Caitlin Gallagher
March 01, 2019 7:00 am

As a new season quickly approaches, you might be looking to make a spring resolution and change up your eating habits. And there’s nothing buzzier right now than the keto diet. If you’re thinking about exploring this particular diet, you’ll want to know what it’s all about before jumping in. For many people, switching to the keto diet means a big adjustment in what foods are consumed and how you consume them. So HelloGiggles spoke to 16 women who tried this diet to see what it’s really like to eat fewer carbs and more fat.

When diets become trendy, they face a lot of scrutiny, and the keto diet is no exception. Fitness trainer Jillian Michaels has long been against the keto diet, advocating for a more traditional balanced diet instead. She said she got “super fired up” talking about it on Women’s Health‘s “Rant Or Rave” video series in January. “Why would anybody think this is a good idea?” Michaels said before launching into how vital the three macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbohydrates—are to your overall health.

But her comments to Women’s Health led to a public debate. Many celebrities who swear by keto have called Michaels out, which can only lead to confusion for people who are trying to find out more. So before we get into how it feels to switch to keto for some people, let’s talk first about what exactly the keto diet is.

As the Mayo Clinic outlined, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet (fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day, which is less than four slices of bread). Eating this way will, according to creators of the diet plan, lead your body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates for energy, aka putting your body into a state of ketosis.

Seattle-based registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, who is the keto spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explained the keto diet and the state of ketosis in more detail. “Ketosis is a metabolic state that the body uses when carbohydrate intake is low. When this happens, the body is forced to break down fat rather than use glucose (blood sugar) for fuel,” Hultin said. “When glucose—the body’s preferred form of fuel that circulates in the blood and is stored in the liver and muscle—is depleted, ‘ketone bodies’ are created and can cross the blood-brain barrier as energy for the brain and central nervous system. This is also what happens when a person is fasting (not eating enough calories), but it does supply adequate calories to meet needs.”

Because of that, keto is often used for weight loss. “It makes sense that people use it for weight loss—this diet literally burns fat for fuel,” Hultin said. “There are human studies that prove it, as well. People will lose fat relatively quickly, which is why people are so attracted to it I think.” However, she adds that keeping off the weight may be difficult if people stop the diet. “When you go off the ketogenic diet, I worry about rapid re-gain since this is a diet that most people won’t be following long-term,” she said.

Hultin noted that there are many ketogenic diets out there and “different individuals will go in and out of the metabolic state of ketosis at varying lengths of time and with various macros.” But, Hultin said, “Generally, it is a high-fat diet (80%+), moderate protein (1 gram protein per kg body weight) and very low in carbohydrates at only 40-60 grams per day of low-glycemic foods.” To put that in food terms, the diet focuses on eating meat, eggs, fish, nuts, olive oil, full-fat dairy, and leafy greens while avoiding processed foods, sugars (including many fruits), and grains. “Really the only carbs you CAN eat are green leafies,” Hultin said. “But they’re very low in carbohydrates so you can actually eat a lot of spinach, kale, collards, and lettuce, which is good because you need the nutrients and fiber from those foods.”

Besides being a weight loss tactic, Harvard Health Publishing noted that there may be some neurological benefits to the keto diet. Hultin said that these science-based neurological benefits are actually how the keto diet was first created, since it was a “medically prescribed protocol for epilepsy.” Hultin explained, “It has proven to be effective in treating adults and children who have epilepsy, particularly the kind that does not respond well to medication. As you can imagine, this has made a huge difference in people’s health. The reason why it works is not completely understood.”

The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) does not have an official stance on the keto diet. But a representative pointed us to an ASN article about 2019 diet trends that states, “The ketogenic diet may promote weight loss and improve insulin resistance but appeared to be no more effective than a less restrictive low-carbohydrate diet and may be associated with more adverse metabolic and mental side effects.”

