The Keto Diet Is Losing Followers, Is Inflation to Blame?

August 23, 2022

The rift between the Democrats and Republicans is nothing compared to the chasm separating those on either side of the keto camp. But, love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the ketogenic diet has left its mark on the minds and waistlines of the country.

According to data gathered from Google Trends, however, interest in the ketogenic diet has never been lower, dropping 94% since its peak in May 2018.

What is The Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, or keto, is a diet that flips conventional wisdom on its head. Instead of eating low fat and restricting calories, keto proponents tell us to eat high fat until we’re full.

The limitation, however (there’s always a restriction somewhere when dieting), is that you must restrict carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are in starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. However, quitting starchy foods is not enough to stay ‘in ketosis.’ Most people on the ketogenic diet consume no fruit, root vegetables, or other foodstuff containing carbs.

Most recommend that you stay under 20g of net carbs daily to stay in ketosis. For reference, a single apple is 25g.

The preferred macronutrients by calorie split for ketogenic dieters:

75% fat20% protein5% carbohydrateCan You Really Lose Weight Eating Bacon and Butter?

For the uninitiated, the ketogenic diet seems absurd. “A slab of butter in my morning coffee, followed by eggs and bacon, will help me lose weight?”

No matter how counterintuitive it may seem, the results speak for themselves. People’s personal experiences fill every keto-related comment thread, and they’ve lost vast amounts of fat eating fat. I decided to try it in 2018 and lost 20 lbs in the first six weeks. So there’s no doubt that the ketogenic diet is effective now, but how does it work?

Ketones are the key. Ketones are an alternative fuel source the body can use if glucose (blood sugar) levels are low. Ketones are produced in the liver from fat cells. Once the body switches to this alternative energy source, it’s said to be in ketosis.

A person in ketosis is essentially running on fat, that may be dietary fat, from a fatty cut of meat, for example, or stored body fat. This is how ketogenic dieters can achieve such extraordinary feats of fat loss. The body becomes so well adapted to using fat for energy that it willingly consumes body fat 24 hours a day.

When Did Keto Become Popular?

The ketogenic diet has been a known medical treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it became a popular diet people used to lose weight.

As the diet began gaining traction in 2018, two influential celebrities further catapulted it into the mainstream: Kourtney Kardashian and Joe Rogan. Rogan published several keto-related podcasts in 2017 and 2018 with experts such as Dom D’Agostino, Ph.D. Kardashian wrote a blog post on February 27, 2018, titled “I Tried the Ketosis Diet.”

It’s no surprise that in New Year 2019, more people were Googling the “keto diet.” Since then, however, searches have only decreased, up ticking each January when everyone makes resolutions, but monthly searches have now fallen 94%.

What Killed Keto?

Most people Googling the “keto diet” were likely looking for a definition or quick summary to understand the diet. So it’s natural now that most people know what keto is, these types of searches would go down. So instead, a better metric to track people using the diet is a search term like “keto lunch ideas,” which is more likely to be Googled by people on keto.

For this term, since its peak in January 2019, it’s fallen 60%.

I spoke to industry expert Carine Claudepierre who runs Sweet as Honey, a website focused on low carb and keto diet recipes, and asked her if she was feeling the downturn.

“I think we’re at the point where the keto diet isn’t a new thing anymore; it doesn’t have anything to prove,” says Claudepierre.

Most people are already aware of the ketogenic diet. They no longer need a top-level definition or summary, but there’s more behind the dramatic loss of interest.

“Keto recipes also cost more as they rely on expensive ingredients such as almond flour and avocados that have increased in price massively,” says Claudepierre.

Inflation levels hit 13.1% for groceries in August, and stores across the country see increases in many goods, making already expensive keto foods simply out of reach for the budgets of most Americans.

Can Keto Be Affordable?

The ketogenic diet doesn’t need to be expensive, you can swap the pricey foods for cheaper ones, but your meals will likely be repetitive and a little less inspired. If that’s something you can sacrifice, keto can be affordable. Fatty cuts of meat are often cheaper than their lean counterparts, and leafy greens don’t need to cost much.

Look for goods on a keto shopping list that you could see yourself eating and won’t break the bank.

So why not buck the trend and make keto one of your goals this year?

Does the Weight Stay Off?

If you continue doing the ketogenic diet, the fat will continue to fall from you, but does it stay off when you shift back to a more traditional diet?

Most find that if they return to their previous bad eating habits, the weight will return, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The ketogenic diet is the perfect reset diet. So after the reset, you can potentially have a whole new life if you don’t return to your bad eating habits. This was the draw of the ketogenic diet when it first gained popularity in 2018.

Now that the novelty has worn off, however, fewer people are willing to undertake the intense restrictions that the ketogenic diet demands. Claudepierre sees it this way. “The keto diet is evolving from a restrictive, permanent diet to a more on-and-off diet.” The frequent fluctuations in the data would seem to agree.

My own ketogenic journey continued for 18 months until covid hit in 2020. I became leaner than ever, and despite a lax diet throughout the pandemic, I only regained 10 lbs. So I’m now restarting my ketogenic journey and documenting it on Face Dragons.

Should You Give it a Try?

If you feel like you’ve already tried everything else and are committed to losing weight, the ketogenic diet is an excellent proven method to lose weight fast. It’s very restrictive, but it will give you the desired results without starving yourself or enrolling in a Bootcamp.

Keto flu is also a consideration. As the body goes through this change, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and low blood sugar can cause what’s known as keto flu, flu-like symptoms in the initial adaptation phase. However, there are natural keto flu cures; the key is staying hydrated and keeping your electrolyte levels high.

If you try the keto diet, give it some time to work. It can take the body weeks to become fully fat adapted, so don’t quit if you aren’t seeing results in a few days. And, of course, talk to a doctor before starting any kind of diet or lifestyle change.

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