Confession time. Ready?
I'm in my fourth year of eating in accordance to the principles of the ketogenic diet.
Well, mostly. I don't control for carbs in any meaningful way. I just don't eat carbohydrate based foods. More often than not, that means ketosis; however, I eat a lot of foods that contain carbohydrates and I don't worry about them. Examples would include avocados, chia, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. The day hasn't arrived that sees me stressing out over the carb count of a cruciferous vegetable.
Some do. I don't.
You know what else I don't do? I don't talk about my way of eating. I just eat according to what makes sense for me from a health and wellness standpoint. When someone asks me about my diet, I am what you might call "cagey" about giving specific answers. I am very much of the belief that "your mileage may vary" is an important consideration in any nutritional, training, or supplementation plan. So much so that I avoid prescriptive guidelines as much as possible.
I'll share information. No problem there. I just don't want to become so associated with something that is so divisive that you are either on one side or the other; unfortunately, the divide opens the moment you mention ketogenic and low carb diets. As such, I've been happily going about my business and keeping it fairly low profile. Other than the occasional meal photo on Instagram or an accompanying hashtag, I say little on the subject.
Why bring it up now?
Partly because I need something to write about. It's been a while since my last essay and I don't like that; I miss writing and the engagement that comes with a fresh post. Also, I'm speaking at a nutrition seminar this month and there will be three other presenters. I'm the only low carb person on the panel so, in the interest of diversity, writing about it now sets our presentation up for success. That's what I like to think, at least.
Maybe nobody will care one way or the other.
Maybe someone else will have tried it and hated it.
As to my experiences on the ketogenic diet, it's been overwhelmingly positive. It has been net gains for me on several fronts, more so than I ever achieved with a high carbohydrate diet, which is ultimately why I still eat this way. Every marker or metric I was hoping to improve by switching to this style of eating played out for me.
I was a successful high carb athlete for many more years than I have been as a low carb athlete. I think that an athlete can achieve success with either approach. Where things get interesting is not so much in athletic pursuits, but in lifestyle outcomes. For me, there is no contest. Low carbohydrate and, even more so, ketogenic eating has been the frontrunner.
The downside is that everyone who is pro carb seems to go out of their way to criticize abandoning carbohydrates. I usually don't worry about that too much, though; if anything, they should be paying way more attention to whatever diet they're following rather than what I'm doing. Wouldn't want them to run into any problems while they're busy criticising me.
Besides, people probably shouldn't be making dietary choices based on one person. I did months of research before switching and that hasn't stopped in four years of compliance. I read something new or review something old every single day on the topic of nutrition. Individuals don't matter when it comes to lifestyle and health choices. I subscribe to the law of large numbers when it comes to those decisions. There's a much a better chance of positive outcomes that way, and it helps keeps my cognitive biases in check.
That's why I'm still ketogenic. I'm not a zealot about it, nor should anyone else be. I've had a great experience with it in both process and application, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't change my mind about it if a compelling enough reason came along. What would that reason have to be?
I'm not sure, but it would be health-related and evidence-based.
It wouldn't be agenda-driven and opinion-based.
Big differences there, not the least of which is that I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, but that doesn't mean you should do it. When it comes to dieting, how is never the problem. Why is. If your why is because an athlete you follow does it, then I have some bad news for you: that's not a why.
That brings me to the number one thing you can do to find success in dieting and nutrition, whether high carb or high fat or whatever other method strikes your fancy. Go on a diet that restricts how much marketing you consume.
When I did that, my life improved immeasurably. It didn't matter if I was eating carbohydrates or fats, a glucose-burning beast or a ketone-fueled machine, or anything in between the two extremes.
However, your mileage may vary.