As someone who has always been interested in low carb dieting, I do find it interesting to keep an eye on the Ketosphere, even though I am no longer eating this way.
I actually deleted a majority of the low carb diet channels I'd previously watched on YouTube, with the exception of 2 Krazy Ketos and Dr. Ken and Neisha Berry. I like their personalities and feel that they offer a more practical and realistic approach to people who are looking to start and maintain a keto lifestyle. Also, I like their interactive Q&A formats, and they've helped me get some great ideas about being a nutrition habit coach in the future.
That said, YouTube still offers up a few other keto/carnivore "influencers" to me, and once in a while, I will admit that I do take the bait and watch to see if there's anything I can learn.
And watching sends me down a slippery slope of thinking...do I want to do an extreme keto challenge? My answer is no, but honestly, I do find the content interesting, if not sustainable for me. Here's a look at three popular challenges right now.
Current Keto Challenges
Eat One Stick of Butter Per Day
Oh boy, things just keep getting weirder. The latest keto extreme thing to do, especially for women my age, is to eat one or more sticks of butter per day. This approach is supposed to keep your hormones happy, your energy high and help you lose weight. The person who promotes it is a doctor, alongside a popular influencer who has the word butter in her user name.
What's extreme about it? Eating only meat or eggs + 1/3 stick of butter for every meal seems extreme to me. Also, the influencer says that you should eat the butter cold because warm butter will "run right through you." She says if you eat the butter cold, you will not have nausea. She says the same for fatty meat. This doesn't make any sense to me if you think about how digestion actually works; just because you eat something cold, doesn't mean it remains cold in your digestive tract.
What's interesting about it? The people promoting it seem so sincere. I am intrigued and want to see someone do it with no loss of muscle mass and no decrease in resting metabolic rate.
Sustainability Index: On a scale of long-term sustainability, I rank this as a 0 for me. Some could find the simplicity of only eating beef and butter to be an easy way of life.
72-Hour Sardine Fast
I used to find Dr. Boz quite interesting, partially because she was a Midwesterner, and I grew up in the Midwest. She also developed her own "Dr. Boz ratio" which is another version of the GKI (glucose-ketone index), which all seemed like a super scientific way to do low carb. She's great on camera and she is transparent about showing her keto and glucose numbers during her live shows. She was also honest about how cheating (eating desserts, drinking wine) gave her a higher A1C score than she wanted.
What's extreme about it? In a recent video, she encouraged her students to only eat canned sardines for 72 hours.
What's interesting about it? The sardine fasters showed interesting decreases in their blood glucose during the experiment.
Sustainability Index: On a scale of long-term sustainability, I rank this as a 0 for me.
80/20 with Low Protein and Super High Fat
Trends come and go in the keto world and the pendulum suddenly swung back to 80/20 this week when a popular carnivore influencer noticed that her coaching clients were gaining weight when eating the traditional carnivore diet, which tends to be protein-heavy. The "new" version:
- Eat .7 x your ideal body weight in protein per day (I am okay with this calculation)
- Eat several small meals a day
- Eat fat (basically butter or fat trimmed off your meat) before you eat your protein or with your protein in at least a 2:1 ratio. Basically, this would look like eating 1 scrambled egg in 1 TBSP of butter. That's 7 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat.
What's extreme about it? Some people are taking the 80/20 to the extreme, advising people to cut their protein to 45-50 grams of protein a day and eating almost 2 sticks of butter a day (depending on the amount of fat in their meat.) One person who is actually promoting this WOE showed a decrease in lean body mass after dropping his protein too low. Added on 10/31: I was very disappointed to see one leader in the space drop her protein recommendations even lower for women today after member after member in her group complained about gaining weight eating 3,000 calories of butter and fat trimmed off beef and pork.
What's interesting about it? There are some doctors who say that a high-fat version of keto is great for brain health and also good for women going through menopause. You could save a lot of time each day if your food prep was just slicing up meat and cutting a stick or two of butter.
Sustainability Index: I admit that I tried a version of LCHF last winter, and I did use dairy and fatty meat to hit my targets. I lost zero weight and never felt great on it. I think a 2:1 ratio CAN be sustainable if you're also using dairy, but the extreme version where you eat 2 ounces of meat and 4 TBSP of butter for a meal does not resonate with me as a long-term solution for ideal health. On a scale of sustainability, I rank this as a 0 for me.
The beef, butter, bacon and eggs challenge surged in popularity last year when 2 Krazy Ketos did it for 45 days after being challenged by Dr. Ken Berry. Both Joe and Rachel had great body recomposition, felt more normalized around eating, and liked the challenge so much that they repeated it again in January with a few changes. Rachel did not lose any pounds on the scale, but she did drop body fat...and both Joe and Rachel maintained their weight all through 2022.
For this challenge:
- For 30-90 days, you only eat beef, butter (again!), bacon and eggs.
- You do not count calories, weigh food or try to achieve a certain ratio.
- Breakfast could be bacon and eggs, lunch could be a burger patty, dinner could be pot roast.
What's extreme about it? You cut out everything but BBB&E.
What's interesting about it? Since the foods are limited, you don't have many options for snacking and the high protein ratios are likely to lead to increased satiety. You could save money and time by only buying beef, butter, bacon and eggs.
Sustainability Index: BBB&E is not promoted as a long-term way of eating, only as an elimination diet to help you determine if items like keto sweeteners and treats are holding you back from hitting your goals. I think it someone wanted to do it for 30 days, it would be a 7 for sustainability. As a lifestyle approach, I rank this as a 0 for me.
I'll write a post in the future about things to watch when you're reading nutrition advice from anyone and I may also explore a few extreme diets that I've implemented in the past.
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