If you’ve been scouring the web looking for a diet for fast weight loss, chances are you’ve heard of the keto diet. Its philosophy is almost counterintuitive as it encourages you to eat fat to lose fat. And while that may work in the short term, it can be awfully hard to maintain a diet of large quantities of fat.
The diet was originally designed to help those with epilepsy and there are a few other health issues that it is believed to help with. However, for the most part, if you are simply trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, there is no real need to be as restrictive as the full-on ketogenic diet is.
Up next we’re going to go a little deeper into what the keto diet is so you can decide if adopting it is right for you.
The ketogenic diet is a diet that focuses on incorporating high protein and fat into your diet while cutting down on carbohydrates. It was developed in the 1920s as a diet for children with epilepsy to reduce the frequency of seizures they experienced.
Today, the keto diet has become popular for weight loss and conditions like diabetes and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
If you’re wondering what is keto diet approved food, you’re not the only one as the answer isn’t that simple. The traditional, medically-based keto diet was strict and required you to eat a fat to protein/carb ratio of 4:1 or 3:1. However, keto diets today can vary greatly.
All keto diets are focused on foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fats, but there are some differences in their macronutrient breakdown and methods.
The standard ketogenic diet is low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat. On this diet, your calorie intake is typically 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
The targeted keto diet is geared towards bodybuilders or active individuals who need more carbs to support their workout performance. A standard keto diet is followed most of the time, with an intake of 15-30g of high-glycemic carbohydrates either before or during your workout.
A high-protein ketogenic diet is similar to a standard keto diet, but with higher protein. The macro breakdown is typically 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
The cyclical ketogenic diet involves following a standard keto diet for 5-6 days consecutively, followed by 1-2 days of high-carbohydrate days (55-75% carbs).
Keto diets and low-carb diets are very similar in that they both limit daily intake of carbohydrates, but they do have some differences. Some researchers define a low-carb diet as one that includes between 50 – 150 grams of carbohydrates (10-30% of calories) daily.
Low-carb diets are typically less restrictive than keto and allow you to have a greater number of carbohydrates daily. Popular examples of low-carb diets include Atkins, Paleo, Whole30, and the South Beach diet. Entire food groups don’t have to be eliminated on this diet, and you don’t have to do ketone monitoring.
Even with low-carb diets, you don’t need to be so restrictive with low carbs. What’s more important is the types of carbs you eat. Complex carbs that include fiber and promote fullness can be included even if you want to do a low-carb diet.
In comparison, keto can be considered a “very-low-carbohydrate” diet. Followers of a keto diet typically eat fewer than 50g net carbohydrates daily (total carbohydrates minus grams of fiber) and their bodies are in ketosis. Ketosis is when your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs.
You may lose weight fast at the beginning of your keto diet, but it is a hard diet to sustain. However, we encourage modifying it to include complex carbs for sustainable weight loss.
The premise of the keto diet is to change how efficiently you burn fat. The keto diet does that by putting your body into ketosis so you burn new and stored body fat instead of carbs.
Ketosis is when your body burns fat instead of sugar to provide energy for daily activity.
In normal metabolism, your body breaks down most of the carbohydrates that you eat into glucose. The glucose moves from your bloodstream into your cells and is used as your body’s primary energy source.
When you have a low intake of carbohydrates, your body switches to using your stored fat for energy. Fat is turned into ketones, molecules that can be converted into energy.
You are in ketosis if you have a certain level of ketones in your body. Several tests can confirm whether you’re in ketosis, such as blood ketone meters, urine tests, and breath acetone tests.
When your body starts adjusting to ketosis, you may experience a few side effects commonly referred to as keto flu.
Keto flu symptoms usually occur within the first week of starting keto, but they tend to subside within two weeks.
The most common symptoms of keto flu include the following.
● Brain fog
● Gastrointestinal discomfort
● Decreased energy
The keto diet can be great for weight loss and certain conditions, but it may have some negative short-term and long-term side effects.
While keto flu may occur for most people at the beginning of their keto journey, keto flu symptoms may occasionally return
Limited intake of whole grains and fruits can decrease fiber intake, potentially causing constipation.
Studies find that following a keto diet increases the risk of developing kidney stones.
A keto diet may increase LDL cholesterol levels, especially in people sensitive to cholesterol
Affected gut health
Studies suggest that a keto diet may negatively affect gut microbiota.
Potential nutrient deficiencies
Due to the exclusion of some vegetables, many fruits, and whole grains
The risk of experiencing these side effects can be reduced with proper planning and guidance from a physician, nutritionist or dietitian, or health coach specially trained in keto diets.
A keto diet plan focuses on foods with healthy fats, protein, and foods with low total or net carbs (due to being high in fiber).
Here are the foods allowed on a ketogenic diet.
● Red meat and poultry
● Fatty fish, and seafood
● Plant-based proteins (e.g., firm tofu and tempeh)
● Dairy and cheese
● Nuts and seeds
● Healthy oils and fats
● Leafy greens
● Low carb vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, onions)
● Low-carb and low-calorie beverages (e.g., water, tea, coffee)
Most foods to be avoided on the keto diet are typically high in carbohydrates or nutrients that will get you out of ketosis.
