By Thomas Curry
I Tried the Keto Diet for a Week… And Here’s How it Went. It’s Manageable.
Most students think there are not enough healthy options in the Pryzbyla, believing meal plans are an obstacle in achieving a healthy lifestyle.
The most popular, strictist diet might be the Ketogenic Diet, popularly known as the Keto Diet (pronounced kee-toe). With the Keto Diet, the majority of food eaten encompasses fats, and minimizes the amount of carbohydrates eaten. The goal is to eat approximately 70% fats, 20-25% proteins, and 5-10% carbohydrates. This is in addition to a caloric deficit or use of intermittent fasting as a way of limiting the number of calories ingested throughout the day.
Eliminating carbs limits insulin production that typically stores the fat in the body, and as a result the body begins burning fat before burning carbs, a process called ketosis. Food that help this process are meat and poultry, such as grilled chicken and bacon, or vegetables that are not overly starchy or dense, such as lettuce, avocado and asparagus. Using butter, coconut oil and other fats is also encouraged with the Keto Diet.
The benefits are plentiful; of course, the diet speeds up the process of weight loss. The diet is also common among people with epilepsy to control their symptoms, people with insomnia or sleep trouble can experience better sleep and more energy in the morning, and it also improves concentration.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I figured now is the best time to see if the meal plan on campus, as well as restaurants and stores right off campus, provide ample options for people trying to eat healthier. With that, I decided to try the Keto Diet for one week, cutting off carbs almost completely and seeing if I reap any of the benefits that come from the diet.
Throughout the week, I had at least one meal every day that I was on campus at the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center. Upstairs and downstairs, it was as if healthy and low-carb options are really limited and repetitive. I felt this as early as day one, as I tried reading nutritional information and saw almost every meal had well over 40g of carbs.
For the first few days, I gave up and ate a salad with iceberg lettuce and with cucumbers and chicken. I typically went to multiple stations — the salad bar and world food station, for example — to try and make my meals a bit more diverse. It was nearly impossible to pull off meals aside from salads, as most foods were either heavy in carbs or had virtually no carbs. The first day, I found myself consuming all of my carbs in one chicken stir fry meal where the serving of rice was 45g of carbs and the other vegetables added up to an additional 13g of carbs. But as this was still very carb heavy, I shoveled a lot of rice out of my meal and only ate about half of the meal.
I did the same thing the three days after that as well, where all of my carb intake was done through meals that happened to have more fat than carbs. With the Pryzbyla, I found it easy to limit carbs, but hard to do so while eating a lot of fat. The only ways I achieved this was by eating strips of bacon in the morning and eating at stations that cooked their food in oil, both of which got pretty old.
Murphy’s Grill also has a handful of high-fat, low-carb options, aside from salad. The only restaurant I went to throughout the week was Ted’s Bulletin. As I said earlier, I ate mostly salads throughout the day and was able to use most of my carb intake on this specific meal, so I had a grilled cheese and a few pretzel bites.
However, a few options that stood out as keto-friendly were avocado toast, eggs and bacon without tater tots, and the steak frites, along with practically all of the soups and starters. If you pick and choose carefully, you can easily keep a meal under 25g of carbs, which in an ideal keto diet is a little less than half of your daily carb intake. While expensive, restaurants definitely cater to those trying to eat healthy. As long as you avoid the fast food chains, treating yourself once a week will not deter your diet.
Admittedly, I did order out once throughout the week. On my fourth day of the diet, I only had one meal throughout the day and decided to split McDonald’s with friends. While I didn’t eat much, I still went about 30g over my 70g limit simply with a few chicken strips, a McChicken and a milkshake. As obvious as it sounds, a majority of places that deliver to campus are not ideal for practically any diet (Pizza Boli’s included). When dieting, it is necessary to plan ahead so you are not in a rush and do not feel the need to order out.
As hard as I thought the Keto Diet would be, it’s actually completely doable on campus. The Keto Diet was designed for long term results, but my weight did go from 162.7 lbs the beginning of the week to 160.1 lbs the end of the week, so results are almost certain if you stick with it. My biggest struggle was going on retreat, where almost everything was packed with carbs. By the last two days though, I was able to balance calories and macros between meals.
The P.O.D. fridge has some great options, both food and drink, to have an equal number of carbs with all of your meals.
For those of you who are interested in the Keto Diet or any other diet, I encourage you to do so! The Pryz and the city both offer great options for practically any diet. With enough will power and a few trips to the gym each week, living healthier is surprisingly easier than expected on campus. There will be days where you break from the diet and feel discouraged. Simply take it one day at a time and remember that the journey isn’t supposed to be perfect.
Pryzbyla Hacks – Healthy Options at Each Station
Going to the Pryzbyla Center at the right times gives you the ability to mix and match food from different stations, something a lot of students seem to forget. When trying to eat healthy, mixing and matching from the salad, grill, world and vegan stations.
For example, a grilled chicken salad with chicken from the world section (usually on Tuesday’s) is always a good option. Another good option is the steamed vegetables that are typically found in the comfort station combined with grilled chicken from the grill.
The key to staying healthy when eating on a meal plan is innovation. Hopping from station to station taking various ingredients to make a unique concoction makes the food not only more enjoyable, but also more diverse.