If you spend any time at all reading health and fitness magazines, you’ve already seen the word “keto”. You may even have friends or family that are experimenting with the “keto diet.” Before you dive in, though, you have to determine if the keto diet is right for you.
First, what does it even mean?
The body generally burns energy via the sugars in your blood (glucose) first. Glucose most commonly comes into the body via carbohydrates, starches, and sugars. “Ketosis” is the body’s metabolic process of burning fat when it lacks enough glycogen to maintain your energy level. Instead of burning through unused carbohydrates in the body, the body produces more fatty acids that are turned into ketones by the liver to be used as energy. The process results in the body burning fat, instead of glucose, to sustain its energy level.
The principle of the diet is to keep your body in fat burning mode, rather than glycogen burning mode, by limiting carbohydrates in your diet and eating a diet high in fat with a small amount of protein. A typical version of the keto diet requires 75% of daily calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
For example, foods commonly eaten on the keto diet include eggs, cheese, red meat, turkey, nuts. Because carbohydrates are allowed only in very small amounts, most carbohydrates in the keto diet are derived from fruits and vegetables, rather than bread, pasta, or rice. While coffee is allowed, sugar or sugary substitutes to flavor coffee are off-limits.
Reading labels and tracking macros is essential for maintaining the keto diet even short-term.
Is it healthy?
Maybe. Major health organizations like the American Heart Association and the Obesity Societyare still researching to determine whether there are any cardiovascular benefits to eating a keto diet. Early research seems to suggest that there may be healthy benefits derived for those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes and an increased ability to lose weight more quickly than on a low fat diet.
Certain medical conditions or circumstances may be aggravated by a keto diet, including those who take medication to lower blood sugar, breastfeeding women, and those prone to constipation or headaches.
Before you dive in to any radical diet, it’s best to discuss your plans with your medical providers. Now that you know what the keto diet is, you’re prepared to have that conversation.
Following the keto diet? Share your experience with your fellow FitClub members in the comments.