For their take on the diet, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics directed us to Hultin, who noted how the downsides include the “keto flu,” which is when a person feels tired and experiences headaches and nausea temporarily due to the removal of carbs from their diet. Overall, she wouldn’t recommend the diet for most people.

“As a registered dietitian, I don’t recommend a ketogenic diet unless it’s prescribed for a medical reason,” Hultin said. “The side effects can be severe and range from the ‘keto flu’ in the beginning to ongoing muscle cramps, kidney damage, nutrient deficiencies, and severe constipation. It can be a time-consuming, restrictive dietary pattern that could alienate people from being able to go out to eat, travel, or enjoy time with friends or family. It cuts out some very healthy foods: fruit, whole grains, starchy veggies, and beans/legumes. If someone does choose to try it, I urge them to have a doctor and registered dietitian on their team for safety as they implement the diet and for ongoing monitoring. Labs should be checked regularly to assess safety for each individual.”

However, despite all the controversy surrounding it, most of the women we spoke to are loving the keto diet. So whether you’re sold on keto or not, their experiences will give you insight into what you can expect from this nutrition transition.

1Get enough water and electrolytes.

Courtesy of Tracee Gluhaich

“My journey into keto began in 2015 when I was looking for nutritional approaches to help my mom with Alzheimer’s and Hashimoto’s diseases. I was very much against low-carb diets at that time. However, after doing extensive research, I decided this was the lifestyle I needed to age in health. I supplemented with electrolytes out of the gate. I planned simple meals of veggies sautéed in fat topped with protein, or I ate big salads with delicious full-fat salad dressing. It was simple and I feel great. No more achy knees, wonderful sleep, and a high level of mental clarity and focus. My workouts are strong and my recovery quick. The real secret here is the electrolytes and drinking enough water—I drink a gallon a day. Keto is my passion and I want people to understand that it’s more than a passing fad.”

—Tracee, California, doing keto since 2015, creator of High Energy Girl

2Watch out for the withdrawals from sugars.

Courtesy of Laura Weiler

“I tried keto because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had watched The Magic Pill on Netflix and it really piqued my interest, so I did more research on it. I found a lot of people were saying that it helped with what ailed them. Having just turned 40, I hadn’t felt like ‘myself’ in years. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009, but I had been suffering with it for years previous to that.

I was put on different types of medication to help with the pain, but all it did was make me gain weight and feel more tired. I was unhappy and depressed. Eventually, the pain got so bad that I could barely get around without a cane. I hated my life. I felt like a failure as a mother to my two children who were 4 and 9 at the time. I felt like a failure to my husband because I couldn’t contribute to the household either financially or to keep it clean. That flare-up lasted until 2012. Late that year I ditched all the medication because it wasn’t doing anything for me anyway. Since then, flare-ups have been unpredictable. The pain was constantly there, but it was manageable. The brain fog came and went. Migraines would fluctuate in intensity and frequency. But I was able to sort of be human.

Another six years of struggling was matched by my intense need to research and figure out how to overcome this and win the battle. Enter the ketogenic diet. I was very addicted to sugar when I started. The withdrawals from sugar alone were what I would imagine coming off hard drugs would be like. Every day got easier though. One day I realized OMG, my pain is gone and I haven’t had a migraine in weeks. I started walking 4 km with my husband and the dog every morning. I felt energized. I felt brand new. I have lost 60 pounds (and counting) and I look younger and feel so amazing. I have been hitting the gym pretty hard as of late to try and tone up. This diet has been so life-changing for me. I thought I was doomed to live a life of misery and pain, but here I am pain-free and the most active I have been in a very long time.”

— Laura, Ontario, Canada, doing keto since 2018

3Keep the recipes simple.

“Since switching to keto, I feel like a new woman. There’s the most obvious upside to keto, which is weight loss. I was able to drop 181 pounds. But I also have more energy and my brain seems less cloudy, which is a definite plus since I have three kids. It’s completely transformed my life. I struggled at first with eliminating sugar from my diet, but I felt so much better and my cravings basically disappeared along with a lot of my appetite.

