Health

People Are Still Googling One of the Most Annoying Diets of the Decade

People who are doing keto never stop talking about doing keto, yet ‘What is keto?’ is the second-most-Googled medical question of 2019.
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
December 16, 2019, 5:47pm
A man feeds his friend a steak
Westend61 via Getty

According to Google’s own data, the second-most popular health-related search on its engine in 2019 was, “What is keto?” That’s a slightly lower ranking than last year, when “What is keto?” was the number one health-related question people typed into Google……. but it’s still disconcertingly high. The staying power of the ketogenic diet (what “keto” is short for) has simply gotta be admired; how does a diet that is largely bad for you remain something people still want to know about?

People who do keto talk about it as if they’re being paid to. Like most other diets, keto’s best advertisers are the people painfully dragging themselves through its rigorous limits: No carbs, no sugars, no alcohol, no joy, etc. Keto followers are supposed to obtain 75 percent of their calories through fats, like meat (and bacon!!!). Itinerant dieters are inordinately thrilled by this, maybe because most diets don’t afford them any category of food from which they can eat “anything” they want, or maybe because it’s an extremely sharp shift away from the “Fats Are Evil” discourse that dominated the 90s. “Yes, I can eat all the cheese I want!!!!” may as well be the unofficial slogan of keto, even though eating all the cheese one wants isn’t a wise or sustainable choice, and overeating—even keto-approved foods—will still cause weight gain.

Keto is supposed to “work” by putting the body into a state of “ketosis,” a sort of shock-state where the body starts breaking down stored fats to gain energy. It also “works” because it limits carbs so severely, dieters can’t even eat one (1) whole apple if they properly abide by the rules. Most varieties of restriction diets often “work,” at least temporarily, because while it’s still possible to overeat and gain weight no matter which arbitrary restriction rules you’re following, it’s simply boring to eat a lot of a limited range of things after a while, even if those things include bacon. Many people who lose weight by following the keto diet might’ve lost weight by paying attention to what they are eating in general, which is another thing any arbitrary restriction forces them to do.

But that wouldn’t be any fun at all, would it? It’s way less exciting to say, “no, thanks” to a post-lunch cookie than it is to chomp into a wheel of bacon-wrapped cheese (is this real?) while yelling, “My diet allows this!!!” Keto was born in this decade and unfortunately will probably not die within it; January is just around the corner, and many people will likely continue to type “what is keto” into their little Google search bars, looking for a way to lose holiday pounds that probably don’t exist, and that don’t need losing.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Hannah Smothers on Twitter.