Category: Keto Guides

What Exactly Is the Keto Diet, and Is It Safe?

The ketogenic diet — better known as “keto” — is having a bit of a moment right now. It’s been wildly popular on social media in recent weeks, and Google searches for keto-related terms have skyrocketed since the new year; celebrities the likes of Tim Tebow and Kourtney Kardashian have touted it as a detox, or a “reset button” for the body. The idea is that you can lose weight by replacing the body’s typical go-to energy source — carbs — with fats. That means its followers are downing things like whipped cream, mayonnaise, butter, and cheese.
So much cheese.

If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because, well, it just might be. We talked to an expert about how it works, how it’s done, and whether or not it’s worth a try.

What exactly is a ketogenic diet?

The keto diet is an eating plan that consists of 80 percent fat and little to no carbohydrates. Staples of the keto diet are fish, meat, eggs, dairy, oils, and green vegetables. Pasta, rice and other grains, potatoes, and fruits are strictly prohibited.

Keto works by changing the way the body turns food into energy. Typically, during digestion, we break down carbohydrates — like those found in the verboten foods above — into molecules of fructose, galactose, and glucose, the last of which serves as the body’s primary source of energy. When the body can’t draw it from carbohydrates — either because they’ve been cut out of the diet or because a person hasn’t eaten for a long time — it looks for other forms of energy. The keto diet deliberately places the body in a state of ketosis, where fat is released from cells and turned into ketones, the body’s plan B for energy production.

Where did the keto diet start?

The keto diet is most assuredly not a fad, at least not in the usual sense of the word. It’s been around for nearly a century, and has its roots in the medical world: In the 1920s, epilepsy researchers found that increased levels of ketones in their patients resulted in fewer seizures, and the diet is still a widely accepted treatment for epilepsy today. There’s also some evidence that a ketogenic diet has therapeutic potential for a wide array of symptoms and diseases, including cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, neurological conditions, diabetes, and even acne.

So how did it become a trendy weight-loss diet?

Though keto has been gaining popularity recently thanks to celebrity endorsements and a wealth of diet-adherent Pinterest recipes, this is not the first time a form of it has gone mainstream. “We have been seeing different variations on the low-carb diet for decades,” says Abbey Sharp, a registered dietician and nutrition blogger.

“The Atkins diet and the Dukan diet are two variations of a ketogenic diet. The idea of ketosis is definitely not new — we’ve just seen it repackaged in a new, sexy way as of late.”

What can I expect on the keto diet?

You’ll likely experience a rocky start as the liver begins to turn fat into ketones to be used as energy. “At the beginning, it is very uncomfortable, since our body is not used to this form of fuel,” Sharp says. “You tend to experience brain fog, headaches, nausea, and fatigue, along with bad-smelling breath, sweat, and urine. We also tend to see a big drop in our electrolyte levels as we lose water weight, which also makes us feel crummy.” This condition is sometimes called the “keto flu.”

As your body levels out over time, many of these symptoms will subside, and things get better. Some research even points to enhanced cognitive activity and focus as the brain gets used to running on ketones.

In the first days of the diet, your regular workout might prove exhausting without carbs to keep you going.

Should I try it?

Let’s put it this way: as popular diets go, it doesn’t have a great track record. The Atkins diet, hugely popular in the early aughts, has since been proven more or less ineffective for significant weight loss. Researchers have found correlations between the Dukan diet — based on Pierre Dukan’s popular 2000 book The Dukan Diet, which, like Atkins and keto, used a list of 100 or so approved foods to put the body into a state of ketosis — and chronic kidney disease.

The keto diet is a particularly bad idea, Sharp cautions, for anyone with a history of disordered eating. “It’s just so restrictive that it interferes with daily interactions with food and a person’s relationship with food,” she says. “That’s counterintuitive to mindful eating, and may lead to dangers.”

For some people, though, a keto diet has one big perk: Its high-fat foods leave adherents feeling sated without needing to snack between meals. And while it can be difficult to get all the nutrients and fiber you need without whole grains and fruits, “it is definitely possible,” Sharp says. “You will need to be well in tune with the micronutrients in the foods you’re including in your diet to ensure you’re covering all of your bases. You may also want to consider a supplement.”

Okay, but does it work?

At first, yes. In the early weeks of the diet, you’ll drop a noticeable number of pounds while eating a satisfying amount of food.

Unfortunately, Sharp says that type of weight loss is not sustainable. “It’s largely water weight,” she says. “We store about six grams of water for every gram of carbohydrate, so when our carb stores are depleted, we drop a ton of water weight at once.” And if it’s increased energy you’re after, studies of cyclists and professional gymnasts have found no significant change to performance or muscle mass over several months of a ketogenic diet.

