and decrease fats…. and maybe that explains why i haven’t lost an ounce…. Thank you for your blog… i now have something to think about because i was ready to give up on KETO completely… even though i enjoy it.

    • This is the biggest problem with keto…all over the internet…people like yourself talk about the fat..Eating Fat! But guess what…like you…no one ever mentions the foods they eat. THE FAT FOODS….EVER!!! Its like a keto secret.I challenve you to name 20 foods you eat on Keto…bet you cant. All I ever here is eggs, bacon and avocado.

  • I feel bad that you couldn’t stay on keto. I’ve been overweight all my life, literally and I’ve been on Keto and IF for a month and I’ve lost 12 pounds. It’s honestly the easiest diet I’ve ever been on because I never feel hungry because of the amount of fats I consume. The meals are super easy. For example last night my OMAD meal was coleslaw (cabbage, carrots and sugar free mayo), green salad (lettuce, cucumber, baby tomatoes, feta, avocado, with my mustard and olive oil dressing) and a chicken breast with the skin on it, pan fried in Avocado oil. It really doesn’t get easier than that. And I don’t feel hungry until supper time the next day. Maybe it’s been easier for me to do it because my life depends on it, I was told I was prediabetic in May and I don’t want to die and Keto has 100% reversed that. So I guess my mind is in “we have to do whatever it takes mode”. I don’t even crave anything unhealthy anymore. Office birthday celebrations with loads of cakes and snacks all around and I comfortably say no thanks, without feeling like I’m depriving myself. I instead feel sorry for everyone indulging because I know the damage that sugar and carbs can do and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I now go to food for nutritional value and how it makes me feel in the long run instead of in the moment. I sincerely hope you find what works for you.

  • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your feelings. I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY. Today I came to the same decision you have, so you are not alone. I thought I was the only one and felt so deflated and the failure. Today I decided to go back on weight watchers and exercise. You see, I work 2 hours away from home. So I get off at 4:30 but don’t get home until usually 7PM. I don’t have much time to exercise because I take care of my mom who is 81 and have to feed my critters at night. So I decided that I’m going to have to join weight waters and go to a gym. I’m going to have to drive an extra 20 minutes to a different but stop to be able to go to a health club. So now I’m looking at getting home at around 8:00pm or even later. But you know what, I’m not going to deprive myself anymore. Thanks to Keto I have lost 40 pounds but it has been painstakingly slow. This month I lost 1 pound. I’m tired that every time you want to treat yourself, it’s 10 steps back. So I’m done. Maybe it’s my age as I’m 55, I don’t know but I want to enjoy my life instead of eating 1 piece of cheese for breakfast and 1 for lunch and barely anything for dinner all for 5 pounds a month. Thanks Keto, but Buh Bye.

  • It doesn’t have to be this hard. Keto is actually really, really easy. I’ve been on keto about 2 years now and I’m at the lowest weight I’ve ever been at probably since elementary lol (I’ve literally always had weight issues) without struggle at all. But I will say that I went into this diet for my health NOT to lose weight. The weight loss was just a happy side effect. Sorry it didn’t work out for you but honestly if you’re constantly thinking of the things you can’t have as in you’re missing out you’re never going to make it. I chose to see them as trash that hurt my body and I’ve never looked back.

  • Thank you for your article. I found keto is total BS for me. So I don’t feel alone. It’s just not sustainable long term. I put more weight on keto instead of losing. But what I found that did work and was sustainable was food combining according to Dr. Herbert Shelton. He’s probably one of the pioneers of nutrition and diet. It has been a lot easier to stick to. You can eat anything your want, but in right combination. Pounds melt off fast. You can have one or two carb days and eat your breads. But then on other days you eat your proteins and low-glycemic veggies. Check it out.

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