The keto diet makes me feel bad, but I’m scared to transition out of it because I don’t
- The high fat low carb keto diet only leads to weight loss if you’re in a calorie deficit.
- Carbs aren’t inherently fattening and provide essential fiber, registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert said.
- She advises working on your relationship with food and moving away from counting calories.
- Read more Working It Out here.
I have been doing keto on and off for years. I found that at times it could be great for weight loss (my lowest weight was 117lbs), but other times I would bake too many keto treats and my weight would creep back up (123lbs). Also, it is tricky socially, my period became erratic, my hair started falling out, and I became obsessed with everything keto. I was also combining it with 16:8 fasting.
I am trying to transition out of it now, I have started eating porridge, fruit, root vegetables, and yesterday even bread. My weight is hovering around 121lbs. We are in lockdown here, so it is probably a little higher than normal. I am counting the calories on my phone, as I seem to need a system to feel ok around food. Most days I get to around 1,800 to 2,000.
I exercise with weights, walk, or jog most days. Do you think I should stick with my new carbs plan? I still eat vegetables, protein, and fats. It just feels weird to leave the keto world behind, and I feel afraid that I might rapidly put on weight (I was 172lbs in my 20s). Thanks for your help.
— Carb Fearer
Dear Carb Fearer,
Many of us have been conditioned over the years to think there’s something inherently fattening about carbs, but that’s not true.
It took me a long time to break through this mindset and learn that the only way you gain weight is by eating too many calories, whether it’s from carbs or any other food type.
I also understand what it’s like to obsess over food and to be scared not to track your intake, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t need to eat a keto diet for weight loss
The keto, or ketogenic diet requires eating high-fat and low-carb: under 20-50g carbs a day. (For context, one large apple contains about 30g.)
By eating this way, the body enters a state of ketosis, which means it burns fat rather than carbs for energy. However, if you’re not tracking your macros (carbs, fat, and protein), you might not actually be in ketosis despite eating foods allowed on the
Many health experts have pointed out that weight loss that may occur on the keto diet is due to being in a calorie deficit (consuming less energy than you expend) overall, and there’s nothing magic about keto for
“The only evidence to support keto diets is on children with certain medical conditions such as epilepsy,” registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert told Insider.
If you enjoy not eating carbs and feel energetic and happy while eating keto, fine. But it sounds like the diet makes you feel bad.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a silver bullet for fat loss either — some people lose weight by fasting for 16 hours a day, but that’s only because it helps them stick to a calorie deficit.
Carbs can provide fuel for intense workouts
It sounds like you’re very active, which is great. However, low carb diets aren’t generally recommended for people who work out a lot.
Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel source and help us perform at our best, nutrition coach Dr. Mike Molloy previously told Insider.
They also provide essential fiber.
“In order to maintain good gut health and prevent risk of bowel cancer, it’s important to get enough carbohydrates in the diet for fiber, and gut health is linked to weight maintenance as well,” Lambert said.
There’s no perfect balance of macros that suits everyone, so Lambert said you need to find what works best for you. She recommends looking at food as more than just numbers because we all metabolize food differently.
“Calories and macros aren’t the be all and end all because they don’t give you the whole picture of how many calories your body absorbs from an item of food, which is unique to every individual,” Lambert said.
Work on your relationship with food and ease out of tracking
isn’t sustainable long term for the majority of people, Lambert said, and for any diet to provide lasting results it needs to be.
“Your body is healthiest when you’re free from illness and food isn’t stressing you out,” she said.
If food is a source of stress and anxiety, it could be a sign of disordered eating, according to Lambert.
“Having that fear of weight gain is another real defining factor for disordered eating,” she said.
Lambert recommends learning about intuitive eating principles and focusing on eating mindfully to help you relax around food and enjoy it without counting.
“It takes a lot of work on oneself and you may need to do a lot of self exploration, perhaps therapy, and identify how you think and feel,” Lambert said.
Consider reaching out to a qualified professional to help you develop a healthier relationship with food.
Wishing you well,
As a senior health reporter at Insider and a self-described fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition-certified nutrition course under her belt, Rachel Hosie is immersed in the wellness scene and here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.
Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips. She regularly speaks to some of the world’s most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she’s always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.