A lot of people think keto is really complicated, but you can also make it simple to fit any lifestyle and budget. I was overwhelmed with all the different recipes and keto supplements you could buy, so I decided to just keep mine simple. That’s the great thing about keto. You can get really creative with it or you can keep it simple and as long as you stick to it, you’ll see the results. Keep it simple by not trying to make every meal some elaborate keto recipe you find on Pinterest. Start out with simple keto meals instead. This will make it less overwhelming to you and probably be a little friendlier to your budget as well.”

—Becca, Virginia, doing partial keto since April 2018 and went full keto in June 2018

4The ratios are key.

Courtesy of Hilary Straw

“I started eating keto after trying many different dietary plans, such as the Whole30, eating gluten-free, etc. I wanted to find a way to eat that made my body feel its best. What I have landed on is eating keto and maintaining veganism at the same time. At first, when you go keto, your body goes through an adjustment phase and withdrawal which can honestly suck, but if you stick with it, your body will regulate and you will be in a state of ketosis. For me, once I got past that initiation period I started to feel amazing. Since I’m getting my energy primarily from fats, I don’t experience that sugar-high crash that I used to get around 2 p.m. I also feel more mentally balanced and have never slept better in my life.

When you’re eating keto, you have to really pay attention to what you are eating so that your body doesn’t get thrown out of ketosis. The key is the ratios—to always be 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. For protein, I mostly rely on nuts, nut butter, tofu, and especially green leafy vegetables, which have a lot more protein than people realize. It’s simply a matter of putting into perspective what you put into your body.”

—Hilary, Georgia, doing keto for one year

5You’ll learn about your relationship to food.

“I started keto because I had recently tried Weight Watchers and didn’t have any success because I felt like the guidelines were too loose for me. I had heard about keto but felt like it might be too difficult for me because I love bread SO much. My roommate ended up being my keto sherpa and he said if I wanted to try it, he would help me. I went all in and right after Cinco de Mayo, we started. He ended up tapering off a few months later, but I was still going strong. In the first week, I lost six pounds and then it just kept coming off. I didn’t really realize how much weight I had lost until I hit about 15 pounds. I could finally feel it in the clothes I was wearing and see it in pictures. I have continued on to lose 35-plus pounds and am hoping by April 11th (my dirty 30) I will be at my goal weight of 50 pounds lost! I guess it’s time to buy new clothes, which is so annoying but I am also so thankful I made it to this point.

Changing to keto has been surprisingly one of the easiest transitions that I have made because I was able to keep eating cheese (my fave) and there are so many options now for keto. I am still figuring out what works best for me and I have had a fair amount of ‘cheats,’ but here we are. I am able to maintain and feel good. I think the hardest parts have been holidays (though next year I think I’ll be prepared enough to make swaps so I can enjoy the holidays but still keep keto), as well as saying no to little things like holiday/birthday treats and finding keto options at certain types of restaurants. I am getting better though and luckily a lot of restaurants are starting to be more keto-friendly, which is fantastic.

I have felt really great doing it. Most days I don’t experience crashes after lunch like I used to, I can walk my dog and not feel out of breath at any point, doing simple tasks aren’t tiring anymore, and my energy levels are higher in general. I have also learned so much about myself and food. I have struggled with my weight my entire life and overeating was a big issue for me. I finally am able to stop before I am full and understand how certain foods fill me up and keep me full over others. I would highly recommend researching it before you start, follow some IG accounts, check out Reddit, cookbooks, and meal prep every weekend so you’re set up for success.”

—Sadie, Oregon, doing keto since May 2018

6Your body will be in fat-burning mode.

