Social media is full of people posting pictures of their keto diet meals and stunning before-after weight loss pictures.
The keto way of life can bring dramatic changes in body and health for some. For others, however, living on a diet that seems prohibitively restrictive doesn’t seem like living at all.
In simple terms, the keto diet involves eating foods very low in carbohydrates and high in good fats. Eating this way puts your body into a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, your liver turns ketones into energy to fuel your brain and becomes highly-efficient at burning fat as well as utilizing insulin, which in turn lowers you blood sugar levels.
There are several variations of keto but generally followers don’t count calories. They instead count macro-nutrients, making fat 70% of their daily nutritional intake, protein-25% and carbohydrates around 5%. There are several apps and websites where people calculate and track their macros to make sure what they are eating doesn’t have hidden carbs that can throw them out of ketosis.
Keto devotees use several different methods to monitor their ketone output. Some utilize a blood test similar to those used to test blood glucose levels. A simple finger stick can give highly accurate count of the ketones in the blood. There are also urine test strips that measure ketones found in urine. Some keto dieters know they’ve reached ketosis by their breath. It’s a known phenomenon for people in ketosis to have breath smelling like rotting fruit. For most people this is a temporary problem that goes away after a week or two as their body adjusts.
By eating foods low in carbohydrates and high in fat, keto-dieters maintain a very low blood glucose level, making keto a popular way for diabetics to lower their A1C numbers dramatically, in some cases reversing Type II diabetes or pre-diabetes. Many experienced keto-ers report the high fat content meals keeps them satisfied longer and eliminates cravings and binges. For those wanting to satisfy a sweet tooth, there are dozens of blogs sharing recipes for everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake that sticks within general keto standards.
Interestingly, keto isn’t a fad diet. Doctors have used keto principles for years to control epilepsy in some, and have used it in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation to help shrink cancerous tumors.
While it seems like keto is the weight loss miracle the world has been waiting for, don’t get too excited just yet. Doctors warn that eating high-fat, low carb diets long term and without medical supervision may cause significant damage to the kidneys and liver. Eating a diet so low in carbohydrates may also send the body into starvation mode, slowing the metabolism significantly. These critical claims are all strongly refuted by keto enthusiasts.
Anyone interested in giving the keto diet a try should first check with their doctors, then start calculation macros and meal planning! With a way of eating as technical as keto, planning ahead is the path to success.