The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low carb, high fat diet that offers many health benefits. In fact, many studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health. Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets.
It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has some health benefits.
SUMMARY: The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and toward fat and ketones.
Different types of ketogenic diets
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
- High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
However, only the standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.
SUMMARY: There are several versions of the keto diet. The standard (SKD) version is the most researched and most recommended.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs.
It occurs when you significantly reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, limiting your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells.
Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to enter ketosis. Generally, this involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils .
It’s also important to moderate your protein consumption. This is because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis.
Practicing intermittent fasting could also help you enter ketosis faster. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, but the most common method involves limiting food intake to around 8 hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
Blood, urine, and breath tests are available, which can help determine whether you’ve entered ketosis by measuring the amount of ketones produced by your body.
Certain symptoms may also indicate that you’ve entered ketosis, including increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.
SUMMARY: Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. Modifying your diet and practicing intermittent fasting can help you enter ketosis faster. Certain tests and symptoms can also help determine whether you’ve entered ketosis.