I’ve always joked that I have two stomachs — one for normal daily sustenance, and separate storage for desserts. No matter how full my main tummy becomes, there is always room in my side pouch for baked goods, ice cream, cheesecake, or any other ooey-gooey, sticky-sweet offering I find. Thus, when my editors tasked me with trying the new keto diet craze, both of my stomachs lurched. How could a glucose worshipper like me survive on a ketogenic diet that meant no sugar and virtually no carbs — especially as a bride-to-be with numerous upcoming bridal showers, cake tastings, and festive gatherings?
That’s when we realized two things: 1) What happens when you go on the keto diet for two weeks and then eat a s**t ton of cake makes for an excellent (and highly relatable) story and 2) I was going to need support.
Drumroll for Molly Devine, RD LDN, the founder of Eat Your Keto, advisor to Purefit Keto , and a serious cheese lover. (“Cheese is, like, my main source of nutrition,” she told me right before I declared us BFFs.) Devine would be my keto guide for 14 days before I headed home to Georgia for cake-eating at a bridal shower and three wedding cake tastings.
I had three main Keto-questions for her:
“What do I eat?”
“Is two weeks enough time to reach the coveted ‘ketosis’ state, and what does that feel like?”
“How bad am I going to feel when I eat all that cake?”
Read my keto-diary below for her answers, my results, and what you can likely expect both trying keto and breaking it in an epic, wedding cake-related fashion. Here’s everything brides-to-be need to know before trying the keto diet.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
Every time I try explaining keto to someone, I feel like Cady Heron telling Regina George about Kalteen bars. (“It burns carbs! It just burns up all your carbs!”) But that’s kind of what’s happening. A ketone is an organic byproduct that’s produced when the body breaks down fat for energy, instead of its normal go-to fuel of glycogen (which comes from carbs, more specifically sugar/glucose). To get your body in a ketogenic state, it truly does have to burn up all your carbs, and then it starts burning up all your fat.
“I like to say that we’re constantly walking around with a built-in picnic basket for our bodies,” says Devine. She explains that most of us have TWO-DAYS worth of stored glucose. (Given my sweet tooth, I assumed I had closer to a week’s worth.) Once that storage is depleted, your body is either going to burn fat that you eat, or it’s going to burn fat that you want to get rid of, says Devine.
What Can I Eat?
While Devine conceded that two weeks probably wasn’t a long enough time to make me completely keto-adapted, if I committed to eating 120-130 grams of fat, 20-25 grams of carbs, and 55-65 grams of protein a day, I should see some results.
I calculated my macros (fats, carbs, and protein) in the My Fitness Pal app (KetoLogic’s carb counter is another “voicier” option) and waited for “the keto flu” (headaches and nausea as a result of carb-withdrawals) to hit me.
It never did. I felt GREAT, y’all.
Tracking my macros felt like a game: I was determined to hit my fat goals. (How weirdly refreshing to have “fat goals” instead of “skinny goals.”) My first few days I ate too much protein, which Devine had warned me was a common problem. “Historically people think low carb = protein load,” she says. “Boot camp trainers love this mentality, but our bodies actually convert excess protein into glucose. Make sure that a majority of your calories are coming from fat sources and you’re not just pulling carbs out of your diet.”
By day three, I balanced my macros and I couldn’t believe what my “diet food” looked like.
Here are some keto-friendly meal examples:
- Egg scramble with bacon, cheddar, jalapeño cream cheese, and scallions
- Beef burger (no bun!) stuffed with cheddar and covered in sautéed mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, and garlic aoli, grilled asparagus on the side.
- Cobb salad with romaine, grilled chicken, hard boiled egg, tomato, feta, avocado, and bacon with tex-ranch dressing. (I ate this for lunch one day and couldn’t even eat dinner. “I’m so uncomfortably full from my salad” is lame to say out loud, but it was my truth.)
- Pork carnitas over a bed of lettuce with guacamole, cheese, and sour cream.
- Buffalo chicken casserole with cream cheese, pepper jack, heavy cream, and ranch.
I was convinced I couldn’t possibly get away with eating like this, but every morning this keto voodoo woke me up feeling less bloated and more energized than the previous day.
“The coolest thing about eating keto is that you really can eat until you’re full — until satiety,” she said. “Starving yourself is what leads to binging and poor yo-yo relationships that so many women have with food.” And when the stress of wedding planning makes you even more likely to long for the comfort of Ben & Jerry’s on your couch, it’s much easier to say no when you’re not extremely hungry from dieting.
Are There Side Effects?
It should be noted that I did become incomprehensibly thirsty, and peed — I’m not kidding — 10 times a day. I asked for so many water refills at restaurants, more than one waiter must’ve assumed it was an attempt at flirting. Devine explained that my body was breaking down those glycogen stores, and my kidneys were excreting electrolytes, thus my fervent thirst. She recommended Purfit Keto Advanced (you add to a glass of water once or twice a day) and salting my foods because in avoiding processed foods, I was intaking less sodium.
And diet soft drinks (which are allowed) will now taste extremely sweet.
How Will I Feel?
By the end of week two I was waking up at 6 am on a Tuesday with the energy of 9:30 pm on a Saturday night. I felt like I’d reached a novice-form of ketosis. Devine says that how long it takes people to reach ketosis obviously varies from person to person based on their previous carb intake and body build (more muscles usually mean more glucose storage to get rid of), but by “four days to a week” you should feel like it’s starting to work.