“Before I was doing a ketogenic diet I was doing IIFYM (if it fits your macros), which is basically a diet that you get a set number of carbs/fats/proteins and you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits those numbers. I felt like I was just eating so much processed, packaged junk every single meal. I didn’t feel good at all and I was losing and gaining the same 20 pounds. My body had been wanting higher-fat foods for a little bit of time, so I just decided to listen to my instinct. It was a pretty easy transition.

I weigh/track all my food so that way I know exactly what’s going into my body. Some struggles that I have had are that most people don’t understand why carbs aren’t the best option. They also don’t understand that your body doesn’t know the difference between the amount of carbs that’s in fruit and the amount of carbs that’s in a bagel. While there’s more nutrients in the fruit, your body turns it all to glucose. Social gatherings can be hard too because carbs are everywhere. You just have to realize that your goals are bigger and stronger than a plate full of cookies.

Benefits from keto are plentiful. My body has reacted so well to less carbs. I don’t feel bloated all the time. I’m always in a fat-burning mode. I have way more energy than I did prior. I can easily eat at restaurants. My ‘size too small’ clothes are all too big on me. The list can go on and on.”

—Emily, Pennsylvania, doing keto since March 2018

7Your stomach bloat will decrease.

Courtesy of Elissa Nieves

“After declaring for the hundredth time that I will have killer abs in time for swimsuit season, I figured why not give the keto diet a try. After all, so many are reporting rapid weight loss and loving how they feel. As with everything in life, I dove in head first and gave it my all. Within the first two weeks, I saw benefits other than just steady weight loss, such as increased energy, mental clarity, and decreased belly bloat. I’ve found that the initial cravings for carbs have faded and I stay fuller longer. I even had more than enough energy to run a 5K without having to adjust my plan.”

—Elissa, Florida, doing keto since October 2018

8It’s possible to make your favorite foods low-carb.

Courtesy of Maya Krampf

“I started a low-carb lifestyle pretty gradually, which helped with many of the difficulties. At first, I omitted all processed foods, sugar, and grains, but not other carbs. The hardest part at first was not feeling deprived, but I soon realized I could make my favorite foods low-carb. It was one of the things that prompted the start of my site, and I’ve been passionate about it ever since. I transitioned to keto from a low-carb lifestyle later, but it was still an adjustment. I had to keep an eye on electrolytes to avoid keto flu and be more strict with carb intake. I currently alternate between keto and low-carb, and can’t imagine it any other way—it has been almost a decade. This way of eating has completely changed my life—I have more energy, motivation, mental clarity, and am at a healthy weight despite a family history of obesity. I love sharing my low-carb and keto recipes with others, and showing people that a keto lifestyle doesn’t have to be boring or difficult.”

—Maya, Minnesota, doing keto and low-carb on and off for 10 years, creator of Wholesome Yum

9You may need to avoid temptation.

“I’m a 32-year-old disabled lady and ketosis is my superpower. I started the keto diet 22 months ago, weighing in at 431 pounds. I couldn’t believe it when I went to the doctor and saw that number on the scale. GULP! As of today, I’ve lost 203 pounds and I’m happy to report that not a single donut was harmed in the process. Office treats can’t get the best of me–I won’t let them! When I first started, I took a three-month hiatus from my friends and family. I stayed home, wrote out my goals, and focused on myself. I knew that if I was around temptation that I wouldn’t make it; I wasn’t strong enough, yet.

When I finally rejoined society, I was down over 30 pounds and feeling amazing. Everyone in my life supported my lifestyle change and went out of their way to help me on my journey. A few of them are even making lower-carb choices in their own lives now, which is so amazing to see. Keto–it’s contagious! My dad saw that I was having so much success that he decided to give it a go. He’s 69 and lost 90 pounds. Totally took his life back and now no longer requires insulin or diabetes medications. It’s astonishing.

