Chances are high that you have heard someone talking about the “keto” diet, short for “ketogenic.” And when they talk about it, more than likely they are also raving about all the pounds they have lost and how good they feel. And, chances are also good that has made you curious about it. Let’s find out more about this hot eating plan and if it’s for you.
What is the Keto Diet?
Simply put, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, similar to the Atkins or Paleo diets that many have followed. It differs from those, however, because the goal of the keto diet is to make the body produce “ketones,” which puts your body into “ketosis.” That metabolic state means that your body will start burning stored fat for energy, rather than glucose. That’s because if you don’t put carbs in, your body won’t turn to them for a source of energy first.
The recommended percentage for a standard keto diet 75% fat, 15 to 20% protein and 5 to 10% carbohydrates. A calculator like this can help you keep track of how your diet is measuring up.
Some foods that are recommended, according to Healthline include:
- Low-carb vegetables, like kale, broccoli, zucchini spinach, etc.
- Meat and poultry (grass-fed encouraged)
- Coconut oil
- Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter and cream (best in moderation)
- Shirataki noodles
- Coffee and tea (unsweetened)
- Dark chocolate and cocoa power
Foods to avoid include:
- Grains and starches in all forms
- Fruit (other than berries)
- Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.)
- Sweetened drinks
- Low-fat dairy products
What Are Some Pros Of The Keto Diet?
As described above, if followed comprehensively, the keto diet should help you burn stored fat because there is no longer glucose, or quick energy, to burn off. That means that you should be dropping pounds relatively quickly, while still feeling full given the high protein nature of the plan.
But that’s not the only benefit. Ongoing studies have pointed to a variety of potential health benefits, from lowered blood pressure to improved memory and life span (although this study was only done on mice). As the diet has only gained widespread use relatively recently, more studies are sure to be forthcoming, but early returns look promising. And of course, weight loss of any kind leads to less risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It also has been shown to reduce seizures in children, which means that it may have potential for helping with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis—although no studies yet prove that. But its potential to help with disabilities is exciting.
What Are Some Cons Of The Keto Diet?
First of all, it is very hard to stay on it for any length of time; that’s because the food is relatively limited, which means you need to plan ahead for virtually every meal. And as with most restrictive plans, when you go off the keto diet and resume natural eating patterns, you might quickly regain weight as you add carbs back in.
Also, some people who start the keto diet complain of the “keto flu,” a general feeling of fatigue, potentially accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, as their body transitions. That can often be warded off with plenty of water and sleep as your body adjusts.
In addition it can be dangerous for some people—for example, people with insulin-dependent diabetes should never follow a keto diet. It’s best to always check with a medical professional before beginning a highly specialized diet as you might have additional health issues that would make you a poor candidate. In addition, it is smart to talk with a nutritionist to get sample diets to start you off on the right foot.
The Keto Diet Might Be Right For You If:
- You are able to follow the meal planning advice carefully, preparing meals in advance and packing food when you go to work and out for meals.
- You don’t use it as an excuse to fill up on butter and bacon. If you routinely choose unhealthy fats and protein sources, you actually could raise your risk of diabetes and heart issues.
- You have been deemed a good candidate by a trusted health professional.
There are many ways to eat to lose weight, gain more energy and combat disease. The good news is that there is an eating plan for everyone—and the keto diet might be right for you.