If you still want to try the keto diet, it’s important to talk to your doctor first about your body’s nutrient needs, your cholesterol levels, and your risk of heart disease. For a diet that has this dramatic an effect on the inner workings of your body, best to equip yourself with advice of a medical professional. When it comes to your health, you don’t always have to keep up with the Kardashians — but if you do, don’t do it on your own.

This Is the Surprising Origin of the Keto Diet

The keto diet — the high-fat, low-carb eating plan praised by women’s magazines and svelte celebrities — has been touted as the latest weight loss miracle to hit the dieters’ market. Its topsy-turvy distribution of macronutrients achieves weight loss by turning what most of us think of as healthy eating on its head. Whereas many nutrition professionals have long recommended a diet rather high in carbohydrates (typically around 50-65 percent of total intake), keto dieters consume a strictly limited amount of carbs (often as low as five percent), 15-30 percent protein, and up to 85 percent fat. Sounds wacky. Is it actually good for you? And how does it work?

Like other low-carb diets before it, the ketogenic diet keeps your metabolism in a state called ketosis. Normally, the body’s preferred source of energy is glucose from carbohydrates. But in the absence of glucose, the body has a backup plan: Turn your fat stores into fuel, burning through them much faster than you usually would. This explains the dramatic weight loss effects keto proponents experience.

What many consumers don’t know about this trendy diet is that a ketogenic eating plan didn’t start with Dr. Oz or the Kardashians. In fact, it isn’t new at all. The concept of keeping the body in a state of ketosis started off in the 1920s as a last-ditch dietary approach to treating epilepsy. Though researchers still don’t exactly understand the relationship between a high-fat diet and seizure disorders, research shows a connection definitely exists. Registered dietitian Anne Danahy weighs in: “We do know that it can reduce seizure frequency by about 50 percent, and it’s a great option for those who don’t respond to anti-seizure meds. Scientists believe that ketone bodies might change the way certain neurotransmitters work in the brain.” Epilepsy might not be the only condition a keto diet could improve. New research is exploring its potential for reducing symptoms in other disorders, such as Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s.

Some consumers might think twice about adopting an eating plan often employed as a last resort for patients with neurological disorders. With this distinctly medical origin, are there neurological repercussions of its use in healthy people? Not necessarily, says Danahy. “It doesn’t appear to have any negative neurological implications. However, it’s important to note that there is very little research on the long-term use of this diet.”

This lack of research on long-term adherence to the keto diet is no small concern. Putting the body into an unnatural metabolic state for months or years at a time could have serious consequences, such as exerting excess strain on the liver and kidneys. Following a high-fat diet for a long period won’t do your heart any favors, either. Despite the recent debate about the role of dietary fat in heart disease, the American Heart Association continues to recommend limiting saturated fat to 5-6 percent of total calories. Even if keto dieters are able to eat primarily healthier unsaturated fats, they often find strict adherence nearly impossible, especially long-term. Says Danahy, “It’s a very difficult diet to follow for any length of time, simply because it is so restrictive, and most people don’t find it to be very palatable because of the lack of variety.” Drastically reducing or eliminating carbs also means removing foods with proven health benefits, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Taking these foods out of the diet altogether can lead to nutrient deficiencies and digestive troubles like constipation.

In the midst of the keto craze, many dietitians and health professionals have emphasized that they would recommend it only in cases where extreme weight loss in a short period is necessary. Others, like Danahy, have seen clients experience success, but advise a less radical approach. “For people who are interested in trying it but not 100 percent committed,” she says, “I recommend trying a modified Atkins-type diet, which allows a bit more carbohydrate (about 75 grams), and therefore much more variety.”

Is a ketogenic diet right for you? Weighing its potential benefits and drawbacks — and discussing your health goals with a dietitian — are important steps to take before beginning this controversial eating plan.

7 Things I Learned After Trying the Keto Diet for 30 Days

After hearing so much about the ketogenic diet (hey, if it’s good enough for Alicia Vikander) and skipping one too many (read: all) of my morning workouts, I decided it was time to try out the trendy eating plan for myself. Quick refresher: The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet, where the goal is for your body to reach a state of ketosis (hence, the name). In this state, you burn through fat for energy instead of glucose (i.e., carbohydrates), which leads to faster weight loss.

I enlisted the help of ketogenic diet expert Dr. Josh Axe—partly because I have zero willpower when it comes to pasta and need someone checking up on me, and partly because his keto diet plan allows for four feast meals per month (see previous note about pasta). Here, seven of my biggest takeaways from 30 days of keto eating.

