If you’ve heard of the keto diet, you probably know it’s a low carb diet that can help you shed the pounds fast. In science terms, it triggers the body to go into “ketosis” — hence the name “keto.” But did you know it may be a great option for gamers? Ketosis is a metabolic state during which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates/sugars. By eliminating all carbohydrates from your diet, (read: putting down those chips) your body has no choice but to use up all the fat. It does this by creating “ketones,” which come from the liver.
What’s the benefit of keto for gamers?
Keto is a good diet option for gamers because it’s all about eliminating sugars that you won’t burn off by sitting for long periods of time. In fact, some people have even had success on this diet without the addition of exercise (but of course, exercise doesn’t hurt).
The keto diet is great for rapid weight loss, so if you spent your quarantine gaming on the couch instead of working out and suddenly realized your body has paid the price, you might want to try a keto diet.
Keto for gamers can also improve focus and energy, which will help you be on your game. “Eliminating carbs can...help control and stabilize blood sugar levels. This may further increase focus and improve brain function,” according to Healthline. In the beginning of ketosis, you may experience some fatigue known as the “keto flu,” but eventually you might feel more energized than you did before the diet. A Healthline article writes: “Ketones are an extremely potent fuel source for your brain. They have even been tested in a medical setting to treat brain diseases and conditions such as concussion and memory loss.Therefore, it comes as no surprise that long-term ketogenic dieters often report increased clarity and improved brain function.” This is good news for those long nights in front of the screen.
While your brain typically “feeds” on glucose, the Healthline article explored how ketones become “food for thought,” so to speak (pardon the pun) when carbs are missing. “Ketones are actually produced in small amounts whenever you go for many hours without eating, such as after a full night's sleep, the article writes. “When carbs are eliminated or minimized, ketones can provide up to 70% of the brain's energy needs.” Additionally, the keto diet is known to be helpful for people who suffer from epilepsy.
The keto diet will also help zero in on belly fat, which is a common problem area for men — especially men who lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Healthline writes: “Visceral fat tends to lodge around your organs. Excess visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance...Low-carb diets are very effective at reducing this harmful abdominal fat. In fact, a greater proportion of the fat people lose on low-carb diets seems to come from the abdominal cavity. Over time, this should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
One negative side effect of the keto diet for gamers is insomnia. As a gamer, you may already spend long nights awake in front of the TV, so just be aware that you might need to put more effort into trying to sleep when you start this diet.
How to start a keto diet for gamers
The first thing you’ll want to do is consult a doctor before making any major alterations to your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions. This diet is based on eating high-fat foods, so you want to get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked first.
Okay, enough science talk. Let’s get to what you really want to know: what can I eat on the keto diet? According to Harvard Health, you need to be eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day in order to reach ketosis — for reference, the article tells us that one “medium-sized banana has about 27 grams of carbs.” That means a keto diet for gamers means very few carbs.
This also means that not only will you be giving up good stuff like bread, pasta, candy and sweets, but you’ll also be giving up most fruits (some wild berries are okay) and some vegetables. A good rule of thumb for vegetables is that if it’s green, it’s probably okay.
Now on to the good stuff: what you can eat. If you are a meat lover, you won’t have a hard time on keto. You’ll be able to munch on bacon, steak, eggs, cheese and all kinds of fatty foods that you may usually put on a “do not eat” list when trying to lose weight. “Saturated fats from oils (palm, coconut), lard, butter, and cocoa butter are encouraged in high amounts,” writes Harvard Health.
It may be tough at first because most quick snacks to nosh on while gaming are not allowed on this diet — things like chips, cookies, granola bars, sandwiches and even easy-to-eat fruit like bananas. Before you embark on your keto journey make life easier for yourself by stocking up on keto snacks you can eat like nuts, beef jerky, and, of course, Rez Bars.