Not all ketogenic diets are the same. Most of them differ regarding macros, potential pitfalls, and sustainability. Their key characteristic is that they don't consume enough carbohydrates, which causes their body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis.
But what does this mean for you? Will eating keto help you lose weight fast? Is it safe for long-term maintenance? What about an ice cream diet? Are there other keto diet versions we still need to mention? Read on to learn everything you need about this trending diet.
What is the Keto Diet?
Ketogenic diets have been around since the 1920s. They were initially used to treat epilepsy and other neurological issues, but they've since become more mainstream. They are also commonly used as a tool to lose weight. A ketogenic diet is deficient in carbohydrates (typically less than 50 grams per day) and high in fat.
- Since fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbs, a high-fat diet can aid in weight loss.
- When you follow a ketogenic diet, your body changes to using fat as its primary energy source instead of carbohydrates, causing it to enter a metabolic condition known as ketosis.
- Ketogenic diets can be a good treatment for epilepsy.
- Ketogenic diets may improve insulin sensitivity and help with certain health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and neurological diseases.
How Does the Keto Diet Work?
There are three stages of ketosis.
- First, you go into what's called "glycogen depletion." During this stage, your body uses up all the glucose (carbohydrates) it has stored. If you don't eat more carbs, your body turns to fat for energy.
- The next stage is called "ketogenesis." During this stage, your body uses fat as its primary energy source.
- The final stage is called "ketosis." It is when your body breaks fat down into compounds that can be used as energy.
How to Start a Ketogenic Diet
First, you'll want to determine your goals and set a timeline. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to reduce your risk of certain diseases? How much weight loss are you aiming for? What medical conditions do you have? Please be as specific as possible.
Next, you'll want to calculate your macros. You'll need to know your daily caloric needs and your desired macronutrient breakdown (fat, protein, carbs). You can use a keto calculator to do this quickly and easily.
Finally, you'll want to figure out what foods you can and can't eat on a ketogenic diet. You may find a lot of tools online to assist you with this, including blogs, books, and apps that focus on keto.
Pros of a Ketogenic Diet
- Weight loss: Ketogenic diets have resulted in rapid weight loss. In a study that appeared in the International Journal of Obesity, it was shown that obese people who followed a ketogenic diet for two years lost more weight than those who followed a traditional low-fat diet.
- Fighting disease: There are some links between ketogenic diets and fighting disease. For example, keto diets have been shown to reduce insulin levels, which may be helpful for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. And ketogenic diets have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which may benefit people with metabolic disorders.
- More energy: Many people report having more power when starting a ketogenic diet. It is likely because it takes time for your body to get used to burning fat as its primary energy source. A ketogenic diet could give you an extra energy boost to make the transition smoother.
Cons of a Ketogenic Diet
- It takes time: As with any diet, you're likely to experience some results as soon as you start. But for most people, it takes about two weeks for ketosis to kick in and your body to start burning fat for energy.
- It's not easy: While ketogenic diets are great for some people, there might be better choices for others. Depending on your lifestyle and health goals, a ketogenic diet could be more trouble than it's worth.
- It's not sustainable: Even if you see results from following a ketogenic diet for a short period, you may still need to keep it up for a while. The ketogenic diet is not a sustainable lifestyle.
Ice-cream diet - not legit!
Many people think that ketogenic diets are high-fat diets. While they involve a lot of fat, they also involve a lot of protein and moderate carbohydrates. If a "keto" diet only contains ice cream and butter, it's not ketogenic.
That being said, there are ways to follow a ketogenic diet that are better than others. Try the ketogenic diet properly if you want to. Start gently, stick to a healthy eating plan, and use a keto app to monitor your development.
Other versions of the keto diet: Where to go from here
There are many ketogenic diets, including the Standard American or SAD diet (not to be confused with the low diet, which is most definitely not ketogenic). Every version of the ketogenic diet has its own set of specific rules and guidelines.
- The standard American Diet (SAD) is the most typical ketogenic diet. It's the same as a standard low-fat diet but with more protein, fewer carbs, and fatter.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet - This version of the ketogenic diet involves low-carb periods (up to 5 days) followed by high-carb periods (up to 2 days).
- The targeted ketogenic diet - This version of the ketogenic diet is tailored to meet the specific needs of people with certain health conditions.
- The high-protein ketogenic diet - This version of the ketogenic diet is similar to the SAD diet, except with more protein.
Ketogenic diets are effective at helping people lose weight, but they're also very challenging. They require a lot of dedication, hard work, and changes to your lifestyle.
For many people, these challenges aren't worth it. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and obtaining counsel from a reputable source if you want to try the ketogenic diet. It's important to note that keto isn't for everyone and is not a permanent solution for weight loss.