- I started the keto diet in 2018, and within a year, I was able to lose over 120 pounds.
- Although the diet clearly worked, it made me obsessed with tracking calories and carbs.
- I ended up over-restricting and binge eating, and I was blind to any science that didn't back keto.
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I started following the keto diet in 2018, and I lost more than 120 pounds in just under a year.
But the diet totally destroyed my relationship with food.
Read on for some of the ways it did more damage than good.
I got obsessive about reading nutrition labels
When trying to lose weight, it's important to stay in a caloric deficit — when the number of calories consumed is less than the calories the body burns to perform daily functions.
I still track my calories daily, but it's easy to take it too far.
It got to the point where I'd get anxiety if I ate a few too many calories, even if the food itself was relatively healthy.
If I went over my 20 grams of net carbs, it ruined my day
Most low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diets recommend not exceeding 20 grams of net carbohydrates (carbohydrates minus fiber) a day.
That leaves very little room for much of anything besides a few servings of low-carb vegetables. You certainly can't have potatoes, rice, bread, or pasta.
Whenever I exceeded this number, I felt like a failure just because I'd eaten whole-wheat toast or a banana.
I had more binge-eating episodes than I did before keto
Because the keto diet is so restrictive, I would do really well for a while and then inevitably binge when I couldn't handle it anymore.
Instead of indulging in a small baked potato, I'd have to have a large fry.
This might not be an issue for people who haven't had problems with binge eating, but knowing I can't have something only makes it more alluring.
I relied on the wrong kinds of foods for satiation
I found myself relying on low-carb and sugar-free protein bars, cookies, and sweets as well as high-fat foods like sausage and bacon to feel full on a daily basis.
I knew that protein was important for muscles, but without carbs, I had no choice but to load up on fats to try and stay satiated while enjoying my food.
I ended up with limited food choices and extremely elevated cholesterol levels.
I began to restrict a bit too much
I was a bit too encouraged by how quickly the keto diet helped me drop weight, so I started restricting even more. In addition to cutting carbs, I was also eating way fewer calories than I should've been — especially given my weight and activity levels.
I knew I was going overboard, but part of me clung to the success and wanted to keep making things harder for faster results.
I missed out on healthy, whole foods that weren't keto friendly
Eating under 20 grams of carbohydrates a day severely limits your dietary choices.
I couldn't eat sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brown rice, quinoa, bananas, oatmeal, beans, and many other delicious foods with suspected health benefits.
I was missing out on some tasty meals and the vitamins, minerals, and other macronutrients those ingredients provide.
I subscribed to the keto 'hive mind' that ignored plenty of science
Many who follow the keto diet insist that it's the best (and only) way to eat. Some believe carbs will kill you and insist that anyone who doesn't follow this way of eating is blind and ignorant to the divine truth they've discovered.
I know because I was one of them for a while.
But, in reality, keto comes with drawbacks, risks, and cons. And even though this way of eating can benefit people with certain conditions, many nutrition experts still dub it one of the worst diets.