The Keto Diet Might Be Bad For Your Heart, A New Study Finds

In a recent turn of events, science has found diets that favor the “cavemen” way of eating might not be the best health bet. What a shame, considering the Paleo and its stricter high-fat cousin, the Ketogenic diet, have both quickly risen the ranks to become two of today’s trendiest diets.

A study published in July 2019 in the European Journal of Nutrition looked at the gut microbiome (the bacteria) of 90 subjects. Half of the subjects were on the Paleo diet, and the other half were the control group. The study followed these subjects for over a year, focusing on looking at the impacts of decreased resistant starch consumption on serum trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO, for short). TMAO is a by-product from our digestive system’s breakdown of fatty foods, and elevated levels of TMAO have been associated with a higher risk for heart disease. The study also looked at the diet’s impact on the abundance of gut bacteria.

The participants of the study were separated into control and experimental groups. The control group was required to make no changes to their diet for the year and practice a well-rounded diet that included dairy, grains, and legumes (the latter are restricted on the Paleo diet).  The experimental group was required to follow the Paleo diet, and consume no more than 1 serving a day of grains and dairy products. Because that’s a pretty f*cking strict rule to stick to for a year, they ended up dividing participants into two groups, those who stuck to the rule (the die-hards) were under the Strict Paleo group (SP) and those who broke the rules were under the Pseudo Paleo group (PP). OOP! They pretty much called a whole group of them fake, and I am here for it.

So, anyway.

The study found that the TMAO levels in the Strict Paleo group were much higher, due to significantly higher levels of red meat consumption. Gut flora (microbiota) levels were also disrupted, with an abundance of the bacterium Hungatella. This bacterium is a producer of TMAO, so that makes sense… more TMAO producer, more TMAO. Two other bacteria, Roseburia and Bifidobacteria, were found to be significantly less abundant in the Paleo groups. These two strains are found to be abundant in subjects that consume starches. The authors of the study suggest that the lower overall fiber consumption levels in subjects that were in the Paleo groups and the lack of starches (that are necessary to help microbiota thrive) in the long-term may have negative implications on gut and heart health.

SIDENOTE: Now of course, just because the subjects in this study had low levels of fiber does not mean your BFF that is on the Paleo diet is also low in fiber because she/he/you could be getting your leafy greens in (a wise tactic on or off Paleo). But because this wasn’t the case here, they don’t have data on your guys’ gut environment, sorry.

So then I, of course, did further research. Roseburia and Bifidobacteria are key bacteria that impact overall health of the host (us). In obese individuals, the levels of Bifidobacteria are reduced and disrupted levels of gut bacteria could be a factor in obesity. But I think the key takeaway from this article is less about demonizing the Paleo diet (so anyone on Paleo and Keto, don’t come at me in the comments) and more about realizing that so many factors of our health, beyond the number on the scale or the pant size, are influenced by nutrition. By restricting your diet too much, or by completely ignoring a food group, you are also impacting certain biological systems and environments in our body.

My message here is this: Our body is an insane system that works together. The fact that a bacteria that lives in our digestive system to digest fat and protein can create a gaseous byproduct that can cause heart disease is just one of the many complicated engineering systems of our bodies. Like, how are you going to live in me and try to kill me? But it’s a way of suggesting your body needs balance. So the fact that fad diet creators and followers have attempted time and again to reduce our entire system to sets of rules should warrant careful observation and monitoring of how your body and mind feels and functions on these diets. Be careful about cutting food groups out completely, be careful about any diets that push their own products on you, and do not only what makes you healthy but also happy.

Images: Giphy (2)

8 Keto Snacks And Supplements That Don’t Taste Gross

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably curious about or already following the oh-so-popular Keto diet. By eating very few carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and a lot of fat, your body goes into a metabolic state of ketosis. WTF is ketosis? Basically, it’s when fat ~magically~ transforms into a form of fuel called ketones to add some pep in your step and melt off that muffin top (I paraphrase)—and people all over the world are swearing by it. Here are a few of the best keto-friendly products, snacks, and supplements that will help you burn fat and gain energy.

Bulletproof Cold Brew Coffee With Collagen Protein

You already know we had to kick off this list with bulletproof coffee. This cold brew bulletproof coffee is made with collagen protein, butter from grass-fed cows, and NO sugar. At 5 net carbs, this product is equal to two cups of coffee, so it’s the perfect thing way to kick off your morning.


Feeling crazy and want to make bulletproof coffee yourself? You can always make it on your own with guilt-free coffee, grass-fed butter, and a quality MCT oil, like holistic health pro and amazing life coach Aubrey Marcus’s ONNIT MCT Oil. It’s way more potent than regular coconut oil, with almost 13g of medium chain triglycerides (fatty acids) designed to jump start ketosis.

Perfect Keto Bars

Perfect Keto Bars have less than 3 grams of carbs and twice as much fat in them as protein (almost 20g fat compared to 10g protein), which literally makes them the *perfect keto bars*. They don’t taste like sh*t, even though there’s no added sugar or chemicals–just coconut oil, almond and cacao butter, sea salt, and a few other high-quality ingredients to give you the energy you need in the AM, or after a workout.

