You may have heard about a keto diet. Quite often TV and movie stars have gone on a talk show and praised the benefits of a keto diet when it comes to weight loss. Some restaurants have gone so far as to label certain dishes as keto friendly in an effort to bring dieters into their cafes. There is a lot of noise being made about keto diets.
What Is A Keto Diet?
A keto diet is not a brand name (such as Atkins) but a type of diet plan called ketogenic. A ketogenic diet will be low in carbohydrates and high in fat, similar to the type of diet plan found with Atkins or other low carb diets. The goal of the plan is to train your body to burn fat, not carbohydrates, by having your body go into a state called ketosis.
Once your body is in ketosis it becomes very efficient at burning excess fat for energy. One other benefit is that your liver also starts to turn fat into ketones. Studies have shown that this improves brain function.
By shifting your body away from carbohydrates a ketogenic diet reduces the blood sugar and insulin levels. Adding the benefit of the increase of ketones will help you lose weight, feel better overall and improve your general health.
Does A Keto Diet Work
Keto diets have been shown to work for both short term and long term weight loss. Some long term studies have also shown that this type of diet can help with diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure problems.
The two kinds of keto diets that have been studied the most and show the best results are the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) and the high protein ketogenic diet. While other versions of keto diets have shown some promising results, they don’t have long term studies to back up those claims.
A standard keto diet (SKD) can help you lose weight quickly. This diet will contain 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. At first glance the high fat level seems frightening but a careful plan will help you to add proper nutrients. As you lose weight your overall health will improve and you will have no problem with the increased fat intake.
Starting out with a standard keto diet causes you to be a bit drastic for the first few weeks. You can eat a lot, you shouldn’t have the problem of always feeling hungry. The problem that many people have is the loss of certain comfort foods. You can’t eat bread, rice, potatoes or other starchy foods. There are no familiar desserts and you have to change your beverages. During the first 3 weeks you will try to keep your carb intake down to 10 carbs a day. That may sound easy but read a few food labels and you soon realize that it will take some planning.
A high protein version of a keto diet follows some of the same guidelines for carbs but adds more protein. The usual breakdown is 60% fat, 35% protein and 5 % carbs.
Never Having To Count Calories
Ask any dieter that has had to count calories how that worked for them and you will generally get a negative reply. It can be almost impossible to count calories accurately, size portions always vary and some ingredients don’t even have calorie counts listed.
Ketogenic diets avoid that pitfall, you can usually eat as much as want of the approved foods. There are some vegetables and fruits that are acceptable to this diet, so you can keep your vitamin intake at comfortable levels. You can also eat meat and eggs often, helping you to add texture and flavor to your menu. You also can avoid that “I’m always hungry” feeling that can attack someone on a diet.
Besides that obvious benefit of losing weight, the type of weight loss that comes from a keto diet can assist in improving other health conditions.
People who are diabetic or pre-diabetic have reports huge drops in insulin sensitivity. No one is going to say that a ketogenic diet cures diabetes but studies have shown that it can help reduce the causes and and lower the needs for some medications.
Following a smart keto diet can help to reduce the risk of heart failure and disease. Lowering the blood sugar level, reducing bad cholesterol and lowering blood pressure are all results of a good keto diet. Your heart can benefit greatly from all three results.
Many doctors will recommend a keto diet to cancer patients. While it won’t stop or cure cancer it does help your body fight off infections and improve heart function.
Ask any teenager who has suffered from acne what seems to cause a breakout and they will tell you it’s sugar. Anyone suffering from acne can see an improvement with their complexion after a few weeks on a keto diet. No need for creams, the reduction in blood sugar will help reduce acne breakouts.
What Can I Eat On A Keto Diet?
You may be surprised an the wide variety of foods that work with a keto diet. You can eat almost any type of meat, including beef. Bacon and sausage are allowed, as is chicken and turkey. These types of meat add both fat and protein, plus all of them will help you feel full. You can also eat fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
Eggs, cream and cheese are also big parts of a keto diet. The cheese needs to be unprocessed (sorry, no Velveta) but there is no limit to the amount you consume. This lets you have cheese as a snack, a great way to kill some of those urges during the day.
Nuts and seeds are used in a lot of keto recipes. Almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are the most popular but other nuts and seeds are fine. Keep in mind that peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes.
Avocados and low carb vegetables are approved for this diet. Onions, peppers and tomatoes are great foods to add to your diet. Most fruits are not part of this diet, at least for the first month. While they are considered healthy foods they have high levels of sugar that will raise your blood sugar levels.
There are many great cookbooks and other sources for planning and preparing meals for a keto diet. You may want to look at the Atkins diet. While it’s not a true keto diet, it is a low carb diet and there have been great results from followers of the plan.
We really like The Essential Keto Diet cookbook. It not only has over 125 recipes, it has some meal plans that can be great tools to help you get started. Another good starting place is Simply Keto, another well written and usual guide to help you start your keto diet.