Whether you follow ketogenic diets for weight loss or health benefits, you’re likely aware of the increased popularity of the diet and its many variations.
The low-carb, high-fat diet has become the go-to solution for millions looking to lose weight or those seeking to improve their health by lowering their intake of carbohydrates. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that induces ketosis.
This is a metabolic process by which fatty acids are converted into ketones to be used as energy. When carbohydrates are cut out of the diet, the body enters into a state known as ketosis. The ketogenic diet is based on the premise that by restricting carbohydrates, the body will undergo a metabolic shift that leads to increased fat intake and a reduction in carbohydrate intake. In short, ketogenic diets are high-fat, low-carb diets that induce ketosis.
The Benefits of a Keto Diet
When people hear “keto,” they might think of diet fads and trendy diets. But today’s keto diet gets its name from the ketone bodies produced when your body breaks down fat on a low-carb diet.
And the benefits go well beyond weight loss. A growing body of research suggests that following a keto diet may benefit various health conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and an autism spectrum disorder.
What is a Keto Diet?
Unlike other low-carb diets, the keto diet isn’t just a short-term diet strategy. The ketogenic diet is a conventional medical approach originally used to treat childhood epilepsy. But the diet has grown in popularity as more people have looked to obtain various health benefits through its low-carb approach.
In a keto diet, individuals eat a lot of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and only a small amount of carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch.
Unlike other low-carb diets, the keto diet is not just a short-term strategy. The diet is intended to be carried out for the long term; it is not something that can be followed for a few weeks and then forgotten about.
How Does a Keto Diet Work?
One of the most important aspects of following a keto diet is understanding how it works. A keto diet restricts your carbohydrate intake, allowing your body to use fat as fuel instead. Fat is more efficient in providing energy than glucose, the sugar that fuels most carbs.
When you eat carbs, they get broken down into glucose, which enters your bloodstream and is available for use as energy. When you eat fat, it remains in your bloodstream, providing energy but not contributing to the growth of your body’s glucose reserves.
Things to Remember When Following a Keto Diet
You’re eating for fuel, not for weight loss: While many people choose to follow a keto diet to lose weight, it’s important to note that it is not intended to be a weight-loss strategy. “You’re not trying to lose weight on a keto diet; you’re trying to lose the ability to gain weight,” says nutritionist Amy Peterson.
– Make sure you’re getting enough micronutrients: Though many people choose to follow a keto diet to lose weight, it’s important to remember that micronutrients are still essential nutrients. You should still eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrient-rich foods.
– Get moving: Though a keto diet can be low in activity, exercise is important on a keto diet. It would help if you aimed to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. – Know your carb counts: Though many people choose to follow a keto diet, it’s important to understand them. “There are a lot of people who go on a low-carb diet, then they don’t know what to count or what not to count,” says Peterson.
“They count every little thing that goes into their bodies.” – Practice portion control: On a keto diet, it’s important to practice proper portion control. “A lot of people think that if a meal or a snack has a lot of fat or protein in it, that they can eat as much of it as they want,” says Peterson.
– Stick to a schedule: “I try to be consistent with my diet and with my exercise,” says Peterson. “You can’t be all over the place with your diet; you have to have a plan.”
Which Brands of Keto Foods are the Best?
There are a lot of keto-friendly foods on the market, but which ones are worth trying? To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites below: – Cheese: Cheese is one of the best things to put on top of a salad, but it’s also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
The more expensive the cheese, the better it is for you. – Coffee: Many people choose to drink coffee, but surprisingly, it is a very low-carb drink. It provides a boost of energy without any sugar or caffeine. If you stick to decaffeinated coffee, you can drink it black without worrying about it impacting your carb intake.
– Healthy fats: Many people associate nuts, avocados, and olive oil with the keto diet, but these fats provide many health benefits by helping you maintain a healthy heart, weight loss, and the production of hormones. – Nuts: Nuts are great for a keto diet because they’re nutrient-rich and low in carbs.
They’re also high in fiber, which helps you feel full. – Low-carb vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers are all low-carb vegetables you can add to your salads, as well as soups and stir-fries. They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals.
– Meat and seafood: As with any diet, it’s important to consume lean proteins and low-carb seafood. We recommend choosing cuts of meat such as lean chicken and fish like salmon and tuna. – Condiments: Most condiments are very carb-heavy, so try using keto-friendly ones such as olive oil or balsamic vinegar with your meals.
– Desserts: Desserts are typically very high in sugar and carbs, so it’s best to avoid them. Instead, try making your low-carb treats using ingredients like flaxseed, chia seeds, and cacao nibs.
Which Brands of Ketogenic Foods are the Worst?
While many foods are great on keto, a few to avoid. Soy: Soy is high in protein and contains a lot of carbs. “Soy products contain isoflavones, aka ‘genistein,’ an estrogen-like compound that can negatively impact your health,” explains registered dietitian Amy Kaplan.
– Processed foods: Many processed foods are made with flour and sugar and therefore high in carbs and calories. – Alcohol: Many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and carbs, so you should avoid them completely while following a keto diet.
– Potato chips: While some chips are made with lower amounts of carbs than others, they’re still loaded with calories and sugar.
There’s a lot of hype around the keto diet, but is it a healthy way to eat? We’ve taken a closer look at what this diet is all about and whether or not it’s worth trying.