Exploring the Mysteries of the Keto Diet: What It Is and How It Works
The Keto diet is a highly debated and talked-about subject in the world of health and wellness. It’s a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that promises to jumpstart a process called ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Some celebrities swear by the keto diet, such as Adriana Lima, Kim Kardashian, and Megan Fox, while others, like Jillian Michaels and Witney Carson from Dancing with the Stars, have not given it a ringing endorsement.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the keto diet in detail, from what it is and how it works to its benefits and drawbacks, and different variations of the diet. Whether you’re considering trying the keto diet for yourself or simply curious about this buzzy lifestyle, you’ll find everything you need to know in the following pages.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The Keto diet is short for “ketogenic diet,” which is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan designed to get your body to use fat as energy. According to Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, the diet typically consists of 60-75% of calories from fat, 15-30% of calories from protein, and 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates, which usually means eating no more than 50 grams of carbs a day.
What Is Ketosis?
After two to seven days of following the keto diet, your body enters a state called ketosis, which occurs when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates for your cells to use for energy. At this point, your body begins to produce ketones, organic compounds that replace missing carbs and enable your body to burn fat for energy.
To determine if you’re in ketosis, you can look for certain side effects, such as breath that smells like nail polish remover, or you can use keto testing strips or a breath analyzer to check.
The Origin of the Keto Diet
Contrary to popular belief, the keto diet wasn’t initially designed to help people lose weight, but rather to assist individuals with seizure disorders. According to New York-based nutritionist Jessica Cording, RD, the keto diet was developed to minimize seizures in people with seizure disorders by producing ketones and beta-hydroxybutyrate, a chemical produced by the diet.
However, people following the keto diet noticed weight loss for several reasons. When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid to store carbs for energy. When you reduce your carb intake, you lose this water weight. Additionally, the high-fat content of the diet can help curb cravings and keep you feeling satisfied. Furthermore, ketosis encourages your body to burn fat, leading to dramatic weight loss.
Variations of the Keto Diet
The keto diet is often thought of as a one-size-fits-all plan, but there are actually several different types of ketogenic diets, each with its own set of guidelines and benefits, according to Vanessa Rissetto, RD, CDN. Here are four of the most common variations of the keto diet:
Cyclic Keto Diet
The cyclic keto diet, also known as the carb cycling keto diet, is a variation of the standard keto diet that allows for a bit more flexibility in terms of carbohydrate intake. It is a diet plan that alternates between periods of low-carb, high-fat keto eating and periods of higher-carb, moderate-protein eating. This approach can be especially beneficial for athletes, who may require a higher intake of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores in their muscles.
The basic idea behind the cyclic keto diet is to cycle between low-carb, high-fat keto days and higher-carb, moderate-protein refeed days. On keto days, the dieter follows the standard ketogenic guidelines, with about 60 to 75 percent of their calories coming from fat, 15 to 30 percent from protein, and only 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates. On refeed days, the dieter increases their carbohydrate intake to around 140 to 160 grams, while still maintaining moderate levels of protein and lower levels of fat.
There are several benefits to the cyclic keto diet. First, it can help to prevent the dreaded keto flu, which is a collection of symptoms that some people experience when first starting a ketogenic diet, including fatigue, headaches, nausea, and muscle cramps. By allowing for regular refeeds of carbohydrates, the cyclic keto diet can help to alleviate these symptoms and make the transition to a ketogenic lifestyle easier.
In addition, the cyclic keto diet can be beneficial for athletes, who may require a higher intake of carbohydrates to support their training and performance. By allowing for regular refeeds, athletes can replenish glycogen stores in their muscles, improve energy levels, and reduce the risk of injury.
The cyclic keto diet is also a flexible approach that can accommodate different needs and goals. For example, some people may choose to follow the cyclic keto diet for weight loss, while others may use it to support athletic performance or overall health. By cycling between low-carb and high-carb days, the cyclic keto diet offers a customizable approach to the ketogenic lifestyle.
However, it’s important to note that even on refeed days, the cyclic keto dieter should avoid processed foods and desserts and instead focus on whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits for their carbohydrate intake. Additionally, it’s important to talk to a doctor or registered dietitian before starting any new diet plan, including the cyclic keto diet, to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your individual needs and health status.
In conclusion, the cyclic keto diet is a flexible and customizable approach to the ketogenic lifestyle, offering a balance between the strict adherence to low-carb, high-fat keto eating and the need for regular refeeds of carbohydrates. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve performance, or simply someone looking for a more flexible approach to weight loss, the cyclic keto diet may be worth considering.
Targeted Keto Diet: Maximizing Your Workouts
The targeted keto diet is similar to the standard keto diet, with one key exception: before intense workouts, you eat carbohydrates. “Typically, targeted keto dieters will consume anywhere from 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates about 30 minutes to an hour prior to working out,” says Rissetto. “Dieters often find that this helps them feel stronger and more capable during workouts.”
While consuming carbohydrates takes the body out of ketosis temporarily, it will resume within a few hours, depending on the number of carbs consumed. The theory behind this diet is that since the additional carbs are immediately burned off, they won’t get stored as body fat.
Vegan Keto Diet: A Plant-Based Approach
For those who want to follow a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet but do not consume animal products, the vegan keto diet is a great option. “This can be difficult to achieve, as many keto dieters rely on animal products for a large portion of their diet,” says Rissetto. Vegan keto dieters can get their protein from tofu, tempeh, nuts, nut butters, and beans and legumes in moderate amounts.
While following a vegan keto diet can be challenging, it is not impossible. It just takes a lot of advance planning.
