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How to be social while following a ketogenic diet

A common struggle that people who adopt a ketogenic diet face is going out to restaurants, or being at social events.  And as engaging with friends/family/community is so so so important for positive mental health, this is something I want to address - so that you can do both!

An important first point to consider is that you will help your body so much by giving yourself 3-6 months of strict keto to get fat-adapted (where you body adapts to burning fat... see our bodies are not used to digesting and then burning large amounts of fat! as over the last 30+ years we have been told to avoid fat like the plague!)... it takes the body 6-8 weeks to adapt and get past side effects of adaptations (see my post on side effects of keto adaptation as well as the this post by the diet doctor website for more info).  Then, after the first 8 weeks, give yourself a few months to really get into the swing of keto, build your habits, start intermittent fasting or Time Restricted Eating, etc.  After that, you can allow your body to work on metabolic flexibility of going from liberal low carb to keto and back again (ie... burning fat as fuel, to burning glucose/sugar for fuel if you eat carbs, and then back to burning fat as fuel). 

Here are some approaches to consider when trying to make low carb high healthy fat (including keto) a way of eating, as opposed to a diet:

  • 1. Eat keto during week; allow yourself on the weekends (which tends to be when people go out) to eat real-food liberal low carb (50-100g carbs/d).  Then, starting back for Monday morning - get back into keto and TRE!).  This is how my husband started keto, which allowed him to eat fruits and starchy vegetables with the kids on the weekends.
  • 2. Schedule eating real-food, liberal low carb (50-100g of carbs/day) to the Holiday Long Weekends ONLY.  This gives you ~4-8 weeks to be in ketosis and eat ketogenic, but also enjoy more carbs periodically.
  • 3. Consider adding Time Restricted Eating (TRE) into your weekly or daily regime.  You can use this to help you get back into ketosis on Monday after a weekend where you have enjoyed your carbs.  
  • 4. Allow yourself to eat liberal Low carb (50-100g of carbs) at social events only. Then the next day, get back into your ketogenic routine.
  • 5. If you have to deal with family regarding the ketogenic diet: just talk to them! Explain to them why you are doing this, that this is working for you, how it is helping you reach your goals of a healthier you, and ask for their help!  For more ideas please listen to these two podcasts on how to talk to your family: Dr. Adam Nally in the Keto Talk with Jimmy Moore and the Doc (episode 29); and Megan Ramos in the Obesity Code Podcast (Thanksgiving Special).
  • 6. Consider my approach to eating low carb high healthy fat:  The LCHF Continuum of 0-100g of carbs per day... where you do keto when you can (usually between 20-50g of carbs/d), other times you eat liberal low carb (50-100g of carbs/d), when you are choosing to indulge in more carbs - enjoy every bite (this is called "feasting")! and then fasting when you can, after feasts! This is adapted from Dr. Jason Fung's recommendations of the Ying and Yang of Feasting and Fasting.  Yes, feasting is part of our culture and our existence! But afterwards, fast to bring your body back to its healthy state.   

I hope this helps you in your journey to better health.  As always, if you have any questions, email me at eliana@eatdifferentrd.com.

Best of health, Eliana Witchell, MSc, RD

Social Inclusivity of the Low Carb High Healthy Fat Diet and Ketogenic Diets

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