Maybe you’ve heard of the many health benefits that seem to go along with the keto diet. Or perhaps you’re wondering if you really know as much about this low-carb diet as you think – or if it’s all myths and misconceptions. Or maybe you’ve heard stories from friends and family who have had some success with this growing health trend.
However you came to hear about it, you’re here because you’ve got questions, so let’s dive into some common FAQs about this popular diet:
“What Is the Keto Diet?”
The ketogenic diet — commonly shorthanded as “keto” or “the keto diet” — is a low-carb, high-fat diet plan. Broadly speaking, people eating keto significantly reduce their intake of carbohydrates, replacing them with healthful dietary fats and a moderate amount of protein.
The goal of eating this way is to trigger a physical state known as ketosis. In ketosis, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy, rather than carbs. In this process, most notably, your liver converts fat into ketones, which are released into the bloodstream and provide fuel for your body and brain.
“Are There Different Types of Keto Diets?”
Yep! While the core guidelines to going keto are pretty standard (cut carbs), there are several different methods people use to approach this diet in a healthy way. Nutritionists, doctors, and other health experts may recommend different versions of the ketogenic diet for different people, depending on factors like lifestyle, fitness goals, and more.
Per Healthline, some different versions of the ketogenic diet include:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet. This is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. Think 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, 5 percent carbs.
- High-Protein Ketogenic Diet. This is a dietary plan that ups your protein intake compared to standard keto. It’s a ratio of around 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet. This is a modified version of keto that might involve strategically adding carbs to your diet around a workout schedule.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. This version of the ketogenic diet focuses on consuming carbs at planned intervals. For instance, you might balance five ketogenic days with two high-carb days.
“What Are Some of the Health Benefits of Keto?”
So, what are the advantages of adopting such a rigorous diet? According to a growing body of research, there may be enormous benefits to regularly entering a ketogenic state, in both the short- and long-term:
- Weight Loss
Numerous studies have indicated that the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss, and may be even more effective than a low-fat diet. In fact, one study suggested that the keto diet can help people lose 2.2 times more weight than a calorie-restricted, low-carb diet.
- Help With Diabetes and Prediabetes
In addition to losing excess fat (a risk factor for type 2 diabetes), the ketogenic diet has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity (by as much as 75 percent!), lower blood sugar levels, and even allow some people to go off or reduce their intake of diabetes medication over time.
- Improve Heart Health
Keto diets have been shown to help mitigate many of the risk factors of heart disease by decreasing body fat and improving HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
- Reduce Symptoms from Neurological Conditions
Ketogenic diets actually originated largely as a way to help with people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions, and research suggests that they can help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and keto diets may also aid people recovering from brain injuries.
“What Foods Should I Eat and Avoid on Keto?”
There are many different resources out there with information on what to shop for and eat when going keto. In general, most experts agree on a few core principles: eliminate sugars and starches, get your necessary carbs from sources such as vegetables, focus on healthy fats, and consume protein in moderation.
Here are a few ideas for foods to focus on with the keto diet:
- Low-carb vegetables (such as squash or cauliflower)
- Meat and poultry
- Full-fat dairy products (cheese, milk, butter)
- Nuts and seeds
And a few foods to avoid:
- Processed vegetable and seed oils
- Processed foods and artificial sweeteners
- Soy products
- Foods containing gluten
- Alcohols and sugars
- Grains (including pasta and bread)
- High-carbohydrate fruits (such as apples and mangos)
“Is the Keto Diet the Right Fit for Me?”
As with all diets, it’s important to remember that the best fit for you is the one that helps you attain your health goals, while also being a useful, sustainable fit with your lifestyle. A ketogenic diet may not be right for everyone, and it’s important to talk with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or fitness routines.
For starters, while reaching a ketogenic state is generally thought to come with an energy boost, many people who attempt a keto diet report feeling low energy or sluggish at first. Other symptoms of this so-called “keto flu” might involve trouble sleeping, nausea, and increased hunger. While many people find it possible to overcome these side effects without too much difficulty, it’s important to keep them in mind and consider how your own body might adapt to some pretty big changes.
Nutrition resource Diet Doctor also points out that there are certain groups who should take special precautions before starting keto, including people who take medications for high blood pressure or diabetes, and women who are breastfeeding.
What Works For You?
Have you tried a version of the ketogenic diet? What advice do you have for other people considering the diet? Do you have any success stories, shopping lists, or recipes you want to share? Join our community on Facebook to join in the health and wellness conversation!
And remember, we’re not endorsing any one specific diet here. Before starting keto or any other diet or exercise plan, consult with your doctor and be sure to take your unique health and wellness needs into account.
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