What Is Keto? Understanding the Ketogenic Diet

(Last Updated On: October 21, 2019)
What Is Keto?

The ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as the keto diet or The Low-Carb Diet, has gained a lot of attention over the past few years. With celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens and Kim Kardashian advocating for it, and dieters showing off their before and after pictures of dramatic weight loss, there’s no denying that it’s become a huge hit in today’s society.

The diet has actually become so popular that more and more companies and restaurants are even catering their foods and drinks to keto dieters, marketing their products as “keto-friendly”. Recipes for the keto diet have become really popular online as users are sharing them through social media and blogging platforms.

But if you were asked what the keto diet actually consists of and why it works for weight loss, would you be able to answer? If that’s a no, keep reading to find out how the diet works. 

What is the Keto Diet?

Keto is essentially a high-fat, low-carb diet that transitions your body into a fat-burning state called ketosis. Dieters consume foods that are high in fat while significantly reducing their intake of carbohydrates. The diet largely consists of consuming high-protein foods like meat and fish as well as healthy fats, while staying away from sugar and starch and limiting carbs to about 50 grams per day or less.

The idea is that the body will use fat for energy as opposed to glucose from carbs, ultimately turning the body into a fat-burning machine. Ketones (acid that’s produced from the fat) will be released in the process and will be used by the body for fuel. In order for the body to start producing ketones and start burning fat, it must enter ketosis.

According to Healthline, it usually takes between 2-4 days or up to a week for dieters consuming 20-50 grams of carbohydrates a day to enter ketosis. However, this number is dependent on other factors as well, including the amount of exercise dieters are doing, how fast their metabolism is, their age and weight, and the types of foods they’re eating. 

Benefits of the Keto Diet

The biggest reason why people all around the world follow the ketogenic diet is to lose weight. The diet puts your body into a fat-burning state where you’re losing fat without starving yourself, working out for multiple hours every day, or constantly counting your calories. 

But the keto diet isn’t only good for weight loss, it can actually have a positive impact on many health conditions. Studies suggest that following a low-carb diet can improve conditions for those struggling with type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia, as the diet significantly reduces the glycemic response from carbohydrates and improves insulin resistance in the body. Going on a keto diet can also help with obesity by promoting weight loss without being too restrictive. 

Related post: What Is Gluten?

The Importance of Safe Dieting

While the keto diet is a powerful way to lose weight and regulate your body’s blood sugar levels, it’s important to be aware of the potential consequences that following keto could cause. Because you’re cutting off a lot of foods it’s possible that by following the diet you might be missing out on essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Since you’ll be consuming a high amount of fat, there is also a chance of developing heart disease if you’re choosing saturated fats that are high in cholesterol. 

If you’re suffering from type 1 diabetes, it’s important to consult with a health professional prior to starting the diet, as not getting enough glucose could put you at risk of developing a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. During ketoacidosis, the body starts breaking down fat at an alarmingly fast rate and produce ketones so quickly that the blood becomes acidic. 

While there are risks that could occur (like with anything else in life), the ketogenic diet is an effective way of losing weight and improving chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity. However, it’s recommended that prior to starting the diet, you take the time to educate yourself on the requirements, how long you should do the diet for, and the types of foods you should be eating. Consulting with a nutritionist or doctor can be beneficial and put you on the right track. 

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