There are plenty of extreme weight loss diets out there. You’ve probably heard of Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, this list could go on for days.
Over the last few years, the keto diet has caught the eye of nutritionists and medical professionals. In addition to quick weight loss, researchers have found other interesting benefits of keto.
We are not trying to walk you through how to start the diet, nor equip you to start this diet today. We recommend seeking a professional for that. Our goal is for this article to arm you with the information you need to decide if you want to try the Keto diet.
Remember, everyone's body is different and reacts differently to different diets. There isn’t one diet that is right for everyone and always consult with your physician before starting any extreme diet.
What Is The Keto Diet?
Keto is short for Ketosis, a process that burns fats in your body once there are no carbs left to burn. The Keto diet is an extremely low-carb, high fat diet that is similar to Atkins.
It was created by an associate professor of surgery at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, named Dr. Gianfranco Cappello. Cappello claims that the diet is successful for overweight and obese people. They can significantly reduce their weight with very few side effects.
The typical Keto diet consists of 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.
How Does Keto Work?
Ketosis happens when extremely low carb levels in your body cause the blood sugar levels to plummet. Since there are no more carbs left in the body to burn, it starts to burn fat and protein to use as energy.
By restricting your carb intake and replacing it with protein and fats, you can force your body into Ketosis and kick start the fat burning process.
The Benefits of the Keto Diet
For the most part, many experts say that the Keto diet is safe for significantly overweight and obese people. It reduces blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity, which is great for people who are pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes.
The diet is easy to follow and track because you don’t need to count calories or track numbers, and generally, you feel fuller than a typical low-fat diet.
Studies are being performed that show keto has more benefits than just weightloss:
- Epilepsy - Although medical professionals don’t know why it works, it has been shown to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. And it is used by medical professionals for this purpose (Source).
- Cancer - In conjunction with chemotherapy, it has been shown to help shrink tumors in cancer patients (Source, Source).
- Heart disease - Over the short term, a low carb diet like the keto diet can help with body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar, but there's not enough research to conclude if the effects are long term (Source, Source).
- Alzheimer's disease - The keto diet may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and slow its progression (Source, Source).
- Brain injuries: The Keto diet is currently being looked at for helping with recovery after traumatic brain injuries (Source).
- Acne - Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or carbs may help improve acne (Source).
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: The keto diet could help reduce insulin levels, which may contribute to polycystic ovary syndrome, but more research needs to be done to draw a significant conclusion (Source).
Reasons Keto Might Not Be Right for You
Because the process of Ketosis is essentially your body’s way of fighting starvation, it not only can burn fat but also reduce muscle mass. So, if you are an athlete, or are trying to gain muscle mass, this is not a proper diet for you.
This diet is relatively strict and unforgiving.
It stimulates a metabolic process in your body and will not work if you are always cheating. It’s meant for quick weight loss and should only be used in the short term, it may not be healthy to continue over an extended amount of time, and as with most diets, once you go off of it, it can be challenging to maintain your weight.
If you have any underlying kidney or liver issues, this diet could be harmful. So please check with your physician if you believe you have kidney or liver issues.
Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet
- Sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, cookies, pie, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Sweeteners: sugar, honey, maple syrup
- Grains or starches: bread, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: all fruit, except a few berries every once in awhile.
- Beans or legumes: peas, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Starchy/Sugary vegetables and fruits: corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Low-fat or diet products: like sweetened non-fat yogurt.
- Milk: Lactose is a type of sugar and therefore a carb
- Some condiments or sauces: like ketchup and barbecue sauce. These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.
- Alcohol: many alcoholic beverages are high in carbs and can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These foods tend to be highly processed and high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases.
Foods to Include on the Keto Diet
- Meat: steak, ham, pork, bacon, chicken, etc.
- Fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, etc.
- Eggs: pastured or omega-3 whole eggs
- Butter and cream: grass-fed whenever possible
- Cheese: cheddar, goat, cream, mozzarella, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Low-carb veggies: green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, asparagus, etc.
- Herbs and Spices: You can use salt, pepper and other healthy herbs and spices.
Here are some common FAQs that people have when starting a Keto Diet.
How much weight will I lose?
Every person is different, and there is no way to predict how one individual will react to any diet. However, the Keto diet has been shown to have better results at weight reduction than traditionally higher-carb, low-fat diets, and medical professionals and nutritionists recommend it for extremely overweight and obese people as well as people with diabetes.
Is Keto good or bad for diabetic people?
The Keto diet has actually been shown to be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes.
Ketosis (which is what the Keto diet is based on) is not the same thing as ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic change that lowers blood sugar levels and helps your body burn fat. Sometimes people confuse it with Ketoacidosis, which occurs when diabetes is uncontrolled. They sound similar, and both affect blood sugar levels, but they are not the same.
Will I lose muscle?
As with many diets, it is possible that you could lose some muscle mass on this diet. You could minimize muscle loss by adding a weight component to your exercise routine.
What are the side effects?
During the transition to Ketosis, some people can have some mild side effects such as lack of energy, diarrhea, or even constipation. This usually only lasts for the first few weeks. You can take Magnesium supplements or other keto related products that are geared specifically to help your body adjust to the diet.
There are many benefits to a Keto diet. But remember this is a diet focused on short-term weight loss and not overall long-term health. So if you choose the keto diet, remember it’s a diet and not a lifestyle change.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is always the best recommendation for living a long and healthy life.