5 Reasons Why I Eat Keto Desserts… Even Though I’m Not Keto
Even though I don’t follow a low-carb or keto diet, I DO eat keto desserts. Here are my 5 reasons why I eat keto desserts even though I’m not keto or low-carb. These might surprise and inspire you to change your mindset about dessert, too!
I let my Instagram audience in on a pretty big lifestyle choice I’ve made: Although I don’t follow a keto/low-carb diet, I ALWAYS eat keto desserts.
My Instafam was immediately intrigued and wanted to know WHY.
So, I promised y’all a blog post about it. Here’s why I always eat keto desserts, even though I’m not keto.
First, let’s take care of some housekeeping issues, starting with defining keto.
What is Keto anyway?
Keto is short for “ketogenic diet” — a way of eating that is high in fat, moderately high in protein, and low in carbohydrates.
The premise of the keto diet is to stop your body from burning glucose (sugar) for energy and force it to burn fat for energy instead. Carbs are restricted to 10% of daily food intake; protein is just 20%. The rest is fat.
Eating high fat and very low-carb forces the body into “ketosis” — a metabolic state where your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose.
Ketosis is considered a prime weight loss state.
Medically, the ketogenic diet was developed to treat serious conditions. Certain cancers, PCOS, autism, and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s respond well to the keto diet. The keto diet has also been used to treat epilepsy for over 100 years.
Therefore, the keto diet is absolutely a healing diet.
However, keto is also the latest diet trend. More than being used therapeutically, it’s also being used to “hack” the body to achieve faster weight loss and exercise and body-sculpting gains.
What are keto desserts?
If we’re going off the guidelines of the keto diet, a keto dessert is one that is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs.
Common ingredients for keto desserts include (best sources are linked):
- almond flour and coconut flour
- coconut cream/full-fat coconut milk
- heavy whipping cream
- full fat cream cheese, preferably cultured
- nuts or seeds, preferably soaked or sprouted
- berries, cranberries, lemon, and lime
- cacao powder, cocoa butter, and stevia-sweetened chocolate chips
- unsweetened, shredded coconut
- almond, peanut, and pecan butters
- fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, and avocado oil
Keto desserts are further set apart in that they do not contain grains or grain-based flours or any form of sugar, whether white sugar or a whole sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Many desserts are made with artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda or NutriSweet, but do not buy the claim. By nature, a keto diet is healing — and these sweeteners are the antithesis of healing.
So, what makes keto desserts sweet? Typically a combination of several keto-friendly sweeteners is used to make keto desserts sweet. The most common keto sweeteners are:
- xylitol (should not be in homes with dogs!)
- stevia — powdered and liquid
- or any combination of the above such as brands like Lakanto and Swerve
I prefer my own blend of erythritol and stevia, which I call Dietz Sweet. Learn how to make it yourself here.
Why I Don’t Eat Keto/Low-Carb
I don’t dispute the healing properties of the keto diet or of ketosis. I haven’t actually done a full keto diet, and I don’t plan to. But, I have been very low-carb in the past, and I don’t believe it served me well for my overall long-term health.
I lost about 12 pounds on a low-carb diet, but then my weight loss plateaued.
Though I ate no grains, beans, or sugar in any form, I still had puffiness in my face and hands, belly fat, and a red ring around my neck — all signs of underlying inflammation.
I craved carbs at night. I had PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, irritability, and cramping.
It took me several months to figure out that my cravings, inflammation, and PMS were actually caused by my low-carb diet.
The bottom line?
I needed carbs! All women need carbs for long-term hormone health!
Whether that’s regulating cortisol levels, having better menstrual cycles, reducing inflammation, or simply sleeping better — WE NEED CARBS.
Keto isn’t always awesome for women…
Keto isn’t always the best diet for women. This is mainly because when women make a sudden change to a ketogenic diet, even if factors indicate it could be therapeutic, hormones sometimes respond with chaos. Whether it’s a cortisol-driven stress response from the sudden lack of glucose fuel, or a dip in thyroid output, or a decrease in progesterone or estrogen, women respond differently to Keto than men do, especially when dietary changes happen suddenly or cause significant body changes in a short amount of time. Women’s bodies are naturally more sensitive than men’s to dietary changes because of the more complicated relationship between reproductive, stress, thyroid, and metabolic hormones.
While men have hormones too, women have hormones that fluctuate significantly more during menstrual cycles and in response to other stimuli, like diet, sleep, and even the lunar cycle. Keto isn’t always the best diet for women, because hormones sometimes respond with chaos. (Source.)
We need carbs. Period.
Ladies, if you’re following a keto or low-carb lifestyle, it’s normal to experience positive shifts in your health in the beginning. You may experience one to three months of weight loss, improved sleep, and a better mood.
It’s also not uncommon for these positive effects to shift and become negative. That’s because the amount of carbs you’re eating has a direct, though possibly delayed, effect on your hormone production.
