In the world of weight-loss, the word “keto” gets thrown around like a ragdoll. Everybody has a different opinion about what it means, how it works, and if it is helpful or not. Most people know someone who has tried it and swears by it, and vice versa (people who have never tried it and swear against it). My goal here is to explain it as simply as possible by breaking down the history of the diet, things you can and can’t eat, pros, cons, and key takeaways.
In the simplest terms, keto is a high fat, sufficient protein, and low carb diet. What most people don’t know is that it has medical benefits for people (especially children) with epilepsy. In the 1920’s, doctors began prescribing this diet to their patients to reduce their likelihood of getting seizures, and it worked. Since then, it has become repopularized as one of the most prominent weight-loss diets in the past 20 years.
The keto diet forces your body into using a different type of fuel to provide you with energy. Glucose (sugar) is the main source of energy for most people, and it comes from eating carbohydrates. However in the keto diet, your body relies on ketones which is an energy source that comes from fat stored in the body. This is called being in ketosis, or the metabolic state where fat is used for energy rather than carbohydrates.
What You Can Eat
Since keto requires such high fat, it is recommended to have fatty foods in each of your meals. Your goal is to be around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% from a fibrous source of carbs. Basically a 2,000 calorie diet would include 170 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, and 75 grams of protein. This is just a general rule, but it is a good ratio to use and adjust to your specific needs. Here is a list of certain foods that make up a standard keto diet:
- Fish, especially salmon which is very high in fats like Omega-3
- Beef, as in ribs, steak, burgers (with no bun of course)
- Eggs, and to be honest I’d recommend eggs for almost any diet
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Greek yogurt
What You Can’t Eat (unless it stays at or under 5% of your daily intake)
- All candy (I know, sorry :/)
- All bread
- Basically, anything with sugar and carbs
Everybody’s experience with keto is unique to themself, but here are some common positive results:
- Improved weight loss
- Reduced rate of epileptic seizures
- More energy throughout the day
- Get full faster
- You get to eat BACON
- It can take days (or even weeks) to get into ketosis
- It is hard to maintain and keep yourself in ketosis
- Many people suffer from the “keto flu”
- It is very high maintenance regarding macros
- You’re giving up sandwiches, wraps, pizza, flatbreads, avocado toast, etc / :
It’s obvious that the keto diet is a great way to kick start your weight loss journey, but that does not mean it is perfect for everybody. I personally tried it for a few months to help support my mother lose weight. I found that the lack of sugar started to mess with my hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). I was frequently lightheaded, shaky, dizzy, and anxious. My solution was to reimplement fruits back into my diet, making keto foods the base of my diet with the addition of fruit. So technically I wasn’t keeping myself in ketosis, but I still felt good about the way I was eating.
Since keto is so strict, and such a drastic change to your metabolism, I would recommend listening to your body and responding to it. Some people will have a much easier time reaching ketosis than others. Try it to its fullest extent at first, and then adjust accordingly.