RELATED: 30 KETOGENIC DINNERS YOU CAN MAKE IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS

Plate of bacon eggs and keto foods

EATING ALL THAT FAT ISN’T REALLY AS FUN AS IT SOUNDS

Steak! Butter! Avocados! These are a few of my favorite things so I was pretty excited that I could enjoy them freely on my diet. Until I did the math, and realized that in order to get approximately 75 percent of my calories from fat (the remaining 20 percent came from protein and 5 percent from carbs), I had to eat a whole lot of it. After the first week, the amount actually felt a little gross (there’s so much meat). Around day 21, I cut back on my fat intake, which definitely affected my state of ketosis (and isn’t recommended), but I don’t think that I could’ve kept going with the diet otherwise.

Keto Diet keto strips

YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY INVEST IN THE KETONE STRIPS

Yes, peeing in a cup is messy but using ketone strips to determine your state of ketosis is a great motivator. Without getting too scientific, these strips basically work by measuring the amount of ketones (organic compounds that are the result of the body burning fat for fuel) in your body. To use them, you urinate in a container (which to be honest, I never really got the hang of), let the strip sit for about a minute, and then match the color of your strip to one of the six different levels of ketosis on the bottle. When I wasn’t in ketosis (which happened every couple of days) or had dropped down a few levels, I knew I had to up my fat intake (which again, wasn’t as fun as you’d think).

Woman buying meat at the grocery store

PREP IS EVERYTHING

Like with any diet, the key to success is preparation. For me, that meant doing a big trip to the grocery store every weekend, having lots of meat in the freezer (and remembering to defrost it before dinner) and telling pretty much anyone who would listen that I was doing keto (accountability means no cheating). Keeping some keto-friendly snacks (cheese and veggies, usually) on me at all times was also super helpful. And while having a social life isn’t impossible on keto, it does require some planning (and some very understanding friends who don’t mind if you pick the restaurant every time and repeatedly quiz the waiter).

Woman holding cup of coffee in hands

MY ENERGY LEVELS SOARED

This one really surprised me, especially because Dr. Axe recommends only eating in an eight-hour window, which means I didn’t have my first meal until lunchtime. But a strong coffee with heavy cream (yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds) every morning really kept me going and I actually found that I had more energy than usual throughout the day. Dr. Axe also gave me some products to try that are designed to boost energy and reduce fatigue. In fact, even though I’m back to my non-keto ways now, I still stick to the eight-hour window rule (and creamy coffee) a couple days per week.

Cold Lemon Zoodle recipe

FANCY WEEKNIGHT CARB SUBSTITUTIONS ARE WISHFUL THINKING

Before starting the diet, I had grand plans of cauliflower pizzas, keto breads and avocado brownies. But in reality, it was so much easier to fry up some chicken with vegetables on a weeknight than it was to attempt a new recipe that usually involved at least three kitchen gadgets. I did however manage to try my hand at zoodles (delicious and not too fiddly) and make some keto bombs (also delicious).

RELATED: WHAT THE HECK ARE FAT BOMBS AND HOW CAN THEY HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?

Woman with keto flu holding mug of broth

THE KETO FLU IS NO JOKE

When your body switches from burning carbohydrates as energy to burning fat instead, some people (myself included) report getting flu-like symptoms. And while I’m not sure if my headache and runny nose were because of the diet or because of the snowstorm, I definitely needed a sick day. But hey, sipping on bone broth in bed was a pretty nice way to spend a Wednesday.

RELATED: WHAT IS THE KETO FLU AND HOW DO I CURE IT?

Cacio e pepe dinner

THE DIET REALLY WORKS

The biggest takeaway from my foray into keto? It totally works. I lost eight pounds on the diet, had loads of energy and overall, felt pretty great (except for a couple of days of the keto flu). But here’s the thing: Limiting carbs to such a great extent isn’t sustainable in the long term (at least not for me). Ditto on the increased fat intake. So, while I would definitely recommend the diet to others and I might even do it again in a couple of months, I think a 30-day trial is just the right amount of time. Now excuse me, I have a plate of cacio e pepe to attend to.

Learn Everything about Keto Diet: Types, Mechanism and the Truth!

Keto diet was the new Meghan Markle of 2017. It’s obvious from the statement that, this diet regime was among the most searched list of the former year.

A lot of people planning to lose weight are still in a dilemma involving ketogenic diet and how exactly it works on human body.

Read further to know all nitty-gritty regarding ketosis weight loss and diet.

Get into the basic first

Keto diet basically comprises of low carb, moderate protein and high intake of fat in every day meal. It simply aims to cut down carbohydrate consumption to minimal level.