WrawP Coconut Wraps

Just because Keto limits your carb intake doesn’t mean your life has to suck. WrawP makes a few different flavored wraps made out of organic young coconuts and psyllium husk (the Curry flavor is my absolute fave) so you can still live a little. Cash in nine of your daily 20g carbs at breakfast by making a cheesy breakfast scramble wrap with eggs and avocado. F*ck, now I’m hungry.


Veggies are sketchy territory on the Keto diet, because they’re typically high-carb. Broccoli is one of the most low-carb veggies out there, making it the perfect natural supplement for Keto athletes, gym-goers, and health nuts. BROC SPROUT 2 capsules are made from 100% broccoli sprout and help to produce Sulforaphane in the body which causes your cells to boost your immune system, brain, and physical power. Yay, broccoli!

Dastony Macadamia Nut Butter

Macadamia nuts are low in carbs (1 net gram), high in fat (21g), and super good for you. Swap out higher-carb nuts like peanuts, almonds, and pistachios for these babies as an easy, filling snack or condiment by blending them until they’re creamy and spreadable. Macadamia nuts and nut butter are definitely more expensive than your typical peanut butter so prepare to shell out a couple of bucks, but it’s worth it. Dastony makes macadamia nut butter, brazil nut butter, and other awesome nut butter flavors in 8 oz or GALLON tubs.


Love chips, but can’t eat Pringles anymore? No problem! Parm Crisps are chips made from 100% cheese. They come in Pizza, Jalapeño, Sesame, and Original flavors so you can satisfy all of your taste buds. Zero carbs and an equal mix of protein and fat, these cheesy snacks will keep you sane when you’re craving unhealthy, non-keto friendly chips.

Lily’s Sweets Dark Chocolate Chips

Lily’s Sweets chocolate is a personal favorite for like 1,000,000 reasons. It’s fair trade, non-GMO, naturally sweetened, and SO delicious. If you bake your own keto treats and want to add healthy, no-sugar-added chocolate, these are the chocolate chips you want to use in your recipe. Lily’s Sweets also makes incredible milk and dark chocolate bars for when you’re too lazy to bake and just want to sit on the couch and snack on something sweet (try the caramelized & salted milk chocolate bar…or don’t and let me have them all, please and thank you).

Images: Sara Dubler / Unsplash; Bulletproof; ONNIT; Perfect Keto; WrawP; BROC SPROUT 2; Dastony; Walmart; Lily’s Sweets
Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content

4 Healthy Foods That Are Surprisingly High In Fat

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been tracking macros on MyFitnessPal. Initially, I was doing it to try and get back on Keto. (By “back on,” I mean I did it for two weeks before a vacation once.) Unsurprisingly, I bailed on Keto (nothing is low-carb enough!!!). and I then decided my #newyearnewme would be about counting macros instead. I’m currently using this calculator, which I found via this highly reliable fitness Instagram. I’m not even being sarcastic—there’s very good advice on there. My biggest challenge with macros so far has definitely been keeping my fat content in check. Within a week, I realized I knew way less about which foods are high fat than I thought. For example, I had a day of what I considered very healthy eating (salads! oats! grain bowls!), and then discovered my diet had been 60% fat. And this is why I have trust issues. So, I did some research into which of my “healthy” choices were causing that high fat content. I’m not talking about obvious fats—you should all know that baked goods are full of bad fats and avocados are full of good fats. These are the sources of fat you’re not as likely to guess as, say, a fried chicken sandwich or a BLT with mayo.

Disclaimer: Everyone’s dietary needs are different, and many diets may call for higher fat content. I am not advocating for a universal low-fat diet, so do not come for me. Rather, I am hoping this information may be illuminating to some of you (read: I don’t want to be the only one who didn’t already know all this).


I’ll be honest, I’ve never really known a lot about the nutrition content of falafel. It felt like a kind of dietary gray zone. Not as healthy as a vegetable, but probably better than cheese. Right? Not really. While trying to design a low-fat grain bowl at Tender Greens, I was pretty shocked to see that the steak topping was lower in fat than the falafel option. While falafel can be a healthy dish (the ingredients themselves are nutrient-rich), I’d somehow forgotten that it’s typically deep-fried. This adds, in scientific terms, a sh*t ton of fat to your meal. FWIW, the “baked falafel” option at Tender Greens was way healthier—but unless a menu specifies “baked,” you should assume it’s deep fried, and therefore higher in fat.


Tofu is a similar deal to falafel—it’s all about how it’s prepared. While tofu isn’t deep-fried quite as often as falafel (though still more often than you’d think), it’s really good at soaking up whatever it’s cooked in. And given that tofu on its own has just about zero flavor (it’s okay, we can all admit that), it’s usually cooked in a bunch of oils, sauces, etc. So tofu on its own? Low-fat, healthy option. But the way it’s usually prepared in restaurants can make it a higher-fat option than something like chicken.


