I lost over 120 pounds on the keto diet 2 years ago. Here's why I won't follow it again even though it worked.

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I lost over 120 pounds on the keto diet 2 years ago. Here's why I won't follow it again even though it worked.
Two years ago, I used the keto diet to lose over 60 pounds.Jennifer Still for Insider
  • Two years ago, I lost more than 120 pounds by following the keto diet, but I won't do it again.
  • I recently gained weight and am trying to lose it, so I'm counting macros instead.
  • I'm not going keto because it was bad for my cholesterol and felt too limiting and restrictive.

Two years ago, I lost more than 120 pounds in about a year by following the keto diet and going to the gym five to six days a week.

With the ketogenic diet, I cut carbohydrates dramatically and relied on higher-fat options to feel satiated. Paired with my intense cardio workouts, keto helped me lose weight fast.

But my attitude toward the diet has changed, and I won't be following it again as I try to shed pounds after gaining nearly half of the weight I lost back in the past year.

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Here's why I'm ditching keto even though it worked and taking a different approach to weight-loss this time around:

The keto diet involves a lot of fat, which didn't make me feel great

The keto diet generally involves cutting out carbs and replacing them with fat and protein. A typical keto diet is composed of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.

The diet doesn't necessarily require that you consume a lot of fat, but it definitely happens when you're trying to reach a certain caloric intake without feeling super hungry.

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The fat varied from olive oil and avocados to red meats and butter, ghee, or even animal fats used for frying and basting. Any source is on the table.

Many who choose to follow a keto diet swear by the ability to eat giant steaks fried in butter and piles of bacon daily while still shedding pounds. But the diet felt incredibly limiting, and all of the fat made me feel blah.

I lost over 120 pounds on the keto diet 2 years ago. Here's why I won't follow it again even though it worked.
I got sick of eating so much meat.Eugene Vorontsov/Shutterstock

I also felt like the diet forced me to be super strict about what I ate instead of mindful

Most preferred ways of eating require some level of mindfulness, but the restrictions of the keto diet felt unbearable at times. It was the worst when it came to eating meals with friends or dining out.

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I was often either limited to only eggs, salads, or a big plate of meat and vegetables with not much variation. It became annoying. I got sick of my options, and I'm sure my meals frustrated the people I ate with (though they were kind enough never to say as much).

I lost over 120 pounds on the keto diet 2 years ago. Here's why I won't follow it again even though it worked.
The keto diet felt repetitive to me.Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Despite my weight loss, I began to worry about my long-term health

After a few months of following the keto diet, my cholesterol levels went through the roof.

A blood test I took after I'd already begun following the diet showed my low-density lipoproteins (also known as the "bad" cholesterol) in the red by a pretty large margin. At the age of 35, that's a serious concern for me.

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Although many people who follow keto find their cholesterol getting lower (cutting back on processed carbohydrates can do that), that wasn't my experience. My body just didn't seem to adjust well to keto living.

For my weight-loss journey this time around, I'm going more moderate by counting macros

To lose weight this time around, I'm not putting myself through the keto diet. Instead, I've been trying to count macros.

Counting macros involves adding up the total number of grams of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you consume per meal each day. Some people choose to keep their carbs lower in favor of higher fats, but my personal preference is aiming for higher carbs and lower fats.

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Tracking macros requires a lot of effort, and it isn't for everyone, especially those at risk of developing disordered-eating habits. But I like that this way of eating lets me focus on meeting a high protein goal and then filling the rest of my daily calorie allotment with whatever percentage of carbs and fats I prefer.

Unlike with keto and its strict limitations, macro counting allows me more options and more freedom. No food is off-limits as long as I stay within my calorie goals.

I'm still trying to lose my keto mindset, but I know I won't go back to living such a strict lifestyle

Although I do center my days on making sure I meet my protein goal, I no longer spiral if my partner wants to split a small pizza or I'm desperately craving a McDonald's McFlurry.

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I'm still trying to get out of the keto mindset that carbs are a villain to be avoided at all costs, but it feels good to know I can go out to dinner and choose anything on the menu, so long as I track it and plan around it.

It's a freedom I never had with keto, and it feels much more sustainable as a way of life. It's working so far to help me lose weight - I only wish I'd tried it sooner.

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