Lazy Keto and Dirty Keto: The Shortcut That’s Not a Shortcut
When something becomes popular, it’s not surprising to see people come up with easier or faster ways to do it. Enter the lazy keto and dirty keto diets. With lazy keto, people aim to limit their carbohydrate intake to 20 to 50 grams per day, but they do not track it. With dirty keto, people generally follow the same macronutrient breakdown as the standard keto diet, but it doesn’t matter where those macronutrients come from.
Keatley is not a fan of these shortcuts. “Dirty keto is a waste of time since good habits have not been developed and it is simply too easy to fall back into a high-calorie diet,” says Keatley. Instead, he recommends following the USDA’s MyPlate and monitoring your meals based on proportions, rather than macronutrients. “It’s easier, more flexible, and has shown, when combined with moderate exercise, to be effective over the long term,” he says.
The Intersection of Intermittent Fasting and Keto: An Exploration of Their Synergy
The buzz around combining ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting is becoming more prevalent every day. However, for those unfamiliar with intermittent fasting (IF), it can be an enigmatic and intriguing topic. At its core, intermittent fasting involves patterns of eating and fasting periods where you refrain from consuming food. This can vary widely from person to person, but the two most popular forms are the 16:8 diet and the 5:2 diet.
In the 16:8 diet, the individual fasts for 16 hours, usually from dinnertime to late breakfast, and then eats all their food within an eight-hour span. In contrast, the 5:2 diet entails eating less than 500 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and then eating normally for the rest of the week.
The Hype Behind Keto and Intermittent Fasting: Is it Justified?
Many proponents of the combination of keto and IF claim that it is an excellent way to lose weight. However, it is essential to note that any results from this approach are likely to be short-lived, and when one resumes their regular eating patterns, they will most likely gain back the weight.
According to Keatley, combining a highly restrictive diet with long periods of non-eating is not ideal. He explains that if food intake is too low, the body will cannibalize its own muscle for energy, which can harm important organs like the bladder or lungs. Additionally, he highlights that weight loss from intermittent fasting is primarily due to calorie restriction, which means that the individual is essentially starving themselves.
Keatley points out that while methods such as intermittent fasting can lead to rapid weight loss, the weight loss is mostly lean muscle, which is essential for healthy functioning as one ages and is very difficult to regain once it has been lost. He stresses that it is not advisable to undertake this approach unless it has been thoroughly discussed with a doctor or nutritionist to ensure that it is suitable for the individual’s lifestyle.
The Keto Diet: What Can You Eat?
When considering following a ketogenic diet, there are various versions, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the standard ketogenic diet. Just because you are cutting back on carbs does not mean that you have to eat bland and unsatisfying food. The standard keto diet focuses on healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, lean protein from sources like grass-fed beef and chicken, and leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables.
For those who crave snacks, there is good news. Snacking is permitted on the ketogenic diet, and there are plenty of packaged options available that cater to keto enthusiasts. One such option is FATBAR, a snack bar that contains 200 calories, 16 grams of fat, and four grams of net carbs, and is made from plant-based ingredients like almond or cashew butter, cocoa butter, coconut, pea protein, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.
For coffee lovers who miss the indulgence of flavored lattes, Bulletproof coffee provides a solution. It is your standard coffee, but with grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil added to provide a boost of healthy fats in the morning.
For those with a sweet tooth, keto fat bombs are a popular option. As their name implies, these little snacks are high in fat and low in carbs, so you can treat yourself without breaking the rules of the ketogenic diet.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in the ketogenic diet. The keto diet has become one of the most popular diets in recent years, and for good reason. By limiting carbohydrates, it forces your body to burn fat for energy, leading to rapid weight loss and a host of other health benefits. However, the keto diet is not without its challenges and side effects. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the ketogenic diet and help you determine whether it’s right for you.
The Keto-Friendly Food List: What to Eat and What to Avoid
One of the most important aspects of the keto diet is what you can and cannot eat. The ketogenic diet is based on a simple principle: eat mostly fat and protein and avoid carbohydrates. This means that traditional pasta dishes, bread, and rice are off the menu. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and carrots and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are also not allowed. And if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll need to say goodbye to candy, cakes, and doughnuts. Most fruits are also off-limits due to their high sugar content.
Alcohol can also be a gray area on the keto diet. Many beers, sugary cocktails, and sweet wines are not permitted on the diet. However, there are keto-friendly options available, such as hard liquors like whiskey and vodka mixed with sugar-free mixers.
A Week of Decadent Keto Meals: A Meal Plan to Get You Started
The ketogenic diet can be a delicious and filling way of eating. To help you get started, we’ve put together a week’s worth of meal options that follow the standard ketogenic diet guidelines. All of these meals are low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein.
The Keto Flu: Understanding the Side Effects of the Keto Diet
While the ketogenic diet can be incredibly effective for weight loss and improving health, it can also come with some unpleasant side effects. When you switch to the keto diet, your body needs time to adjust to the new way of eating. It usually takes three to four days for your body to enter ketosis, during which you may experience some symptoms known as the “keto flu”. This can include fatigue, headaches, cramps, lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, and IBS-like symptoms.
These side effects are typically caused by carb withdrawal and should only last for about a week. Other common side effects of the ketogenic diet include diarrhea and “keto breath.” While these side effects can be uncomfortable, they are usually short-lived and go away as your body adjusts to the new diet.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet can be a powerful tool for weight loss and improving health, but it is not without its challenges. By understanding the foods to eat and avoid and the potential side effects, you can make an informed decision about whether the ketogenic diet is right for you. So, if you’re ready to embrace a world of fat and protein, grab a bowl of keto-friendly black bean spaghetti and get started on your journey to a healthier, happier you!