With its promise of “lose weight while eating cheese, bacon, and steak,” the keto diet has been wildly popular lately. It is true that the keto diet may help you lose weight and control your blood sugar, but is this fad diet really as effective as it claims? Those who want the best results from the keto diet need to understand how it really works before they get started. Here are some important things you need to consider when you are beginning the keto diet.
Learning How Macros Work
The most important thing to following the keto diet properly is simply paying attention to your macros. All foods that humans eat can be divided into three macronutrient categories: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The keto diet is all about eating very low levels of carbohydrates, very high levels of fat, and moderate levels of protein. Typically, you will need 55 to 60 percent of your calories to be from fats, 30 to 35 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbs. For most people, this will mean they need to eat around 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day.
What You Can and Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet
The keto diet is not about strictly limiting any foods. Instead, it is about just adjusting the amounts of foods you eat to make sure your macronutrient levels stay in certain calories. This means you end up eating a lot of fats and proteins and only small amounts of carbs. Some ideas of foods you can regularly eat a lot of on the keto diet include:
- Fish and seafood
- Leafy, green veggies
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
Though carbs are not forbidden on the keto diet, you do need to keep levels low. This can mean being careful about all sorts of sugary and starchy foods, including:
- Chips and crackers
- Candy and cookies
- Some fruits
How the Keto Diet Helps You Lose Weight
The keto diet works because eating within the keto macro ranges for a long period of time causes your body to enter ketosis a stage where it breaks down fat and protein that produces ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. At the same time, the high amount of fat keeps you full for long periods of time, so you naturally eat less. Without a lot of carbs in your system, your body will also quit retaining so much water, which can lead to a quick loss of 10 to 15 pounds when you first start the diet.
Staying Healthy on the Keto Diet
Though the keto diet can be quite useful, keep in mind that any diet that severely restricts a major category of foods can lead to some issues. In general, the keto diet is meant to be a short-term diet, not a permanent lifestyle change. While on it, you may want to make sure you take keto supplements, since it can be hard to get all essential vitamins and nutrients otherwise. A low-carb fiber supplement may also be useful, since it can be hard to get enough fiber to avoid constipation otherwise.
Some research suggests that long term keto diets can cause some issues with cholesterol, depending on the type of fat a person eats, so try to stick to healthier, plant-based fats instead of saturated fats. If you have kidney problems or liver problems, it may be wise to consult your doctor before starting this diet, since excess amounts of fat and protein can interfere with the functioning of these organs.
As you can see, the keto diet can be an excellent way to get in shape, but you do have to be careful to get the right macronutrients when following the diet. As long as you make sure you are eating the correct levels of fat, protein, and carbs, you can easily get into ketosis and start burning fat.