I walk with a cane as a result of a broken leg. I have a big metal plate and lots of screws and bolts going up my leg and through my ankle. I’m in pain every single day of my life, but it was much worse with the additional 200 pounds I was lugging around every day. My main goal is to lose the weight and ditch the cane. I’m getting stronger. I’m getting faster. And it’s all because of keto. When I started, I had 231 pounds to lose. I’m down to the final 28. I’ve never felt more capable in my entire life. Keto changed my life, and now there’s no going back.”

—Laura, California, doing keto since February 2017

10Substitutions at restaurants are easy.

“After about a year of ping-ponging around with my nutrition plan and weight, I decided to give keto a try. I have a family history of diabetes and know that my body’s ability to process high carbohydrate foods isn’t great. I wanted to begin a habit that would help my insulin levels stay consistent and keto seemed like a logical try. I have a notorious sweet tooth and am totally an emotional eater. So, needless to say, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to stick to it. But, like with anything in life, it’s all about mindset. And I am determined.

I’m not going to lie—the beginning is tough. For me, the foods were the toughest adjustment. I never lost any strength in the gym like some people do, but I kept my calories up. Electrolytes, pink Himalayan salt, and chicken broth were my very best friends. Within a few weeks, I was totally adjusted and it’s been the simplest nutrition lifestyle I’ve ever done. You can always make easy substitutions at restaurants and stay on plan. There are a few things you can do to make the whole change easier. Decide before you begin that you’re not going to cheat. You’re only robbing yourself of results. Find people who are eating a keto lifestyle and follow them on social media or spend time with them in real life—you become what you surround yourself with! Get some great keto cookbooks for ideas. And if you have a sweet tooth like me, always have Lily’s chocolate bars on hand.”

—Tiffany, Pennsylvania, doing keto for 7 months

11Make sure to eat those vegetables.

Courtesy of Bex Moeri

“I tried keto for the first time a little over three years ago to lose some weight. I had read that it could balance out your blood sugar and hormones, which could help with anxiety, so I was on board. I had also read that it could aid with inflammation in your body and promote gastrointestinal health, so I was all for that. Since then I’ve gone back to keto a few times; I don’t think it’s a sustainable, forever way of eating for me, but it’s a way that I enjoy and come back to easily.

The transition to keto the first time was pretty tough because I went through keto flu pretty badly as my body got used to a lack of sugar and carbs. I had a headache, I was tired, I was hungry, and I was irritable. I thought I was going to pass out and/or die without carbs, no joke. But it passed, and then I felt awesome. (Later times doing keto, the transition was not as bad. I learned some tricks, and keto is closer to how I eat now, so the transition is less drastic than going from sugar/carbs to no sugar/carbs!) Overall, I had more energy, I was sleeping better, I just felt more clarity. When I would exercise, especially doing cardio, I would have so much more energy and stamina than before. I did lose some weight and I definitely got in better shape. I also wasn’t constantly hungry or thinking about food the way some other diets would make me feel. I felt very satisfied and satiated by keto food.

A struggle I experienced with keto was the all-or-nothing mentality. You can’t dip in and out of keto, or really have ‘cheat meals’ the way you can with other ways of eating. And it’s not a ‘quick fix’—you lose some water weight quickly in the beginning, but then it slows like any change in diet. I felt the pressure to stay in ketosis start to hang over my head and stress me out. I was worried if I had a glass of wine or a few too many carrots. I started to track my macros kind of obsessively so that I wouldn’t go overboard on high-calorie staples of the diet. I had a tendency to get careless with dairy, which would leave me feeling not so great and would rack up the calories. If I were to go back to keto today, I would do it without dairy, but that’s just me. It’s a lifesaver for many doing keto.

I love keto in a lot of ways and I know I will go back to it at some point. I felt mentally very clear and calm. I lost some weight and overall felt leaner. The increase in energy really surprised me most—I was cynical about that when I started, but I definitely had a lot more energy and motivation once I was on keto for a few weeks. It’s also fairly easy to eat a keto diet. There is something for anyone at a restaurant and it’s easy to cook a protein and a vegetable at home.

