A diet that goes against conventional wisdom on healthy eating is gaining momentum among Silicon Valley tech workers. And it involves eating a lot of fat.
The ketogenic (or “keto”) diet — which first became popular in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy and diabetes — limits carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams a day, which is the rough equivalent of a plain bagel or a cup of white rice. By comparison, dietary guidelines laid out by the USDA recommend consuming between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.
On the keto diet, the body goes into starvation mode and taps its own fat stores for fuel. Studies suggest the low-carb, high-fat diet may promote weight loss, dull hunger, and stave off age-related diseases. More research is needed on its long-term effects, especially in healthy people.
An increasing number of health nuts — from internet entrepreneur Kevin Rose to podcaster Tim Ferriss — swear by the keto diet. I spent the last two months eating bacon, butter, and avocado to see why the keto movement is so popular.
I am no stranger to diets. I’ve cut sugar, counted points on Weight Watchers, and swapped solid food for Soylent, a venture capital-backed meal-replacement shake.
But those usually don’t last long. I love food. I’m a chronic snacker.
When I first learned about the keto diet, it caught my interest because dieters could eat seemingly unlimited amounts of healthy fats, like cheese, nuts, avocado, eggs, butter — foods that have high “point values” on Weight Watchers and are severely restricted.
The keto diet reorganizes the building blocks of the food pyramid.
It cuts down carbs to between 20 and 50 grams a day, depending on a person’s medical history and insulin sensitivity. (There are about 30 grams in one apple or half of a plain bagel.)
On the diet, healthy fats should account for approximately 80% of a person’s daily calories, while protein makes up around 20%. On average, Americans get about 50% of their calories from carbs, 30% from fat, and 15% from protein, according to the CDC.