Here are the foods you should avoid while following a keto diet.
● Beans and legumes
● Starchy and high-sugar vegetables (e.g., potatoes, carrots, peas)
● Most fruit
● Baked goods
● Sugary foods and beverages (e.g., candy, fruit juice, soda, ice cream, sweetened yogurt)
The ketogenic diet may be worth the restriction and effort to achieve health benefits, but there are some cons to this low-carb diet.
Studies find that low-carbohydrate diets and ketogenic diets may be more effective at helping adults lose weight compared to low-fat diets. Keto diets may also increase the amount of energy burned during weight loss maintenance.
Beyond weight loss, a low-calorie keto diet may help high-weight individuals experience improvements in sleep quality, physical and sexual activity, reduced food cravings, and overall improved quality of life.
In people with type-2 diabetes, studies find that a ketogenic diet can lower blood sugar, decrease HgbA1c (a marker of long-term blood sugar control), improve how the body processes fats, and support weight loss and waist circumference.
Similarly, a keto diet could be effective as part of type-2 diabetes prevention programs when combined with a coaching program.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder amongst women of reproductive age. It increases the risk of having metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
One study found that women with PCOS who followed a keto diet for 12 weeks had significant improvements in their weight. It also found improvements in cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and insulin sensitivity as well as hormonal balance.
Anyone interested in starting a ketogenic diet should be aware of the following potential drawbacks.
● Monitoring macro levels and state of ketosis may be time-intensive
● Restrictive and difficult to sustain for some
● Constipation due to decreased fiber intake
● Increased risk for kidney stones
● Potentially increased LDL cholesterol levels
● May negatively impact gut bacteria
● Increases risk for nutrient deficiencies
There is still much that we need to learn about the long-term effects of following a ketogenic diet.
Keto can benefit many people, but this diet is not appropriate for every lifestyle and medical condition.
Keto diets are not recommended for people with the following conditions.
● Liver disease
● Pancreatic disease
● Kidney disease
● Thyroid conditions
● Eating disorders
● Insulin-dependent diabetes or taking certain medications
● Cholesterol sensitivities
● People with a history of gallbladder disease or removal
● Current pregnancy or breastfeeding
While some may prefer the keto diet to get fast results at the outset, it’s simply not necessary to be so restrictive to lose weight. Additionally, if you want to lose weight and maintain it, being as restrictive as keto requires may just not be a realistic lifestyle choice.
Ketogenic diets are not the only kind of low carbohydrate diet that is effective for weight loss and potentially improving your health.
All of the following keto diet alternatives share a few core qualities. They all can be low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and can be used to trigger fullness with fewer calories to help you lose weight.
The paleo diet is a diet based on eating foods that could have been obtained by hunting and gathering during the Paleolithic era. This diet is normally low in carbohydrates and cuts out processed, “modern” foods.
Whole30 is an elimination diet that may also help you improve your relationship with food. This 30-day program is meant to give your body a reset by temporarily cutting out foods that may trigger food sensitivities and intolerances.
The “Calories In, Calories Out” diet focuses on eating fewer calories than you burn. This method does not require limitations on any food group and emphasizes calorie and activity tracking.
A low-carb diet restricts carbohydrate intake to approximately 50-150g carbohydrates/day. Many eating styles, like the Mediterranean diet, can be adapted into a low-carb version.
While starting any new diet will require some changes to the way you eat, it is possible to make changes without being restrictive. At Fitmate we believe a diet you can stick to is far more beneficial than one that restricts you and causes you to quit eventually. Regardless of the diet you choose, there is a way to modify it so that you are eating foods that make you full.
When you eat foods that make you full, your body learns how to self-regulate so that once it's full, you’re no longer hungry. That means you’re not going to overeat or get food cravings. All of that will help you to lose weight and maintain your weight loss for the years to come.
For the safest and most efficient weight loss, consider consulting a nutrition specialist to guide you through the weight loss process. A professional weight loss coach can assist you with meal planning, exercise, and daily habits like sleep and stress management.
With a Fitmate coach, you get 24/7 support to improve your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits. Regardless of which diet you prefer to follow, we can help you create a less restrictive plan, that leaves you full and can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle.
Take your Fitmate fitness assessment quiz today and get a custom meal plan that can best suit your health and weight loss needs.
How Many Carbs Can You Eat on Keto?
A keto diet typically restricts carbohydrate intake to 5-10% of calories daily. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that would be between 25-50 g carbohydrates daily.
How Do You Start Keto?
Start your keto diet by figuring out your macros based on your calorie target and style of keto. Next, look up keto-friendly recipes and snacks that you can meal prep and stock your kitchen appropriately. From there, you can start transitioning your meals to lower-carb foods. Track your intake to meet your carb goals and achieve ketosis.
What Is Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a group of symptoms that you may experience after the first few days of starting a ketogenic diet.
What Is Dirty Keto?
Dirty keto is a keto diet plan that relies heavily on highly processed and packaged foods. It can be easier for people with little time for meal prepping but tends to be lower in nutritional quality.
What Is Clean Keto?
Clean keto is a keto diet plan that emphasizes quality, nutrient-dense keto foods. It focuses on choosing whole foods and limiting processed foods.
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