The popular diet that connects people through social media

Keto-friendly snacks (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Like. Comment. Share. Repeat. This is the recipe to make anything on social media go viral and shoot to the top of the trending list. 

One of the latest trends to go viral is the Ketogenic diet. 

Keto is a high-fat, low-carb diet that can be used to achieve weight loss, similar to the Atkins diet. Eating more protein and fat than carbohydrates, which include sugars, helps the body burn fat faster. 

According to the Paleo Foundation, “Keto” was the most Googled food topic in 2018. And more recently, scores of people have taken to social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to document their lifestyle change and experience the regimen. This allows them to connect with others who follow the same eating habits.

On social media, many people share keto recipes, before and after photos, and descriptions of how the diet has helped them lose or maintain their goal weight. 

Instagrammer Mayra Arias of Laguna Beach, California (@low.carb.love) uses her platform to educate others on keto recipes while showcasing how the diet has helped her lose 135 pounds in 15 months of dieting. Arias posts about recipes such as thin crust BBQ chicken pizza, which uses a low-carb dough. 

Since adopting a low-carb lifestyle 17 years ago, Arias has maintained her weight. With almost 1 million followers on Instagram, she has continued to document her journey.

“I’ve made wonderful friends with many like-minded people who are all about healthy lifestyles in a weight loss journey to better our health,” said Arias. 

While the diet has gained popularity in recent years, it was started a century ago. And it wasn’t designed for weight loss, but to treat epilepsy. 

In the 1920s, doctors found that keeping their patients on a high-fat, low-carb diet forced use of fat as a first source of fuel instead of glucose. According to the website LiveScience, fat is used as fuel when the body changes it into fatty acids, which creates ketones. 

According to News Medical Life Sciences, this diet was developed as an alternative to fasting, which was also commonly used to treat epilepsy.

Former SFMN reporter Jay Valle takes to Instagram and TikTok to document his Keto journey with friends, family and other like-minded followers. Valle began the diet this past January, adopting the “new year, new me” attitude.

He heard about the diet in an unconventional way— from a cast member of Jersey Shore.

“This is going to sound super funny but I actually follow Vinnie from the Jersey Shore and he inspired me to begin this journey,” said Valle. “He even went as far as publishing his own Keto recipe book.”

 

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 The 24-year-old contracted a meal service company called Keto MIA which delivers the meals to his doorstep.

“I love sharing this journey because it helps me hold myself accountable and keep a public record of myself,” said Valle. “Social media has played a huge role in this diet.”

Support for the diet is not unanimous. Ana Alvarez, a dietitian from Pembroke Pines, would not personally recommend the keto diet.

“It presents dangers such as destroying kidneys from excess protein and… focuses on restriction,” said Alvarez. “People tend to take extremist views and cut so many things from their diet, but this often leads to these diets not being sustainable.”

The Keto diet trend has become famous among people of all ages. Social media is used by some people on the diet to educate others, showcase triumphs and connect with other keto followers. 

But not everyone is public about their weight loss journey. Ashley Watts, 27, from Fort Lauderdale, started Keto in early 2020 and stayed on it for 10 months, losing 70 pounds, but she didn’t post about it on Instagram or anywhere else. The 27 year old lost a total of 70 pounds. 

“I found out about the Keto diet from my primary doctor since we were exploring weight loss options,” Watts said. 

She continued, “I started small by cutting out sodas, juices and carbs and then I had to decide which meats and vegetables I liked best.” 

Watts felt like her weight loss journey was personal and didn’t want to show the world her new body until it was complete. 

“I am a very private person, so during my weight loss journey. . . I didn’t document everything. I know we are in the age of social media but I felt like getting a new body was a personal celebration.” 

Although she did not post photos of her body during her journey, she did post about the meals that she ate from the diet, such as a lettuce-wrapped BLT sandwich and beef-and-cheese stuffed peppers. 

 She only posted her meals to document recipes and to show her friends and family her food choices. 

“If you knew me before my weight loss, [you knew] a different person,” she said. “Now I am a new and improved version of myself.” 

This diet has continued to spark interest from millions of people, in both the virtual and real worlds.

Shaun’ta Ransom is a senior at Florida International University. She is a South Florida native that enjoys meeting and talking to new people. She is especially interested in art, marketing and social media.

Cristina Feliciano is a broadcast media major at Florida International University. She is passionate about delivering the news and creating professional digital media content. She is experienced in field reporting on camera and editing news packages, but also loves to write.