Okay, this one errs more on the side of “foods we knew were high in fat.” But take a minute and actually consider how many “healthy options” feature nuts as a key ingredient. Protein bars that pride themselves on not adding sugar? Full of nuts. Overnight oats? Probably filled with nut butter (or WTF are you doing). Even a lot of salads and bowls will add nuts as a topping, plus, almonds are constantly touted as the ideal mid-afternoon snack. We also all know the problem with nuts—they are impossible to portion for how calorie-dense and fat-dense they are. And anyone who says they’re full after 6 almonds is a dirty liar.

So, while nuts are full of technically good fats, it’s still super easy to go over on your fat content goals if all the healthy options you’re choosing are nut-heavy. So if my breakfast included 2 tbsp of almond butter (18 grams of fat and it never feels like enough), maybe I don’t also have have a nut-based Lara Bar at 4pm (9 grams of fat), and snack on nuts at 6pm (19 grams of fat). That brings my fat content from nuts alone (not even the fun fats, like sauces and cheese and sugar) to 46 grams, when my daily goal is 48. (Let it be known that my total fat content for that day wound up being 90+ grams. This sh*t is hard!!!)

Olive Oil/Butter

I know! I said this list would be about non-obvious sources of fat. Yet here I am basically listing the liquid form of fat and saying “surprise! This is fat.” Sue me, but also listen because this is probably the #1 thing that people forget to count in their diets. One tablespoon of olive oil has 14 grams of fat. One tablespoon of butter has 12 grams of fat. (The type of fat they offer is different. Here is a long article on different fats and how they affect you.) Even at home, I struggle to cook something edible using less than 2 tbsp of one of these. It can be super tempting to just log the one chicken breast you cooked in there, but unless you’re using a cooking spray, you have to account for the fats it absorbed.

Well, that’s the end of my tirade on fat, and now I never want to look at a nutrition label again! Remember, the worst thing you can do with your diet is eat in a way that makes you miserable, because you know that sh*t won’t last. My fat content is still way too high most days, but I’m figuring out what a low-fat day I can live with looks like. At least it’s not Keto!

Easy Keto Meals That Hardly Require Cooking

If you’re tired of being bombarded by the keto diet on your FB page, Insta, and everywhere else you spend long periods of time, tough sh*t, cause we’re about to lay down some easy keto recipes. For the uninitiated, the keto diet—short for ketogenic diet—is focused on minimizing cards and letting you stuff your face with fat so that your body, which is easily distracted, will use fat instead of carbs for energy. I paraphrase science a little bit. According to Women’s Health Magazine, “after about two to seven days of following this eating routine, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn’t have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy.” Then what happens is your body “starts making ketons, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs—and oh, it also burns fat for more energy.” Basically, as Cady Heron famously said, your body is running on carbs. Once all the carbs are gone, you’ll drop 10 pounds like that! I should have an honorary biology degree. Anyway, if you wanna just, like, burn up all your fat and carbs, here are some stupidly easy keto meals that barely require a recipe.

1. Smoked Salmon Stuffed Avocados

Praise da lort, you can have avocado and smoked salmon while you’re keto-ing your life away. This recipe requires you to cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, then stuff some smoked salmon and creme fraîche inside, topping with a bit of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Your body is literally a temple and I feel like Ina Garten would be v proud.

2. Chicken And Green Beans

If you hate putting effort into literally anything, this is the keto meal for you. Go to the store and buy a rotisserie chicken. Cut off some pieces. Steam some green beans. Dinner is f*cking served. It literally does not get easier than this. You don’t even have to roast the chicken yourself.

3. Caprese Omelet

Do you know how to make an omelet? Time to learn. This recipe marries eggs with the much beloved combo of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. It works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or when you’re really hungover and don’t know what day or time it is. If you need me to explain to you how to cook eggs, you have bigger problems than doing the keto diet IMO.

4. BLTA Lettuce Wraps

Bacon plus lettuce plus tomatoes plus avocado gives you so many life points as a basic b*tch! Grab some fresh romaine lettuce, then pile on the bacon, fresh tomatoes, and avocado slices for an amazing breakfast or lunch. This goes great with iced coffee and judgment, too.

5. Zucchini Noodle Pasta

Break out the spiralizer, cause it’s time to eat zucchini noodles! After you cut your vegetables into noodle shapes, top it with anything from your favorite jarred tomato sauce to sun-dried tomatoes and feta to olive tapenade to literally cheese and pepper. Low carb, low fat, and not quite as good as regular pasta but, whatever, you chose to be keto.

6. Oktoberfest Brats With Mustard Sauce

Going keto but still wanna chug beer and celebrate German culture (the fun parts, anyway)? Get your Oktoberfest on with this recipe that doesn’t require complex thought AND doesn’t feel like it should be healthy in any way since it consists of half glorified hot dogs, and half sauerkraut! You’re such a world traveler.

7. Garlic Chicken

If you’re cool with actually COOKING something, buy a bunch of chicken drumsticks, season them with salt, pepper, chopped fresh garlic, and parsley, then put them on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle over some extra virgin olive oil and lemon just, then put them in a 450°F oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is brown and roasted. You can eat this with a nice arugula salad or several glasses of wine. Is wine keto?

