I’ve never met a candy bar I didn’t like. For years, I finished every meal with a little something sweet. At holidays, people knew the way to my heart: peanut butter cups and chocolate-dipped marshmallows. For years, I tried to balance this sweet tooth with my efforts to lose weight—which was fine until it wasn’t. It was then, as my weight was creeping up, that I turned to a radical new plan that not only cured my sweet tooth but helped me shed more pounds than I thought possible. And it was easy.
Prior to discovering the keto diet plan, I counted calories. I even managed to drop 60 pounds with the help of exercise. Then last summer, I noticed my pants were just a bit too tight for comfort. I knew something had to change. As sad as I was to admit it, I knew I had to cut out sugar. But I also knew that just eliminating the sweet stuff wouldn’t work long-term—I would eventually give in to cravings. I needed something that would completely reset my eating habits. I decided on a ketogenic diet plan—make sure you know these things before starting the keto diet yourself.
The keto diet plan (keto is short for ketogenic) is high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. It allows only 20 grams of carbs per day, which doesn’t leave room for many fruits and vegetables—and sweets and starches are entirely off limits. Your main food sources are fat and protein, like beef and cheese or chicken and avocados. On the keto diet, you hijack your body’s preferred quick energy source, carbohydrates and force your body to start converting stored fat into energy. This metabolic process actually burns fat from your hips, thighs, belly, and organs (fatty liver, anyone?). The keto diet plan cuts carbs so dramatically your body has no choice but to turn to your fat stores.
I decided to start on a Monday, and just like that keto was in and carbs were out.
The first week of the keto diet plan wasn’t easy. I still craved chocolate every evening. I also experienced the dreaded “keto flu” about 48 hours in—this happens due to a lull in energy, as your body makes the switch from burning carb fuel to fat. I felt tired, sluggish, and unfocused. But amazingly, what I didn’t feel was hungry. Just like that, cravings stopped. Fat and protein, which are very filling, digest more slowly than carbohydrates; this meant I wasn’t hungry at meal times. Here’s what else can happen to your body on the keto diet.
About four days later, the keto flu fog lifted, and I felt more energized and focused than I had felt in years. Over the next seven weeks, I lost 15 pounds and slid easily back into the pants that had been too snug two months before. The biggest change, however, came with my control over my sweet tooth. Each doughnut or cookie I came across was a challenge—but it was also an easy decision: Eat too many carbs and my body would fall out of ketosis. I’d have to start the whole process again. Would it really be worth it? The answer was plain: No.
When I did finally eat sugar again—the holidays—I feared one bite would unleash a wave of uncontrollable sugar cravings. Fortunately, the opposite happened: I took one bite and I found out how much my palate had changed. I couldn’t eat cake. I barely finished a bite.
Keto helped me accomplish my two main goals: I jump-started my weight loss and I tamed the sugar monster that had ruled me for years. Plus, I learned a helpful trick. If I crave chocolate—and sometimes, those cravings do come—I can happily snack on a square of ultra-dark chocolate (88 percent cacao or higher) and quietly calm the call of my once-insatiable sweet tooth in a mostly healthy way. Thinking about starting the keto diet yourself? Take a look at this keto diet guide for beginners to get you started.