It’s no secret that the ketogenic (keto) diet is creating a big buzz. Some call it a fad while others profess that it’s nothing short of a weight-loss miracle and having a deeper understanding of keto diet 101 could help.
In fact, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, there’s no arguing that this way of eating has gone mainstream. Keto snacks and supplements are creating massive amounts of business for the companies that produce them, and many followers have seen amazing results.
What’s up with this whole obsession with the keto diet? How is it done? And is it really as effective as people say it is?
These are just a few of the most common questions that people have about this decidedly different way of eating. The following Keto Diet 101 guide will tell you everything you need to know so you can decide if it's might be right for you.
Keto Diet 101: What is the Keto Diet, Anyway?
First things first, what is the keto diet anyway? In its simplest form, it’s a diet that’s high in fat and very low in carbs. And It’s similar to the traditional low-carb diet or the Atkins diet which was popular back before the onset of the Keto-craze.
By drastically cutting your intake of carbohydrates and replacing them with fats, you can force your body into ketosis. This is a natural metabolic reaction that makes your body incredibly efficient at burning fat and turning fatty acids into ketones.
In addition, Ketones are excellent for fueling your body and your brain. Consequently, this creates a clean, effective energy source that keeps you feeling full without giving you that heavy feeling.
Types of Keto Eating
There are four primary versions of the keto diet:
- Standard – low carb (5%), moderate-protein (20%), and high fat (75%)
- High Protein – low carb (5%), slightly higher protein (35%), and high fat (60%)
- Cyclical – this version of the keto diet allows some higher-carb days (ex. 5 keto days, 2 carb days)
- Targeted – this version allows you to consume carbs based on your workout schedule.
The most popular mainstream options are Standard and High-Protein. In fact, these two have been studied fairly extensively, so there are credible scientific data to back up the diet’s claims.
The other two, particularly Cyclical and Targeted, are mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
There are many benefits of following a keto diet, including:
- Weight loss
- Lower body fat
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Improved Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels
People who follow the keto diet way of eating often lose a significant amount of weight without suffering through restrictive diets or worrying about counting calories. In many cases, keto dieters with diabetes see such an improvement that they’re able to stop using their medications.
(Note–never stop using any prescription medication without talking to your doctor first!)
What to Eat and What to Avoid
Knowing what foods to eat–and which ones to avoid–is the key to success on the keto diet.
Some of the best foods for you to eat include:
- Meat and poultry
- Seafood (especially fatty fish)
- Olive or Coconut (MCT) oil
- Salads (be careful of the dressing!)
- Butter and cream
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Zucchini and other low-carb squash
- Low-carb nuts and nut butters (pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts)
- Strawberries and raspberries
You’ll also want to avoid anything that’s high in carbs and sugar. Some examples include:
- Grains and starches–pasta, pizza, bread
- Sugary foods–cookies, cakes, pastries, candy, soda
- High-carb fruits - bananas, apples, grapes
- Tubers and root vegetables–potatoes, carrots, parsnips, yams, sweet potatoes
- Beans and legumes–chickpeas, peas, beans, lentils, kidney beans
- Unhealthy fats–mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils
It’s also best to stick with natural foods. You’ll want to avoid anything that’s labeled as low-fat, diet, or sugar-free. Furthermore, some condiments and salad dressings also contain sugars and unhealthy fats, so make sure you read the labels carefully before using them.
Finally, if you’re serious about eating keto diet, you’ll want to avoid alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages have a lot of carbs in them. So, even if you choose a low-carb option, alcohol intake will limit your ability to burn fat.
Avoiding Keto Side Effects
Although some people notice side effects when they first switch over from the traditional way of eating to following a keto diet. The most common is a phenomenon called “keto flu.”
Symptoms are usually mild and only last a few days. They may include:
- Digestive discomfort
- Increased hunger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low energy
- Decreased exercise performance
Therefore, the best way to avoid this is to simply take things slow. And if you’re worried about it, start by following a regular reduced-carb diet for the first few weeks so your body can get used to the change. Also consider supplementing your diet with sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Finally, beware of being too strict or reducing your calories too much. When you follow this way of eating, you’ll naturally start to lose weight without having to deprive yourself.
Is the Keto Diet Right for Everybody?
While the keto diet has been proven effective, it’s simply not right for everyone. If you’re a performance athlete, or you’re trying to gain a significant amount of muscle, then you might want to find a different diet plant to follow.
However, if you’re overweight or you suffer from diabetes or slow metabolism, you might find that this way of eating is exactly what you’ve been looking for!
Remember, however, that just like any other diet plan, you’ll get out of it what you’re willing to put into it. Learn how to become a mindful dieter. Consistency and commitment are the most important keys to your success.
Now that you’ve finished reading the Keto Diet 101 guide, you should have enough information to decide whether this way of eating is right for you.
- Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. "The keto craze is hitting the mainstream." CNN, 17 Sept. 2018, https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/17/news/companies/keto-diet-trend/index.html
- "Atkins Diet." Encyclopedia.com, 19 Oct. 2019, https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/divisions-diagnostics-and-procedures/medicine/atkins-diet
- Mclintosh, James. "What to know about ketosis." MedicalNewsToday, 21 Mar. 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/180858.ph
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