A ketogenic diet, often simply called “keto,” is an eating plan in which people control the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that they eat. People following this diet will eat much fewer carbs and more fats than usual.
What Is the Science Behind Keto?
Keto works in a similar way as fasting. The cells in your body typically use carbohydrates, including sugars, as fuel. When cells aren’t getting enough carbs, they turn to a process called ketosis. During ketosis, fats are converted into molecules called ketone bodies, which are then used by cells to make energy. During this time, the body also stores less sugar and fat.
Do Keto Diets Work?
Several studies have found that high-fat diets can lead to greater amounts of weight loss than low-fat diets. Keto may help you lose weight by burning extra fat and by helping decrease your appetite and encourage you to eat less.
Ketogenic diets help with other health issues, too. These diets have been used for nearly 100 years to help treat epilepsy. Modern studies have also found other benefits. Keto can:
What Are Some Potential Problems With the Keto Diet?
Keto can lead to side effects like nausea, tiredness, sleeping problems, and constipation. However, these side effects usually don’t last more than a few days, or occasionally up to a couple of weeks.
Additionally, only a couple of studies have taken a deep look at how ketogenic diets affect health long-term, and we know that there are several long-term side effects that must be taken into consideration before one starts a ketogenic diet. These include the following: fatty liver (hepatic steatosis), low protein levels in the blood (hypoproteinemia), kidney stones (renal calculi), and certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies and it is possible that there are other long-term side effects that we don’t yet know about. Additionally, keto can increase your cholesterol levels, so if you already have high cholesterol, this diet may not be a good fit for you.
How Do You Follow a Keto Diet?
If you want to try keto, you will need to eat a lot more fat and a lot fewer carbs. There are different keto plans that advise eating different amounts of these nutrients. Many plans encourage people to eat foods in the following ratios:
- 55-60% of the calories you eat should be fats
- 30-35% of your calories should be proteins
- 5-10% of your calories should be carbohydrates
In order ensure you’re hitting these goals, you will have to track everything that you eat and drink. Several websites and apps can help by allowing you to log foods. These tools can then calculate how many of your calories come from fats, proteins, and carbs, and help you see if you are on track.
Will Any of These Diets Help You?
Most diets give people good results after six months. They often help people lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels in the short term. However, in the long term, these benefits often disappear. People gain back the weight and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels go back to where they were before.
One reason is that diets are very hard to stick with. It’s somewhat easy to see results when a diet feels new and exciting. It’s harder to have momentum. For this reason, it may be better to build up eating habits that you know you’ll be able to stick with. Take a look at your needs and preferences, including how much time you have available to cook your own meals and the types of foods you usually like to eat. Try to find a diet that doesn’t involve a lot of big changes, and start slow.
Fasting, clean eating, and keto can all probably help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your health. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet or eating plan, because they can help you do so safely and minimize possible health problems.
If you would like to learn more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Connor.