Reason for low carb and moderate protein

Carbohydrate breaks down into glucose after digestion. Glucose becomes the primary source of energy for body including brain. Increase blood glucose level helps to gain weight including other pathological conditions.

However, by adopting high fat diet, body goes into a state known as ketosis. It is a process where fat in the form of ketone bodies are utilised as the chief source of energy. Tons of unwanted proteins are not required because ketogenic diet has protein sparing effect.

What are the types?

LCHF diet has got its own different types.

  1. Standard Keto Diet

This is basically a strict ketosis weight loss diet plan that constitutes 70-80 per cent of fat, 15-20 per cent of protein and 5-10 per cent of carb. The rule is straightforward; consume a minimum amount of carbohydrates in every meal.

In SKD, it is very important to maintain carb consumption, especially during the initial days of the diet. Two methods to find ideal net carb intake:

  • Go low to high

In order to ensure a fast production of ketone bodies, one should start with a minimum intake of carb in initial days. After 2 to 3 days later, body start producing ketones. During this period, a person can add up to 5 gms extra carb to his existing diet chart.

This is a highly recommended method to keep track of carbohydrate in this low carb diet.

  • And high to low

This is a relatively easy method as one has to just cut down the amount of carb gradually with the pace of time. It is not much recommended as; one may take a long time to get enter the state of ketosis.

SKD is the best version of LCHF diet and gives superior result as ketosis weight loss when combined with activities like yoga, swimming, cycling, walking etc.

  1. Targeted Keto Diet

TKD is suitable for fitness freaks, those who practice high-intensity workouts like professional athletes or bodybuilders.

Apart from ingesting lots of fat, it encourages taking 20 to 50 gms of net carb daily typically 40 minutes to 1 hour before workout. Since they perform vigorous exercise, additional carb are burned off quickly without affecting the formation of ketones.

Dieters eat easily digestible carbohydrates, as they burn off fast. If a person undergoes TKD, he should eat a bit more protein to build muscle mass sooner.

  1. Cyclical Keto Diet

CKD is best for people who want to undergo keto diet on a long term plan. It is quite a bit similar to intermittent fasting.

This involves dieters to devote 2 days high carbohydrate consumption in order to store glycogen in muscle and liver. The primary goal of CKD is to encourage muscle growth and heavy exercise by using carb as an important tool at a particular interval.

This variation of high fat is adapted by professional athletes where they are allowed to have a healthy non-processed carb.

  1. High Protein Ketogenic Diet

HPKD is similar to SKD except for the fact that, this diet demands more protein and hinders gluconeogenesis.

Maintaining a high protein KD can be challenging initially as it requires an apt balance of protein considering intake of both carb and fat. As excess of protein in the body is converted into glucose, which is again is not right for the diet.

This ketosis weight loss diet is perfect for people suffering from obesity.

  1. Restricted low carb Diet

RKD is a restricted calorie variation of SKD where dieters consume less than 12 grams of carb daily.

This diet regime starts with a 3 day fasting. It is highly effective for people who have cancer. In fact, RKD is a vital therapy for malignant cancer.

A study evaluated that, patients with cancer showed no sign of mutated brain tissues after undergoing RKD for 3 months.

Finally comes the mechanism

Here’s a simplified way of understanding the science behind the formation of ketones and mechanism of a keto diet.

  • Macronutrients undergo different metabolic pathways for digestion.
  • Body starts fasting post 2-3 hours meal.
  • Ketones bodies are formed from break down of fatty acids, generating energy to perform daily activities.
  • Production of three types of ketone bodies takes place; acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
  • To sum up, ketones mimics the starvation mode in the liver due to lack of carb, burning fat for fuel.

Bonus tips for diet chart:

The food chart for this diet is a bit calculative. Bullet coffee, loaded with lots of cream and butter is a prime choice amongst all other ketogenic recipes, as it goes well with all the 5 types of keto diets.

Olive oil, butter, salmon, chicken and veggies like eggplant, onion, spinach, and cauliflower also make forever good choice of menu for dieters in any season.

Truth exposed!

A lot of scepticism is still doing the rounds involving this unique diet therapy. People often suspect how can a diet high in fat can be good for one and all.

The truth is LCHF diet in reality is highly effective, offering quick positive results. Considering the significant advantages, going keto actually free cells from fat giving a lean healthy physique to the dieters.

End thoughts

Keto Diet is unique in its way, where one literally consumes fat to burn fat. With its heaps of benefits, this diet is a win-win preference for many people aiming to come in a shape for a healthy lifestyle.