Get to know the diet everyone is talking about.
What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet (more commonly referred to as keto) is a high-fat, low-carb diet that causes those who practice is to drastically change the way they eat. Generally, one begins by reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat, which is why the keto diet commonly draws a connection with the Atkins diet. The goal of the keto diet is to put your body in a ketosis state, which will allow you to burn more fat, thus producing your desired results faster.
What is ketosis?
There are three main components of food that supply your body with energy; carbohydrates, fat, and protein. When you have finished a meal, your body will naturally break down carbohydrates, then fat and protein. When you don’t have enough carbs in your body to burn energy — it will burn fat instead and that is when ketosis will set in. While your body breaks down fat it will produce an acid called ketones, which then becomes your body and brains main source of energy. All of this causes a massive shift in your metabolism.
What are the benefits?
The keto diet was originally practiced in an effort to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy. As the diet continues to gain traction and popularity, various studies have discovered benefits for a number of health conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, acne, polycystic ovary syndrome, and brain injuries. However, it’s important to note that none of the research into these areas has been conclusive.
What are the risks?
There are some health concerns you need to be aware of before you get started. Many who begin the keto diet catch what they refer to as the “keto flu”. This flu may include vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and lethargy. On the upside, it usually passes within a few days. Due to the lack of fiber and massive cutback on carbs, you may also experience diarrhea.
If you have type 1 or 2 diabetes it is imperative that you discuss going on the keto diet with your doctor or a healthcare professional first, as you are at risk of developing ketoacidosis. This takes place when your body stores too many keytones (acids produced as a byproduct of burning fat) and your blood becomes too acidic. Ketoacidosis can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain.
There is also evidence that suggests you can regain the weight you lost immediately after coming off of the keto diet; specifically when eating carbs again. Of course, each body type will react differently, but it’s still best practice to not stay on the keto diet long-term.
What foods can I eat?
Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
Eggs: Opt for omega-3 whole eggs.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia, etc.
Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
Berries: Moderate amounts are ok.
Vegetables: Only those grown above ground.
High-fat dairy: Heavy cream, butter, unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella), high-fat yogurt; all in moderation, of course.
Condiments: Salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
What foods should I avoid?
Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Low-fat or diet products: Highly processed and often high in carbs.
Some condiments or sauces: Contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
Sugar-free diet foods: Often high in sugar alcohols, and highly processed.
Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
The keto diet is a great way to reduce carbs and quickly hit your goal weight. However, the behaviours and restrictions required to take part in keto could cause your body harm if not approached properly. As with any drastic change in the way you treat your body, it is best to consult a trusted doctor or healthcare professional first.