The keto diet has been gaining popularity as a diet and lifestyle mostly because of its use as a weight-loss strategy. This high-fat, low-carb “diet” is designed to turn your body into a fat-burning machine and allow you to shed pounds quickly.
The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that focuses on foods like meat, eggs, cheese, and certain veggies while eliminating almost all carbs from your daily food intake. The idea behind this way of eating is that it forces your body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates for fuel, leading to rapid weight loss for the overweight or obese.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the keto diet. It may seem like just another fad, but it actually has some science behind it and can be helpful if done correctly. Read on to learn everything from eating for a keto diet to incorporating keto diet supplements so you can experience the success others have.
What Is Keto?
The ketogenic diet, which we’ll be calling keto because we’re on friendly terms, is a way of eating that trains your body to burn fat for energy and allows you to cut weight efficiently. Keeping carbohydrate levels low enough so that your body must rely almost completely on fats for energy encourages your cells to switch from using glucose as fuel to using fat for fuel.
This puts your body into a state known as ketosis. You’re breaking down fats and converting them into molecules called “ketones” that circulate through your bloodstream, which are then used for energy. Simply put, this allows you to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, thus shedding pounds efficiently.
More About Ketosis
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body starts to break down fat for energy because there’s a lack of carbohydrates available. This typically occurs when carbohydrate intake is restricted to less than 50g per day and can happen whether you’re fasting or following a ketogenic diet.
When your body doesn’t get its usual energy fix from sugar, it will start burning stored fats instead, leading to weight loss. This is the key to following a keto diet.
Some folks benefit from using keto supplement pills or other special keto diet aids to improve digestion, increase energy and accelerate their fat loss. This is because a new and very different diet can be tough on your body at first, so a helping hand can ease the transition and ensure the best results.
Also read: How to Calculate Your Macros for a Keto Diet
Variations of Keto Diets
Some folks may be surprised to know that there are actually variations of the keto diet. So here’s a quick primer on those.
Standard Ketogenic Diet
Also known as SKD, this is a very low-carb diet that typically contains 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and only five percent carbs.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet
This TKD variation allows you to add extra carbs around workouts to improve performance. So, for example, if you’re going to the gym, you might be able to get away with eating 40g of net carbs before your workout, followed by 20g of net carbs afterward.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
This CKD plan involves periods of higher-carb refeeds (usually five days), designed to boost metabolism and replenish glycogen stores without interrupting ketosis or losing muscle mass.
High Protein Ketogenic Diet
A variation on the standard keto diet but with a higher protein content (about 30 percent of your daily calorie intake).
The Health Benefits of Keto Diets
There are many ways in which keto diets can benefit individuals with various health concerns. Here’s a list to show you how it may help.
Keto can help with weight loss
When your body is in ketosis, it’s more efficient at burning fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This often leads to weight loss when someone sticks with the diet plan.
Keto promotes healthy eating habits
Since carbs are restricted to keto, people who follow this lifestyle often naturally reduce their sugar intake and increase whole food consumption. This can have dramatic health benefits over time, as it probably means cutting out unhealthy processed foods and replacing them with healthier options.
Keto may help with type 1 and 2 diabetes
There’s some evidence that a keto diet can effectively manage type 1 diabetes and even potentially reverse type 2 diabetes. However, if you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before starting a ketogenic plan, as it may significantly alter your medication needs.
Keto may help lower blood pressure
Research suggests that following a low-carb diet such as keto can significantly reduce blood pressure. This could potentially mean less risk of heart disease and stroke for those with high blood pressure.
Keto helps in manage seizures
Ketogenic diets help control seizures naturally for some people, especially children who suffer from epilepsy and other seizure disorders. In addition, it’s thought that the ketones in the bloodstream may help suppress nerve activity and improve symptoms.
Keto has anti-inflammatory effects
The high intake of healthy fats (like omega-3s) found on a ketogenic diet can have anti-inflammatory effects. This may benefit people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other inflammation-related conditions.
Keto may promote better brain health
Some research has linked low-carb diets like keto to improved mental clarity and memory function. And there’s some emerging evidence that ketogenic diets might even help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Should Everyone Do Keto?
There are some people for whom keto may not be appropriate. Here’s a list of those who should avoid the keto plan.
People with kidney disease
Ketogenic diets can be hard on kidneys, so it’s best to avoid them if you have kidney issues.
People with eating disorders
Keto diets may exacerbate existing eating disorders. You should consult mental health professionals to get the help you need. Pursuing a keto diet without tending to your eating disorder can be dangerous.
People with gallbladder problems
If you have gallstones, then keto may not be for you. This is because eating excessive fat will lead to gallstone pain.
Pregnant women or those breastfeeding
There’s not enough research to support the safety of ketogenic diets during pregnancy. Plus, your baby needs some carbohydrates to grow while breastfeeding if you’re choosing to do so. Consult your doctor or a qualified dietitian for additional guidance.
Tips for Getting Started with Keto
Be prepared for the keto flu
The keto flu is the name given to the flu-like symptoms some people experience when they switch from their standard Western diet (high in carbs) over to a high-fat ketogenic lifestyle. The most common symptoms include headache, nausea, brain fog, and fatigue. And, yes, it’s real — although not everyone who tries keto experiences the keto flu.
You can help yourself get over the keto flu by increasing your salt and water intake, allowing yourself a little more time to transition into ketosis, or taking an over-the-counter electrolyte supplement.
Fail to plan, plan to fail!
Before you even start the keto lifestyle, it’s essential to come up with a plan. Here are some tips that can help get you started on your ketogenic journey.
Decide how you’ll measure your carbs
There are several methods out there, but most experts recommend using Net Carbs, which total the carb content minus the fiber. Studies show this is typically the best way to track macros. So, if something has 10 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber, you’d eat just 4 grams of net carbs (10 – 6 = 4). Counting carbohydrates every time you put food in your mouth isn’t realistic for most people, so measuring at first can be helpful until you get used to eyeballing or tracking them.
Create low-carb recipes
It’s hard to get started on this diet without some fantastic go-to recipes. Use ketogenic recipe sites to find keto-friendly meals that are easy, tasty, and healthy. In addition, there are many websites with lots of tips for beginners, which have extensive lists of all the types of foods you’ll eat on a keto diet.
Stock up on keto supplements
Get a supply of the best keto supplements out there, so you’ll be set up for success. Several supplements may help you on your keto journey. These include electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, and L-Carnitine, which helps transport fat to be used for energy instead of being stored in the body.
With a little prep and a lot of enthusiasm, you’re sure to find success in your keto journey!
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.