Some random things: It can give you bad breath and mad cottonmouth. I got charlie horses often, it can cause muscle cramps. Add extra salt to your diet and take a magnesium supplement and also get electrolytes by making an electrolyte water (many recipes online). You need to eat a lot of vegetables—ideally your plate should mostly be vegetables and you need them or you’re going to be constipated AF (again, get that magnesium!). And if you’re not in the habit of eating desserts already or baking a lot, don’t go down the Pinterest rabbit hole of adding keto baked goods and replacements to your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. I realized I was making a lot of keto replacement foods that weren’t foods I typically ate anyway. Like I don’t need to be eating cookies every day, even if they are keto.”

—Bex, New Jersey, doing keto on and off for three years

12Adding intermittent fasting may curb your appetite.

“Starting keto was pretty simple for me, surprisingly. Back in June of 2018, my sister sent me a text message saying, ‘Hey! Let’s start doing the keto diet!’ At that time I had no clue what keto was or how it worked. So I started doing my research and said to myself, ‘This can’t be that hard.’ Seeing other people’s results made me want to give it a try. It was the perfect time to do so because I had already hit my highest weight ever of 200 pounds and I was starting to feel self-conscious. Soon after, I went to the grocery store, and I started keto a few days later.

During my first couple of weeks, I really didn’t know what to eat. I made Google my best friend and found all types of different things I could eat. I realized that I could still eat my favorite foods, just the low-carb way. From pizza to tacos, I have it all. Once I got into ketosis (within that first week) and got my body used to this low-carb, high-fat way of eating, I started intermittent fasting (IF). With the IF and keto combination, it has helped curb my appetite tremendously. It’s also saving me a few dollars as well because I don’t have to shop as often. The past seven months have been my happiest months, thanks to keto. I’ve lost 41 pounds, I’m more energized, and I could wear the clothes that I’m comfortable in. It’s not only a diet—it’s definitely a lifestyle.”

—PJada, South Carolina, doing keto since June 2018

13The keto community is supportive.

“This way of life has changed my life in so many ways and I am so grateful. I have been fighting polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) most of my life. I started gaining weight with my metabolism slowing down after turning 30 and eating horribly. I got married and added on ‘happily married weight.’ We started trying for babies and realized we needed some extra help with fertility. After starting to take fertility drugs, I became pregnant. At 11 weeks, I had a miscarriage. Anyone that’s been there will know that it is a horrific event. We kept trying for a few more months and I added even more weight. At my heaviest, I was 278. I was depressed and angry. I finally saw a candid photo of myself and I broke down. I decided that I wanted and, better yet, needed to make a change.

I did research after hearing about keto from a friend. A month later, I started and I have never felt better. The energy level is insane. I have a whole new outlook on life. I have officially lost 78.5 pounds since starting. This journey has been amazing; I put myself and my health first. The benefits I’ve experienced are weight loss, mental clarity, fertility, a decrease in my cholesterol, tons of energy, looking younger, self-confidence, and an overwhelming change in my self-love. My mentality has changed so much.

The cravings at the beginning are always a bit tough. Once you detox, it will become much easier. I was lucky enough not to get the keto flu because I did a lot of research before I started. You will also find naysayers who will tell you how it’s unhealthy or how it won’t work. I am here to tell you 1000% it works. Once I started following people like Dr. Josh Axe who has incredible information and products such as Keto Fire and Keto Protein, I was able to push forward and do even more with this lifestyle.

The keto community is amazing, and I have gained some incredible friends across the world.  My advice is this: Take as many before photos as you can, take your measurements, go into this as a lifestyle and not as a diet. Follow keto accounts since there is an incredible wealth of information that people are willing to share out there. Reach out to our keto community! Use a reputable company for your supplements. There are a ton of gimmicky companies and things that just don’t work. I personally love Ancient Nutrition and their products have given my weight loss a boost since starting. Research, research, research. There are a million ways to do this diet. Find what will best suit your life. Just remember that you are worth it and deserve health and happiness. You got this!”

