The keto diet is a popular diet plan for weight loss. It is a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet which alters your metabolism and promotes weight loss. It’s a strict diet and not for everyone, but does it really work for weight loss? Keep reading to learn more about keto, how to start and whether it’s right for you.
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a diet that focuses on a very low-carb and high-fat intake. This means that instead of relying on sugar for energy, which comes from carbohydrates, your body burns fat for fuel instead.
Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when there is no sugar for energy. So instead, your liver breaks down fats to use as energy. This produces a chemical called ketones or ketone bodies which act as fuel for your body.
You don’t enter ketosis automatically when you start the diet. For most people who follow the diet closely, it takes a few days to reach ketosis.
When you reach ketosis, you’ll experience some side effects often called keto flu. Some symptoms of keto flu include:
Keto flu symptoms should last for around one week for most people. In rarer cases, some may experience symptoms for up to a month.
The standard keto diet involves a ratio of 70-75% fat, 20% protein and around 5-10% carbs. That’s around 20-50g of carbs, 40-60g of protein and no set limit for fat.
However, there are several types of keto diet that you can try for weight loss.
These keto variations are best suited for people who exercise and need more carbs as a source of energy than those who don't exercise.
While both diets require you to eat a low amount of carbs, the keto diet is much more restrictive. Depending on the type of keto, you can only eat around 20-50g of carbs a day. On a low-carb diet on the other hand, the amount of carbs you consume is more flexible. You can eat as much as 150g carbs today and it is still low carb.
While the keto diet emphasises the need for more fats in your diet, you should prioritise healthy fats as they have a lot of additional nutrients.
Foods you should incorporate more of include:
You can also eat fatty meats (e.g. red meats) and cheese, but in moderation. These foods are high in saturated fats and salt, which can raise your cholesterol levels and affect your overall heart health.
You must also eat vegetables and fruit. They are low-carb but have a lot of essential nutrients.
Non-starchy vegetables and fruit include:
While your carb allowance is minimal on keto, allotting it for fruit and vegetables is the best way to plan your diet.
The main food groups that you should avoid on keto are bread, wholegrains and snacks.
While you don’t have to overly restrict the foods you enjoy, you only have a small number of calories to spend on carbs each day - so choose wisely. For instance, one banana has 28g of carbohydrates in it.
High-carb foods to avoid on keto include:
This may sound like a terrifying list, but meal planning nutrient-dense and tasty meals are the best way to forget the carb cravings.
If you’re still not sure what a day of eating on keto looks like, here is some recipe inspiration for you.
There are also plenty of keto-friendly snacks available for between meals. Make sure to check the ingredients list to make sure it is low-sugar before buying it.
When done correctly, a ketogenic diet can have several health benefits.
Keto has been historically used to. However, among the general population, the primary benefit is weight loss. One found that obese patients lost 8.5kg after 6 months of keto, over 4kg more than those who ate a low-fat diet.
Overweight people lose up to 8.5kg on 6 months of keto.
Doing keto can also help reduce several complications of obesity.
It can also help with blood sugar management as carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels the most out of any food group. One thrush infections.found significant improvements in blood glucose levels and insulin resistance in those with diabetes after 6 months of keto. This can reduce your risk of heart disease and
As well as blood sugar levels,have shown that a keto diet can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Some interestingalso show that eating more healthy fats can improve mental performance. Healthy fats from fish and nuts are high in omega-3. Increasing the amount of omega-3 in your diet has been shown to boost DHA levels, an important nutrient for cognitive function.
While keto can have some benefits, it’s not for everyone.
Even doing keto correctly can still put you at risk of some of these adverse effects, so it’s important to consider whether keto is safe before trying it.
A ketogenic diet, while uncomfortable, is not dangerous for most people. However, some people could be more likely to experience side effects and should not do keto.
Do not follow a keto diet if you:
If you have any medical conditions and you’re not sure if this list applies to you, consult a healthcare professional before going keto.
Now you know more about keto and want to give it a go, where do you start? Before jumping in, there are some vital steps for beginners.
The ketogenic diet, when done correctly, can be an effective short-term diet for weight loss. However, it is a difficult diet and not suitable for some people. You should always check with your doctor before going keto, especially if you have any other medical conditions.
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