I Tried The Ketogenic Diet & This Is Why You Should Too

At this point in the year (aka February) most of us are either 30 days deep into our “New Year/New Me” diet, or we’re 29 days deep into our “Same Me/Same Shit” cheat spiral. No shade either way. Everyone’s journey is different. This year, for the first time in my entire life (unless you count getting the flu a diet), I actually stuck to the meal plan that I chose on 1/1/18, and I am now here to annoyingly brag tell you all about it. It’s called the Ketogenic diet, or Keto diet, which may ring a bell from Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette when Blake the aspiring drummer wouldn’t STFU about it. 

I decided to give this diet a try after getting insanely jealous watching a friend lose 50 pounds on it. He’s a guy, so he’s blessed with the ability to lose weight in his sleep; but I figured if I lost even the smallest portion of that weight, I’d finally be the the gorgeous model version of myself that I always imagine myself to be when zoning out to Ariana Grande and picturing myself as one of her backup dancers—I mean, what?

(Actual footage of me as a backup dancer.)

Wtf Is The Ketogenic Diet?

The Keto diet is a super low carb, low sugar diet. The basic point is for you to eat so few carbs (ideally 20-25gs per day) that your body starts running off ketones, rather than the glucose or insulin your body produces when you’re eating tons of carbs. When glucose is your primary source of energy, your body doesn’t need fat to function and the fat ends up being stored in your body etc…etc… your thighs touch now.

(Note: My thighs touched before the Keto diet. They touched during the Keto diet. And they will touch long after I give up finish the Keto diet. My thighs will always touch. They are v close friends who like each other a lot, and who am I to pull them apart?)

(Note #2: I know that first paragraph sounded like Cady Heron explaining the science behind Kalteen bars to Regina George, but I promise what I said is backed with actual science.)

Ketones are produced from a breakdown of fats in the liver. Once you’re running off ketones, your body becomes a fat burning machine, which is great, because this diet requires eating a fuckton of fats. Ideally, you’re going to be getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 15-30% from protein, and 5% from carbs.  If you’re going to get into Keto, you’re gonna have to be okay with the fact that you’re now going to be one of those people who talks about their “macros” now. I was about a week into my Keto journey the first time I heard myself say, “Ugh, my macros are all over the place today,” and had to run over to a mirror and make sure I was, in fact, still myself.

So Wtf Can You Eat?

A lot of stuff, actually! For me, I’ve always had a very hard time sticking to diets and meal plans, and an even worse time counting calories. Keto was the easiest plan I’ve ever had to stick to, because once you learn all the different types of foods you can eat, it’s pretty easy to throw some meals together. Just make sure you’re DTC (down to cook) because a lot of the shit you find while eating out is packed with secret carbs that will totally kill your Keto vibe. Here’s a list of foods that will become your life on keto:

MCT Oil: If Coconut oil is Khloé and Olive Oil is Kourtney, MCT Oil is the Kim of the Keto-friendly oil family. MCT oil is a medium chain fatty acid that can have a positive effect on fat burning and weight reduction. It helps curb your appetite, burn fat as fuel, and generally helps you lose weight. MCT oil helps increase ketone production, and you can literally put it in everything.

Avocados: Already obsessed with avocados? Good, because you’re going to eat a whoooole fuckload of them on Keto. Yep, turns out that whole “healthy fats” thing is real, and avocados are totally full of them. So yeah, eat as much guac as you’d like, just ditch the chips. You can literally just eat guac by the spoonful on this diet, not that I have ever done that.

Dry Riced Vegetables: If you’re a carbs addict like I am, the hardest part of keto will be missing your dearly beloved grains. That’s where dry riced vegetables come in. They’re vegetables…turned into rice. Groundbreaking. Keto & Co has great dry cauliflower and broccoli rice for like, eight bucks. One pack makes a whole pound of rice so you can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating carbs. As an added bonus, I read on Twitter once that cauliflower is the new avocados, which were the new kale, so this rice is also v trendy.

Burrito Bowls: Guess what—Chipotle can still be a thing in your life on Keto. Astounding, I know. Anytime I need to eat out, I just hop over to my local burrito purveyor and get a burrito bowl with no beans or rice. Then I get mixed greens, fajita veggies, whatever meat I’m feeling like that day, salsa, sour cream, and sooooo much guac they’re probably tempted to charge me extra-extra.

Pork Rinds: A lot of Keto for me was tricking my body into thinking I’m eating the foods I used to be obsessed with, like chips. On Keto, you can eat pork rinds, which is just like, pork skin turned into a chip. If you’re not already into them, give yourself 1-2 chipless days and you will be. Trust me.

Shakes: Like in most diets, shakes are your friend. Just throw a bunch of Keto-friendly ingredients in a blender and voilà, you are healthy, and everyone who sees you walking down the street with that green drink concoction knows it. If you’re too lazy to even think of ingredients for a shake (hi) Ketolent also has powdered shakes in chocolate and vanilla that are wayyyy tastier than any fitness-related shake has any business being.

A Fuckton Of Eggs: Yeah I mean, you’re going to be eating a lot of eggs, in all varieties. The limit does not exist on how many eggs you can eat. Go nuts.

