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What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein, very low carbohydrate diet. The goal of the keto diet is to significantly reduce the body’s glycogen stores and glucose availability in order to force the body to start burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This diet has been used successfully in the treatment of epilepsy. Studies that have examined the effects of a keto diet on weight loss have shown improved short term weight loss, however, over time there are no significant differences in weight loss rates compared to traditional low fat diets. 

Is the Keto Diet healthy?

Short term, the keto diet can be healthy, especially for those who are at risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Most people who follow the keto diet lose weight, and find that their blood sugar levels are much lower since the diet forces the body to rely on ketones for fuel instead of glucose. However, the effects and benefits of following a keto diet long term are unclear due to insufficient evidence. 

The keto diet is currently being researched as a tool to help improve risk factors surrounding heart disease and is also being explored as a way to slow the progression of serious conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain brain injuries.

Is the Keto Diet safe?

The keto diet should be used with caution. While it may be safe short term, there is no evidence that long term use is recommended. Individuals who follow the keto diet drastically restrict the foods they eat, which can lead to your body missing out on certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that it needs to function optimally. It can also be difficult to maintain the optimal ratio of macronutrients needed to reach the ketosis state. 

Due to the high fat and very low carbohydrate levels, the keto diet can also cause elevated cholesterol levels. To limit this, try to make sure that saturated fats make up no more than 70% of your daily caloric intake. Individuals who have liver or kidney problems are not advised to practice keto diets. If you are considering following a keto diet, talk to your doctor before you start. 

How do I start a Keto Diet?

The easiest way to start a keto diet is to determine your ideal calories intake and macronutrient ranges for fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Most plans consist of 60-75% fat, 15-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. Next, it helps to plan out and prepare all of your meals in advance. It can be challenging to jump into this type of restricted diet if you’re unprepared. Start by doing your research, then plan a shopping trip to stock up on keto-friendly foods and snacks. Once that’s done, remove all the foods that are not keto-friendly from your kitchen so you’re not tempted to indulge.

Some people report feeling low energy and may have some digestive discomfort when they first start a keto diet. It’s normal to feel this way, but if you’re worried you can always begin by gradually lowering your carb intake before moving into a fully keto diet.

What should I eat on the Keto Diet?

If you’re following a keto diet, you should be eating primarily protein and healthy fats like those found in extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, or coconut oil. The ideal keto eating plan is based around fat, proteins like meat and cheese, and plenty of low-carb veggies and greens. 

The standard ketogenic diet plan should be made up of 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs. Some people eat as little as 5% carbs. To help the body go into ketosis, fat should be eaten at every meal.  

Foods to avoid include anything that’s high in starch, grains, sugary foods, fruit, beans, legumes, and starchy root vegetables. These high-carb foods will take your body out of ketosis.  

How many carbs can I eat on the Keto Diet?

Generally, you should be limiting your carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day when you follow the keto diet. That’s roughly the number of carbs that can be found in a single plain bagel.

Most keto diet followers recommend that carbs take up no more than 5-10% of your daily caloric intake, in grams. Once you’ve determined how many calories you want to eat in a day, you can determine just how many grams of carbs you can have. For most people, it’s between 20-50 grams daily.

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