It seems like every year there is a new diet trend that everyone is raving about. This year you've probably heard a lot about the keto diet and how it is helping people get in their best shape. If you're a fan of the MTV series Jersey Shore, the phrase “Keto Guido” might ring a bell… You've probably wondered, “What's ‘keto' and does this diet really work?” We have to admit, we had the same questions about the keto diet. We decided to do some research and find out what the latest diet craze is all about!
What Does “Keto” Mean?
Obviously the first question about the keto diet is, “What in the world is ‘keto'?” Keto is short for ketogenic. Ketogenic refers to the body being in a state of ketosis, in which the level of ketone bodies in the blood is elevated. Uh…huh?
We get it. It was hard for us to understand at first, too. Let's break it down: The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When you eat carbohydrates, the body takes the carbs and converts them into glucose, which is necessary for proper brain function and energy. Now, why follow a diet that is low in something necessary for healthy brain function and energy? Well, as most of us know, carbs lead to weight gain. This means you need to find a way to support healthy brain function without consuming something that causes weight gain. The keto diet decreases carb intake, or altogether eliminates it, which is great for weight loss. When the body has not ingested any carbs, it forces the liver to convert fat in the body into ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then pass into the brain and replace glucose by supporting healthy brain function and increasing energy. By eliminating carbs, the keto diet forces the body into a state of ketosis by elevating ketone bodies. These ketone bodies basically provide the same function as carbs, but without the weight gain!
How To Follow the Keto Diet
The next question regarding the keto diet is, “How do I follow it?” As we stated before, the keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When we say “high-fat,” we mean healthy fat – not saturated fat. When going ketogenic, your diet needs to consist of foods that are high in healthy fat and low in carbs. This includes fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, avocado, and lean meats. Your diet should not include foods that are rich in carbohydrates, such as pasta, breads, sweets and soft drinks. If you do consume carbs, they should be limited to less than 5% of your daily consumption, and should always be healthy carbs, such as fruits and vegetables.
Another important part of the keto diet is making sure that you consume adequate protein. Foods with a high protein content include meat, dairy, eggs and beans. It is also important to stay well-hydrated on the keto diet. This means drinking at least 64oz of water daily. Soft drinks and juices are high in sugar and carbohydrates and are not part of the keto diet.
If you can't commit to following the ketogenic diet at all times, there are other options that can help with your weight loss. The diet industry has caught on to the benefits of keto and manufacturers have started producing keto diet supplements, which actually put the body in a state of ketosis without having to follow the keto diet.
Is the Keto Diet Safe?
An important question to ask when beginning any new diet is if it's safe. You should always check with your doctor before starting a new diet. Make sure that you are in good health to follow that particular diet. With that said, all of our research shows that the keto diet is perfectly safe for most people to follow. In fact, the keto diet even has other health benefits to offer other than weight loss!
Studies have shown that putting the body into a state of ketosis can reduce or altogether stop seizures in patients with epilepsy. For some patients, following the keto diet can actually do the job of anti-seizure medications, meaning patients can stop taking harmful pills that come with a laundry list of side effects.
The keto diet has also been shown to elevate HDL cholesterol in the blood, otherwise known as “the good cholesterol.” Recent studies show that diabetics may benefit from following the keto diet because it reduces blood sugar. Other benefits of the keto diet are decreased blood pressure, reduced inflammation, increased energy and improved brain function.