Before I started Keto, I heard a lot about this style of eating from others. Whether they’ve tried Keto or not, it seems like everyone has an opinion about it.
Still, I did a ton of my own research before I started, so I had a decent idea of what to expect. However, there are eight key things that still took me by surprise.
Here are the eight things I wish I had known before I started Keto.
Note: I’m not currently on Keto. I’m pregnant and eating low/moderate amounts of carbs. If or when I do resume Keto, it will likely be after I’m finished nursing this baby. For more information about women’s unique life stages and Keto, check out this article.
1. The Food Is Delicious
Before I started Keto, I thought the food would get old — fast. However, I was so very wrong. Keto doesn’t have to be all bunless cheeseburgers or boring grilled chicken salads.
Instead, Keto eaters can eat a wide spectrum of flavors and textures from meats, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, fats and oils, and low-carb dairy products. Here are some of the most delicious Keto meals I’ve enjoyed:
- Lemon-pepper salmon with roasted asparagus
- Eggs fried over medium with bacon and mashed avocado
- Pecan-crusted chicken breast with roasted brussels sprouts
- Spaghetti (made with zucchini noodles) with homemade marinara and meatballs
- Grilled fish tacos with low-carb tortillas and purple cabbage slaw
- Grilled ribeye with loaded mashed cauliflower
- Cajun-style “dirty rice” made with riced cauliflower
- Keto gumbo with shrimp, chicken, sausage, and okra
- Cheese-stuffed mushrooms
- Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos
- Keto-friendly lemon and blueberry scones
- Keto-friendly chocolate-dipped strawberries
2. It’s Surprisingly Flexible
Keto is also a surprisingly flexible eating style. Yes, the carb limit can seem very restrictive — especially at first. However, once you have a firm grasp of the basics and you’ve transitioned into ketosis, it’s very easy to work with. Here are some of the ways Keto can easily fit into your lifestyle:
- Satiety: Keto meals — composed mostly of fat and protein — are extremely filling. This can allow you to stretch your time between meals. Many people even cut out snacks completely, without missing them. This makes Keto a really versatile option for intense or irregular work or class schedules.
- Fasting: It’s also easier to fast on Keto, if fasting is something that you’re interested in and that’s appropriate for you. If you’re in a situation where you can’t eat, or find yourself somewhere where there are no Keto-friendly options, you may find it fairly easy to just fast until your next opportunity to eat. Many people on Keto successfully fast daily until supper time, or fast through lunch so they don’t have to worry about packing a lunch for work.
- Food options: With few exceptions, you can find a Keto-friendly food option at any restaurant, grocery store, fast food joint, or convenience store. Steak, fish, bunless burgers, salads, beef jerky, pickles, and nuts and seeds are just a few widely available examples.
3. My Energy Levels Increased
Some experts have anecdotally referred to ketones as “rocket fuel,” specifically because of the way some people feel more energetic once they are firmly in ketosis.
Despite some of the fear-mongering that has been perpetrated about ketosis, the body and brain are able to burn ketones very efficiently. In fact, research suggests that ketosis has favorable effects on cognition and brain function [*].
Many people report feeling more alert on Keto after the initial adjustment period, and I can report that this is something I experienced too.
4. My Skin Cleared Up
Keto is a highly anti-inflammatory diet, especially if you’re focused on a clean Keto eating pattern with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients.
Inflammation is a key factor in acne and excess sebum production on the face, so reducing inflammation may help to improve the skin’s appearance [*].
Anecdotally, the only time I have ever been complimented on my skin is when I was faithfully following Keto.
5. I Rarely Felt Hungry
About two weeks after I started Keto, I went to visit my parents for several hours and ended up staying well past dinnertime. Throughout the visit, I sipped on a cup or two of coffee, but I didn’t realize until I was heading home that the last meal I’d eaten was lunch, but it was three hours past my typical dinnertime, and I wasn’t hungry at all. I was truly amazed. I had heard it could happen, but I never thought — after a lifetime of preoccupation with food and planning my next meal — I would experience it myself.
Why is Keto so effective for reducing appetite? Keto meals, heavy in protein, fat, and fiber, are naturally filling, and ketosis itself reduces appetite by helping prevent extreme blood sugar swings and regulate hunger and appetite hormones [*][*].
6. Weight Loss Became Almost Effortless
On Keto, I was able to put my weight loss efforts on autopilot. As long as I was eating Keto-friendly, unprocessed, single-ingredient foods, my appetite regulated itself fairly well.
Now that’s not to say I didn’t have to try. I had to be very careful with planning, and really use my willpower to avoid the non-Keto foods in my house. I also had to avoid the temptation to eat too many Keto sweets or processed Keto snacks, which slowed down my weight loss.
However, knowing that I could eat as much as I wanted of the right foods and still lose weight at a slow, gradual, and healthy rate was so great.
This lines up with current research, too. Although people can successfully lose weight on any type of calorie-restricted eating pattern, research has shown that people who stick with Keto generally have better success because Keto reduces hunger levels and helps to preserve muscle mass and metabolic rate [*][*][*][*].
7. My Bloating Decreased Almost Immediately
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, Keto could help to rapidly reduce bloating and swelling.
While a lot of these early losses are water weight, they can help to motivate you to stay the course, and you may also feel better carrying less water and inflammation even if your losses aren’t pure fat.
8. Ketosis Isn’t Just Good For Weight Loss
What does Keto actually do to your body? The more I studied Keto, I began to learn that ketosis is more than just a great tool to lose weight. There are several different health conditions that may be improved through nutritional ketosis — that is, using a Keto diet to induce a state of ketosis. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome [*][*]
- Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia [*][*]
- Mood disorders such as depression [*][*]
- Digestive problems, including inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome [*][*][*]
While it’s certainly not a cure-all, Keto is definitely worth considering if you are dealing with any of these conditions and you want to try a natural, diet-focused approach to managing them.
Be sure to research it fully — including not just the potential downsides, but the many potential benefits as well. Many healthcare providers disagree about the benefits of Keto, so it’s also important to seek out a provider that stays brushed up on current research and understands the importance of diet and prevention in medicine.
The Carb Manager team is just one of many voices speaking out for the powerful benefits of Keto and nutritional ketosis. While it may not be right for everyone, there are many people who could see huge health improvements from switching to Keto this year! Don’t write it off without giving it your due diligence.
And if Keto turns out to not be right for you? Any changes that help to reduce highly refined carbs, processed seed oils, and added sugars can provide major health benefits — even if you don’t follow a fully ketogenic diet. Carb Manager is here to support you on your health journey, no matter your daily carb count.