Keto is Different from ‘Dieting’

The Keto/Low-Carb approach is often misunderstood because people assumed it is just another form of ‘dieting.’ And ‘dieting’ means calorie-counting, cutting back on food amounts, experiencing hunger as a form of virtue, perhaps radical reduction of fat— the whole package that gets called ‘semi-starvation’ in scientific journal articles. 

Critics of Keto/Low-Carb have been claiming for so long that you only lose weight on our eating plan if you cut the calories that Dr. Robert C. Atkins, in his very first book in 1972, felt the need to include the case study of a patient of his who lost 80 pounds on 3000 calories a day. We cut back on the carbs, not the calories or total food amounts. 

Imagine a ‘dieter’ in the morning. He used to eat two slices of buttered toast for breakfast, now that he’s ‘dieting’ he eats his toast dry. If he can’t lose weight on that kind of restriction maybe he only eats on slice of dry toast. Or maybe he buys whole wheat bread and decides since he’s being so good, he can have 3 slices of dry toast in the morning. It’s ‘healthy whole grain!’ Without butter!

When we are on Keto, by contrast, we will ditch the bread (unless we can buy or make low-carb bread) and keep the butter. An easy solution if you are lazy like me is to put your butter in your hot coffee or tea, making it ‘bulletproof.’ If that feels too much like skipping breakfast (which many of us ketonians do) you can add an egg. Or two, or three. Eggs are low-carb enough to be a ‘free food’ on Keto. You can cook your eggs in butter, coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil. Whichever you like. Or you can have hard-boiled or baked eggs if that’s what you prefer.

A ‘dieter’ has this dilemma— he constantly has to cut back, reduce calories, eat less. But that doesn’t always lead to the desired weight loss. It may just train your body to get by with fewer calories per day. This is why dieters experience weight loss plateaus, that usually can’t be fixed without more calorie restrictions. Which leads to hunger. Which, if you are not anorexic or a diet fanatic, will lead at some point to the dieter ditching the diet to EAT something.

On Keto we work WITH our bodies. When we feel hungry, there are low-carbohydrate foods we can eat. If we are not so hungry because of being in ketosis, we can do intermittent fasting or OMAD (one meal a day) when we feel like it. 

Our bodies are not under our voluntary control. You can’t control the rate at which your heart beats, or how quickly your body digests food, or when your body makes insulin or how much it makes or if your body, because of insulin resistance, doesn’t pay proper attention to insulin.

Keto is a trick to make your body let go of the weight without feeling constant hunger pangs. Since hunger pangs are your body’s signal that you need food, healthy people can’t ignore hunger signals for long. And because of that, ‘dieting’ fails. Keto DOES hit weight loss plateaus, and you may need to do some intermittent fasting or cut down further on your carbs from time to time. But it won’t make you go hungry. 

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To get good instructions on how to go Keto/Low-Carb, get one or both of these books: Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution (1972); Dr. Atkins New Diet Cookbook (1994). They have instructions on doing the eating plan, recipes, and menu plans. 

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