Alcohol: Vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey, scotch, brandy, and cognac are all drinkable on Keto. I know, right? And if you’re thinking, “Uh, I can’t just drink liquor all the time I’m already blacking out enough as it is,” don’t worry. You can actually still drink beer and wine on Keto, just be sure to keep an eye on the carbs. The only thing your really have to avoid are fancy, flavored cocktails and sweet wines. Other than that, go nuts.*


*Please drink and Keto responsibly.

Is Butter A Carb?

No, actually. Eat as much butter as your little heart desires. Drown in butter if you want to. On Keto, the world is your buttery, buttery oyster. Congrats.

Any Issues?

I honestly do not know how anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, or morally opposed to cooking would do this diet. There’s just, like, a lot of meat and cheese going on here, and while I’m sure there are ways to substitute things in and out, that sounds like an enormous pain in the ass. As soon as a diet gets more complicated than following a basic meal plan, it’s a no from me. I also like cooking and meal planning (brag), so I found getting my Keto meals prepped to be very calming. That might not be the case for sane other people. The biggest issue I ran into is that I just don’t love Stevia, which is the go-to Keto sweetener. I made a bunch of sweet Keto treats that I ended up not eating because Stevia tastes like medicine to me. Eventually, I gave up on trying to make Stevia happen and just switched to coconut sugar, which isn’t ideal for Keto but hey, neither was I at the beginning. 

Helpful Products

The number one thing you’re going to want to be successful on this diet is either MyFitnessPal or some kind of meal tracker so you can make sure your macros are in order. I also read The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle, which is all info you can find online (and in this article tbh), but buying a book made it feel more offish. The book also has a lot of really good recipes that don’t take long or require cooking knowledge beyond a few binge-watches of Top Chef.

If the lack of snacks is already scaring you, Keto Delivered is a Keto-friendly snack delivery service that will send you all sorts of shit you never thought you’d have again. Personally, they sent me a Keto cookie mix that made me feel like I was having real cookies again, and some low-carb maple syrup which I used to make Keto pancakes. The boxes also contain fun recipes you never would have thought of (I repeat, Keto pancakes).

But Does It Work Tho?

I am happy to announce that as of this day, I am 5 pounds lighter, which was my goal. I also have genuinely felt a lot more energy, and been fuller for longer since saying goodbye to bread and re-focusing my life around my love of cheese. The fact that you can still drink on Keto made this diet a whole lot easier than the ones I’ve done in the past that limit your drinks to a laughable two per week (Do you even know my life??).

Full disclosure, I was not 100% keto 100% of the time. There were a few ramen trips in there, and my mom sent me a Valentine’s basket with some chocolates in it and it would have been like, rude not to eat them so I did.

On the bright side, a few cheat days did not totally wreck my progress here and I’m still basically 80% Keto over a month in. Considering my previous diets have lasted about three hours, the fact that I made it to February on this one should speak volumes.

Images: Brooke Lark / Unsplash; Giphy (10)

I Did The Keto Diet Where I Ate All Fat And No Carbs & It Went Better Than You’d Expect

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Fad Diet Diaries: a series of experiments, where I willingly put myself through diets that range from challenging to questionable to downright abhorred by the medical community and then record my experience so that other people can learn from my mistakes. Both my doctor and my metabolism are thrilled.

While in the past I’ve tested out crash cleanses, obscure 90s fad diets, and completely arbitrary food challenges, set by people at GQ, this round of dieting was a truly unique experience. Why? Because it was kind of healthy.

For the past two weeks I have been living the ketogenic lifestyle, which I’ve been describing to people as Atkins on Crisco. It entails cutting out essentially all carbs and sugars and sustaining yourself on a diet of high-fat foods. If this sounds like a dream to you, it’s because it kind of is. For instance, if you’ve ever found yourself in bed at 10pm on a Thursday night, wishing you had a bowl of sour cream and carnitas in front of you, you’ll want to keep reading.


The purpose of this diet is to put yourself into a metabolic state called ketosis, which is a natural process that your body initiates when carb intake is low. Essentially, instead of burning carbs for energy, your body is burning fats. You are quite literally eating fats to burn and lose weight, and it sounds fake until you suddenly fit into a pair of pants you haven’t been able to wear since junior year of college.

This website will explain the scientific side of this better than I will ever be able to and serves as a really great introduction for people who are looking to dive into a keto lifestyle.

While keto is more of a lifestyle than a fad diet, I’ve decided it falls into the realm of this series, because people won’t stop talking about it. Originally promoted as a way to help regulate epilepsy and diabetes, keto is receiving a seal of approval from fitness fanatics, professional athletes, and people who just really like high-maintenance diets. On the other end of the spectrum, you have your usual skeptics and assorted doctors who really wish that people would stop creating fad diets so that their patients will stop coming in quoting Dr. Oz. This sounded like an argument that I wanted to drop myself directly into the middle of.

The diet breakout looks something like this: 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs. You can get your own specific macros calculated on any number of online keto calculators, which make you do inhumane things like try and figure out your body fat percentage. My requirements were 1,531 calories a day, 119g of fat, 95g of protein, and a mere 20g of carbs.

For reference, there are 48g of carbs in one bagel. Half a bagel would max out my entire carb intake for one day and likely destroy any ketosis that I had established. I know most of you likely just checked out, but stay with me here.

