Maybe you saw your favorite celebrity swear by the keto diet on social media. Or a friend keeps bragging about how the keto diet has changed their life. Or your interest was piqued after more and more keto recipes pop up on your Pinterest homepage.
Regardless how you found out about it, one thing has remained clear — the keto diet (eating high fat, low carb) has gained a ton of traction in the year or so. Many insist that it's the best and only way to lose weight and get healthy when eating. So, if you're looking to do the same and aren't having success with what you're currently doing, giving the keto diet a try couldn't hurt.
But before you buy bags of avocado or start blending grass-fed butter in your coffee, it helps to know about the science behind the keto diet.
Experts explained to Vox that the human body is fuelled by glucose, which comes from carb sources such as bread or fruit. If a person's glucose grows too low, it'd have deadly consequences. Still, the human body can only store so much glucose. This means that to make up for this, the body needs to enter a state of ketogenesis. During ketogenesis, the liver will break down fat into ketones as a source of energy. This allows the body to burn previously stored fat.
So now that you know more about what the keto diet is, you might still wish to pursue it in the name of weight loss. Here's how to go about doing so.
First, you need to know which foods are okay to eat, and which are not. One big part of this diet is to limit your intake of carbohydrates. A good way to do this is to rely solely on vegetables (except potatoes), nuts, and dairy to get some carbs. Avoid anything with refined carbs such as wheat, starch, and most fruit. These foods are considered too high carb for those on the keto diet. If you eat too high-carb, you won't be able to enter a state of ketosis.
So, what exactly can you eat? Meat is a big one, as well as fish and high-fat dairy products (i.e. butter, hard cheeses, etc.). Some fruit is allowed, but that list is small- only avocados and berries. Vegetables that are permitted include leafy greens (like spinach or kale), and above-ground vegetables (like cauliflower or parsnips). Sweeteners are also allowed, as well as other known high-fat products such as coconut oil.
Another important aspect when starting the keto diet is to track your macronutrients to maintain the right amount of nutrients. Perfect Keto recommends that it should break down like this: 70 to 80 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates. This is a rough estimate, as individual needs will vary due to body type, and whether you're trying to eat a calorie deficit, surplus, or simply eating at maintenance. Still, this is a great place to start if you're going to begin eating a keto diet.
Depending on your dietary restrictions and personal tastes, certain supplements have also been proven to aide the keto diet. MCT oil, caffeine, and whey are just a few that are useful for those that practice a keto diet. Healthline has included more supplements that, while not needed, are definitely recommended to help stay in ketosis.
Another part of the keto diet is having to track your ketone levels. This is to ensure that your body truly in a state of ketosis. Urine testing, blood testing, and breath testing are all proven methods of determining if you're in ketosis. While this might be seen as time-consuming and even unnecessary, it's an important step to take if you're serious about making a keto diet part of your lifestyle.
Now that you know which foods are allowed, what your macros should look like, and how to stay in a state of ketosis, you may be thinking about possible meal ideas. If you're not sure where to begin, a quick Google search of keto recipes will take you down a large rabbit hole. This not only includes normal keto recipes but also recipes of otherwise non-keto meals given a keto makeover. Breakfast foods, lunches, dinners, snacks, desserts, and even beverages can become keto-friendly should the right ingredients be used. There are also meal plans online that cater to those on a keto diet. This is especially beneficial not only to those new to being keto but also to those not used to cooking at all or trying to eat in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
While a keto diet can bring about strong benefits, it is important to remember that it is not for everyone. Before you begin, it would be wise to consult your doctor or another medical professional to ensure that your transition to a new diet is done safely. Multiple websites and blogs dedicated to the keto diet exist for people to scroll through. Such sites shouldn't be used in replacement of medical advice but can help in giving meal ideas, as well as keeping your interest in having a keto diet. If you're still keen on following a keto diet after getting the green light from your doctor, then it's definitely worth giving it an honest shot.