Diets suck, lifestyles are rich and famous. Just the sound of the word diet makes you cringe and the idea of a lifestyle sounds breezy. But the Keto Lifestyle vs Keto Diet are two very different subjects.
For so many of us, “diet” is just a dirty, four letter word.
There is a good reason for that – “dieting”- the verb – is cringe worthy because it is associated with denying yourself of tasty delicious food and forcing yourself to eat food that you don’t really like.
Lifestyle by contrast is living with style – akin to drinking champagne on a yacht.
The peculiar thing is that you always have a diet and it’s part of your lifestyle.
But the social, psychological, and health benefits of being thin are enticing enough that we just keep trying.
A Funny Story
After dinner one night when my youngest sister was four or so, we were having ice cream for dessert.
Joking, my dad said to Kari (the little sister), “if you finish all your ice cream you can have some more green beans.”
Kari dutifully finished her ice cream and was distraught to find out that there were no green beans left, and her reward would not be forthcoming.
Your Perception Matters
Another funny story is my friend Joanne, she saw how I dropped a bunch of weight and wanted to know how I did it.
I told it was the Keto diet – this was about three months after I started.
Joanne heard the word “diet” and I noticed how her expression hardened.
Because just like me Joanne had struggled with her weight and failed many “diets.”
And shortly after that she tried and failed at the “Keto diet” too.
About six months later I saw Joanne again.
I was on my way to go Kayaking, and she was returning from a walk with her dog.
“Have you lost more weight?” She asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I haven’t been on a scale.”
“What have you been doing, you look really good.”
I said, “Seems like this lifestyle suits me.”
“What lifestyle do you mean?”
Of course there’s more to my lifestyle than food, but when the question came up of what I eat, I told her I eat less carbs, less often, and when I do eat I eat more fat and more fiber.
That was a couple years ago.
Joanne has been following a low-carb intermittent fasting lifestyle, and she is lighter, healthier and happier than ever.
What she needed to do didn’t change, but the perceived difference between a diet and lifestyle changed how she thought about it.
The Reason Diets Fail
Until I found Keto and intermittent fasting I tried and failed at more diets than I can count.
There is more to why the Keto/low-carb lifestyle works so well but a good mindset will go a long way towards success.
One big reason people fail is “diets” are limited by goals. Sounds odd, but hear me out.
When it comes to dieting, You can always stick to the plan.
Stick to the calorie counting for as long as it takes to reach your goal weight.
But after your goal weight is reached: What then?
If you’re like me – you just go right back to your old ways and your weight will go right back up.
That’s clearly unsustainable – it’s like climbing a mountain and thinking that you will never be coming down again.
When you reach your goal weight without a plan to maintain that weight, you’re setting yourself up for failure..
And with the high carb – low fat diets, there’s really no way to have a weight maintenance plan.
With Keto once you achieve ketosis, all you need to do is just keep doing the same thing and everything will be aligned for you to maintain your ideal weight.
But if you think of your goal weight as the end of the “diet,” you’ll still have that mountain-top problem.
If you think of it as a lifestyle it is not the end, it’s a continuation. You just naturally keep doing what you’re doing and live happily ever after.
The fact that “diets” require “willpower” in the first place should be a warning that something is out of whack.
Imagine talking to a cave-man about resisting the urge to eat – it just wouldn’t make sense. Cave men lived in food scarcity, eating everything they could, gaining weight when food was available was a matter of survival.
Biologically we have not really evolved since cave men, but now we have 24-hour grocery stores and all-you-can-eat buffets.
When I first started blogging about Keto I went to the library and got every diet book they had – you would not believe how many people have written diet books.
There are diet books by doctors and celebrities and celebrity doctors, and they all basically say the same thing – low calorie, low fat, low salt, and more exercise.
They had wonderful discussions about how to maintain your “willpower” and endure the hunger you’ll experience while following the low-fat-low-calorie-low-taste plan.
The Hormone Equation:
It’s a biological fact that if your insulin is too high you don’t burn fat, and no amount of “willpower” can change that.
If you don’t have a “diet” that lowers insulin for the long term, losing weight and keeping it off is simply not possible.
None of the diet books talk about Leptin and ghrelin – the hormones that tell your body that you’re satisfied or hungry.
Instead, they talk about “willpower” and snacking every ten minutes.
They say, “endure the hunger” and if you don’t succeed it’s because you didn’t have enough “willpower.”
Even the Noom Diet – I’m sure you’ve seen the ads – says it’s a behavioral approach to weight management.
But when you break it down, Noom is a calorie counting app that gives you access to a personal consultant to support you in developing “willpower.”
While no food is off limits on Noom, they encourage you to eat low density food (aka low calorie) and change your “behavior” and “habits.”
Weight Watchers, Fit-for-Life, The Biggest Loser, and the list goes on – they all say eat less, move more and if you can’t make it work … well you’re just not dedicated enough.
I am a strong proponent of willpower, dedication and good habits, but having tried too many “diets” to count I will tell you this:
If you try to fight your own hormones with dedication, habits, psychology, behavioral tricks or willpower, your hormones will eventually win.
Ignoring the Limits of Psychology on Weight Loss
As I mentioned, good habits and willpower are no match for hormones.
But notice, I didn’t say that good habits and willpower won’t help you on your journey to good health.
And, good habits can make almost anything easier as long as they are aligned with the way your body is designed to work in the first place.
If you make low carb food choices and intermittent fasting a matter of habit, you can almost put your weight management on auto pilot.
Habits need to be supplemental.
The habit of making good, low carb food choices will support balanced hormones and the proper functioning of your metabolism.
But habits cannot change the fact that insulin stops fat burning.
Ghrelin will make you hungry and leptin will make you not hungry, no habit will change that.
If you change your eating habits from high carb to high fat, your body won’t secrete insulin or ghrelin, and it will secrete leptin. It will make fat burning easier and you will be less hungry.
The Takeaway About “Diet” vs. Lifestyle
Make Keto/Low-carb a lifestyle not a goal. Find your Low Carb happy place and roll with it.
Use your willpower to overcome temporary issues like Keto flu and carb cravings.
In terms of design, your body and all of it’s systems are awesome. Work with them and you will have awesome results.
You are made to be healthy, and if you develop habits that support the way your body is evolved to work, you will be healthy.