Do you have any type of thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s, hypothyroid, etc)? Keto isn’t recommended for you. Your thyroid requires glucose to produce adequate thyroid hormones.
Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Keto isn’t recommended for you.
Are you going through a stressful season, such as a job change, move, or crisis? Keto isn’t recommended for you either.
How do I know if keto/low-carb isn’t working for me?
If you’re a woman on a low-carb or keto diet, pay close attention to your body. Your body will give you clues, if you’re paying attention.
Here are some clues that keto/low-carb isn’t working for you, and you need to add complex carbs back in pronto:
- any disruption in your menstrual cycle
- low energy
- weight gain
- any type of mood symptoms: depression, irritability, anxiety, constantly sad
- joint aches and pains
- digestive issues like cramps or constipation
- feeling cold all the time/cold hands and feet
- sleep disruptions
Ok, that may have been a little off-brief… but I felt it was important to define keto/low-carb eating and how to know if it isn’t working for you.
As a woman who strives to maintain healthy hormones, which translates to a healthy weight, good sleep, healthy cycles, and great digestion, I acknowledge my body’s need for carbs.
My body needs carbs in the form of potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash. Rice and beans — properly prepared, of course. Gluten-free grains like quinoa, sorghum, oats, and buckwheat (also properly prepared!). Complex carbs.
Not carbs in the form of sugar, honey, maple syrup, or refined carbs.
5 Reasons Why I Eat Keto Desserts… Even Though I’m Not Keto
Whether you can identify with all of my reasons or none of them, I hope you’ll consider that dessert isn’t necessary for us from a nutrition standpoint. No one ever suffered from dessert deficiency or processed sugar deficiency. 😉
These reasons aren’t listed in order of importance either. For example, it’s just as important to me to maintain my gut health as it is to keep my blood sugar balanced.
Here are the 5 reasons why I eat keto desserts even though I’m not keto.
#1 — I care about my gut health.
Sugar feeds pathogenic organisms in the gut, allowing them to multiply. An overgrowth of pathogenic organisms leads to issues like candida, SIBO, H. Pylori, and overall digestive discomfort like bloating, gas, and constipation.
If you already have an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria or yeast in your microbiome, you’re feeding the bad guys every time you consume sugar. Yes, even unrefined, whole sweeteners like raw honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.
Those pathogenic organisms don’t discriminate. Whether it’s high fructose corn syrup from your Coke or raw honey from the bees in your backyard, sugar feeds harmful bacteria and yeasts.
I eat keto desserts because I want to keep those pathogenic organisms under control and have a healthy microbiome!
#2 — I care about my blood sugar.
Both of my grandmothers were diabetic. It’s no secret that diabetes runs in families.
And, I’ve experienced my fair share of hypoglycemia. (Is blood sugar imbalance an issue for you? Find out here!)
Hypoglycemia is basically a deficiency of glucose in the blood (low blood sugar). The symptoms are annoying and often scary and include headaches, extreme hunger, dizziness, vision problems, weakness, irritability, nausea, and shaking.
Processed carbs and sugar in desserts contributes to the sharp rises and falls in insulin — the hormone that regulates our blood sugar.
I eat keto desserts because I want to enjoy sweets without contributing to imbalanced blood sugar.
#3 — I care about inflammation.
Sugar is the #1 inflammatory food. Period.
In any healing diet — AIP, GAPS, keto, low-FODMAPs, Whole30 — all forms of sugar, except raw honey, are OUT. Even raw honey is meant to be very restricted or isn’t included at all, like with Whole30.
Why? Because sugar contributes to inflammation.
A rise in blood sugar causes your body to crank out pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your pancreas has to crank out to keep your blood sugar stable. Over time, your cells become resistant to all that insulin. And, insulin resistance is the precursor to diabetes. Insulin resistance also causes excess sugar to be stored as visceral fat (ie. belly fat) which is itself cranking out inflammatory molecules (source).
Furthermore, sugar counteracts the anti-inflammatory processes in the body and anti-inflammatory foods. So, you could eat all the turmeric, kale, and coconut oil in the world, but if you are still indulging in a sugary dessert, you’re counteracting the positive effects of those superfoods. Here is a study showing that sucrose (white sugar) counteracts anti-inflammatory fish oil.
I eat keto desserts even though I’m not keto because I don’t want to add to my body’s inflammatory load.
#4 — I care about my hormones.
As I discussed above, we women need good carbs for the production of our hormones. Our adrenals need carbs. Our ovaries need carbs. And, our brains need carbs.
I don’t know why sweet potatoes and refined sugar are both called “carbs”. It seems confusing, doesn’t it? And, it forces us to classify carbs as “good” and “bad”, which is also unfortunate.
I don’t want to categorize anything as “good” or “bad”. So, let’s define carbs in terms of carbs that support our hormones and carbs that don’t.
