If you’ve heard of friends and celebrities who follow the keto diet, or noticed recipes that are “keto-friendly” but never knew what that meant, we’ve covered you. Here’s everything you need to know about the keto diet to be able to decide if it’s right for you!
Why is it called “Keto”?
What we call the “keto diet” is abbreviated ketogenic – This term is used to describe the diet due to its connection with a metabolic process called ketogenesis (when the body breaks down fatty acids and produces ketones). The keto diet essentially tries to limit carbohydrates and increase fat so that your body is inside ketosis more often, thus burning the accumulated fat.
What does the basic diet look like?
There are several different keto diets, but the standard formula includes 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates per day. Many people increase the percentage of protein to 30% (and fat to 60%) for a little more weight in their diet. Those who are comfortable with the standard keto plan sometimes add extra carbs just around the time of the workout and / or go through periods where they increase carbs for a day or two at a time. In general, when you hear about the keto diet, you can assume that the consumption of carbohydrates is generally very limited (between 20-50 grams per day).
How does weight loss work?
The science behind the keto diet is based on the process of ketogenesis. Usually your body uses glucose from carbohydrates to produce most of its energy and only small amounts of energy come from the breakdown of fatty acids (ketogenesis). However, when your body is at a very low glucose level (as happens when you are on a ketogenic diet), it enters a state of ketosis and begins to switch its energy source to fatty acids. IN ketones produced during this process can be used to send energy to the organs and brain. Because a body inside ketosis breaks down fat stores, ketogenic diet often leads to weight loss.
Are there other health benefits?
In addition to weight loss, many people have found other health benefits. Originally developed to help children with seizures, the keto diet is often used as part of the treatment of epilepsy. On non-epileptic diets, people at risk for / suffering from diabetes may have improved blood sugar levels due to lower levels of glucose consumed over time. In addition, due to its typically rapid weight loss, the keto diet can potentially help with other health conditions that benefit from lower body weight. Of course, it is crucial to discuss any health issues and diet plans with your doctor, as these results vary from person to person.
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What are the potential shortcomings or concerns?
As with any diet plan, rapid weight loss can be difficult to maintain in the long run and often leads to future weight gain over what you have lost. Having a transition plan so that you can gradually alleviate your chosen diet is the best way to avoid this problem. The keto diet is very strict, so any deviation can take your body out ketosis and thus distracts you from the course for your dietary purposes. The keto diet has potential drawbacks ketosis for a long time – constipation, dizziness, kidney stones, nutrient deficiencies and low blood sugar are all potential side effects of a ketogenic diet. Finally, because the diet requires a high fat intake, the risk of heart disease may increase if people on a diet are not careful to choose only heart-healthy fats.
What should I eat / avoid?
Carbohydrates are in very broad categories of foods: fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, pastries, beans and legumes, and alcohol, to name a few. Eliminating most foods from these categories is crucial for following a keto diet. Instead, choose foods such as lean meats, heart-healthy oils and fats, cheese, eggs, oily fish, nuts / seeds and low-carb vegetables. Here are some great collections of keto recipes, broken down by food, ingredient, etc.
How do I know if Keto is right for me?
If you are looking for fast weight loss and do not mind changing your diet to focus primarily on whole ingredients that exclude carbohydrates, then keto may be right for you! Discussing with your doctor is always the first step in choosing a diet plan, so go to a meeting armed with this knowledge!