Everything You Need To Know About The Keto Diet
Like many diets before it, the ketogenic diet is having a moment.
But just because it’s the “it” diet of the moment doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily right for you.
Before making any changes to your eating habits, it’s crucial to understand what you’re getting yourself into and if it’s a fit for you body and lifestyle.
In this post, we’ll break down what the keto diet is, the benefits, the drawbacks, and who it’s best for.
The keto diet is high in fat in order to prompt the body to use fat instead of carbs for fuel.
The ketogenic diet is very high in fat (roughly 75% of calories), moderately low in protein (around 20% of calories), and very low in carbohydrates (about 5% of intake). The goal is to put the body into ketosis, a state where there is no available glucose — which comes from carbohydrates and can also be made from proteins — for the body to use as fuel.
Therefore, the body turns to ketones, byproducts of fat digestion produced by the liver. Ketones are a more efficient source of fuel for the body. By changing the body’s fuel source, the keto diet can turn the body into a fat-burning machine.
The absence of glucose in the body also causes insulin levels to drop. This is helpful for fat loss because insulin is our fat storage hormone. Instead of storing energy in fat cells, the body uses stored fat for energy.
In order to be successful on the keto diet, you must maintain ketosis.
Maintaining ketosis is critical for the keto diet, which means that those who choose to follow it are limited to consuming mostly unprocessed fats and oils, low-starch vegetables, and animal proteins.
The transition to a keto diet can be tough both mentally and physically for some, but many people enjoy the high number of fat-rich foods. It’s rare to find a diet that encourages you to eat eggs, butter, cheese, red meat, bacon, and avocados.
The keto diet has recently gained popularity thanks to its fat-burning and mental-enhancing effects. But, it’s actually been around for quite a while.
The keto diet can help support cardiovascular health, blood sugar levels, and cognitive function.
Many people turn to the keto diet as a means for weight loss. What’s perhaps less known about the diet are the range of health benefits it can offer. Despite the widespread belief that we need to reduce fat to improve heart health, research actually shows that low carb diets were more effective at improving markers of heart health than low fat.
The keto diet has also been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance — making it easier to balance blood sugar and improve overall health long term, especially for those with type II Diabetes. The benefits even extend beyond the physical and into the mental. Research has found that the use of ketones and medium chain fatty acids promote improved cognition in the brain.
Eating high-quality fats helps you stay fuller for longer.
One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to weight-loss are those cravings you get — you know, the temptation to eat any number of foods you know you shouldn’t. Fortunately, foods that are high in fat serve as a longer-burning source of energy than foods that are high in other nutrients, like carbohydrates. If the meals you eat leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied, there’s less room for cravings.
Plus, the keto diet supports healthy levels of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone released by the intestines, which helps regulate hunger. CCK stimulates fat and protein digestion and stalls emptying of the stomach, therefore helping to control appetite.
Like most diets, keto involves planning and compromise.
If you’re following the keto diet, we recommend keeping your daily net carb intake to 20-35 grams. Net carbs refers to your total dietary carbs minus your total fiber. That’s pretty low, which means that you’re best off avoiding foods that are high or moderate in carbs, which eliminates a lot of the variety in your diet.
This also means planning your meals in advance and possibly not being able to participate fully in social events where food is involved, like dinners or parties. If you’re looking to try keto, but don’t want to commit to the meal prep that comes with it, check out our Complete Keto Meal Plan.
It’s important, too, to keep in mind that there’s a lack of long term research that’s been conducted on the keto diet. Since it’s still a relatively new approach, at least for weight loss, much of the research is based on short term studies. We need more research that shows how the keto diet impacts the body long term in order to truly know if it is beneficial to adhere to.
The keto diet is best for those who are overweight and fairly inactive, and/or those who deal with health issues.
Since the keto diet has a variety of health benefits, it can be a potentially good fit for a number of different populations like this listed below. (We say potentially because this lifestyle is not for everyone. Individuals who are very active in particular as well as those with certain health conditions may not do well on a keto diet. We recommend speaking to your healthcare provider regarding your concerns.)
Type II Diabetes/Pre-Diabetes
Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Neurodegenerative disorders
Those diagnosed with cancer (Note: those who are underweight need to make sure to consume adequate fat)
Entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and any other professional looking to improve cognitive function and focus