There’s a Reason the Keto Diet Has Staying Power, and It’s Not Ketosis
Julie Smith, the Utah-based mother of four behind the popular Instagram account @ketomadesimple, neatly organized her plate and crafted her caption:
“Camping, day 1. Lunch. Pork rinds, snap peas with ranch, lettuce wrapped turkey, bacon, mayo, mustard, and cheese. Yes, snap peas are carby, but I’m okay with it! K, off to be with my cute family. Love you, bye.”
She added 30 relevant hashtags, including #ketogenicliving, #ketocommunity, and #ketofam, and hit share, uploading the photo to more than 380,000 followers.
If you shudder at this plate full of processed meat and high-fat foods, you can head over to #cleaneating on Instagram. You are not Smith’s audience. She’s talking to believers in the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, some of whom she knows will hound her for those “carby” peas. She expects it, because that’s what they did when she ate some baby carrots (also too high in carbs for keto adherents). Smith knows her tribe. And even though they can be hard on her, she really does love them. “Those are my people,” she says.
The ketogenic diet is strict: no sugar, no alcohol, and practically no carbs (including very few fruits). The goal is to reach ketosis, a state in which the body stops burning sugar and starts burning fat instead. Keto is also the first major diet phenomenon to be primarily fueled by social media. It was the most Googled diet in 2018, and #ketodiet has more than 5 million posts on Instagram. Even the Pioneer Woman — the Food Network star and blogger Ree Drummond — is incorporating keto recipes into her next cookbook. The non-keto, points-tracking diet behemoth Weight Watchers (which changed its name to WW International in 2018) has attributed its recent precipitous stock-price fall in part to the keto “meme,” as Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW, called it earlier this year on a conference call with investors. While WW International is hoping to weather the keto storm, other companies, like SlimFast, are cashing in with their own lines of keto-friendly products.
Competitors have reason to worry about keto. Though every new diet may seem like a fad at first, history suggests keto will have staying power. That’s because it’s the latest iteration of one of the most business-savvy diets in…