What is Keto...
and why is it good for you?
Let's start with ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs.
It occurs when you significantly reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, limiting your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells.
Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to enter ketosis. Generally, this involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.
It’s also important to moderate your protein consumption. This is because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis.
Practicing intermittent fasting could also help you enter ketosis faster. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, but the most common method involves limiting food intake to around 8 hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours
Blood, urine, and breath tests are available, which can help determine whether you’ve entered ketosis by measuring the amount of ketones produced by your body.
Certain symptoms may also indicate that you’ve entered ketosis, including increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.
Following a keto lifestyle can help you lose weight
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease: Below are a few interesting articles backed by medical research...
One review of 13 studies found that following a very low carb, ketogenic diet was slightly more effective for long-term weight loss than a low fat diet. People who followed the keto diet lost an average of 0.9 kg more than the group that followed a low fat diet.
Another study in 34 older adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet for 8 weeks lost nearly five times as much total body fat as those who followed a low fat diet.
The increased ketones, lower blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity may also play a key role:
For more details on the weight loss effects of a ketogenic diet, read this article.
Ketogenic diets for diabetes and prediabetes
Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, high blood sugar, and impaired insulin function.
One older study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%.
Another study in 349 people with type 2 diabetes found that those who followed a ketogenic diet lost an average of 11.9 kg over a 2-year period. This is an important benefit when considering the link between weight and type 2 diabetes:
What’s more, they also experienced improved blood sugar management, and the use of certain blood sugar medications decreased among participants throughout the course of the study.
Other health benefits of keto
The ketogenic diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:
Heart disease. The ketogenic diet can help improve risk factors like body fat, HDL (good) cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar:
Cancer. The diet is currently being explored as an additional treatment for cancer, because it may help slow tumor growth:
Alzheimer’s disease. The keto diet may help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression:
Epilepsy. Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause significant reductions in seizures in epileptic children:
However, keep in mind that research into many of these areas is far from conclusive.
Foods to avoid
Any food that’s high in carbs should be limited.
Here’s a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
- beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- low fat or diet products: low fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
- some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
- unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
- sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
Foods to eat
You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:
- meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey
- fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel
- eggs: pastured or omega-3 whole eggs
- butter and cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream
- cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella
- nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil
- avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
- low carb veggies: green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- condiments: salt, pepper, herbs, and spices
Try our meal plans, it's the easiest way to learn more about keto...
The bottom line
A ketogenic diet can be great for people who:
- are overweight
- have diabetes
- are looking to improve their metabolic health
It may be less suitable for elite athletes or those wishing to add large amounts of muscle or weight.
It may also not be sustainable for some people’s lifestyles and preferences, so speak with your doctor about your eating plan and goals to decide if a keto eating plan is right for you.