What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet aka the keto diet is a low carb high fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential weight loss and health benefits. However, before starting the keto diet, there are some important things to know to ensure that you are doing it safely and effectively.
First and foremost, the keto diet involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with healthy fats. This puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where it begins to burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. People who are in ketosis may notice less hunger and cravings which helps to eat fewer calories and lose more fat.
The reason people lose weight while doing the keto diet is that they are reducing their caloric intake which results in a negative calorie balance. When calories are matched people who eat carbs compared to people who don’t eat carbs both lose the same amount of fat; however, usually people who do the keto diet will feel less hungry and have more energy.
How to get into ketosis?
To achieve ketosis, you typically need to limit your daily carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day, depending on your individual needs and goals. This can be challenging because many common foods such as bread, pasta, and sugary snacks are high in carbs.
Instead, the keto diet focuses on whole, nutrient-dense foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and low-carb vegetables. Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil are also emphasized, while processed and high-carb foods are restricted.
Protein intake should be moderate to maintain ketosis because if too much protein is consumed the excess protein will be broken down into glucose and ketosis will not be achieved. Protein intake can vary depending on your lean body mass and exercise volume. Generally, most people will do well with about 1g per pound of lean body mass or less for someone who is not weight training.
What are the risks?
While the keto diet can lead to significant weight loss and improved health markers such as reduced blood sugar, it is important to approach it with caution and under the guidance of a professional.
One potential side effect of the keto diet is the “keto flu,” a temporary set of symptoms that can occur during the transition into ketosis. Symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and constipation. Staying hydrated and supplementing with electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium can help alleviate these symptoms.
Additionally, the keto diet may not be suitable for everyone. Those with certain medical conditions such as liver or pancreatic disease, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should not follow the keto diet without consulting their healthcare provider.
It is also important to note that the keto diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The amount of carbs, protein, and fat you need may vary based on your individual needs and goals. Consulting with a professional can help you determine the best approach for you.
In summary, the keto diet can be a safe and effective way to achieve weight loss and improve health markers, but it should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a professional. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with healthy fats, and may lead to temporary side effects such as the “keto flu.” Consulting a professional can help ensure that you are doing the keto diet safely and effectively.