There are a ton of diet trends out there, and for those who don’t work in nutrition or food, it can get a bit confusing. There are low-fat diets, low-carb diets, no-carb diets, high-protein diets, no meat diets, all meat diets, grapefruit diets, fasting diets, and so many more. There’s also a ton of information out there proving or refuting just about every single one. It’s no wonder why so many people who try to change their eating habits so rarely succeed.
One diet that has become more popular in recent years is the ketogenic diet ("keto" for short). One reason it’s gained traction is that dieters often lose weight at a significantly fast rate. We’ll cover some basic information about this diet to help you determine whether it’s right for you, but it’s also important to remember three things about adopting new eating patterns:
- The success of a particular diet varies from person to person. Success is often based on body chemistry, and no two people are the same. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa.
- Unless a specific health condition (such as diabetes) needs to be considered, diets should generally be taken more as a guideline than a strict standard. Remember what your goal is and take this into consideration when choosing food.
- It is best to consult a nutritionist or medical expert to find the most suitable diet for you.
With that out of the way, here is everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet!
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet attempts to induce the liver to produce "ketones," which are a by-product of the body's use of fat for energy supply that happens with low carbohydrate intake. This is achieved by drastically reducing foods containing simple and complex carbohydrates while increasing the consumption of high-fat foods. When the body reaches this state, it is called "ketosis," which is a natural process that occurs in the body when food intake is low. Think of it as forcing your body into a state where it naturally burns fat for energy.
How does the keto diet work?
The body primarily relies on carbohydrates for fuel, and cutting carbs forces your body to look for other energy sources. By removing carbs from a diet and increasing fat intake, the dieter can push their body into the ketogenic state.
What foods are included and excluded in the keto diet?
The keto diet is perfect for people who like to eat meat, though there are certainly vegetarian ways to approach it. Omnivorous versions rely on consuming large quantities of meat, but it should also include cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, collard greens, spinach, etc.
If going keto, dieters avoid all processed carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, rice or high-carbohydrate processed foods. It also excludes potatoes, sweet potatoes or other starchy vegetables. That also includes sugars, even naturally occurring ones found in honey, agave or maple syrup.
Finally, although it is not necessary to cut fruits, the diet usually requires reducing the quantity eaten as well as reducing intake of naturally sweet vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Some high-fat dairy products are edible, such as hard cheese, heavy cream, butter, and mayonnaise, but foods such as yogurt or semi-dairy products should also be reduced because they sometimes contain higher levels of carbohydrates.
For vegetarians, acceptable proteins include soy products like tofu, tempeh, and natto, along with some nuts and seeds. Eggs and some dairy are also allowed and can be good sources of protein for vegetarians. Lastly, some whole grains fit into the keto diet, such as oats, wild rice, bulgur, quinoa, and barley (among others)
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