The stereotypical college diet consists of ramen noodles, frozen pizza and, for those of age, alcohol; each of these items is off-limits in the ketogenic diet (keto).
In the ranking of fad diets, keto is one of the more ambitious routes. The main focus of the diet is to enter ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns fat instead of glucose. At first glance, one might conclude there is a direct correlation between entering ketosis and losing fat, but Practicing Dietician and Performance Nutritionist Ellie Wiltshire, a professor of nutrition at the University of Oregon said otherwise.
“The ketogenic works the same way any other diet works, it creates a caloric deficit,” Wiltshire said. “So it’s not necessarily the fact that a person is going into ketosis that they are experiencing weight loss; they’re just consuming fewer calories than they’re burning, and realistically you can achieve that with any style of eating.”
To enter ketosis, one has to almost entirely limit carbohydrates and sugars, the two food groups responsible for producing energy. While juggling the responsibilities of newfound adulthood and a full academic load, energy is perhaps the key building block to a college student’s success and sanity. The complete energy deprivation that occurs during the first week of the diet before your body enters ketosis is enough to make anyone quit.
Will Brines, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, committed to the keto diet for 40 days before and during his freshman year of college and said the first week was the hardest part of the whole process.
“I went to a CrossFit class about five days after I started keto, and I almost passed out,” Brines said. “I felt super dizzy and weak the first week. But after the first five days, I started feeling a lot better.”
Brines lost a total of 24 pounds in the time he was doing keto, and while he recognizes the rewards of this accomplishment, he also admits the diet is not realistic for a college student.
“It was pretty tough trying to eat dorm food without eating carbs,” Brines said. “I was buying burgers and taking the bun and all the sauce off.”