What Is the Keto Diet?

Keto Diet

Surely you’ve heard of the keto diet. It circled the world in popularity, was dropped like a bad habit, and then came back around again. The truth is that this dietary concept has been around for a long time. Those who are old enough might remember the Atkins diet craze. Others might think about the carnivore diet or the paleo diet. They’re all built on the same medical fact, which we’ll explain in a moment. Let’s see what makes these diets work.

Let’s Get Medical

A ketogenic diet is based on ketosis. This is a medical name for a specific metabolic state. It typically happens during pregnancy or when you’re literally starving to death. When you are in ketosis, your body uses fat more than stored sugars and proteins for its general fuel. It’s easy to see why this is promising for a diet. When in ketosis, a person can burn off fat much faster than normal. But getting into ketosis is harder than most people realize.

Maintaining Ketosis

You can force your body into a ketogenic state without having a baby or fasting. Your body will make the switch to burning fat if it’s starved of sugar — which is the primary source of energy in a normal state. This means you have to cut the vast majority of sugars and carbs from your daily diet. In fact, most people need to get their daily carb intake down to about 20 grams. To put that in perspective, a single slice of bread typically has around 48 grams of carbs. Without any carbs in your diet, you have to turn to a high-fat and high-protein diet. With discipline, you can maintain ketosis and burn fat effectively.

But for the diet to work, you have to sustain ketosis. You can’t go in and out throughout the day. That will cause you to gain weight in a very unhealthy way. Typically, you want to aim for two to four weeks of ketosis. Then, you take a break from the high-fat diet for a week or two (depending on how your body reacts) and repeat the cycle. If you’re maintaining a target weight and body-fat percentage, you can shift out of your ketosis diet. It’s not ideal for a long-term lifestyle diet, though.

Eating Tips

You have to know how to eat to make this diet work. Knowing that you have to cut carbs and increase fat and protein intake isn’t very specific. These tips can help you get there.

Cut Gluten

Whether or not you have issues with gluten, you have to cut it in order to maintain ketosis. Gluten products are full of carbs. Unlike a traditional gluten-free diet, you can’t replace your gluten products with corn alternatives. Corn also has carbs. The trick is to cut all variations of food that have gluten in them. This means no breads, no pastas, no rice, and no cheating. Most important of all, you have to cut fried foods. A single bite of fried food can take you out of ketosis. No, seriously.

Consume Healthy Fat

This is probably the trickiest part of the diet. There are good fats and bad fats. If you maintain ketosis by consuming a bunch of bad fat, you might get thinner, but you’re dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease. Let’s call that Plan B. 

When you’re sourcing your fat and protein, you want to scrutinize cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. Keep all three of these numbers as low as possible. Foods that are sources of good fat are fatty fish (salmon is a big winner), nuts and nut products (embrace your love of peanut butter), avocados (although they do have carbs, so watch out), and olive oil. If you do some internet digging, you can find a lot more sources of good fat that aren’t loaded with carbs.

Keep in mind that consuming healthy fat will be closely tied to your protein choices. Your meats should be lean (fatty salmon is still lean relative to other meats). Chicken is your friend. If you want beef, you want ultra-lean, grass-fed, and grass-finished beef. Pork is an enemy, and bacon (heartbreakingly) is pretty much the worst way to stay in ketosis.

The Big Trick

Ultimately, a ketogenic diet will require you to eat a lot of leafy greens and raw vegetables. Do you see the trick? That’s the key to most diets. But with ketosis, you’re being extra careful about not sabotaging your leafy green diet with sodas, desserts, and comfort foods.The diet hinges on diligence, and that helps a lot of people succeed with keto when they might struggle with other diets. If you think you’re ready to tackle your diet and make some healthy changes, you can get invaluable help with NuBody.