Hormone-supporting carbs are complex carbs:
- root veggies like carrots, beets, celeriac, and potatoes
- winter squashes like butternut squash, delicata squash, and pumpkin
- brown rice and wild rice
- soaked or sprouted beans
- soaked, sprouted, or soured gluten-free grains like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and sorghum
- sweet potatoes
Carb sources that do not support our hormones:
- sugar — in ALL forms
- whole sweeteners: coconut sugar, maple syrup, sucanat, evaporated cane juice, and honey
- processed foods like toaster waffles, breakfast cereals, “instant” anything, frozen pizza, commercial ice cream, deep-fried carbs
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
When we’re eating Real Food — keto or not — we’re supporting healthy hormone production for our cycles, thyroids, sleep, and stress management.
When we’re not eating Real Food, we’re not supporting healthy hormone production.
I eat keto desserts because any other dessert is made with some form of sugar, which doesn’t support my hormones.
#5 — I care about making every bite count.
Wherever you are with food, BE THERE. Don’t compare it to anyone on social media or to your friends or your favorite food bloggers. Just be where you are.
I used to be a big fan of the 80/20 rule: Eat healthy, real food 80% of the time, and go nuts the other 20% of the time. Again, if that’s where you are — be there and be ok with it. This isn’t about being more like me.
Through eating intuitively and asking my body what she needs daily, I have discovered something very liberating:
I don’t need to go nuts or “be bad” or whatever with my food 20% of the time. I don’t even have the urge or the desire. That desire was there as long as foods were “off limits” in my mind.
Eating nourishing foods nearly 100% of the time is where I’m at right now. I care about making every bite count. Every bite either nourishes me or it doesn’t; it either feeds my best self or it feeds dis-ease.
Keto desserts are very nutrient-dense because of their focus on healthy fats, quality protein, and no sugar. Those are the bites that count, even if they’re dessert. And, why shouldn’t dessert nourish us, too??
This is why I don’t eat sugar, why I don’t drink alcohol, and why I only eat at 2 carefully chosen restaurants. It doesn’t feel strict or rigid at all because I feel empowered to eat healthy all the time!
I eat keto desserts to make every bite, including dessert, count!
Wait, you forgot to mention your weight!
Did you think that weight loss or weight management was going to be on my list?
Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not. I don’t make food choices based upon my weight.
If I have a craving, I indulge it in the healthiest way possible. If I’m hungry, I eat.
Weight is just a number. That number cannot measure hormone levels, cycle health, or sleep quality.
In the last 18 months, I have gone from weighing 175 pounds to 125 pounds. I lost the first 30 pounds by eating intuitively. I turned off all consumption of health and food info related to weight and weight loss and simply followed my body’s lead. That resulted in losing 30 pounds without even trying!
The last 20 were lost during my mental health break at the beginning of 2019. I knew I was losing weight too quickly, so I forced myself to eat, even though anxiety made my food taste like nothing. But, I kept losing. I have no idea what happens to our hormones when we are so anxious and stressed that we drop 20 pounds in a matter of weeks — but that’s what happened to me.
Now, as of November 2019, I’m sitting comfortably at 150 pounds.
I share all of that to say this: not once in that 50-pound weight loss or in gaining 25 pounds back did I think, “I bet if I ate keto desserts I’d lose (or gain) weight.” Not once.
If I want dessert, I eat it. But it’s keto because of the reasons mentioned above. My weight just isn’t a factor in my decision-making about food.
Sweet Without Sugar
So, maybe you didn’t know that I actually have a keto/low-carb desserts eBook?
It’s called Sweet Without Sugar and is a collection of over 50 nourishing, allergy-friendly, low-carb desserts. Everything from pie crust to ice cream, from cheesecake to Citron Tart!
I’m super proud of Sweet Without Sugar because I wrote it when I had fully embraced my excitement about cutting sugar out of my life for good — and I had to share that excitement with my readers!
You can read more about Sweet Without Sugar here.
If you’re not into buying a keto desserts eBook, I happen to have quite a few keto dessert recipes here on the blog for free. 🙂
Nourishing Keto Dessert Recipes You’ll Love…
- Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Bars (nut-free, dairy-free, grain-free)
- Chai Ice Cream (dairy-free, paleo, vegan)
- Strawberry Lemon Bars (nut-free, dairy-free, grain-free)
- Blender Batter Lemon Blueberry Bread (dairy-free, nut-free, grain-free)
- Strawberry Curd
- Matcha-Moringa Baked Donuts (dairy-free, nut-free, grain-free)
- 6-Ingredient Chocolate Torte
- Swedish Cream (6 ingredients, egg-free)
- Cauliflower Chocolate Pudding
- Chocolate Coconut Donuts
- Cranberry Curd Tart
- Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Frosting
- Avocado Lemon Ice Cream
- Probiotic Berry Cheesecake Popsicles