I'm Out

And the thing is, the allowed 20g of carbs aren’t fun carbs like bread or apple cider donuts that a girl in your office had shipped fresh from New York on day two of your diet. They’re hidden carbs that live in foods you thought were safe, like arugula and mushrooms. What I began to refer to as “sleeper carbs” were nearly my downfall and the cause of one of the most dread-filled Sunday nights of my entire life. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

In order to ensure that you’ve reached ketosis, you get to pee on these little strips that tell you if your body is expelling high levels of ketones with a color scale that quite easily allows you to mistake one level for another, and will have you sitting and examining a strip of paper, covered in your own urine, for longer than you’d like to admit it. Accept this as your new normal.

The test strips are a bit controversial in that they don’t work for everyone, and for some, are less of a measure of your level of ketone creation and more of a litmus test for simply whether you’re in ketosis or not. If you’re a die-hard follower and want the truest measurement, the best route is a blood test, for which you can buy a handy gadget and perform at home. My needle-phobic ass will stick to examining my own pee, thanks.

No Thank You

Other things that will become your new normal: consuming 100+ grams of fat a day, drinking butter, having meltdowns at 8:30pm when you realize you’re still 60 grams of fat short of your daily goal, being that asshole at a restaurant who orders deconstructed burgers with every imaginable sauce removed, and in a moment of weakness, spending $30 on the most pretentious ingredients you can find at your nearest New Seasons, so you can splurge on a keto-safe cookie dough concoction that you’re really going to hate yourself for eating.

The hardest part of this diet wasn’t necessarily following it, but getting into the mindset that not only is it okay to be eating fats, but that you have to do it to keep yourself going.

I, like most women, have grown up in a body-shaming, lady-hating, diet-purporting society that has conditioned me to avoid fats like my life depended on it. In fact, we’ve been taught that our lives do actually depend on it, lest we fall victim to such horrors as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, or, God forbid, being bigger than a size 6.

But I just spent the last two weeks indulging in eggs fried in butter, bacon, cream cheese, and all the avocado my heart desired, and guess what? I lost nine pounds, went down an entire pant size, and suffered what can only be described as an existential crisis, when I realized that I don’t know how the fuck food or my body works.

What Is Happening

If this sounds equal parts enjoyable, eye-opening, and entirely overwhelming, that’s because it was. I know I’ve painted the whole experience as a dream come true, but there were considerable downsides as well. For one, in order to live as true to the lifestyle as possible, I committed to tracking my macros to ensure I was meeting my daily requirements (spoiler alert: I rarely did). This entailed painstakingly measuring out—or in my case, wildly estimating—the exact amount of each individual ingredient I was consuming and putting it into an app that would tell me whether or not I was failing.

Is failing the right word to use, considering I still lost weight and reaped the benefits of a keto diet? Probably not, but that’s certainly what it felt like. While the food was enjoyable, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the end results, a diet shouldn’t make me feel the way that AP Tests and the SAT did; I shouldn’t be having stress dreams about eating an entire cake and immediately throwing my body out of ketosis.

A regular diet is stressful in its own right, but one that makes you meticulously track everything you put into your mouth is a giant undertaking. There were times that I just opted not to eat, because the thought of recording a meal sounded exhausting. 

Other negative side effects that one could experience include: muscle cramps due to lack of magnesium (check), sudden drop-offs in energy while your body adapts to this new reality (check), the keto flu—a period of during the induction phase where one might suffer flu-like symptoms due to a lack of electrolytes (thankfully avoided), and zero tolerance for any bullshit from anyone (potentially just me).

What was shocking was how quickly I adapted to this new way of life. Unlike most of my diets where each day brought a new hurdle, either physical or emotional, the reality of keto set in quickly. The second half of the journey moved along smoothly, and I didn’t even find myself wishing for it to end, but that first week was a whirlwind of discovery.

Day One

This first day was exciting in the way these experiments always are in the beginning. I’m out here trying something entirely new and haven’t stooped to the point of hating myself for it yet. Everything is still a novelty, and I haven’t had to embarrass myself at a restaurant by asking for the sugar content of the house Bloody Mary Mix. Everything was bright and shiny.


I learned a couple things really quickly, both through the way I felt and the sage wisdom of my keto coach, a friend who willingly lives like this as an actual preference and not just so she can publish a bunch of jokes about it online. Some people are just enlightened, I guess.

The first lesson: Bodies in ketosis require almost double the amount of water as normal, because your liver is doing a lot more work than usual. This was rough to hear, considering that, on a good day, I drink about half as much water as an adult human should. In light of this news, I downloaded an app to remind me to drink water, because I’m the kind of person that needs technology to remind her to meet the baseline requirements for survival. All in all, things were off to a good start.

Day Two

On day two, I discovered butter coffee, which is exactly what it sounds like: a tablespoon of grass-fed butter and sixteen ounces of black coffee, thrown into a blender. What comes out tastes more like a latte than anything else, and drinking it for the first time felt like what I would imagine it’s like to live life in all caps. I don’t think I’ll ever again reach the level of euphoria that I experienced that first buttery morning, but I’ll dream of it for the rest of my days, chasing that butter coffee dragon.


