Have you heard of the ketogenic diet? I’m sure at some point or another you have! So what exactly is the Keto Diet and why is it so popular?

The ketogenic diet first appeared during the 1920s and 30s as a way to help epileptic patients. During the 1920s Diabetics used carb restriction as a way to control blood sugar before the creation of insulin.

Now in 2019, the diet is seen more as a way to burn fat when your body goes from burning glucose to ketones.

What are Ketones?

Ketones are a different source of fuel for our bodies once glucose stores have been depleted. You are replacing your carbohydrate intake with fats. Your body then becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy. Even fat cells within your liver turn into ketones that supply energy to your brain.

The Bigger Picture

The ketogenic diet has numerous health benefits that have been studied. This low-carb high fat diet is very similar to Atkins and low-carb diets circulating. The goal is to eat 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. There are also different variations of the percentages given.

Researches have stressed low-fat diets in the past but after more research, they have found high-fat an low carb is more effective. The increase in ketone production lowers blood sugar levels while also improving insulin sensitivity.

The diet doesn’t require any calorie counting. You will have to count net carbs to get a feel for it to make sure you are within the 5% range. My fitness pal is a great tool to use in calculating percentages!

Dirty Keto vs Standard Keto

Dirty Keto is the newest version of the Keto diet. The difference between the two is when following Dirty Keto where you get your nutrients does not matter.

What do I mean by that? Think more along the lines of cheap and easy. More processed, packaged foods and not so much homemade. It’s great if you’re busy or on the go but long term it’s not as beneficial to you.

Side effects of following Dirty Keto result in inflammation, bloating, cravings and rebound weight gain. You will lose weight even when following this version of the Keto diet but long term you will begin lacking vital nutrients that are important in keeping you healthy.

Foods to Eat

  • Meat (Yes, that means bacon too)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna or mackerel)
  • Omega-3 rich eggs
  • Butter and cream (preferably grass-fed)
  • Unprocessed cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • Avocados
  • Low-carb veggies ( spinach, tomatoes, peppers, etc)
  • Condiments (salt, pepper or herbs)

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugary foods
  • Grains or starches ( sorry but those never-ending bowl of breadsticks is off limits)
  • Fruit (all but berries such as raspberries, blackberries or strawberries)
  • Beans or Legumes
  • Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnip., etc)
  • Low fat or diet products (most usually are highly processed)
  • Alcohol (Sorry, but happy hour is a no go)
  • Sugar-Free Diet food
  • Unhealthy fats ( vegetable oil)

What to Watch for

Although, the Keto diet is safe for a healthy adult there are some uncomfortable and annoying side effects when first beginning. You may begin to experience what is known as “The Keto Flu”. What is the Keto flu you might ask? The Keto flu symptoms are poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, digestive discomfort, nausea, and sleep difficulty.

Don’t worry these will subside over time but in the meantime adding in extra salt to your diet will help. Some recommend chicken broth a couple of times a day as an easy way to get in sodium.

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Try easing into the Keto diet beforehand and don’t focus on cutting calories drastically when first starting. This diet is known to be extremely effective without cutting calories.

Summary

Although the Keto diet is super popular with a lot of diverse benefits it’s not for everyone. I feel in order to reap the benefits long term you must remain highly consistent with the diet. Even with many studies being done on the long term effects of this diet there still is some gray area.

Thoughts on the Keto Diet? Do you participate long term or are you following for the temporary benefits?