One of the biggest diet crazes around today is the ketogenic diet. It claims to do the trick and everyone is hopping on board. So, we decided to give you the 4-1-1 about this diet to help you decide if this is the right diet for you. We’re breaking down the basics of what it is, what you should and should not eat while on the diet, and who this diet is for.
What is keto?
For starters, the basic description of this diet is that it is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called ketones. This is an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar is in short supply. Ketones are produced if you eat very limited carbs and only moderate amounts of protein.
What happens to your body?
By dramatically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat, your body goes into a state called ketosis. With ketosis, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. This means your body is essentially burning fat 24-7, hence the weight-loss aspect. Overall, it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and swings the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.
What does is do to your brain?
Unlike the rest of your body, your brain can’t use fat as a source of energy. So, on a very low-carb diet, your brain can use ketones for energy. When carbs are taken out of your diet, ketones can provide up to 70% of your brain’s energy.
In fact, the ketogenic diet has been linked to treating epilepsy. Epilepsy is linked to episodes of hyperactivity in brain cells, but there have been studies that showed a decrease in baseline seizures in children that were treated with the ketogenic diet. This could be a great solution for those that are unresponsive to medication to treat seizures.
Plus, it appears that low-carb and ketogenic diets may be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease. While more studies need to be made, it does seem that older adults at risk of Alzheimer’s show improvement in memory after a low-carb diet. Aside from helping memory loss, the low-carb diet can also help reduce migraines.
What do you eat and drink?
The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. This means avoid things such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes, which also all contain a lot of starch. Plus, you’ll want to avoid food that is high in sugar, like candy, donuts, and chocolate. Furthermore, the food should predominantly be high in fat, and only moderately high in protein, as extra protein can be converted to blood sugar in the body.
Nuts, cheese, and meats are all foods that you can eat during this diet. Just be sure that they do not have anything added to them, such as breaded chicken. A variety of green vegetables will be the perfect thing to take in – zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, you name it! For fruit, blackberries contain the fewest carbs, so definitely load up on those. Also, avocado may become your new best friend since it has a high amount of healthy fat stored in it without a ton of sugar or carbs.
For drinks, water will always be your go-to. Coffee and tea are okay to sip on, but avoid adding any sweeteners like sugar – a dash of milk is completely fine. With that in mind, it may sound all too obvious to say avoid sugary drinks like soda or juices, but it is a must! A glass of wine is even okay, but certainly do not have beer or mixed drinks.
Who is this diet for?
The keto diet can be great for people overweight or someone that is simply looking to improve their metabolic health. However, while losing a few extra pounds may sound enticing, you should know that the keto diet is not for everyone. People who are on medication for diabetes or high blood pressure should not go on this diet. Also, mothers who are breastfeeding should avoid this diet. Lastly, this diet is not ideal for avid athletes or those looking to gain a large amount of muscle.
This diet is very tough to maintain and you must be very disciplined to reach its full potential. Before going on this diet, make sure you understand how it works and educate yourself about it fully to ensure it is right for you. Educating yourself about the entire process is very important to reach full potential when entering into this diet.