To be clear, there’s a method behind the madness of drinking a tablespoon of butter first thing every morning. First and foremost, as previously mentioned, I had a hard time squeezing all recommended 119g of fat into my diet, so starting out my day with a steaming cup of butter was actually really helpful. Beyond that, your body takes longer to metabolize fats, which means butter coffee is supposed to keep you energized longer, rather than offering a spike of caffeine in the morning and dropping off by lunch. I found this to be true, because I no longer required my usually mandatory 2pm cup of coffee to make it through the work day.

If a 7am butter coffee was the high of day two, then you could say the low was a mere 12.5 hours later, when I found myself sitting on my patio in the dark, eating rotisserie chicken directly out of the bag, an event spurned by the fact that I had finally checked my macros for the day, and found I was insufficient in just about everything but carbs, which I’d already maxed out at 20g.

It was at this point that I realized that this diet had a definite learning curve, something that I really wasn’t accustomed to. Rather than depriving myself and accepting the suffering, I needed to plan my entire day around meeting dietary requirements that I couldn’t really even fathom. Luckily, there are hundreds of forums, Facebook groups, and Pinterest pages dedicated to this very idea. Did I check any of those? Absolutely not, but it probably would have been a good idea.

Day Three

Day three was when the reality of what macro tracking meant really set in. I am but a simple American, who barely has a grasp on our standard system of measurement, let alone the metric one. Keto does not care about my mathematical inadequacies. This diet is out here asking me to estimate the number of grams of salmon I’m consuming in a single day.

“Idk, like a handful of spinach” isn’t an option on my tracking app, and my kitchen is sorely lacking in basic measurement tools, which left me frequently Googling conversion calculators and trying to rationalize amounts of food by comparing them to items that had their weights listed. In short, it was a fucking train wreck.


After the great rotisserie chicken debacle of the night before, I vowed to never fall victim to macro deficiency again and grabbed a pack of bacon on the way home from work. The second major hurdle of this diet was the fact that I had to spend a substantial amount of time cooking every night. Although it’s been covered in every installment of this series, it probably bears importance in repeating that I am not a cook by any stretch of the word, and any meal that takes more than 15 minutes to prepare just seems exorbitant.

And yet, I found myself that night spending 45 minutes frying up an entire pack of bacon. Should it take that long to cook bacon? Probably not. But things like logic and cook times have never applied to me, and they weren’t about to start this week.

My next lesson was in sleeper carbs and the fact that even if you’re positive you haven’t touched a single carbohydrate all day, you can still rack up about 12g too many of them. The culprit? Vegetables, whom I’d always considered to be a safe and reliable friend, were secretly carrying carbs and betraying any trust established between us. Et tu, arugula?


Day Four

Day four was a turning point, one of the first times I thought to myself, “Maybe this should be something I just do all the time.” What could possibly drive me to consider a lifetime without carbs and sugar? It’s simple really: natural energy, something this body hasn’t experienced since the tender age of 12.

On this momentous day, I woke up on my very first alarm. To some, this is just a mundane requirement of being an adult and making it to work on time, but for me? Unheard of. I am a five alarm girl, set at five-minute intervals for optimal suffering. I usually drag my lifeless body out of bed about 10 minutes after that fifth alarm and proceed to caveman around the house until I’ve deemed myself presentable enough to wander into work and directly to the coffee machine.

But on day four, I sprang out of bed at a chill 6:40am with a sizable craving for butter coffee and the drive to get out of the house as soon as humanly possible.

Improved energy is, in fact, a side effect of this diet. Fat is the body’s largest and most efficient source of energy, and you’ve just about doubled your intake of it. The result is that you aren’t spending time working through heavy carbs anymore, just burning through these high-energy molecules, which are making you feel truly awake for the first time in your cursed life.


In my case, it was also making me second-guess a lot of things that I had never questioned before. For instance, I am now almost 99% sure that I’ve spent my entire life mistaking the signs of dehydration for anything but that. On my way to work that morning, I thought, “Hm, I’d really love another cup of coffee,” and then stopped myself, because that wasn’t actually what I wanted at all. I was thirsty and finally recognizing it for what it was. Natural selection is truly slacking in my case.

You might be asking yourself how I’ve made it a full 25 years without being able to tell if my body was in need of water or not, and I’m here to tell you that I have no idea. But now that I’m drinking 2.5 liters of water a day, I’ve finally begun to understand what a baseline craving for hydration feels like. Let me tell you, it’s wild.

Day Five

I had made it to Friday and had done pretty well for myself, so on day five, I decided it was time for a treat: professional butter coffee. It’s actually called Bulletproof Coffee, and it’s basically butter coffee with the addition of MCT oil, a naturally occurring oil that is supposed to boost energy and burn fat like crazy.

Was it weird at first? For sure. I had grown accustomed to my butter lattes, and this was less of a soothing morning ritual and more so on par with what I would expect it’s like to do angel dust for the first time. I didn’t really know how to process it until I was about a third of the way through and my body took over. Suddenly, I needed to drink the rest of it, and it needed to happen as quickly as humanly possible.

