If you’ve heard the buzz about the keto diet, you might be wondering what it is and how it could benefit you. Keto is short for ketogenic, and it’s not just the name of a scary monster lurking under your bed. It’s also a way of eating that has numerous benefits for your health.
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan. Keto dieters limit their carb intake so that their bodies begin burning fat for energy instead of carbs.
This transition also forces the body to produce small quantities of an enzyme called ketones, which are produced when the body breaks down fats. Because this way of eating limits most fruits and non-starchy vegetables, followers of the keto diet must meet their on-plan intake of vitamins and minerals from other sources.
In fact, experts commonly recommend that people who follow any restrictive eating plan (such as Keto) also make sure they get a wide variety of nutrients by supplementing with a multivitamin – especially vitamin B12 and calcium because these are two nutrients that are very commonly deficient among people who follow restrictive diets such as vegan or vegetarian diets or even very low carbohydrate diets like Keto.
What is a Keto Diet?
A keto diet is a very low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to get your body into a metabolic state known as “ketosis.”
If you’ve ever heard someone say they’re “in ketosis,” they probably lost a ton of weight and they probably don’t want to talk to you about it because they don’t sound very happy.
Ketosis is a natural process that happens when you don’t have enough glucose available to power your cells — so your body burns fat instead. It’s a state many people would love to be in, but few can achieve without help from diet pills or nutritional supplements.
When your body is in a state of ketosis, it’s burning fat as fuel instead of glucose. This metabolic change can help you lose weight, increase mental clarity and energy, and reduce inflammation.
How Does the Keto Diet Work?
The best way to start understanding how keto works is by breaking down the word itself: ketogenic. Keto- refers to the fact that the diet induces a metabolic state called ketosis. And -genic means “to create” or “to cause.”
Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body burns fat instead of glycogen (sugar) as its primary source of energy. Keto-dieting is a tool that can be used to force the body into metabolic ketosis.
Keto diets work by restricting carbs (especially sugary foods like candy or baked goods) and increasing healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, and butter.
It’s almost exactly the opposite of what most people are told to do when trying to lose weight — eat less fat and more protein and carbs. When your body is forced to use fat as fuel, it becomes less interested in burning calories and more interested in breaking down fat molecules.
Benefits of a Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet has many benefits, including weight loss, more energy, and better mental clarity. Let’s look at the science behind these benefits.
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet that forces your body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose. When your body burns fat for fuel, it produces ketones. The increased level of ketones in your bloodstream causes you to enter a metabolic state called “ketosis.”
The ketogenic diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Studies suggest that the ketogenic diet causes fat loss, increases satiety (reduces hunger), and improves metabolic health.
When your body burns fat for fuel, it produces a substance known as ketones. Ketones can provide an alternative source of energy for your body that makes you less dependent on glucose. This state is called ketosis and can greatly improve your energy levels and mental clarity.
Better Gut Health
Gut health has become a commonly-discussed topic in recent years, earning it a spot as one of the potential benefits of keto. A low-carb diet can help you reduce inflammation in your gut and strengthen your gut barrier, which can improve symptoms of IBS and other digestive disorders.
Lower Risk of Disease
Another potential benefit of the keto diet is reduced risk of certain diseases. Since a keto diet is high in fat, it raises HDL (your “good”) cholesterol and reduces LDL (your “bad”) cholesterol. A reduction in LDL cholesterol can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
How to Know You’re in Ketosis
One of the main reasons people follow keto is to enter and stay in ketosis. To do this, you must monitor your carb intake to make sure it stays below 20 grams per day, eat lots of healthy fats, and exercise regularly.
You may also want to track your ketone levels using strips or a blood meter to make sure they’re rising.
If you aren’t sure if you’re in ketosis, you can take a urine test that can tell you if you have a small amount of ketones in your blood. Although this isn’t an exact measurement, it can help you determine if you’re making progress toward ketosis.
Downsides of a Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet has many benefits, but it can also be challenging to follow. The biggest hurdle is that you have to drastically change the way you eat.
And, since a lot of people are used to eating lots of carbs, this can be a big change.
The keto diet requires that you eat a lot of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very few carbohydrates.
You’ll also have to keep track of the number of calories you eat each day.
When you first start following the keto diet, you may experience symptoms that include headache, fatigue, muscle cramps, irritability, and constipation. These symptoms should subside after a few weeks on the keto diet.
How to Start a KEO Diet
The first step to starting a keto diet is to determine your daily calorie intake.
It is all about eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is different than most diets, which are focused on counting calories, not carbs.
When you’re on the keto diet, you want to aim for the majority of your calories to come from healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, coconut, and fish.
You also want to focus on eating plenty of protein-rich foods, such as meat and eggs, as well as low-carb vegetables, such as broccoli and asparagus.
Don’t Be Afraid of Fat
One of the most common misconceptions about the keto diet is that followers need to avoid fat completely. This is not the case.
Fat is an essential part of the keto diet, but it’s important to choose healthy sources. Most of your fat intake should come from nuts, seeds, coconut, avocados, and fish.
You can use butter and ghee in your cooking, but try to limit dairy products and oils. Fat helps you feel full and satisfied, and without it, you can become lethargic and hungry.
Track Everything You Eat
One of the best ways to get started on a keto diet, if it’s something you’ve never done before, is to start tracking everything you eat. This way, you can easily see what your average intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat is per day.
We recommend an app like MyFitnessPal to help you easily track the foods you eat and their macronutrient breakdown.
There are plenty of keto diet apps out there, but we recommend you find one that makes tracking easy, so you don’t get frustrated and give up.
Weekly Check-In: How Are You Feeling?
As you enter into a ketogenic diet, you’ll be breaking your body down in a new and different way.
Therefore, you may experience some mild side effects as your body adjusts to this new diet.
You may experience headaches, nausea, or feel overly tired or lethargic, which is completely normal.
If you notice you’re feeling extremely fatigued, you might want to try a weekend mini-break from the keto diet.
If you continue to feel tired and your energy levels are dropping, it might be time to re-evaluate your diet.
3 Weeks to Go: Don’t Be Afraid to Stop and Celebrate!
When starting a diet, it’s important to go into it with the right mentality. You’re not doing this for the rest of your life, you’re doing it for the next 30 days.
If you go into it with the right mindset, you’ll be less likely to feel defeated and more likely to succeed. And if you hit your goals, don’t be afraid to celebrate!
If you’re successful, reward yourself with something you’ve been wanting to do, like going out to eat with friends or buying a new piece of clothing. It’s a great way to re-energize yourself and keep yourself motivated for the next 30 days.
To wrap things up, the ketogenic diet is a simple way of eating that anyone can do. It’s a very low-carb diet that forces your body to burn fat instead of glucose for energy.
When you eat in a keto way, you can experience benefits such as weight loss, more energy, and better mental clarity.
That said, the keto diet can be challenging to follow. In order to do it right, you have to drastically change the way you eat, track your calorie and macronutrient intake, and possibly invest in nutritional supplements.
I have been a nutritionist for the past ten years, and have faced many people who are almost desperate to get the ideal body shape. Don't let others judge you based on your appearance. Every effort you make will take you to a better stage of life. Research, do, analyze, and repeat the success that occurs.