—Meghan, Nevada, doing keto since January 2018

14No more sluggishness during the day.

“I’ve been living a ketogenic lifestyle for a bit over a year. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I’m a mom of three and the amount of energy I have is amazing. I’m no longer feeling tired or sluggish throughout the day. It’s helped me with several different medical conditions—PCOS, anemia, and insulin resistance.

I wish I would have done my research correctly. This way I would have known about the dreaded keto flu, which happens when you aren’t having enough water and electrolytes—that could’ve been completely avoided. The biggest struggle for me was explaining this diet/lifestyle to people that are against the ketogenic life. The biggest misconception is that people on keto sit around eating tubs of lard and butter when the reality is we eat a lot of leafy greens and low-carb veggies with a side of protein and healthy fats such as an avocado, pecans, or macadamia nuts. This is the first time I’ve eaten this healthy. Most of my meals used to be full of sugar, carbs, and junk.”

—Sonia, California, doing keto since January 2018

15Value how you feel over the number on the scale.

“Before starting keto I weighed 220 pounds, I had horrible migraines, hormonal acne, irregular periods, and issues with my digestion. I began tracking my net carbs, calories, protein, and fats every day on the Carb Manager app. This allowed me to really dial in on the keto diet to make sure I was in ketosis while getting all the nutrients I needed. Within the first couple months, I noticed a huge improvement in my overall health. By this point I had lost about 15 pounds, my periods became regular, my migraines disappeared, and my hormonal acne had vanished with no change in skin care routine.

When first starting out the weight just seems to melt off, but one struggle I’ve encountered is that after the initial weight loss the number on the scale will drop more slowly. I learned to have patience and value how I feel over the number on the scale. My advice to anyone who wants to start out is make sure you do your research, eat clean foods, drink lots of water, and make sure you’re tracking! I am now five months on the keto diet and I’ve lost a total of 35 pounds—over 15% body fat—and all of the health problems I mentioned have since been resolved. I feel amazing and I can’t imagine going back to life before keto.”

—Mia, Washington, doing keto for five months

16It’s a lifestyle change.

“When I first started keto, it felt like being hit with so much overwhelming information. I thought, how can I do this RIGHT? But as I researched I discovered that the keto diet can be very personalized and adaptable to your needs. The premise stays the same however—eat less than 20-30 net carbs, lower your sugar intake, increase your fats, and keep to moderate protein. After a few weeks getting it down, I started to really reap the benefits of ketosis, like clearer thinking, no cravings, high energy, and the obvious weight loss. The one thing I did seem to struggle with is seeing carbs and sugars in EVERYTHING. And because it was in everything it felt like I couldn’t eat most things. But then I remember I’m allotted to a certain amount. So as long as I stayed under macros, I could eat these items, just not a lot.

I eat healthy fats, lots of veggies, protein, and drink tons of water. It’s not all bacon and lettuce wrapped burgers. For meals, I cook a lot at home because I can control my macros better that way. I eat eggs and avocado on the daily, lots of kimchi for probiotics, fatty meats like salmon, pork, ribeye, and chicken thighs, and a buttload of veggies like spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc. I also bake a lot of keto goodies with sweeteners like Swerve and SweetLeaf Stevia drops. If I do eat out, I love the Flying Dutchman at In-N-Out, a chicken salad from Chick-fil-A, the salad option from Chipotle, any lettuce wrap burgers from most restaurants, and the cajun wings from Wingstop.

Keto is not a diet for me, it’s a lifestyle change. You change how you look at food items, how you eat, and most of us incorporate intermittent fasting somehow. I feel like for the first time ever, I’m eating to benefit my body instead of damaging it.”

—Desiree, California, doing keto since October 2018

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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