It was like I had transcended mundane things like taste buds in favor of becoming omnipotent. I could see new colors. Conversations around me slowed down. I got more work done on that single day than I had all week, and it was all due to this $6 oily, buttery, bitter concoction that I will never stop thinking about. I was riding on an absolute high, ready to adopt a keto diet for life, until suddenly I wasn’t.


There was a flurry of reasons for that abrupt turn of events that all culminated in one thing: alcohol. Naturally.

Maybe it was the Bulletproof coffee, or my intense focus, but I didn’t drink nearly as much water as I should have on Friday. Realizing this around 4pm was the first red flag that put me off-kilter. A work happy hour led to a birthday party, which led to a bar, which led to another bar, which ultimately led to me standing in front of a Mediterranean food cart at 2am trying to rack up the 1,000 calories I was supposed to have consumed throughout the day, while explaining to a confused, bemused, but accommodating Middle Eastern man what exactly ketogenic diets entail.

All week I had been shaping my plans and schedule so specifically around this diet, but day five was the first day that life intervened. Sometimes, you’re going to be out and about and won’t be able to find a high-fat, moderate protein meal that adheres exactly to your needs. Sometimes you’re going to fall off the wagon, because you’ve had a shitty day and you need to. Sometimes you’re going to accidentally get super drunk on a Friday, because you would have been racked with FOMO if you hadn’t gone to the cool rooftop happy hour.

And all of that is okay! You can have those off days, as long you wake up the next morning and rededicate yourself to your goals.

Let me tell you, that is exactly what I did.

Day Six

I don’t know how to explain the way I felt Saturday morning. I woke up… energized?

The three tequila Diet Cokes (it pains me to write that) and two vodka sodas I consumed the night before? Gone.

Any exhaustion that may have stemmed from the fact that I went to bed at 3am and woke up naturally at 8am? Gone.

A sudden need to grocery shop, clean my room, do the dishes, buy a wall calendar to map out the rest of these diets, and just generally get my life together ARRIVED.

Here I was, making the most of a Saturday morning, planning for my week ahead and feeling slightly guilty for consuming alcohol. It wasn’t even the “I blacked out and embarrassed myself” guilt but a completely foreign “I didn’t really need to drink alcohol at all last night” kind.  It was during those abundantly productive hours that I first questioned whether this diet was turning me into a functional adult. Or at the very least, someone who could pass for one. I bought a relaxing nighttime tea, for God’s sake. What next? Learning how to make sous vide eggs?

Who Am I

Day Seven

All the serenity of Saturday was completely spent by the time Sunday rolled around. I was coming up on one week of this diet, and the only thing I really felt was stressed out. Well, skinny and stressed out. I had yet to figure out a solution to sleeper carbs and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, trying to reconcile this newfound, entirely one-sided feud with vegetables that I was harboring.

I hadn’t experienced a Sunday night woe like this since high school, at which point I consulted my keto coach who encouraged me to throw caution to the wind and indulge in a meal consisting solely of eggs, butter and meat. Decadent doesn’t begin to describe the way I felt.

Sunday night was a true breakthrough in both keto and probably just my adult life: I had finally allowed myself to eat something that a past me would have deemed wildly unacceptable. I’d dismantled the mental block that told me a meal wasn’t complete if it wasn’t 50% green and leafy. I wasn’t “treating myself” or “having a cheat meal.” I was eating fucking dinner, and it was glorious and liberating, and I was evolving my relation with food.


From that moment forward, I was a new person. I no longer shied away from the high-fat foods, that I was supposed to be embracing. I committed to drinking water, not just for the diet, but also for myself. I slowly began to relax my meal planning, allowing myself to eat out and not slave over tracking nuances. I ate a shit ton of bacon. And come the two-week mark, I’d lost nine pounds.

Every diet in this series has taught me something about myself: that I am capable of superhuman levels of self-control when I need to be, that I can eat an inhumane amount of ice cream and still kind of function, and that I can accomplish just about anything that I set my mind to, even if my body is begging me not to.

But this is the first diet to show me that maybe my regular habits aren’t all that much better than the ones I force upon myself, for the sake of these articles. Eating healthy is all well and good, but not if you’re punishing yourself after a moment of weakness. Hell, maybe they shouldn’t be called moments of weakness, but moments where I really wanted a muffin, and so I ate a goddamn muffin.

Does this mean I’m fully committed to a keto lifestyle from here on out? Not necessarily. Lazy keto, a diet that still follows ketogenic rules but doesn’t force you to track your macros or panic over vegetable carbs, seems more up my alley and is something I could see myself adopting between diet ventures. But I’m also acutely aware that fall is here and with it the great love of my life: kettle corn. I won’t deprive myself of that, and I also won’t gorge myself with it. I’ll enjoy a responsible amount and determinedly not feel bad about it.

In the end, the ultimate irony is that a high-fat, indulgent diet has brought a sense of balance to my life that I hadn’t realized I was missing. Somehow, on this never-ending quest to test every possible limit my body possesses, I’ve managed to stumble upon something worthwhile.

No promises that it will ever happen again, but I’m pretty happy with myself in the meantime.