For nearly 200 years, fad diets have been a crucial part of American culture. In 1830, high-fiber diets were all the rage, with the marketing of graham crackers at the center of this trend. The tides then switched to low-carb diets in the early 1900s, which were accompanied by the cigarette diet, where nicotine was used to suppress food cravings. Then, in 1930, the grapefruit diet was introduced, in which one ate a grapefruit every morning to burn fat. Other strange diets have included The Drinking Man’s Diet, with more alcohol and less solid food; The Inuit Diet, based on whale fat and raw fish and The Sleeping Beauty Diet, where women would be sedated for a week, causing them to rapidly lose weight.
The latest and greatest is the Ketogenic diet, claiming to lower body fat percentage and boost energy. This high-fat, low-carb diet intends to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body burns fat, turning fat cells into ketones in the liver and providing more energy for the brain. The standard Ketogenic diet consists of 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs, simple carbs included. Medically, the diet is used to manage childhood epilepsy, type two diabetes and obesity.
With the encouragement of sophomore Noam Friedman, a veteran of the keto diet, I decided to try it for a week and to document the process. Each day that I was on the diet, I noted energy level, how difficult the diet was to sustain and weight change. Here is what I found:
Day One, Monday, November 12:
7:45 am: I had my normal breakfast, berries and coffee. However, I usually supplement this with some toast or a granola bar between classes. Instead, today I brought an apple.
12:10 pm: I just finished my lunch of apples and almond butter, carrots and hummus and a mozzarella cheese stick. I feel full, but I think I will need another snack before swim practice. I almost went to Ms. Arkin’s office to grab an Almond Joy, but I stopped myself before walking into her office.
1:45 pm: I am already hungry! My mom is bringing me an avocado before the gap year fair tonight.
5:00 pm: It took all of my willpower not to eat all the food I was offered today– fresh pizza, Israeli chocolate, a bag of Lays chips, a Krispy Kreme donut and a baguette and brie sandwich. Instead, I had tuna salad for a snack, much less exciting but much more sustainable for my health.
8:45 pm: For dinner, I made myself a spinach salad with an egg, avocado, cashews and topped with olive oil and vinegar. It was pretty satisfying. I needed something sweeter to finish the meals and even though the diet limits fruit consumption, I had a bowl of frozen berries to wean me off of my sugar addiction.
Day Two, Tuesday, November 13:
5:00 am: I woke up and was very hungry. I ate raspberries and almond butter for breakfast.
7:45 am: After swim practice, I headed to Crema, where I got an iced coffee with sugar-free caramel syrup with half & half.
9:15 am: I am so hungry.
11:45 am: I ate a salad with tuna, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, spinach, and chickpeas. I think I have to start packing myself more food.
3:00 pm: For a snack, I had an apple with lots of almond butter.
6:15 pm: Craving sugar! So I grab some frozen strawberries, cherries and cranberries.
8:30 pm: I ate nearly an entire head of broccoli, which I boiled and then topped with cheese. I also had some walnuts.
Day Three, Wednesday, November 14:
8:00 am: I woke up late and grabbed an apple for breakfast. I miss toaster waffles. In addition, I drank my typical coffee with a splash of almond milk.
11:40 am: I had an egg “wrap” with cheese and keto bread, which I found a recipe for on Pinterest. It was gross and I threw half of it out. I ended up eating mostly almonds. I am going to need a large dinner.
6:30 pm: I had cauliflower-crust pizza for dinner and I nearly ate the entire thing. I wasn’t too hungry today but I also didn’t exercise.
Day Four, Thursday, November 15:
7:45 am: Typical almond milk and coffee as I get ready for the day. Today I am not too hungry.
9:00 am: I ate a pear during class.
11:20 am: I had two mozzarella cheese sticks, many carrots and many, many almonds.
3:00 pm: More almonds between weight training and swim. I don’t know if this will sustain me.
5:00 pm: Coffee with heavy cream and sugar-free syrup, a Larabar (date bar), which technically has 3 grams of added sugar but it was the best I could find given that I was at a coffee shop.
8:00 pm: Broccoli with cheese between my hair appointment and volunteering.
9:30 pm: At Mellow Mushroom, I got spinach salad with feta, cranberries and pecans. I asked for just olive oil dressing to avoid any sugar. I had peanut butter and berries for dessert. I didn’t eat too much today but I felt sustained, even though I had a busy day.
Day Five, Friday, November 16:
6:45 am: I had many almonds for breakfast because I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew we were going to be on the bus for a long time. I also grabbed a sugar-free pre-made Starbucks espresso at CVS.
1:00 pm: By the time that we arrived at Ramah Darom I was ravenous. It was difficult to sustain the diet at Shabbaton. It was hard to find protein considering that I am also a vegetarian. I took out the cheese from the grilled cheese, had a bowl of soup and lots of salad with ranch.
6:45 pm: I had more salad with ranch. I also had the vegetarian option which was squash with quinoa, but I only ate the squash because even quinoa is considered carbohydrates on the ketogenic diet. I had lots of broccoli and cauliflower as well. I broke the diet for the first time and had a sip of lemonade and a small serving of apple cobbler.
This week was very challenging for me but I feel like I have gained skills that will help me to continue eating healthy. My sugar cravings have definitely decreased, but there was not a time that I didn’t want a piece of toast with butter. Previously, thought I was eating relatively healthy, but now I see that eating a little cleaner can give me a lot more energy. I have been drinking less coffee than beforehand, reducing my caffeine intake by half almost every day. I think that I went into ketosis about two or three days in, which according to most accounts is a normal amount of time. My first two days were, therefore, easier because my body was still burning carbohydrates. In the first four days, I lost four pounds of water weight, a common occurrence. Carbohydrates bond with water molecules, therefore cutting out carbs helps dieters drop a few pounds but it is not a significant amount and can be regained just as quickly as it was lost.
Overall, I would recommend this diet for those trying to gain energy, eat healthier or lose weight. I felt like I had more energy and lost some weight, but most importantly, I learned healthy eating habits that I will continue to use.